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We live in an age of nonstop digital content—#VolTwitter, anyone?—and some of UT’s greatest moments of 2017 were captured and shared (and shared . . . and shared) in video, on social media, and through special web features.

Here are a few of our favorite digital stories that engaged our UT family online in 2017:

Snow on Rocky Top (January). It doesn’t snow much on Rocky Top, but it sure is pretty when it does. Our tweet featuring a slow-motion video of snow falling around the Torchbearer has more than 165,000 impressions on Twitter.

Snow falling on the Torchbearer


Daniel Tosh Tweet

Who? (February). In February, comedian Daniel Tosh tweeted at the university asking if he would need additional security during his tour date in Knoxville due to his striking resemblance to a former UT football coach. The question provided an opportunity for humor with a one-word reply. The tweet has racked up more than 225,000 impressions on Twitter.


World’s Largest Human Letter Record (March). The university set a Guinness World Record in March by forming the world’s largest human letter—a Power T, of course—on Shields-Watkins Field. With more than 6,500 likes, our photo of the finished product has nearly 45,000 impressions on Instagram. It was one of our most widely viewed Instagram posts to date.

The campus community loved this video recap, which has been watched on YouTube more than 2,800 times.


Payton Miller/Spring Commencement (May). Payton Miller first painted the Rock on a whim during her sophomore year. Approximately 1,050 cans of spray paint, 300 hours of work, and 30 paintings later, the senior took her final bow as the unofficial painter of the Rock. Read more about Miller.


Big Orange in Orbit

Big Orange in Orbit (July). Over the summer, astronaut and UT alumnus Randy Bresnik left Earth for the International Space Station and became the 10th astronaut with Big Orange credentials to take part in an extraterrestrial mission. Over the next few months, we celebrated 35 years of Vols in space with videos, social media posts, web features, and this Volunteer Story.


Rachel Kronyak

Absolute Blast (October). A UT grad student is exploring the outer reaches of the universe—without leaving Earth. This Volunteer Story describes how the HoloLens headset allows Rachel Kronyak, a doctoral student in the Department of Geology, to see the surface of Mars in a hologram. The images used to build the hologram are taken by Curiosity, the NASA rover that has been exploring the planet for the past five years.


Rachel Danneker/Welcome Week (August). Meet US Army veteran Rachel Danneker. Thanks to the recommendation of her commanding officer—a UT alumnus—she decided to attend UT before ever visiting campus. Read Danneker’s story.


 Pride of the Southland Band video

Facebook Live: Pride of the Southland Band Practice (August). Just before move-in weekend each year, the Pride of the Southland Band practices their game day path to Neyland Stadium. The March to the Stadium rings out across campus, reminding everyone on Rocky Top that the fall semester is just around the corner. Our Facebook Live video of this year’s rehearsal reached more than 1.4 million users and was viewed more than 750,000 times.


Bill Bass

Advancing the Evidence (October): For three decades—since long before the popularity of the CSI television series—UT’s Forensic Anthropology Center has been on the forefront of forensic anthropology, turning out research and training law enforcement to solve crimes and identify the remains of unknown individuals. The facility celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. Torchbearer magazine produced “Body of Work”—a package of stories dedicated to UT’s forensic anthropology research. A Volunteer Story coinciding with the FAC’s anniversary and open house featured one of UT’s best-known figures: Bill Bass, who founded the Anthropology Research Facility. Bass’s work revolutionized forensic science, particularly in determining the time since a person’s death, and inspired several television dramas.