Reflections of 2019 from UT Martin

By Erin Chesnut

University Relations

The Spring semester is right around the corner for the University of Tennessee at Martin. As campus officials look forward to the coming year, growth and progress remain among the list of priorities each passing year. The town and gown relationship UT Martin maintains with its community is evident as the university reflects on 2019 accomplishments.


• UT Martin Advisory Board meets for the first time and appoints Art Sparks, of Union City, board chairman.

• UT Martin announces partnership with Southwest Tennessee Community College to host courses toward associate degrees at the UT Martin Somerville Center.

• The sixth cohort of UT Martin students work in hospitality management during Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, Georgia.


• UT Martin hosts the 19th-annual Civil Rights Conference and continues as one of two annual collegiate civil rights conferences nationwide.

• Country Radio Broadcasters Inc. awarded the UT Martin broadcasting program $25,000 to assist broadcasting students with educational expenses.

• Kate Fagan, former ESPN sports journalist and author of the book “What Made Maddy Run,” spoke to UT Martin student-athletes about mental health and collegiate athletics.

• UT Martin announces partnership program in legal studies for students majoring in either English or political science. Eligible students can now complete three years of undergraduate work at UT Martin before transferring to the UT College of Law to finish their bachelor’s degrees while simultaneously beginning work on a juris doctorate.


• UT Martin added a concentration in mechatronics engineering to the Bachelor of Science degree in engineering, bringing the total number of concentrations to six. A focus in mechatronics combines principles from mechanical, electrical and manufacturing engineering and allow graduates to work in fields where machines and processes are highly automated.

• WUTM 90.3 “The Hawk” earns a ninth consecutive platinum award from the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System.


• UT Martin breaks ground on the National Pan-Hellenic Council Greek Garden at Unity Circle, a monument area meant to recognize the contributions of the “Divine Nine” traditionally African-American fraternities and sororities, all of which are represented at UT Martin.

• UT Martin engineering students placed second in the nation and fifth internationally during the 2019 SAE International Aero Design East Competition, which invites teams of student engineers from around the world to compete in the design, presentation and flight of a self-constructed aircraft. UT Martin competed against 20 other schools in the advanced category and was one of the only schools present without a dedicated aerospace engineering program.

• UT Martin dedicated the Verna B. Coleman Center for Women and Gender Equality in room 255 of the Paul Meek Library. The center was made possible by a donation from Coleman’s granddaughter, Martha Edinger, a 1984 UT Martin alumna and longtime resident of both Obion and Weakley Counties.


• The inaugural Skyhawk Regional Retention Summit welcomed almost 250 educators and administrators from 28 colleges and universities in six states for discuss student success and perseverance to graduation across the region.

• UT Martin’s Veterinary Health Technology Program was elevated to full accreditation status following a campus visit from the American Veterinary Medical Association Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities.

The program enjoyed initial accreditation status since its first review in spring 2014.

• More than 700 students received degrees during UT Martin’s spring 2019 commencement ceremony. Dr. Kenyatta Lovett, executive director for Complete Tennessee, served as keynote speaker.


• The UT System commissioned a 46-foot mural to be installed on the side of a grain bin owned by Robinson & Belew Inc. just off Highway 45 South in Sharon.

The mural, “Everywhere you look, UT” is part of a statewide campaign to remind Tennesseans of the impact of the UT System across the state.

• The WestStar Leadership Program graduated its 30th class, bringing the total number of program alumni to 828.

• Thirteen students announce acceptance into veterinary schools from the UT Martin class of 2019.

• Kerri Arnold, a junior from Holladay, is crowned Miss Tennessee Volunteer 2019 and will spend the 2019-20 academic year as Gov. Bill Lee’s spokesperson for character education in elementary schools.

• UT Martin graduate Bill Nunnelly, of Nashville, and his wife, Rosann, announce a university bequest of $22 million to fund scholarships for students from rural Tennessee counties. This is the largest single gift in university history.


• Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf continues UT Martin’s mental health series for student-athletes, discussing his rise to become the number two overall selection in the 1998 NFL Draft and subsequent depression, substance abuse and incarceration.

• UT Martin receives official notice of a positive accreditation mid-term review from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Overall university accreditation is reevaluated every 10 years.

• Four incoming freshman are announced as the first to receive scholarships from Bill and Rosann Nunnelly, making them UT Martin’s inaugural Nunnelly Scholars.


• Three Obion County residents receive the first Annette Sublett Ferguson Scholarships, created in memory of the longtime Obion County educator.

• UT Martin Chancellor Keith Carver graduates from Leadership Tennessee, a 10-month, five-session course encouraging collaboration from rural and urban leaders statewide.

He is also named one of 14 members of a new UT Commission on Agriculture, created by UT System Interim President Randy Boyd.

• Brayden Faulkner of Henderson, and Chris Humphreys of Martin, both advance to the final round of the national 2019 Cyber FastTrack Competition. This cyber-security challenge competition included more than 13,000 students nationwide.

• UT Martin’s bachelor’s degree program in social work received accreditation for the next eight years following an on-campus visit in December 2018. The program has been externally accredited since 1974.

• Three UT Martin engineering students placed fourth in their category and 12th overall in the third-annual Spaceport America Cup.

This annual competition is the only international collegiate rocket engineering competition in the world.


• Dr. Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, gave the first presentation in the UT Martin Engage Program’s speaker series with a focus on “iGen: The Smartphone Generation” from a psychological perspective.

• The UT Promise Scholarship Program, announced by the UT System, officially kicks off with a campaign to permanently fund the program’s endowment. UT System Interim President Randy Boyd starts his three-day, statewide tour in northwest Tennessee to discuss the program with potential students and families.


• The UT Martin Educator Preparation Program, which places student teachers in classrooms across the region, was named one of the most-improved programs on the statewide report card for the 2018-19 academic year by the Tennessee State Board of Education.


• UT Martin dedicates the National Pan-Hellenic Council Greek Garden at Unity Circle, a monument area meant to recognize the contributions of the “Divine Nine” traditionally African-American fraternities and sororities, all of which are represented at UT Martin.

• UT Martin dedicates the Nunnelly Family Welcome Center on the first floor of the Boling University Center, as well as the Nunnelly Columns along University Street in front of the Hall Moody Administration Building, in honor of Bill and Rosann Nunnelly.

• UT Martin surveys current students, alumni, faculty and staff to create a new athletic mark to represent the Skyhawk teams.


• More than 340 students participated in UT Martin’s fall 2019 commencement exercises.

Stuart McWhorter, commissioner of the State of Tennessee Department of Finance and son of the late Clayton McWhorter, served as keynote speaker.

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