There are plenty of myths about UT Knoxville history. Betsey Creekmore, associate vice chancellor for space and facilities, knows them all. In honor of April Fool’s Day, she shares a few of the most popular.
And, just to ensure you’re not fooled, Creekmore also provides the "real" stories.
Myth: UT’s colors of orange and white were chosen by a color-blind student.
Truth: Many years ago, when students voted to make orange and white UT’s official colors, they chose a hue much more yellow-orange than it is today. It was described in records as the color in the center of the American Daisy that grew in profusion on The Hill. Over the years, a myth developed that a color-blind student was responsible for choosing the color since it was really more yellow than orange. Since then, UT’s orange has been adjusted to a deeper hue that shows up better on TV. Today, our official orange is known as "Pantone Matching System 151."
Myth: Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta is named for UT alumnus and astronaut, Henry "Hank" Hartsfield.
Truth: The airport is named for William B. Hartsfield, a former Mayor of Atlanta.
Myth: UT Sororities do not have houses because a wealthy donor made administrators promise never to allow them.
Truth: Over the years, several colorful myths have evolved. One is that Sophronia Strong (for whom Strong Hall is named) gave UT a million dollars on the condition that sororities not be allowed to have houses. Another is that sorority houses couldn’t be built because of a law declaring any house where 10 or more women lived to be a brothel. In fact, neither is true.
In 1930, Dean James D. Hoskins wrote in the Orange and White publication that university administrators had decided sororities shouldn’t be allowed to have houses for several reasons, including the burden of upkeep and the fear that houses would promote more expensive social activities. The decision to build a Panhellenic Building in the early 1960s was, according to President Emeritus Joseph Johnson, an administrative one. Sorority houses will be built in the planned Sorority Village development planned for Morgan Hill.
Myth: Secret tunnels link The Hill to other parts of the campus.
Truth: Steam tunnels do run throughout the campus, but they do not provide secret passageways. Most have sections so small that service workers have to crawl through them; none of the tunnels is large enough for anyone to walk its entire length.