University of Tennessee | History and definition of the University of Tennessee | University of Tennessee Logo

The University of Tennessee, sometimes called the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is a public land-grant university headquartered at Knoxville. Founded in 1794, it is the flagship institution of the statewide University of Tennessee system with nine undergraduate colleges and eleven graduate colleges and hosts almost 28,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries. In its 2011 ranking of universities, U.S. News & World Report ranked UTK among the best national universities and public institutions of higher learning at 104th of all national universities. Its ties to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, established under UT President Andrew Holt and continued under the UT-Battelle partnership, have positioned the University as co-manager and allow for considerable research opportunities for faculty and students enjoyed by few other institutions of comparable standing.

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 (1.0 km2) of nearby Oak Ridge, Tennessee and features hundreds of species of plants indigenous to the region. The University is a direct partner of the University of Tennessee Medical Center, it is one of two Level I trauma center in the East Tennessee region and a self-proclaimed 'teaching hospital' due to its aggressive medical research programs and position as the primary career destination for most medical school graduates of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center at Memphis.

Known for its passionate football tradition, Tennessee's primary economic engine and largest institute of higher learning, the University was nearly destroyed during the Civil War, but rebounded with substantial growth during the Reconstruction era of the United States. The University of Tennessee is the only university in the nation to have three presidential papers editing projects and holds collections of the papers of all three U.S. presidents from Tennessee—Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson.

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. 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, and in 1840 was elevated to East Tennessee University. 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.

East Tennessee was considered to be a bastion of Union sympathies throughout the American Civil War, although the University and the city of Knoxville were fairly divided for the duration of the conflict. As the threat of armed conflict between Union and Confederate forces loomed over the city of Knoxville, UT was forced to close its doors to students at the onset of the Siege of Knoxville and the campus's main buildings were requisitioned as hospitals and barracks. The school and its grounds suffered severe damage not only from the Battle of Fort Sanders, but also from its unfortunate position between Union artillery based at Fort Sanders, situated immediately to the north of the 40-acre (160,000 m2) campus, and Fort Dickerson to the south, overlooking the school from a bluff rising above the southern bank of the Tennessee River.

Tennessee was a member of the Confederacy in 1862 with 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, East Tennessee University 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. UT 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.

The first African Americans were admitted to the graduate and law schools following a suit filed in federal district court in 1952. The first master's degree was awarded to a black student in 1954, the first Law degree (LlB) in 1956, and the first doctoral degree (Ed.D.) in 1959. Black undergraduates were admitted 1961; the first black faculty member was appointed in 1964. Integration went fairly smoothly; Black students had more difficulty gaining entry to eating establishments and places of entertainment off campus than they did attending class on campus. Overall, Knoxville and the University had fewer racial troubles in the 1950s and 1960s than did other southern universities.

Despite this climate, 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, Tennessee 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.

In 1968, the university underwent an administrative reorganization which left the Knoxville campus as the flagship and headquarters of its new "university system," comprising the UT Health Science Center at Memphis, a four-year college at Martin, the formerly private University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (added a year later), the UT Space Institute at Tullahoma, and the Knoxville-based College of Veterinary Medicine, Agriculture Institute, and Public Service Institute. An additional primary campus in Nashville had a brief existence from 1971 to 1979 before it was ordered closed and merged with Tennessee State University.

The University of Tennessee's flagship campus in Knoxville hosts the Institute of Agriculture and the Institute for Public Service. The UT Health Science Center at Memphis and the UT Space Institute at Tullahoma are specialized campuses but are not separate institutions.

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville is the flagship campus of the statewide University of Tennessee system, which is governed by a 26-member board of trustees appointed by the Governor of Tennessee. The campus is headed by a Chancellor who functions as the chief executive officer of the campus, responsible for its daily administration and management. The chancellor reports to the President of the university system and is elected annually by the UT Board of Trustees at the recommendation of the system president. Dr. Jimmy G. Cheek has been Chancellor of the Knoxville campus since February 1, 2009. Dr. Joseph A. DiPietro has been system president since January 1, 2011. Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan D. Martin is responsible for the academic administration of the Knoxville campus and reports directly to the Chancellor.

