News from The Foundation

June 2020 Board of Directors Meeting Overview

The UT Foundation Board of Directors held its annual meeting on June 12, 2020. Following continued guidance by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding COVID-19 and in compliance with the Tennessee Pledge and local guidelines, the meeting was held virtually. An overview of the meeting is below, and includes key action items voted on by the board.

University President Remarks

University of Tennessee System President Randy Boyd updated the Board on the current status of UT campuses related to COVID-19 and diversity and inclusion. In regards to COVID-19, preparations for the fall semester are underway, which include steps to manage risk and make the campuses as safe as possible. In addition, Boyd explained the budgetary impact the pandemic created, but that state funding for UT is proposed to stay relatively flat.

President Boyd committed the UT System to action and to be a beacon of light as the world progresses to a better future in diversity and inclusion. This adversity and the way UT rises to this challenge will help lead it into the greatest decade of its history.

Foundation President Report

UT Foundation President Kerry Witcher presented an update on fiscal year 2020 goals and the impact COVID-19 has had on fundraising. As a country, the percentage of Americans donating to charity has hit a new low of 73 percent. The prior low was 79 percent in 2009. UTFI has experienced this change, alongside other higher education foundations and nonprofit organizations in general. As of May 31, 2020, UTFI is 87 percent to the fundraising goal of $207,774,147 for fiscal year 2020. Collectively, UTFI has reached 58,811 donors, and is 88.6 percent to goal. Alumni engagement numbers have surpassed the goal of 210,740, and is currently at 103 percent. Advocacy Network has also surpassed the initial goal, and 673 new members is 149.6 percent to goal.

COVID has shifted the way we work, and while there are shortfalls towards our goals, President Witcher also pointed out some of the positives coming from this challenging time. Contact with donors is up 74 percent, and over $400,000 has been raised for student emergency funds. The alumni staff on each campus has created new ways to engage alumni through digital strategies, and UT Martin recently held a record breaking fundraising campaign through their annual Captain’s Challenge.

President Witcher spoke on the year ahead and how the UT Foundation will find normalcy again, while also adopting new ways of doing things that we learned during the pandemic.

Fiscal Year 2021 Draft Budget Presented

UT Foundation CFO Adam Heller presented the fiscal year 2021 draft budget, which was approved by the board. The draft budget assumes that university direct support is not reduced, however, various levels of contingency planning have been completed to sustain fiscal year 2021 budgets at full personnel and operating levels if state appropriations are reduced. If changes occur, the board will reconvene to approve an updated budget.

Appointment of Assistant Treasurer

Pursuant to Article V, Section 2.7 of the Foundation Bylaws, the Board of Directors may appoint one or more assistant treasurers. This position will assume the duties of the treasurer and CFO of the UT Foundation in the absence or inability of the treasurer and CFO.

Mary Carr McDonald, controller of the University of Tennessee System has been approved by the board to serve in this role.

Board Member Updates

John Staley (Chattanooga ’93) finished his term on the UTFI Board of Directors with today’s meeting. Staley is the past-president of the UT Alumni Association, and serves as their representative.
Tim Tucker (Health Science Center ’88) will begin serving as the UTAA representative on July 1, 2020.


Election of Board Officers

Michael Littlejohn (Knoxville ’73) wraps up his term as board chair on June 30, 2020.
Phil Wenk (Knoxville ’73, Health Science Center ’77) will begin his term as chair on July 1, 2020.
Ronald Frieson (Knoxville ’81) was elected to serve as vice-chair, and will become chair of the UTFI Board of Directors on July 1, 2022.

The next meeting of the UT Foundation Board of Directors will take place on October 22-23, 2020 in Knoxville, TN.