CCI honored 6 alumni and 6 faculty members at its Awards/Scholarship Donor Appreciation Banquet on Nov. 8 at Knoxville’s Holiday Inn World’s Fair Park. Charlie Tombras (BS/Adv ’64), CEO of the Tombras Group, received CCI’s highest honor, the Donald G. Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award, during the event. (See http://www.cci.utk.edu/advertising-executive-tombras-receive-cci-hileman-award for a summary of Tombras’s distinguished career, and http://www.cci.utk.edu/hileman-award for a list of past Hileman Award winners).
CCI School/Major Alumni Award Winners
In addition to Tombras, 5 other CCI alums received school/major alumni awards that were presented for the first time. Kevin Kirksey (’98) – Advertising Alumnus of the Year; Dean Rice (’94) – Communication Studies Alumnus of the Year; Dr. ShaLi Zhang (’88) – Information Sciences Alumna of the Year; Dean Littleton (’92) – Journalism and Electronic Media Alumnus of the Year; and Mary Beth West (’94) – Public Relations Alumna of the Year. (See a summary of the accomplishments of these individuals below).
CCI Faculty Award Winners
Six CCI faculty members were also presented with awards at the banquet. They were: Laura Miller – Faculty Teaching: Courtney Wright – Faculty Research; Bharat Mehra – Faculty Service/Outreach; Suzy Prentiss – Lecturer Teaching; Elizabeth Hendrickson – Innovative Technology Teaching; Kenneth Levine – Bud Minkel International/Intercultural; and Dwight Teeter – Extraordinary Service. (See a summary of the accomplishments of these individuals below).
The banquet also provided an opportunity for CCI to honor its scholarship donors and to allow scholarship recipients and donors to meet and share their stories. Nearly 90% of all UT students require some form of financial assistance to attend college. A list of CCI Scholarships can be found at http://www.cci.utk.edu/cci-scholarships.
Advertising Alumnus of the Year
Kevin Kirksey (‘98), Senior Director, Brand Communication & Digital, North America, Nike
Kevin Kirksey, a 1998 CCI graduate, is the 2013 Advertising Alumnus of the Year. Kevin is Senior Director for Brand Communications and Digital with Nike North America in Portland, Oregon. He leads advertising efforts for Nike in North America across the Running, Basketball, Women’s Training, Football, Athletic Training, Soccer, Action, and Sportswear categories. He began his career in account management with Young & Rubicam, then Ogilvy & Mather (both in New York City). Key accounts for which he worked include: KFC, Sony, United Airlines, and Goldman Sachs. He later spent 11 years driving brand awareness and media consumption of ESPN content across all platforms including: SportsCenter, Without Sports, X Games, 30 for 30 and It’s not crazy, it’s sports. Raised in Bristol, Tennessee, Kevin is a recreational long distance runner. He’s captained relay teams, ran multiple Half Marathons and finished the 2011 New York City Marathon. He’s also an avid outdoorsman, skier and snowboarder. Kevin served as the keynoter for UT’s 2013 Social Media Week.
Communication Studies Alumnus of the Year
Dean Rice (’94), Chief of Staff, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett
Dean Rice, a 1994 CCI graduate, is the 2013 Communication Studies Alumnus of the Year. Dean is Chief of Staff for Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. His career has focused on the fields of government policy and political consulting. Prior to this, he was a partner and vice president of Pratt, Pratt & Rice, a government and community relations firm he helped found in 2006. He has over 15 years of experience in the political and governmental sectors in Tennessee, Washington and South Carolina. Most of this time was spent working for the United States Senate and House of Representatives. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member in CCI’s School of Communication Studies where he teaches a course examining political persuasion and communication strategy. Dean is an emeritus member and past chair of CCI’s Board of Visitors, and he was the recipient of the 2004 Phi Eta Sigma Excellence in Teaching Award. He enjoys cultural photography and has had several public exhibits of his work from trips to rural southern China and Turkey.
Information Sciences Alumna of the Year
ShaLi Zhang, Ph.D. (‘88), Dean of Libraries & Professor, Mansfield Library, University of Montana
Dr. ShaLi Zhang, a 1988 Master’s in information sciences graduate, is the 2013 Information Science Alumna of the Year. Dr. Zhang is Dean of Libraries and Professor at the Mansfield Library at the University of Montana. Prior to this position, she worked at several academic libraries, including the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Wichita State University, University of South Carolina at Spartanburg, Ohio Wesleyan University, and the University of Kentucky/Southeast Community College. Dr. Zhang has published extensively and serves on the editorial boards of six professional publications. She is also the principle investigator/project director for a $1.8 million Institute of Museum and Library Services grant. She is a past chair of the American Library Association’s (ALA) International Relations Committee and of ALA’s International Relations Round Table. She edited ALA’s International Leads from 2000 – 2003. She has received a number of national awards including: the 2012 Distinguished Services Award from the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color and the 2012 Presidential Recognition Award from the Chinese American Librarians Association.
Journalism & Electronic Media Alumnus of the Year
Dean Littleton (‘92), Vice President & General Manager, WATE-TV
Dean Littleton, a 1992 CCI graduate, is the 2013 Journalism and Electronic Media Alumnus of the Year. Dean is Vice President & General Manager of Knoxville’s WATE-TV. Prior to coming to WATE, he served as General Sales Manager at Knoxville’s WVLT-TV, Denver’s KUSA-TV and Knoxville’s WBIR-TV. He has received a number of awards including: Gray Television/WVLT’s 2012 J. Mack Robinson Spirit Award for Leadership, a Gannett Project Upfront Award and AP and SPJ Awards for news photography. He is an active member of the Knoxville community where he serves: as a Director of the Intercollegiate Online News Network, as an Advisory Board Member for UT’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media and as a Board Member of The Cancer Support Community.
