Points of Pride

Featured photo: Two of UT Knoxville’s residence halls were renamed for racial equality trailblazers: Rita Sanders Geier and Theotis Robinson Jr.


  • A record number of Vols began their semester at UT Knoxville, topping 31,000 students.
  • In September, UTK ranked 46th among the nation’s best public universities, according to the 2022 U.S. News and World Report—the largest rise in rankings among comparable peers. Forbes magazine named UTK one of the best places to work in Tennessee.
  • UTK Chancellor Donde Plowman and Dr. Spencer Gregg, director of the campus’ Student Health Center, were honored by Knox.biz as 2021 Health Care Heroes. They were recognized for their commitment to transparent communications and keeping communities as healthy as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Two residence halls were officially dedicated in honor of Rita Sanders Geier and Theotis Robinson Jr., two African American trailblazers whose fights for racial equality transformed the state’s higher education system and university. The buildings—Orange Hall for Geier and White Hall for Robinson—first opened in 2016 and provide a home away from home for almost 700 students.
  • The university’s College of Nursing building will be named after Sara Croley (Knoxville ’00) and her husband, Ross, after the college received its largest gift to date—$7.5 million—from the couple in October 2019. Construction is scheduled to begin next summer, and the building’s completion is targeted for 2025.
  • UTK and Pilot Company announced the naming of the Pilot Company Veteran Student Lounge, located in the campus’ Veterans Success Center. Pilot Company also established the Pilot Company Veterans Success Endowment to benefit the center, which serves more than 1,200 students.
  • Volunteers have always been well represented at the summer games, and the Tokyo Olympics were no different as 18 past, present and future Vols and Lady Vols competed on behalf of 12 countries in seven sports.
  • Engineering students earned the title of world champions at the 2021 VEXU Robotics World Championship with their team YNOT, beating out more than 300 teams from universities around the world.
A woman in orange jeans displays her medals worn around her neck on the football field at Neyland Stadium
Swimmer Erika Brown, Knoxville ’20, shows off her silver and bronze medals won during the 2020 Olympics.

A man in a white lab coat and a woman in professional dress infront of an orange wall in the Student Union
Dr. Spencer Gregg, director of UT Knoxville Student Health Center, and UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman. Photo by Brianna Paciorka/Knox News

Looking Forward

  • UTK Chancellor Donde Plowman delivered her third annual flagship address, where she shared an overview of the university’s new strategic vision. The UT Board of Trustees unanimously approved the new strategic vision for the Knoxville campus, marking the culmination of a nearly two-year collaborative effort to envision a bold future for the state’s flagship land-grant institution.
  • Bill Lyons joined the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy as its inaugural director of policy partnerships. In this new role, Lyons will drive the university’s policy engagement on issues of local importance, connecting policymakers and community leaders with campus experts and resources.
  • The university announced additional scholarships specifically created for in-state students—the Distinguished Tennessean Scholarship, the Orange and White Scholarship, and the Tennessee Connect Scholarship. The new scholarships are designed to enable more students across the state to have access to a UTK education.