In May 1968 a central coordinating committee was appointed by President Holt to plan the 1969 celebration of the 175th anniversary of the chartering of UT as Blount College. Members of the committee included Dr. Kenneth Knickerbocker, representing the faculty; Dr. Joseph Johnson, representing the administration; Nancy Parker, a journalism sophomore from Knoxville, representing students; Jesse E. Safley of Nashville, representing alumni; Dr. William Bishop, representing all extension and public service components of the institution; and Bill W. Petty, UT Athletics Department. The celebratory events were grouped under the slogan Distinguished Past, Dynamic Future.
Events began on Founders’ Day (September 10) with a ceremony featuring Governor Buford Ellington, chair of the board of trustees. Also included in Founders’ Day activities were the dedication of the $2.8 million Communications and University Extension Building and groundbreaking for the Student Services Building and Andy Holt Tower (then called Student Service, Computer Center, and Administration Building). The newly adopted UT flag was flown for the first time on Founders’ Day.
During the year, the President’s Club was formed; President Holt, escorted by representatives of students, faculty, staff, and alumni laid a wreath at the grave of William Blount in the First Presbyterian Church cemetery; an Alumni Seminar was held during homecoming and featured five distinguished alumni speakers: Howard Baker Jr.; Federal Judge Frank Wilson; Lindsey Nelson; Tom R. May, president of Lockheed-Georgia Company; and G. C. Davis, vice president of the chemicals division of the Kaiser Aluminum and Chemicals Corporation. Additionally, two major symposia were held: an International Symposium on Photoelectron Spectroscopy, timed to coincide with the dedication of a new addition to Dabney Hall, and an Air Transportation Conference, to discuss future airport needs.
Two-day Agricultural Expositions were held in Knoxville and at the West Tennessee Experiment Station in Jackson, and the NCAA Track Meet was held on campus in June. The McClung Museum mounted a special exhibit celebrating UT’s history, which included portraits of the UT presidents; a history of university policy changes in chronological order, and UT’s buildings and grounds; and a section on printing, perceived by museum director A. K. Guthe to have been an important factor in UT’s history.
Local TV stations and groups around the state showed a 28-minute color documentary film, Distinguished Past—Dynamic Future, featuring a sound track by Chet Atkins, which was produced by UT Public Relations Director Bob Gilbert and narrated by Martin Karant of Kingsport.
Perhaps the most unusual project in recognition of the anniversary was the sign—175—constructed from paint-sprayed beer cans by residents of Reese Hall.