KNOXVILLE -- The new UTC library annex will be named after the late Lawrence G. Derthick Sr., a onetime Chattanooga resident and former U.S. Commissioner of Education.
An anonymous donor requested that the UTC library auditorium, currently under construction, be named for Derthick, who died in 1992. The University of Tennessee board of trustees approved the request Friday during its fall meeting in Knoxville.
Derthick was the quintessential educator -- teacher, principal, superintendent, college professor, textbook author and eventually the country's commissioner of education, UT President Joe DiPietro told the board.
He moved to Chattanooga in 1942 to work as the superintendent of schools, said his son Alan Derthick, an architect with the firm Derthick, Henley and Wilkerson. The firm served as architect for UTC's new library, which is set to open in the spring of 2013.
"I'm very pleased with them taking this action, that my father's legacy will be preserved in this way so that his contributions to education will be remembered in the future," Alan Derthick said.
His primary legacy, his son said, was to work toward equalizing education opportunities for all children in Chattanooga.
"He was a leader in the effort to provide equal opportunities to all students. When he came here in 1942, we were a highly segregated school system. African-American students were not given the same opportunities than white students," he said.
Derthick was appointed commissioner of education by former President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He served in that position from 1956 to 1961.