The first Chancellor’s Big Orange Bus Tour took Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek and other key university leaders more than 1,300 miles across Tennessee in September. They met with civic and alumni groups to talk about UT’s impact on the state. High school bands and pep squads greeted the Big Orange entourage with rousing renditions of Rocky Top during stops at nine schools in eight cities. Smokey and the cheerleaders joined in the fun at two Knox County high schools. Adding to the excitement, UT officials delivered admissions acceptance letters to several dozen high school seniors along the way.
Rise in the rankings
The university climbed three spots in U.S. News and World Report’s 2016 undergraduate rankings, released in Fall 2015. UT Knoxville now ranks 47th among all public universities, up from 50th a year ago. It is now 103rd among all universities nationally, which includes both public and private schools. That’s up from 106th last year. Improvements in two key areas fueled the rise: graduation rate, which rose from 68 percent to 69 percent, and percentage of classes with 50 or more students, which fell from 15 percent to 14 percent.
Frieson Black Cultural Center
When college life pressures were intense, Don and Ron Frieson found a home away from home at the Black Cultural Center. The twins returned to their alma mater in late September to celebrate the building’s renaming as the Frieson Black Cultural Center. The Friesons recently gave $1 million to the center in tribute to their family. “The education, the experiences and the friendships that we developed here have all played a role in contributing to the fabric of the men we have become,” Don Frieson (Knoxville ’90) told those attending. Don Frieson is executive vice president of operations for Sam’s Club. Ron Frieson (Knoxville ’81) is president for foundation and external affairs at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.