University of Tennessee Has Renamed Its Humanities Center After Former Football Star Don Denbo

University of Tennessee Has Renamed Its Humanities Center After Former Football Star Don Denbo

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville honors Volunteer, alumnus, and former UT football star Donald “Don” Denbo by renaming the humanities center in his honor.

The Denbo Center for Humanities and the Arts, which is part of the College of Arts and Sciences, focuses on research and writing. Faculty and graduate students can stop by the facility at 2230 Sutherland Ave. in the Cherokee Mills office park.

Denbo graduated from UT in 1971 with a degree in psychology and a minor in history. He is excited to play another role in UT history after donating to the center.

“These studies framed my life and are continuing to frame it, and endowed me with a deep commitment to seeing that other people have the same chance to learn and experience a component of being a human being in the same way that I have,” Denbo said at the dedication ceremony on April 2.

Who is Don Denbo?

Don Denbo, originally from Pulaski, attended the flagship Knoxville campus in 1967. He came to university with strong reading, writing, chemistry, and linguistic skills.

“In short, I came to the University of Tennessee to play football,” Denbo stated in a statement.

He played offensive guard for the Tennessee Volunteers football team. He started for three years and helped the club achieve success with a 28-5-1 record, an SEC championship in 1969, and a Sugar Bowl triumph in 1970. Denbo made the SEC Academic Honor Roll two years in a row, in 1969 and 1970. In 1970, the National Football Foundation named Denbo a National Scholar Athlete.

Denbo went on to get a Ph.D. in economics at the London School of Economics before co-founding Commercial Insurance Associates, one of the nation’s largest insurance brokers.

Denbo won the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2018.

What is the Denbo Center for Humanities and Arts?

The Denbo Center’s core consists of nine departments: art, classics, English, history, music, philosophy, religious studies, theatre, and world languages and cultures.

Faculty and graduate students can do research, write, and study at the Denbo Center. In the humanities, the center emphasizes public engagement and community cooperation. The center offers fellowships, grants, internships, and seminars.

UT launched the UT Humanities Center in 2011. The center’s first full year occurred during the 2012-2013 school year. Amy Elias became the center’s director in 2017. The center now has a new face and name: Don Denbo.

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