Sun
Jul 8 2007
09:39 am

A recent graduate of UT has a gripe about the "campus’ aesthetic image".

The Princeton Review (free registration required) "ranked Tennessee the 11th most unsightly campus in the country".

Hey, it ranks 6th in being a "jock" school and a major "frat and sorority scene".

I, too, think UT-Knoxville could do a much better job with more trees, landscaping, and green space. They do like their concrete. Easier to maintain and it is oh so obvious UT-Knoxville has trouble with maintaining just about everything.

jbr's picture

I believe UT has had more

I believe UT has had more than one Master Plan over the years. Here is one...

(link...)

CBT's picture

Note also the salaries of UT

Note also the salaries of UT higher ups in the Business section of today's KNS. TVA and UT occupy the highest number in the list of top paying employers.

The KNS also gives us the gratuitous mention that County Mayor Ragsdale didn't make the list. Of course, the KNS did not compare him to other Mayors, but rather to other professions, some requiring tremendous training and many having been occupied for years as those employees moved up the ladder.

Some parts of UT's campus are nice, some not so much. There can always be improvements.

Simply Ridiculous's picture

i'm surprised

Note also the salaries of UT
Submitted by CBT on Sun, 2007/07/08 - 12:24pm.
Note also the salaries of UT higher ups in the Business section of today's KNS. TVA and UT occupy the highest number in the list of top paying employers.

The KNS also gives us the gratuitous mention that County Mayor Ragsdale didn't make the list. Of course, the KNS did not compare him to other Mayors, but rather to other professions, some requiring tremendous training and many having been occupied for years as those employees moved up the ladder.

Some parts of UT's campus are nice, some not so much. There can always be


at how much personal hate you have for Ragsdale. This topic had nothing to do with him - but you, like a few county commissioners, continue trying to put a negative spin on anything remotely associated with him. And my apologies to the others out there who, too, are sick of the negativity and constant bickering, but I finally have to say it: It seems every post I read from you on this site includes the "get a Ragsdale dig in whenever I can" mentality.

Why is that anyway? Are you planning to run for Mayor? Be the campaign manager for Tim, Scooby, Lee or Ivan? Or do you just have that much hatred inside?

I had a much different opinion of you during your last election attempt....and, love or hate Mayor Ragsdale, the negative stuff eventually becomes too much for all of us.

Why don't you just call him up and the two of you duke it out so you can move on? I think everyone knows how you feel...and has known for a long time.

Now..back to reading interesting comments about the UT Knoxville Campus....

Bbeanster's picture

Dear Simply,Chad was

Dear Simply,
Chad was wronged by the Ragsdale administration (of which you, of course, are a part).
Did anyone ever apologize?
Let's review the known facts:
Arms and Ragsdale were delivered copies of Chad's personal emails. They say these mysteriously appeared on somebody's desk, or at the guard station, depending on who's telling the story and when.
Tyler Harber says he personally delivered the emails and handed copies to Mike Arms, who asked him to return later and talk to Mayor Ragsdale. Harber says he did that, and sat in Ragsdale's office while Ragsdale read the emails, highlighted pertinent passages and made irate phone calls to Chad, Tammy White Miller and maybe Susie Alcorn.
Ragsdale, Arms and VandeVate have told conflicting stories about what happened next. One story was that the emails were thrown away. Another is that they were handed over to Randy Nichols. One verifiable fact is that Arms went to Nichols' office, and that Nichols has consistently thereafter pooh-poohed the whole "Tylergate" episode as a sightly amusing squabble among Republicans that doesn't rise to the level of anything he wants to be involved in.
Last year, after the Shopper News "County Confidential" stories, Tindell said that Arms called and threatened him. Shortly thereafter, in an interview with Frank Cagle, Arms admitted -- for the first time -- that he had kept copies of the Tindell emails, contradicting Team Ragsdale's earlier claims that they'd been thrown away/handed over to Nichols.
That's just what I recall off the top of my head -- but it's enough for me to know that if I were Chad Tindell, I'd be plenty pissed. most anybody would.

Although it doesn't have anything to do with Estabrook.

Simply Ridiculous's picture

Appreciate your comments...

But I do want to clarify that I am not part of the Ragsdale administration; I have a career (~20 years running - so far) in the private-sector.

