UTIA Family, please refer to utk.edu/coronavirus for the latest updates and student information. For UTIA-specific resources, including event information and county office status, please visit utia.tennessee.edu/coronavirus .

A Decade of Excellence

Ten-Year Strategic Plan for UTIA, 2018-2028

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) is at the core of the land-grant mission. We fulfill that mission through the excellent and innovative work of outstanding faculty, staff, and students.

The challenges ahead of us are significant as we look to create Real. Life. Solutions. for our state’s and our world’s most pressing agricultural issues. This strategic plan serves as our guide.

As we celebrate fifty years as the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, it is only fitting that we honor the past while turning our focus to the future. In 2017, UTIA began the process of creating a new strategic plan to guide the Institute through its next decade. The result, A Decade of Excellence, will provide a framework for faculty and staff as we work to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world. Population growth, evolving technology, and increasing globalization create great challenges—and perhaps even greater opportunities for UTIA to improve the lives of people in our state and across the globe. With experts in many diverse areas, UTIA is poised to help ease Tennessee’s educational attainment gaps, bolster economic opportunities on and off the farm, conserve natural resources, provide solutions to complex health and family challenges, and help the Tennessee farming community transition to the next generation. Through its commitment to the land-grant mission and unique ability to create holistic solutions that span disciplines, UTIA will:

  • Drive Discovery
  • Expand Real Life Learning 
  • Rapidly Deploy Solutions 
  • Deliver Programs that Improve Lives 
  • Grow and Diversify Resources 
  • Improve Institute Effectiveness

When the University of Tennessee System Board of Trustees met in 1968 to consider the creation of the Institute of Agriculture, Ed Boling, then-vice president for development and administration, stressed that agriculture’s connection throughout the state, coupled with the Institute’s unique and powerful service programs, further strengthened UT’s land-grant mission. Thanks to the foresight of Boling and others, we are in a strong position to serve. Given the competing challenges we face, our faculty and staff can connect across our strengths to better serve our mission and clients. This is an Institute of Agriculture plan for good reason. Working together we have the ability to change the world by providing Real. Life. Solutions. for many years to come.

Tim Cross
UTIA Chancellor

Chris Clark and Serena Matsunaga, co-chairs 

David Anderson, Barbara Berry, Max Cheng, Lisa Ford, David Golden, Bob Hayes, Diane Hendrix, Frank Loeffler, April Moore Massengill, Bonnie Ownley, Kyle Hensley, Justin Rhinehart, Rhedona Rose, Mike Stanley, Carrie Stephens, Julia Wells, Leslie Wereszczak, Charles Wharton

Our Mission

As a land-grant institute, we provide Real. Life. Solutions. through teaching, discovery, and service.

Our Vision

Over the next decade, we will excel as an Institute by developing practical solutions and services that advance agriculture, education, natural resource management, human and animal health, and our communities.

To accomplish our vision we will . . .

  • Connect across strengths within UTIA and with partners.
  • Focus on grand challenges and established priorities.
  • Help people and communities adapt to an ever-changing world.

Our Values

  • Respect
  • Science-based solutions
  • Diversity
  • Responsiveness to constituent needs
  • Transparency
  • Accountability

Our Priorities

We are committed to discovery and solutions that boost our economy, protect the environment, and enhance health for the people of Tennessee and our world.

  • Supporting food, fiber, and energy systems
  • Enhancing biodiversity and environmental quality
  • Enriching our economy
  • Developing our workforce
  • Strengthening our health


Cultivate innovation and invention to meet the grand challenges of tomorrow by collaborating within our organization and with outside partners and by building on existing strengths.

Strategies and Actions

Seed and Support Innovation

  • Develop collaborative, cutting-edge initiatives aligned with UTIA priorities.
  • Expand doctoral education to support research activities (see Goal 2).

Launch Collaborative Partnerships

  • Launch collaborative ventures with long-term funding from extramural and/or philanthropic sources.

Facilitate Participation and Integration across Units

  • Increase the number of faculty and staff participating in externally funded projects.
  • Increase the number of graduate and undergraduate students participating in research and outreach programs.

Lead on a Regional, National, and Global Scale

  • Increasingly serve as the lead institution on research grants.
  • Increase faculty, staff, and student awards and recognitions by professional associations.


  • Launch collaborative ventures through partnerships.
  • Increase scholarly output.
  • Increase recognition of faculty, staff, and students by professional associations.
  • Increase total extramural funding.


Develop students and professionals to be lifelong learners and leaders in the agriculture, natural resource, and public and animal health industries.

Strategies and Actions

Increase Relevance to Learners

  • Design and offer educational programs aligned with industry opportunities and the changing needs of learners.
  • Conduct periodic needs assessments with employers to guide curriculum design and reinforce the skills needed to excel in diverse work environments and ensure quality.

