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UT Knoxville received nearly $235 million in private and corporate gifts last fiscal year, marking the most successful fundraising year in its history.

In fiscal year 2015, which ended June 30, more than 39,000 donors boosted private support by 79 percent over the previous year. UT received $131 million in fiscal year 2014. Each year, approximately 50 percent of all gifts UT receives are $100 or less.


Fundraising focuses on the university’s goal of becoming a Top 25 public research university by improving funding for faculty, scholarships and fellowships, and each college’s strategic priorities.

“We are grateful for the unprecedented level of support from all UT Volunteers,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “Our alumni, friends, and corporate partners believe in our potential and demonstrate that by investing in our journey to become a Top 25 public research university.”

It’s been a year filled with historic announcements and big milestones.

  • For the first time in its history, UT named a college in honor of an alumnus and donor. In October, the former College of Business Administration became the James A. Haslam II College of Business following a $50 million gift from the Haslam family. The college joined the ranks of top-caliber named business schools and is making large-scale investments in academic programs and student enrichment.
  • UT’s Family Campaign has received $1.34 million from faculty and staff in fiscal year 2015. The annual campaign has boosted employee participation to 50 percent and is creating a culture of philanthropy across the campus.
  • VOLstarter, UT’s crowdfunding site, received more than $57,000 for fifty-two projects that help students grow and improve the world around them. The site connects alumni and friends directly to the projects and the great work of UT students, faculty, and staff. Most gifts are $100 or less.
  • The annual Big Orange Give received more than $766,000 in just five days. Centered on UT’s spirit-infused Homecoming week, this online mini-campaign has broadened alumni engagement and support.
  • The Knoxville campus received support from 3,100 new donors last year and has added a total of 6,700 new donors since 2013.

Private support helps bridge the gap between state funding and tuition so UT remains affordable and accessible.

Close to $20 million was given for merit- and need-based undergraduate scholarships, and $10 million will help boost graduate enrollment through new fellowships and assistantships.

Supporters invested $30 million to create seventeen new faculty awards. Since 2011, seventy-three such awards have been created to help ensure students are taught by the most renowned scholars in their field.

Donors also helped broaden the resource base for nine colleges and other units by investing approximately $115 million for academic strategic priorities.

It’s been eight years since annual support for the campus approached $200 million. UT Knoxville received nearly $190 million in fiscal year 2007, during the statewide Campaign for Tennessee.

Scott Rabenold, vice chancellor for development and alumni affairs, said the level of excitement and engagement of alumni and friends is also at an all-time high.

“They are excited about the direction of the university, and their investments are making an enormous difference in shaping our success,” said Rabenold. “Every gift and every donor contribute to our goal of becoming an even better university.”