Amazon has committed $750,000 for an endowed distinguished professorship in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business, the school announced Wednesday. The gift will receive a one-to-one match from the Haslam family for an endowment totaling $1.5 million.

The distinguished professorship will support faculty efforts in the area of business analytics and data science, according to a press release. 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, the release said.

“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.”

Amazon Nashville reached a milestone of 1,000 new jobs in 2020, placing the company’s East Coast business hub ahead of schedule in achieving its goal of bringing 5,000 jobs to Davidson County, according to the release.

“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,” said former Tennessee governor Bill Haslam. “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 the plans to bring Amazon to Tennessee in 2018, marking the largest jobs commitment made by a company in the state’s history, the release said. In addition to its corporate presence in Nashville, Amazon has seven fulfillment and sorting centers in Tennessee as well as an additional fulfillment center recently announced in Blount County.

The relationship between Amazon and the university is spearheaded by two UT alumni: Dave Clark, CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business, and Holly Sullivan, the company’s vice president for worldwide economic development.

“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.”

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