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KNOXVILLE — Prominent East Tennessee businessman Will Pugh recently was honored with the naming of the Will J. Pugh Classroom in the College of Business Administration’s new James A. Haslam II Business Building.

Pugh founded Pugh & Co. P.C., one of the area’s largest and most successful accounting firms, in 1969.

This gift is part of the Campaign for Tennessee, UT’s $1 billion fundraising effort.

“This classroom honors Will’s many years of unselfish service to his profession and community and gives students, faculty and others the opportunity to learn from his example,” said Larry Elmore, president of Pugh & Co. “Will has dedicated his life to improving accounting education and the accounting profession. Although born and raised in Alabama, Will has ‘bled orange’ since his 1961 graduation from the College of Business Administration. For more than 40 years, he has worked enthusiastically on behalf of students and professionals to improve the accounting profession.”

Pugh & Co. officers and friends of the firm donated more than $165,000, including $82,500 from the officers of the firm, to name a third-floor classroom in Pugh’s honor.

“I think it took less than five minutes to raise the money from the officers,” commented Elmore, who headed the internal fundraising effort.

Spearheading the community effort was Joe Johnson, UT president emeritus and lifetime member of the college’s Advisory Council to the Dean. Having known Pugh for more than 30 years, Johnson said that the advice, counsel and support that Pugh has given to the university has added untold value to its fundraising efforts.

“Raising money for this classroom was a very easy undertaking because of the high regard that the community has for Will as a person, professional and volunteer,” Johnson said. “This lasting tribute will continue to signify Will’s contributions to the profession of accounting.”

The fundraising efforts were done without Pugh’s knowledge.

“Will was so appreciative and humbled by our unanimous show of affection and support,” Elmore said. Attesting to the core values of the firm, many of the clients who joined Pugh & Co. at its beginning remain as clients today.

Pugh said he is very grateful to his colleagues and community for the honor.

“The Haslam Business Building is the most incredible educational facility I have ever seen,” he said. “It should attract the best and brightest to the college. The education I received at UT formed the foundation for my success, and I’m delighted to be associated with such a great institution.”

Pugh has served his profession and community in many capacities. He served for 18 years on the Tennessee State Board of Accountancy, and spent six of those years as its chairman. He also served on the boards of the Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. He has been involved with the Council of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and he has served on a number of civic, charitable and nonprofit boards.

Pugh helped draft changes to the Tennessee accountancy law that improved professional and ethical standards in the accounting profession that will benefit future generations.

The money raised will support technology in the Will J. Pugh Classroom and fund the Pugh Excellence in Accounting Endowment. This endowment, in addition to other endowments previously established by the firm, will support undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships and teaching assistantships, outstanding faculty awards for teaching/research efforts, technology and other functions related to the Department of Accounting and Information Management’s mission and operation.

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.


Cindy Raines, (865) 974-4359,