The United Methodist Church has a vital ministry presence on the campuses of colleges and universities across East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. 

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Holston college scholarship endowment named for Ed Harmon

Leaders of Holston Conference express gratitude to Ed Harmon outside the conference room named for him in the Alcoa Conference Center. From left to right: Rev. Charles Maynard, Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor, Ed Harmon, Rev. Jason Gattis, Rick Cherry.

Press release

ALCOA, Tenn. – For years to come, students at two United Methodist colleges affiliated with the Holston Conference will know the name of William “Ed” Harmon.
An endowment providing scholarships to students at Tennessee Wesleyan University and Emory & Henry College has been named for Harmon, a lifelong United Methodist and native of Blount County.
“The Dr. Ed Harmon Holston Conference of The UMC College Endowment Fund” was announced recently by leaders of the Holston Conference, in appreciation for Harmon’s support of and dedication to higher education.
In addition, Holston Conference has named a conference room in its Alcoa headquarters in Harmon’s honor. Harmon, age 74, was recently lifted up by Bishop Mary Virginia “Dindy” Taylor and the Rev. Jason Gattis at a gathering of Taylor’s Cabinet in the Alcoa Conference Center.
“Dr. Harmon’s outpouring of love and generosity has made and continues to make a lifelong impact in the ministries of a number of organizations and agencies associated with the Holston Conference of The United Methodist Church,” Gattis said. “From camping ministries to Holston Home for Children to higher education to the local church, he has able to fulfill his calling from God to assist the conference in its mission ‘to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.’”
Ed Harmon in the Alcoa Conference Center

Gattis serves as Smoky Mountain District superintendent for Holston Conference as well as chair of the Hiwassee College board of trustees.
The recent expression of gratitude for Harmon follows his numerous gifts to ministries associated with Holston Conference. He was a generous supporter of Hiwassee College before the 170-year institution closed in 2019 in Madisonville, Tennessee. Harmon served on Hiwassee’s board and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Hiwassee.
Hiwassee was one of three United Methodist colleges affiliated with Holston Conference. The $1.3 million endowment providing scholarships, now named for Harmon, will benefit students of Tennessee Wesleyan, located in Athens, and Emory & Henry, located in Emory, Virginia.
“I’m ecstatic because I would have never have made it without my Methodist education,” Harmon said of the tribute. “I’ve been so blessed, and I want to give back.”
Harmon is a graduate of Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tennessee, where he received his associate’s degree. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee.

He is a member of First United Methodist Church of Maryville and a graduate of Maryville High School. He was a real-estate developer and owner of rental properties in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, for decades before selling his business and retiring in Maryville.
Harmon said he is devoted to his home county, where he has made financial gifts to Blount County Public Library, Maryville High School, New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center, Boys & Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley, and Pellissippi State Community College.
Harmon has also given generous support to Camp Wesley Woods in Townsend, Tennessee, and Holston Home for Children in Greeneville, Tennessee. His art collection, featuring local artists as well as artifacts from his travels throughout the world, has been loaned and gifted to Maryville College’s Clayton Center for the Arts and Martin Methodist College, among other organizations.
His late parents, J. Ed Harmon and Jean Harmon, are laid to rest in the historic cemetery located at Bethlehem Methodist Church in Walland, Tennessee.

"Ed Harmon's generosity is boundless," said the Rev. Charles Maynard, former chair of the Hiwassee board and pastor of generosity at Cokesbury United Methodist Church. "He has supported education and the arts in so many ways in Blount County, in Holston Conference's colleges, and in other institutions of higher education. He has given of his time, expertise, and funds to many places. Ed's desire for young people to succeed in education and the arts has impacted countless lives."
Holston Conference includes 864 United Methodist congregations in East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and North Georgia.

Media contact: Tim Jones, director of communications,