University of Tennessee

University of Tennessee

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The University of Tennessee, located in Knoxville, is the original campus of the statewide land-grant University of Tennessee system. Including residence halls, there are 220 buildings, many of which are historic.It was charted in September 1794, as Blount College, by an act of the legislature of the Southwest Territory meeting in Knoxville. It had few students and conferred only one degree for the next 13 years.In the 1800s, the college received a grant of public lands from the state, which resulted in the renaming of the college and the appointment of a new board of trustees. It was known as East Tennessee College in 1807, and then as East Tennessee University, in 1840.In 1869, it became a land-grant institution. The university admitted women regularly for the first time, in 1893.At the turn of the 20th century, the state saw the emergence of the modern university with professional schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, social work, and architecture. In 1952, the academy opened its doors to the first African-Americans, by order of a federal district court.Today, the University of Tennessee has more than 300 graduate and undergraduate degree programs. The college is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral degrees.The university consists of 10 undergraduate schools and 14 graduate schools. Among these are Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Communication and Information, Engineering, Law, Nursing, Social Work, Veterinary Medicine, Education, and Health and Human Sciences.UTK has an extensive library system and a noteworthy museum of natural history. It also maintains agricultural experiment stations throughout the state.Here, students also enjoy provocative speakers, a technology-rich infrastructure, great local music and recreation, nationally competitive athletic teams, and abundant opportunities for community service. Active fraternities, sororities, and more than 300 clubs and organizations also are on campus.In addition to the Knoxville campus, the University of Tennessee has specialized campuses throughout the state, including UT Health Science Center in Memphis, UT Chattanooga, UT Martin, UT Space Institute in Tullahoma, UT Institute of Agriculture, and UT Institute for Public Service.

University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee was founded as Blount College, named for Territorial Governor William Blount and chartered on September 10, 1794, by the legislature of the Southwest Territory sitting in Knoxville. Located in a single building in a frontier village of forty houses and two hundred residents, the college appears to have been an overambitious undertaking. The motivations of the founders remain unknown, but they probably followed the postrevolutionary trend of college founding in order to create an educated citizenry for the new experiment in republican government. Although the first president was the local Presbyterian minister and seven of the first ten presidents were clergymen, the college was nonsectarian.

The college had a precarious existence. Only one student graduated, and the college depended on tuition for its financial support. In 1807 the state legislature rechartered the college as East Tennessee College and improved its financial prospects with a grant of public land. When the first president, Samuel Carrick, died in 1809, the college closed for a decade. East Tennessee College reopened in 1820, and, eight years later, moved to a new building on a hill outside town. By 1840 the institution had a new name, East Tennessee University, but its prospects continued to be uncertain. During the next twenty years, there were several presidents, and the faculty never numbered more than five. Approximately half of the 100 students were enrolled in the Preparatory Department, which acted as a secondary school to prepare students for admission to the regular collegiate course.

During the Civil War the university closed both armies successively occupied the buildings as hospitals, and by the war’s end, the surrounding area was bare of any vegetation. Thomas Humes, who became president of the university in 1865, had been a Union sympathizer and used his influence to secure $18,500 from the federal government as restitution for wartime damages. In 1869 the state legislature designated the university as the recipient of the funds provided by the Morrill Act of 1862. This federal act awarded states land grants or scrip for the establishment of colleges and universities that would teach agriculture, the mechanical arts, and military science. This boon to the university’s fortunes made it the recipient of the annual interest on some $400,000, about $24,000.

