Your UC memories

by Torchbearer Staff June 11, 2012

Work has begun on UT’s new Student Union, which will transform the current University Center into an amazing new space for students. Thanks for sending us your memories of the UC. Read what everyone had to say.


Two weeks ago during Spring Break, I returned to campus with my 8-year-old daughter to show her what life was like for me as an undergrad and grad student from 1994–2000. They’d begun the demolition of the University Center garage and my immediate memory went back to summer of 1997 when we hosted our Big Orange Bash dance party atop the garage during the Orientation sessions. Those parties went until 1:30 a.m. every night, with us catching a mere three to four hours of sleep, only to do it again the next day. As I entered the UC to go to the Bookstore, I remembered eating at Smokey’s during our “Disco Dinner” and how we’d perform on stage in the Auditorium every morning to Rocky Top. Looking back at pictures from that time always brings a huge smile to my face and sharing some of that with her (a hopeful future VOL) is priceless.

Thanks for allowing me to share!

Aimee (Miramontes) Cota ’98, ’00

When I reported to UT as a freshman in 1965, I was scared to death. Mom and Dad dropped this high school grad off on campus, got me installed in Hess Hall, and away they went. There I was, a UT freshman, not knowing where to turn, who to turn to, anything about registration, what courses to take, or how to write a check!

What pulled it all together for me was the University Center. I stumbled in there one day, purely by accident, probably looking for another office, and suddenly felt right at home. It was a place for, well, students! Freshmen like me, upperclassmen, and graduate students, all with a common bond. We were UT students. I learned that clubs met there, I could eat there, I could study in relative quiet; attend concerts, even a dance or two on Saturday nights. It became my first home away from home, and never did I feel alienated at the old UC.

Eventually, I got a part-time job there, bussing tables in the dining hall. In a microcosm, the UC embedded me at the big university, demonstrating I was like everybody else, and misery loves company. It was the best cocoon a guy could have fresh out of a small high school in Tennessee; a place to get to know the community of a great University of Tennessee. There’s a tear in my eye as I write these words.

Alan Notgrass Clark ’69

I was a commuter. My husband worked downtown, so we drove in together, leaving me on campus even if I didn’t have a full day of classes. UC was a haven, not only providing a place to rest and study but also a place to nurture close friendships. There was a locker room near the ticket center where several of us spent our down time. It was sad as some graduated, but new freshmen kept the group perpetual. I enjoyed breakfast and lunch from The Smokies and Rafters, and certain songs still bring back specific memories there. The candy shop upstairs often gave means for a much-needed energy boost. I’ve lost touch with all those friends who helped get me through those four years, and I miss each of them greatly. I invite them to look me up on Facebook. I’d love to reunite. I hope the renovated UC will mean as much to the future students of UT as the current one did to us.

Susan Gardner Kennedy ’98

I was circulation manager of University Publications for two and a half years. I was issued a university, green van. I distributed the UT Daily Beacon, annuals, and assorted UT publications. The summer of 1968 I was a hero and helped catch the janitors that were destroying 2,000 copies of the Daily Beacon in the business building.

I used to wake the campus cop up every morning that was assigned by Col. Whitehead to watch the new Vol Statue. He would always fall asleep and I would wake him and give him a copy of the Daily Beacon before Col. Whitehead could come by Circle Park. It was Europa that was regularly vandalized during those days, though.

I could drive my van on the sidewalks because it had such a small wheelbase. More than 1,000 copies per day of the Daily Beacon went to the Student Center in those days. Long story short, I had to drive around the Student Center and the tires left marks. The woman that ran the Student Center was furious, but my bosses would not change what I did. The University Center literally built those concrete barrel shaped barriers off Cumberland Avenue to prevent me from driving on the sidewalk anymore around the Student Center. True Fact!

Larry Sullivan ’70, MS ’76

I have many, many UC memories. I was in SGA as well as an SOA, so I spent hours upon hours in the UC. But my most memorable experience was having the opportunity to dunk Dean Askew into a trough of water at the end of my senior year in 1991! Of course, he promptly got me back when I ended up being in the dunking booth, but that’s beside the point.

Fondly, Holly Harris Eddins ’91

My favorite memory of the UC is when I scanned my UT ID for a chance to get to buy National Championship tickets. A couple of weeks later I was notified I won and returned to the UC to purchase two tickets to the game in Tempe, Arizona. It was my first year at UT, and I got to go to the game!

Alison Caldwell Wright ’03

One of my fondest memories of the UC was early in the fall semester of 1998. My boyfriend (now my husband) and I spent the night on top of the UC garage along with hundreds of other UT students waiting in line for UT vs. Florida football tickets. Every group of students was doing their own thing—some played cards, others brought generators or long extension cords and played video games or watched movies. We talked and tried to get some sleep. Our seats for the game made the long night worth it: fifth row, 50-yard line. And we beat Florida that year by a narrow margin and went on to win the national championship title! The funny thing was that although we were fearful that student tickets would be gone before we made it to the ticket office inside the UC, there were still tickets left the next day.

