Martin Methodist College in Pulaski is now officially part of the University of Tennessee system. Starting today, it’s known as UT Southern. One challenge has been finding a way to blend the school colors of red and highlighter orange.
Martin Methodist surveyed students and alumni to see where they should head with school colors and a mascot. The one resounding demand was that the university retain the color red. Of course, school officials also wanted all the branding benefits of UT orange.
Chief marketing officer Abby Stanton says the colors presented a graphic design challenge until they decided to incorporate flames with the new mascot — the mythical firehawk.
“I would not say other folks around the table cared as much as me about making orange and red make sense,” she says. “So it’s kind of a coincidence — and a happy one — that that’s where they landed.”
The mascot is named “Flame the Firehawk,” and described to have “fire in its eye and thunder in its wings.”
Martin Methodist’s athletes were known as the “Rowdy Redhawks” after 2002, when the name was changed from the Indians.
UT Southern is the first campus added to the UT system since Chattanooga more than 50 years ago. It’s meant to fill a higher education gap in southern Middle Tennessee, which currently has no public university.
Today we welcome UT Southern into the UT System, our first new undergrad campus in 50 years. This is a game-changer for students & communities in southern middle TN. Chancellor Mark LaBranche is the perfect fit to lead our new campus. Welcome, UT Southern!#EverywhereUT pic.twitter.com/R3LsLVe2dz
— UT System President Randy Boyd (@UT_President) June 25, 2021
The respective boards voted to finalize the acquisition last week when Martin Methodist president Mark La Branche was also appointed as the first chancellor of the school.
Pulaski has held a series of celebratory events this week, which is capped off tonight by an early July 4 fireworks display. Gov. Bill Lee spoke at the ribbon cutting.
“Our state is better today than it was yesterday because of UT Southern,” he said.
But there has been some resistance to the takeover. Middle Tennessee State University, roughly 80 miles away in Murfreesboro, argued against allowing UT to run the campus, suggesting MTSU was better suited to serve the region’s needs.