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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Gifts to the University of Tennessee by Dwight and Gloria Kessel have gained the Knoxville couple membership in UT’s Founders Society, the university’s top gift club.

The Kessels recently made large gifts to UT-Knoxville’s College of Engineering and UT’s Institute for Public Service. In March they were recognized by IPS at an appreciation dinner for their gift to assist county governments in Tennessee.

“Dwight and Gloria Kessel do not seek attention for the many good deeds they do for this community and the University of Tennessee,” UT President Joe Johnson said. “Over the years, they have quietly supported the university with their gifts and their time.

“Their support helps push UT’s 21st Century Campaign toward its $308 million goal. We welcome them into that select group of friends we call Founders.”

Dwight Kessel, a 1950 UT-Knoxville industrial engineering graduate, was county executive of Knox County from 1980-1994.

“Our gifts follow a lesson learned as a child,” Kessel said. “We just want to share our good fortune with others. My parents fed about half the neighborhood during the Depression. We were raised to share whatever we had with others.”

The gift to the college of engineering will fund three professorships and establish the Dwight and Gloria Kessel Fellowship Fund to support graduate students and graduate student recruiting. A portion of the gift also can be used by the dean of engineering for special projects or for the purchase and maintenance of special equipment.

UT-Knoxville Chancellor Bill Snyder said the Kessels have supported the engineering college for nearly 30 years.

“There are no better friends of engineering than Dwight and Gloria,” Snyder said. “We will show our gratitude for their support to the college and the university by naming the auditorium in the new Science and Engineering Building for them.

“The greatest beneficiaries of their generosity, however, are the students and faculty at UT-Knoxville.”

The Kessels’ gift to the Institute for Public Service will provide special resources for the County Technical Assistance Service’s efforts to help county governments in the state, UT Vice President Sammie Lynn Puett said.

“Dwight and Gloria’s generous gift to the County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) also has provided an incentive for public officials and local government bodies to support the institute’s efforts to serve Tennesseans,” Puett said.

“We are proud to name the CTAS Special Projects Consultancy in their honor as a permanent reminder of Dwight’s 31 years of distinguished service to both city and county governments in our state.”

Dwight Kessel is president of Knox Air Inc., an aviation service company. He is a member of UT’s Development Council and will become its chairman July 1. He has chaired the Chancellor’s Associates, and he serves as a member of the college of engineering board of advisors and is the college’s 21st Century Campaign chair.

He is the recipient of the college’s Outstanding Industrial Engineering Alumnus award.