I do, somewhat, keep up with what goes on and I am aware of most of the details of the Tyler Harber issue. And I understand Chad's frustrations.

However, sometimes it is frustrating for us "outside" of the directly pissed-off group, to find the constant digs, bickering, griping, etc. EVERYWHERE we go, read, surf, etc. If I were Chad would I be pissed off? Yes. Do I get pissed off about the politics at my place of employment? Yes. Do I sometimes want revenge? Yes. But I know that some issues can't be resolved the way I want them to - and I have to move on and hope for the best.

My point was that, in hopes of reading opinions/comments about the UTK campus, I am once again in the midst the political negativity - and my opinion is that those comments would have been more appropriate elsewhere.

My apologies if you, or others, felt I was out of line.

Carole Borges's picture

I didn't find it so ugly...

I thought it looked leafy and classic when I came here. The grounds around Harvard are far more boring in my mind. The worse thing about UT is the accessability factor. You'd have to be a mountain goat to go there and the parking is awful, scarce and too costly. I like the brick buildings and all new things ought to match that, but I'm sure it is a cost factor. Most schools spend all their money on stupid new auditoriums and sports complexes. Both of which I could well do without.

Factchecker's picture

I think UT is hideous

I think UT is hideous almost everywhere. Ayres Hall and The Hill in front is the only exception I can think of right now. The library is OK.

I've not visited many college campuses, but I've never seen one come close to UT in the Egregiously Ugly department. And it's all their own doing. They don't have to raze historic homes, continue to encourage more cars, base the entire institution on a football factory, treat the community like shit, etc. etc.

Virgil Proudfoot's picture

UT is not a university

UT is not a university; it's a semi-professional football corporation with some academic departments scattered around it. The stadium is the first or second largest football arena in North America. They have bigger ones in South America, but they don't pretend that they are universities.

bizgrrl's picture

I believe UT has had more

I believe UT has had more than one Master Plan over the years. Here is one...

They show a lot of green space on their Main campus master plan map. It's much harder to find when actually on campus. Of course, they include Tom Black (?) track as a green space.

You'd have to be a mountain goat to go there

That's funny. Never much thought about it when walking around campus. Guess you get used to it.

mjw's picture

Improvemests slow, but improvements

While I think the new Andy Holt Plaza is too much plaza and too little green (although I really like the amphitheatre), other areas that UT has made over recently have been improvements. Check out the work they did on the plaza between Sophie and Clement. They added green space and amenities like a half-court without taking out any of the existing mature trees. They've also added more seating to Circle Park and in front of places like Massey Dorm. All the new benches, trash cans, etc. on campus have been of a uniform design, which is nice.

They've been doing some kind of work around Hess Hall this summer, probably to get it up to code. It'll be interesting to see if they improve the land/hardscaping there as well. They might be moving west toward Presidential. Of course, right now it's just more of the unending construction that makes it impossible to see any kind of coherence in the look of the campus.

Factchecker's picture

They've been doing some kind

They've been doing some kind of work around Hess Hall this summer...

I have a faint memory of hearing they were tearing down Melrose Hall, one of the nicest dorms old though it is. The building's still on the map, though. Was I just smoking crack?

Tennessee Liberal's picture

Wow.

Let's all take just a moment and ask ourselves: Do we really, really, think that Knoxville would be even remotely close to the city it is without UT?

Yeah, UT went through some ugly years, but how many people on here have seen The Hill in the last year? They converted it into some of the nicest green space on campus.

The football knock is just plain old news -- UT has a president and a Knoxville chancellor who are putting more focus on the school's academic progress and reputation than the university has seen in a long time, and it's finally paying off.

As for low wages? They are finally doing something to fix it -- the university staked almost every penny of its political capital on getting a 5 percent raise for employees this year -- even more for those with especially low pay.

And hey -- how many professors live in Knoxville and pay property taxes? How many staff members work there that, if not for UT, would probably be living somewhere else? Not to mention that all those beers the students buy pay the sales taxes that drive the economy. Oh, and the books... and the food... and the, well, I think the point stands.

So, you know, maybe back the hell off for a minute and think about it before everyone piles on UT -- is it perfect? Nope. But not much in life is.

