By Chandra Harris-McCray
A 1956 alumni scholarship meant to cover books started a Tennessee tradition.
With in-state tuition at $159 back then, the $200 scholarship gave Byron Glass (Knoxville ’60) access to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. With the original faded typewriter scholarship letter—“an ego booster still”—in his hand, Byron remains in awe of his education close to six decades later.
His mechanical engineering degree, anything but a placeholder on an office wall, symbolizes what his father set out to do when he attended UT in the mid-’30s. And, after graduation, Byron’s degree opened the door to a 40-year career at aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney near West Palm, Florida.
“I was the first in my family to graduate from college,” Byron proudly declares. “But far from the last.”
A homecoming of sorts, 25 years later, in 1981, Byron’s son, Jim (Knoxville ’86), received a similar scholarship letter. This time, a dot-matrix printed letter announced Jim had won a $1,700 scholarship from the UT Alumni Association.
The legacy continued with Jim studying industrial engineering “at UT in Knoxville, the only school I ever wanted to go to,” Jim says.
A co-op engineering program at UT jump-started Jim’s career at Florida Power & Light. After working in several new technology arenas for about 20 years, Jim exchanged sandy beaches for the Scenic City to man the smart grid development, a fiber optics communications-based infrastructure, at EPB of Chattanooga.
“There is great pride and tradition in following in my father’s footsteps,” explains Jim, whose son, Drew, joined the UT Knoxville ranks last fall as a freshman.
Although he called Florida home for most of his life, Drew says he will always be a die-hard Tennessee Vols fan; it’s a friendly point of contention with his Gator-loving uncle (Byron’s other son, Randy, who graduated from the University of Florida).
Hardly a house divided, the Glass family is three generations deep and dedicated to UT.
“We are proof that any gift can make a lasting impact for generations to come. So it is paramount that we try to pay back for what we received,” says Byron, who makes it a point to plant financial seeds annually through the UTAA Fund for the Future alumni scholarship program to ensure “another engineering student has the same opportunity I did and that my son had, even if I am not a big giver.
“I owe at least that.”
Learn how you can have a transformative impact in the lives of students at any UT campus by visiting utaaconnect.com/give.