A Makerspace for All
Hodges Library at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will soon have a new space with 3D printers along with programs to help women in their second semester of college to master the technology.
Made possible by Bunker Medbery (’77) and his wife, Treva, the new Medbery Makerspace will contain everything students need to construct prototypes and innovate in the product space, including sewing machines and materials with which to build.
For the Medberys, supporting young women in their journey to reach their full potential is a lifelong pursuit. Medbery’s passion began when he attended college at the same time his mother did. The couple’s daughter is a successful thoracic surgeon.
“When women are in the sixth grade they have this great aptitude for science and technology,” Medbery said. “So it’s unfortunate that by the time they reach university, only one-third of them remain engaged. I think that’s something we can fix, and that’s part of the mission of the Medbery Makerspace.”
There are about 90 librarians on campus, and so a wealth of resources are available to the students. They simply need to ask, and this space will help to break down any barriers.
Medbery has a history of equipping people, stepping back, and watching what happens. It’s one of his favorite things to do, and the Medbery Makerspace is consistent with his past philanthropic efforts.
“One of the most important things I learned during my time at UT was to simply ask,” he said. “It breaks my heart when people don’t do so. UT has such an incredible range of resources: experts with insight into specific areas and professors who literally wrote the textbook.
“The libraries are a great example of this. There are about 90 librarians on campus, and so a wealth of resources are available to the students. They simply need to ask, and this space will help to break down any barriers,” he added.
Steve Smith, UT’s dean of libraries, expressed gratitude to the couple in awarding Medbery with an Accomplished Alumni Award on February 7.
“This space will support programming and opportunities for young women and students from all backgrounds to gain skills that will give them an edge in their college years and careers,” Smith said. “Bunker’s expertise in wealth management is matched only by his generosity.”
Medbery, who graduated from UT with an honors degree in public administration in 1977, landed in finance and wealth management while working as business editor of WBRC-Fox6 television in Birmingham, Alabama. There he authored The Birmingham Index, a trademark compilation of selected publicly traded companies.
“That is the state’s largest television station, and I developed the index to track local stocks compared to national stocks,” Medbery said. “Although public administration was my major, I went almost immediately into business.”
The library exists to help you experience the liberating freedom that comes from the acquisition of skills once considered impossible for all but a privileged few.
In 2018 and 2019, Medbery was selected by Forbes magazine as one of America’s Best-In-State Wealth Advisors. His experience balancing risk and reward in the execution of stock and bond portfolios has earned him the Morgan Stanley Portfolio Management Director designation.
In designating the Medbery Makerspace, Medbery chose the following words for the plaque affixed by the door: “The library exists to help you experience the liberating freedom that comes from the acquisition of skills once considered impossible for all but a privileged few. The Medbery Makerspace provides a platform to further explore, create, and demonstrate some of those skills. Experience the possibilities.”
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