University of Tennessee

Alumni Honor Townsend With Accounting and Information Management Department’s First Endowed Chair

May 19, 2021

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business has announced the endowment of the Richard L. Townsend Accounting Chair. This is the first endowed chair for the college’s Department of Accounting and Information Management (AIM).

The endowment comes as the result of a grassroots fundraising campaign from former students of Richard (Dick) L. Townsend, professor emeritus. In 2009, hundreds of alumni contributed toward an endowment in honor of Townsend’s 42-year career at the university. That endowment grew quickly, and in 2015, the campaign committee organized a successful push to increase the endowment to fund a professorship. In 2020, a new campaign kicked off to upgrade the professorship to the AIM department’s first chair.

A chair, the highest faculty award a professor can hold, requires a minimum endowment of $2 million. To reach this goal, the campaign committee reached out to alumni for gifts of any size. PYA, helmed by president and CEO Marty Brown (HCB, ‘85), pledged a leadership gift of $100,000, while dozens of alumni contributed $5,000 or more. Because the endowed chair provides faculty support, an area of strategic priority for the college, these larger gifts qualified for one-to-one matching from the Haslam family.

A Legacy of Compassionate Leadership

When Marty Brown took his first accounting class from Townsend, he hadn’t decided what he wanted to do after graduation. Brown credits the professor’s skill at teaching complex accounting concepts to his students, as well as Townsend’s genuine compassion, with the introduction to his future career path.

“Dick Townsend has the unique ability to help students discover their talents and passions for the subject,” Brown said. “There are UT accounting grads all over the country who have benefited from his kindness and leadership.”

That legacy is why Brown felt it was important for PYA to lead the fundraising effort for the endowed chair. He said Townsend has had an impact on many of PYA’s partners and clients. The company regularly recruits Haslam’s AIM students.

“We’re so proud of the AIM program and what it has become over these last decades,” Brown said. “The current stewards of that department have benefited greatly from past leadership.”

Terry Neal, head of the Department of Accounting and Information Management, is the first person to hold the new chair.

“It would be hard to imagine another UT accounting faculty member who has impacted more students, accounting and otherwise, over their career than Dick Townsend,” Neal said. “We are very excited that our first chair in AIM is named after Dick, and we are so appreciative of the incredible number of his former students who have contributed to make the Richard L. Townsend Accounting Chair Endowment a reality.”

[Note: the above photo of Richard L. Townsend with Haslam alumni Jerry Bostelman and David Evans was taken in fall 2019.]

Stacy Estep, writer/publicist,