TBR Chancellor's Award for philanthropy presented to Simonds

Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) member Parker Smith of Kingsport bestowed the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy upon two individuals who have helped East Tennessee State University and their communities in extraordinary ways.

Sally Simonds and the late Kenneth Simonds received this honor during the annual Distinguished President’s Trust Dinner, held Feb. 27, at the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center.

“The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy honors those who have made great and lasting contributions to the state’s colleges and universities,” Smith said.  “At East Tennessee State University, we have many outstanding friends and alumni who fit that description.  This year’s recipients are shining examples of those who love and nurture the university and its students.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree in business in 1957 at then-East Tennessee State College, where he played football on scholarship, Kenneth Simonds joined the Kingsport office of IBM as a salesman and soon transferred to the corporation’s office in Columbus, Ohio.  There, he met and married the former Sally Rannells, a graduate of Ohio’s University of Rio Grande. 

After 17 years at IBM, Simonds became the youngest person to achieve branch manager status when he joined the Green Bay, Wis., office.  The Simonds family, which grew to include five children, later moved to California, where Simonds held executive positions with Amdahl and Teradata corporations.  During his time at Teradata, where he was president and CEO, he was recognized as a finalist for the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Southern California in 1989.

Following Simonds’ retirement, the couple moved to Indian Wells in Southern California’s Coachella Valley, where he became an assistant coach at Palm Desert High School.

Together, the Simondses played active roles at colleges in both Tennessee and Ohio.  They provided over $2 million in support of ETSU, including a leadership gift toward the creation of the ETSU Foundation Carillon and Alumni Plaza, which is a campus landmark.  They established endowments for students in ETSU’s College of Business and Technology and the men’s and women’s golf teams.  They also contributed to ETSU’s Committee of 1000 and Challenge 2000 honors scholarship endowments, Army ROTC program and Warren-Greene Golf Center.

Before his death in 2009, Ken Simonds was a member of the ETSU Foundation, an adviser to the College of Business and Technology and an active supporter of Buccaneer athletics.

Sally Simonds has continued to serve as an ETSU Foundation leader and board member.  She and her family are making a leadership gift to support the return of football to the university.

The TBR Chancellor’s Award recognizes people and organizations that have clearly demonstrated generosity of time and resources to TBR institutions, encouraged others, promoted higher education, and provided examples of ethical leadership, civic responsibility and integrity.  The awards are presented at select occasions hosted by the nominating entity.  

Previous ETSU Chancellor’s Award recipients include Wellmont Health System (2014), Gerald D. and Cassandra Thomas and Thomas Construction Co. Inc. (2013), Robert and Nita Summers (2012), Rolland and Sharon Boles (2011), James Martin and the late Mary B. Martin (2010), Leslie Parks Pope (2009), Janette “Janey” Campbell Diehl (2008), Dr. May Louise Votaw and the late Dr. Charles L. Votaw (2007), Dr. Guy B. Wilson Jr. (2006), Louis H. Gump (2005), the late Stuart E. Wood Jr. (2004), and Eastman Chemical Co. (2003).