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Beauty shot of Ayres Hall

UT will celebrate 225 years of service to the state of Tennessee with a Lighting the Way celebration throughout the 2019–20 academic year.

UT was the first public college chartered west of the Appalachian Divide. The state’s flagship campus and premier public institution began as Blount College on September 10, 1794, two years before Tennessee became a state. UT is now a land-grant university with a commitment to teaching, research, and service.

“Serving our state is key to our mission,” said Chancellor Donde Plowman. “Supporting and investing in communities across Tennessee form a critical component of UT’s land-grant mission. Through research, community partnerships, scholarship, volunteerism, and creativity, we seek to improve the lives of all Tennesseans and beyond.”

As part of the commemoration, UT will launch a special year of service for students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Through June 2020, members of the Volunteer family can submit their service hours online. At the conclusion of the project, a snapshot of its impact will be compiled.

“Service is essential to the Volunteer experience,” said Plowman. “It’s what differentiates us from everyone else and makes Rocky Top such a special place.”

During the year, the university will share stories of Volunteers who have been lighting the way for others across Tennessee and throughout the world.

“Every day our faculty inspire and prepare our students for life after college,” said Plowman. “When students leave our campus, they go on to start businesses, inform public policy, create art, and develop new inventions. They become researchers, members of the military, servant leaders, educators, and more. They join 250,000 alumni around the state, nation, and world—more than half of whom live and work in Tennessee.”

For the next 10 months, UT is hosting a number of special events, including these highlights:

  • Lighting the Way: 225 Years of Volunteers, an ongoing exhibit in the John C. Hodges Library, brings to life the university’s history and traditions through artifacts preserved in UT’s University Archives.
  • Big Orange Birthday Party, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 10. UT will celebrate its founding with a campus-wide birthday celebration complete with treats, games, carnival rides, and giveaways.
  • Circle Park Block Party, 4–7 p.m. Tuesday, September 10. The celebration continues into the evening with a family-friendly party for alumni, faculty and staff, and their families, featuring games and refreshments in Circle Park. Children’s activities such as face painting, balloon artistry, and bounce houses will be available.
  • Little Vols in the Homecoming Parade, 4 p.m. Friday, November 1. UT’s alumni team will welcome little Vols (10 and under) in their orange and white to march in the annual Homecoming parade. Children can ride in strollers, walk, or ride tricycles. Immediately following the parade a celebration at Lindsey Nelson Stadium will include crafts, games, snacks, a playground, and a few surprises.
  • 225 on 2/25, February 25, 2020. UT will host a daylong celebration in the Student Union with special events for students, faculty and staff, and alumni, including treats, trivia and games, and a special presentation of faculty scholarship.

A timeline of the university’s history from 1794 to present can be found online at the university’s 225th anniversary website, Information on celebratory events will posted to the site throughout the year.


Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,

Media coverage:

News Sentinel: UT Is Celebrating Its Quasquibicentennial. What The Heck Is That And How Do You Say It?

Times Free Press: UT to Mark 225th Year With Events

(Also appeared in other outlets, including the Daily TimesWATEWBIR, and WZTV)

WBIR: University Of Tennessee Celebrates 225 Years With Circle Park Block Party

WBIRLocal historian Jack Neely pens article on the Birth of Volmania

UT 225th anniversaryThis story is part of the University of Tennessee’s 225th anniversary celebration. Volunteers light the way for others across Tennessee and throughout the world.

Learn more about UT’s 225th anniversary