KNOXVILLE – The start of April marked a historic day for the College of Communication and Information (CCI) as it celebrated achievement of its $10 milliongoal for the Campaign for Tennessee. CCI officially surpassed its goal thanks to a gift from Leslie Linebaugh (B.S./ADVPR ’79), and thanks to the great support and sacrifice it received from all alumni, donors and friends since the campaign began in 2005. While some donors created endowed funds during the campaign, which will have a transformational and lasting impact on the college, other gifts will be used immediately to fund areas of greatest need. The entire campaign along with the dedication of the new CCI auditorium was celebrated on Friday, April 1, 2011. (See the figure below for how the campaign breaks down in terms of allocation of resources).
A lot has changed since CCI’s $10 million campaign goal was set in 2005 including a new dean, a changed student profile, and a much more challenging economy. Some were of the opinion that CCI would fail to reach its $10 million goal, but, thanks to a lot of hard work and the generosity of its donors, CCI is the sixth UTK college to reach its goal with 9 months remaining in the campaign. Several priorities were set for the campaign including the Take-A-Seat Campaign, initiated in 2007, to build a 98 seat auditorium in the Communications Building for large gatherings such as classes, faculty/staff and student organization meetings, guest speakers and symposia. To help fund the auditorium project, naming rights for each auditorium seat were set at $2,000. Those who “purchased” a seat were recognized with a plaque on the seat and on a larger plaque in the auditorium foyer. (Click here for more information about the Take-A-Seat Campaign, which still has a small number of seats available for purchase).
Speakers at the event included: UTK Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, CCI Board of Visitors Chair Mark McNeely (B.S./JEM ’69), CCI BOV member Carol Poston (B.S./ADVPR ’81), Peyton Manning (B.A./CS ’97), Greg Dowell (a CS senior) and CCI Dean Mike Wirth. Cheek thanked all the donors and shared his vision for making UTK a Top 25 public research university through UTK’s Journey to the Top 25 Initiative. He also indicated that, as state support of higher education has declined, UTK increasingly relies on support from private donors. McNeely discussed the importance of giving back to the university in terms of both time and financial resources. He challenged others to follow his example by offering financial support to the college in multiple ways. Poston spoke about the importance of giving back. She contrasted the experience she had as a ‘naïve freshman’ to the position she is now in to give back to the University. Manning offered comments via video that can be viewed here. He said he was pleased to join everyone as a donor to the college’s Campaign for Tennessee and he commended CCI Take-A-Seat Campaign donors for helping CCI expand and improve facilities that students use every day. Wirth closed the program by thanking all CCI donors for their support and by indicating that the college will continue reaching out to form stronger relationships with all of its alumni.