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." Serving on the UTMC Board of Directors are the President of the University of Tennessee, the Chancellor of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and UT President Emeritus Joseph E. Johnson, Ph.D.

The University Medical Center is the primary referral center for Eastern Tennessee, Western North Carolina, and Southeastern Kentucky and along with Johnson City Medical Center, it is one of two Level I trauma centers in the East Tennessee geographic region. Extensive expansion programs were embarked upon the 1990s and 2000s 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. The facility is served by LIFESTAR, a fleet of Bell helicopters providing aeromedical evacuation support within a 150-mile (240 km) radius of Knoxville.

During the 2007-2008 academic calendar year, The University of Tennessee at Knoxville had a total enrollment of 21,132 undergraduate and 5,670 graduate and professional students. UT hosts students from all 50 U.S. states and more than 100 foreign countries, although the majority of undergraduates hail from the American Southeast states of Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia, with more than 14,000 from Tennessee alone. 51% of students are female, 49% are male, and 16% of UT students identify themselves as non-caucasian.

UT offers its students more than 300 degree programs in its eleven colleges of: Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Communication and Information, Health, Education, and Human Sciences, Engineering, Law, Nursing, Social Work, and Veterinary Medicine, and offers two intercollegiate programs in Aviation Systems, through the University of Tennessee Space Institute at Tullahoma, and Cooperative and Experimental Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. The University employs 1,550 full-time faculty members, of whom 57% are tenured and 81% claim a Ph.D or other terminal degree in their respective fields. As of the 2007-2008 academic year, 71% of courses taken featured class sizes smaller than 30 students, and students at the Knoxville campus enjoy a 16:1 ratio of faculty-to-students.

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 Dr. 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. The University also hosts Dr. 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. 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.". UT Knoxville operates the most powerful US academic supercomputer, Kraken, a National Institute for Computational Sciences supercomputer hosted on the Oak Ridge National Laboratory campus.

The university traces its roots to September 10, 1794, two years before Tennessee was admitted to the Union as the 16th state, when Blount College was established by the legislature of the Southwest Territory as one of the first three colleges chartered west of the Appalachian Mountains. At this time, Knoxville was the territorial capital and the area of land occupied by the University was largely farmland bordering a broad stretch of the Tennessee River. In 1807 the school was rechristened East Tennessee College and in 1828 was moved from Gay Street in downtown Knoxville to a 40 acre (160,000 m²) tract known as Barbara Hill, named in honor of Governor Blount's daughter, and was renamed East Tennessee University in 1848. Known to students and alumni today as simply "The Hill," it is only a small part of the Knoxville campus but constitutes a veritable acropolis of expansive and well-preserved red-brick buildings. Construction of the iconic Ayres Hall was completed in 1921 following the Tennessee State Legislature's first $1 million appropriation, and today that structure remains the most widely recognized symbol of the flagship Knoxville campus.

The main Knoxville campus can be divided into three distinct blocks of housing, academic, and athletic structures. Two main avenues of traffic, Volunteer Boulevard and Andy Holt Avenue bisect the campus, intersecting with smaller side streets. The majority of dormitories share a north street face along Andy Holt Avenue, which is broken by the Pedestrian Mall and Walkway between the John C. Hodges Library and the Humanities Plaza complex. The terrain of the campus is mostly hilly in its outlay and the school is bound by the Tennessee River to the South and a section of U.S. Route 70 to the North. Known to Knoxvillians as Cumberland Avenue and to UT students and faculty simply as "The Strip," this roughly half-mile stretch of road is home to many businesses and eateries serving the University population and is a popular entertainment venue throughout the year.

A number of capital improvement project were undertaken in the 1990s and 2000s and resulted in major additions to the campus, including the James A. Haslam II Business Building, the Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy Building, and the Joe Johnson and John Ward Pedestrian Mall that replaced a section of Andy Holt Avenue which had previously separated the central student study hub of John C. Hodges Library from the heavily trafficked Humanities Plaza office and classroom complex. That project was a significant beautification effort which established a central, tree-lined commons area for the Knoxville campus, complete with an amphitheater and a large expanse of open green space with a panoramic vista of The Hill and downtown Knoxville.

