Advertising Professor Says Graduate Scholarship ‘Better Than a Diamond’

Sally and Jim McMillanGraduate students in the College of Communication & Information will have a new scholarship thanks to the generosity of Dr. Sally McMillan, associate professor and associate dean of the college, and her spouse, Dr. James Fields.

The $25,000 gift to the Family Campaign has endowed a fund to provide scholarships for graduate students in the college, which includes the schools of Advertising and Public Relations, Communication Studies, Information Sciences and Journalism and Electronic Media.

Their gift is part of the Campaign for Tennessee, a $1 billion fundraising effort that was officially launched on April 17 at the University of Tennessee.

Fields, a retired faculty member and department chair at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, used a temporary provision in federal law to transfer a tax-free withdrawal from his Individual Retirement Account in order to endow the Sally J. McMillan Graduate Scholarship in Communication & Information. A similar gift honoring him had created an endowed scholarship at UWEC and he was pleased to have this means to honor his wife in the same manner.

Both James and Sally recognized the need for more graduate scholarships in the college. The couple’s 25th wedding anniversary was an additional motivation for the gift. McMillan says that "the endowment is a much better gift than a new diamond."

The Campaign for Tennessee — the most ambitious effort in the university’s 214-year history — places UT among the ranks of the nation’s largest public and private institutions that have sought this level of private support.

The campaign, which launched its silent phase in 2005, will secure private gifts that, in turn, will contribute substantially to the distinct, but linked, campuses comprised by the University of Tennessee system. Funds raised through the campaign will directly support the objectives of UT’s strategic plan, as outlined by UT President John Petersen. Among those objectives are improved student access and success, research and economic development, outreach and globalization.