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KNOXVILLE –- With more than 1,100 eligible applicants, the selection process is now under way for the inaugural class of Haslam Scholars, a premier honors program that will offer unprecedented opportunities for 15 of the nation’s top students to attend the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The Haslam Scholars program is a top-tier program akin to the Jefferson Scholars Program at University of Virginia and the Morehead-Cain Scholars Program at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

“The Haslam Scholars program gives us a competitive advantage, not only for keeping our best and brightest Tennessee students in Tennessee, but also for drawing the best students from around the country,” Chancellor Loren Crabtree said.

“As UT Knoxville continues its growth as one our nation’s leading public research institutions, student quality has to be at the center,” he said. “Improving student quality already has been a driving force in improving our whole institution. A learning community of this caliber will help take us to the next level — establishing pre-eminence as a top research university and making the University of Tennessee a training ground for tomorrow’s leaders.”

The UT program was created with $2.5 million from Jimmy and Dee Haslam. Jimmy Haslam is president and CEO of Pilot Travel Centers. Dee Haslam is CEO of RIVR Media and also chairs the UT Development Council. The Haslams chair the Campaign for Tennessee for the Knoxville campus.

Jim and Natalie Haslam contributed an additional $2.5 million to support the program. Jim Haslam is chairman of the board of Pilot Travel Centers LLC and chairman of the board and president of Pilot Corp.

Steven P. Dandaneau, associate vice provost and director of University Honors, said there’s been tremendous interest from students nationwide.

“Preliminary interviews are under way and will continue until the Feb. 1 deadline. The selection committee will meet with the 25 finalists during the March 8 and 9 Haslam Scholars Program Interview Weekend, and the 15 inaugural Haslam Scholars will be announced on March 10,” Dandaneau said.

“As part of their interview experience, Haslam Scholar finalists will read and discuss Jonah Lehrer’s book, ‘Proust Was a Neuroscientist.’ Lehrer, a 25-year-old recent Rhodes Scholar and graduate of Columbia University, argues that the arts and sciences have much to learn from each other,” he said.

Selection criteria include scholastic achievement, leadership potential, maturity and seriousness of purpose, and special talents.

Haslam Scholars will be part of an intimate study group mentored by top UT faculty. Program benefits include a $1,500 laptop computer and a study-abroad experience valued at $4,000, as well as up to $5,500 to support a senior research thesis and travel to present their work.

Haslam Scholars also will receive the Chancellor’s scholarship -– now the top academic scholarship -– to cover tuition and fees, room and board, and other expenses.


Amy Blakely, (865) 974-5034,