UT Knoxville and College of Business Administration Expand Development Staff


UT Knoxville has hired major gifts officers for the Nashville and Memphis areas and hired a new officer for the College of Business Administration. Leslie Murphy will represent the university in Memphis, Tennessee, while Seth Reagan serves in Nashville, Tennessee.  They join Sam Graddy, the university’s Atlanta, Georgia-based major gifts officer.  Jennifer Nelson has replaced Reagan as the director of development for the College of Business Administration.

"As the state's flagship university, our alumni and friends are scattered throughout Tennessee and the southeast," UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said. "The support of our alumni and friends is crucial to the university's goal to become a Top-25 research university. Having development officers based in these cities will help cultivate new relationships and better allow UT Knoxville to serve our alumni."

Leslie MurphyMost recently, Murphy served as interim associate vice chancellor for development and alumni affairs for the UT Health Science Center (UTHSC). In that role, she oversaw the fundraising efforts of six development officers and was the chief major gifts officer. Murphy joined the UTHSC staff in June 2009 and solicited more than $12 million in gifts in her first six months. She secured a $4.5 million gift for the College of Pharmacy, which was the largest private gift in the college's history.

Prior to her role at UTHSC, Murphy served in fundraising and management roles for Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science in New York, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Business, and the American Heart Association. She has a bachelor's degree in public relations from Auburn University and a master's degree in arts education administration from UAB.

Leslie MurphyAs director of development for the College of Business Administration, Reagan raised $13 million and was the primary contact for more than 100 donors. He also helped implement fundraising strategies to help the college surpass its $80 million Campaign for Tennessee goal.

Prior to that, Reagan was a business development director for eSports Partners, promoting the company’s eCommerce technology nationally to the National Football League, NASCAR, and the National Basketball Association. Reagan graduated from UT’s College of Business Administration in 2002 with a degree in finance and earned his UT MBA in 2004. He also was a member of the 1998 national championship Volunteers football team.

Sam GraddyGraddy, the university’s major gifts officer in Atlanta, has 15 years of experience in nonprofit fundraising and management.  Prior to joining the UT staff, Graddy served as the director of annual giving for Oglethorpe University and the finance/endowment director of the Atlanta Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He earned his undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Tennessee with a minor in business administration.

Graddy is an eight-time NCAA All American and three-time NCAA Champion in track and field. He holds a gold medal from the 4x100 m relay at the 1984 Summer Olympics, and he holds both silver and gold from the 1983 Pan American Games.  He was also a member of the world-record-setting 4x100 m relay team at the Los Angeles Olympics.  Graddy played two seasons for the Denver Broncos, including playing on the 1987 AFC Championship and Super Bowl teams.  He went on to play four seasons for the Los Angeles Raiders, including its 1991 AFC Division championship season.

Jennifer NelsonNelson recently joined the College of Business Administration staff after 10 years of athletic development experience with Wake Forest University and UT Athletics.  Most recently, she served as the director of campaigns for UT Athletics, overseeing fundraising efforts for facility projects and deferred giving and growing the athletic endowment. 

Nelson first joined the UT athletic staff in 2000 as a graduate assistant and earned her master’s degree in 2001 in human performance and sport studies.  In 2002, she joined the athletic department at Wake Forest University as the assistant director of the Deacon Club, raising support for the annual scholarship fund.  She returned to UT Athletics in 2003 as the associate director for annual giving.  By 2007, she began serving as director of capital support and endowment giving. 

Nelson earned her undergraduate degree from Mars Hill College on a cross country and track scholarship.  After graduating in 1999, she spent a year teaching and coaching middle school students in North Carolina before pursuing graduate school at UT.

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