UT honors Brown: New dorm may be named for Alcoa education leader
By Matthew Stewart | (email@example.com)
The University of Tennessee Board of Trustees will soon consider naming the university’s new residence hall after the Alcoa Board of Education’s first black member.
The Board of Trustees will meet Thursday and Friday to discuss agenda items, which will include naming the residence hall after the late Fred D. Brown Jr. He headed UT’s recruitment of black engineering students from 1973-85.
Brown helped establish the university’s minority engineering scholarship program and traveled across the South to seek exemplary black students for the program. During his tenure, black enrollment at UT-Knoxville’s College of Engineering rose from 26 students to 133 students.
“I’m truly honored that the Board of Trustee is considering this recommendation,” said his widow, Thelma Brown. “He loved being around young people. He truly loved children, made them his life and almost made (UT) his first home.”
She’s also honored to know that her late husband’s legacy might inspire another generation of college students. “It’s very fitting to think that his name will live on at that school,” she said.
The new residence hall, which is on Andy Holt Avenue at the corner of Melrose Avenue, will house 700 undergraduate students in two-person suites and four-person super suites, according to an August 2012 news release. The residence hall, which is the first to be built in 40 years, was estimated to cost $59 million.
The suites are double occupancy rooms with a shared bathroom. The super suites are arranged similarly, but the rooms will connect to a common living room and shared bathroom. Each room type will have a different rental rate.
The hall will have modern-style furniture, including adjustable beds that can be raised or lowered to a desired height. Suites will be equipped with a desk, desk chair, bed and dresser.
The hall will offer more community space than existing halls, and its central core will consist of lounges for students to gather and study. Wireless Internet will be accessible within the building. Amenities will include laundry facilities, recreation and fitness rooms.
The new residence hall will have two restaurants: Tortilla Fresca, a Mexican-themed eatery, and a Subway. The eateries will have indoor and outdoor seating.
Charter board member
Brown was a member of the first class to graduate from Charles M. Hall High School in Alcoa. He later taught two years at the segregated public school.
Brown was a charter member of the Alcoa Board of Education. He was elected in 1969 and served six years on the board until he chose not to seek re-election due to the demands of his position at UT.
Brown earned his bachelor’s degree from Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Ala. He later completed postgraduate work at UT, University of Arizona, University of Hawaii, Tennessee State University, Fisk University and Vanderbilt University.
Prior to joining UT’s staff in 1973, Brown taught 18 years at Oak Ridge High School. He was hired in 1955 when the school was integrated, and the Alcoa native was the first black teacher hired in an integrated Tennessee school.
Brown served as Oak Ridge High School’s curriculum coordinator and chairman of its industrial arts department. He had also taught at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala. and Scarborough High School in Oak Ridge.
Brown was a licensed pilot and licensed radio and television station engineer, as well a certified electrical engineer.
Brown also served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He and his wife had one son, Douglas, who is a Maryville resident.