George Connor

UT Chattanooga, ’47

George Connor

Students of UT Chattanooga English professor George Connor can describe him as a friend and mentor who believed in them.

UTC students dedicated the 1969 yearbook in his honor and wrote of him, “…a friend to those who need a friend…even to those who do not need a friend…an achiever…a perfectionist who demands much…and rewards just as much.”

But, before the esteemed career at UTC, Connor served three years during World War II with the 9th Armored Division, acknowledged in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., for extraordinary heroism. On May 8, 1945, the troops liberated Zwodau and Falkenau-an-der-Eger, both subcamps of the Flossenbürg concentration camp in what now is the Czech Republic. Connor earned a Bronze Star the same year.

In 1947, he received a bachelor’s degree in American literature from UTC. He also studied at the School of Theology in Kentucky, the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and at Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English in Vermont, where he earned a master’s degree.

Connor taught four years in the Chattanooga public school system and was founding executive director of the Adult Education Council before joining UTC as a professor in 1959. From 1963 to 1969, he was head of the English department, and from 1967 to 1970 was executive assistant to the chancellor.

When Connor retired in 1985, UTC established the George Connor Professorship in American Literature. Then-UTC Provost John Trimpey said, “(New teachers) will not have the impact on our students that you have had. They won’t bring the integrity to their work that you have done. They won’t replace your wit, style and high seriousness. We will miss you for all of the English students who didn’t have the opportunity to study with George Connor.” Connor died in 2003.

Part of the Tennessee Alumnus100 Distinguished Alumni feature.