Alumnus Gary Rollins and his wife, Kathleen Rollins, were the guests of honor as University of Tennessee at Chattanooga faculty, staff and students thanked the couple for the largest philanthropic gift in UTC history.
Cheerleaders, members of the marching band and dance team kicked off festivities celebrating the naming of the Gary W. Rollins College of Business after the Rollins gave $40 million to the college. Renaming the college for its benefactor was approved in June by the UT Board of Trustees.
“UTC is becoming an exciting and impressive place to be and, recently, I really came to appreciate all the positive changes that have taken place. The school’s national ranking, buildings, dorms, athletics. I have also been impressed by the quality of the leaders, the educators and students,” said Gary Rollins, a 1967 business graduate who is vice chairman and CEO of Rollins, Inc. a New York Stock Exchange corporation with extensive holdings, including Orkin, the world’s-largest pest control company.
“I am humbled and honored that the business college bears my name, and I look forward to the association and to our achievements in the future,” he said.
UTC Chancellor Steve Angle credited the combined efforts of faculty, staff and engaged alumni with setting the stage for the history-making gift to the College of Business.
“Our celebration today is about what we have accomplished, but it’s also about what we’ve done as a team, each and every one of us together. It’s also about looking at the future and what we will accomplish because of the Rollins’ generosity,” Angle said. “Today also is transformational because we’re setting the bar higher than we ever thought we could. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Rollins.”
Angle also took the opportunity to suggest that one of the students on hand could go on to make UTC’s next history-making gift.
“Gary Rollins is an alum—what an inspiration to our students,” Angle said. “Who here will come back and name a college at UTC in the future? You are the future of our society, and Mr. and Mrs. Rollins understand that. They want to touch the future and they want to touch your lives.”
UT President Joe DiPietro spoke to the rarity of gifts of the magnitude of the Rollins’ and expressed gratitude on behalf of the statewide UT system.
“You can’t imagine how long and hard deans work—I know because I did for 10 years as a dean, without ever making this happen—trying to secure an incredible, game-changing gift like this. You are like fairy godparents to this university and this campus.
“We’re incredibly proud of our UTC colleagues for the confidence shown in them by this gift, which marks the third named college in the UT system, and even though it is the third named college,” DiPietro said, turning to look at Gary and Kathleen Rollins. “For this, a regional university, the impact of a gift of this magnitude is even that much more unprecedented.”
Robert Dooley, dean of the College of Business, said the gift will have a transformational impact on students.
“You—our students, faculty and staff—will be some of the first to feel the impact,” Dooley said. “Mr. and Mrs. Rollins’ investment will allow us to increase support for our students, grow our faculty resources, expand our academic programs and improve our facilities to meet the growing demands of the business world. As a result, your degrees and the networks you build during your time here as students will only become more valuable.
“In the longer term, the Gary W. Rollins College of Business will become a national model in business education that utilizes technology-driven teaching methods focused on providing students with relevant skills and knowledge to address real business problems and faculty research that tackles the complexities of business and impacts business practice.”
The afternoon celebration outside Fletcher Hall—home of the College of Business—on campus was followed by a community reception in the UTC University Center.