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From the Director

A few months back, I was speaking with my friend, Britton Sharp who works with Collegiate Abbey, a campus ministry. We were talking about walking through challenges. His words were powerful and provided a frame for thinking about how we might navigate tough times. He suggested when he is facing a challenge he asks himself, what can I do to 1) shine light in the darkness and 2) bring something about this from death to life?

I have thought about Britton’s ideas when meeting one on one with students in high challenges and in my meetings with staff both in and out of my office… Look for opportunities to shine a light into hard dark places…  Shining a light on the challenges and looking for the way forward helps us all to gain understanding, then find a pathway through. I am also aware that darkness is often the best backdrop to see light, even dim light.

A few years ago, I spent a little time professionally in the office of Student Conduct working on coaching style meetings with students who had some challenges and teaching/developing  the first educational classes offered by that office on ethical decision making and academic integrity.  I learned that some of the best lessons in college may not always come from a classroom.  I routinely found myself suggesting to students in my classes and coaching meetings, “When life brings you to a hard place, it is important and up to you to figure out what is the lesson in it.” I couldn’t tell them exactly what that was, and it wouldn’t have been effective for them if I had.  They needed to discover it for themselves.  I would maintain, that if we don’t dig deeper and identify what lesson life is trying to teach us, we are destined to repeat it.  I have certainly seen that play out in my own life and the lives of people around me. Figuring out the lesson now at 18 or 20 something will always serve you much better than ignoring it or looking to blame someone else and circling the block over and over falling into the same pit for the next 18 to 20 years.

In the work I do in Student Life, I am an educator, but my classroom may not always have walls, desks and white board.  Think about this… What hard places has life brought you to?  Do you see any light in it?  Where does light need to shine?  How can you bring something good from the hard places?

We are a community that has been hurting. I am writing this on the heels of a great tragedy witnessed by many of you. The loss has been real and deep and may be compounded with other loss and high challenges. As I look for the light in the darkness, I see it all around us. There is light in the love poured out on a brotherhood of men who are devastated and hurting. I see light in the small gestures of food and condolences from our organizations and the contributions people have made to the fund for the family. There is light in prayer gatherings to lift up the life of young man who will be missed not only by his family and friends and our campus community, but by those who did not yet have a chance to know him and see his impact on the world.  At the hospital Friday night before we had been told of his passing, one good friend told me, “Tanner is one of the smartest people I know. He will be going to Mars one day. I just know it.”  Each hug, each warm message of love, and support through endless posts/texts or just sitting with someone who is hurting and not saying a word, because there are not good ones to say… that is light.

In the dark places, where can we bring death to life? I believe in this community and we will honor Tanner’s memory and find our way forward. Today, I want us to take the time to grieve, surround one another with support and lean on the resources available like counseling support, 974-HELP, spending time with one another, talking about what we are feeling and letting people know what you need and looking for ways to fill the needs at the appropriate times and in the best methods. If you are a praying person, pray and connect to the fellowships around you. If you are having a hard time with classes, talk with your faculty, let them know. Bottom line, stay connected, look for the light, shine a light, or be the light.

We will get through the hard places. I want each of you to know, we are a Big Orange Family and like family, we will get through this, together. Vols Help Vols.




Panhellenic Council

Throughout the month of February, the Panhellenic community celebrated NPC’s Month of the Scholar! They had the opportunity to thank outstanding faculty during UT’s Faculty Appreciation Week, as well as de-stress at their favorite event, Puppies and Popsicles- where the women hung out with some of their favorite HABIT dogs. The Center for Career Development hosted a Summer Internship and Job workshop to help prepare Panhellenic members for this upcoming summer break. They also celebrated having a community average GPA above the all-women’s GPA last fall with free coffee from the Golden Roast on Valentines Day! Throughout the month, academic excellence was celebrated within chapters with different programming and academic events. Panhellenic is excited to continue another strong semester displaying their core value of scholarship!

Interfraternity Council

February 16-18, the IFC Executive Board traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to participate in the 52nd annual Southeastern Interfraternity Conference. The council had the opportunity to learn from some of the most respected professionals working to improve Greek Life on college campuses as well as network and exchange ideas with councils from similar universities. Moreover, each executive officer received thorough training specific to his position. The conference concluded with a “SEC and Friends” symposium called to address the most urgent issues facing southern schools with strong football culture, such as the University of Tennessee. This collection of Greek leaders was able to deliberate on issues of import and present its opinions on the change needed within our communities. The conference allowed the IFC executive officers to fully develop their roles, and they look forward to bringing their plans to action!


