That's all, folks.
UT hosted an open forum for it's fourth and final candidate for the position of vice chancellor of Student Life on Wednesday in Thompson-Boling Arena where Vincent Carilli, Ph.D., attempted to show a group of faculty and students why he is the man for the job.
The potential UT administrator unveiled his ideas for propelling UT toward Top 25 status.
"Pretty impressive group that we're chasing," Carilli said. "As I look at this group, I'm pretty hopeful and excited that Tennessee can reach this metric, and move the agenda forward if you will. I think that that's certainly doable."
Because the U.S. News and World Report rankings of public higher education institutions rely heavily on graduation and retention rates, Carilli provided theories regarding how to motivate students.
"(Students) who identify with a group of peers persist at a higher rate and graduate more quickly than those who do not," Carilli said. "It's pretty simple. We have to make sure that they get in here, that we work through the transition, we get them comfortable in their environment and then we get them interacting with their peers as quickly as possible."
Kelsey Theodore, a senior majoring in history, said she related strongly to Carilli's statements about a student's first semester.
"I really liked how he kept talking about the freshman experience, and how a lot of times it's those first six weeks of a freshman's semester that they decide that they want to transfer," Theodore said. "I'm a senior now, so it's been a while, but when I was a freshman, my first six weeks I decided I was going to transfer to a different university and just decided to stay here because I got plugged in pretty soon after that."
Comparing his plans for UT with experiences in his current position at the University of Scranton, Carilli emphasized the importance of keeping the post-grad world at the forefront of students' minds.
"What are you going to do for having been educated at the University of Tennessee that's going to us accomplish this mission?" Carilli said. "We need to raise the expectation level before they ever decide to cast their lot with us ... It's a very empowering message to be able to say, 'This is what Tennessee prepared me to do, and now I want to go out and do it.'"
Carilli said he views the future he could bring to UT as one dominated by school pride and a sense of community.
"We have to insist that during the undergraduate experience, and the experience that our graduate students have, that they develop an affinity for this place," Carilli said. What makes this place so special? How can we get students to recognize that the experience that they had over the past four years ... connected them to this place, hopefully for a lifetime?"
Formerly the associate dean of students at UT, Carilli expressed his hopes that, under his direction, the Division of Student Life could bring that desire for renewed school spirit to fruition.
"I still keep in touch with some of the students that I worked with and mentored when I was here as the dean of students and the associate dean, and they talk about this place with a sense of joy and pride that I think is really special in the higher-ed market," Carilli said. "And I think that that is something clearly that Student Affairs can help develop and Student Life can help develop in terms of doing that more and creating and building this affinity while they're on campus."