CCI Board of Visitors member Alisa Harrison (BS/PR ’83) found a unique way to give back to CCI based on her own experiences as a student at UT. Harrison grew up in nearby Farragut, Tenn. Although she had enough funding from her parents and through working to pay for the basics, there were college experiences that were out of reach financially for Harrison and her family. As a result, some opportunities were simply not on her radar.
With her gift to the College of Communication and Information, Harrison hopes to change this dynamic for future students. “I believe a study abroad experience would have been a great benefit for my career,” said Harrison. “During my time at UT, I thought it was simply out of my reach. My parents were able to pay for tuition, books and campus living expenses for me and my three siblings, but there wasn’t money for the ‘extras’.”
“Giving to an enrichment fund is always a great option,” said Patrick Powell, development director for CCI. “Alisa felt strongly that she wanted her gift to be flexible and to inspire creative uses that could meet less obvious needs.”
By providing funds to the CCI Enrichment Fund, Harrison’s gifts can help students overcome hurdles to studying aboard or help supplement an internship enabling a student to accept an opportunity that would generate expenses the student wouldn’t otherwise be able to cover. The funds can also be used for needed technology or other tools. The Dean and the college administration determine the use of these less restricted funds.
“Each of the four schools and the college have enrichment funds,” says CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “These funds are used very carefully and judiciously to meet needs in areas that are not funded or which are underfunded. Gifts like Alisa’s allow us to help deserving students take advantage of unique learning opportunities such as study abroad or major market internships.”
Harrison is currently Senior Vice President of Communications and Marketing and Chief of Staff at the International Franchise Association in Washington DC. She previously worked for the National Cattlemen’s Association, the US Department of Agriculture and a DC public relations firm. Harrison credits the knowledge and confidence she gained while studying at UT with helping her ‘earn a seat at the table.’
“Our curriculum included the study of liberal arts, accounting, economics and other subjects beyond journalism and public relations,” said Harrison. “When I craft a message, develop a presentation or write a press release, all of my UT education comes into play. It was key to helping me understand the big picture.”
Whether it is educating a reporter or impacting the passage of a bill, she credits these skills with helping her to be successful. When Dean Wirth approached Harrison asking her to serve on the CCI Board of Visitors, her response was an enthusiastic ‘yes’! “I felt it was time to reconnect with my University and time to reconnect with Knoxville. I couldn’t wait to give back. I wanted to do more than simply write a check. I am absolutely thrilled to be in a position to give back to CCI with my ‘time, talent and treasure’ as Patrick Powell is always saying.”