Mark McNeely (BS/JEM ’70), founder and senior partner of McNeely Pigott and Fox, received the 2015 Donald G. Hileman Alumni Award from the College of Communication and Information at its Awards and Scholarship Donor Appreciation Banquet on Nov. 6, 2015.
In 1987, McNeely founded McNeely Pigott and Fox, an award-winning public relations firm based in Nashville, as a one-person consultancy after a career in journalism and politics. Previously he served as capital bureau chief for the Knoxville News Sentinel and as Al Gore’s first state director.
As founding and senior partner, McNeely is responsible for overall firm management as well as client relations. Under his leadership, McNeely Pigott and Fox became the largest public relations firm in the state and has won numerous national, regional and local awards for outstanding work, including a National Gold SABRE Award in 2015, a SABRE Award in 2011 and designation as one of the best public relations firms to work for—all from the Holmes Report in New York City—and six Public Relations Society of America Silver Anvil Awards.
McNeely is an emeritus member and former chair of the College of Communication and Information’s Board of Visitors, where he served with distinction from 2001 to 2015. He has been recognized by the Nashville Women’s Political Caucus in its annual “Good Guys” Awards, serves on the board of directors of the Nashville Downtown Rotary Club and has been active in the Greater Nashville Chamber of Commerce.
McNeely is also active in the Public Relations Society of America Nashville chapter, which honored him in 2007 with the chapter’s annual Hercules Award for professional contributions to public relations.
“Mark has had a remarkable professional career and has been unfailing in his support of the College of Communication and Information and the University of Tennessee,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “He is a true role model who serves as an inspiration for our students, and we were proud to present him with CCI’s highest alumni honor in recognition of his many accomplishments.”
The Donald G. Hileman Award is named for the first permanent dean of the College of Communications, forerunner to the College of Communication and Information. The award was established in 1994 in celebration of the college’s 25th anniversary. It is awarded to college alumni who have made notable contributions to the field of communication and information.
Recent recipients of the Hileman Award include: Sharon Price John, CEO and president of Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc.; Charles Tombras Jr., CEO of the Tombras Group advertising agency; Alexia Poe, principal at Poe Consulting and former director of communications for Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; Alan Wilson, McCormick & Company Inc. chairman, president and CEO; Alan N. Greenberg, president and co-founder of Avenues the World School and former Esquire magazine publisher; John Noble Wilford, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times science journalist; Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos quarterback, former UT quarterback and five-time NFL MVP; and Faye Julian, emeritus professor and former dean of the College of Communication and Information.