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University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek announced today that more than 32,500 alumni, friends, students, parents, faculty, staff, and corporate partners invested more than $92.4 million in the university in 2012-13 through philanthropic gifts, pledges, and future commitments.

“UT alumni are passionate about their alma mater. We appreciate the investment of each of our donors who helped advance UT this past year,” said Cheek.

Of the $92.4 million total, $72 million was received in cash gifts, making cash gifts received up nearly $9 million from the previous year.

“Since the university set its sights to become a Top 25 research university, private support has helped enhance our student’s experience on campus,” said Cheek. “We have seen an increase in merit and financial based undergraduate scholarships, graduate assistantships, and faculty awards, professorships and chairs, through our faculty support challenge,” said Cheek.

UT has outlined four key fundraising initiatives to aid its Journey to the Top 25:

  • Boost the number of faculty chairs, professorships, and awards to attract and retain outstanding faculty who will proudly represent our campus, embrace our vision, and exemplify our values.
  • Increase financial and merit-based undergraduate scholarships to retain and graduate well-educated undergraduate students.
  • Improve the number of graduate scholarships and fellowships awarded each year to help increase and diversify graduate students who earn master’s and doctoral degrees.
  • Enlarge the resource base for each unit’s strategic priorities.

In July 2011, Chancellor Cheek announced the Chancellor’s Faculty Salary Support Challenge, a catalyst to retain and recruit outstanding faculty. The challenge offers immediate access to funding on all new gifts and five-year pledges to faculty awards, professorships, and chairs. It has already made a transformative impact with twenty-three faculty awards and professorships created in 2012-13 bringing the total to thirty-eight created since the challenge began.

“As an endowed professor, I get the chance to study neuroscience and its impact on children from birth to age three in an intense way that most social workers never have time to do. I am humbled by the opportunity, and I am determined to be worthy of it,” said Terri Combs-Orme, PhD, The Urban Child Institute Endowed Professor.

In addition to the faculty challenge, over $12.6 million was raised for new undergraduate scholarships, including $9.5 million for need-based scholarships, while $8.8 million has been raised for graduate student fellowships.

“Words cannot explain how thankful I am to have received the Tennessee Pledge Scholarship. Not only has receiving this scholarship allowed me to be a first-generation college student, but also proved to people who have doubted me that I can do anything I put my mind to,” said Tierra Palmer, a member of the class of 2015 and a Tennessee Pledge Scholarship recipient.

For fiscal year 2013, gifts under $500 totaled more than $3.76 million for the university.

“Every gift and every donor make a significant impact on the university,” said Cheek.