UT names business school for Jim Haslam after receiving $50 million gift from Haslam family

Associated Press

The University of Tennessee has named its College of Business Administration after Jim Haslam in recognition of a $50 million gift from the Haslam family.

The name change also recognizes Haslam's "lifetime of exemplary leadership, consistent adherence to strong core values, selfless service and passion for excellence," the UT Board of Trustees declared in the motion they approved Friday.

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Haslam, a UT alumnus, is the father of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, who is CEO of Pilot Flying J. The gift was from Jim Haslam and his wife, Natalie, their children and children's spouses, and their grandchildren and grandchildren's spouses.

The decision marks the first time the university has named a college in recognition of an alumnus and donor.

Officials at the Friday meeting said the distinction was well deserved.

"Probably of all the people I've ever known, he's the most committed person to a university that I've ever been in contact with," UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said of Haslam.

Haslam played tackle for the University of Tennessee under Gen. Robert R. Neyland before founding a business in 1958 that would become Pilot Flying J, the nation's largest diesel retailer.

UT President Joe DiPietro said the gift was the sort of thing that deans dream about, comparing Haslam and his wife to "our fairy godfather and godmother."

Haslam told the trustees that he hopes his gift inspires others.

"We need this to be a great university. The easiest way to increase money flowing into the coffers is by people giving gifts to this great university," he said.

Stephen Mangum is the dean of the newly minted James A. Haslam II College of Business. He said his goal is to make it one of the top 25 public business schools in the nation.

"It's extremely important that that name that goes above the door be a name that people can be proud of, that students can look up to and be inspired by that name," he said. "That's certainly the case today."