Recognizing our National Pan-Hellenic Council in Honor of Black History Month


The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) at The University of Tennessee is home to seven historically African American sororities and fraternities. These organizations live by the values of tradition, academic achievement, community service, leadership, and lifetime brotherhood and sisterhood. Learn more about NPHC history.

Name National Founding UT Founding
Alpha Kappa Alpha 1908 1970
Iota Phi Theta 1963 2012
Kappa Alpha Psi 1911 1986
Omega Psi Phi 1911 1970
Phi Beta Sigma 1914 1979
Sigma Gamma Rho 1922 1991
Zeta Phi Beta 1920 1974

Additional Resources

View a timeline of desegregation at The University of Tennessee.


Watch a video that was featured during the 2011 Grand Gala celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of African American achievement and integrated enrollment at UT.


Watch a video or read about the 50th anniversary of African American undergraduate students being admitted to the university.

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated places emphasis on achievement in every field of human endeavor. They desire to create a campus atmosphere that will promote excellence and achievement personally, academically, and socially. This month, they hosted a SLAN Informational, Kream of the Krop, and Kappa Wednesday. SLAN, short for Shimmy Like a Nupe, gives young ladies across campus the opportunity to engage in a friendly competition to see who can best emulate the strolling styles of the brothers. Kream of the Krop was an informative presentation where they discussed professionalism, career success, internships and more alongside the Center for Career Development. Kappa Wednesday is a reoccurring event that allows the organization to give students a study break and provide them with a free meal. This year they have incorporated a new Kappa Kares initiative that will assist them in raising over 1,000 hygiene products for homeless women. Be on the lookout for donation boxes in the Student Union, Hodges Library, and Frieson Black Cultural Center.

Kappa Alpha Order

On February 2nd, the chapter’s officers headed to Kentucky for the annual Province Council. They were able to bring home many accolades including an Ammen award, the Scholastic Excellence award, Academic Achievement award, Social Media Communications award, Excellence in Chapter Finances award, and the Excellence in Fraternal Communications award for the 2017 year! They chapter also wants to give a huge congratulations to their own Matt Murray for being elected Province Undergraduate Chairman. It was a great year and they chapter plans to continue striving for more awards this year!


Alpha Omicron Pi

This year for Valentine’s Day, Alpha Omicron Pi relaunched an old event called Alpha Love Day, and added a new twist to it! They dedicated this new annual event to mental health awareness. Their Assistant Philanthropy Chair, Anna Stehling, felt this cause tug at her heart and as she shared it with the chapter, they all jumped at the idea. Chapter members set up a table on Pedestrian Walkway on Valentine’s Day to hand out heart-shaped lollipops with facts about mental health and loving notes attached to remind people that they are not alone. This day was special for so many reasons – They were able to support a sister and share her passion, but also had the opportunity to reach out to students and faculty!

Alpha Delta Pi

Alpha Delta Pi had their very first sisterhood service day this February! The freshman and sophomore members helped clean up trash around Knoxville, while the Juniors worked at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens. The Senior class paired up with the Ladies of Charity. This day was filled with fun and was a great way to meet the larger Knoxville community.

Pi Beta Phi

On February 17th, Pi Beta Phi hosted their annual “Pancakes with Pi Phi” philanthropy event. They would like to thank all who attended and supported! All proceeds will go towards their national philanthropy, Read>Lead>Achieve, to promote literacy and create a productive society. This year’s event raised almost $4,000 through ticket sales and donations. Pi Beta Phi is proud to present this gift to Read>Lead>Achieve and continue their efforts to support literacy in our community! Leftover food was donated to the local fire department.


Kappa Delta

This month, one of Kappa Delta’s new members, Reilly Harrison, started a semester long Bible Study series that will be focusing on biblical stories about strong women and how they influenced those around them. This is open to not just Kappa Delta members, but all women in the Panhellenic community. It is on Sunday Nights at 6:45pm at the Kappa Delta house for anyone who would like to join. The chapter is extremely proud of Reilly and the strides that she is making to instill confidence in the women of the community, which follows along with Kappa Delta’s Confidence Coalition.

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