College, RT Lodge sign memorandum of understanding

College, RT Lodge sign memorandum of understanding

May 16, 2018

In a celebration attended by numerous faculty and staff on Monday, officials of Maryville College and Ruby Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining several ways that the College and RT Lodge intend to work together for the benefit of each through 2021.

The celebration was hosted and held on the grounds of RT Lodge, the restaurant, hotel and special event site located in the 140-acre College Woods and owned and supported by foodservice retailer Ruby Tuesday. Participating in the celebration and signing were RT Lodge General Manager Gary Doyle, Ruby Tuesday Chief Strategy Officer Stephanie Medley and Maryville College President Dr. Tom Bogart.

The MOU, developed by the College’s Strategic Partnerships Group, calls for collaborations for Lodge programming, research, internships, career exploration opportunities and events. It also outlines ways the two entities plan to promote each other to their respective clients and constituents.

In sharing some of the details of the MOU to attendees, Bogart announced that discounts in the Lodge’s restaurant would be made available to members of the College’s faculty and staff who show their College identification.

“Look for opportunities to show off this part of the Maryville College campus when there is an appropriate event or activity or visitor to town,” he urged.

One of the collaborations Bogart said he was most excited about was a quarterly “fireside chat” led by Maryville College faculty.

“This is an opportunity for some of our faculty to showcase their scholarship and the fascinating work that they do with an invited a group of community people – around the fire pit or the fireplace inside,” he said. “So, a couple dozen people in a nice seminar-type of setting, and we already have three [faculty] superstars lined up for this year and next year.”

In introductory remarks, Doyle said RT Lodge was looking to grow its business as a public restaurant, bar and hotel, and partnering with the College made a lot of sense.

“As we move forward, we really want you to feel that this is your lodge,” he said to attendees.

Before the MOU signing, Bogart presented a framed document to the staff of RT Lodge that highlighted one sentence from the MOU that summarized the partnership: “Maryville College and RT Lodge partner to promote hospitality, environmentally sustainable practices, artisanal techniques and education in natural settings for the local, national and international community.”

Agreeing with Doyle, Bogart said the partnership was right for the College.

“The mission here at the Lodge really does resonate very well with a lot of what we’re trying to do in providing service and doing high-quality educational work and doing it in an environmentally friendly way and a very positive way,” he said. 

College, lodge have long history

RT Lodge’s main building, formerly known as Morningside, was completed in 1932 by Susan Wiley Walker of Pennsylvania. She was introduced to Maryville College by her sister, Elizabeth Stevenson, wife of Maryville College’s chaplain and the first resident of the House in the Woods.

With the understanding that ownership would revert to the College at the time of her death and that it would eventually become the residence of the College presidents, Ms. Walker designed and had constructed the 26-room Morningside and surrounding gardens. She lived in it until her death in 1950 at the age of 98. Morningside served as the home of the president for the next 27 years. From 1985 until the early 1990s, the residence was known as Morningside Inn and operated as a public restaurant and event space.

In 1997, Ruby Tuesday, Inc. acquired Morningside and seven surrounding acres through a 50-year lease and developed the property as a corporate retreat, restoring the grounds and residence and adding two additional buildings for guest accommodations.

In addition to housing special guests at RT Lodge, the College has worked with Lodge staff over the last 20 years to plan class reunions, conferences, Board dinners, receptions and other special events.

A popular location for brides and grooms, RT Lodge recently has been named the state’s most beautiful outdoor wedding venue by several publications and websites.

Written by Karen Beaty Eldridge '94, Executive Director of Marketing & Communications


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2018 semester is 1,146.