In 1879 the state renamed the institution the University of Tennessee. In requesting the change, the trustees expressed the hope that the name change would inspire the legislature to provide regular financial support, but this generosity had to wait another twenty-five years. In the meantime, the institution sought to become a university in more than name by its own efforts. A somewhat hidebound and classically oriented faculty was reluctant to change the direction of the university, but the president who assumed charge in 1887 was not. Charles Dabney, the first president with an earned doctorate, reshaped the faculty and the institution. He successfully eliminated the preparatory department, ended the military regimen which governed student life, and began a law school and a department of education (under Philander Claxton). From 1902 until 1918, another innovation, the university’s Summer School of the South, enhanced the preparation of some 32,000 regional public school teachers. In 1892 women were admitted provisionally and granted unconditional admission the following year. A zealous advocate of improved public education for both whites and blacks and the author of the influential treatise Universal Education in the South (1936), Dabney proved too liberal for the trustees and left in 1904 for the presidency of the University of Cincinnati. His successor, Brown Ayres, continued to strengthen the university’s academic programs and persuaded the legislature to institute a series of regular annual appropriations for the institution’s operations, climaxed by the first million-dollar allocation in 1917.

In the twentieth century, the University of Tennessee emerged as a modern university, with professional schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, and pharmacy, all located in Memphis. This institution is now known as the University of Tennessee, Memphis, the Health Services Center. The Knoxville campus offers programs in agriculture, architecture and planning, arts and sciences, business, communications, education, engineering, human ecology, information sciences, law, nursing, social work, and veterinary medicine leading to undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees. Additional campuses are at Martin and Tullahoma, where a Space Institute was established in 1964. In 1969 the University of Chattanooga, a private institution founded in 1886, was added to the newly designated university “system,” with a Knoxville president and campus chancellors. From 1971 to 1979 the university maintained a campus in Nashville before it was ordered closed and merged with Tennessee State University as part of the state’s desegregation program.

Despite the financial support from public coffers, appropriations have never adequately funded the university. State funding currently provides about one-third of the institution’s budget. An aggressive development program instituted by President Andrew D. Holt (1959-70) produced gifts that resulted in an endowment of more than $410 million by the end of 1996.

Apart from the admission of women at the end of the nineteenth century, the most important change in the student body came in 1952 when African Americans were admitted to graduate and law schools under federal court order. Nine years later, the trustees voluntarily opened the doors to black undergraduates. Black enrollment currently varies from five percent on the Knoxville campus to 10 percent at Memphis and 13-14 percent at Chattanooga and Martin. In 2000 the university comprised a student body of more than 26,000 on the Knoxville campus and approximately four hundred undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

While the university has acquired a national reputation in both men’s and women’s athletics–the Lady Vols basketball team having won six national championships and the Volunteers football team winning the national championship in 1951 and 1998–the institution has also produced one Nobel laureate, seven Rhodes Scholars, six Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, nine U.S. senators, and one associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Its over 230,000 living alumni bear witness to the university’s success in fulfilling its mission of preparing Tennesseans for their roles as citizens of the state and nation and helping them realize their own potential.



  • Theater Ticket Office
  • UT Book & Supply Store
  • Career Planning
  • Candy Shop and Lobby Shop
  • Darkroom in Basement
  • Three Cafeterias including Rafter’s, Smokey’s, & Hermitage Room
  • University Lost & Found
  • Lounge for card players and day students
  • Music Lounge


Cumberland’s history is steeped in groundbreaking achievement and respected tradition. The university has withstood the test of time, evolving into an advanced institution of higher learning.

University History Timeline

1842 – Cumberland University is founded.

1847 – The School of Law is founded, it is the first in Tennessee and west of the Appalachian Mountains.

1861-1865 – Civil War

1866 – All departments of the university are in operation in various locations of Lebanon.

1892 – Cumberland moves to its present location

1896 – Memorial Hall is completed

1942 – Cumberland celebrates 100th anniversary

1942 – Almost 850k Soldiers from 25 US Army divisions, making up the Red and Blue Armies, were training for World War II. Headquartered at Cumberland University.

1946 – The Tennessee Baptist Convention assumed control of the University, ending a century of operation under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church.

1951 – The Tennessee Baptists close the College of Arts and Sciences and operate only the School of Law.

1956 – The Board of Trust secure an amendment to the Charter and change Cumberland to a private, independent corporation. The College of the Arts and Sciences is reopened as a two-year junior college, known as Cumberland College of Tennessee.

