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Category: Features

Pulaski – Perhaps the biggest step toward bold and impactful in recent UT history is the addition of the University of Tennessee Southern (UTS).

UT and state officials at the UT Southern ribbon cutting
Left to right, Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton, UT Southern Chancellor Mark La Branche, UT System President Randy Boyd, Gov. Bill Lee, Giles County Executive Melissa Greene, and Pulaski Mayor Pat Ford celebrate Martin Methodist College becoming UT Southern.

UTS joined the UT System officially on July 1 and became the first new UT campus in more than 50 years. Located in Pulaski, Tennessee, UTS now provides the only public four-year institution of higher education between Chattanooga and Memphis along Tennessee’s southern border and serves a southern middle Tennessee region of 13 counties near the Alabama border.

Flame the Firehawk

Joining the University of Tennessee System allowed UTS leaders to reimagine its mascot and athletic colors. After hosting focus groups to listen to students, faculty, alumni and community members, university leadership opted to add orange to its color palate of red and black. It also embraced a new mascot – Flame the Firehawk.

UT Southern Firehawks

With fire in its eye and thunder in its wings, Flame the Firehawk will lead the way as the new school’s mascot. The mythical creature represents the fifth mascot for the university in its 150-year history. Knoxville-based illustrator Danny Wilson developed the concept and logo for the Firehawks, which will represent the university’s 20 teams. Uniforms were debuted in late August during welcome week festivities.

“I am excited about the new feel of UT Southern athletics, and starting out with a new mascot will bring excitement to the entire campus,” Brandie Paul, athletic director, said. “Flame the Firehawk will be a sure ‘fire’ hit.”

Mark La Branche – Chancellor

Mark La Branche
Mark La Branche serves as the first chancellor for UT Southern, after being appointed by the UT Board of Trustees. La Branche has served as president of Martin Methodist College since July 1, 2017. Prior to joining Martin Methodist College, La Branche served as the president of Louisburg College in North Carolina where he oversaw the school’s 22 percent increase in enrollment, 58 percent increase in graduates and a five-year, $18 million fundraising campaign that exceeded its goals by 20 percent. La Branche has also previously served as senior vice president of external affairs at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama.

“Chancellor La Branche has a unique understanding of the opportunities that exist in the southern Middle Tennessee region,” Boyd said. “His exceptional leadership at the helm of Martin Methodist will be an asset in providing even more access to higher education in the region as he leads UT Southern.”