Alderman: UTC is still Chattanooga's 'light upon the hill'

Alderman: UTC is still Chattanooga's 'light upon the hill'

August 15th, 2013 By Dr. Betsy Alderman in Opinion Columns

UTC students prepare for a test drive of their Chem-E Car invention earlier this year.

Photo by Jay Bailey/Times Free Press.

While writing a documentary on the desegregation of the University of Chattanooga last year, my colleagues and I discovered some wonderful things about the school and its relationship to the city.

When the university opened in 1886, one journalist called it "a light upon a hill" because when the gaslights were illuminated in Old Main, the school served as a beacon. A close-knit group of Chattanooga's finest citizens had come together to create a school that would support the educational needs of its citizens for generations to come.

Now more than 120 years later, UTC continues to be "a light upon a hill." And it's brighter than ever.

UTC boasts a nationally ranked College of Business. Its Communication Department is one of only 111 accredited programs in journalism and mass communication in the U.S and Puerto Rico. The College of Engineering and Computer Science offers a world-class undergraduate curriculum. The school's departments of art, interior design, theater and physical therapy each are accredited in their own disciplines.

I am proud to be among the 478 full-time faculty members who truly care about their students. Teachers are committed to excellence inside the classroom and out. Colleagues strive to "take care of " students, helping them with academic advising, career planning and placement and community service.

In addition to achieving UTC's teaching mission, individual faculty members are engaged in important, interesting and relevant research. At the Sim Center for Computational Engineering researchers are looking into ways to evacuate areas that become polluted. Faculty members in communication and nursing are exploring ways to attract students from disadvantaged backgrounds into the field of nursing. And the university will soon have a new state-of-the-art library to help faculty and students continue to do research.

Caring staff members at UTC strive to help students with the daily issues of living, going to school and studying, while most students work at least one part-time job. The diverse student body comes from throughout Tennessee and around the world, making UTC an important component of the culture of city

Chattanooga is a great city with a great university. UTC faculty and staff members and its students hope the community will embrace a university that is so much at the heart of Chattanooga.

Dr. Betsy Alderman is a UTC professor and head of the Communication Department.