Alumni Complaints

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your latest message in August 2013 concerning the historic properties on White Avenue.

I am proud to say that since we last exchanged e-mails, I’m not only a two-time alumni now, (B.S. 2006, M.S. 2014), but also an employee at the UT Institute of Agriculture.

While I’m proud to wear UT Orange, the University’s plans to move forward with a science building that demolishes historic properties in a nationally registered historic district is something that brings me shame.

Without exaggeration, every alumni I have spoken with on the topic is also ashamed of this plan:

Alumni here in Knoxville;

Alumni across the U.S.;

Alumni around the globe.

We simply expect more of our University.

Perhaps what is worse is that no amount of protest seems to affect the University’s plan to demolish the historic White Avenue properties.

This contradicts Volunteer values: no new construction project is worth sacrificing our history or our traditions to.

I’m also concerned about a new facility impeding the view of both The Hill and Hoskins Library’s unique architecture.

When I imagined college, I always imagined a park-like setting like The Hill.

As the campus has grown, Cumberland and The Hill has quickly become a "brick canyon."

Is that really the aesthetic we want for our University?

Are you not concerned that future top recruits to Tennessee will take note the lack of green space, in contrast with other Southern universities?

If you absolutely MUST have a science building at that location, rather than building at the current Biology Annex and Neyland Garage, please change the design to allow the historic homes to be preserved, and maximize green space.

UT has already destroyed much of the area’s history – Aconda court, Circle Park, the home at the Baker Center.

See attached photo of campus. You can see two of the homes "in the way" of the new science building in the upper right hand corner.

What’s three more historic homes to the bulldozer?

It’s a lot, actually.

Because it erodes our values as Tennessee Volunteers.

Current, past and future Volunteers believe in coexisting.

Not dominating.

Not predation.

Not razing history.

Respect for tradition and history is a core value at University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Please respect Volunteer values and University traditions and change course on the planned science building.



On Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 7:04 PM, Cimino, Chris <cimino> wrote:

The bridge work required state approval which we have now have. Design work is taking place and we are now working to schedule the work. It will require lane closures so we are having to seek all the appropriate approvals and plan the work.

I will have the recessed lighting looked at. We do have folks looking at items around campus. We have tens of millions in deferred maintenance and limited resources. We will continue to do our best at staying on top of things.

Thanks for your interest and input.


On Aug 27, 2013, at 12:42 PM, "Tanner Jessel" <mountainsol> wrote:

Hi Chris,

I see the masonry is being fixed. Thats great.

However, the pedestrian bridge across Cumberland is still rusting and looks awful.

The pedestrian bridge itself has a severe uplifted crack that is a tripping hazard.

The recessed lighting on the amphitheater steps / walkway between Humanities Plaza and Hodges is still broken / looking shabby.

I think it’d be worth having someone walk around and take note of problems on campus like this.

And finally, I noticed this and want to reiterate that I oppose destroying historic elements of the neighborhood that defines the UT community:

I have heard the argument that you need space. If you need space that badly you should not have given Hoskins to ROTC or Stokely to the Athletic Department.

Academic buildings are a dime a dozen. Historic structures that tell the story of a campus and community are irreplaceable. Please alter course on your plans.


On Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 1:03 PM, Tanner Jessel <mountainsol> wrote:

Thanks for letting me know.

Also just to clarify I was looking at the bridge between the parking garage / campus police station and the Hill.


On Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 12:56 PM, Cimino, Chris <cimino> wrote:

Thank you for bringing to my attention. We will have this looked at immediately.


On Dec 19, 2012, at 12:41 PM, Tanner Jessel <mountainsol>

Hi Chris,

I was walking up Cumberland yesterday and noticed two things that might be problems for the University.

First, the pedestrian bridge across Cumberland has extensive oxidation on load bearing members of the structure, especially at the joints. As a point of pride I’d like to see those joints looking nice, not to mention safety reasons.

Second, on the retaining wall along the sidewalk adjacent to Cumberland Avenue in front of Hoskins Library, the brick fascia has annealed from the cinder block masonry. I’m not a mason but at the angle it’s leaning out, I’m worried it could peel away and crush someone walking on the sidewalk.



On Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 7:15 AM, Cimino, Chris <cimino> wrote:

Mr. Jessel,

Please feel free to submit your concerns directly to my attention.

Allow me to provide some background information to the recent article in the Metro Pulse.

The university has not begun any official "paperwork" or process to acquire or demolish the three properties. However, the site is in our 2011 Master Plan for a new class/laboratory building and we have been having some preliminary discussions with neighborhood representatives.

We did not agree to abandon the site in the 2011 Master Plan. There are two additional blocks north of the Jessie Harris building that were originally in the plan but after discussions with the Fort Sanders representatives, UT administration decided to alter the boundaries so as not to include those two blocks for this Master Plan. This had no impact on the block with these three properties which was shown in our natural boundaries and institutional zone in the 1994 Master Plan.

We feel we have a good relationship with representatives of the Fort Sanders community and have kept them abreast of our master planning throughout the process and even met with them two weeks ago on this very topic. We solicited input from them and discussed several options, including the relocation of the homes. We also have a great relationship with the Knoxville Police Department and have provided many resources to making Fort Sanders a safe community for everyone living there, not just our students.

As for our intentions, we are severely short in research and classroom space and are building in the core of campus and looking at all alternatives when selecting sites for new buildings. When possible we are renovating existing space and building additions. In the case of 13th and Cumberland, that site was selected for a much needed classroom/laboratory building. We are currently programming the space, and as we promised the Fort Sanders representatives, will be coming back to them with more specifics on the estimated footprint and potential impact on the three homes.


Chris Cimino
University of Tennessee
Vice Chancellor for Finance & Administration
417 Andy Holt Tower
Knoxville, TN 37996-0141
865.974.4204 (office)
865.974.8131 (fax)

On Jun 26, 2012, at 9:20 AM, UTK Alumni Affairs wrote:


About Tanner Jessel

I am a recent M.S. in Information Science graduate from the University of Tennessee School of Information Science. I was formerly a graduate research assistant funded by DataONE (Data Observation Network for Earth). Prior, I worked for four years as a content lead and biodiversity scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Biodiversity Informatics Program. Building on my work experience in biodiversity and environmental informatics, my work with DataONE focused on exploring the nature of scientific collaborations necessary for scientific inquiry. I also conducted research concerning user experience and usability, and assisted in development of member nodes with an emphasis on spatial data and infrastructure. I assisted with research designed to understand sociocultural issues within collaborative research communities. Through August 1, 2014, I was based at the Center for Information and Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee School of Information Science in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Posted on February 27, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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