Every September, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga celebrates Founder’s Week—a weeklong commemoration of the first day in the University’s history.
On Sept. 15, 1886, Chattanooga University opened its doors for the first time with a teaching staff of seven and an enrollment of 118 students. The university became the Chattanooga campus of Grant Memorial University in 1889 and changed its name to the University of Chattanooga in 1907.
That name lasted until 1969, when the private University of Chattanooga merged with Chattanooga City College—then joined the University of Tennessee system of statewide campuses to become the public institution now known as UTC.
The history and significance of Founder’s Day—which evolved into a more extensive week of activities over the years—was explored in a piece written by University Archivist and Associate Professor Noah Lasley for the UTC Library webpage.
“Founder’s Day is a tradition that has varied in name and consistency over the years but has always been recognized as an opportunity to celebrate the University and those who are a part of it,” Lasley wrote.
“A speech from the early 1960s explains, ‘Founder’s Day could be thought of as the University’s birthday party, a ceremony celebrating the official opening of the institution. It could also be thought of as a day set aside to recognize the founding fathers of the University.’”
As Lasley noted, many of the individuals involved in establishing the university in 1886 were memorialized on campus in a building name change in 1950, when the Administration Building—which was completed in 1916—was renamed Founders Hall.
Founder’s Week 2023 is capped by the annual State of the University address by Chancellor Steven R. Angle, who assumed his role as the 17th leader of the University on July 1, 2013.
The Founder’s Week calendar includes the UTC Service Awards Annual Luncheon, which recognizes faculty and staff marking employment milestones of five or multiples of five years. The luncheon, which takes place on Tuesday, Sept. 12, will honor 199 members of the UTC family, including three who have completed 40 years of service.
The three celebrating 40th anniversaries with UTC: Dr. Lucien Ellington, professor in the School of Education and director of the Asia Program and the Center for Reflective Citizenship; Teresa McKinney, administrative assistant to the Chancellor; and Vanasia Parks, senior associate vice chancellor for business services.
Three others have reached the milestone figure of 35 years with UTC: Karl Fletcher, director of IT and Laboratories in the College of Engineering and Computer Science; Shirley Hatfield, senior account specialist in the Office of the Bursar; and Department of Mathematics Professor Ossama Saleh.