UTM graduate makes largest gift in university history
Bill and Rosann Nunnelly believe in the value of education, and a bequest to the UT Martin will assure that future generations of students have the financial means to attend college.
A $22 million gift from the couple to the university was announced by University of Tennessee Interim President Boyd and UT Martin Chancellor Keith Carver during the summer meeting of the UT Board of Trustees Friday in Knoxville.
The gift is the largest ever made to UT Martin and will provide scholarships to students who attend the university.
Bill Nunnelly received a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1970 from UT Martin and later earned a Master of Education from Boston University. The scholarship awards from the gift will give preference to students from Hickman County, Tennessee, where he was raised on a cattle and feed grain farm in the community that bears the family name.
Although the gift is a bequest and will not be realized until the couple is deceased, the financial benefits begin immediately when four Hickman County students receive UT Martin scholarships this fall.
Qualified students from Dickson, Giles, Lawrence, Lewis, Maury and Humphreys counties will also be eligible to receive future scholarships. More than 90 scholarships could be awarded annually through the gift.
Nunnelly attended his first three years of high school at Columbia Military Academy in nearby Maury County before completing his senior year in Hickman County. So, it followed that the ROTC program became an important part of his UT Martin experience.
Nunnelly was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon graduation from UT Martin. He completed his military service, but instead of returning to the family farm, Nunnelly pursued various business interests over the years, became a successful entrepreneur and is now semi-retired. He and his brother, also a military veteran, maintained the family farm until selling it in 2010, but Nunnelly never forgot his Hickman County roots and sees the gift to UT Martin as “a wonderful way to give something back. …That’s just what my wife and I want to do,” he said.