Expand Access

  • Reach new audiences with existing and new educational programs delivered through a variety of platforms (e.g., online learning, certificates, continuing education).
  • Increase access for mid-career professionals; offer course credit for relevant military and work experience.
  • Increase scholarships and financial aid for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

Deliver Real Life Learning

  • Enhance opportunities for experiential learning (e.g., international experience, student engagement in research, internships in industry and Extension, hands-on classroom and field activities).
  • Promote a welcoming and inclusive environment for student learning.
  • Prepare students to thrive in a global and diverse workplace.


  • Increase offerings and number of youth program participants involved in workforce preparation learning experiences.
  • Increase academic degrees awarded.
  • Increase certificates awarded.


Rapidly deploy practical, cutting-edge solutions through effective use of innovative educational methods across a variety of platforms.

Strategies and Actions

Learn from Collaboration

  • Identify and promote successes and best practices to serve as models for Institute-wide application.
  • Develop and promote strategies (e.g., commodity days, topical websites) to efficiently share information among researchers, specialists, agents, and partners.
  • Support and incentivize collaboration across missions, units, and departments.

Package for Rapid Delivery

  • Disseminate information through multifaceted delivery methods and channels (e.g., printed publications, website, audio/podcast, video, mobile accessible).
  • Package basic information to rapidly deploy as needed through social media and other methods.

Support Entrepreneurship

  • Support clientele, students, and faculty/staff in start-up, technology commercialization, and new venture formation.


  • Increase digital contacts.
  • Increase number of start-ups or early stage businesses supported.


Deliver programs that improve health and well-being, conserve natural resources, and help Tennesseans adapt to a rapidly changing world.

Strategies and Actions

Leverage Objective, Research-Based Information

  • Accelerate the verification and dissemination of basic to applied and translational research (see Goal 3).
  • Grow and leverage partnerships with industry and agencies.

Promote Education, Health, and Well-Being

  • Expand educational access (see Goal 2).
  • Enhance efforts to improve the health and well-being of families and communities.
  • Develop leadership, citizenship, and life skills of youth and adults through education and outreach programs (e.g., Extension Master Gardener, 4-H, etc.).
  • Augment efforts to use comparative medicine to improve animal and public health.

Support Rural Development

  • Leverage county, state, and federal resources to promote economic and community development.
  • Encourage innovation and technology transfer to invigorate rural economies.

Engage Urban Communities

  • Engage Tennessee’s urban communities in the sustainable production of food, fiber, and energy and the conservation of natural resources.


  • Increase number of participants in outreach and engagement activities.
  • Increase total estimated economic impact of programs.


Strengthen our relationships with funding partners by demonstrating relevant impact; diversify our sources of funding through entrepreneurship and new partnerships.

Strategies and Actions


  • Identify and demonstrate relevant impact on stakeholders.
  • Inspire alumni and contacts to advocate for us.

Grow Philanthropy

  • Increase endowment and philanthropic giving.
  • Increase philanthropic participation by alumni.

Grow through Strategic Partnerships

  • Increase federally funded research by leveraging capacity for basic-translational-applied research and developing new strengths.
  • Expand funding partnerships with industry and private giving.

Encourage Entrepreneurial Activity

  • Pursue appropriate fee-for-service opportunities that align with our mission.


  • Increase total gifts, pledges, and bequests.
  • Increase alumni giving rates.
  • Increase total extramural funding.
  • Increase amount of self-generated revenue.


Reinforce a positive work culture, increase efficiency and productivity, and simplify administrative processes.

Strategies and Actions

Adapt Resource Allocation

  • Develop and implement resource allocation processes that are responsive to changing needs across the mission areas.
  • Track faculty and staff productivity measures to match workloads with department and unit needs.
  • Adapt administrative infrastructure to support effective operations (e.g., information technology, human resources, finance, and communication).

Enhance Work Culture

  • Enhance ability to recruit and retain diverse and productive faculty and staff by improving hiring, diversity and inclusion, promotion and tenure, and annual review processes.
  • Evaluate and address salary gaps.
  • Encourage and support professional development.
  • Extend faculty and staff career ladder structures to incent continuous professional development.

Align Management Incentives with Strategic Goals

  • Promote collaboration across units by adopting shared incentives and metrics for leadership evaluation.
  • Align incentives to support entrepreneurial activity and allow for calculated risks.

Increase Administrative Efficiency

  • Automate processes to improve efficiency and reduce complexity.
  • Review and revise policies for clarity, necessity, and consistency.
  • Avoid administrative duplication and redundancies.
  • Simplify reporting processes and tools.


  • Reduce salary gap.
  • Increase cost avoidance from administrative efficiencies.

