A prodigy in many respects, Clarence Leon Brown completed Knoxville High School in 1906 at the age of 15 and received special permission to enter UT. Four years later, he graduated with two degrees in engineering. He learned to fly during World War I and served as an instructor in the U.S. air corps. After he ran his own successful car dealership in the early 1920s, he talked his way into a job in what was then called moving pictures. Brown moved up steadily in the film industry and worked with famous early film stars at MGM, where he was Greta Garbo’s favorite director. Brown directed 52 films that were nominated for 38 Academy Awards and received eight. He and his wife, Marian, gave $10.5 million to UT Knoxville’s theater program, which helped elevate it to national prominence.
In 1930 Tom Dunlap earned the Faculty Freshman Scholarship award given to UT’s most outstanding male student at the end of the freshman year. The overall award was $50, but since he shared the award with the outstanding female student, he received $25. From that $25 incentive and his lifelong love of learning and of the University of Tennessee, Dunlap was inspired to leave the university $7 million through his estate to fund scholarships for outstanding students.
A native of Blount County, Tennessee, Fred Mason Roddy worked his way up from modest beginnings to earn a degree in mechanical engineering from UT in 1927. In 1939 he founded Cumberland Engineering Company, where he invented a machine for granulating, dicing, and pelletizing plastic, a new product that had just come on the market. Roddy’s company flourished along with the plastics industry. When he died in 1969, he left a generous bequest to the university to establish a scholarship endowment that has helped thousands of students of limited financial means to earn a college education.
And the latest visionary gift to the university comes from Knoxville civic leaders Jimmy and Dee Haslam who have committed $10 million to inspire excellence at the university’s flagship campus in Knoxville. Their gift will support two of the university’s nationally recognized programs, the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Forensic Anthropology Center, both in the College of Arts and Sciences. The new Haslam Scholars program will allow the university to compete for more of the nation’s most talented students with a generous scholarship that includes an international learning experience. The couple also established the Haslam Family Professorship and Chair Endowment.
Tennessee people making a difference for Tennessee people
Why are gifts from UT’s alumni, fans, and friends so important?
Most of the university’s most generous scholarships and professorships are funded by private gifts. For example, people whose lives have been touched by a particular disease or injury fund a significant portion of the university’s medical research. And why do higher education institutions conduct campaigns to raise private gifts for their students, faculty, and programs?
“While the top colleges and universities and the larger not-for-profit organizations are regularly engaged in seeking major gifts for their high-priority objectives, campaigns offer an opportunity to focus on the future in a meaningful way,” explains David Shufflebarger, the chief consigliere of the university’s comprehensive campaign and managing partner of Atlanta-based Alexander, Haas, Martin & Partners Inc.
“The best campaigns are grounded in the institution’s strategic plan and inspired by a vision of the wondrous things it can accomplish in partnership with philanthropy.”
Shufflebarger says there was speculation that comprehensive campaigns would become a thing of the past, but that proved to be an erroneous prediction. “Campaigns are enduring because they make a difference,” he says. “They are a force for renewing the institution and engaging all of its constituencies as partners in that exciting effort.”
As for UT’s campaign efforts, Henry Nemcik, vice-president for development and alumni affairs, says, “The University of Tennessee system receives funding from a variety of sources, and while the largest portions are through state support and tuition, private resources help create a culture of excellence.”
Campaigns have a number of purposes, Nemcik says. “One important aspect of a campaign is to clarify and affirm our mission. We seek excellence in our academic, research, and public-service efforts.”
Nemcik, who came to UT 2 years ago from Texas A&M, pays tribute to UT presidents Andy Holt, Ed Boling, and Joe Johnson and their staffs, who saw the need for a strong advancement program before most other institutions in the country. “The University of Tennessee was an early implementer of strong development and alumni affairs programs. The credit for early implementation goes to past leadership of the university,” Nemcik says.
“A campaign of this magnitude would not have been possible without the dedicated professionals in development and alumni affairs.”
As Nemcik sees it, success in any campaign begins when a student first walks on campus and has a wonderful experience thanks to the faculty and staff at each UT campus. A nurturing campus environment encourages alumni to consider making gifts later, he says.
“Higher education involves much more than the classes students take. Private resources allow students to travel overseas and experience other cultures. Gifts to the university provide funds for the operation of student clubs that enhance leadership skills, values, and ethical decision-making. The campaign is more than just raising money, it is â€˜raising’ programs that affect the faculty, students, and staff in a very profound way.”
The Campaign for Tennessee has already raised more than half its goal thanks to generous support from UT alumni and friends in Tennessee and around the world. These gifts will propel UT into the top tier of institutions of higher education.
Leaders in the Spotlight
A growing number of the university’s most active supporters and administrative staff are hard at work to ensure a firm foundation as the University of Tennessee prepares for the largest fundraising effort in its 213-year history, the Campaign for Tennessee. For when the university’s graduates, friends, and fans support the university with their time, involvement, and financial means, the state of Tennessee and its people benefit.
In the following profiles, you’ll meet a few of the volunteers and staff members involved in the university’s effort to play a more active role in the state’s economic development and secure UT’s place as one of the finest public higher-education institutions in the country.
These alumni and friends are working with President John Petersen, each campus’s administrative staff, and the university’s development and alumni affairs staff to ensure that the university has endowed funds to support scholarships; professorships; fellowships; medical, agricultural, and basic research; equipment and new facilities; and program enrichment.