Public Relations Alumna of the Year
Mary Beth West (’94), Principal, Mary Beth West Consulting
Mary Beth West, a 1994 CCI graduate, is the 2013 Public Relations Alumna of the Year. She is the key strategist and Principal of Mary Beth West Consulting, a Maryville-based firm she founded in 2003. Prior to starting her own firm, she served as Vice President of Regional Marketing for Union Planters Bank of East Tennessee and Southeastern Kentucky, as Assistant Vice President of Marketing for Knoxville’s BankFirst and as Director of Community Relations for Corrections Corporation of America in Nashville. She has won a number of awards for her professional work as well as her work with the Public Relations Society of America including: an “Award of Excellence” from the Volunteer Chapter of PRSA and the PRSA National David Ferguson Award. She has served in national
leadership roles for PRSA including leading PRSA’s National Advocacy Advisory Board and serving two separate terms on PRSA’s national board. She is also an active member of the community where she serves as a member of: the College of Communication and Information’s Board of Visitors, the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts of Southern Appalachian Council, the Board of Directors of the Blount County Chamber of Commerce and the Fort Loudoun Regional Library Board.
Laura Miller, CS Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Dr. Laura Miller, assistant professor in the School of Communication Studies is the recipient of CCI’s Faculty Teaching Award because her teaching evaluations are consistently very high and her students commend her for her efforts and guidance, and they attest to her excellence as a teacher. Laura’s teaching is driven by a philosophy of helping students improve their communication skills and become lifelong learners. She focuses on providing a safe environment for learning and discussion, and ensuring that the diversity of her classroom is represented so that all students are comfortable.
Courtney Wright, CS Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Northwestern University
Dr. Courtney Wright, assistant professor in the School of Communication Studies, is the recipient of CCI’s Faculty Research Award. She was selected to receive this award because the sample piece of research she submitted in her nomination packet is remarkable and a clear indicator that she is a rigorous researcher. Likewise, the number of articles she had published during the past year in conjunction with the quality of her articles, as evidenced by the top tier journals in which they were published, made her a candidate worthy of receiving this award.
Bharat Mehra, IS Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Dr. Bharat Mehra, associate professor in the School of Information Sciences, is the recipient of CCI’s Faculty Service/Outreach Award. He was selected to receive this award because his professional and intellectual life is devoted to service, outreach, and community engagement. His teaching and service philosophies attest to his commitment to service and outreach learning. His record of service achievement has brought high visibility to SIS and CCI, especially through his grant work for the Institute of Museum and Library Services to improve rural libraries in Appalachia and nearby regions. The selection committee also commended Dr. Mehra’s inclusion of service-learning objectives and projects in many of his courses.
Suzy Prentiss, CS Senior Lecturer
Ph.D., The University of Tennessee
Dr. Suzy Prentiss, senior lecturer in the School of Communication Studies, is the recipient of CCI’s Outstanding Lecturer Teaching Award. She was selected to receive this award because of the outstanding work she has done teaching the college’s business communication courses. Dr. Prentiss continuously works to improve her teaching through internal and external grant applications and by attending and presenting at professional association meetings. Students commend Dr. Prentiss for her patience and ability to help them overcome their fear of public speaking.
Elizabeth Hendrickson, JEM Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Missouri
Dr. Elizabeth Hendrickson, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media, is the recipient of CCI’s Faculty Innovative Technology Teaching Award. Dr. Hendrickson was selected to receive this award because she is an extraordinarily effective teacher who is constantly seeking new ways of engaging students, heightening their learning and appreciation for different forms of journalism and the many platforms on which they can be delivered. She has been most innovative in her use of social media platforms and multi-platform digital media products, or Apps, in her classes, giving her students first-hand experience in the uses of these platforms and an understanding of how they are changing the journalism/communication world. She uses iPads in the classroom and experiments with their use as information gathering and reporting tools.
Kenneth Levine, CS Associate Professor
Ph.D., Michigan State University; J.D., Case Western Reserve University
Dr. Kenneth Levine, associate professor in the School of Communication Studies, is the recipient of CCI’s Bud Minkel International and Intercultural Award. He was selected for this award because of his work to expose CCI students to inter- and cross-cultural communication through the annual course he offers in Paris and Belgium and through his internationalization activities on campus in which he infuses international information into his undergraduate courses. Dr. Levine also created a two-course module and assessment tools for international business communication and a videotape of similar material for beginning students in engineering.
Dwight Teeter, JEM Professor
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin
Dr. Dwight Teeter, professor in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media and former dean of the College of Communications, is the recipient of CCI’s Extraordinary Service Award. Dr. Teeter was selected for this award because of his long and distinguished service to the College of Communication and Information, the University of Tennessee and the academy. To name just a few of his accomplishments: he has been teaching at the university level for 50 years. He has been a professor in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media for 22 years and served as dean of the College of Communications for 11 years from 1991 to 2002. He is the founding co-author of one of the most revered legal case books in our field – Law of Mass Communications – which has been published continuously since 1969. In addition, he served as president of AEJMC (the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication) and received the National Society of Professional Journalists Teaching Award.