published Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

UT Agriculture Institute gets $3.2 million donation

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has received a $3.2 million gift to endow a faculty position in international sustainable agriculture.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports the donation from Tyson Foods Inc. top executive and his wife, Donnie and Terry Smith, is the largest the institute has received for a faculty position. The Smiths are both UT graduates.

UT Agriculture Chancellor Larry Arrington said the couple wanted to help the facility make a worldwide impact. He called the gift "transformational."

"They expressed a desire to help us with a major gift and we threw ideas out there in things that we need," Arrington said. "But they're involved personally in Africa and wanted to help the institute step out and be a leader in this."

The funding will allow UT to help with the problem of a growing population and limited food production around the world.

The university already has some projects overseas, including in Africa, Croatia and China.

The donation will establish the Donald and Terry Smith Endowed Chair in International Sustainable Agriculture. Arrington said the faculty position will bring new expertise to the school and coordinate international projects.

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