Big Idea: First-Generation Mentoring Program

Sherry Cummings had a big idea about how to help first-generation students be more successful at UT. Let first-generation faculty and staff members mentor them. Cummings, associate dean and chair of the Gerontology Certificate Program in the College of Social Work, said the idea grew out of her involvement with Higher Education Resource Services.

Big Idea: Wildflower Pilgrimage

Sixty-three years ago, Bart Leiper had a big idea that’s blossomed into one of the area’s most-loved spring rituals: the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in the Smokies.Today, the Wildflower Pilgrimage attracts more than a thousand people from thirty-five states and other countries. The four-day event features more than 140 guided walks and indoor presentations that cover the region’s rich wildflowers, fauna, ecology, and cultural and natural history.

What’s Your Big Idea?—Lindsey Huff and Jordan Norton

Faculty, staff, students, and alumni are sharing the big ideas that make a difference in their world. Students Lindsey Huff and Jordan Norton have the big idea of making 20 percent of UT’s food “real food” as part of a national competition called the Real Food Challenge.

What’s Your Big Idea?—Tami Wyatt

Faculty, staff, students, and alumni are sharing the big ideas that make a difference in their world. Tami Wyatt’s big idea is called DocuCare. An assistant professor of nursing, Wyatt and her idea are helping build a better workforce of health professionals worldwide.

Big Idea: Student Organization Funds Girls’ Education Internationally

She's the First

Christian Sullivan, a junior in animal science, was so impressed after learning about She’s the First—an international organization that promotes literacy and social justice for women in developing countries by sponsoring education—that he had the big idea to start a chapter. Sullivan now has the special distinction of being the first male president of a university chapter of She’s the First.

Big Idea: Freshmen Course Now Includes Alcohol Awareness, Financial Literacy

First-Year Studies organizers know that freshmen—many of them living away from home for the first time—face many challenges, not all academic. That’s why, starting this fall, online learning activities about alcohol awareness and financial responsibility will be part of FYS 100, the credit/no-credit course all freshmen must take.

Big Idea: Rejuvenating Phi Beta Kappa Chapter

Chemistry Professor Jeffrey Kovac is working on a big idea—reactivating UT’s chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa national honor society. Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and best-known honor society. It was founded at the College of William and Mary in 1776, during the American Revolution. UT established its Phi Beta Kappa chapter in 1965.

Big Idea: Jazz for Tots


Two decades ago, Professor Keith Brown came up with a big idea that continues to make the holidays a little merrier for needy kids and music lovers: the annual Jazz for Tots performance put on by the university’s jazz program. This year’s concert, a charity event for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Campaign, begins at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 2, in the Alumni Memorial Building Cox Auditorium.

What’s Your Big Idea?—Lindsay Lee

Faculty, staff, students, and alumni are sharing the big ideas that make a difference in their world. Lindsay Lee, a junior majoring in Spanish and math, has the big idea of starting Disability Awareness Week at UT. The week begins November 26 and includes events such as an art show and public forum.