1961 – The Law School is sold to Samford University (then Howard College) in Birmingham, Alabama, after 114 Years.

1982 – The Board of Trust expands the academic programs of the junior college returning Cumberland to a four-year, degree institution. It resumed the old name of Cumberland University. It spent 28 years as a junior school.

47. Carl Pickens, WR

Carl Pickens was a part of the Vols two SEC Championship teams in 1989 and '90. As a freshman in '89, Pickens had 594 kick return yards and a touchdown.

In 1990 and '91, Pickens was the go-to receiver for quarterback Andy Kelly. Pickens is 14th all-time in UT receptions.

He skipped his senior year in 1992 and was drafted in the first round by the Cincinnati Bengals. Pickens played nine seasons in the league, with all but one of the seasons with Cincinnati.

1867 Fisk University is Incorporated

The work of Fisk's founders was sponsored by the American Missionary Association — later part of the United Church of Christ, with which Fisk retains an affiliation today.

Ogden, Cravath, and Smith, along with others in their movement, shared a dream of an educational institution that would be open to all, regardless of race, and that would measure itself by "the highest standards, not of Negro education, but of American education at its best." Their dream was incorporated as Fisk University on August 22, 1867.

Wildwood Farm in Germantown, gifted to UT Martin largest donation in University of Tennessee history

(left to right) Kerry Witcher, UT vice president for development and alumni affairs Randy Boyd, UT president Melanie Smith Taylor, Wildwood Farm and Dr. Keith Carver, UT Martin chancellor, prepare to sign the letter of intent that outlines the agreement for transfer of the Germantown, Tennessee, farm to UT Martin upon Taylor’s death

While the appraisal is still being finalized, UT Martin is receiving the largest donation in the history of the University of Tennessee, with the gifting of Wildwood Farm in Germantown.

The 350 acre farm, owned by Lee and Melanie Taylor, is known for its equestrian events and is a hub of equestrian society in the Mid-South.

Melanie Taylor won the team gold medal for show-jumping in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

UT President Randy Boyd made the announcement Thursday night at the farm…

Melanie Taylor talked about her late husband’s vision and the partnership with UT Martin…

Wildwood Farm was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.

Dewey Warren

In his three years as a starting quarterback for the Tennessee Volunteers, Dewey Warren went 19-6, including two bowl victories.

From 1965 to 1967, "The Swamp Rat" ushered the Vols into a new era for the quarterback, as he was the first UT signal caller to throw for 1,000 yards in a season.

Warren has the 10th most wins in Vols quarterback history and may have gone down as the most famous No. 16 in Tennessee history, but some other kid showed up in 1996.

About TSU

Each year, the University hosts a Founders' Day Convocation.

“Today we celebrate our founders and their contribution. Let us remember that if it hadn’t been for their foresight, we wouldn’t be here.” -President Glenda Glover

2019 Founders' Day Convocation
Kean Hall
Oct 15, 2019 - 9:00a

Founded in 1912

Founded in 1912, TSU is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant institution in Nashville, Tennessee. The university has been served by seven presidents, including Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover, who is currently serving as our eighth president.


Our Nashville home offers two locations—the 500-acre main campus nestles in a beautiful residential neighborhood along the Cumberland River, and the downtown Avon Williams campus sits near the center of Nashville’s business and government district.


In 1909, the Tennessee State General Assembly created three normal schools, including the Agricultural and Industrial Normal School, which would grow to become TSU. The first 247 students began their academic careers on June 19, 1912, and William Jasper Hale served as head of the school. Students, faculty, and staff worked together as a family to keep the institution operating, whether the activity demanded clearing rocks, harvesting crops, or carrying chairs from class to class.


The school gained the capacity to grant bachelor’s degrees in 1922, reflecting its new status as a four-year teachers’ college. By 1924, the college became known as the Agricultural and Industrial State Normal College and the first degrees were awarded. In 1927, “Normal” was dropped from the name. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the college grew in scope and stature under the charge “Enter to learn go forth to serve.”

