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Event Recap: What Does it Mean to be a Volunteer

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Jacob Rudolph, M.A

Jacob Rudolph, M.A. is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. PRSA Volunteer Chapter hosted Rudolph’s discussion on UT’s brand message strategy. Wednesday, October 26, at Calhoun’s on the River. Rudolph began by saying there are over 4000 universities in the United States. How does UT differentiate itself from the parents, students, and future students? What does it mean to be a Volunteer and to have a “Volunteer Spirit?”

We first looked at the three pillars of UT’s message strategy to answer this question. The first pillar is the “Volunteer Spirit,” and it defines the state of Tennessee. Not one student graduating from UT says they did it all alone. Admitting to this university feels like you’re joining a family that never gives up on you and encourages you to follow your dreams. The compassionate effort we all put in will benefit the greater whole of not only Knoxville, but the state of Tennessee. With every story produced or Instagram post UT, wants the audience to feel the community, and to stay motivated.

Pillar two is “the Pursuit of Knowledge.” A university to promote its intellectual ability is no surprise, but UT has a different approach. Chasing down problems is never done alone, so collaboration and partnerships are key. UT’s partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Forensic Anthropology Center, and Land-Grant Films is pillar two in action. The work all these partnerships offer invites discovery, experience, and humanitarianism. Wherever a family member of UT goes, incorporating Tennessee values with every connection makes work meaningful in our pursuit of knowledge.

The statue holding a lit torch with graduates behind it.

 “Volunteers All” is the last pillar. “One that beareth a torch shadoweth oneself to give light to others” is inscribed on the academic mascot, the Torchbearer. This message develops its own meaning for every student, but generally, it promotes compassionate and selfless leadership. Nearly a third of all students are federal Pell grant recipients, and a quarter are first-generation. UT offers indiscriminate education opportunities and a plethora of student resources, all for free-leading by example.

You can learn more about the UT brand online at https://brand.utk.edu/. “Simply put, our brand is our institution’s reputation. It is how we present ourselves and how we are perceived by others.”

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