Skip to main content

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Join the Journey campaign closed in July with a record $1.33 billion in contributions, having exceeded its goal of $1.1 billion two years early. Launched in 2012, the campaign represents the most transformational fundraising effort in UT’s history.

The collective generosity of more than 114,000 donors, from all 50 states and 52 countries, made this historic accomplishment possible. These donors’ contributions—both large and small—have made a tremendous impact on the lives of UT students and faculty and the entire university community.

“I want to thank our alumni and donors for consistently demonstrating the Volunteer spirit and for having done so once again by making this historic campaign possible,” said Chancellor Donde Plowman. “The level of support they have given to UT’s students, faculty, and community is truly inspiring. Their generosity has a far-reaching impact that brings out the best in Knoxville, the state of Tennessee, and the world at large.”

During the campaign, 996 undergraduate scholarships and 320 graduate fellowships were established and 1,032 endowments created. Furthermore, 171 faculty awards, professorships, and chairs were established, and 4,844 student–athletes received financial support. Three colleges were named: the Haslam College of Business in 2014, the Tickle College of Engineering in 2016, and the Herbert College of Agriculture in 2018. Investment in unique programs and experiences has allowed UT’s colleges and campus units to thrive during a time when the needs of students, society, and employers are changing rapidly.

One highlight of the campaign is the consistent growth in UT’s day of giving, Big Orange Give, which has set new records each year. Big Orange Give benefits the university through gifts to any area of campus and matches from donors. UT faculty and staff have demonstrated their philanthropic support during the Big Orange Family Campaign, with participation growing from 16 percent in 2013 to 64 percent in 2020—the top rate in the Southeastern Conference.

“UT’s alumni and friends have always pushed through any number of circumstances with a sense of optimism and an unwavering commitment to others,” said Chip Bryant, vice chancellor for advancement. “The entire campus community is grateful for the many donors who made this campaign a historic success. Their investment in UT and the future of the state of Tennessee is a moving testament to what Volunteers can accomplish when they come together.”

Deanna Riley, a rising junior in neuroscience and Hispanic studies, has had the opportunity to participate in service–learning projects within the community with the help of donor support. “I’ll definitely look back on these four years with gratitude for the opportunities I received,” says Riley. “In return, I hope to be a UT alumna who helps strengthen her community.”


Mallorie Mendence (865-661-6302,