KNOXVILLE -- After nearly two years of construction, University of Tennessee student-athletes have taken up residence in their new academic facility, the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center. Although the official grand opening is not until April 21 at 2 p.m., staff members from the Office of Student Life have moved their offices during Spring Break and when the students returned, they, too, were able to begin using the facility.
The Center was built at a cost of just over $4.2 million, and is quite an improvement over previous facilities in terms of space, lighting, equipment, and in the spirit of the counselors and advisors. The Thornton Center was fully funded by private donations and gives Tennessee a facility that will compete with any other program in the country.
The three-story structure, and 30,000+ square feet, has a large Computer Lab with 48 Gateway III computers, and there are a total of 75 computers throughout the facility.
The Thornton Center is also home to the Special Needs Program, which is a comprehensive academic support program which assists male and female student-athletes with disabilities (physical, psychological and learning) or who are academically "at risk" and in need of remediation skills.
The Center has two study rooms (the Peyton Manning Study Hall, located on the main level, and the Lyle Finley Study Hall, located on the second floor) which can accommodate 60 students each. These study areas are equipped with tables, computer ports and electrical outlets for laptop computers.
The Tutorial Service is the backbone of the educational enhancement efforts at the Thornton Center. Tutoring is available in any subject, and tutors use a variety of techniques to help students achieve their academic goals.
A highlight to visiting the Thornton Center is the Joseph B. Wolfe Collection (an extensive collection of sport and Olympic sculptures), which will now be placed on the main floor of the Center, having been moved from the H.P.E.R. Building. The collection is currently under the guidance of Dr. Andy Kozar, professor in Exercise Science.
Among scheduled speakers are John Thornton, Dr. Ruth Darling, Associate Provost and Director of the Thornton Center, Athletic Directors Joan Cronan and Doug Dickey, and Dr. Anne Mayhew.