The 50th anniversary of “Rocky Top” is getting lots of attention this year, but it’s not the only significant milestone related to the university that’s being celebrated this year.
Here’s a look at some other anniversaries UT is marking in 2017:
1807—210 years—UT began as Blount College in 1794 but underwent its first name change this year, becoming East Tennessee College. It was located in what is now downtown Knoxville and included female students, something that wouldn’t happen again until women were allowed to attend once more in 1892.
1867—150 years—Congress passed the Morrill Act establishing state land-grant institutions in 1862, when Tennessee was part of the Confederacy. The state was granted a waiver to participate in the process two years after the Civil War ended, paving the way for UT to become the state’s flagship institution.
1892—125 years—In addition to admitting women once again, this year saw the birth of a boy who would grow up to be synonymous with UT in the minds of many: Robert Neyland.
1902—115 years—A writer for the Atlanta Constitution referred to a UT sports team as “the Volunteers” for the first time, calling upon the state’s nickname during a story on a UT–Georgia Tech football game. The name stuck.
1917—100 years—Because the United States had entered World War I, the school canceled football for the 1917 and 1918 seasons. The only other times UT canceled a football season were in 1898 for the Spanish-American War and in 1943 due to World War II.
1942—75 years—Though it was a major secret at the time, the government began work on what is now Oak Ridge. The laboratories and research that started in secrecy are now some of UT’s highest-profile partners, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12.
1952—65 years—Gene Mitchell Gray became the first African American student in UT’s graduate school, which was desegregated after a court ruling. It would be nine more years before undergraduate classes would be desegregated.
1957—60 years—UT launched a Department of Nuclear Engineering. While UT and other schools had already been awarding degrees in nuclear engineering, UT’s was the first program in the country to be established as a department.
1967—50 years—Robert Kirk became UT’s first full-time African American professor and Sammye Wynn became the first African American female instructor, both in what was then the College of Education.
1972—45 years—Condredge Holloway became the first African American quarterback in the SEC, four years after UT became the second conference team to integrate and the same year that LSU and Ole Miss became the last two SEC teams to integrate.
1982—35 years—More than 10 million people from around the globe came to Knoxville for the 1982 World’s Fair. Large portions of campus housed elements of the fair, including the sites where Thompson-Boling Arena, the John D. Tickle Engineering Building, the Wayne G. Basler Tennessee Boathouse, and the G10 parking garage now stand.
1987—30 years—Iconic John C. Hodges Library opened. The building’s namesake was a longtime UT professor and author of the Harbrace College Handbook, often said to be the most widely used college text.
David Goddard (865-974-0683, firstname.lastname@example.org)