Amazon has committed $750,000 for an endowed distinguished professorship in the University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business, the school announced Tuesday. The gift will receive a one-to-one match from the Haslam family for an endowment totaling $1.5 million.
The professorship will support faculty efforts in the area of business analytics and data science. The college offers undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in business analytics and other business disciplines, preparing students to work in high-demand fields for large-scale operations such as Amazon’s fulfillment center in Middle Tennessee.
“We are very excited to continue developing the relationship between Amazon and the Haslam College of Business,” said Steve Mangum, dean of the college. “We find it to be a natural partnership, combining our faculty’s expertise in data analytics with the rapidly growing industry demand for graduates with such technical skills.
“Amazon’s investment in our faculty will have a transformative impact on education and research here at the state of Tennessee’s flagship business school. In turn, it will allow us to further build our capacity to prepare students to excel in an increasingly competitive field and supply an excellent pipeline of talent for corporations such as Amazon in hiring future business leaders.”
Last month Amazon announced its plans to build a 1 million-square-foot warehouse in Alcoa that is expected to bring at least 800 jobs to the area. The company also announced plans to develop the former Knoxville Center Mall site into a facility in a project using the same development company.
“It’s not often that a company goes above and beyond in this way, doing more than they originally said they would do when first establishing their operation in Tennessee,” former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said. “Amazon is investing in our communities in a way that will both create an enormous return on investment and benefit thousands of Tennesseans.”
As governor, Haslam announced plans to bring Amazon to Tennessee in 2018, marking the largest jobs commitment made by a company in the state’s history. In addition to its corporate presence in Nashville, Amazon has seven fulfillment and sortation centers in Tennessee, in addition to the warehouse scheduled to open next year in Blount County. The company has created more than 25,000 full- and part-time jobs throughout the state. Between 2010-19, it invested $8.9 billion in Tennessee, including infrastructure and employee compensation.
The relationship between Amazon and the university is spearheaded by two UT alumni, Amazon CEO of Worldwide Consumer Dave Clark and Amazon Vice President of Worldwide Economic Development Holly Sullivan.
“The Haslam College of Business performs extraordinary work that benefits Tennessee’s communities, businesses and the broader regional economy,” said Clark, who received an MBA from UT focused on logistics and transportation before joining Amazon. “During my time at the Haslam College of Business, the optimization science work combined with classroom instruction helped prepare me for my career and ultimately led me to Amazon. We’re thrilled to help the school as it continues its vital mission of inspiring future business leaders.”
“Nashville and all of Tennessee have welcomed Amazon so warmly and we are always looking for ways to give back and deepen our community involvement,” added Sullivan, who serves on the college’s Dean’s Advisory Council. “We are especially grateful that this gift will be generously matched by the Haslam family, ensuring these resources go even further.”