Fundraising plans remain in place to keep the UT Pride Center open

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Organizers of the 'Vol Means All' campaign that intends to permanently endow the LGBT Pride Center at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville have posted an update to supporters. The information is timely, given the controversial ouster of UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport

Chad Goldman is a UT-Knoxville alum and current California resident who took on the fundraising role when he learned the Pride Center was in jeopardy given its reliance on state funding. We reported earlier on the plan to fund the Pride Center, and also regarding the outcome from the first event which took place in Nashville.

The message references Davenport's termination and suggests that, if anything, the need to fund the endowment is even more urgent now. It also reviews fundraising events, including the kick-off in Nashville, and invites supporters to suggest further cities, particularly those with a substantial alumni population and influencers.

The message is here, in full:

 

“Vol Means All” Campaign Members,

Bonnie and I want to update you on the status of the campaign and where it’s headed.  Since the kickoff on February 1, our mission to permanently endow the UT Pride Center is on the right track.  Through events and social media outreach, we’ve raised well over $400,000 in gifts and pledges toward our goal of $3M.  Thanks to your support and generosity, we are closer to keeping the UT Pride Center in its rightful place on Rocky Top.  But now is not the time to take our foot off the accelerator.  Although our progress is encouraging, we still have much work to do.  Reaching $3M requires us to Give Our All so that LGBTQ+ students will forever have a place to go for guidance, fellowship, and belonging at the University of Tennessee.  With that Volunteer spirit in mind, these are the main things you should know as you help promote the campaign:

 

CHANCELLOR DAVENPORT

Some of you may be wondering about the future of the Vol Means All Campaign, given the changes in UT’s leadership.  We want to be clear: our campaign to fund the UT Pride Center will continue until we reach our goal.  This campaign has never been about any one administrator or leader at the university but rather about the students and their welfare.  If anything, Chancellor Davenport’s termination only underscores the urgency of our mission.  The students need us now more than ever.  We are very disappointed by President DiPietro’s decision, but we can’t let it discourage us.  So how does this impact our campaign?  It means we must privately fund the Pride Center sooner than later with an endowment that can’t be taken away, regardless of who sits in the President’s or Chancellor’s offices.  We’re optimistic that whoever succeeds Chancellor Davenport will at least tacitly support the Vol Means All Campaign.  Either way, we’re not stopping or changing course.

 

EVENTS

Our roadshow has been a hit!  Its success has only been possible thanks to the enthusiasm and generosity of each event’s host committee.  We started with a bang in Nashville at the home of Gary Bynum and Keith Durbin, where Chancellor Davenport spoke and some very large gift commitments were made.  Our next stop was Washington, DC, thanks to Ed Ingle generously offering event space at the Microsoft Office.  UT College of Arts & Sciences Dean Theresa Lee was the main speaker there, and we built significantly on the financial momentum we started in Nashville.  Atlanta was the next stop at the home of Joe Bechely and Alex Wan, where UT College of Law Dean Melanie Wilson spoke.  Once again, we raised another significant amount of money due to the generosity of those in attendance.  We plan to resume the events in the fall with a Knoxville fundraiser, possibly the week before the Tennessee/Florida football game.  We’re also considering an event in New York City after Knoxville.  We’re absolutely open to your suggestions about other possible cities we should visit.  Ideally, we’re looking for markets with a strong alumni presence and influential locals who are willing to participate in the host committee.

 

CONSIDER AN ANNUAL GIFT

Many of you have already given, and we are profoundly grateful for your donation.  No matter the size, every single gift makes a tangible impact.  To reach our goal of $3 million sooner than later, we’re encouraged to give the most we can.  Even a scarily big donation can be made a lot less scary when broken down into annual or monthly installments.  We’re ready to get creative to find a giving plan that works for you!  Please remember that all gifts to the endowment are specifically intended for the Pride Center and can’t be diverted.  Also remember that your gifts are tax deductible!  Just contact Mark Clark at mclark4@utk.edu to discuss the options.

 

SPREAD THE WORD

Please tell anyone who’ll listen to visit VolMeansAll.org and donate online!  We’re always on the lookout for advocates and new Vol Means All Campaign members.  We’ve also never met a reporter we didn’t like!  If you encounter any members of the media who would like to learn more about our efforts to save UT’s defunded Pride Center, please refer them to Bonnie or me!

We can’t thank you enough for your participation in this critical mission.  Without your financial support and advocacy, young LGBTQ+ students at UT would likely have no place to go during that challenging time.  Together we will reach our goal because we are Volunteers.  And Vol Means All!