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Barton Silver Shield Scholarship Endowment Announcement & Reception
Eric Barton poses for a photograph with representatives from law enforcement agencies during the Barton Silver Shield Scholarship Endowment announcement reception in the Student Union Ballroom on April 18, 2019. Photo by Steven Bridges

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has received a gift of $1 million from Eric W. Barton of Maryville, Tennessee, a former Marine who started several businesses serving the US Armed Forces in the Middle East.

The gift will create the Barton Silver Shield Scholarship Endowment to support future scholarships for children of law enforcement officers in nine counties in the Knoxville area (Knox, Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Grainger, Loudon, Morgan, Roane, and Union), with preference given to students pursuing an undergraduate degree with a concentration in law enforcement, intelligence, or forensics and to those with financial need. The scholarships will be available in several years.

In October 2018, Barton gave $3.145 million to UT’s School of Music.

“This gift, on top of Eric’s earlier gift, will make an enormous difference in the lives of many students at the University of Tennessee,” said Chancellor Wayne T. Davis. “UT continues to emphasize the importance of providing scholarships to worthy students. Gifts like this one help us fulfil our land-grant mission of making a UT education accessible to the young people in our state.”

At 43, Barton credits his deep desire to learn as much as he can to the divergent paths his life has taken and his appreciation for the value of education. In recent years, his activities in support of the Marine Corps Foundation have helped him get a sense of the sacrifices and needs of police officers and other first responders.

Raised in Sandoval, Illinois, he enlisted in the Marines out of high school, earning his bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University while in the military. Receiving a meritorious commission, he rose through the ranks from private to captain, serving as both an intelligence officer and sniper platoon commander during his 11-year career.

After the Marines, Barton found his niche in defense contracting, where he began as a project manager in Baghdad. He started several defense contracting companies based in East Tennessee. He is the recipient of the Blount Partnership’s Large Business of the Year and Philanthropist of the Year awards in 2014 and the Knoxville Chamber’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2015.

Barton’s Knoxville-based company, Vanquish Worldwide, provides contract support services to multiple US military bases as well as secure logistics in Afghanistan and the Middle East. Barton also owns the Tennessee Veterans Business Association, which hosts an annual veterans job fair each January.

In addition to his business savvy, Barton has an MPA in knowledge management from Walden University, an MBA from Trident University International, and a Master of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta. In 2016 he earned his Doctor of Business Administration in leadership from Walden. He is the proud father of five children ranging in ages from 16 to 25.

About Join the Journey

As UT Knoxville aspires to become a preeminent institution, the Join the Journey campaign is helping to position the university among the nation’s elite. The comprehensive fundraising campaign focuses on increasing support for undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, faculty support, college priorities, and athletic excellence. The funds raised are creating a student experience that reaches beyond the ordinary, shaping the next generation of leaders for the state, nation, and world.


Brooks Clark (865-974-5471,