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University of Tennessee

University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee (The University of Tennessee, Knoxville; UT Knoxville; UTK; or UT) is a public research university in Knoxville, Tennessee. Founded in 1794, two years before Tennessee became the 16th state, it is the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee system, with ten undergraduate colleges and eleven graduate colleges. It hosts almost 28,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries. In its 2019 universities ranking, U.S. News & World Report ranked UT 115th among all national universities and 52nd among public institutions of higher learning. Seven of its alumni have been selected as Rhodes Scholars. James M. Buchanan, M.S. '41, received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economics. UT's ties to nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory, established under UT President Andrew Holt and continued under the UT–Battelle partnership, allow for considerable research opportunities for faculty and students.

Also affiliated with the university are the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility, and the University of Tennessee Arboretum, which occupies 250 acres (100 ha) of nearby Oak Ridge and features hundreds of species of plants indigenous to the region. The university is a direct partner of the University of Tennessee Medical Center, which is one of two Level I trauma centers in East Tennessee.

The University of Tennessee is the only university in the nation to have three presidential papers editing projects. The university holds collections of the papers of all three U.S. presidents from Tennessee—Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson. UT is one of the oldest public universities in the United States and the oldest secular institution west of the Eastern Continental Divide.

The University of Tennessee
Former names
Blount College (1794–1807)
East Tennessee College (1807–1840)
East Tennessee University (1840–1879)
MottoVeritatem cognoscetis, et veritas vos liberabit. (Latin)
Motto in English
You will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
TypeFlagship public university
EstablishedSeptember 10, 1794 (1794-09-10)
Parent institution
University of Tennessee system
Academic affiliations
Endowment$1.298 billion (2018)[1]
ChancellorDonde Plowman[2]
ProvostDavid Manderscheid
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students28,894 (Fall 2018)[4]
Undergraduates22,815 (Fall 2018)[4]
Postgraduates6,079 (Fall 2018)[4]
United States

35°57′6″N 83°55′48″W [70]
Campus600 acres (240 ha)[3]
Total: 2,128 acres (861 ha)[5][6][7]
ColorsUT Orange, White[8]
NicknameVolunteers & Lady Volunteers
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division I FBS – SEC
MascotSmokey X
Websitewww.utk.edu [71]
UT Knoxville logo 2015.svg
University rankings
U.S. News & World Report[28]104
Washington Monthly[29]138
U.S. News & World Report[33]202


Founding and early days

On September 10, 1794, two years before Tennessee became a state and at a meeting of the legislature of the Southwest Territory at Knoxville, the University of Tennessee was chartered as Blount College.[9] The new, all-male, non-sectarian institution struggled for 13 years with a small student body and faculty, and in 1807, the school was rechartered as East Tennessee College as a condition of receiving the proceeds from the settlement devised in the Compact of 1806. When Samuel Carrick, its first president and only faculty member, died in 1809, the school was temporarily closed until 1820. When it reopened, it began experiencing growing pains. Thomas Jefferson had previously recommended that the college leave its confining single building in the city and relocate to a place it could spread out. Coincidentally, in the Summer of 1826 (the year that Thomas Jefferson died), the trustees explored "Barbara Hill" (today known simply as The Hill) as a potential site and relocated there by 1828.[10] In 1840, the college was elevated to East Tennessee University (ETU). The school's status as a religiously non-affiliated institution of higher learning was unusual for the period of time in which it was chartered, and the school is generally recognized as the oldest such establishment of its kind west of the Appalachian Divide.[11]


Tennessee was a member of the Confederacy in 1862 when the Morrill Act was passed, providing for endowment funds from the sale of federal land to state agricultural colleges. On February 28, 1867, Congress passed a special Act making the State of Tennessee eligible to participate in the Morrill Act of 1862 program. In January 1869, ETU was designated as Tennessee's recipient of the Land-Grant designation and funds. In accepting the funds, the university would focus upon instructing students in military, agricultural, and mechanical subjects. ETU eventually received $396,000 as its endowment under the program. Trustees soon approved the establishment of a medical program under the auspices of the Nashville School of Medicine and added advanced degree programs. East Tennessee University was renamed the University of Tennessee in 1879 by the state legislature.[12]

World War II

During World War II, UT was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.[13]

Civil rights era

African-American attorney Rita Sanders Geier filed suit against the state of Tennessee in 1968 alleging that its higher education system remained segregated despite a federal mandate ordering desegregation. She claimed that the opening of a University of Tennessee campus at Nashville would lead to the creation of another predominantly white institution that would strip resources from Tennessee State University, the only state-funded Historically black university. The suit was not settled until 2001, when the Geier Consent Decree resulted in the appropriation of $77 million in state funding to increase diversity among student and faculty populations among all Tennessee institutions of higher learning.[14]