Drive Innovation

  • Collaborative Initiatives Started from Partnerships, Based on Priorities (SEEDS) – new in 2018, with a 2020 target of one and ten-year goal of five.
  • Publications* – 2018 baseline of 393, with a 2020 target of plus 4 percent and ten-year goal of +20%.
  • Presentations* – 2018 baseline of 486, with a 2020 target of plus 4 percent and ten-year goal of +20%.
  • Professional Recognitions** – new in 2018, with a 2020 target of 4 per year and ten-year goal of 40.

Expand Real Life Learning

  • Students in Youth Programs with Workforce Experiences – new in 2018, with a 2020 target of +5% and ten-year goal of +25%.
  • Academic Degrees awarded:
    • Undergraduate total – 2018 baseline of 322, with a 2020 target of plus 3 percent and ten-year goal of plus 15 percent.
    • Graduate total – 2018 baseline of 163, with a 2020 target of plus 2 percent and ten-year goal of plus 10 percent. Graduate baseline of 163 includes 66 master’s/professional students, 17 doctoral students, and 80 DVM students.
  • Certificates Awarded – new in 2018, with a 2020 target of plus 10 percent and ten-year goal of plus 50 percent.

Rapidly Deploy Solutions

  • Total Digital Contacts – new in 2018, with a 2020 target of plus 10 percent and ten-year goal of plus 50 percent.
  • Start-ups/Early Stage Businesses Supported – new in 2018, with a 2020 target of five and ten-year goal of 20.

Deliver Services that Improve Lives

  • Number of Participants in Outreach and Engagement Activities (Total Direct Contacts)+ – 2018 baseline of 4 million, with a 2020 target of 4.4 million and ten-year goal of plus 50 percent.
  • Estimated Economic Impact of Programs – new in 2018, with a 2020 target of plus 5 percent and ten-year goal of plus 25 percent.

Strengthen and Diversify Resources

  • Gifts, Pledges, and Bequests+ – 2018 baseline of $22 million, with a 2020 target of $25 million and ten-year goal of $30 million.
  • Alumni Participation Rate – 2018 baseline of 10.9 percent, with a 2020 target of 12 percent and ten-year goal of 18 percent.
  • Extramural Funding (3-year average)+ – 2018 baseline of $45 million, with a 2020 target of $48 million and ten-year goal of $55 million.
  • Sales and Services (Self-Generated)+ – 2018 baseline of $8.8 million, with a 2020 target of $9.7 million and ten-year goal of $13.2 million.

Improve Institute Effectiveness

  • Salary Gap+ – New in 2018, with a 2020 target to be determined, and ten-year goal within range.
  • Cost Avoidance from Efficiencies – new in 2018, with a 2020 target of $2 million and a ten-year goal of $10 million.


+ UT System/Budget Advisory Group Metric
* Publications and Presentations: Peer-reviewed publications, edited books, authored book chapters, scientific presentations.
** Professional Recognitions: Faculty and staff with recognitions from a compiled list (TBD) of specific professional organizations as invited/keynote speakers, awards, invited memberships.

Supporting Food, Fiber, and Energy Systems

Safe, sustainable agricultural systems that are socially, economically, and environmentally responsible are key to enhancing the lives of Tennesseans and supporting a growing global population. We’re exploring ways to deliver discoveries using a systems approach to agriculture productivity that will provide customizable solutions for producers.

Enhancing Biodiversity and Environmental Quality

When it comes to plants and animals, Tennessee is one of the most environmentally diverse states in the nation. It’s vital that all of us work together to protect the earth for ourselves and those who come after us. Through collaboration among UTIA researchers, industry, producers, environmental groups, and government, we can help preserve a diverse and resilient environment for future generations.

Enriching Our Economy

Helping farms and agriculture businesses become more profitable boosts the local economy as well as our state’s diverse and growing economy. From farmers markets to agritourism to a rich agricultural history, we want to share an engaging experience of the rural lifestyle with visitors from across the country and the world.

Developing Our Workforce

A key component for thriving communities is a strong workforce in rural and urban areas. UTIA plays a major role in educating students moving into that workforce to solve present and upcoming challenges. Through outreach and engagement UTIA also is educating youth to better understand the vital role that agriculture and animal industries play in people’s lives and the career opportunities these industries provide.

Strengthening Our Health

Making healthy choices is important for humans, animals, and even our planet. As a leader in nutrition, animal welfare, and environmental education, we’re working to understand how food, physical, activity, and social intervention affect overall health. These efforts will help us lead healthier lives for generations to come.

This page is intended to be a text-only version of A Decade of Excellence: Ten-Year Strategic Plan for UTIA. A designed PDF of the printed piece, including a visual rendering of metrics, is also available.

Additional Institute and Unit Planning Documents

Herbert College of Agriculture
UT AgResearch
UT Extension
UTIA Priorities
Herbert College of Agriculture Graduate Survey
Herbert College of Agriculture Undergraduate Survey
UTIA Faculty and Staff Survey
UTIA Stakeholder Survey