When President Hale retired in 1943 after more than 30 years of service, one of the institution’s growing roster of impressive alumni, Walter S. Davis, was selected as his successor. Until his retirement in 1968, Davis led the college through an era of tremendous growth in academics and facilities that led to worldwide recognition.

The Tennessee General Assembly of 1941 authorized a substantial upgrade to the educational program of the college. Graduate studies leading to the master’s degree, initially offered in several branches of teacher education, were established. The first master’s degrees were awarded in June 1944.


The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools granted accreditation to TSU in 1946. In August 1951, the Tennessee State Board of Education approved university status. The resulting reorganization of the institution’s educational program created the Graduate School, the School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Education, and the School of Engineering. Provisions were also made for the later addition of other schools in agriculture, business, and home economics.


Under the name Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State University, the institution achieved full land-grant university status in August 1958. The Land-Grant University Program included the School of Agriculture & Home Economics, the Graduate School, the Division of Extension and Continuing Education, and the Department of Aerospace Studies. The School of Allied Health Professions and the School of Business were created in 1974, and the School of Nursing was established in 1979.


After Walter Davis retired as president in 1968, another TSU alumnus, Andrew Torrence, was named the University’s third president. During his relatively brief tenure, the state legislature dropped “Agricultural & Industrial” and officially changed the name to Tennessee State University.


When Frederick Humphries became TSU’s president in 1975, Nashville was also home to a second public four-year university. The Knoxville-based University of Tennessee began offering extension credit in Nashville in 1947 and expanded its programs throughout the 1960s. By 1971, it was accredited as a degree-granting institution that occupied new quarters at the corner of Tenth and Charlotte Avenues. But in 1968, TSU faculty member Rita Sanders filed a lawsuit, which became known as Geier v. Tennessee, alleging a dual system of higher education in Tennessee based on race. On July 1, 1979, the case was settled by a court order merging the former University of Tennessee at Nashville with TSU. As president, Humphries was the first to face the challenge of maintaining the balance between TSU’s role as one of America’s preeminent historically black universities and its emerging status as a comprehensive national university.

The Geier v. Tennessee case, however, remained alive for 32 years. Rita Sanders Geier was joined by the U.S. Department of Justice and by TSU professors Ray Richardson and H. Coleman McGinnis as co-plaintiffs in the suit. After numerous court-ordered plans failed to produce progress, all parties achieved a mediated consent decree that was ordered by the court on January 4, 2001.


Following a year as interim president, Otis Floyd became TSU’s fifth chief executive in 1987 and continued moving the university forward, initiating efforts that resulted in the state general assembly providing an unprecedented $112 million for capital improvements in 1988. Under this plan, nearly all campus buildings were renovated and eight new facilities were constructed, including the Floyd-Payne Campus Center, the Ned McWherter Administration Building, the Wilma Rudolph Residence Center, and the Performing Arts Center.

Then, in 1990, the Tennessee Board of Regents appointed Dr. Floyd its chancellor, opening the way for James Hefner to become TSU’s sixth president in 1991. Hefner supervised additional improvements to campus facilities and fostered enrollment growth to an all-time high of 9,100 students. The Otis Floyd Nursery Crops Research Station in McMinnville was dedicated in 1996, and, in 1999, researchers at the TSU Center for Automated Space Science were the first to discover a planet outside our solar system.

Melvin N. Johnson became the university’s seventh president in June of 2005, and was instrumental in continuing to bring national attention to the university by recognizing the Freedom Riders 14, engaging the university in the Tennessee Campus Compact, receiving national awards for community service and engagement, awarded $8 million for Race to the Top Funds by President Obama, opening the university’s doors to flood victims and businesses, and obtaining Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

In the University’s 100-year history, Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover became president in January 2013 and continues making changes to further emphasize the excellence for which TSU is known worldwide.

TSU & the Olympics

Tennessee State University has a rich Olympic heritage involving the TSU Tigerbelles.

Coach Ed Temple - Former TSU track Coach Ed Temple, who was the head coach of two Olympic teams, was selected as a member of the 2012 class of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. Read more.

