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KNOXVILLE — The College of Education, Health and Human Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has received a gift of $2 million to open a center dedicated to helping students who are struggling in school.

The Korn Learning, Assessment and Social Skill (KLASS) Center will be named in honor of Tom and Pam Korn of Vonore.

The KLASS Center will provide services to students from preschool to college at UT, in the city and surrounding counties who need help mastering academic and social skills needed to succeed in school.

Faculty and doctoral students within the school psychology program in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling will begin to work in the center. The center will enhance outreach services the program already has in place with teachers and local school systems.

“I am grateful to Pam and Tom Korn for their incredible gift and support. This gift will make it possible to serve significant numbers of students who are at risk academically, both on and off campus, and in need of social skill development,” said Bob Rider, dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences.

“It is through the generosity of people like the Korns that we are better able to fulfill the mission of our college and the hopes of our faculty and students,” he said.

The Korns, who moved to East Tennessee from Memphis after retirement, understand the frustration often faced by students and parents. Their son, now an adult, has had to overcome learning disabilities.

“We wanted to help the university reach students who can easily fall through the cracks when they don’t get the assistance they need,” the Korns said. “We also hope the center will help future teachers and administrators become more aware of the needs of these students and of the best ways to help them.”

The KLASS Center also will serve as a research center where UT faculty and students can develop and evaluate services that build academic and social skills.

The center will be run by a director and an advisory group. It will be administered within the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling.

Steve McCallum, head of the department, said there are many goals for the center, including service delivery, training, outreach and research.

“We anticipate growing the KLASS Center through these activities and particularly through the pursuit of additional external funding. Revisit us in a few years and see our growth,” McCallum said.

UT officials hope the center can open a clinic where students could be tested and get help catching up to their peers.

“While many students have little trouble succeeding in school, a large number of students experience serious problems and some are identified as having disabilities,” said Chris Skinner, UT professor and coordinator of the school psychology program. “The earlier a child’s problems are identified and remediated, the more likely we are to prevent more serious problems later in life.”

The gift will be counted as part of the Campaign for Tennessee, a multiphase fund-raising effort that will extend through 2011.


Elizabeth Davis, UT media relations, (865) 974-5179,