One of middle Tennessee’s most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders, Gordon E. Inman, has today given Belmont University the largest single gift in the university’s history. His $10.5 million gift will help pay for construction of the new 100,000 square foot two-building health care education complex on Wedgewood Avenue that will house the university’s College of Health Sciences & Nursing. The first of two buildings is currently under construction and scheduled for completion in 2006. The college will be renamed the Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences & Nursing, and the complex, including classroom, office space and a large community conference center, will bear Inman’s name.
Building One will house Belmont’s nursing, occupational therapy and social work programs. The second building will provide space for Belmont’s physical therapy classes as well as expansion room for nursing and other potential health programs.
“We are immensely grateful for Gordon’s generosity,” said Bob Fisher, president of Belmont. “He has been a faithful and valued trustee and advisor to the university for many decades, and we are enormously fortunate to be able to expand opportunities for students interested in nursing or other healthcare careers. This will have a significant impact on our community that, like so many others in our country, continues to experience a nursing shortage. This donation for our new facility will allow Belmont to grow its nursing program to 600 students or almost triple its current enrollment.”
“I’ve always had a passion for Belmont because it is a Christian school with a commitment to excellence in education,” Inman said. “I appreciate the school’s dedication to the kind of practical and experiential learning that prepares its students for successful careers.”
The impetus for Inman’s interest in higher education was due to an association and long time relationship with his mentor and friend, Dr. Thomas Frist, Sr., who Inman met in the 1950s when Frist was a customer of a gas station owned by Inman. Dr.
Frist, who was both a noted healthcare provider and an extremely successful businessman, often told the story of how he admired Inman’s work ethic and wanted to sponsor him at college and medical school. Inman, who started working at the age of nine, remembers his impatience to move directly into the business world. He declined Frist’s offer but the two continued their friendship.
“He was a friend and a mentor,” said Inman. “I respected him very much throughout his distinguished career as both a physician and a businessman.
“We had a mutual passion for real estate, so we spent hours driving around middle Tennessee. That gave me the opportunity to learn a lot from Dr. Frist and, while I didn’t take him up on his offer to send me to med school, I did use his advice and counsel throughout my career and the development of several business.”
Inman has had a string of business successes over the last 50 years including residential and commercial real estate companies, hotel and shopping center developments, and founding partnerships in financial institutions as well as communications and media companies. He founded Franklin Financial Corporation and Franklin National Bank, which was recently merged into Fifth Third BanCorp of Cincinnati.
HCA, which was co-founded by Frist, is an educational partner with Belmont through its MidAmerica Division, which includes 15 hospitals in its TriStar System. Other partners include Trevecca Nazarene University, Martin Methodist College and Columbia State Community College.
“I admire Belmont’s entrepreneurial spirit, its focus on building a Christian community of students, and its mission of helping students discover and build their talents for the real world,” said Inman. “I am pleased that the university has undertaken the partnership with HCA that will allow them to train more health care professionals, and just as I was fortunate enough to have someone like Dr. Frist take an interest in me, I hope that this gift will be a similar encouragement to many others.”
Gordon E. Inman biography
Click Here to Watch Video From The Press Conference. (Warning: Large file.)
Banker gives $10.5M to Belmont nursing school – The Tennessean
Inman contributes $10.5M to Belmont – Nashville City Paper
Belmont receives $10.5 million gift for nursing school – Baptist & Reflector
Belmont University receives $10.5M gift – Associated Press
$10.5 million gift to Belmont biggest in university’s history – WVLT