Our Tennessee (USPS 016-952, ISSN 15216411) is a magazine for the alumni of the University of Tennessee with campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Pulaski, Martin; the UT Health Science Center based in Memphis and the statewide UT Institutes of Agriculture and Public Service.
Established in 1917 as Tennessee Alumnus, the magazine is published four times a year for the University of Tennessee Alumni Association and distributed to all alumni donors.
A Brief History
In 1917, the first issue of Tennessee Alumnus spilled off the press of Stubley Printing Company in Knoxville. The university’s alumni association had just undergone a rejuvenation of sorts and added as its new secretary L.R. Neel, a 1907 graduate. Neel doubled as editor of the fledgling magazine, which he sent to all 5,000 alumni with high hopes they would remit a $2 association membership fee/magazine subscription. About 500 paid the price and received the second issue. Those inaugural issues were graphically subdued 6-by-9-inch volumes with only four black and white photographs adorning their 24 pages.
In the 1920s, the magazine blossomed to tabloid newspaper dimensions for three years before retreating to traditional magazine format of approximately 8 ½ by 11 inches. Harry M. Watson, a 1927 graduate, became editor in 1928. At the helm of alumni activities during that era was Vic Davis, who remained until his death in 1948. By 1940, the alumni magazine was being sent to 1,500 paying alumni association members. World War II interrupted the normal collegial tone of the alumni magazine with accounts of combat and lists of war dead, prisoners of war, alumni decorated for valor, and those missing in action.
Succeeding Davis as alumni director was John Smartt, who oversaw publication of the Tennessee Alumnus. But a 1964 reorganization shifted responsibility for the magazine to the university’s public relations office, where it has remained. Neal O’Steen, a 1950 graduate, was named editor.
When the university system was formed in 1968, the alumni association and alumni magazine – became creatures of the system, not the Knoxville campus where they had their roots. The magazine began offering a range of features representing all segments of UT.
Diane Ballard, a 1969 UT Knoxville graduate, was named editor when Neal O’Steen retired in 1986. In 2012, Ballard became editor emerita, and managing editor Elizabeth Davis, a 1996 UT Knoxville alumna, was named editor. Gina Stafford, a 2007 UT Knoxville graduate and assistant vice president and director of communications for the university system, became interim editor in 2015 upon Davis’ departure for an opportunity outside UT. Chief staff writer Jennifer Sicking became managing editor in 2018.
Following a centennial celebration and redesign in 2017, the magazine’s name was officially changed to Our Tennessee in 2021. Whereas the word ‘alumnus’ refers to a singular male graduate, the new name reflects a more inclusive direction.
Managing Editor: Jennifer Sicking
Art Director: Laura Barroso
Copy Editor: Jan Maxwell Avent
Web Designer: La’Bria Wimberly, Knoxville ’17
Web Designer: Michael Folkerth
Student Intern: Macy Roberts, Knoxville ’24
Advertising Manager: John W. Lacey, Knoxville ’03
Business Manager: Angie Holtzclaw