Anonymous Donors Pledge $50 Million, Largest Personal Gift in UT History

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The University of Tennessee announced at its Board of Trustees meeting Friday, that an anonymous pledge of $50 million has been received for the institution’s capital campaign, representing the largest personal gift in the history of the state’s flagship school.

The donors have notified UT President Dr. John Petersen that half the gift is to be targeted to specific initiatives in Veterinary Medicine and the College of Engineering, while the other half is to be designated for intercollegiate athletics, including the historic Neyland Stadium renovations.

The initial installment of the gift will be a $10 million grant. The additional $40 million will be in an estate gift funding specific programs and initiatives developed over time in the donors’ areas of interest.

“This is a tremendous validation of the good work already taking place on our campuses and a testament to the fact that private individuals recognize the power of philanthropy in impacting the future of UT and in turn the development of the entire state of Tennessee,” said Petersen.

The anonymous gift comes on the heels of Knoxville philanthropists Jim and Natalie Haslam’s earlier 2006 commitment of $32.5 million, the previous largest individual gift.

“Just as we hoped that our commitment would encourage others to support our great University, I’m sure that these anonymous donors would want someone else to come forward and eclipse even this incredible gift,” said Haslam.

In just 18 months, UT’s campaign, currently in the “silent phase,” has reaped commitments exceeding $400 million through October 2006. UT officials have not yet publicly announced a campaign goal.

“For UT to achieve its truly desired impact in the region, state and nation, private support will be essential, but it cannot replace state support in funding the operating requirements of the University,” said Petersen. “The entire University community salutes these visionary anonymous leaders who with this commitment have personally challenged the institution to continue to lead our state into the 21st century.”

In other action today, the board:

• Approved mid-year compensation plans for each campus and institute that includes varying combinations of merit and equity adjustments for faculty and staff that will take effect over the next several months. Campus administrators submitted proposals which will be funded solely through campus operating funds. For more info, visit http://chancellor.tennessee.edu/announcements/20061103.shtml.

• Approved operating budget and capital improvement requests for FY07-08 that have been submitted to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for consideration by the General Assembly in the 2007 session.

The top administrative request was $23.5 million for faculty and staff compensation. Noting that the faculty salaries are at 89 percent of UT’s peers and below the market average, Dr. Petersen said bringing salaries to a competitive level is a top priority. The request represents 5 percent of all salaries, which would create a pool, to allow campuses to distribute raises based on their own plans.

The request also asks for $8 million from the state to continue recruitment efforts to improve access and enhance diversity on each campus. These requests relate to the dissolution of the Geier Consent decree which provided designated state funds for recruitment and retention of African American students and faculty.

• Approved top capital outlay priorities for the 07-08 budget. Those include $30 million for a new Music Center on the Knoxville campus; $48 million for a new library building on the Chattanooga campus; $20.6 million for a new audiology and speech pathology clinic in Knoxville; and $9 million for additions and other improvements to the Veterinary Medicine Hospital on the Agricultural campus in Knoxville.

• Approved proposed revenue-funded projects that will be submitted for state approval, including the UTC’s Wellness Center Pool, a new residence hall on the Knoxville campus, a new Sorority Village as part of the Knoxville campus, the next phases of renovations to Neyland Stadium and additions to the business building on the Martin campus. These proposed projects are funded privately or through revenue generated from sources other than the state budget.

• Approved student fee increases to fund projects on student campuses including $40 per semester for UTC’s Wellness Center Pool, effective 2007; and $103 per semester for a new student recreation center on the Martin campus, which would take effect in the fall of 2009.

• Approved the renaming of the addition to the Claxton Education building in Knoxville to the David and Jane Bailey Education complex. The Baileys are Knoxville alumni and strong advocates for education in Tennessee.

Archived video of the board meeting is available here.


Contacts: Karen Collins (865-974-5186 or 865-216-6862)