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Transformational Ties

A Landmark Gift

With a desire to see the upward movement continue, Natalie and Jim Haslam, Dee and Jimmy Haslam, and Crissy and Bill Haslam made an additional $40 million gift to the college in 2020 that seeks to attract excellent faculty hires, move diversity initiatives forward, increase undergraduate honors programming, and fund graduate student scholarships.

“Our entire family is so impressed with the progress the college has made in the last several years under Dean Steve Mangum’s excellent leadership,” says former Tennessee governor Bill Haslam, speaking on behalf of the Haslam family. “There’s a legitimate feeling inside the school and around the country that the Haslam College of Business is set to become one of America’s leading business schools.”

The six Haslam family members worked closely with Mangum and others within the college for several months to craft a specific plan for the new commitment. “We wanted to build on the momentum that’s here,” Jimmy Haslam says. “The progress the college has made over the last several years and its future potential make us excited and happy to do this.”

The timing was important to the Haslams because of current leadership at both the university and college levels. “We have excellent leaders right now with Chancellor Plowman, President Boyd, and Dean Mangum,” says Dee Haslam. “We feel that they will be able to take the university—and especially the Haslam College of Business—to heights that we cannot yet imagine.”

ATTRACTING WORLD-CLASS FACULTY

Hiring faculty members who are highly regarded in their fields was a priority for the previous gift, and it remains so in the latest Haslam family commitment. Recruiting such faculty from other universities requires incentives to draw them, such as endowed professorships and ample funding for summer research.

Over the past several years, the college has hired several outstanding faculty members known for their research and publications, including Linda Myers in accounting and Tim Pollock in entrepreneurship. (Read more about the impact of Myers and Pollock on page 24.) The new gift provides funding to hire a prominent faculty member in business analytics. “One of the things Dean Mangum has proven is that when you bring in world-class faculty, positive results follow,” says Bill. “He identified some specific positions that could be added to continue the school’s upward trajectory in rankings and reputation.”

The addition of “tent pole” faculty members creates energy and magnetism that helps the college attract more excellent faculty members and doctoral students. “They do great work that helps to build the college’s reputation,” says Charles Noble, associate dean for faculty and research. “The ability to hire a handful of them sprinkled across departments has been amazing.”

As the Haslam student body grows, the college also needs to hire more faculty members to help lower class sizes, ensure that students have access to individual attention and mentorship, and expand research output. The new gift will create a large number of additional professorships and chairs over the next five years.

BUILDING A DIVERSE, HIGH-POTENTIAL STUDENT BODY

Fostering diversity and inclusion in the college’s faculty and student body also is emphasized in the 2020 gift. “Our family firmly believes that public education is the most effective way to address inequality in our society,” Jim Haslam says. “We want to make certain that people from all types of backgrounds have the opportunity to get a high-quality education.”

The new gift’s diversity initiatives focus on Business Education for Talented Students (BETS), the college’s 12-day summer residential program designed to introduce rising high school seniors from diverse backgrounds to the various fields of business. “Through the addition of targeted scholarships, our goal is for more than half the students who complete BETS to return as Haslam students,” Jimmy says. “We’d love to see them graduate, start businesses, and succeed.” Making BETS a priority strengthens the college’s efforts toward recruitment, retention, education, and placement of underrepresented student populations.

“This focus on diversity and inclusion not only supports the college’s mission,” says Clarence Vaughn, director of Haslam’s office of diversity and community relations,“it also improves our communities as those students go back out into the world.”

In addition, the gift expands endowment-backed scholarships to attract top-tier graduate students and increases funding for undergraduate honors programming. Over time, the college will use the additional funding to extend access to honors-level business courses and programs such as Smith Global Leadership Scholars (GLS) and the Heath Integrated Business and Engineering Program (Heath IBEP). The target aims to increase undergraduate participation in honors programming to 10 percent of the student population by 2025.

PLANNING A WIDER IMPACT

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Chancellor Donde Plowman says having a named college such as Haslam boosts the reputation of the entire university. “When generous donors like the Haslams step forward, it not only ensures the college has the resources it needs to recruit the best students and faculty and conduct important research, it also inspires others to give across the institution,” Plowman says. “That’s how we build the momentum that can transform a university.”

The family also hopes its investment makes a profound regional impact. “One way to judge a business school is by the quality of jobs offered to its graduates, and by looking at where these men and women are five or 10 years from now,” Jim Haslam says. “The success of our graduates will directly impact the health of our communities and the state of Tennessee.”

Dean Steve Mangum is grateful for the Haslams’ remarkable dedication to the college. “They’re singularly focused on expanding high-quality educational opportunities that attract best-in-class student talent,” he says. “When we have excellent students and top-quality academic programs, we attract world-class business organizations to Tennessee because they benefit from the talent coming from our campus.”

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Haslam Magazine is the premier publication of the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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