Misty Bailey ’01, MA ’04

I had mailbox #16301 at the UC when I met and began dating my husband, Dickson, in the fall of 1996. The postal clerks shared in our budding romance, as Dickson would sweet-talk the clerks into putting items from him into my box. The clerks would watch for me and enjoy my reaction to his gifts—a book, magazine, trinkets, and often, a single flower. One memorable time, my mailbox contained a sizeable sunflower.

Sandra Allen McLean

Call me crazy, but I like the old University Center, and I regret that a new one is being built. One of my favorite parts of the old UC is the parking garage, with its Kahn-inspired concrete walls with large, round openings to let in light and create interesting shadows and to serve as window seats for football fans during the Salute to the Hill. It is too bad that someone at the university has decreed that all modernist architecture is bad and should be demolished and replaced with some form of boring university gothic design. I also like the open plaza in front of the old UC, with it’s shade trees and mounds of colorful flowers, and I believe that the new UC will crowd Cumberland and the other street borders, the same way the Baker Center building does. Just give me one last bag of chocolate-covered peanuts from the candy counter.

Philip Royer ’77

Tuesday and Friday night at the movies in the UC auditorium in the early 1980s. I can remember the Auditorium filled to capacity to watch new and old movies alike. Students stayed on campus in the evenings (few had cars in those days), congregated in the UC, bowled and shot pool in Xanadu, and packed Smokey’s Palace for dinner.

John Nehls ’84, MBA ’88

I attended UT College of Veterinary Medicine from 1981–1984. During our first year, we would catch the shuttle bus and go over to the main campus to take our microbiology/virology/immunology courses. If we got done in time to take a break before having to grab a bus and hustle back to the Ag campus for our next class, we’d run across the street for coffee and donuts…a chance to feel like a human for a few minutes instead of a greyhound chasing a rabbit.

I also remember when working as a student intern, our entertainment options were few due to the work schedule. If the chance came up, I’d drive over and catch a movie. I remember seeing Enter the Dragon, Polyester (with scratch-and-sniff strips!) and the ultimate The Blues Brothers…with half the audience in black suits and hats. I don’t remember the lady’s name that would walk out and introduce the movies, but she made it even more fun.

Dr. Jerry M. Allen ’84

I remember hanging out at the Student Center listening to Earth, Wind and Fire over the intercom and watching De Duva (spoof on Swedish movie that was hilarious) at the theatre. I remember standing in line forever to register for classes (back in the dark ages before Internet).

Madeline Greer

My strongest memory of the University Center was the day after the Kent State killings in the spring of 1970. Classes had been canceled and there was a lot of unrest on campus. The largest group of protesters was in front of the UC carrying signs and marching in a large circle. Lots of police were present. It was an unsettling time.

Sue Rankin

Memories of watching movies in the center with my empirical sweetheart; cutting line during “drop and add” because I was using crutches; jazz music on the back deck from a live band; meals that included real beef steak on game day Saturday’s in Smokey’s (I think) café in the basement; visiting the check cashing center to get cash for the weekend; and the best of all, not just getting football tickets for the games but standing in line all night to purchase tickets to the 1986 Sugar Bowl. How sweet it is!

Edmund G. Garbee III, AIA

I have many fond memories of the UC…my favorite is the night when me and several friends camped out for Tennessee vs. Florida football tickets in 1996. I was chosen by a local news station to be interviewed on the 11 p.m. news. That was such a fun night!

Kim White

My best memory of the UC is becoming lavaliered to my then-boyfriend (current husband) Tim Huskey ’85. He belonged to the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, and I remember walking through the UC in January 1985. He was teasing me about something hidden in his pocket and he pulled out the necklace with the charm of his Greek letters. It was an exciting moment in our relationship and we have now currently been married twenty-three years.

Sandra (Hopper) Huskey ’86

My husband and I had our first date at the UC during a showing of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest during the fall of 1977. I often tell people that the title of that movie could have been the theme of our marriage, especially when I add the fact that we met in Adolescent Psychology class. However, on April 3, we celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary, surviving in our own cuckoo’s nest and still trying to work our way out of adolescent psychology.

Lisa Bates Berry ’79, MS ’88
Clyde Patton (Pat) Berry ’77, MS ’98

My memories of the Student Center are of a ram-shackled pre-fab building on top of the hill next to the Physics building. How times change!

John Anderson ’50, MSEE ’63

Waiting in line overnight for student tickets to the Vols basketball games when the Ernie (Grunfeld) & Bernie (King) show was dominating.

Tom Stramiello ’75

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