KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee annual Torch Night candlelight ceremony will be held Sept. 7.
The event begins at 6:30 p.m. in Thompson-Boling Arena. Doors will open at 6 p.m.
Students are welcomed to campus at Torch Night, when the torch of preparation is passed to new students and seniors pick up the torch of service.
Will Carver, 2003 graduate of the UT College of Law, 2000 Torchbearer and former Student Government Association president, will speak at Torch Night.
The 4,300 arriving freshmen have a combined ACT score of 25.6 and a high school grade point average of 3.54, the highest in UT-s history of incoming classes.
Twelve students will be honored for academic and service achievements. These include the recipients of the Davis-Zwingle scholarships, given in honor of Victor Davis and Earl Zwingle, two alumni who epitomized service to the UT campus.
This year, UT also will welcome students enrolling from schools that are closed indefinitely in the Gulf Coast area due to Hurricane Katrina.
Victor Davis, the UT alumni secretary, initiated Torch Night on Oct. 9, 1925, as the Freshman Pledge Ceremony. In 1929 it was renamed Freshman Torch Night.
The freshman class was called to the Hill by a bugler in Ayres Tower, and proceeded to the main entrance of the campus to “give a yell” for the sophomores and then for the juniors.
Seniors met the freshmen at the top of the hill where they took the oath of loyalty and pledged allegiance to the university. The freshmen were formally declared part of the student body and candles were lit to symbolize the “torch of preparation.”
Students left the hill in silence and placed their candles along an iron fence bordering Cumberland Avenue where they continued to burn into the night.
By the early 1980s the ceremony had become a more subdued affair with a select senior passing the torch to a select freshman at halftime of a basketball game.
In 1984, a ceremony reminiscent of the first one was instituted at the beginning of the academic year at Alumni Memorial Gym.
The tradition continues with the chancellor, vice chancellors and deans in attendance as the SGA president passes the torch to freshman representatives from each of the colleges.
This year SGA president and Howard Baker Scholarship recipient Curtis Sanderfer will have the honor of passing the symbolic torch to a new class of volunteers.
Jane Redmond (865-974-7449)