University of Tennessee President Dr. John Petersen and Chancellor Loren Crabtree announced Tuesday that head football coach Phillip Fulmer and his wife, Vicky, have committed $1 million to the University of Tennessee.
The donation to The Campaign for Tennessee represents one of the largest gifts by a coach and their family to their university. The gift, which will be split equally between academics and athletics, will be used to support scholarships, athletic facilities and programming.
Phillip Fulmer has been affiliated with the university for more than 30 years — as a student-athlete, a coach and a parent of four UT students.
The announcement was made as Fulmer begins his 15th year at the helm of the Tennessee Volunteers.
“Phillip and Vicky have always been great supporters of the University,” said Dr. John Petersen. “They approached us about making this donation several years ago, and we have been working over the summer to finalize their commitment. With the upcoming season and the anticipated announcement of our campaign in the spring, this is a great time for us to share the news of this commitment with alumni and friends.”
“Our family originally chose to make this donation anonymously,” said Vicky Fulmer. “After several discussions with the University, we were convinced that by making this announcement publicly and taking this leadership role, the University would benefit positively and others would be encouraged to make their own contributions.”
The Fulmers hope their gift will set an example for others.
“The fact that this gift goes to academics as well as athletics shows the Fulmers’ commitment to the important role of this great public institution,” said Crabtree, chancellor of the Knoxville campus. “We are very fortunate to have them as part of the University family.”
Funds raised through the Campaign for Tennessee - the most ambitious in its 200 year history - will support the objectives of strategic initiatives for student access and success, research and economic development, and outreach and globalization. The multi-year effort began its silent phase in 2005 and has brought record setting gifts for all campuses and units of the university.
As with most gifts of this size, the Fulmers will fulfill their commitment with a combination of current and planned gifts.
“Vicky and I have been trying to find a way to demonstrate our affinity for the University for several years. After talking with Jimmy and Dee (Haslam) and Dr. Johnson, we decided we wanted our donation to impact academics just as much as athletics,” said coach Phillip Fulmer. “We hope this gift will allow the University to continue to excel in both areas.”
He continued, “Everyone knows about the sacrifice and commitment of all who have worn the orange and white as players or coaches that have represented our wonderful University on the playing field. This donation will in part be to honor the sacrifices of the wives and families who have stood by these coaches.”
“My wife, who has stood by me as I have worked incredible hours, been away from home for long periods of time, often put other peoples’ children first, and sacrificed her own wants and needs, all the while never missing an opportunity to hug a player’s neck or provide an encouraging word to a player or coach when one was needed, has been my confidant for years. She has been strong for me when I needed her most, a loyal wife, and a wonderful mother to our children,” Fulmer said of his wife Vicky.
Fulmer added, “In honor of her dedication and loyalty to me and the University, a fund will be started in her name to support work with obese children, an area she has a long and heartfelt commitment for.”
Vicky Fulmer added, “The University of Tennessee has been Phillip’s heart and soul for most of his life. We’re blessed to be in a position that allows us to do this.”
Phillip and Vicky have one son and three daughters. Phillip Jr., 37; Courtney, 24 who graduated from UT with a bachelor’s degree in communications studies; Brittany, 22, a senior on the Lady Vol diving team will receive her degree in communications studies in December of 2007; and Allison, 20, a junior on the Lady Vol softball team majoring in business.
A native of Winchester, Tenn., Fulmer was an offensive lineman at UT from 1968-1971. He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in history in 1972.
During his coaching career, Fulmer spent five years at Wichita State and one year at Vanderbilt before rejoining the Tennessee staff in 1980 as an assistant coach. He became Tennessee’s 20th head football coach in 1992.
The dean of Southeastern Conference coaches, Fulmer has claimed a national championship, two conference titles and six divisional crowns while winning better than three-quarters of his games. He also retains his rank atop the winning percentage list for coaches with at least 10 years experience in Division I-A.
The Campaign for Tennessee is a multiphase fundraising effort that will extend through 2011. This seven-year campaign, which launched its silent phase in 2005, will secure private gifts that, in turn, will contribute substantially to the distinct, but linked, campuses comprised by the University of Tennessee system. Funds raised through the campaign will directly support the objectives of UT’s strategic plan, as outlined by UT President Dr. John Petersen. Among those objectives are improved student access and success, research and economic development, outreach and globalization.
The campaign goal is the most ambitious in UT’s 200-plus-year history, and the university is calling on each of its alumni and friends to support the institution through outright annual and major gifts as well as estate-planning gifts.