Johnsons Establish UT Endowment

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A University of Tennessee trustee and his wife are the latest 21st Century Campaign donors to establish an endowment fund for UT students and faculty.

Bill and Rena Johnson of Sparta have made a gift of $100,000 to UT-Knoxville’s library, history department, and the football program. Bill Johnson, co-captain of UT’s 1957 team, All-America guard and a UT Torchbearer, has been a member of the UT board of trustees since 1975.

“Bill and Rena Johnson have been setting examples for us for many, many years,” UT President Joe Johnson said. “The University of Tennessee counts them among our warmest friends.

“Bill was a leader in the classroom, on campus and on the field while he was a student. He and Rena became active in the alumni association upon graduation. As a trustee, he has been an effective advocate for his university, and Rena has provided strong support and service on the alumni association’s Women’s Council.

“In typical fashion, they are providing leadership to our 21st Century Campaign.”

Bill and Rena Johnson stipulated that half of the returns from their endowment go to the football program. The other half of the annual income will be available to the heads of the history department and library to support projects that will benefit students and faculty.

“We are heartened by generous gifts like this one,” UT-Knoxville Chancellor Bill Snyder said. “In addition to their support of the Vols, the Johnsons’ gift recognizes two eminent and deserving academic programs.

“Gifts to the library benefit the entire campus community.”

After earning a degree in finance in 1958, Bill Johnson served in the Army as a first lieutenant. He returned to his hometown and for many years was with the Dominion Bank in Sparta. He was elected director of the bank in 1963 and president six years later. He became a director and vice chairman of the board of Dominion Bank of Middle Tennessee in 1988.

He served as vice chairman of the UT trustees from 1987 to 1991. He was inducted into Tennessee’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1979.

Rena Johnson graduated from UT-Knoxville’s College of Liberal Arts in 1959.

Contact: John Sheridan (423-974-2115)

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