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Knoxville College Newsletter

Lowery Family Fund Donates $250,000 to Knoxville College in Memory of Dr. John H. Perry

There are times when we think back and reflect with gratitude on all the experiences, people and opportunities that have shaped our lives. With that reflection often comes a strong desire to give back and help pave the way for others to succeed as well.

One of those moments came for me this past Friday night when I, along with my family, had the honor of attending the Knoxville College President’s Gala where it was announced that The Lowery Family Fund* donated $250,000 to Knoxville College in loving memory of my uncle, Dr. John H. Perry, an esteemed alumnus, educator, and proud member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. My uncle was an amazing role model, instilling in me the importance of hard work, dedication, kindness and civility. Simply stated I would not be who I am if he wasn’t who he was. I will always be grateful for the positive influence he had on shaping my life journey.

Dr. Perry understood the value and importance of a quality education. After graduating from Knoxville College with a Bachelor’s degree, he obtained a Master of Science degree in education from the University of Tennessee and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in education from Southern Illinois University. In 1991, Dr. Perry was named a Distinguished Alumni of Historically and Predominately Black Colleges and Universities by the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education.

My uncle devoted his career to education. He taught physical education for 15 years at Mississippi Valley State University. He moved back home to Tennessee and joined Maryville College in 1985 as an associate professor of physical education. He taught at the college until 2003 and served as chair of the College’s Department of Physical Education from 1985 until 1996. In 1989, he became the first African American professor to receive tenure.

Dr. Perry is remembered as being an enthusiastic and caring educator that challenged students to think differently. He was a strong student advocate and fostered solid community connections through his classes with activities such as the local Special Olympics. He believed in the benefits of physical fitness and the positive impacts it has on one’s health and wellbeing. He taught his students the valuable lessons that can be learned through participation in athletics and carried over into the broader aspects of one’s life. It is fitting that Knoxville College will name its new gymnasium and health center the Giffen and Dr. John H. Perry Memorial Gymnasium and Health Fitness Center.

I want to thank the entire Knoxville College community, especially President Leonard Adams, for an extraordinary celebration of my uncle’s life. As a family, we are grateful to support an institution that has had such a profound impact on our lives and the broader community.

* The Lowery Family Fund was founded by Fred Lowery, Senior Vice President and President, Thermo Fisher Scientific. The Fund supports education, leadership development, social justice, health equity and the arts.

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