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Surrounded by students, faculty, staff, and alumni, Chancellor Beverly Davenport of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, led the official launch of the university’s $1.1 billion Join the Journey campaign.

A crowd gathered at Strong Hall on Friday, September 22, to celebrate the historic milestone.

Davenport, who was joined by campaign co-chairs and alumni John and Ann Tickle, announced that $814 million has been raised since the campaign began its silent phase in January 2012.

“Because of the generosity and commitment of so many Volunteers, we are here and at this very point in time in our university’s history,” she said. “We are now focused on what it is going to take to get us over the finish line. I am certain that we will not only meet our goal, we will exceed it.”

So far 82,000 individual and corporate donors have given to the Join the Journey campaign. More than half of all gifts have been $100 or less.

“We have been fortunate to be a part of and bear witness to the phenomenal growth going on around campus, from dorms to new class spaces and facilities,” said John Tickle. “Those additions help attract the best and brightest students and faculty to the university, but they are only made possible by the generosity of those who have given back.”

The campaign focuses on undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, faculty support, athletics, and strategic unit priorities centered on each of the colleges’ large initiatives.

“An effort of this magnitude will forever change the university,” said Davenport. “It provides us all a chance to reconnect and engage with our alumni and friends and raise our profile for the great work that happens here every day. And it also gives us a chance to shine the spotlight on our students who want to change the world.”

Davenport said private funds are critical to fulfilling UT’s mission as a land-grant public research university.

“Private support helps us keep the overall cost of earning a degree affordable. It provides us with the resources we need to help our students graduate on time and land good jobs,” she said.

Since the silent phase began, UT Knoxville has grown its endowment from $442 million to $642 million. 

“When you think how the university was 218 years old in 2012 and had $440 million in its endowment, raising it to $642 million through this effort demonstrates how much Volunteers care about their university and its future,” said Chip Bryant, vice chancellor for development and alumni affairs for UT Knoxville.

Other campaign achievements reached to date include:

  • Designating the university’s first two named colleges—the Haslam College of Business and the Tickle College of Engineering—through landmark transformational gifts
  • Completing three of the four most successful fundraising years in the university’s history
  • Increasing the average annual number of donors by 10,000
  • Awarding 1,625 new undergraduate scholarships
  • Awarding 236 new graduate fellowships
  • Providing 132 new faculty awards to recruit and retain top scholars

Davenport said the campaign provides vital private resources and noted that the effort extends beyond fundraising. 

“This journey is an exciting adventure for all Volunteers. It creates a momentum that unites us all,” she told event attendees.

The celebration continued at a private event at the Knoxville Convention Center. The event featured interactive experiences featuring faculty and student projects and remarks from alumnus and honorary chair Peyton Manning.


Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,