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Jim GibsonA gift from a UT alumnus to the College of Engineering has created an endowed chair to focus on tackling today’s energy challenges.

The $1.5 million commitment from Jim Gibson, a 1971 graduate in industrial engineering, has established the Gibson Endowed Chair in Engineering.

With key faculty in multiple departments already working on leading-edge energy solutions, the Gibson Chair will be a senior-level professor who can augment current research collaborations and help the college create new clusters of strength. A national interdisciplinary search will begin immediately.

“This gift allows us to leverage funding for engineering provided in Governor Bill Haslam’s budget in a powerful way. The Gibson Endowed Chair will complement and expand our already considerable scope of work in the energy disciplines,” said Dean Wayne Davis. “I was very excited when Jim expressed this interest. His vision aligns perfectly with our goal to grow in areas of strength.”

Gibson owned and operated Gibson Tube, a company founded by his father that manufactures specialized tubing for the oil and gas industry. After selling the company in 1999, Gibson founded Pressure Tube Manufacturing LLC, which he later sold. A longtime supporter of UT, Gibson’s past gifts have gone to benefit the Jerry E. Stoneking engage Engineering Fundamentals Program, research projects, and construction of the John D. Tickle Engineering building, where the fifth-floor conference room is named in his honor.

“Over the past several years I have met some of UT’s incredible young graduate students and have seen their research presentations,” said Gibson. “Their enthusiasm and dedication give me great hope for the future. They inspire me, and my intent is to help the college bring in more great professors who will continue to inspire students.”

The Gibson Chair takes full advantage of UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek’s Faculty Support Challenge, a program that launched in 2011. Through the challenge, the chancellor’s office funds interest income immediately on all new gifts and five-year pledges that donors intend to establish over a period of time in support of faculty.

According to Dorothy Bryson, executive director of development for engineering, the challenge allows colleges to take advantage of gifts instantly.

“Many donors choose to make gifts over a period of three to five years,” said Bryson. “In the past, we would have to wait until the pledge was paid to begin the chair. Under the chancellor’s plan the funds are available immediately.”

“The ability to award a named endowment is significant,” said Davis. “It allows me, as dean, to recognize achievement of our stellar faculty or to hire a new faculty member at a higher level. I believe that inspires other faculty, too. These chairs, professorships, and faculty fellows are a signal that we are an institution that values teaching and research. We are a place where their careers can be launched and strongly nurtured. ”


Whitney Heins (865-974-5460,

Kim Cowart (865-974-0686,