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African American Hall of Fame Award


In 1994, the University of Tennessee celebrated its Bicentennial. As a part of the celebration, on October 1, 1994, the University unveiled the African-American Hall of Fame Award. The Hall of Fame, housed in the Black Cultural Center, recognizes African-Americans who have made profound contributions to African Americans at University of Tennessee (“UT”). The award is intended to acknowledge those who are among the “firsts” at UT and have made a significant impact. The Hall of Fame Award is given every five years. UT’s Commission for Blacks and the Office of Multicultural Student Life jointly coordinate the award.


The award is open to administrators, faculty and staff. Applicants must demonstrate the following criteria to be considered for the award:

  • Contributing to years of demonstrated service at the UT;
  • Having a significant impact on issues of diversity and inclusion at UT;
  • Demonstrating impact in scholarship and professional development in their respective fields;
  • Playing a significant leadership role in the advancement of issues related to African Americans in general, at UT, and in the surrounding community and state;
  • Being a driving force behind providing resources for African American students, faculty and staff at UT.

It is our hope that such achievements will serve as an inspiration to all populations that each person can make a contribution through dedication, persistence and the pursuit of excellence.

Application Process

The Hall of Fame Award Committee shall include a designee from Multicultural Student life, Chair for Commission for Blacks and chair of the Commission for Black’s Awards Committee. The Commission for Blacks at UT will solicit nominations from UT administrators, faculty, staff and students in general. Nominations forms will be made available on the Commission for Blacks website and distributed through our email listserv. For the given year, if there are no deserving nominees submitted (or lack of nominees for the nomination period), then no award will be given at that time. The Awards Committee with the Commission for Blacks will bring forth the nominee for the general body of voting members to vote on the award. The Award will be presented at the Chancellor’s Honor’s banquet in the spring of the academic year. The recipient will also be honored at the Hall of Fame Induction. The nomination period is currently closed.  The application period will reopen during the 2023-2024 academic year. 

Persons having any questions about this process should contact the Commission for Blacks at

2019 Honoree

Carolyn Hodges

Since arriving at UT in 1982, Carolyn Hodges, a professor of German, has time and again proven her commitment and dedication to UT. After more than a decade in administration, serving as vice provost and dean of the Graduate School, Hodges became chair of the Africana Studies program in 2016. Under her leadership, the program now has more than 100 majors and minors, and the graduate certificate program is attracting talented PhD candidates. She helped get approval to hire additional tenure-line joint faculty and lecturers, infusing new life into the department and adding diverse personnel to the university’s ranks. Hodges has supported faculty members’ outreach endeavors and approved experiential learning as a component of faculty-led summer study abroad programs to Senegal and South Africa. Hodges’s own academic interests are in Afro-German literature and legacy, and under her guidance the Africana Studies program has expanded its perception of Africa and its diaspora by becoming more globally inclusive.

2014 Honoree

Dr. Marva Rudolph

This spring semester was sadly marked by the death of longtime UT employee Marva Rudolph. A Chattanooga native, Rudolph worked in the areas of diversity, inclusion, and human rights for over thirty years. Before joining UT in 1990 as a specialist in affirmative action, she worked with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission. In 1994, she was named assistant director of UT’s Diversity Resources and Education Services office, later renamed the Office of Equity and Diversity, and she became the office’s director in 1999. In 2013, she was promoted to associate vice chancellor. Rudolph worked to ensure equity in university recruitment and helped students and employees resolve issues related to equity and diversity. She also was responsible for ensuring the university’s compliance with federal diversity and disability requirements. She was very involved with the Commission for Blacks, serving as a commissioner, a member of the executive committee, and chair of the bylaws committee. She remained active with the commission until shortly before her death, stressing the need for Knoxville business owners to be involved in encouraging African Americans to stay in the city and work for its future growth. Rudolph passed away on February 6. Recognizing her lifetime of service, Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said, “Marva was a recognized diversity professional who worked tirelessly to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion at UT.” The Commission for Blacks has chosen to add Marva Rudolph to the African American Hall of Fame to honor her decades of distinguished service, leadership, and advocacy for a diverse and inclusive campus environment.

2012 Honoree

Jane Redmond

The 2012 honoree is Jane Redmond, whose ability to adapt and bring people together has been invaluable to the university. Redmond retired from UT in 2008 after a twenty-six-year career. She combines a strong work ethic with an ability to connect to students, faculty, and community leaders. She has served as assistant vice chancellor for student affairs, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Life, director of the Women’s Center, interim chairperson for the Commission for Blacks, and committee member for the Women of Color Summit.

1999 Honoree

  • Fred Brown

1996 Honoree

  • African-American Academic Achievers Scholars

1994 Honorees

  • Dhyana Ziegler
  • Allan Wade Houston
  • Marilyn V. Yarbrough
  • Gene Mitchell Gray
  • Willie Mae Gillespie
  • Theotis Robinson, Jr.
  • Sammye Wynn
  • Robert Kirk
  • Felicia Felder-Hoehne
  • Marion Delaney-Harris
  • Brend J. Lewis Peel
  • John Morrow
  • Wilbert H. Cherry