Skip to main content

The Development Council of the University of Tennessee presented four prestigious awards on Friday, October 2, during ceremonies at the Knoxville Marriott, honoring several outstanding individuals for their loyalty, commitment and enthusiasm for UT. More than 250 friends and supporters were in attendance including members of the UT Development Council, Interim President Jan Simek, students from the UT School of Music and the UT Pride of the Southland Marching Band.

The Development Council Service Award honored Charles and the late Julie Wharton. Created in 2007, the award is presented by the executive leadership committee of the Development Council to honor a current council member and recognizes an individual whose exceptional service to the university is helping to advance the institution and achieve excellence for our students, faculty and state. The Whartons have achieved all of these things and more through their years of dedication and support to the University of Tennessee.

The Whartons established the Wharton Professorship Awards several years ago to recognize exceptional College of Veterinary Medicine faculty performance in teaching, research and outreach, and to help encourage faculty retention at UT. The Charles and Julie Wharton Faculty Development Fund in the College of Veterinary Medicine also provides study and travel funds for faculty. The Whartons also have supported the College of Engineering.

Charles is a member of the university’s Board of Trustees, Foundation Board, Development Council, Agricultural Development Board and the UTSI Support Council. He is the chair of the executive committee for the Institute of Agriculture’s portion of The Campaign for Tennessee Steering Committee. He is a former member of the UT Alumni Association Board of Governors and a former chair of the Development Council. Julie was a founding member of the Alliance of Women Philanthropists and served as a longtime member of the UT College of Veterinary Medicine Board of Advisors. Sadly, Julie passed away last fall and is truly missed by the UT family.

The Whartons recently made a lead gift to the Institute of Agriculture within the university’s Campaign for Tennessee, designating the majority of the funds to the veterinary college. Charles lives in Winchester, Tenn., where he is president and CEO of Poplar Creek Farms.

The Philanthropists of the Year Award posthumously recognized Kathleen and Tom Elam. This award is given to a donor who has made a significant gift or gifts to the University of Tennessee. The award recognizes the profound impact a donor can have on the university and the lives of its students.

Tom Elam was appointed to the UT Board of Trustees in 1956. He identified so closely with UT and its board that in 1996, when his term was about to expire, the Tennessee General Assembly extended it to 2020, with the provision that should the seat become vacant, it would not be filled. He remained the senior member of the UT Board of Trustees until his death in 1998.

He served 42 years on the Board of Trustees and even longer on the Tennessee Athletics Board. In his hometown of Union City, Tenn., Elam was a respected attorney and businessman. Despite his decades of public service, his name may be best known because it is prominently displayed at Neyland Stadium.

The Elams supported many academic and athletic programs during their lifetimes. A generous $1 million contribution to UT Martin in 1996 coincided with the university’s naming of the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center in the couple’s honor. After her husband’s death, Ms. Elam continued her support to the university by giving nearly $1.9 million.

The UT Martin Skyhawk football program received more than $1.7 million of Mrs. Elam’s gifts. This included a $560,000 challenge gift to launch a private campaign to build the Bob Carroll Football Building located in the south end zone of Hardy M. Graham Stadium. The multipurpose room in the Bob Carroll Football Building was named the Kathleen H. Elam Room in her honor.

In addition to these gifts, Ms. Elam, who died in April, bequeathed most of her estate to UT Martin, UT Knoxville and UT Health Science Center. The bequest is the largest gift in UT Martin’s history.

The Jim and Natalie Presidential Medal was created to recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the University of Tennessee’s philanthropic efforts. Recipients of this honor must exhibit a distinguished record of supporting philanthropy at the university through exemplary giving, volunteer leadership and service. Other qualifications include a willingness and ability to motivate others to support the University of Tennessee, a lifelong devotion to UT and higher education and a personal history of integrity and excellence in all aspects of life.

This year’s award was presented to Pat Summitt. Not only is Summitt the all-time winningest coach (male or female) in the NCAA with more than 1,000 victories, she has brought home eight national championships and 27 Southeastern Conference tournament and regular season championships in her 35-year history as head coach of the Lady Vols. She is in the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She won a silver medal in the 1976 Olympics. Tennessee has made an unprecedented 27 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Sweet 16 and produced 12 Olympians, 19 Kodak All-Americans named to 33 teams, and 71 All-SEC performers.

Summitt’s favorite part of coaching is teaching. She teaches her players more than basketball. She has a 100 percent graduation rate for all Lady Vols who have completed their eligibility at Tennessee. She is a role model to countless young women, including her players, and she teaches the importance of community service.

She recently made a generous gift to support women’s basketball programs at UT Knoxville and UT Martin, where she received her undergraduate degree. Summitt credits her parents with teaching her the importance of giving back, and part of her gift establishes a scholarship in their names.

The fourth and final award presented, the Trustee Lifetime Leadership of the University of Tennessee Award, recognizes a man who has dedicated the greater part of his life to advancing educational excellence at the University of Tennessee. It honors former UT President, Ed Boling.

Ed Boling not only led the university during the time of its greatest expansion, he was his alma mater’s longest serving president, and has provided a firm foundation for the university’s current and future success. When UT President Andy Holt retired in 1970, the UT Board of Trustees asked Edward Boling to become its 17th president. Boling’s experience in state government proved to be a huge boon to the university as it enjoyed a time of expansion under his leadership and, despite the challenges of the early 1970s, great stability. Boling served as president from 1970 to 1988.

Born in Sevier County, Tenn., in 1922, Boling served his country in Europe during World War II and after returning home he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UT in 1948 and 1950, respectively. In 1961, he received his doctorate in education from Vanderbilt University.

Several buildings have been named for Boling and his wife, Carolyn Pierce Boling, including the home of the men’s and women’s basketball programs, the Thompson-Boling Assembly Center and Arena in Knoxville, which was dedicated in 1987; the 12-story Edward and Carolyn Boling Pavilion at the UT Medical Center in Knoxville, which became UT Hospital’s East Wing in 1984; the Edward J. and Carolyn P. Boling University Center, which was dedicated in April 1989 at UT Martin; and the Carolyn P. and Edward J. Boling Center for Child Developmental Disabilities was named at the UT Health Science Center in Memphis in 1988.

For the Bolings their true legacies are not buildings, but the lives changed due to their energy, intelligence, generosity and dedication. The Bolings have been leaders of the UT family for nearly 50 years. They have made generous gifts to support academic and athletic programs at UT.

To learn more about UT’s Development Council, visit