Barge Design Solutions Endowed Scholarship at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
22 / August / 2017
It’s not uncommon for alumni to give back to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT), by establishing endowed scholarships.
What makes the new Barge Design Solutions Endowed Scholarship within UT’s Tickle College of Engineering so different is that it wasn’t just one person giving back, but 25 alumni representing seven colleges, who all now work for the company.
“We have a strong relationship with the company and their employees who have degrees from UT,” said Wayne Davis, dean of the college. “This scholarship is a testament of our relationship and their investment in the university.”
The idea came about during a 2016 meeting between Barge Design Solutions Chief Operating Officer Randy Ferguson and former executive Jim Downing, both UT graduates who earned their bachelor and master degrees in civil engineering in 1980 and ’84 and 1969 and ’74, respectively.
Ferguson took the idea to a committee of UT alumni, who thought that endowing a scholarship would be a great way to give back to their alma mater while at the same time raising the company’s profile in recruiting new UT graduates. The Board of Directors agreed, and chose the Tickle College of Engineering as the home for the new scholarship.
To support the effort, Barge Design Solutions authorized a matching contribution of up to $1,250 a year for every employee who participates with a gift or multi-year pledge.
Initially the goal was to begin offering the scholarship a few years from now. Due to the overwhelming response from its employees, however, the inaugural scholarship can be awarded beginning in the fall of 2018, far ahead of schedule.
“We are always seeking talented engineers and the competition for talent is only going to increase in the foreseeable future,” said Ferguson. “We hope that over time the Barge Design Solutions Endowed Scholarship will boost students’ awareness of the company and further entice future engineering graduates to join our employment ranks.”
As employees and retirees continue to support the endowment, its annual scholarship output will grow. All UT engineering students will be eligible to receive the scholarship, but preference will be granted to students with a demonstrated financial need.