College dedicates solar array during April 19 ceremony

College dedicates solar array during April 19 ceremony

April 12, 2012
Contact: Karen Eldridge, Director of Communications

Maryville College will dedicate its new solar photovoltaic (PV) array during a ceremony scheduled for 10:30 a.m., Thurs., April 19 on the grounds near Crawford House.

The public is invited to attend.

The array, erected in January by Efficient Energy of Tennessee, is funded through a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. The city of Maryville is a partner with the College in the project, and members of the Maryville City Council will be on hand for the dedication.

An array is a collection of photovoltaic solar panels that converts solar energy into electrical energy. In addition to the College’s array being a cost-savings measure, it is also an educational tool that officials with the City of Maryville will have access to, along with faculty and students.

Dr. Mark O’Gorman, associate professor of political science and coordinator of the environmental studies program, explained that the College’s solar array was of such a size that city officials could look to it as an example of how the technology could be applied to small businesses and residential customers within the city limits.

“The idea is to show an array that could be part of people’s lives in less than half a decade,” he explained. “This shows that solar power is not just something you read about in a book. It can come to East Tennessee.”

In terms of advantages to MC students, O’Gorman predicted that undergraduates majoring in environmental studies, mathematics and the social sciences would use the array to gather and analyze data, study the engineering design and discuss economic principles and policy.

At 10 a.m., members of the Maryville City Council will tour Crawford House, a two-story traditional farmhouse located on the campus that is now home to the Mountain Challenge program. Constructed in 1876 and on the National Register of Historic Places, Crawford House is now undergoing improvements and renovations to make it LEED certified.

With the electrical energy produced by the solar array going to Crawford House, the house is on pace to become the most energy efficient and environmentally sustainable facility on the campus – and perhaps, one of the greenest residential structures in the city of Maryville.

The dedication is one of several events being held on campus this week as a part of Earth Week. Earth Day, a worldwide observance held to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth’s natural environment, is April 22.

For more information on the dedication and solar array project, contact O’Gorman at 865.981.8048 or

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 2016 semester is 1,197.