UT Martin Receives Largest Gift in UT System’s History

Featured image: From left, Kerry Witcher, UT vice president for development and alumni affairs; Randy Boyd, UT System president; Melanie Smith Taylor, Wildwood Farm; and Keith Carver, UT Martin chancellor, prepare to sign the letter of intent that outlines the agreement for transfer of Wildwood Farm to UT Martin upon Taylor’s death. The gift is the largest single gift in UT System’s history.

UT Martin received the largest single gift in UT System’s history when Melanie Smith Taylor and her family announced that Wildwood Farm in Germantown will be transferred to the university upon her death. The $79.5 million gift will allow UT Martin to increase educational program offerings in veterinary health technology and other agricultural disciplines in the near future. The gift also will provide opportunities for UT Martin to collaborate with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. The farm includes 350 acres of mixed pasture and mature oak woodlots surrounded by dense residential development.

Grant Benefits Science, Math Teachers

chemistry students work in a lab classroom
Help is on the way to increase the number of qualified science and math teachers in West Tennessee. UT Martin has received a National Science Foundation award totaling $1.2 million over five years to recruit 25 individuals who have science, math or engineering degrees to complete master’s degrees and teach science, technology, engineering and math subjects. Lauderdale County Schools, Obion County Schools and the Gibson County Special School District are partners that will help select the new teachers and assist with their training as part of the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program.

Science Center Begins New Era

officials cut a ribbon in front of a small building
UT and UT Martin leaders cut the ribbon at Coon Creek Science Center to celebrate a new era of research and learning.

As one of the most important fossil sites in the U.S., the UT Martin Coon Creek Science Center is a 70-plus million-year-old exposed seafloor deposit that’s home to almost 700 preserved marine species. The 240-acre property was acquired by lease by UT Martin in April 2020 from the Pink Palace Family of Museums in Memphis after years of partnership for institutional field research, community outreach and instruction. The science center will host various educational programs year-round, including UT Martin faculty and student research opportunities, classes and internships, external geoscience professional and field training, educator training, summer camps and more.

Hill Donation Supports Skyhawk RISE Program

UT Martin received a donation from Reggie Hill (Martin ’77) to fund the Skyhawk Retention, Inclusion, Student-Success and Equity, or RISE, program on campus. The Skyhawk RISE Program was established to help create a strong foundation for incoming students from underrepresented communities through experiential learning, mentorship and continued support.

The RISE program will begin fall 2021 and provide underrepresented students with connected classes, one-on-one mentoring, peer support, leadership opportunities as well as co-curricular activities to create a network of resources and community at UT Martin.