Billy Graham, Richard Nixon, and the Vietnam War Protest
In May 1970, Christian evangelist Billy Graham was invited to hold one of his crusades in Knoxville. The 10-day event took place in Neyland Stadium. On May 28, President Richard Nixon came to Knoxville and addressed people at the crusade. UT professors and students protesting the Vietnam War and Nixon’s decision to bomb Cambodia and Laos joined the crowd in the stadium. Some protesters held signs, some chanted, some yelled, and nine were arrested that night. Police eventually charged 47 people in connection to the protests. Most of the accused were exonerated, but some were required to serve time in jail.
Clarence Brown Theatre Opened
Legendary Hollywood director and alumnus Clarence Brown was known for his films with Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Rudolph Valentino, Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, and Elizabeth Taylor, among others. Before he discovered his passion for filmmaking, Brown studied engineering at UT and graduated in 1910. He worked as an expert auto mechanic before he convinced French director Maurice Tourneur to take him on as an assistant. Brown began his career during the silent film era and continued after the transition to so-called talkies. His classic films include The Yearling, Intruder in the Dust, Anna Christie, and National Velvet. Brown gave a substantial donation for the construction of the Clarence Brown Theatre and attended the ceremony when it opened on November 13, 1970. “This [theatre] represents a climax of my complete life,” Brown said. “It’s a thing I’m prouder of than anything I’ve ever done.”
Comedian Dick Gregory Spoke after Federal Free Speech Case
In 1968, a student-run speaker committee invited Dick Gregory, one of the nation’s best-known black comedians and a civil rights activist, to speak at UT. However, Chancellor Charles Weaver banned Gregory from appearing, calling him an “avowed extreme racist.” For the next two years, a battle played out between supporters of free speech and the UT administration. The case was finally argued and decided in federal court in Knoxville. Judge Robert Taylor ruled that a speaker policy adopted by the administration denied students’ First Amendment right to “receive information and ideas.” Gregory spoke at UT on April 9, 1970, to an audience of 4,000, mostly students, in the Alumni Memorial gym.
First Female Trustee Ann Baker Furrow
Ann Baker Furrow (‘67) became the first woman appointed to the UT Board of Trustees in 1970. She was later elected as the first female vice chair in 1981 and served on the Academic Affairs Committee. Furrow was the first woman to join a men’s varsity sport team, playing golf from 1964 to 1965. She also was the first woman to give a commencement speech at UT in 1971.
College of Nursing Founded
1971 – 1973
Archie Dykes Chancellorship
An alumnus with a doctorate in education, Archie Dykes was the chancellor of UT Martin when he was selected to return to his alma mater as its second chancellor in 1971. An East Tennessee native, Dykes began his career as a school principal and superintendent before he moved into higher education as UT’s director of the Center for Advanced Graduate Studies in Education. In 1973, Dykes left UT to serve as chancellor at the University of Kansas.
Condredge Holloway First Black Quarterback and Shortstop, All-Century Player
In 1972, Condredge Holloway, nick named the “Artful Dodger,” was the first black quarterback for the Vols football team as well as the Southeastern Conference. In his three seasons as a starter, Holloway led the Vols to the 1972 Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl, the 1973 Gator Bowl, the 1974 Liberty Bowl, and an overall record of 25-9-2. He was also UT’s first black baseball player, the sport he actually preferred to play. The star shortstop said head football coach Bill Battle told him during recruiting that he could play both sports at UT. In three seasons of Vols baseball, he maintained a .351 average and collected 145 hits with 103 runs scored, 62 RBI, and a .450 slugging percentage. After 13 seasons as a quarterback in the Canadian Football League, Holloway retired and returned to UT to work more than once. UT retired his No. 1 baseball jersey in 2015. He was assistant athletics director for student–athlete relations and lettermen when he retired in 2019. He is the only UT student–athlete named to all-century squads in baseball and football.
“Rocky Top” First Played
Since the Pride of the Southland Band first played “Rocky Top” during halftime of the Tennessee-Alabama football game on October 21, 1972, it has become one of UT’s most popular songs. Felice and Boudleaux Bryant wrote “Rocky Top” in 10 minutes in 1967. The Bryants, who also penned “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” and “Bye Bye Love,” were holed away at the Gatlinburg Inn working on a collection of slow songs for Archie Campbell and Chet Atkins when they wrote “Rocky Top” as a diversion. The Osborne Brothers recorded the song that same year, hitting number 33 on the US country charts. In 1970, Lynn Anderson’s version landed at number 17 on the Billboard Country Top 100. “Rocky Top” became one of Tennessee’s state songs in 1982.
Commission for Women Founded
In November 1972, Chancellor Archie Dykes announced that a Commission for Women would be appointed, as recommended by the Task Force on Women. The Commission for Women was appointed to advise on planning, implementation, and evaluation of university programs and services designed to improve the status of women.
First UT Olympic Gold Medal Winner David Edgar
The first Volunteer to win an Olympic gold medal was swimming and diving team captain David Edgar, a three-time All-American, in 1972. Edgar won at the Olympic Games in Munich for the 400m free relay. Also that same year, Edgar led a 12-0 season with the men’s swimming and diving team although the swimming program had just started two years earlier in 1968.
