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Speakers at Young’s ‘Celebration’ Steeped in History of Institute

Voices from the earliest days of The University of Tennessee Space Institute will recall Robert L. Young’s pioneering efforts in a “Celebration of Life” program in UTSI’s auditorium at 11 a.m. Nov. 16.

Donald C. Daniel, UT associate vice president and UTSI’s chief operating officer, is urging the public to participate in the tribute to Young, who helped get the Institute open and played major roles there before his death Oct. 31.

Daniel will preside at the celebration.

William T. Snyder – the second faculty member chosen specifically for UTSI and one of five full-time professors when the Institute opened Sept. 24, 1964 – is one of several speakers. After leaving UTSI, Snyder served as Dean of Engineering and Chancellor at UT Knoxville.

John Rampy, one of eight full-time students that first term, also will speak.

“We got here expecting to find a school, and they didn’t even have a building,” Rampy has said, remembering that classes were held at AEDC while UTSI was being constructed. One of three lieutenants from the Air Force Institute of Technology entering UTSI as full-time students in 1964, Rampy says Young “was the vanguard….working very hard to get the Space Institute idea going.” Rampy later had a distinguished career at AEDC.

Another speaker will be Jimmy Wu, who with his wife Susan Wu joined UTSI as full-time professors in the fall of 1965. Both were with Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory and Electro Optical System in Pasadena, Calif., when the late B.H. Goethert, first dean of the Space Institute, recruited them. Later, the Wu’s had some questions for Goethert and tried to call the Space Institute.

“The operator said she had no number for a space institute,” Jimmy recalled. “We thought this was very strange that the operator had not even heard of the place. We wondered if there really was a space institute, but we knew that Goethert was not a fake.” They soon realized that there was no telephone because the Institute was under construction beside Woods Reservoir. The Wu couple had long and distinguished careers with the Space Institute.

Other speakers will include K.C. Reddy, long-time professor of mathematics, and William F. Kimzey, former chairman of the UTSI Support Council. Kimzey received a master’s degree from UTSI in December 1966, and a Ph.D. in June, 1977, both in aerospace engineering. He, too, held key positions during his career at AEDC.

Reddy was an instructor in aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland before joining UTSI’s faculty as assistant professor of mathematics in July, 1966. In the late 60’s, he became closely acquainted with Young’s family when he rented a cabana at their house. Dean emeritus of academic affairs, Reddy retired in 1999, but continues as a part-time professor.