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KNOXVILLE — The president of the University of Tennessee-s National Alumni Association has issued an urgent call to approximately 200,000 alumni in the state.

Dr. Ronald Kirkland has asked members of the association to contact state legislators and express their concern about funding for UT.

“Your voice may be the one that makes a difference in the future of the University of Tennessee,” Kirkland wrote in a letter to alumni mailed this week.

Kirkland, a physician from Jackson, Tenn., said UT is at a crossroads “and will soon go down one of two paths.-

One, with the $53 million in new funding proposed by Gov. Don Sundquist, would allow UT “to become a top 25 public research university and contribute even more significantly to the economic development of our state.”

The other “less desirable” path would see UT continue to lose the brightest students and faculty, and the university would have fewer opportunities to foster new business in the state.

In their communications to legislators, alumni should stress the university-s commitment to wise stewardship, he said.

“Tell them that you understand their concerns about accountability, but you believe that President (J. Wade) Gilley has outlined a set of measures that will allow them to gauge the achievements that UT will realize through new funding.-

The UT National Alumni Association has more than 300,000 members worldwide.