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KNOXVILLE – The University of Tennessee today officially launched its ambitious $1 billion fundraising campaign to enhance programs of excellence at all of the university’s campuses and institutes.

UT President John Petersen
UT President John Petersen
The Campaign for Tennessee — the most ambitious effort in the university’s 214-year history — places UT among the ranks of the nation’s largest public and private institutions that have sought this level of private support.

Accompanied by Board of Trustees Vice Chair Andrea Loughry, UT President John Petersen announced at a gathering of campaign volunteers at Pratt Pavilion that $704,007,696 has been raised.

“This is a historic day for the University of Tennessee and a time to celebrate the university’s successes. We extend our thanks to the many volunteers and supporters who’ve helped us achieve this unprecedented amount,” said Petersen. “We also look forward to a continued momentum to further engage alumni and friends in achieving the university’s goals.”

The campaign seeks support for initiatives that impact student access and success, research, economic development, outreach and goals for globalization.

Jim Haslam, along with his wife, Natalie, and Brenda Lawson of Chattanooga serve as co-chairs of the Campaign for Tennessee.

“We have the distinct honor to be part of a powerful effort that will have an enormous impact on the state and its residents for many years to come,” said Jim Haslam, founder of Pilot Oil Corp. “Each day we have been reminded that the University of Tennessee family is a large one that extends all over the world. We have especially enjoyed meeting with supporters and learning more about the enduring connection that compels them to invest in the university’s future.”

Funds are raised through outright gifts and pledges, planned gifts and private grants for research.

Approximately 80 percent of the money raised to this point is from individuals and families, with 12 percent from corporations and 8 percent from foundations. The more than $700 million total involves gifts and pledges received from about 88,000 donors.

“Partnerships are the key to every strategic effort. Funds raised will enhance and supplement, but in no way supplant support from the state of Tennessee,” said Petersen. “Increasing private support, however, clearly demonstrates how much UT is valued by our citizens. That kind of success will encourage increased investment from all sources.”

Campaign priorities include endowed scholarships and professorships, chairs of excellence, building enhancements and other innovative faculty and student programs.

Traditionally — and in the case of the university’s $1 billion endowment — more than 98 percent of all gifts are restricted, meaning they are to be used for a specific scholarship, program or objective relating to the donor’s interest. Therefore, private dollars rarely are designated to cover the university’s operational costs, which rely on state support and tuition.

“In light of the increasing costs of a college education, scholarship gifts provide greater access for qualified students to attend UT. Gifts for faculty support enable the campuses and units to recruit and retain the very best faculty to offer the highest quality of education and student experience,” said Loughry.

Loughry noted that significant leadership gifts have enabled the campaign’s impressive progress, but stressed the need to engage many alumni and friends in the effort.

“Along with a wonderful way to connect to the university in an exciting initiative that will have a transformational impact, this opportunity drives home the point that support comes in many forms and that every gift counts and contributes to the long-term success of the university,” said Loughry.

Funds raised from the campaign also have gone to support the Min Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science building, now under construction, and the soon-to-open Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy — both on the Knoxville campus; the Brenda Lawson Student-Athlete Success Center at UT Chattanooga; and a large addition to the College of Veterinary Medicine’s small animal hospital recently named the John and Ann Tickle Small Animal Hospital. UT sports fans are already enjoying the Sherri Parker Lee Softball Stadium, the Regal Soccer Complex, the new Pratt Pavilion and the renovation to the historic Neyland Stadium — all funded solely from private dollars.

Public-private partnerships also will make possible a new state-of-the-art music building in Knoxville and the UT Martin Parsons Center in Decatur County.

Current, former and retired employees have contributed more than $48.7 million through the Family Campaign that was held in 2007. The effort involved gifts and pledges from more than 11,000 people. Employee giving has increased with participation rates of between 26 percent and 54 percent at UT’s campuses and units.

The announcement was followed by a celebration held at Thompson Boling Assembly Center and Arena and involved 800 invited guests and more than 400 students, faculty and staff. Representing campuses and institutes from across the state, the student programs were spotlighted throughout the evening.

For more information about the Campaign for Tennessee, please visit

Amy Blakely, UT media relations, (865) 974-5034 or (865) 789-1692

Beth Gladden, UT media relations, (865) 974-9008 or (865) 771-1284