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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee had a record $82.3 million in contributions last year, and officials say they could not have come at a better time.

The money represents actual dollars received by UT in the 1998-99 fiscal year and does not include pledges.

For a university that received virtually no increase in state funding, the gift funds help recruit and retain students and faculty and provide a quality boost to other programs, UT President J. Wade Gilley said.

In addition to a $12.8 million increase over the previous year, the number of contributors was up nearly 3,000 to 58,065.

UT-Knoxville received $42.6 million, an increase of $4.3 million.

“One of my most pleasant discoveries at UT is the depth of affection its graduates and friends have for their university,” said Gilley, who assumed the UT presidency Aug. 1.

“It is remarkable that approximately 20 percent of the alumni participate in the Annual Giving Program.”

Gilley said there is another message in the record totals.

“Donors are doing their share, so are students through their tuition and so are faculty through their continued commitments to quality,” Gilley said. “But state funds for very basic services are being cut.”

Contributions from individual alumni and friends of up to $10,000 are included in the UT National Alumni Association’s Annual Giving Program. It received $17.6 million from 53,700 donors, up $2.3 million from a year ago.

Both the number of donors and dollars to Annual Giving are records for the 37-year-old program.

Dr. Bill Snyder, chancellor, said contributions cannot and should not replace public funds, but they represent a needed vote of confidence from alumni and friends. Gift funds for scholarships, faculty enrichment and the library are of great value when there are no increases in state appropriations, he said.

He cited as an example two endowment funds that are providing nearly $200,000 for stipends for more than 30 graduate students.

Gift money also supports many of UT’s academic scholarship programs.

Totals for other UT units are:
*UT-Chattanooga, $7.4 million.
*UT-Martin, $3.1 million.
*UT-Memphis, $12 million
*UT Medical Center in Knoxville, $3.5 million.
*UT Space Institute, $914,000.
*UT Agriculture Institute, $5.2 million.
*Institute for Public Service and Continuing Education, $466,000.
*General university gifts, $7.2 million.

The above list totals more than $82 million because some gifts to agriculture are counted both by the Institute of Agriculture and UT-Knoxville’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

“Immediately following a major campaign, there is usually a slight drop in private giving totals,” Jack Williams, vice president for development and alumni affairs, said. “These record totals are a tribute to our alumni, friends and the volunteers who work on the university’s behalf to raise this money.”

UT’s five-year, 21st Century Campaign ended last October after raising $434 million. The original campaign goal was $250 million.