The UTC Council of Scholars was established in 1985 with the election of five Charter Members. The previous year, a planning committee had been charged with the task of developing a proposal for such a Council, an idea originated by Professor Earl Davis (Education), and their proposal, with the support of the Administration, had been adopted for funding by the University of Chattanooga Foundation year. The Charter Members were given responsibility for developing the organizational structures and procedures of the group; determining membership categories and criteria; electing additional initial members of the Council; and for guiding the Council in its initial phases. The first Convener of the Council was Professor Reed Sanderlin (English). The first induction included 17 individuals (5 Charter Members and 12 Members). It was decided that depending on future funding no more than ten percent of the tenured and tenure-track faculty  of UTC should be inducted to the Council.

The purpose of the Council, as originally proposed, was “for recognition of those faculty members who have distinguished themselves through scholarly activities and creative achievements.”