There seem to be as many reasons for attending the University of Tennessee

as there are undergraduates--that's more than 19,000 this fall.

Not even in a small poll of first-time students could a consensus be


For one student, it was UT's proximity to home. For another, it was a

question of affordability. A third enrolled because the campus matched his

dream of "going away" to college.

Brock Thomas, enrolling from Chester County High School on a prestigious

Whittle Scholarship, remembers making up his mind on a campus visit.

"A food service worker noticed a book I was reading and we ended up in a

long, serious discussion," Thomas said. "Little things like that happened

all the time. It opened my eyes to the whole campus."

Malcolm D. Earle, a graduate of Treadwell High School in Memphis, made

three visits to the campus, although he was sold on the first trip.

"I came back home after the first trip and said, 'That's where I want to

go,'" Earle recalled. A Bicentennial Scholar, Earle was influenced by the

reputation of the College of Engineering.

Earle also appreciated that the campus was away from home, "but not too


For Frances Kirkland, whose brother was a past student government president

at UT, and whose father is president-elect of the UT National Alumni

Association, the choice of UT might have seemed a foregone conclusion. It

was not.

Kirkland, another Whittle Scholar, said choosing UT meant deciding not to

go to a smaller institution where she could play sports at the collegiate


"I decided it was time to put my emphasis on academics," Kirkland said. A

Jackson resident, she is looking at pre-medical studies or


Allison Murphy's mother earned the doctoral degree at UT, but the Alcoa

High School graduate chose UT primarily because she knew the campus well

and many of her friends would be there too.

A Tennessee Scholar, Murphy plans to major in English, although she studied

math when she attended Governor's School for the Sciences on the Knoxville

campus a couple of years ago. She's also a football fan.

The advice of a faculty member at Cleveland State Community College led to

Amy Renner's decision to finish her journalism education at UT.

Renner didn't know at the time that Cleveland State alumnus Steve Holland

had followed the same path to become White House correspondent for Reuters,

the London-based news service.

"My advisor just said UT was the best place in the state to study

journalism," Renner said. The recipient of a Phi Theta Kappa scholarship,

she is a junior this fall.

Another transfer student, Pellissippi State's Robin Davis, said it was

important to stay in Knoxville, but fortunately the accounting program at

UT is one of the best in the United States.

"I want to become a certified public accountant," said Davis, who has been

awarded a Lawler Scholarship based on academic performance and financial


Katrina Russell's twin sister is a freshman this fall at the University of

Alabama, Tuscaloosa, but for her UT seemed to be a better fit.

"I liked UT's campus a lot better," said Russell, a graduate of Nashville's

Hume-Fogg High School. "When I visited in the spring, people didn't wait

for me to say I was lost. They just asked where I needed to go."

A Chancellor's Scholar and recipient of an African American Achiever's

Award, Russell plans to major in political science in preparation for law


"I went to a fairly small high school of only 500 or 600 students," Russell

said. "I wanted a change, and at a large college you can do more


Elsewhere on campus, department and open computer laboratories have been

added or updated.

"More than 1,000 new computers have been made available to students," Muly

said, "and upgrades for 24 more computing laboratories are scheduled in the

coming months."

The computer and computing infrastructure gains have been made possible by

a student technology fee, which was approved for the campus by the UT Board

of Trustees.