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KNOXVILLE — University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design students will benefit from a recent gift from national design firm Cooper Carry. The firm has pledged $25,000 to the college in memory of former senior associate and UT alumnus Thomas E. Robbins.

The endowment will establish travel scholarships for architecture students. The pledge is in addition to a $25,000 commitment by Greg Miller, Manny Dominguez and Angelo Carusi, all UT architecture graduates and colleagues at Cooper Carry in Atlanta. The gifts are part of the Campaign for Tennessee, a $1 billion fundraising effort, which was officially launched April 17 at UT.

Robbins began working for Cooper Carry after his UT graduation in 1971. He spent his entire architectural career there and was a key architect for Underground Atlanta along with other shopping malls and retail centers.

“Unlike most architects, he possessed very little ego about his craft,” said Angelo Carusi, principal at Cooper Carry, which also has offices in Virginia, New York and California. “He always showcased his jovial smile and looked for ways to help others, especially younger, less experienced staff members. He put his whole heart into his career.”

Robbins’ wife, Linda, described him as a rabid UT football fan who often visited Knoxville during the fall.

Robbins and his wife met in a high school history class and married in 1969. Their son, Wesley, is a recent UT graduate.

Robbins pressed upon Wesley the importance of gaining a higher education. “He always said having a college degree was the cornerstone of survival in the world. He would be honored to know that his love for education and UT has been remembered in an endowment. His legacy is still making an impact on the lives of architecture students at UT,” Linda Robbins said.

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.

The campaign, which launched its silent phase in 2005, will secure private gifts that, in turn, will contribute substantially to the distinct, but linked, campuses comprised by the University of Tennessee system. Funds raised through the campaign will directly support the objectives of UT’s strategic plan, as outlined by UT President John Petersen. Among those objectives are improved student access and success, research and economic development, outreach and globalization.

Chandra Harris-McCray, (865) 974-2899,

Beth Gladden, (865) 974-9008,