Bob Phillips Makes Gift of Cash to Establish Endowed Scholarship Honoring His Father
Bob Phillips grew up in Morris Chapel, Tennessee, the son of a high school agriculture teacher. His father, Robert A. Phillips, Jr., graduated from UTIA’s Herbert College of Agriculture in 1939 and began his teaching career thereafter, first teaching agriculture at Morris Chapel High School and then at Hardin County High. “My father grew up during the Depression,” Bob says. “He wanted to go to college, but he didn’t have the money to pay for it. He knew how important education is and was determined to graduate from college.” Through hard work, he was able to pay for college—obtaining both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in agriculture.
“Of all of his accomplishments in life, this was the achievement of which he was most proud,” says his son.
To honor his father’s legacy, Bob has established a scholarship named for his father at the Herbert College of Agriculture. “I want students who are similarly situated to my dad in 1933 to be able to receive the same quality education he received without having to worry about finances,” says Bob, who made a gift of cash to create an endowment.
“My dad had a lot of qualities that are worth emulating,” Bob says. “He was a hard worker, a man of faith, an educator, and a visionary. He loved UT and valued his education from here. What better place for me to make this gift?” These same qualities are evident in Bob, who also graduated from UT in the College of Chemical Engineering earning a BS in 1962, an MS in 1963, and a PhD in 1968. He enjoyed a 30-year career working in the research lab at Eastman Chemical Company.
“After my dad began teaching, he began to see the transition of the farm from a small family operation to a more corporate endeavor,” Bob says. “Understanding that society was becoming less Ag-centric, he worked to ensure that his students were able to make the transition to the larger operations and into the emerging agriculture job market. He saw a need to educate his students about their options.”
Bob says his father also recognized the need for veterinary services in rural areas. Robert educated himself on how to help care for animals and assisted area farmers for nearly 20 years until their community got a veterinarian. When his teaching career ended, he helped train people to teach agricultural practice in his community. He also began growing mustard and turnip greens that he sold from a roadside stand until he was 97. Robert died in 2018 at the age of 102, leaving a legacy of teaching and service in his West Tennessee community.
“Dr. Keith Barber assisted me in making this gift to honor my father,” Bob says. “He was easy to work with and helped me define the parameters for the scholarship that really honor who my father was and what he stood for.”
Bob encourages others to consider what legacies they would like to leave at UT. “Follow your heart,” he says. “My gift will ensure that my father’s legacy of hard work and service will continue for generations to come.”
© Pentera, Inc. Planned giving content. All rights reserved.