The campus is well served by the "T," a fleet of brightly painted orange buses operated by biodiesel fuels, transporting University faculty, students, and staff at no charge. The "T-Link" is an on-call taxi service available after dark to students who are not comfortable traveling alone on campus or through adjoining residential neighborhoods such as the popular Fort Sanders, and is offered at no charge to students who present a valid UT student ID card.

The University of Tennessee Agricultural Campus is directly adjacent to the main Knoxville campus and is home to the largest portion of the University's principle agricultural and natural sciences research infrastructure, but occupies only a fraction of the total lands held by the University for research purposes. The Ag Campus is the site of UT's Plant Biotech Building and associated facilities, the Biosystems Engineering and Environmental Sciences facility, UT's College of Veterinary Medicine and its associated teaching hospital of veterinary medicine, the Pendergrass Library Agricultural and Veterinary Medicine Library, the Tennessee Division of Forestry, UT's new Business Incubator, built in conjunction with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Forestry Products and Resources facility, vast greenhouses and growth chambers, and the administrative offices and multiple classroom halls devoted to UT's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Numerous sites further afield, in both Knox County and Blount County are held by the University and are devoted to multiple endeavors of agricultural and forestry sciences, including the cultivation and research of forestry products and the production of biofuels. The UT Gardens occupy the portion of the Ag Campus bordering the Tennessee River and feature hundreds of species of native plants and constitute a sizable arboretum that is open to University affiliates and the public throughout the year.

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.

On March 16, 2009, the University broke ground on a 188 acres (76 ha) campus in downtown Knoxville which will feature new, world-class facilities devoted to the pursuit of nanotechnology, neutron science, and materials sciences, energy and climate studies, environmental science, and biomedical science.[39] This new hub will dramatically expand the University's research capacity, and operations will be a collaboration between the University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the State of Tennessee, and the private sector. Currently, 16 research and support structures have been designed for the campus, and the master plan allows for the development of more, as well as expansion of existing facilities once they are built. Construction is scheduled to begin on campus infrastructure in August 2009.

The University has implemented a 25-year (2001–2026) campus master plan that will facilitate a sweeping overhaul of campus design. 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 Ayers Hall is currently undergoing a massive upgrade as part of Phase I of the project, with work expected to be completed around 2011. A new university center is planned, 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.

The Pedestrian Mall and its adjoining, grassy amphitheater is the most popular student gathering point on campus, situated between the John C. Hodges Library and the Humanities Plaza complex of McClung Tower and the Humanities classroom building. Studying, kite-flying, protests, proselytizing, hammock lounging, picnics, sunbathing, frisbee, barbecues and free concerts are common activities that occur throughout the academic year and beyond.

Students and faculty not affiliated with the athletic department enjoy free use of the state-of-the-art Tennessee Recreational Center for Students, known universally on campus as "T-RECS." T-RECS offers an Olympic-sized swimming pool, four indoor basketball courts, more than 80 cardiovascular exercise stations with access to an in-house entertainment center and XM radio, more than 100 strength training centers, multiple banks of free weights, and a Smoothie King. T-RECS patrons may borrow a variety of equipment for outdoor activities such as soccer and tennis for no charge.

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.

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.

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.

The University of Tennessee hosts the Destination Imagination Global Finals, a problem solving competition held annually during the last week of May. The event draws thousands of young students and their families to Knoxville and is a significant event for the campus after the end of each academic year. Numerous religious centers are located along "Church Row," including the University of Tennessee's Christian Student Fellowship, the Knoxville campus' Non-Denominational Protestant Christian group, the Wesley Foundation (a United Methodist student center), Pope John XXIII (a Catholic student center), and the Christian Student Center.

