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KNOXVILLE — An anonymous donor has made a $1 million challenge to raise money to provide financial assistance to students enrolled in the teacher internship program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The donor, a longtime supporter of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, has offered to give $1 million in memory of the late J. Clayton Arnold if the college can collect at least $1 million in contributions from other supporters.

The J. Clayton Arnold Challenge is based upon the inspiration of a man whose desire was “investing in the human race.” Arnold, a rural mail carrier in Williamson County, began providing financial assistance to students studying to be teachers in 1965. While Arnold only earned a $60-per-month salary and never attended college, he was a smart man who made investments throughout his 95 years. These investments allowed him to give UT Knoxville its first million-dollar gift.

“I am loyal to the human race. I believe it is capable of scarcely dreamed of development. Education has the most important role in the development. The responsibility for this development rests upon us,” Arnold said.

Arnold believed by investing in the preparation of teachers his gift could influence 25 million students: “Out of the fund I have set up, 5,000 students who are planning to be teachers can be helped in the next 50 years. If each of them influences 5,000 children, I feel that my money will help 25 million children.”

Even with his generous gift, Arnold was never content. Instead, he challenged UT alumni to help contribute to his efforts, which has resulted in large gains to the university’s annual giving program. In 2009, 82 teacher education interns received a J. Clayton Arnold Scholarship.

“The J. Clayton Arnold Challenge invites others to follow Arnold’s lead and make a transformational gift to honor a teacher who has touched their lives,” said Bob Rider, dean of the college. “The perfect way to do that is to nominate an educator for the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences’ Educators Hall of Honor.”

With a $1,000 contribution, a donor can nominate an educator for the Hall of Honor. For a contribution of $25,000 or more, a separate scholarship endowment fund will be established in the honoree’s or donor’s name.

The next group of Hall of Honor inductees will be announced during a ceremony on March 25.

To learn more about the Educators Hall of Honor and how to nominate someone, see:

“By making a charitable gift to the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, you are not only helping to meet the J. Clayton Arnold Challenge, but also making an investment in future educators whose impact will last beyond a lifetime,” Rider said

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,