The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is the flagship campus of the statewide University of Tennessee system, which is governed by a 12-member board of trustees appointed by the Governor of Tennessee. The Board of Trustees appoints a president to oversee the operations of the system, four campuses, and two statewide institutes.[15] Randy Boyd, a former candidate for governor, is currently serving as interim president while a search is conducted for a replacement following the retirement of Joseph A. DiPietro.[16] The president appoints, with Board of Trustees approval, chancellors for each campus. The Knoxville campus is headed by interim Chancellor Wayne Davis who functions as the chief executive officer of the campus and is responsible for its daily administration and management. Beginning July 1, 2019, Chancellor-Elect Donde Plowman will take leadership of the Knoxville campus.[17] Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor David Manderscheid is responsible for the academic administration of the Knoxville campus and is a member of the Chancellor's Cabinet.[18]

Campus policing and security is provided by the University of Tennessee Police Department.


On December 15, 2016, the UT Board of Trustees confirmed Beverly J. Davenport as the next Chancellor of the Knoxville campus, succeeding Jimmy Cheek. She began her role on February 15, 2017, and was the first female Chancellor of UTK.[19] On May 2, 2018, UT President Joe DiPietro fired Davenport. DiPietro cited poor communication and interpersonal skills, amongst other reasons. The decision received criticism from the student body and faculty, as these reasons were also listed as strengths of Davenport, and why DiPietro chose to hire her a little over one year earlier.[20]


University of Tennessee Knoxville (2015)[21]

  • Educational and General Total: $578,766,711 Instruction: $263,257,573 Research: $41,848,637 Public Service: $11,287,642 Academic Support: $67,888,051 Student Services: $39,438,427 Institutional Support: $45,015,257 Operation/Maintenance of Physical Plant: $69,694,749 Scholarships and Fellowships: $59,827,375

  • Total budget: $758,407,168

According to the University's 2009 budget, state appropriations increased 26.4 percent from 2000 to 2009, although this amounts to only a 1.1 percent when adjusted for inflation.[22]

University Medical Center

The University of Tennessee Medical Center, administered by University Health Systems and affiliated with the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, collaborates with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center to attract and train the majority of its medical staff. Many doctors and nurses at UTMC have integrated careers as teachers and healthcare professionals, and the center promotes itself as the area's only academic, or "teaching hospital."

The University Medical Center is the primary referral center for East Tennessee, Western North Carolina, and Southeastern Kentucky. It is one of three Level I trauma centers in the East Tennessee geographic region. Extensive expansion programs were embarked upon the 1990s and 2000s (decade) and saw the construction of two sprawling additions to the hospital's campus, a new Cancer Institute and a Heart Lung Vascular Institute. The new UT Medical Center Heart Hospital received its first patient on April 27, 2010.[23]



UT College of Law

UT College of Law

*Demographics of the Student Body - Fall 2018*[[CITE|4|https://oira.utk.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/66/2018/10/FB-2018-Headcount-Enrollment-By-FT-PT-Level-Gender-and-race-1.pdf]]
Racial/ethnic group
Black or African American6%
Asian or Pacific Islander3.6%
American Indian
or Alaska Native
Two or more races3.1%

In Fall 2018, the university enrolled 22,815 undergraduate and 6,079 graduate and professional students; 51.4% of students are female, 48.6% are male.[3] UT hosts students from all 50 U.S. states and 90 foreign countries. More than 22,000 students come from Tennessee, and the next three most popular U.S. states are Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia. The top three home countries of international students are China, India, and Iran.[24]


The University of Tennessee is ranked tied for 45th among public universities of America and tied for 104th among all United States universities by U.S. News & World Report in its 2020 rankings.[34]

Specialty rankings are:

  • 2 UT College of Architecture and Design out of Southern Universities according to the journal DesignIntelligence in its publication "America's Best Architecture & Design Schools".[35]

  • 3 "LGBTQ-Unfriendly" by The Princeton Review (2019).[36]

  • 4 UT School of Art's Graduate Program in Printmaking, U.S. News & World Report (2012).

  • 5 UT Nuclear Engineering Graduate Program, U.S. News & World Report (2014).

