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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — NationsBank Tennessee is contributing $500,000 to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville College of Business Administration, officials announced Wednesday.

Doyle Rippee, president of NationsBank Tennessee, said the $500,000 commitment would fund leadership awards for faculty and students and help meet the Department of Finance’s technology needs.

”This commitment underscores our support of higher education,” Rippee said. ”We are fortunate to have one of the leading business schools in the country here in Tennessee.

”NationsBank recruits UT-Knoxville graduates and we want to ensure that these future associates are provided the best education possible.”

Rippee said the commitment is designated as follows: $100,000 for the NationsBank Student Leadership Award Endowment; $150,000 for the NationsBank Faculty Leadership Scholar Endowment; and $250,000 for the NationsBank Technology Endowment in Finance.

UT President Joe Johnson said the NationsBank gift adds to the university’s five-year 21st Century Campaign, which has raised more than $400 million in gifts and pledges.

”NationsBank’s generous gift will touch the lives of students and faculty in one of the nation’s truly elite business schools,” Johnson said. ”We are grateful for the bank’s support, leadership and friendship.”

UT-Knoxville Chancellor Bill Snyder said the private support of NationsBank is welcomed and appreciated.

”NationsBank understands the University’s desire to provide a superb higher education experience,” Snyder said. ”We are glad to have the bank’s help.”

Dr. Warren Neel, dean of the business college, said the student and faculty awards would encourage development of leadership skills.

”It is important to recognize and reward those students and faculty who excel in leadership,” Neel said. ”Leadership is key to the success of any institution or organization.”

The student leadership endowment will provide annual monetary awards to two undergraduate students and three graduate students selected by a committee of faculty and students, Neel said.

The faculty endowment will provide an annual NationsBank Faculty Leadership Medal and a $5,000 award to a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in leadership through teaching, research and public service, Neel said.

Dr. James Wansley, head of the finance department, said the technology fund would have a direct impact on student preparation for employment.

”The fund will provide technology for students and faculty that will better prepare students for the workforce,” Wansley said.

The fund could be used to purchase computer hardware or software, subscriptions to databases and on-line media, or for technology to deliver teleconferences or on-line discussion groups, Wansley said.

NationsBank Corporation, with $315 billion in assets and full-service operations in 16 states and the District of Columbia, is the third largest U.S. bank. It provides financial products and services to more than 18 million households and one million businesses as well as institutional investors and government agencies in 46 states and major world markets. The company’s shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.