Can you hear the cheers? It’s probably the Hamilton County UT alumni whooping it up again. This top-rated alumni group is always up to something. Last fall the chapter organized a pep rally before the Tennessee-Alabama football game Friday, October 19, for 400 Hamilton County residents. The “Pride of the Southland” band, UT cheerleaders, and Smokey stopped in Chattanooga on their way to Tuscaloosa to join the crowd aglow in orange and white.
On November 29 the chapter partnered with the UT Chattanooga alumni board and invited Dr. Kelly Tiller, director of external relations for the Tennessee Biofuels Initiative, to speak to members of the community about the university’s role in this research and business model that promises to decrease U.S. reliance on foreign oil. The event was held on the UTC campus, where 150 people came to hear Tiller speak.
Chapter president Rusty Gray is not only working hard on events, he’s enjoying it. “It’s been great to reconnect with the university community through our alumni chapter,” Gray says. “I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to become reacquainted with the many exciting things the university does and the exceptional people who work for the university.”
Before the UTC-UTK basketball game last December, the chapter sponsored another pep rally–this one for alumni and fans of both teams. University president John Petersen, UTC head basketball coach John Shulman, and UTK head basketball coach Bruce Pearl spoke to the crowd of 150 decked out in gold and blue and orange and white. The UTC dance team, pep band, and cheerleaders and the UTK cheerleaders helped fuel the excitement.
The Hamilton County chapter also tries to return support to the community and has taken on “Kids on the Block” as its main charitable organization. The chapter helped wrap presents for the organization last Christmas at a local mall and volunteered at programs the organization put on.
“Our alumni chapter is blessed with very talented and active board members,” Gray says. “Our board consists of members who are not only creative but also excellent in implementing and executing creative plans. Our members also feel very strongly about helping the university be the best that it can be. With that depth and commitment, we have been able to accomplish a great deal, and we have a great deal more we want to accomplish.”
The chapter sponsors an annual Honors Dinner in early spring where several hundred local high-school students at the top of their class are invited to hear about the importance of higher education and the great institutions in the state of Tennessee. And on April 29, there’ll be more cheers as the Big Orange Caravan rolls in to Hamilton County with coaches from Rocky Top speaking to alumni and fans.