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KNOXVILLE — Philanthropists Jim and Natalie Haslam of Knoxville have received the University of Tennessee’s inaugural Presidential Medal, which will bear their name.

On Thursday, the university announced the Haslams and the Haslam Family Foundation have given $32.5 million to UT, the largest gift ever to UT from individuals.

“Because of their very special relationship to the university, I’m proud to announce that we are establishing an award in honor of Jim and Natalie Haslam,” Petersen said. “This new medal will honor exemplary volunteerism and generosity on behalf of the University of Tennessee.”

The Jim and Natalie Haslam Presidential Medal will go to those who make extraordinary contributions to UT philanthropic efforts through exemplary giving, volunteer leadership and service. Other qualifications will include a willingness and ability to motivate others to support the university, a lifelong devotion to UT and higher education, and a personal history of integrity and excellence.

Petersen said the medal will be given from time to time as deemed appropriate.

“This won’t be an annual award —- it will be given only to individuals who demonstrate the high standard of public spiritedness and generosity exhibited by its namesakes.”

Jim Haslam is chairman of the board of Pilot Travel Centers LLC and chairman of the board and president of Pilot Corp., both headquartered in Knoxville. Natalie Haslam is a civic leader and champion of the arts. Both are 1952 UT graduates.

Jim Haslam has served on the UT Board of Trustees since 1980, but has said he will conclude his service when his term expires next year.

The Haslams’ $32.5 million gift will benefit the School of Music in the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business Administration, the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, the Athletic Department and the Haslam Endowment.

Contact: Beth Gladden, media relations (865-974-9008,