The Charles R. Burchett Extraordinary Contributions to Campus Life award is named for the World War II veteran, former Knox County Schools administrator, and UT dean of students to honor students and student organizations for extraordinary contributions to campus life.
Understanding UT traditions, being a part of those traditions, and creating new traditions— all fall within the mission of UNITE. A new program of the Student Alumni Associates, UNITE began in 2009 and now has 1,490 members. UNITE engages undergraduates from the moment they arrive on campus with the goal of connecting them to alumni and our university. UNITE members also enjoy social activities and participate in philanthropic projects. Every Wednesday before selected home football games, UNITE members attend a tailgate and pick up t-shirts to wear for that week’s game. Other activities include UNITE Day, the Orange and White Week Ice Cream Social, Campout at the Summitt, and an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Neyland Stadium. This year, UNITE members created several new events, including the True Vol Expedition, a scavenger hunt to help members learn UT traditions, and VolNites, where UNITE members meet with accomplished alumni. UNITE also gives back to the community through a canned food drive, participation in Relay for Life, collecting toiletries and school supplies for elementary school students, and creating handmade cards for patients in East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
Want to know the back story on The Rock? The meaning of the Torchbearer? Some little-known facts about UT? The UT Ambassadors can tell you. This group of forty-two students gives official campus tours and helps with undergraduate recruitment events. The number of campus visitors has risen sharply over the years. Since the Visitors Center became the main point of welcome for the campus six years ago, UT has averaged about 16,000 visitors annually; last year, there were more than 26,000. Despite this growth, the number of ambassadors has remained steady, requiring these students to work harder and more efficiently than ever. The UT Ambassador program no longer provides scholarships as it did in years past, but it continues to draw exceptionally qualified and enthusiastic members. “Many student leaders today attribute their enrollment at UT and their passion for it to their campus tours. The UT ambassadors’ knowledge and charisma drive the recruitment strategy,” Admissions Assistant Director Laura Stansell says in her nomination. “They are loyal, they are dedicated, and they are true Volunteers.”