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A Win for Everyone: The Impact of Campus Buy-In on Student Life Initiatives

The Division of Student Life regularly organizes and executes large-scale initiatives and events throughout the school year. In 2022, University Housing and the Center for Student Engagement made the decision to seek assistance from outside of the division to make sure that events had as much campus involvement as possible.

Move-in and Homecoming are two significant events that have always lived within Student Life but impact most students at the university, including all first-year students. Because of the large footprint of each of these events, they become opportunities for the rest of campus to connect with students.


For many years, move-in for on-campus residents looked the same, until University Housing implemented a transformational process change in 2020. In order to safely move in residents while maintaining social distancing, an appointment-style process was implemented, making the day as easy and as safe as possible for new students.

“After implementing the appointment process, University Housing received overwhelmingly positive feedback about how much smoother move-in was for students and their families,” said Chandra Myrick, associate vice chancellor for Student Life. “The appointment process greatly reduced traffic on campus and gave staff the opportunity to provide more attention and support to students moving into the residence halls in smaller batches over a period of time.”

“The appointment process greatly reduced traffic on campus and gave staff the opportunity to provide more attention and support to students moving into the residence halls in smaller batches over a period of time.”

Additionally, University Housing staff participated in a campus task force this fall to promote a coordinated effort to enhance move-in and the first weeks of classes. This task force included staff from Student Life, Enrollment Management, Student Success, Business Services, UT Police Department, and the Provost’s Office.

“This task force evaluated how we were welcoming students and families to campus and created a more collaborative approach,” said Myrick. “The campus task force allowed us to create partnerships and build champions.”

In addition to the task force, University Housing also utilized more student, faculty, and staff volunteers as well as a third-party move-in company. Mass communications were distributed across campus to invite volunteers to welcome students and families to the city of Knoxville and the state of Tennessee for those coming from other states. Volunteers worked at the information tents, helped unload cars, and drove families back to residence halls in golf carts after they parked their vehicles. In total, move-in saw 70 faculty and staff volunteers from across campus, including senior administrators from the Chancellor’s cabinet.

Move-in saw 70 faculty and staff volunteers from across campus.

“Overall, the positive feedback we received about the move-in process from students, families, and our campus partners was largely due to more involvement from the campus community,” said Myrick. “I had a family reach out to me directly after move-in and tell me how happy they were with the experience. We also had faculty members in different colleges reach out about wanting to get their department involved next year for move-in.”

Anthony White, executive director of University Housing, and Myrick both noted how having more involvement from campus partners and having a successful move-in is a win for our whole campus. Partners from across campus had the opportunity to meet with the students who would be sitting in their classrooms, joining their organizations, attending their events, and were able to make a lasting first impression.


Homecoming is a decades-old tradition on UT’s campus, dating back to 1916. Each year offers a new opportunity to involve the campus community. Over the years, Homecoming celebrations have included student competitions, a parade, and many other events in addition to the end-of-the-week football game.

In years prior, staff in the Center for Student Engagement in Student Life and Multicultural Student Life were the primary organizers and planners for Homecoming events. Following Homecoming 2021, the staff saw the opportunity to expand the ownership of Homecoming across campus.

“We wanted to cast a wider net of input from our campus partners, so we started hosting Lunch and Learns meetings in April and May 2021 to plan for this fall,” said Ashleigh Moyer, director of the Center for Student Engagement. “We had a chance to take planning and campus involvement to the next level. We were able to take feedback from those planning sessions and plan new events for this year.”

Overall, there were 45 events during the week of Homecoming, and 2022 saw a 215% increase in student organization and department event registration. Host offices for the events included Student Life, Athletics, Alumni, the Chancellor’s Office, Multicultural Student Life, the Jones Center for Leadership and Service, the Division of Diversity and Engagement, the School of Music, and the College of Social Work.

“We were able to break down barriers for students and student organizations to participate in competition events with cost and the type of events we hosted,” said Moyer. While competition events have historically involved Greek-letter organizations, this year saw new competition events that involved students as individuals and student organizations. In total, there were 70 organizations involved in events and competitions this year.

Moyer credits this year’s Homecoming success to the partnerships that were built. The Homecoming spirit was felt across campus, with major involvement from departments, staff, faculty, students, alumni, and the community.