an illustration of the Torchbearer's torch

Lighting the Way

Volunteers have always worked to make the world a better place—it’s what we do. Read about a few of our alumni, faculty, staff, and friends who have helped to light the way for others.

UT President Charles Dabney sits on a plow hitched to horses while another man looks on

The People’s College

In 1859, US Representative Justin Morrill helped shape the future of Tennessee and the rest of the nation with the idea that higher education should be available to everyone.

Theotis Robinson in 2019


On January 4, 1961, Theotis Robinson Jr. arrived on campus as an undergraduate student. It was his application and subsequent meetings with UT administrators, including President Andy Holt, that led to the change in the admissions policy that barred black undergraduate students.

UT's first black football player Lester McClain, first black grad student Gene Mitchell Gray, first black instructor in the College of Education Sammye Wynn, and first black quarterback Condredge Holloway

UT Integrates

The climax of Southern university desegregation came in the early 1960s with rancorous confrontations and even riots on some campuses of the Deep South. The white leadership of the University of Tennessee was reluctant, but its path to racial integration was quieter and less acrimonious.

several of UT's presidents along with education department head Philander Claxton

Teaching the Teachers

Two centuries ago, UT was called East Tennessee College, but even in those days, its educational scope was much broader than the region it called home.