Mike & Pam Koban
Mike and Pam have supported education through their generosity to the Haslam College of Business.
A first-generation college graduate, Mike Koban (HCB, ’73) came from a family that valued education. “My grandparents were immigrants from Eastern Europe,” he says. “They never spoke English fluently, but they always wanted me to go to college.”
Mike’s parents, too, strongly supported his decision to attend the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in the fall of 1969.
Pam Koban (A&S, ’73) soon joined him, transferring from a small private all-female college in her home state of Colorado.
“He was already in love with the university and I fell in love with it too,” she says. “I have fond memories of sitting on the Hill at dusk with friends, playing the guitar and singing our alma mater. Moments like that stay with you all your life.”
Pam also came from a family that valued education. Her grandmother taught at a one-room schoolhouse in rural Colorado in the early 1900s, riding a horse to work each morning.
Mike received his bachelor’s degree in finance, and Pam graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. The pair married and moved to Memphis to be near Mike’s family, both attending graduate school there. They then relocated to Nashville, where Mike began working for Commerce Union Bank, but his path soon changed again.
“I landed a job with Hospital Corporation of America and worked there for eleven years until the company split into two parts in 1987,” says Mike.
He joined the new company, HealthTrust, as vice president of finance and later became a board member. After HealthTrust sold several years later, Mike decided to start his own hospital management company and later, a surgery center business.
Meanwhile, Pam worked for the University of Tennessee at Nashville for several years before joining the University of Tennessee System in Knoxville. Later, she also worked for the Tennessee Board of Regents system in Nashville.
“Having experience in both at that level was so enlightening,” Pam says. “I learned a great deal about the two systems, their differences and similarities.”
While at the Tennessee Board of Regents, Pam says she held the record for the most maternity leaves taken in the shortest time. “We had three children in three and a half years,” she laughs. “After that, I waved the white flag and decided to retire.”
Pam remained involved in her children’s and the state’s educational systems. She is a trustee at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville and three years ago, she was invited to serve a five-year term on the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
Mike and Pam also have supported education through their generosity to the Haslam College of Business. They named a classroom in the Haslam Building in honor of Mike’s great-grandfather and a team room for his father and grandfather, and created a scholarship bequest in addition to providing yearly support for cash award scholarships earmarked for students from rural areas.
“I want my classmates to consider that the passion you have for your work is the most important aspect of your job.”
“I count it as a privilege to help equip the next generation of managers with the knowledge they need to compete, lead and serve others.”