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In Memoriam: Dr. Lorayne W. Lester

Dr. LesterDr. Lorayne Lester passed away May 9, 2014. Many CCI graduates majoring in speech communication will remember Dr. Lester as the head of the Department of Speech and Theatre and later the Department of Speech Communication.  She graduated from the University of Tennessee with bachelor of science (’57), master of arts (’60), and doctorate of education (’75) degrees.  She had a 42-year career with the University as an educator and administrator. 

In 1990, she became associate dean of academic programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, and, in 1996, she was appointed the first female dean of the oldest and largest college on UT’s campus. She was passionate about helping women, students, faculty and staff succeed and progress. She remained as dean until her retirement in 2002.

Lester’s professional and volunteer affiliations include: Association for Communication Administration, American Association of University Women, East Tennessee Historical Society, US Army Reserve 489th Civil Affairs Family Support Liaison, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, First Families of Tennessee, Gatlinburg Scottish Highland Games, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, Southeastern Theatre Conference, Tennessee Theatre Association, UT Army ROTC Rocky Top Battalion – Honorary Colonel, UT Athletic Board, UT Commencement Speaker – December 2002, UT Faculty Senate, and UT Friends of the Library.

On March 27, 2014, Dr. Lester was inducted into the Educators Hall of Honor in the UT College of Education. She was an avid supporter of Clarence Brown Theatre, the Knoxville Museum of Art, and the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. The family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Lorayne W. Lester Award Endowment (#F010001651).