Painting the Rock Began
Most every day, and sometimes multiple times a day, individuals and groups paint the Rock with messages. The painting tradition began in 1980. At first, the Rock was cleaned regularly, but by 1982, the administration decided to stop repainting the Rock. From then forward, students were quick to replace obscene or offensive messages with new messages. When the 2001 UT Master Plan was presented to students, their only opposition was to the possibility of moving the Rock from its location at Pat Head Summitt Street and Volunteer Boulevard to make room for a new parking garage. In 2009, UT prepared for construction of the new Student Health Center by having the 97.5 ton Rock moved across Volunteer Boulevard during a process that took 13 hours. The Rock was reopened at a dedication ceremony on August 18, 2009 when Chancellor Jimmy Cheek helped paint it. The summer heat was blamed six years later in 2015 when layers upon layers of paint slid off the Rock. The WUTK radio station is also named the Rock.