Campus Quirks: Odd but Wonderful Things about UT

UT is home to some unique stuff.

You’ve probably heard about the Anthropology Research Facility—also known as the Body Farm—the compound near campus where donated bodies are placed so scientists can study human decomposition.

You probably also know about the widely studied Bass Donated Skeletal Collection – some 1,200 skeletons—housed in a basement room in Neyland Stadium.

While these two parts of campus are well-known curiosities, there are plenty of other eyebrow-raising things to see on Rocky Top. Here are just a few:

Torchbearer during fall.

  • Nike, in ancient Greek religion, was a goddess who personified victory and symbolizes success in the face of challenges. Nike is engraved in the globe held by the Volunteer statue, or as it’s more commonly known, the Torchbearer.
  • Europa and the Bull is a sculpture located in the fountain on the Humanities and Social Sciences Plaza. The statue is a replica of Carl Milles’ original Europa and the Bull, which is housed in Millesgarden in Stockholm, Sweden.
Two female students walking on the Joe Johnson and John Ward Pedestrian Walkway by the sculpture A Startling Whirlwind of Opportunity by Alice Aycock. Photography by FJ Gaylor Photography.

The Startling Whirlwind of Opportunity by Alice Aycock. (FJ Gaylor Photography)

  • In July 2009, The Startling Whirlwind of Opportunity was installed on the Johnson-Ward Pedestrian Walkway. The twenty-five-foot-tall aluminum sculpture features a swirling spiral shape crafted of curved aluminum and low-energy LED lighting to fit into UT’s Make Orange Green campus sustainability initiative. It was designed by New York-based artist Alice Aycock and funded by a private gift from alumnus Wilton D. “Chick” Hill.
  • Located at the corner of Volunteer Boulevard and Melrose Place is the Tyson House, which houses the Office of Alumni Affairs and Development. However, it once housed Lawrence D. Tyson and his wife, Betty. In the backyard of the Tyson House is the burial site of the Tyson’s family dog, Bonita. When the university purchased the house in 1954, they agreed to maintain Bonita’s grave.

AndrewJacksonBible

  • Located in Special Collections in the John C. Hodges Library is President Andrew Jackson’s Bible. In this Bible, his family recorded household births, marriages, and deaths for more than a half a century. Jackson was the first president from the state of Tennessee and the first Tennessean to serve in the US House of Representatives.
  • Though the centaur is a fictional creature, the skeletal remains of this specimen are a part of The Centaur Excavations of Volos, which has been on permanent display in the Jack E. Reese Gallery of Hodges Library since 1994. Beauvais Lyons, professor of art, and Neil Greenberg, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology, organized a fundraising campaign to bring the exhibit to UT. The exhibit features half-excavated bones in a burial site surrounded by associated artifacts. The display is a reminder to students and visitors alike to retain a healthy dose of skepticism about what they read and see.

Know about something curious on campus that we missed? Send your suggestions to utnews@utk.edu.