The University of Tennessee was established as the all-male Blount College in 1794, two years before Tennessee became a state. After changing its name to East Tennessee College in 1807, the university moved to the 40-acre tract of land commonly called “the Hill” in 1826. The institution changed its name again in 1840, to East Tennessee University.
With the start of the Civil War, the university was forced to close so that its buildings could be used as a Confederate hospital. Most of its students and faculty went to join either Union or Confederate forces. After the war, the president (a Union man himself) secured over $18,000 in funding from the government, and East Tennessee University reopened. In 1869, the Tennessee's legislature chose the university as its federal land-grant institution, adding agricultural, engineering and military science courses to the school’s curriculum.
Since then, the university has grown consistently. Today, UTK has a population of nearly 26,000 students.
Despite not being the literal center of campus, "the Hill” is UT’s heart. The Hill provides the perfect view of Knoxville and the Smoky Mountains, and it is the home of many of the university’s academic buildings — mostly engineering and science. Along with the enormous Neyland Stadium, the Hill is probably the most recognizable “symbol” of UT Knoxville.
UT’s campus is spread out over 40 acres, in addition to a few buildings in downtown Knoxville. Oak Ridge National Laboratory is one of the largest government labs in the U.S., and it’s only one of the many major science and learning facilities on UT’s campus.
While Knoxville certainly has the reputation of being a college town, it is also a thriving metropolis with a life outside the university’s campus. Recently voted 'the best place to live in the United States and Canada' among cities with fewer than one million people, Knoxville is the perfect blend of city life and that 'down home' Southern feel.
UTK is situated in the midst of downtown Knoxville, but it's only a short drive from the Great Smoky Mountains and the Tennessee River. On the weekends, however, Knoxville’s city life comes alive. Students flock to The Strip, a section of town featuring bars, nightclubs, and every kind of restaurant imaginable, located just seconds from campus. The 21-and-up crowd heads to the historic Old City’s artsy bars, pubs, and off-beat music halls and Market Square’s hole-in-the-wall eateries and bars. As soon as the weather warms up, Market Square hosts massive, hippie-infested free music events, great for students who like to drink a little beer, dance, and socialize with thousands of their closest friends.
Pride of the Southland Band (or “the Pride”) is known for its pre-game show before every home football game, which ends with the football team running onto the field through the "Opening of the T". This is one of the most famous shots in all of college football.
Seniors meet the freshmen at the top of the hill to “pass the torch” of the Volunteers on "Torch Night." The event is not as formal anymore, but the symbolic “passing” still exists.
The official fight song of the University of Tennessee is ‘Down the Field.’ However, the foot-stomping bluegrass tune ‘Rocky Top’ is more popularly sung to motivate UTK students. At every sporting event, or really any time a crowd of drunken UTK students gathers, 'Rocky Top' is belted out with pride. Most students probably couldn’t tell you half the words to ‘Down the Field.’ But, every student has ‘Rocky Top’ memorized by heart and most likely has several renditions of it on his iPod.
Charles Scott Abbott (1978) was the creator of Trivial Pursuit. ¨
Douglas Leon Atkins (1953) is a football star who formerly played for the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, and the New Orleans Saints. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and Professional Football Hall of Fame
Samuel E. Beall III (1973) is the founder of Ruby Tuesday restaurants
John Cullum (1953) is a Tony Award-winning actor.
David Granger (1978) is the editor-in-chief of Esquire magazine.
Peyton Manning (1998) is the Indianapolis Colts' quarterback.
Benita Fitzgerald Mosley (1984) is an Olympic gold medal winner for 100-meter hurdles.
Volunteers sports are huge and draws crowds from all across Tennessee. Athletic events are far and away the most popular events on campus - Neyland Stadium holds 100,000 people, after all. Volunteer football competes in the Southeastern Conference and has a longstanding, bitter rivalry with Alabama. They face off once a year in October.
Men’s and women’s basketball are also big pulls, with the men’s team claiming the number-one seed in the NCAA in 2008 and winning the SEC championship for the first time in four decades. The Lady Vols are probably the strongest women’s basketball team in the history of college sports. Their coach, Pat Summitt, is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history.
Intramurals at UT are huge as well, with many teams buying their own custom uniforms and holding a bunch of weekly practices.
The University recently christened Yale Avenue "Peyton Manning Pass" in honor of Manning, the Colts quarterback and a UT alumnus.
UT is the only university in the United States to have three presidential paper collections. The university has the paper collections of all three U.S. presidents from Tennessee — Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson.
UT holds the Destination Imagination Global Finals. Destination Imagination is a problem-solving competition and the Global Finals are held in the last week of May every year. Thousands of people from all over the world come to participate and unleash their imagination's destinies.
Even though Humes Hall is located on the outskirts of campus, it is generally the most sought after girls’ dorm at UTK. Humes Hall residents are stereotypically classified as the “hot freshmen girls” who join sororities, go out on the weekends and decorate their dorm rooms in pink and green polka dots. Because Humes Hall is divided into suites, each with its own bathroom, it lacks the communal feeling of many of the other dorms. However, it is one of four residence halls surrounding Presidential Courtyard, which is always teeming with students and campus organizations. Humes Hall is directly across from the recreation center and has a cafeteria and bookstore nearby.
Reese Hall is the male equivalent of Humes Hall. It typically houses freshmen guys who join fraternities and go out on the weekends. Located in Presidential Courtyard, Reese Hall is convenient to one of UTK’s better dining halls, a bookstore, and the recreation center. Like Humes, it is a suite-style residence hall with one bathroom for every two bedrooms.
Morrill Hall is sort of a 'last resort' dorm, most likely housing out-of-town students who didn’t know any better. It’s not that it’s uncomfortable or particularly gross. In fact, it’s rather convenient because of its in-house cafeteria. Students just don’t line up to live there. Morrill Hall residents tend to keep to themselves, making it a very quiet place to live.
Hess Hall is generally considered the most racially diverse dorm on campus. Rumor has it that Thursday night is “free-style” night in Hess, when students let loose and rap, dance, and have a good time. It is in a convenient location and was recently remodeled, making it one of the nicer dorms on campus.
Greve and Massey are currently the sorority dorms, but next year, they will be open to any students. Greve and Massey are famous for their sense of community (partly due to the community baths!). Because each floor houses members of the same sorority, residents often leave their doors open and socialize with their hall mates. They are also the “cutest” dorms on campus, painted with each sorority’s vibrant colors and symbols. Greve and Massey are centrally located just a short walk from the library and the Hill.
Clement is known for being, well, gross. It is one of the older dorms on campus, and residents typically complain of air conditioning and heating problems. It is not a popular place to live.
Although Strong Hall is not known for its luxury, it is an extremely eclectic, cool place to live. It was built in 1925, and much of the original architecture is still intact. Some of the rooms still have wood floors, and unlike the other dorms, Strong has unique (and movable!) furniture. There are both single and double occupancy rooms and a blend of private and community baths.
Melrose Hall typically houses honors students in its single-occupancy rooms. It is extremely close to the library and stays fairly quiet, making it great for the academically-conscious student.
Gibbs Hall is widely known as the men’s athletic dorm, although only about half of its residents actually play sports. Because athletics plays such a huge role at UTK, Gibbs Hall is one of the nicest dorms on campus (and its cafeteria is known for having great food). Each room is carpeted, air-conditioned, and shares a bathroom with one other room.
North and South Carrick Halls are in Presidential Courtyard, making them popular among freshmen students. Students who didn’t get rooms in Humes and Reese tend to choose these dorms. They are suite-style dorms convenient to the recreation center and the Presidential Courtyard Cafeteria.