By Chandra Harris-McCray
She can claim three alma maters, but the one closest to Jennifer Stanley’s heart is the University of Tennessee. Wunderkind Stanley studied in London as a member of the first class of UT Knoxville’s Whittle Scholars. She received her master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science a year before graduating summa cum laude from UT Knoxville in 1995. Along with her bachelor’s degree in political science, she also had a coveted assignment at Oxford as one of 32 American Rhodes Scholars.
The senior marketing executive with McKinsey & Company has trotted the globe, managed her own business consulting firm, led the development of a global finance center and taught at UT Chattanooga, but what still matters most to her is giving back to the university that opened doors of opportunity for her.
For the next year, Stanley, who calls Chattanooga home, will take the helm as president of the 325,000-member UT Alumni Association. The presidency is a natural stepping stone for the devoted Volunteer who has served on the alumni association’s Women’s Council and Board of Governors as well as being active with the Hamilton County UT Alumni Chapter and the College of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors.
“This university is a phenomenal resource in our state,” Stanley says. “The combination of diverse resources and personal attention is pretty unique among large institutions.
“Other than marrying my husband [Trey Stanley, Knoxville ’95], the best decision I ever made was coming to UT,” says Stanley. “The people here are always looking out for you and your best interests.”
History professor emeritus Bruce Wheeler, law professor Otis Stephens and chancellor emeritus Bill Snyder cemented her educational path at UT Knoxville.
“Chancellor Snyder took a personal interest in me and helped me reach my goals and gain additional funding for my education,” she says. “Dr. Wheeler and Dr. Stephens encouraged me to work harder. They forced me to look beyond the short term and be bold.”
“They reached out to me, and now it’s my turn to reach out to someone else. As the alumni association president, I will ask other alums, ‘Who have you reached?’”