Winners Announced for Inaugural Linnemann Scholarship

Top left: DaVeon Hall, political science major, Africana Studies minor. Top right: Evelina Kertay, political science major, Africana Studies minor. Bottom left: Stephen Thomas, communication major, history minor. Bottom right: Victoria Thomas, humanities: Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies major, Africana Studies minor.

By Chuck Wasserstrom  

Four University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students, all minoring in Africana Studies or studying African American history, are the inaugural recipients of a newly created scholarship.

In 2021, the Dr. Russell Linnemann Memorial Endowment in History to support Africana Studies in the Department of History was established by Linnemann’s longtime friend, Bill Epstein.

 The endowment provided $500,000 to support the study of African and African-American history and the history of the blues to honor the career and academic contributions of Linnemann, who spent 36 years as a UTC professor before passing away unexpectedly in 2006.

 “UTC provided academic and cultural support for 36 years to my friend, Russell,” Epstein said. “That support means a lot to me, and I wanted to acknowledge it with a contribution in memory of my friend.”

 The first Linnemann Scholarship recipients are political science majors DaVeon Hall and Evelina Kertay, communication major Stephen Thomas and humanities: women, gender and sexuality studies major Victoria Thomas.

 “The Africana Studies program is grateful to have the resources to recognize the exceptional work and accomplishments of some of our outstanding students and to support them in their work here at UTC,” said Julia Cummiskey, assistant professor of history and interim director of Africana Studies. “The inaugural class of Linnemann Scholars has set a high standard for future generations of UTC students of Africana Studies and African American history.”

 Linnemann taught African and British Empire History at UTC and was a scholar in concentrations such as Western Civilization, African History and Modern European History, but he was celebrated for his courses on the blues, for which he was affectionately known as “The Blues Doctor.”

 Along with his teaching duties, Linnemann was the longtime host of WUTC-FM/88.1’s “Blues and More,” a show that gained national notoriety for the National Public Radio affiliate.