Today, a statue of Ed Temple stands at the Nashville Sounds’ ballpark for all to enjoy and learn about TSU's impressive Olympic history.

Wilma Rudolph , a TSU Tigerbelle, was an Olympic Sprint Champion. Read more about her athletic feats on the official Olympics website.

University of Tennessee - History

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center has educated:

  • 75 percent of the state’s dentists
  • 40 percent of its pharmacists
  • 40 percent of the physicians
  • and the lion’s share of the nursing faculty working in the state today.

About 80 percent of our Health Professions graduates stay in Tennessee.

UTHSC is a member of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Electronic Campus for distance education courses, programs and services offered through many institutions of higher education in the southeastern United States.

Economic Impact Report

Annual Report

History of Vanderbilt University

The $1 million that he gave to endow and build the university was Vanderbilt''s only major philanthropy. Methodist Bishop Holland N. McTyeire of Nashville, husband of Amelia Townsend who was a cousin of Vanderbilt's young second wife Frank Crawford, went to New York for medical treatment early in 1873 and spent time recovering in the Vanderbilt mansion. He won the Vanderbilts' admiration and support for the project of building a university in the South that would "contribute to strengthening the ties which should exist between all sections of our common country."

McTyeire chose the site for the campus, supervised the construction of buildings and personally planted many of the trees that today make Vanderbilt a national arboretum. At the outset, the university consisted of one Main Building (now Kirkland Hall), an astronomical observatory and houses for professors. Landon C. Garland was Vanderbilt's first chancellor, serving from 1875 to 1893. He advised McTyeire in selecting the faculty, arranged the curriculum and set the policies of the university.

For the first 40 years of its existence, Vanderbilt was under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The Vanderbilt Board of Trust severed its ties with the church in June 1914 as a result of a dispute with the bishops over who would appoint university trustees.

From the outset, Vanderbilt met two definitions of a university: It offered work in the liberal arts and sciences beyond the baccalaureate degree and it embraced several professional schools in addition to its college. James H. Kirkland, the longest serving chancellor in university history (1893-1937), followed Chancellor Garland. He guided Vanderbilt to rebuild after a fire in 1905 that consumed the main building, which was renamed in Kirkland's honor, and all its contents. He also navigated the university through the separation from the Methodist Church. Notable advances in graduate studies were made under the third chancellor, Oliver Cromwell Carmichael (1937-46). He also created the Joint University Library, brought about by a coalition of Vanderbilt, Peabody College and Scarritt College.

Remarkable continuity has characterized the government of Vanderbilt. The original charter, issued in 1872, was amended in 1873 to make the legal name of the corporation "The Vanderbilt University." The charter has not been altered since.

The university is self-governing under a Board of Trust that, since the beginning, has elected its own members and officers. The university's general governance is vested in the Board of Trust. The immediate governance of the university is committed to the chancellor, who is elected by the Board of Trust.

The original Vanderbilt campus consisted of 75 acres. By 1960, the campus had spread to about 260 acres of land. When George Peabody College for Teachers merged with Vanderbilt in 1979, about 53 acres were added.

Vanderbilt's student enrollment tended to double itself each 25 years during the first century of the university's history: 307 in the fall of 1875 754 in 1900 1,377 in 1925 3,529 in 1950 7,034 in 1975. In the fall of 1999 the enrollment was 10,127.

In the planning of Vanderbilt, the assumption seemed to be that it would be an all-male institution. Yet the board never enacted rules prohibiting women. At least one woman attended Vanderbilt classes every year from 1875 on. Most came to classes by courtesy of professors or as special or irregular (non-degree) students. From 1892 to 1901 women at Vanderbilt gained full legal equality except in one respect -- access to dorms. In 1894 the faculty and board allowed women to compete for academic prizes. By 1897, four or five women entered with each freshman class. By 1913 the student body contained 78 women, or just more than 20 percent of the academic enrollment.