Jim and Natalie Haslam. As retired CEO of Pilot Oil Corporation, Jim Haslam (Knoxville ’52) of Knoxville spends a lot of time supporting his favorite charitable organizations–and UT is at the top of that list. In addition to the $32.5-million commitment Jim and Natalie (Knoxville ’52) made to the university last year and the $5-million gift they announced in October 2007 to establish more top-notch scholarships and professorships, they tirelessly encourage others to join them in supporting the university.
“John Petersen and Henry Nemcik have asked me to visit with other alumni and friends to explain why Natalie and I made the commitment we did and how private giving can enhance the university,” Jim Haslam says. “I’m glad to do it.”
“The university has meant so much to us and our family. It has been a joy for us to be actively involved in the life of the university and encourage others to do the same,” Natalie Haslam says.
Nemcik, vice-president for development and alumni affairs, says, “Jim has been an incredible volunteer. He has gone on numerous visits to represent the University of Tennessee and helped the university receive gifts that account for millions of dollars in addition to his and Natalie’s commitment.”
Brenda Lawson, principal of Brenda Lawson & Associates LLC in Cleveland, Tennessee, is a passionate supporter of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and UT Knoxville athletics–so passionate that her name graces buildings on both campuses. But as a highly successful businesswoman, Lawson has also been very generous with her time and counsel, as well as her efforts to urge others to support the university.
“The University of Tennessee means so much to the people of this state,” Lawson says. “I want to do all I can to encourage people who care about the university to get involved and support its programs.”
“Brenda has been a tremendous leader in her giving, and she is always willing to get involved,” says Bob Lyon, vice-chancellor of university advancement at UTC. “Her advice on our fundraising efforts and her commitment to the success of this campaign have helped us lay the groundwork for a very exciting future.”
As a member of the university’s Board of Trustees and Development Council, Charlie Wharton (Knoxville ’65) gives a great deal of time and expertise to the University of Tennessee. It is a role he takes seriously.
“The university appreciates the counsel and leadership that the Board of Trustees and Development Council provide,” says Wharton. “My active involvement as a trustee and on the council has helped me better understand the workings of the university.”
Wharton, who is president and CEO of Poplar Creek Farms in Winchester, Tennessee, has agreed to serve on the campaign planning committee–a committee that will review, edit, and approve the strategic plan for all campaign operations.
Jimmy and Dee Haslam
Continuing the Haslam family’s tendency to lead by example, Jimmy Haslam, president and chief executive officer of Pilot Travel Centers, and Dee Bagwell Haslam (Knoxville ’86), CEO of RIVR Media, recently announced a $10-million commitment to benefit two of the university’s nationally recognized programs, the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the UT Forensic Anthropology Center, and to establish the university’s premier scholarship program and an endowment to fund professorships to recruit and retain outstanding faculty members. This busy couple not only chairs the Knoxville campus portion of the Campaign for Tennessee, Dee also chairs the UT Development Council, a group of alumni and friends of the university that promotes private gifts to all UT campuses and institutes.
“The students and faculty are what make UT strong, inviting, and vibrant. We are happy to create the Haslam Scholars program to give the university the tools it needs to compete for the nation’s best students,” says Jimmy Haslam. “It is our hope that the endowed professorships help the university attract leading scholars.”
Dee Haslam adds, “Our level of involvement in the Campaign for Tennessee is a reflection of how critical we think higher education is to the continued economic development of our state.”
Lew Dougherty and Ray Smith
Ray Smith, co-owner of Ray Smith Chevrolet, Buick, and Pontiac in Camden, Tennessee, and Lew Dougherty (Knoxville ’52, Health Science Center ’54), a retired dentist also of Camden, are co-chairs for the University of Tennessee at Martin campaign effort. The two lead a committee of volunteers that meets regularly to review prospects, fundraising, and case statements.
“This has been a wonderful experience to work with individuals who care passionately about supporting education in West Tennessee,” Daugherty says. “UT Martin is a special place, and I am excited about the potential impact that private giving will have on UT Martin’s students and the future of this campus.”
“This campaign is really about people making a difference for UT Martin both now and through the years ahead,” Smith says. “Giving to higher education is a gift that keeps giving as our students receive their education and go out to make a difference in the world.”
Chancellor Loren Crabtree
During this comprehensive fundraising campaign, Crabtree has shared his vision of the university: to take the best ideas coming from UT to the world and bring the world’s best ideas to UT. The chancellor’s Ready for the World initiative to ensure that UT’s students can compete in a diverse global economy has resonated with many of the university’s leadership donors.
“During my tenure at UT, it has been a privilege to talk with our alumni and friends about supporting UT with their charitable giving. My experience has shown me that these individuals have a real passion for the University of Tennessee and are interested in keeping the university moving toward greatness.”
Dean Bob Rider
As dean of UT Knoxville’s College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, Bob Rider is responsible both for ensuring that the college is preparing teachers who can inspire children who will be the leaders of the 21st century and for directing the educational mission for areas once included in the UT Knoxville College of Human Ecology. Rider leads the charge to establish priorities to review with prospective donors and then visits with them to talk about the many opportunities available to advance the college.
“The planning of a campaign provides a great avenue for deans to think strategically about how they can move their college from good to great through the powerful impact of philanthropy,” Rider says.
Susan Ballentine. The director of stewardship and donor recognition and a member of the UT staff since 1992, Ballentine (Knoxville ’76) has been a part of many signature events on UT’s Knoxville campus, but none as big as the campaign kickoff scheduled for April 2008.
“This event is especially exciting for me and my staff because it will highlight the role our donors are playing to support UT’s campuses across the state,” Ballentine says.