Loyal to a T, a Power T


Category: Giving

When Loyal Vols Come Together, It Ignites Something Greater than Their Sum

Ryan Sowell (’11) didn’t know how he was going to find $25,000. But when one of his former UT professors had a health scare, he knew it needed to happen.

Sowell visited the recovering professor emeritus, David Schumann, and left with a newfound cause.

“I came away with a sense of urgency to celebrate him in a lasting way, because Professor Schumann has really been a mentor to me,” said Sowell. “He has a gift for meeting students where they are and sharing the exact piece of encouraging wisdom they need. When I called a former UT classmate to share my goal, he agreed and said, ‘Professor Schumann is a treasure, and we need to honor him.’”

Sowell and his friend, Kyle Moffatt (’11), set to work, first contacting their UT college, the Haslam College of Business, and then connecting with UT’s Office of Alumni Relations. They developed a plan to engage alumni, faculty, and friends who were impacted by Schumann and his mentorship, with the aim of raising $25,000 to endow a scholarship in his name.

“We had a full strategy,” said Sowell. “We hosted a kick-off Zoom call with Professor Schumann and fellow alumni, executed a call campaign, and leveraged established UT fundraising campaigns.”

Many contributors gave larger one-time gifts, but others like Sowell also set up regular giving to the scholarship with smaller amounts automatically donated every month. Within 16 months, the group helped endow the scholarship and surprise Schumann over a mid-pandemic Zoom call with the announcement.

“If I really reflect on what set me up for success, it was my time at UT and the relationships I built and the experiences I had there,” said Sowell. “I want to do something to give back to the place and people that impacted me, and monthly giving helps me do that. I began giving monthly with my Senior Impact gift and continue to support UT and the Haslam College of Business through a monthly gift.”

As a monthly giver, Sowell is considered a “Loyal Vol.” You can also join Loyal Vols through a monthly, perpetual gift and honor what you love about Rocky Top. It’s easy and automatic and will help light the way for current and future Volunteers.

Loyal Vols also receive special offers and invitations to events (like exclusive tailgates), gifts of recognition, and unique stories of impact and updates from university leadership.

When Ryan Sowell and fellow alumni set out to honor a cherished UT professor, monthly giving options helped them reach their goal. How would you give back as a Loyal Vol?

Visit giving.utk.edu/loyalvol for more information on how to become a Loyal Vol.