National recognition of the university's status came in 1949 with election of Vanderbilt to membership in the select Association of American Universities. In the 1950s Vanderbilt began to outgrow its provincial roots and to measure its achievements by national standards under the leadership of Chancellor Harvie Branscomb. By its 90th anniversary in 1963, Vanderbilt for the first time ranked in the top 20 private universities in the United States.

Vanderbilt continued to excel in research, and the number of university buildings more than doubled under the leadership of Chancellors Alexander Heard (1963-1982) and Joe B. Wyatt (1982-2000), only the fifth and sixth chancellors in Vanderbilt's long and distinguished history. Heard added three schools (Blair, the Owen Graduate School of Management and Peabody College) to the seven already existing and constructed three dozen buildings. During Wyatt's tenure, Vanderbilt acquired or built one-third of the campus buildings and made great strides in diversity, volunteerism and technology.

The university grew and changed significantly under its seventh chancellor, Gordon Gee, who served from 2000 to 2007. Vanderbilt led the country in the rate of growth for academic research funding, which increased to more than $450 million and became one of the most selective undergraduate institutions in the country.

In March 2008, Nicholas S. Zeppos was named Vanderbilt's eighth chancellor. The appointment came following Zeppos’ many years of service to the university, where he started as an assistant law professor in 1987, and went on to serve as dean of the law school and Vanderbilt’s academic provost.

Shortly after his appointment, Zeppos led the university through the most challenging economic times since the Great Depression, a period from which Vanderbilt emerged relatively unscathed. A mark of the university’s commitment to positive change, even amid economic calamity, Zeppos implemented Opportunity Vanderbilt in 2008—a pioneering initiative that would fund loan-free tuition for the nation’s most deserving students, regardless of their background or financial means.

That same year, another transformation took hold for undergraduates: in 2008, Vanderbilt opened the Martha Ingram Commons, a living-learning residential hall that enables a fully holistic approach to education. The Commons marked the first of Vanderbilt’s Residential College system, followed by Warren and Moore colleges, which opened in 2014 and E. Bronson Ingram College in 2018. This priority of educating the whole student—intellectually, socially and emotionally—is also reflected in the university’s long-term campus development plan, FutureVU, which aims to align Vanderbilt’s physical spaces with its academic mission.

Zeppos also oversaw the separation of Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt Medical Center in 2016, a prescient decision that positioned both institutions for long-term success and independence.

In August 2019, Zeppos became chancellor emeritus after serving as Vanderbilt’s top leader for more than 11 years. Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente served as interim chancellor until July 1, 2020.

Daniel Diermeier, an internationally renowned scholar of political science and managerial leadership, began his tenure as the ninth chancellor of Vanderbilt University on July 1, 2020. Formerly provost and dean of the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, and a longtime professor at Stanford University and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Diermeier was selected by the Vanderbilt Board of Trust after an extensive worldwide search.

Today, Vanderbilt University is a private research university with approximately 6,900 undergraduates and more than 6,200 graduate and professional students. Comprised of 10 distinct schools and colleges on one centralized campus in downtown Nashville, Vanderbilt spurs—and is optimized for—cross-disciplinary research, fostering discoveries that impact society for the better.

Vanderbilt is consistently ranked as one of the nation's top 15 universities by publications such as U.S. News & World Report, with several programs that consistently rank in the top 10. Testament to the current leadership, faculty, staff and students, Vanderbilt was ranked #1 for financial aid and #2 for happiest students by the Princeton Review in 2018, and was recently ranked #10 in Reuter’s assessment of the World’s Most Innovative Universities. Cutting-edge, cross-disciplinary research and liberal arts, combined with strong ties to a distinguished medical center, create an invigorating atmosphere where students tailor their education to meet their goals and researchers collaborate to solve complex questions affecting our health, culture and society.

Vanderbilt, an independent, privately supported university, and the separate, non-profit Vanderbilt University Medical Center share a respected name and enjoy close collaboration through education and research. Together, the number of people employed by these two organizations exceeds that of the largest private employer in the Middle Tennessee region.

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