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Fulmer Addresses CCI Graduates

On May 12, more than 400 students from the College of Communication and Information became graduates of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as many parents, friends and relatives watched them walk across the stage inside Thompson-Boling Arena.Arena


In his commencement address, Phillip Fulmer, former head football coach for the University of Tennessee and current partner of NorthShore Management Company, advised graduates to “buckle your chin strap and take on the competition.” He urged them to live by their personal set of values, to put family and others before self, and to live a full life.

“My wish for you is that you will fulfill your full potential. That your canvass and painting become an absolute masterpiece,” said Fulmer. “You have the brush in your hand, and each stroke of the brush can be special. It is up to you.”

FulmerFulmer left graduates with these parting words, “Sometimes we fail to realize it takes valleys to make mountains; it takes rain to make rainbows; it takes losing to truly appreciate winning; it takes being sick to truly appreciate good health; but through it all, our climb back to the top of the mountain after being knocked down is what makes us strong. Do not fear shadows, for they mean that a light is shining somewhere.”

As its top students, the college recognized: journalism and electronic media major Robin Overby as Top Collegiate Scholar, Samantha White as Outstanding Advertising Graduate, Emily Bibliowicz as Top Communication Studies Graduate, and Drew Streip as Top Journalism and Electronic Media Graduate. Rebecca Whitefield was awarded the Sammy Lynn Puett Public Relations Leadership Award; and public relations major Jamie Lonie received the J. Carroll Bateman Award for his professional promise.

Jamil Price, a journalism and electronic media major, was recognized with the university’s highest student honor, the rank of Torchbearer. Torchbearers are seniors who have served the university with overall excellence through academic achievement, activities and contributions to the university and community.

Lt. Col. David Leach, a professor of military science and leadership at UT Knoxville, commissioned two graduates into the U.S. Army, Amanda Kate Hollis and Colin Alexander Buchans.

Mike Wirth, dean of the College of Communication and Information, led the ceremony’s academic procession which included the college’s associate dean, school directors and faculty representatives. Susan Martin, provost and senior vice chancellor, and Margie Nichols, vice chancellor for communications, also took part in the ceremony.

Additional Chancellor’s Honors awards were:

  • Extraordinary Professional Promise in Communication and Information: Ashley Brown, Jasmine Crane, Jamie Lonie and Rebecca Whitefield.
  • Extraordinary Campus Leadership and Service: Jamie Lonie, Hayley Martin, Robin Overby and Nancy Ross.
  • Extraordinary Community Service: Kate Phelps
  • Undergraduate Research Award Winner: Kate Kopperman
  • Chancellor’s Extraordinary Service to the University, J.J. Brown (CS/’93), UT Associate Dean of Students.


Visit the CCI Facebook page to view commencement photos.

Click here to watch the webcast of the commencement ceremony

Mike Wirth & Phillip FulmerFulmer with family