  • 5 Best Athletic Facilities according to The Princeton Review (2012).[37]

  • 5 "Little Race/Class Interaction" by The Princeton Review (2019).[36]

  • 9 UT MBA Program by Forbes.[38]

  • 11 "Least-Beautiful Campus" by The Princeton Review (2019).[36]

  • 15 UT College of Social Work's Graduate Program, U.S. News & World Report (2012).

  • 17 UT Health Science Center - College of Pharmacy, U.S. News & World Report (2014).

  • 17 UT College of Information Sciences, U.S. News & World Report (2014).

  • 19 "Least Happy Students" by The Princeton Review (2019).[36]

  • 23 UT Physician Executive MBA program of the College of Business Administration, The Princeton Review (2012).[37]

  • 27 UT College of Business Business Administration Undergraduate Program, U.S. News & World Report (2012).

  • 26 UT College of Social Work, U.S. News & World Report (2012).

  • 32 UT College of Engineering Undergraduate Program, U.S. News & World Report (2012).

  • 37 UT College of Social Work, U.S. News & World Report (2014).

  • 45 UT School of Art, U.S. News & World Report (2014).

  • UT was listed as one of the "Best Value Colleges for 2014 - Public" by The Princeton Review.[39]

  • UT was ranked as a "Best Southeastern College" by The Princeton Review (2019).[36]

  • UT was recognized as a Green Campus by The Princeton Review (2019).[36]

  • The Master of Science in Business Analytics program is ranked as a "Big Data Analytics Master's Degrees: 20 Top Programs" by InformationWeek (2013).[40]


*Fall Freshman Statistics*[[CITE|41|https://oira.utk.edu/factbook/admissions]][[CITE|42|https://oira.utk.edu/factbook/admissions]]
% Admitted77.276.374.972.567.3
Average GPA3.893.893.793.853.89
Average SAT *11421159115911651172
Average ACT27.127.026.826.926.8
  • out of 1600

Admission to UT Knoxville is rated as "more selective" by U.S. News & World Report.[43]

For Fall 2016, UTK received 17,583 freshmen applications; 13,578 were admitted (77.2%) and 4,851 enrolled.[41] The average high school grade point average (GPA) of the enrolled freshmen was 3.89, while average SAT scores (out of 1600) were 1142, with the average ACT Composite score 27.1.[42]


The total research endowment of the UT Knoxville campus was $127,983,213 for FY 2006. UT Knoxville boasts several faculty who are among the leading contributors to their fields, including Harry McSween, generally recognized as one of the world's leading experts in the study of meteorites and a member of the science team for Mars Pathfinder and later a co-investigator for the Mars Odyssey and Mars Exploration Rovers projects.[44] The university also hosts Barry T. Rouse, an international award-winning Distinguished Professor of Microbiology who has conducted multiple NIH-funded studies on the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and who is a leading researcher in his field.[45] UT's agricultural research programs are considered to be among the most accomplished in the nation, and the School of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is home to the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Initiative, recognized by the United States Department of Energy as the "best local clean fuels program in America.".[46]

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Looking west along the Pedestrian Walkway

Looking west along the Pedestrian Walkway

The major hub of research at the University of Tennessee is Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), one of the largest government laboratories in the United States. ORNL is a major center of civilian and governmental research[47] and features two of the world's most powerful supercomputers.

SECU: the SEC Academic Initiative

The University of Tennessee is a member of the SEC Academic Consortium. Now renamed the SECU, the initiative was a collaborative endeavor designed to promote research, scholarship and achievement amongst the member universities in the Southeastern Conference. Along with the University of Georgia, University of Florida, Vanderbilt University, and other SEC institutions, SECU formed its mission to serve as a means to bolster collaborative academic endeavors of Southeastern Conference universities. Its goals include highlighting the endeavors and achievements of SEC faculty, students and its universities and advancing the academic reputation of SEC universities.[48][49]

Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy

The H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy [72] regularly holds events relative to the Center's three major areas areas of focus which are Energy & Environment, Global Security, and Leadership & Government. According to the Center's website, its missions is "to provide policy makers, citizens, scholars and students with the information and skills necessary to work effectively within our political system and to educate our local, state, national and global communities". The Center is housed in a 51,000 sq.ft., three-story domed building, which also serves as a gateway to the University of Tennessee campus and houses the Modern Political Archives (MPA), Chancellor's Honors Program and the Masters of Public Policy and Administration. The building also includes classrooms on the 2nd floor, MPA Research Room, Howard Baker Reading Room and Toyota Auditorium. Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy host The Institute for Nuclear Security, which brings the complete capabilities of the University community to bear on one of the most challenging issues of our time—nuclear security. Starting from 2015 the Institute has been publishing the International Journal of Nuclear Security [73] that aims to share and promote research and best practices in all areas of nuclear security. It provides an open-access, multi-disciplinary forum for scholarship and discussion. The journal encourages diversity in theoretical foundations, research methods, and approaches, asking contributors to analyze and include implications for policy and practice.[50]

