Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, August 25, 2023

UTC Honors College, Chattanooga collaborate on citywide solutions

Linda Frost, dean of the UTC Honors College, and Steve Wilson, director of Innovation and Special Projects for the city of Chattanooga, sign a strategic partnership agreement Aug. 19 in the Guerry Center Reading Room on the UTC campus. Chancellor Steven Angle and Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly look on. - Photograph provided

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Honors College is joining forces with the city of Chattanooga to find new and better ways to solve some of the city’s problems.

The UTC Innovations in Honors program and the Chattanooga Department of Innovation Delivery and Performance have agreed to collaborate on developing solutions to citywide challenges involving public housing and health during the 2023-2024 academic year.

UTC Chancellor Steven Angle, Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly, Honors College Dean Linda Frost and a group of students enrolled in the honors program were among the attendees at the agreement signing Aug. 19 in the Guerry Center on the university’s campus.

“From the city’s perspective, we have some gnarly problems,” Tim Moreland, administrator of the Department of Innovation Delivery and Performance, told the students. “You’re going to be chewing on some of those problems with us. You can help us learn new things about these issues.”

Students will work with the city as part of the UTC Honors College Innovation Labs.

Dr. Drew Bailey, UC Foundation professor and program coordinator for the Sport, Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management program in the Department of Health and Human Performance, will focus on Chattanooga being recognized as a National Park City.

Dr. Karissa Peyer, associate professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance, will concentrate on highlighting the health benefits of physical activity and linking Chattanooga residents to physical activity support in their neighborhoods.

Dr. Chris Acuff, UC Foundation assistant professor of public administration in the department of political science and public service, will focus on developing policy recommendations for affordable housing in Chattanooga.

“One of the roles of this university is to be a talent importer – to bring you here, to connect you to this community and its problems and opportunities, and to empower you to contribute to the solutions,” Angle told the students. “Think of Chattanooga as your future.”

Kelly said the idea some have that government only gets in the way of progress is wrong, but success takes cooperation from people across the city. Yes, Chattanooga has problems, he said, but they aren’t impossible to address.

“Chattanooga is not so big that people just throw up their hands and say, ‘We can’t do anything about it.’ You can. There are a lot of interesting problems we can solve together.”

For the students, the collaboration between UTC and the city is a chance to work on real-world issues that need “critical thinking, empathetic, research and problem-solving skills,” Frost said.

She said the students will learn from their successes and – just as crucial – their failures.

“You’ll come away from your Innovation Labs with excellent stories to tell, not just about what worked and what you got right but also what didn’t work and how you responded to those failures.”