Student Union

Project Overview

The $160 million new Student Union will replace the current University Center, which was built in 1952 and then expanded and remodeled in 1967.

The project is funded through existing student and user fees, and the facility will be at least 50 percent larger than the existing structure.

The new Student Union will enhance services for our students and the entire community through a larger auditorium/performance venue; additional program, conference, and meeting space; a much larger ballroom for larger events and banquets; a new and expanded book and technology store; and more dining options.


  • The Student Union will celebrate UT history and traditions
  • The facility is being designed and constructed for LEED building standards
  • A 50,000-square-foot bookstore (compared to the current 33,260-square-foot store)
  • Ten dining establishments and more than 1,000 seats (compared to the current 460 seats)
  • A 10,000-square-foot, 1,000-seat auditorium (compared to current 5,396-square-foot, 532-seat auditorium)
  • A 12,000-square-foot ballroom with the capacity to seat 800 for banquets and 1,200 for lectures (compared to the current 3,942-square-foot-ballroom that can seat 300 to 450 people for a banquet)
  • Career Services office space
  • VolCard office space
  • Student Government Association office space
  • Additional space for other student organizations

Project Phases

Phase One

Phase one, now underway, consists of five stories that will house the book and technology stores, campus dining, and Career Services. Concrete walls and floors are forming the shell of the structure. The lowest level’s walls and floor are done, and work is continuing upward, a floor at a time.

The old University Center garage, the Temple Court and Aconda Court buildings, the former Student Counseling Center, and a building at 812 Volunteer Boulevard were demolished to accommodate the construction.

This first phase of the new Student Union is expected to be completed in Summer 2015.

Phase Two

The next phase of construction will include additional dining areas, the auditorium and ballroom, a student recreation area, UT Federal Credit Union, lounges, and additional program, conference, and meeting space. It also will extend the building’s footprint westward toward Volunteer Boulevard.

The new Student Union, which will be at least 50 percent larger than the current University Center, should be completed in 2017.


Phase One

Phase One, now under way, includes a new bookstore, dining facilities, Career Services office space, and other office space. Phase One is estimated to be complete by Summer 2015.

Phase One also will include a new landscaped outdoor plaza that connects the Pedestrian Mall and the Haslam Business Building to The Hill.

March 2012

  • University Center’s “Money Wall” outdoor ATMs close.
  • Andy Holt Avenue permanently closes between Volunteer Boulevard and Phillip Fulmer Way.
  • University Center parking garage closes and demolition begins.
  • Two of three pedestrian bridges connecting the University Center Plaza with The Hill and Stokely Management Center close.

April 2012

Approximately fifty parking spaces on the north end of the Staff 9 lot close as part of the construction.

May 2012

The final pedestrian bridge connecting the University Center Plaza with The Hill and Stokely Management Center closes.

October 2012

Construction fencing is installed along a portion of Volunteer Boulevard at Cumberland Avenue to prepare for the demolition of the former Counseling Center, Aconda Court, Temple Court, and 812 Volunteer Boulevard.

December 2012

Demolition begins on the former Counseling Center, Aconda Court, Temple Court, and 812 Volunteer Boulevard.

Phillip Fulmer Way from Cumberland Avenue to Middle Drive closes for construction of a pedestrian bridge that will connect the Hill with the new Student Union.

August 2014

The new pedestrian bridge, which spans Phillip Fulmer Way and restores a key link to the Hill, opens to the public. The bridge connects the Haslam Business Building, Volunteer Boulevard, and the Joe Johnson–John Ward Pedestrian Walkway to the Hill. On the east side of the bridge, the steps and landscape have been redone, and access to the top of the Hill has been improved by a pedestrian path through the nearby Austin Peay building.

Work begins to extend the landscaping adjacent to the Claxton Education Building—called Blueberry Falls—to integrate with new outdoor space planned for the Student Union. Blueberry Falls also will add a new direct pedestrian route from Volunteer Boulevard to Phillip Fulmer Way. The extension will feature a water cascade along the length of the greenway, new seating and designated bike parking.