Elrod's picture

1960s

The architectural problem facing UT is the same facing dozens of large state universities around the country. They expanded exponentially in the 1960s and built tons of dorms and classroom facilities in the hideous style of the day. The worst are the SUNY (State University of New York) schools, especially Albany. SUNY Buffalo was built in the 1970s and has the feel of a suburban office park; it was designed that way in response to student protests in the late 1960s (no gathering place). There are, of course, some large state universities with beautiful architecture (Wisconsin, UNC, UVA, UC-Berkeley, UCLA, Arizona). But most of these were alreadly fairly big by the 1960s. Tennessee-Knoxville had only about 5,000 students in 1960 so it really did have to create an entirely new campus to accommodate the new students.

My doctoral alma mater - Northwestern University - has one of the ugliest damn libraries in America. The student center, on the banks of beautiful Lake Michigan, is a monstrosity too.

mjw's picture

Melrose

I have a faint memory of hearing they were tearing down Melrose Hall, one of the nicest dorms old though it is. The building's still on the map, though. Was I just smoking crack?

Better check your pipe, at least for now. This work seems to be only at Hess, not Melrose. I think Melrose has code issues as well, but right now, I don't think they can afford to lose any dorm space, and it's definitely outside the construction zone.

bizgrrl's picture

Let's all take just a moment

Let's all take just a moment and ask ourselves: Do we really, really, think that Knoxville would be even remotely close to the city it is without UT?

Yeah, years ago we used to say UT, the home of Knoxville. Things have changed a lot since then. UT is an important aspect of Knoxville but this doesn't mean they are not to be criticized no more than our great democracy is not to be criticized.

Tennessee-Knoxville had only about 5,000 students in 1960 so it really did have to create an entirely new campus to accommodate the new students.

Didn't UTK have about 20-25,000 students in the 70s? As I recall, for many years UTK set 25,000 as a maximum for the campus. I think they have only recently begun to exceed that number.

Rachel's picture

Didn't UTK have about

Didn't UTK have about 20-25,000 students in the 70s?

Yup. And the UC was big enough then, so it beats the heck out of me why it isn't big enough now and must be torn down.

UT has a terrible track record when it comes to architecture, etc. One can make value judgements on whether or not newer buildings are ugly, but it's just a fact that they've treated the historic buildings they own along Terrace & Lake like the worse slumlords in Fort Sanders. Use 'em up, make no repairs, tear 'em down and put in some more concrete. It makes me gag.

Lately they've been after historic buildings in the center of campus - like the Keller House, destroyed for the lovely new Baker Center.

But that's ok, folks, Betsey Creekmore said a couple of years ago that Tyson House was the only historic building on the UTK campus, so no worries.

"If we want to revitalize our towns and protect our countryside from sprawling development, we should renovate our older schools, not throw them away."
-- Save Our Land, Save Our Towns President Thomas Hylton

Rachel's picture

Man, I can't believe they

Man, I can't believe they still keep offices in East Stadium Hall. I had an office there when I was in grad school in 1976 and it was a hellhole then.

The only good part was that the offices are so out of the campus mainstream and so hard to find that I rarely got bothered with actual students.

"If we want to revitalize our towns and protect our countryside from sprawling development, we should renovate our older schools, not throw them away."
-- Save Our Land, Save Our Towns President Thomas Hylton

Rachel's picture

Planning School? Nope

Actually, that was graduate school the first time - statistics. Overflow from Aconda Court, which is now about to come down to make room for the new and improved UC.

I was in planning school in the late 90s. It was located in the Hoskins Library (which, BTW, is in disgraceful condition - and it's a fabulous old building). TPTB tried about 3 times to kill the planning school. Alums fended them off for awhile, but they finally got their way. I think you can maybe still get a planning degree through public administration, but I'm not sure.

"If we want to revitalize our towns and protect our countryside from sprawling development, we should renovate our older schools, not throw them away."
-- Save Our Land, Save Our Towns President Thomas Hylton

Carole Borges's picture

UMass Boston has to be ugliest of all...

UMass Boston looks a large prison. It was built in the days of "bunker" architecture, a school based on designs offering protection from outside forces that might someday riot. The big LA riots and the protests of the 1960s might have had something to do with this. Glass breaks easily and is costly, so they have slits for windows and fortress like entryways. The outside walls are slabs of concrete which sometimes having a corrugated effect. No trim or ornamentation. The UMAss buildings are ugly inside too with peeling paint, worn out floors, and all the charm of a basement in a big cold storage warehouse.

