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KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee has announced plans to convert the University Club to a new campus welcome center to serve prospective and new students and their families as well as alumni and friends.

“As the campus’ needs continue to grow, our existing land and space is at a premium. Using the property in a new way will provide a much easier way and a very nice environment from which to facilitate tours and visits to our campus,” Chancellor Loren Crabtree said.

A welcome center was identified as a key need more than five years ago and is part of the Campus Master Plan.

“This decision, although a difficult one, makes the best use of our existing resources and enhances our ability to recruit the best and brightest students, and ultimately should allow us to better serve our alumni and friends as they return to campus. As we look to increase our private support, being able to better meet the needs of our alumni and friends who come to campus becomes even more of a priority,” Crabtree said.

The plan will close the University Club’s day-to-day meals and club services, but leave open the first-floor common banquet rooms for community and university functions. UT Dining Services will cater at the facility after the kitchen closes on August 31.

“We also recognize the club’s value as a gathering place for faculty, staff and retirees and plan to explore options for future events and special occasions,” Crabtree said.

In the long term, university officials plan to begin a private fundraising campaign to renovate and expand use of the site, which would include moving alumni and development operations to the building.

University officials have met with University Club board members. All University Club members will be notified by mail.

Anne Mayhew, vice chancellor for academic affairs, said that while she recognizes current and retired faculty and staff enjoyed gathering at the facility, the same constituencies would want to ensure resources are used to serve the greatest needs.

“Our faculty, especially, recognize the university’s responsibility to use our land, our space and our funds in as prudent a manner as possible,” Mayhew said. “While we have all enjoyed the club and its environment; we’ve reached a juncture that requires us to look toward the future and the best use of the property.”

All previously booked events that require use of the facility will be honored. The university is currently working with the Swim Club members on an agreement to honor their membership through the 2007 season.

Although the university is closing its daily club functions, civic groups and other university events will continue being held in the banquet rooms. Employees who currently work from the site will not be adversely impacted due to the planned changes for the facility.


Tom Milligan, (865) 974-9438, tom.milligan@tennessee.edu
Denise Barlow, (865) 974-4204, dbarlow@utk.edu