Alumni and friends donate hard work during annual KT Week

Alumni and friends donate hard work during annual Kin Takahashi Week

June 12, 2019

Every summer for the last 23 years, approximately 100 Maryville College alumni, friends, students, faculty and staff members have gathered on campus to donate to the College something other than money – their time and talent.

Named for a student from Maryville College’s past, Kin Takahashi Week celebrates the “can-do” spirit of a 5-foot-2-inch-tall, 123-pound Japanese student who, during the 1890s, founded the College’s first football team and led a project to build Bartlett Hall.

Alumni travel from far and wide, and they sign up for manual labor projects like pressure washing, painting, carpentry, masonry and landscaping. A dedicated group of volunteers – under the direction of MC archivist Amy Lundell ’06 – works in the College’s archives, helping sort and organize documents and photos that represent the College’s long history that dates back to 1819. Maryville College is celebrating its bicentennial this year.

"Some alumni might not have a lot of funds, especially when they're young, but they have time and talent,” Greaser said. “So they come back and help out.”

The majority of volunteers make KT Week an annual pilgrimage and, over time, become like family. And just like old times, many stay in the residence halls and eat in the dining hall.

The idea came about in 1995, after Donna Davis (former vice president of advancement at Maryville College), spoke to the Class of 1960.

Tom Eberhard ’60 said to me, ‘Some of us don’t have a lot of money, but many of us have time and talent. If we had a way to put that to work, we could help the College,’” recalled Dan Greaser ’60. “With help from MC administration and the Physical Plant Department, KT Week was started in summer 1997.”

During that inaugural event, 43 participants traveled from as far away as Colorado and completed 17 projects on campus. Volunteers included alumni who represented MC classes from 1933 to 2001, as well as MC students, parents, staff members, friends and retired faculty members.

According to a 1997 FOCUS article, at the conclusion of the first KT Week, Chuck Frissell ’57 asked “Are we going to do this again next year? If we don’t, I’m going to call Andy McCall (former MC Physical Plant director) and sign on for a week on my own, since this has been so much fun, and I can see something tangible that I’ve done for Maryville College.”

The second KT Week was held June 8-12, 1998, and it has been held annually ever since. (KT Week was officially cancelled in 1999 – the year that Fayerweather Hall burned – but a dedicated group of KT Week volunteers, including Greaser, still came to campus that summer to provide assistance.)

Greaser estimates that volunteers log thousands of hours on KT Week projects every June, making vast improvements to the “curb appeal” of the campus.

“Also noteworthy is that over the years, many KT’ers have become members of the Society of 1819 and have donated annually to the Maryville Fund, due to their reconnection to the College,” Greaser added.

According to Diana Canacaris ’02, director of major gifts at MC, many KT Week volunteers liken the annual event to a family reunion.

"No matter the graduation year or the connection to the College, there is a sense of community among the KT'ers," she said. "Volunteers from around the United States include students, alumni and spouses – even children and grandchildren in some cases – parents, friends, faculty, staff and members of the Board of Directors.

"The mixture of participants who work collaboratively and share their time and talents for the betterment of the College is extraordinary," she added.

Canacaris said she believed the volunteer labor reflected the love and affection that many have for the College.

"For participants, KT Week is a time to reflect on the past, honor the present, and invest in the future of Maryville College while having a really good time with folks who feel the same way."

This year’s KT Week, held June 3-5, included 95 volunteers who completed 21 of 23 planned projects and 1,554 hours of labor. Watch the MC website for details about KT Week 2020!

In honor of Maryville College's Bicentennial celebration in 2019, this story is part of "Maryville Moments," a monthly feature that highlights special traditions at Maryville College. Stay tuned for next month's feature! 

Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”