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CCI Celebrates 50 Years with Anniversary Gala

50th Anniversary Gala

CCI Timeline

50th Anniversary Program

Approximately 350 alumni, faculty, staff, and friends attended the College of Communication and Information’s 50th Anniversary Gala, October 11 at the Knoxville Convention Center.

The evening celebrated the past, present, and future of the college, which was founded in 1969. Alumni spoke on the evolution of CCI through the decades, and students told stories of alumni experiences. “Then and Now” videos shared how students and faculty experienced events like graduation and emerging technologies in the past and present.

Longtime Tennessee news anchors Anne Holt Blackburn (JEM ’73, WKRN-News 2 in Nashville) and Josh Smith (JEM ’94, WJHL-TV News Channel 11 in Johnson City) served as the evening’s masters of ceremony. CCI Dean Mike Wirth also took to the stage to give opening remarks, along with UT Provost David Manderscheid, and to distribute the 2019 alumni and faculty awards.

Alan Murray, president and CEO of Fortune, delivered the keynote speech on the future of communication and the challenges of “fake news” and credibility in the digital age.

Music during the Gala was provided by cellist Eric Aguilar and harpist Anne Jackson, vocalist Angelia Onuoha, and the UT Singers. The dance floor opened at the end of the program with live music from Just a Few Cats.

For more on the evening’s award winners:

2019 Donald G. Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award

Judge Nannette Baker (JEM ’78), chief magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis, received the Donald G. Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of her remarkable career in television news as a practicing attorney, and as a judge. It is the highest award given annually by the college.

Baker spent 13 years as a television news anchor, reporter, and talk show host before earning her law degree at the St. Louis University School of Law in 1994. She has served as a judge since 1999.


Alumni Awards

Before the presentation of the Hileman Award, the annual CCI school and program alumni award winners were honored for their accomplishments. Winners included:

  • Advertising – Leslie Osborne (’97), Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Watauga Group/CyBear Interactive
  • Communication Studies – Graham Thomas (’08), Deputy Director of Partnerships, tnAchieves
  • Information Sciences – Zoe Hoyle (MSIS ’94), Science Writer/Editor, U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (retired)
  • Journalism & Electronic Media – Sharrie Williams, News Anchor, WPVI-TV, 6ABC Philadelphia
  • Public Relations – Ed Patterson (’89), Vice President of Communications, Madison Square Garden Company (former)

Faculty Awards

CCI has been honoring faculty for their teaching, research, and service accomplishments since 1982. The 2019 CCI faculty award recipients included:

  • Faculty Teaching Award – Awa Zhu, Associate Professor, Information Sciences
  • Faculty Research Award – Barb Kaye, Professor, Journalism & Electronic Media
  • Faculty Service/Outreach Award – Vandana Singh, Associate Professor, Information Sciences
  • Lecturer Teaching Award – Sharon Toedte, Lecturer, Advertising & Public Relations
  • Bud Minkel International/Intercultural Award – Devendra Potnis, Associate Professor, Information Sciences