UT Sets Another Gifts Record, Won’t Solve Funding Woes

KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee has set another private giving record but gift dollars won’t solve UT’s funding problems, Eli Fly has told state leaders.

UT’s campuses and institutes received nearly $95 million, an increase of $12 million over the previous year. The funds come from more than 54,000 donors.

Fly, acting UT president, said in a letter to Tennessee legislative leaders that alumni and friends have made a commitment to UT, and the state needs to do the same. He praised the leadership of Charles Wharton of Los Angeles, chairman of the UT Development Council, and Lynn Fain of Knoxville, who is leading UT’s Annual Giving Program.

“Our donors have made investments in our future. We urgently need a similar infusion from the state,” he said.

Private gifts cannot make up for the lack of new state funding for strapped operating budgets, Fly said. “We continue to cope with staggering increases in fixed costs like utilities and the prospects of another postal rate increase.”

While the gift total is about 10 percent of UT’s nearly $900 million annual budget, approximately 97 percent is designated by donors for scholarships, equipment purchases, faculty development, the library and other programs, Fly said. UT administrators only have about $3 million in unrestricted funds that can be applied to areas of greatest need, he said.

Checks and cash made up $58 million of the total, securities $11 million, and gifts in kind — real estate, art, software and other items — $26 million.

Two-thirds ($63 million) of the dollars were designated for UT in Knoxville. Another $4.5 million was pledged to the Institute of Agriculture.

The Health Science Center in Memphis received $10.2 million; UT-Chattanooga, $10.7 million; UT Medical Center at Knoxville, $4 million; UT-Martin, $1.8 million; University -wide administration, $1.4 million, Institute for Public Service, $400,000; and UT Space Institute, $67,000.

UT’s fund raising program has grown from $2 million annually when it was founded in the early 1960s to its current total of nearly $100 million. The university’s endowment is approximately $675 million.