A new endowment and two new scholarships for African American history, folk music and chemistry have been introduced in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.


Russell Linnemann Memorial Endowment

Russell Linnemann

The Russell Linnemann Memorial Endowment gives $450,000 for the study of African and African-American history along with the story of the blues. The money, given in perpetuity, is divided into $450,000 to fund ongoing programs and $50,000 to create an account to honor the career of Linnemann and his academic contributions.

The $400,000 will cover travel expenses for students and faculty members to research archives, historic sites or professional conferences as well as an ongoing lecture series. Students also can apply for stipends for internships with local nonprofits. The $50,000 is immediately available to support the program while the endowment matures.

“Through these funds, we are able to create new avenues of financial and mentorship support for current students in the program, expand existing and create new community collaborations, bring award-winning scholars to campus and develop a vibrant interdisciplinary curriculum,” Susan Eckelmann Berghel, director of Africana Studies and associate professor of history.

Known as “The Blues Doctor,” Linnemann joined the UTC  faculty in 1970 and taught in the Department of History for 36 years. While regularly teaching courses in Western Civilization, modern European history and African history, his signature courses were on the blues. He loved listening to and talking about the music and was given the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive” award in 1999 for his weekly radio program, Blues and More.

The Linnemann endowment was established by William Horace Epstein, president of the Berkeley (Missouri) Lumber Co., Berkeley Homes Inc., Windler Windows & Patio Doors and Restero Corp. He and Linnemann met as undergraduates at Grinnell College in Sussex, England. The endowment is Epstein’s way of honoring his longtime friend.

“The UTC History Department is immensely grateful to William Epstein for this generous gift in honor of his dear friend, Russell J. Linnemann. This memorial endowment and annual fund will be an enduring catalyst for the Africana Studies program, while memorializing Linnemann’s academic legacy in the fields of African and African-American history and the history of the blues,” said Michael D. Thompson, head of the Department of History and UC Foundation associate professor of history.”


Mountain Opry Scholarship

Music Administrative Assistant Jordan Hicks, Mountain Opry’s Ken Holloway and Associate Head of the Music Department Kenyon Wilson.

Sophomore Keely Phillips from Shelbyville, Tennessee, a major in music therapy, is the first UTC student to receive the Mountain Opry Scholarship.

The scholarship is named after the weekly music show that started in Walden, Tennessee, in 1979, and featured bluegrass, folk, gospel and other types of music. The show’s bylaws said that, if the founding organization ended, any money still in hand would fund a folk music scholarship in the UTC College of Arts and Sciences.

When the show shut down in March 2020, almost $59,000 was endowed to the scholarship and all the show’s equipment, including microphones, mic stands and mixing board, were given to the UTC music division. The Mountain Opry restarted in September 2020 but by a different organization than the original.

“For decades, the Mountain Opry presented folk music and supported the local music community. The Department of Performing Arts is honored to be continuing the legacy of the Opry with their endowed scholarship. This scholarship will indefinitely support UTC music students who have an interest in folk music,” said Kenyon Wilson, associate head of the department.

The endowment has been placed in an investment fund and the plan is that, as it matures, either more than one student will receive the scholarship or more money may be available for students.


Dr. Kyle Knight Chemistry Research Fund

Kyle Knight

To honor the late chemistry professor who passed away on Aug. 8, 2020, his family created the scholarship to support research projects in the Department of Chemistry and Physics.

The money will fund a paid summer student internship as part of the annual departmental Undergraduate Research Program in which a student works with a faculty member. Preference on the particular research will be for organic chemistry projects, which was the field of expertise for Knight, who came to UTC in 1997.

“Kyle was a valued colleague who was passionate about student learning and included undergraduates in all of his research endeavors,” said Keenan Dungey, head of the Department of Chemistry and Physics.

“The faculty-student mentor relationship embodies UTC’s values of experiential learning and student success. The Dr. Kyle Knight Chemistry Research Scholarship will enable us to continue his legacy by sponsoring future generations of undergraduate students in original research projects.”


Media Relations Contacts: Email UTC Media Relations or call 423-425-5119.

Shawn Ryan is the executive staff writer in the Office of Communications and Marketing at UTC.

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