Compared to UMass Boston UT looks like Eden.

P.S. I probably wouldn't have chosen to move to Knoxville if UT wasn't here.

Up Goose Creek's picture

Those were the days

My recollection is the UT student population was around 30K in 1972.

Anyone with a HS diploma from TN was guaranteed admission, though the 1st 2 quarters were probationary. Tuition was something like $136 a quarter.
___________________________________
Less is the new More - Karrie Jacobs

Up Goose Creek's picture

Tyson house

Betsey Creekmore said a couple of years ago that Tyson House was the only historic building on the UTK campus, so no worries.

How ironic... just yesterday I was attending church in Rugby and Father Al Minor was the guest minister. He gave a sermon about obscurity and I told him that he was about the last person to talk about obscurity in the first person, since he was about the most famous minister in Knoxville back in his day.

Back to my point... in the sermon he mentioned that Tyson House (the Methodist student center) had been closed down because the building was in such poor shape. That is really sad.
____________________________________
Less is the new More - Karrie Jacobs

Rachel's picture

Different Tyson House. I'm

Different Tyson House. I'm talking about the big old yellow brick former residence between Dunford and the library.

"If we want to revitalize our towns and protect our countryside from sprawling development, we should renovate our older schools, not throw them away."
-- Save Our Land, Save Our Towns President Thomas Hylton

Mykhailo's picture

he was about the most famous

he was about the most famous minister in Knoxville back in his day.

Really? Why? I always liked him -- back when I lived across Laurel from him, he would go out every six months with a can of yellow paint and extend the yellow lines along the curb in front of his house just a little bit further. Heh.

And speaking of most famous ____, one of my ecology professors once launched mid-lecture into a rather odd, non-sequitor story about a fellow professor when they both taught at UNC in the 60s who was a huge cult figure, with the punchline being that it was Paul Pinckney. I think the world of Paul, but I can't see him being a cult figure any more than Al Minor.

Up Goose Creek's picture

Fame

I guess that's just a personal observation -- I wouldn't call Al Minor a cult figure but it did he was often commenting or involved with some issue or another. I'm speaking as an outsider who wouldn't have known him as a Mehtodist. He'll always be famous in my book as the person who restored what is now Randall DeFord's wonderful house on Clinch - another fine yellow brick house.

Rachel, that does make more sense about the yellow brick Tyson house. I'd forgotten that was its name.

____________________________________
Less is the new More - Karrie Jacobs

Mykhailo's picture

Father Minor is

Father Minor is Episcopalian. (Tyson House is a joint Lutheran/Episcopal center).

Up Goose Creek's picture

Sorry

It's been a long time since I was wandering around Melrose palce. My apaologies for taking this converstion off track.

____________________________________
Less is the new More - Karrie Jacobs

Brian A.'s picture

The architectural problem

The architectural problem facing UT is the same facing dozens of large state universities around the country. They expanded exponentially in the 1960s and built tons of dorms and classroom facilities in the hideous style of the day.

Exactly. What was the problem back then? I wasn't alive then so I bear none of the blame.

Brian A.
I'd rather be cycling.

smalc's picture

Another old building at UT with uncertain future

zoomfactor's picture

Estabrook

I don't think that the News Sentinel Estabrook story is being entirely honest. From what I've heard, there is no "might" as in "UT might not restore Estabrook" (the title of the article). This story was reported soley to plant the seed that this building will be coming down. Probably after the new engineering building is up.

Factors leading to this decision include the foundation problems that plague that building, and how this causes certain hurdles to dealing with modern-day loads and activities (like backhoe shovels in the case of the Tomato Head wall). I also find that in general, engineers do not have as much respect for old/historic buildings because they place "function" at a much greater priority over "form;" that is what they have been trained to do and people attracted to that profession have this particular mindset. Just as the status-conscious Business College insisted on the new Uber-Glocker with its anthropocentric concrete grounds and glass roof, the practical-minded engineers desperately want a new building that will easily allow them to easily lug around and set up heavy laboratory equipment and the like. I have also heard that certain influential people want that building GONE because of the fear that a fire in this building would possibly cause damage to the corporate sky boxes directly above in the football stadium.

