The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Pilot Company announced October 6 the naming of the Pilot Company Veteran Student Lounge, located in the UT Veterans Success Center.
As part of the naming, Pilot Company has established the Pilot Company Veterans Success Endowment to benefit the Veterans Success Center, which serves more than 1,200 students receiving US Department of Veterans Affairs benefits in a supportive and welcoming environment.
“Our Pilot team and guests, including many veterans and active-duty military members, have immense gratitude for our country’s service members,” said James A. Haslam II, a US Army veteran and founder of Pilot Company. “I started Pilot after graduating from the University of Tennessee and serving in the Army, and my entrepreneurial success is rooted strongly in the values and disciplines instilled in me both at UT and in the military. As these veterans transition to students and then build their careers, we believe in their unique potential to make deep and lasting impacts on their jobs and in their communities. We are honored to help provide the Pilot Company Veteran Student Lounge in the UT Veterans Success Center to support them in this journey and fuel their future success.”
Summer Roderick, a US Navy veteran studying supply chain management, said she uses the lounge in the Veterans Success Center on a daily basis.
“I am grateful for the recognition that UT and the Pilot Company have given in their time, effort, and financial support to the center,” Roderick said at the naming event. “This is a place where, when the campus seems so large and overwhelming, we as veterans can come together and have a common ground. It enables us to talk about our previous experiences, our future hopes and dreams, and where we all plan on going next. This support and recognition helps veterans know that, no matter what, we have a place to call home.”
The new naming and corporate support for the center come at a time when UT is increasingly being recognized as a veteran-friendly school. The university was recently named a 2021–22 Military Friendly Gold School, the highest designation granted by the Military Friendly website. UT is one of only 162 schools to receive the Gold award out of 1,200 that were evaluated. The university was also named a 2021–22 Military Spouse Friendly School.
Additionally, UT recently rose three spots to 45th among public institutions as a best college for veterans in the 2022 U.S. News and World Report undergraduate rankings.
“Thanks to the generosity of the Pilot Company and Haslam family, our student veterans have unparalleled opportunities to excel in academics, develop their leadership skills, and forge relationships that will last a lifetime,” said Chancellor Donde Plowman. “We are forever grateful for your dedication and commitment to our Volunteer community.”
The newly established Pilot Company Veterans Success Endowment is the first of its kind, said Jayetta Rogers, director of the Veterans Success Center.
“This generous support will allow us to create innovative programs for student veterans to enhance their academic experience and ease their transition from service member to student and beyond,” Rogers said. “The Veterans Success Center is here to help eliminate barriers to success. We engage our students in programming that will build upon their strengths and experiences and empower them to be successful both in and out of the classroom.”
Amber Williams, vice provost for student success, said private support of the center will help substantially in providing the best possible experience for veterans at UT.
“It’s an honor to elevate our veteran scholars’ voices through the Veterans Success Center,” Williams said. “The generosity of the Pilot Company and the Haslam family is the first step to enhancing each veteran scholar’s experience through customized academic resources that ensure their long-term success and well-being. Our scholars’ experience will be better because of their commitment to excellence and the opportunities they have at the University of Tennessee.”
Maddie Stephens (865-974-3993, firstname.lastname@example.org)