Aug. 25, 2006
Cleveland, Tenn., Native Brenda Lawson has pledged $10 million to the University of Tennessee's $1 billion fundraising campaign.
Lawson's gift is part of the university's most ambitious capital campaign in its 212-year history. This statewide effort seeks to build on the foundation established in the university's two earlier campaigns. Lawson will serve with Jim and Natalie Haslam as co-chairs of the campaign.
The latest pledge brings Lawson's total commitment to the University of Tennessee to $10 million. Projects funded through Lawson's new pledge of $5 million include:
- $2.5 million for design and construction of the new basketball practice facility at UT-Knoxville;
- $1 million for renovations to Neyland Stadium;
- $500,000 to create the Brenda Lawson Women's Success Program Endowment at UT-Chattanooga;
- $250,000 for the UT-Chattanooga Chancellors Excellence Endowment; and
- $750,000 to create UT-Chattanooga Pedestrian Mall project.
"Brenda has been very generous to the University of Tennessee not only with her financial donations, but with her time as well," said University of Tennessee Dr. John Petersen. "She is an outstanding advocate for education and a staunch advocate for young women. She is a tremendous asset for the University of Tennessee."
In honor of Lawson's generosity to the university, the women's basketball practice gym in the Pratt Pavilion is being named in her honor.
"One of my greatest joys has been in inspiring young women to greater levels of accomplishment," said Pat Summitt, Lady Vols head basketball coach. "Having the name of one of Tennessee's great philanthropists, who just happens to be a woman, on the Lady Vol practice court should be another inspiration to young women."
Lawson previously executed pledges and gifts totaling more than $5 million to the UT-Chattanooga College of Business Administration, the UT-Chattanooga Department of Athletics, the UT-Knoxville Department of Athletics, the Lillie F. Fitzgerald Scholarship Endowment in the UT-Knoxville College of Education, Health and Human Services, the Toby and Brenda McKenzie Endowment in the UT-Knoxville College of Business Administration, and the Alliance of Women Philanthropists Endowment.
"Although I am not a graduate of UT, I became very interested in the university when I began coming to football games," said Lawson. "After we sold our first business, we started looking for areas to give back to the community, and education became my passion. I'm always looking for ways to influence young women to pursue their dreams."
An entrepreneur, Brenda Lawson has overseen the financial and organizational expansion of businesses that have extended into 17 states. She is a dedicated activist who is prompted by her love for education and the University of Tennessee system.
Lawson has a special place in her heart for education and has become a community advocate for several education focused programs in Tennessee. As a charter member of the Cleveland 100 Board, Lawson established a scholarship program that allows first responders or the children of first responders to afford a college education. She has served the University of Tennessee in many capacities including trustee of the University of Chattanooga Foundation, chair and founding member of the UT Alliance of Women Philanthropists' executive board, a member of the UT Development Council, a member of the executive committee for UT Athletics STEP-UP Campaign's, and an advisory board member for the UTC College of Business Administration.
In addition to her contributions to the University of Tennessee, Lawson serves as a member of the Bradley/Cleveland Public Education Foundation, the Cleveland Roundtable, National Women Business Owners, the United Way of Bradley County and the Cleveland//Bradley County Chamber of Commerce.