Rachel's picture

Estabrook

You know, the particularly sad thing about this building is that it housed the Architecture program back in the day. Too bad those folks aren't still there; architects might at least have some inclination to save it.

"If we want to revitalize our towns and protect our countryside from sprawling development, we should renovate our older schools, not throw them away."
-- Save Our Land, Save Our Towns President Thomas Hylton

rocketsquirrel's picture

funnier still

they complain they can't open Estabrook on football weekends...Will they be able to do the same with a new building on the same site?

smalc's picture

I spent a good amount of

I spent a good amount of time in Estabrook in the early 1990s. It wasn't in that bad shape then, I don't know if it has gone downhill since. Well, aside from the green moss/mildew that covered the exterior because it is in the shade of the stadium. As for the alleged foundation problems, I never saw or heard anything of them, and we had some pretty heavy lab equipment on the ground floor. I can see not wanting to put new labs in there, but that's what a new building could contain.

jmcnair's picture

Update

Mykhailo's picture

the new Uber-Glocker with

the new Uber-Glocker with its anthropocentric concrete grounds and glass roof
How is being "anthropocentric" a bad thing in a building that's built for people?

rocketsquirrel's picture

uber Glocker

I was doing some research at Hodges last night across the street.

The new facade of the uber Glocker which towers over the preserved original (and much lower facade), while a nice try, fails in balance and proportion. my best example of what is wrong with the design is that the size of the "slit" window in the gable of the uber Glocker doesn't have the same elegant proportions of the original facade below. It looks like a fat, suburban strip mall imitation of the original.

zoomfactor's picture

people and nature

the new Uber-Glocker with its anthropocentric concrete grounds and glass roof How is being "anthropocentric" a bad thing in a building that's built for people?

I was obliquely refering to all the natural life that it displaced. Like what is happening all over campus at an accelerating rate. (It is just a personal pet peeve of mine.)

bizgrrl's picture

Of the few classes I took at

Of the few classes I took at UT, most were at Glocker.
I was surprised at UT's discussion of why they were replacing Glocker. Early on they said they couldn't update the building for the new technology, PowerPoint, WiFi, AirConditioning, or some such nonsense. If everyone took that attitude we would have no historic buildings left.

They don't need no stinking trees!

Carole Borges's picture

anthropocentric is an interesting word....

I think you made a valid point. Man is only one species inhabiting the earth and not always a very benevelont partcipant. I've always felt the Bible passage that stated something like "God gave man dominion over..." set up a hierarchy that has caused a ripple effect of problems. Who says man is the most important species on this planet anyway? Ecologically it would make more sense if god had admonished us to live in harmony with all of nature.

"Dominion over" reminds me of Manifest Destiny, an errant policy which gave those who felt superior to others an excuse to kill and destroy. What we should be striving for is harmony, not "dominion over". It doesn't have to be trees or people. Personally, I wish there was more architecture that included nature rather than replacing it.

zoomfactor's picture

Amen

Additionally, there is the irony that the new building is supposedly LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - Green Building Rating System™). This is a good thing, of course, but it would have been better if the green-ness had been extended to the building's exterior.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Dominion is an interesting word, too

WRT the Biblical observation that God "gave dominion over" women to men, conservative Christians argue that the term implies a responsibility for care and oversight, not necessarily control.

Maybe we can hope for a new generation of fundamentalist architects? ;-)

Carole Borges's picture

Then again the birds and the bees and the trees

seem to have been granted the ability to conserve us. Without them we would perish. Encourging conservation and caring is always a good thing. My god is an equal opportunity emplyer.

edens's picture

> Tennessee-Knoxville had

> Tennessee-Knoxville had only about 5,000 students in 1960 so >it really did have to create an entirely new campus to >accommodate the new students.

It's worth noting that most of the "old" buildings on The Hill are actually 2nd Generation structures dating from UT's first big expansion in the 1920s-1930s when a variety of Victorian and earlier buildings were replaced with more "modern" structures, starting with Ayres Hall, which replaced the Hill's three original buildings in 1919.

UT's student body grew so much during the twenties that, for a time, the school didn't provide dormitory space for male students - a fact which started Fort Sanders' conversion into its current student slum (fraternities, in particular, bought quite a few of the, by then, less than fashionable houses).

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