Other Activities

In 2013, the University of Tennessee participated in the SEC Symposium in Atlanta which was organized and led by the University of Georgia and the UGA Bioenergy Systems Research Institute. The topic of the Symposium was titled, the "Impact of the Southeast in the World's Renewable Energy Future."[51]

Agricultural Campus

The University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility, nicknamed the "Body Farm", is located near the University of Tennessee Medical Center on Alcoa Highway (US 129). Founded by Dr. William M. Bass in 1972, the Body Farm endeavors to increase anthropological and forensic knowledge specifically related to the decomposition of the human body and is one of the leading centers for such research in the United States.[52]

Cherokee Research Campus

On March 16, 2009, the university broke ground on a 188-acre (76 ha) campus in downtown Knoxville that will be devoted to nanotechnology, neutron science, and materials science, energy and climate studies, environmental science, and biomedical science.[53]

Campus master plan

View of Europa and the Bull at McClung Plaza

View of Europa and the Bull at McClung Plaza

The university has implemented a 25-year (2001–2026) campus master plan that will facilitate a sweeping overhaul of campus design.[54] The plan is designed to make the campus more pedestrian-friendly by establishing large areas of open green space and relegating parking facilities to the periphery of the campus, and to increase the aesthetic appeal of the school by establishing uniform building design codes and by physically remodeling, restoring, and expanding existing academic, athletic, and housing facilities. Centrally located, iconic Ayres Hall underwent a massive upgrade as part of Phase I of the project, with work completed in 2011. The new Student Union has seen Phase 1 completion and is currently undergoing Phase 2, along with substantial new facilities for science, the performing arts, and athletics. An expected 3,000 new parking spaces will be developed along with improved mass transit and walking spaces. The plan calls for the removal of many of the roads that bisect the campus, along with the development of two new quads, one each on the main and agricultural campuses. Restoration and renovations of existing campus buildings are expected to be conducted in concert with historical preservationists when appropriate, according to the 2001 Master Plan document.[54]

Space Institute

The University of Tennessee Space Institute, located in Tullahoma, TN, is an extension of the Knoxville campus supporting research and graduate studies in aerospace engineering and related fields. The Space Institute is home to various supersonic wind tunnels used by the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering. This includes Mach 2, Mach 2.3, and Mach 4 facilities. A Mach 7 wind tunnel is also being constructed to support hypersonic flight research at the University of Tennessee. The Space Institute is also home to the Center of Laser Applications (CLA), a state center of excellence.

Student life


International House The International House is a popular gathering place for visiting international students and delegations and University of Tennessee students who have previously or are currently interested in studying abroad through the Programs Abroad Office. A full kitchen, meeting rooms, and a library provide support for frequent cultural events ranging from salsa dance lessons and nation-themed culture nights to Peace Corps interest meetings.[55]
Black Cultural Center The Black Cultural Center, or BCC, houses the Office of Minority Student Affairs and offers a student computer lab, free Spanish tutoring, and a textbook loan service for economically disadvantaged students. There is a small but well-stocked library featuring numerous works examining religious and minority issues, and the facility offers free use of its meeting rooms to campus organizations and their affiliates.[56]
Campus Events Board The Campus Events Board (CEB) is a student organization with nearly two hundred members that runs the majority of campus events, activities, and programs for the student body. CEB hosts around a hundred events per year and is consistently ranked as one of the best collegiate programming organizations in the nation. Examples include homecoming, lectures, concerts, raves, movies, art exhibitions, and dance performances. CEB runs both traditional events like the comedic skit competition "Carnicus" which is over a hundred years old and single-time events like musical performances or Culture Week.


The University of Tennessee has over 450 registered student organizations. These groups cater to a variety of interests and provide options for those interested in service, sports, arts, social activities, government, politics, cultural issues, and Greek societies.[57]

The university operates two radio stations: student-run The Rock (formerly the Torch)[58] (WUTK-FM 90.3 MHz) and National Public Radio affiliate WUOT-FM 91.9 MHz. The university's first radio station was on the AM frequency 850 kHz, a donation from Knoxville radio station WIVK-AM/FM. The Phoenix, a literary art magazine, is published in the fall and spring semesters and showcases student artistic creativity.

