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Honorary Degree Recipient

Scott Niswonger
Haslam College of Business

Scott NiswongerScott Niswonger was born in Van Wert, Ohio, where he learned to fly, soloing on his 16th birthday. During his aviation career, he has flown everything from J-3 Cubs to the Boeing 747. He currently enjoys flying his Gulfstream IV and his aerobatic Navy T-34 trainer.

Niswonger graduated from Purdue University with a degree in aviation technology and was awarded a Doctorate of Technology in 2004. He earned a BSBA in 1986 from Tusculum College, which awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 2006.

After graduation from Purdue, Niswonger moved to Greeneville, Tennessee, as the corporate pilot for the president of the Magnavox Company. In 1973, Niswonger started a cargo airline, General Aviation Inc. After selling General Aviation he became the vice president of North American operations for Flying Tiger Lines, a military contractor and global cargo airline. He later co-founded a second transportation company, Landair Services, with an initial investment of $2,000, and in 1990 formed Forward Air Corporation. Those companies today have annual sales of over $1 billion.

Niswonger currently serves as executive chairman of Landair Transport Inc. and chairman emeritus of Forward Air Corporation. He is a member of the executive committee and board of directors of First Horizon National Corporation, a $40 billion financial services company and the parent organization of First Tennessee Bank. He is chairman of Tennessee State University board of trustees and a 30-year trustee of Tusculum College. At Purdue University he is a member of the Presidents Executive Council, Deans Council for Purdue University Polytechnic Institute, and Chairman of Purdue Aviation.

He is especially proud of the Niswonger Educational Foundation, which he established in 2001 to create opportunities for individual and regional growth through educational programs, scholarships, and other charitable activities. This educational operating foundation currently has 20 scholars in universities across America and 67 alumni. The foundation has an annual program budget of more than $3 million.

Niswonger is the lead benefactor for Niswonger Children’s Hospital, home to one of only eight St. Jude affiliate clinics in the world.

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