Margaret Kovach and Students

Funding the Future

Photo: UTAA Outstanding Faculty Award 2010 recipient Margaret Kovach, left, UC Foundation biological and environmental sciences professor at UT Chattanooga, is one of dozens of faculty members who has been honored with the $1,000 award stipend. A portion of these awards are generated from donations from alumni and friends for the Fund for the Future.

by Chandra Harris-McCray

Almost 30 years later, the lessons of Dr. Grady Bogue still resonate.

“He left an impression on me that still influences me,” says Debbie Ingram (Chattanooga ’84, Knoxville ’94) of the retired University of Tennessee, Knoxville, professor and higher education administrator who most recently served as UT Chattanooga’s interim chancellor and passed away in October 2013.

In hopes of validating the work of professors like Bogue, who are passionately and creatively serving their students, Ingram and her husband, David (Knoxville ’77), have invested in the UT Alumni Association outstanding faculty awards as well as career services.

“A quality education is dependent on great educators—they truly are the heart of the university,” says Ingram, UC Foundation professor and director of clinical education in the physical therapy program at UT Chattanooga. “The annual Alumni Outstanding Teacher Award is a meaningful way to recognize excellence in the classroom of all the campuses.”

The couple’s philanthropic seeds are sown with many others who believe in the alumni association’s mission of connecting and transforming the lives of students, faculty and more than 345,000 alumni around the world.

As an association that does not require membership dues, the UTAA relies on the generosity of investors like the Ingrams; Tim (Knoxville ’90) and Rebecca Bishop, who support legacy scholarships; and John Staley (Chattanooga ’93), who is loyal in offering his time and treasure along with his Champion Physical Therapy business partners Chris Robinson (Chattanooga ‘96) and Robb Seahorn (Health Science Center ‘94) to enhance career services. The newly created UTAA Legacy Scholarship (one of more than a dozen alumni scholarships that have benefitted thousands of students) celebrates the tradition of attending UT in succeeding generations.

“Keeping UT in the family” was one of the driving forces behind Tim and Rebecca Bishop’s choice to support the Legacy Scholarship. “Hopefully, we’ve begun planting the seed in students with these scholarships, and hopefully they will give back to the Legacy Scholarship so generations to come will continue to be impacted,” says Bishop, a former Board of Governors member who continues to be active in alumni boards in Johnson City and Sullivan County. The president of Kingsport’s Control Equipment Company says, “The scholarship is a spark that can lead a young person on a successful path.”

From creating an internship program for business students and speaking to classrooms to investing in and attending networking and career fairs, Staley, Robinson and Seahorn of Champion Physical Therapy are committed to giving back to their alma mater. Staley says, “The education afforded to us by UT has enabled us to pursue our career and financial goals as physical therapists and business owners.

“We also recognize that the university can provide the talent—from UT Knoxville undergraduates to third-year physical therapy students from UT Chattanooga or the Health Science Center—that will help foster a student’s career path and the growth of our company.”

Admittedly a bit biased, Staley says it is because of UT that he and his business partners have experienced success, and “we want to do our part in giving that back to other UT graduates.”

To learn more about how you can invest in UTAA programs, visit

Photo Credit: UT Chattanooga Office of University Relations