225, and Beginning!


Indya Kincannon
[email protected]
(865) 215-2040

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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A celebratory poem written for University of Tennessee's 225th anniversary that was read at the gala on September 6, 2019.

By Marilyn Kallet

225, and Beginning!

The beginning of the future is everywhere at UT,
layered and mostly delicious, a tall wedding cake,
not a petit four. 225 years! 

UT kicked off as Blount,
a one-prof college in 1794.
Reverend Carrick opened his living room to

five students. Guv’ Blount’s daughter, 
Barbara, attended, 1804. Maybe that explains 
Barbara Hill, later called “The Hill.”

1806, William Parker, the college’s only known 
grad, nailed his finals.
His mother must have been so proud!

Blount reopened as East Tennessee College in 1807,
shut for eleven years in 1809. Be glad you missed 
that budget meeting!

Open to all denominations shortly after that,
but alas, not to women.
1892, thanks to Charles Dabney,

for Science and Engineering,
and for unbolting our doors
for women! It’s okay to look back, Euridice!

1879, we became University of Tennessee.
We got there! Well, some of us.
Open to all denominations, unless 

you were African-American.  
UT’s desegregation timeline moved 
like a dumb glacier for centuries,

pulling back even after Brown Vs. Board.
Tonight, among our guiding stars, we honor
Theotis Robinson. Gaze into his eyes for history!

Tonight we celebrate struggle and the stars,
Andy Holt, John Fisher, Paul Soper, 
who built UT Playhouse, 

now the Carousel.
Joan Cronan, Pat Head Summitt, 
UT Vols, so-named by the Atlanta Constitution

In 1902.  Peyton Manning, Bill Bass, 
John C. Hodges and another Hodges, 
Carolyn, who lifted us up. 

Marilyn Yarborough, first African-American 
College Dean, 1989, and coach 
Wade Houston. A banner year! 

Beauvais Lyons, Diane Fox, Cal MacLean, Misty Anderson,
Jeff Chapman, Teresa Lee––each of us holds favorites.
Personally, I adore Lou Gross,

Ecology and NIMBioS, 
more vital now than ever, as is
our connection with ORNL, 

all things considered. Praise
WUOT, transmitting since 1949. 
Praise our K-9 unit, especially Bruno,

Who tracks bad guys and lost children.
Praise top-mascot Smokey 
in all his incarnations. 
Yes, there were glitches in casting.
Beck’s prize-winning design 
for the Volunteer statue 

appeared middle-aged, 
until students 
and faculty complained.

1937, the senior class model
of the Torchbearer—a three-foot high
plaster version with built-in flame

malfunctioned and “completely destroyed
the outstretched hand.”
Oy vey! He’s no Peyton Manning, but

Today’s nine-foot torchbearer
Made of firmer stuff.

The Native Peoples display 
in McClung Museum reminds us that
The People dwelt here 

in Paleolithic times, 
And the mid-sized dinosaur? 
No professor jokes, please.

Do explain that brass marker 
in Austin Peay––
for Cooper D. Schmitt, MA,

“Placed here by his co-workers and students”––
he’s not actually entombed 
in the stairwell, right?

Today we celebrate another chance
at beginning, with Chancellor 
Donde Plowman, 

whose door is open
to us all.
The French have a word for it:

Recommencer, to re-begin,
Start ‘er up again!
Time for cake! A large slice. 

From one living room to 294 buildings.
5 students to more than 23,000
and 6000 grad students.

From one prof to almost 5000
faculty and staff––a toast!
Big numbers don’t fit easily

into the living room of a poem.
But this is a love poem for UT, with 
a heart as big as Neyland–– 

thank you, Sports Illustrated, for naming 
our stadium Number 8, above the Florida Swamp! 
Cheers to all Vols, with a proud heart and a grateful bow!