On April 12,1889, Charles Moore, president of the University's athletic association and member of the university’s first football team, chose orange and white as the University’s official colors. The colors were later approved by a student body vote. Moore got his inspiration from the orange and white daisies that grew on “the Hill”. It is believed that President Moore was color-blind, which is why he saw a color of daisy that had not been seen before, wild or hybrid. PMSO21 from the Pantone Matching System is the official University of Tennessee, Knoxville, orange color with white.

The Seal

The seal, which is located in between Hodges library and the Humanities and Social Sciences building, contains images of an open book, globe, sextant, gear and laurels. The words "agriculture" and "commerce," and images of a plow and riverboat are also featured on the University of Tennessee seal. It is believed that stepping on the seal would result in not graduating on time.  

The Torch

In 1968 the nine-foot-tall statue was unveiled in Circle Park. Sculptor Theodore Andre Beck designed the piece in 1931 after entering a contest that was hosted in hopes of discovering a new university symbol. Torchbearer is also the name of the highest student honor and the name of the university’s alumni publication.

Torchbearer Statement: “One that beareth a torch shadoweth oneself to give light to others.”

Alma Mater

In 1928 the University’s Alma Mater was adopted after a contest hosted by the school’s musical organizations. Mary Fleming Meek won the $50 prize with her entry entitled "On a Hallowed Hill." The lyrics incorporate words used during the Torch Night and Aloha Oe ceremonies.


Torch Night: This is a Welcome Week ceremony where the freshman class are declared part of the student body as they hold torches.

Aloha Oe: During this ceremony graduating seniors pledge their loyalty to the University and pass candles to upcoming seniors.


In 1953, the bluetick coonhound “Brooks’ Blue Smokey” howled his way to win the Pep Club’s mascot contest at halftime of the Tennessee-Mississippi State football game. A few years later, Smokey I was hit by a car and his three-month-old son took over as mascot. Smokey II was dognapped by Kentucky students in 1955 and survived a confrontation with the Baylor bear at the 1956 Sugar Bowl. The current Smokey X made his debut in 2013 and is the first Smokey not descended from the original Smokey bloodline. One of Smokey’s main roles is to lead the Vols through the T before each home football game. Smokey is cared for by the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity on campus.

Rocky Top

In 1967, "Rocky Top" was written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant in only ten minutes. Although not the official fight song, ”Rocky Top” is one of the University’s favorite traditions. In 1982 the hit song was adopted as one of the Tennessee state songs.


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