John Prados Interim Chancellorship
Longtime engineering professor and administrator John Prados served as interim UT chancellor in 1973, a brief stint in his 60-year university career. Prados spent time as an engineering professor, associate dean of engineering, dean of admissions and records, and even acting chancellor at UT Martin. He was also an acting director at the UT Space Institute and the UT System vice president for academic affairs. In 2016, Prados was named the inaugural member of UT’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Hall of Fame.
1973 – 1989
Jack Reese Chancellorship
Counting his 16 years of service as UT’s third chancellor from 1973 to 1989, Jack E. Reese was a member of the university community for more than 38 years. His previous positions included associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and associate dean for graduate studies. Reese came to UT in 1961 as an English instructor, and he returned to the classroom after he stepped down as chancellor. Reese directed the College Scholars Program and taught for 10 years before becoming professor emeritus in 1999. He died in 2005.
Commission for Blacks Founded
Chancellor Archie Dykes formed the Task Force on Blacks in January 1973 to assess the status of blacks on campus. The Task Force was charged with thoroughly studying black involvement in all university programs and activities. Consisting of faculty, staff, and 12 students, the task force compiled information from academic departments and colleges and interviewed campus administrators to complete their assessments. The commission continues to serve as a recommending body to the chancellor.
Pat Summitt Named Women’s Head Basketball Coach
Pat Summitt transformed and legitimized the sport of basketball during her 38-year career as head coach of the Lady Vols basketball team. Speaking to countless organizations, Summitt encouraged young people in their development of self-esteem, confidence, and athleticism. Many times, college recruits from other sports even asked for an audience with Summitt. Before he committed to a college, star football recruit Peyton Manning spoke to Summitt and then chose UT. Summitt pushed for and received more TV coverage of basketball and helped create not only the brand of Lady Vols basketball but the sport in general. During some years, the Lady Vols challenged the men’s teams in attendance and exceeded them in national exposure. When Pat Head (Summitt) was named head coach in 1974, she was a 22-year-old graduate assistant coach. By the time the 59-year-old retired as head coach emeritus in 2012, Summitt—herself an Olympic silver medalist as a basketball player—had led the Lady Vols to eight national championships in 38 seasons and become the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history with 1,098 wins. Famous for her intensity, Summitt’s competitive fire was reflected in her steely blue eyes and an icy stare that often connected with, and strengthened the resolve of, her student–athletes. Along with their dominance on the court, all 161 of Summitt’s Lady Vols graduated. Her coaching career earned her the title “Naismith Women’s Collegiate Coach of the Century” for the 1900s. She was also named national coach of the year seven times and Southeastern Conference coach of the year eight times. Summitt retired a year after revealing she was suffering from early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. She went on to create the Pat Summitt Foundation and raised awareness worldwide about Alzheimer’s disease. In 2012, Summitt received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. A statue of Coach Summitt, dedicated in 2013, stands across from Thompson-Boling Arena where the basketball court is named The Summitt in her honor. She died in 2016.
First Men’s Outdoor Track and Field National Championship
Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld Get National Coverage for Vol Basketball
On February 9, 1976, Sports Illustrated magazine put Vol basketball players Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld on its cover titled “Double Trouble From Tennessee.” For three consecutive years the duo, also known as the “Bernie and Ernie Show,” finished 1-2 in Southeastern Conference scoring. They played for head coach Ray Mears.
Indian Mound Earns National Recognition
The Indian Mound on the UT Institute of Agriculture campus was entered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The formation is believed to date from the late Woodland period around AD 600–900. The white oak tree that stands on the mound was listed as a historic tree by the state of Tennessee in 2018 and named for UT President Harcourt Morgan, who had also served as dean of the College of Agriculture, director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, and as a professor of entomology and zoology.
1978 – 1979
Smokey IV in Service
Men’s Swimming and Diving National Championship
Rhodes Scholar Nancy-Ann Min DeParle
UT’s fifth Rhodes Scholar and first female Rhodes Scholar Nancy-Ann Min DeParle went on to serve as assistant to President Barack Obama and deputy chief of staff for policy from 2011 to 2013. The second of our Rhodes Scholars to graduate with a perfect academic record, DeParle, who was also UT’s first female student body president, was selected in 1979 while attending Harvard law school. During the 1980s, DeParle earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Oxford, as well as finishing a JD at Harvard. As part of the Obama administration, she served as counselor to the president and director of the White House Office of Health Reform, where she spearheaded the successful effort to enact the Affordable Care Act. DeParle is now a partner and cofounder of Consonance Capital Partners, a private equity firm focused on investing in innovative health care companies.
Pulitzer Prize Winner E.O. Wilson
On his way to becoming a groundbreaking scientist and world renowned expert on ants, E.O. Wilson attended UT from 1950 to 1951. Wilson has received two Pulitzer Prizes for nonfiction for his books On Human Nature in 1979 and The Ants in 1991. His works are credited with establishing sociobiology as a scientific field. Wilson retired as a professor at Harvard University in 1996 and founded the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. UT awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2014.