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KNOXVILLE — All great universities have at least one thing in common: a great faculty. And thanks to a recent gift, the College of Architecture and Design at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has a newly established professorship that will help bring prominent visiting faculty to campus.

The gift, from notable Knoxville architectural firm BarberMcMurry, has helped create the BarberMcMurry Visiting Professorship in Design. The funds, combined with a previous estate gift, have resulted in a $1 million endowment for the college.

The original estate gift was established in 1977 by Blanche Barber, wife of BarberMcMurry founder Charles Barber, to help build the UT architecture program in its early years. At that time, the program did not have its own building or a specialized architectural library. In the early 1980s, however, a new building was constructed by the university without the need to utilize the Barber gift. Later, library space dedicated to housing the art and architecture collections was established in Hoskins Library.

“Mrs. Barber’s original estate gift recognized pressing needs that the architecture program had at the time,” said Scott Wall, director of the School of Architecture. “Today, those needs no longer exist, but architecture and design has evolved, and the college has new needs.”

One of the college’s ongoing needs is for uniquely qualified teachers. Recognizing this, BarberMcMurry has responded with a significant pledge to be combined with the original Barber estate gift. The endowment, now devoted solely to establishing and supporting this professorship, is worth more than $1 million. Select nationally and internationally renowned design professors or practitioners will join the college each year to broaden the perspectives of students, faculty and the larger Knoxville community.

“We believe that transferring the balance of the original endowment to the new professorship fund would not only honor the original purpose of the endowment, but also would perpetuate it in a way more immediately relevant to the students’ educational needs, now and in the future,” said Kelly Headden, senior vice president at BarberMcMurry. “Our firm is honored to be involved in such a venture and believes that the Barbers would be equally proud of the positive impact it will have on students of the College of Architecture and Design.”

The college plans to select the first BarberMcMurry Professor for the 2011 spring semester. The visiting professor, chosen for a full academic year, will conduct seminars, design studios, workshops and other coursework.

“This professorship will help the College of Architecture and Design attract faculty who are at the top of their fields and puts us on par with other colleges on campus, as well as our peer institutions nationally,” said Wall, adding that through this professorship, the college also hopes to attract prominent architecture and design professionals as visiting faculty.

“Professionals are at the forefront of architectural and design innovations. This professorship provides an opportunity for students and professors to learn from and work alongside individuals who have incredible real-world experience and are on the cusp of the future of our professions.

“We are greatly appreciative of BarberMcMurry and its leadership, Chuck Griffin, Kelly Headden and Chad Boetger, for their active participation in bringing this opportunity to fruition,” Wall said. “The support of area firms and professionals is vital as we work to improve student success and expand faculty research.”

BarberMcMurry is Knoxville’s oldest architectural firm, with roots that can be traced back to 1888. The modern firm was established in 1915 by Charles Barber and Benjamin McMurry and continues to contribute award-winning works of architecture in both the community and the region. The firm has designed several of the most notable buildings on the UT Knoxville campus. Recent work includes Pratt Pavilion, TRECS, the Biotech Research Facility and the 11th Street Parking Garage. The firm also is currently an architectural partner in the design of the new Natalie Haslam Music Building, the Joint Institute for Advanced Materials and UT’s new University Center.

Gifts to UT Knoxville are part of UT’s $1 billion Campaign for Tennessee, of which the Knoxville campus goal is more than $600 million. The campaign will continue through December 2011 with particular emphasis on increasing the campus endowment to create more student scholarships, professorships, research opportunities and curriculum enhancements. Funds raised will directly impact UT Knoxville’s goal of becoming a Top 25 research university within 10 years.


Kristi Hintz (865-974-3993,