Clay and Debbie Jones Center for Leadership and Service Founded
The Center for Leadership and Service was created in 2012 to teach students to engage in leadership, advocate for social justice, and better the world. It was renamed for Clay Jones, an alumnus and former Torchbearer, and his wife, Debbie, in 2019 in recognition of their $5 million gift to enhance the center’s student programming and initiatives.
2013 – Present
Smokey X in Service
During the 2018 season, Smokey X presided over two upset wins under first-year head football coach Jeremy Pruitt. The Vols defeated No. 21 Auburn 30-24 in an away match, and the next month they beat No. 12 Kentucky 24-7 at home. Smokey X debuted in 2013, along with head coach Butch Jones, when the Vols played the Dish Orange and White Game. The howls of Smokey X have spurred the Vols to victories in the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl, the 2016 Outback Bowl, and the 2016 Music City Bowl. He is the first of a new bloodline, Tennessee born and bred, and the bluetick coonhound became Tennessee’s state dog in 2019.
James A. Haslam II College of Business Named
The College of Business Administration was renamed the James A. Haslam II College of Business in 2014 during its 100th anniversary celebration. Haslam is an alumnus, former vice chair of the UT Board of Trustees, and founder of Pilot Corporation, which later became Pilot Flying J—the largest operator of travel centers in North America. The renaming of the college acknowledged a $50 million gift from three generations of the Haslam family. The Haslam family has donated many more millions of dollars to UT and its athletic programs over the years. The James A. Haslam II Business Building and the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center are named for James and his wife, Natalie. The football team’s practice field is named Haslam Field in James’s honor as well. He played on the 1951 national championship team under “the General” head coach Robert Neyland.
Rhodes Scholar Lindsay Lee
Lindsay Lee, a mathematics and Spanish major as well as a Haslam Scholar with an interest in public policy, became UT’s seventh Rhodes Scholar in 2014. After earning two master’s degrees at the University of Oxford, in applied statistics and public policy, she went to work for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Switzerland. Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at age three, Lee is a technical officer with the WHO Blindness and Deafness Prevention, Disability and Rehabilitation Unit.
2014 – 2017
Reduced Use of Lady Vols Name, Logo
The university reduced use of the Lady Vols name, logo, and brand as a part of rebranding effort announced in 2014 by Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and Athletics Director Dave Hart. The move transitioned all men’s and women’s athletic teams under the same version of the Power T. Only women’s basketball retained the Lady Vols name. The change sparked immediate controversy, and three years later, UT restored the Lady Vols branding.
UT Designated Purple Heart University
Mary Costa Received Honorary Degree
On November 11, 2014, UT presented Knoxville native and internationally renowned entertainer Mary Costa with an honorary doctorate during a special event at the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center. A professional opera singer who has performed in more than 40 operas, four films, and numerous television programs, Costa is best known for providing the voice of Princess Aurora in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty in 1958. Costa, who performed professionally for 38 years, has been honored extensively for her artistic contributions. In 1999, she was named a Disney Legend for her contributions to the Walt Disney Company. The Metropolitan Opera Guild honored Costa in 2001 with the Distinguished Verdi Performance of the Twentieth Century Award. President George W. Bush appointed her to the National Council on the Arts, on which she served from 2003 to 2007. Costa has spoken at schools and colleges nationwide and has served as an ambassador for Childhelp, a national nonprofit group that aids victims of child abuse and neglect.
UT Adopts Power T as Campus Logo
UT Designated as Carnegie Engaged University
In 2015, UT Knoxville and the UT Institute of Agriculture earned the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification for collaborating with community partners to address society’s most pressing needs. At the time, UT joined a group of 52 universities with a very high intensity research classification and an engaged status designation. Carnegie continues to award this designation to more universities.
2015 – 2016
Scott Kelly Participated in One-Year Space Mission, Astronaut Twin Study
Starting in March 2015, Astronaut Scott Kelly (‘96) and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko began a collaborative one-year investigation, twice as long as typical US missions, on the International Space Station (ISS). The findings are helping inform both countries about the medical and psychological challenges astronauts face during long-duration space flights. Scott Kelly and his identical twin brother, Astronaut Mark Kelly, participated in the Astronaut Twin Study during this time, when Mark remained on Earth. According to the Twin Study results published in 2019, Scott experienced a number of changes that Mark did not and most went away after his return to Earth. Those changes include: fluids clog the sinuses making faces appear puffy; bones get thinner and muscles atrophy due to weightlessness; and cells throughout the body are exposed to unearthly levels of radiation and become more at risk for cancer. After Scott Kelly earned a master of science in aviation systems from the UT Space Institute, he joined NASA. A veteran of four space flights, Scott commanded the ISS on Expeditions 26, 45, and 46. His first space flight was as pilot of the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1999. The Kelly twins are retired from NASA.
