BUSINESS LEADERS AND PHILANTHROPISTS
UT Knoxville, ’52
By Gov. Bill Haslam
Part of the Tennessee Alumnus’ 100 Distinguished Alumni feature.
You don’t have to walk far around the UT Knoxville campus to see the impact that Jim and Natalie Haslam have on the university. The College of Business, the music building, athletic facilities and the Haslam scholars program all are testament to their devotion to the university.
Over the decades since their graduations from UT, both have served the university in numerous capacities—including Jim Haslam’s 24 years as a UT trustee—and both have led several fundraising campaigns.
Both of them feel a deep sense of gratitude toward UT. Natalie is a former UT “Miss Tennessee” and graduated in 1952. Jim enrolled in 1948 after being recruited by Coach Robert Neyland. He started on the 1951 national championship team and was captain of the 1952 team.
Today, several decades after they each graduated, the university remains a top priority for them. Both would tell you their lives were changed forever by their experiences on campus. Natalie’s lifelong commitments to the community and the university are born of her appreciation for what the university has meant to her and thousands of other students. Jim took the lessons he learned in the classroom and on the football field to found the Pilot Corporation, now one of the largest retailers in the country. He was the first member of his family to go to college and likely would not have been able to afford to go at all without a football scholarship. So he understands the inherent value of a first-class education.
I think it is partly due to my dad’s experience as a first-generation college student that I have tried to create opportunity for other first-generation students to attend college. I grew up in a family that was a living example of the opportunity that higher education provides. My hope for UT is that it will continue to produce a lot more leaders like Jim and Natalie Haslam.
Bill Haslam is the governor of Tennessee, chairman of the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees, and the son of Jim Haslam and stepson of Natalie Haslam.