PULASKI, Tenn. – On May 7, 2022, the University of Tennessee Southern (UTS) celebrated its inaugural commencement ceremony–though its 152nd as an institution of higher education, conferring 151 degrees to the first graduating class of the newest undergraduate institution within the UT System.
“In our 152nd year, this commencement was perhaps the most historic,” said UTS Chancellor Dr. Mark La Branche. “These graduates are the first to receive a degree from the University of Tennessee. The value of their degree has significantly increased because of the stellar reputation of the UT System.”
Commencement speaker UT System President Randy Boyd commemorated this historic event, remarking about its importance for the graduating class, the surrounding community, and the entire UT System. He left the UTS class of 2022 with a challenge to “live a life that leaves the world a better place than you found it.”
Following annual tradition, three awards were presented during the ceremony: The Gail M. Newton Distinguished Service Award, the Fred E. Ford Exemplary Teacher Award, and the Chancellor’s Award for Academic Excellence.
Established in 2018 in honor of Gail Newton, a long-time faculty member in Business, the Gail M. Newton Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to a staff member whose service and dedication to the institution as well as to colleagues excels beyond measure. The 2022 recipient of the Gail M. Newton Distinguished Service Award was Mrs. Kim Harrison, executive assistant to the Chancellor.
For his expertise and dedication when the campus shifted to virtual learning at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as for his leadership as Chair of the Faculty Senate during the transition year from Martin Methodist College to University of Tennessee Southern, Dr. Michael Cathey, associate professor of Human Performance and Physical Education, was presented with the Fred E. Ford Exemplary Teacher Award, an honor given to a member of the faculty for outstanding contributions both inside and outside of the classroom.
Each year, the Chancellor’s Award is presented to the graduate with the highest cumulative grade point average; the 2022 recipient was Ms. Mary Taylor Lee, an elementary education major from Giles County, Tenn. Dr. Judy Cheatham, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, noted in her remarks that, in the midst of state-wide teacher shortages, UTS is very proud to be sending forth such a strong candidate in Teacher Education.
UTS will conclude its first, official year with the UT System on July 1, 2022. The new academic year will begin on August 24, 2022.
The University of Tennessee Southern is an institution of higher education, originally formed under the name Martin Methodist College and founded in 1870. Offering associate, baccalaureate and graduate degrees, UTS is located on an historic campus in Pulaski, among the beautiful rolling hills of southern Middle Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Southern is convenient to both Nashville (70 miles north) and Huntsville, Alabama (40 miles south).