The Volunteer Channel

The Volunteer Channel (TVC) is the university's student run television station. TVC reaches nearly 7,000 UT students in residence halls and 100,000 residents in surrounding counties on Comcast Digital Channel 194.[59]

The Daily Beacon

The Daily Beacon is the editorially independent student newspaper of UT's campus. It prints 6,000 daily copies twice weekly and produces daily online content, about the campus and the surrounding downtown areas. It began in 1906 as The Orange & White, and has been a staple on the campus landscape ever since. It is also one of the few daily collegiate newspapers in the United States.[60]

Greek institutions

The University of Tennessee hosts 22 sororities and 30 fraternities.


Neyland Stadium

Neyland Stadium

UT athletics logo

UT athletics logo

Tennessee competes in the Southeastern Conference's (SEC) Eastern Division, along with Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt, and has longstanding football rivalries with all except for Missouri, which did not join the SEC until 2012. The only UT team that does not compete in the SEC is the women's rowing program, which competes as a single-sport member of the Big 12 Conference.

The Tennessee Lady Volunteers basketball team has won eight NCAA Division I titles (1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007, 2008); only Connecticut, with nine titles, has more championships. They are currently led by Holly Warlick. She succeeded Pat Summitt, the all-time winningest basketball coach in NCAA history. Summitt's 1,000th victory occurred on February 5, 2009, and she boasts a 100 percent graduation rate for all players who finish their career at UT. Women's basketball rivals for Tennessee within the conference include Georgia, Vanderbilt, and LSU.

UT's best-known athletic facility by far is Neyland Stadium, home to the football team, which seats 102,455 people and is one of the country's largest facilities of its type.

In August 2014, University of Tennessee students were given the opportunity to vote for a name for the Neyland Stadium student section. The name "Rocky Top Rowdies" was selected over "General's Quarters", "Smokey's Howl", "Vol Army", and "Big Orange Crew." [61]

On November 10, 2014, as part of a university-wide branding overhaul, the UT athletic department announced that starting with the 2015–16 school year, all UT women's teams except for basketball would drop "Lady" from their nickname and become simply "Volunteers". The rebranding will coincide with UT's switch from Adidas to Nike as its uniform supplier.[62]

Club sports

The university also offers a number of recreational sports, many offering intercollegiate play. Sports include rugby, soccer, wrestling, hockey, running, crew, golf and paintball.[63] Teams often join intercollegiate conferences, such as the South Eastern Collegiate Hockey Conference, or play Southeastern Conference and in other rivals on a regular basis.


Charles Moore, president of the university's athletic association, chose orange and white for the school colors on April 12, 1889. His inspiration is said to have come from orange and white daisies which grew on the Hill. To this day there are still orange and white flowers grown outside the University Center. Although students confirmed the colors at a special meeting in 1892, dissatisfaction caused the colors to be dropped. No other acceptable colors could be agreed on, however, and the original colors were reinstated a day later. The University of Tennessee's official colors are UT Orange (Pantone 151), White, and Smokey Gray (Pantone 426).[64]

Pride of the Southland Band

5 min video of the open of a football game

5 min video of the open of a football game

The Pride of the Southland Band (or simply The Pride) is UT's marching band. As one of the oldest institutions at the university, the band partakes in many of the gameday traditions. At every home game, the Pride performs the "March to the Stadium" which includes a parade sequence and climaxes when the band stops at the bottom of The Hill and performs the "Salute to the Hill", an homage to the history and legacy of the university. The band is known for its pregame show at the beginning of every home game, which ends with the football team running onto the field through the "Opening of the T".



Tennessee is known as the "Volunteer State" for the large number of Tennesseans who volunteered for duty in the War of 1812, the Mexican–American War, and the American Civil War. A UT athletic team was dubbed the Volunteers for the first time in 1902 by the Atlanta Constitution following a football game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, although the Knoxville Journal and Tribune did not use the name until 1905. By the fall of 1905 both the Journal and the then-Sentinel were using the nickname.[65]

The Rock

Unearthed in the 1960s, the Rock probably soon thereafter became a "canvas" for student messages. For years the university sandblasted away the messages but eventually deferred to students' artistic endeavors. The Daily Beacon has editorialized: "Originally a smaller rock, The Rock has grown in prestige and size while thousands of coats of paint have been thrown on its jagged face. Really, its function is as an open forum for students."[66]

Notable people

See also

  • East Tennessee Female Institute

  • East Tennessee Historical Society

  • University of Tennessee Press


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