Tickle College of Engineering Named
The College of Engineering was renamed the Tickle College of Engineering in 2016 to honor alumnus John D. Tickle. He is chairman of the Strongwell Corporation, a fiberglass manufacturer. Tickle has served as a UT trustee, and he and his wife, Ann, have given several significant donations to UT. The John D. Tickle Engineering Building opened in 2013, the John and Ann Tickle Small Animal Hospital opened in 2008, and the John and Ann Tickle Athletic Development Suite is in the Brenda Lawson Athletic Center, which opened in 2006. John Tickle became a member of the campus Advisory Board in 2019.
2017 – 2018
Beverly Davenport Chancellorship
Beverly J. Davenport was named UT’s eighth chancellor and first female chancellor in 2017 while she was interim president at the University of Cincinnati. During her administration, UT dedicated the new Strong Hall science building. The university also hosted several events promoting unity around the time a white nationalist group held a gathering on campus. After just over a year on the job, Davenport left UT in 2018 and later became CEO of Education Matters and joined the advisory board of Expert Knowledge Networks Inc.
Lady Vols Name Reinstated
In 2017, Athletics Director John Currie and Chancellor Beverly Davenport announced the return of the iconic Lady Vols name, logo, and brand after seeking input from various constituencies. The move came three years after a controversial decision to minimize the official use and visibility of Lady Vol branding and transition all men’s and women’s athletic teams, except women’s basketball, under the same version of the Power T.
Veterans Resource Center Opened
UT held a grand opening ceremony on November 17, 2017, for the Veterans Resource Center. The center provides student veterans with a place to study, socialize, and meet with coordinators who can help them connect to the services they need. UT was designated in 2016 as a VETS Campus that surveys veterans annually to help determine their needs, educate the campus community about the challenges veterans face, and assess whether a veteran’s military training and experience can translate into college credit. A VETS Campus also has outreach and communication efforts directed at veterans and hosts orientation, mentoring, and other support programs.
2018 – 2019
Wayne Davis Interim Chancellorship
Tickle College of Engineering Dean Wayne T. Davis delayed his retirement, even though UT had already thrown him a retirement party, to serve as interim chancellor in 2018 after Beverly Davenport’s departure. He spent 47 years in the Tickle College of Engineering as a graduate student, tenured faculty member, associate dean, and dean. During Davis’s tenure, he hired an interim vice chancellor of diversity and engagement and joined ribbon cuttings for the Ken and Blaire Mossman Building and Phase II of the Student Union. Also while Davis was in office, UT set a record for applications, graduation and retention rates hit their highest values ever, and the university’s most ambitious fundraising campaign to date reached its $1.1 billion goal two years early. He finished his tenure when Donde Plowman began as chancellor on July 1, 2019.
Herbert College of Agriculture Named
The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources was renamed the Herbert College of Agriculture in 2018 to honor alumni donors Jim and Judi Herbert. The pair met at UT in the 1960s and have been so loyal in their support that in 2017 the university named them Philanthropists of the Year. Jim is co-founder and executive chairman of Neogen Corporation, a pioneer in rapid diagnostic testing.
UT Alumnus Part of Time Person of the Year
Capital Gazette editor and alumnus Rick Hutzell, along with some of his coworkers were featured on the cover of Time magazine’s 2018 person of the year issue. They were part of a group dubbed the Guardians of the War on Truth—journalists whose pursuit of truth has caused them to be targeted, persecuted, or even murdered. A gunman killed five of Hutzell’s co-workers at the Annapolis, Maryland, newspaper on June 28, 2018, but the staff still published an edition the next day. In April 2019, the Pulitzer Prize board awarded a special citation to Hutzell and his staff for their courageous response to the shooting.
Rhodes Scholar Grant Rigney
Grant Rigney (‘19), a chemical and biomolecular engineering major and member of our Haslam Scholars program, was selected as UT’s eighth Rhodes Scholar in 2018. He plans to pursue two master’s degrees at the University of Oxford. One degree is in global health science and epidemiology and the other is in evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation.
2019 – Present
Donde Plowman Chancellorship
Donde Plowman was selected as UT’s ninth chancellor in 2019 while she was executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Plowman served previously on the UT faculty and led the management department in the Haslam College of Business from 2007 to 2010. She took office on July 1, 2019.