The university operates two radio stations: student-run The Rock (formerly the Torch) (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 Tennessee Journalist (TNJN) is an online news publication of the School of Journalism and Electronic Media and is a collaboration of regular editorial staff and student contributors, many of whom receive classroom credit for their work.

The Daily Beacon

The editorially independent student newspaper of the University publishes 15,000 copies a day, five days a week, and claims a staff of over 100 consisting of an editorial team of 14, more than 60 staff writers, photographers, copyeditors, and others during the Fall and Spring semesters. The paper publishes twice weekly during the summer semester (May through August) and has significantly fewer staff writers at that time.

The publication began as a semi-monthly publication under the name The University Times-Prospectus in 1871. The Orange and White followed in 1906 as a weekly publication and was later published semi-weekly. The Daily Beacon was established 61 years later under the management of alumnus David Hall (1965) and was published four times per week and soon saw publication each day of the academic week. Approximately 180 issues per academic year are published while classes are in session. The newspaper unveiled a drastically improved website and content management system in 2010, marking a significant new emphasis on online distribution. It began publishing on the Kindle shortly thereafter, becoming the first daily student newspaper to do so.

The University of Tennessee has a Residence Hall Association. Created in 1972 as the Inter-Residence Halls Council, the IRHC changed its name to the United Residence Halls Council (URHC) the next year. URHC sponsors many events focusing on various aspects of on-campus living throughout the fall and spring semesters. In addition, URHC serves as an advocacy board for all on-campus residents. Residents can use URHC as a vehicle to promote positive change on campus.

URHC is the second largest student organization on campus with roughly all 7,000 on-campus residents enjoying full membership. Each of the thirteen residence halls has its own RHA hosting smaller scale, more hall specific programs. Each RHA has its own executive board to govern the activities of its residence hall. Each RHA's budget consists of $11 per bed that is allocated from each student's housing activities fee. The URHC holds bimonthly general body meetings that are open to all residents.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is also affiliated with the National Association of College and University Residence Halls (NACURH) as well as the South Atlantic Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls (SAACURH). Currently UTK is the host institution of the NACURH Services and Recognition Office (NSRO), a national office that changes host institutions every two years.

Tennessee competes in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division, along with Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt, and has longstanding football rivalries with each. The Volunteers won the 1998 NCAA Division I-A National Championship in football, and the team is noted for its 1938, 1940, 1950, 1951 and 1998 National Championship victories. The Volunteers were coached by Phillip Fulmer from 1992 until November 2008, succeeded by Lane Kiffin who left one year later. In January 2010, Derek Dooley was signed as the new head coach. Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning and the late NFL Hall of Fame player Reggie White are among the numerous NFL athletes to begin their careers at the University of Tennessee. The men's basketball program is headed by Cuonzo Martin, and in 2008 the Vols won their first SEC regular season championship in 41 years. In 2010, the men's team advanced to the Elite Eight, or quarterfinal round, in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament for the first time.

The Tennessee Lady Volunteers have won eight NCAA Division I titles (1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007, 2008), the most in women's college basketball history and are led by Pat Summitt, the all-time winningest basketball coach in NCAA history. Her 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. The main women's basketball rivals for Tennessee within the conference are Georgia, Vanderbilt, and LSU.

UT's best-known athletic facility by far is Neyland Stadium, home to the football team, which seats over 102,000 people and is one of the country's largest facilities of its type. The stadium is currently undergoing a $200 million renovation with construction expected to last into the 2010s. The Volunteers and Lady Vols basketball teams play in Thompson-Boling Arena, the largest arena (by capacity) ever built specifically for basketball in the United States. Both basketball teams currently train at the adjacent Pratt Pavilion, a $20 million facility opened in 2008 which houses two full size gymnasia, one each for the men and women varsity basketball teams, and space for sports medicine, strength training, film study, and recruiting.

The swimming program trains at the Jones Aquatic Center, which is directly adjacent to the Student Aquatic Center. This first-class complex is capable of hosting the Southeastern Conference and NCAA Championships, as well as national and international events. Also included in the new facility is a weight room, training room, and the University of Tennessee Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame.