In each issue of Circle Park News, we feature one or more members of the CCI Board of Visitors through a Q&A session. Dan Conaway is this issue’s featured member.
Currently, an Advertising and Creative Services Consultant, Dan Conaway started out in 1971 as an advertising graduate of the University of Tennessee. Now living in Memphis, Dan is a trustee of the Historic Elmwood Cemetery, a Scout Master for Troop 34, and past president of Leadership Memphis Alumni, the Memphis unit of the American Cancer Society, The Phoenix Club and Theatre Memphis. Dan was a member of Alpha Tau Omega while at UT. He and his wife, Nora, have two grown children, Hallie and Gaines, both UT CCI graduates.
CCI – How and when did you first get involved (on a volunteer basis) with CCI?
Dan – Shortly after the university was founded in 1794. No, wait, that was my freshman year. I actually began coming back to campus to lecture and meet with students in 1972. I’ve been on the BOV since it was formed.
CCI – In your view, what is the most important or impactful role you’ve played as a volunteer?
Dan – In the early years, I worked closely with the campaigns class to coach and judge teams in preparation for student competition. I think I helped them, I certainly enjoyed it, and I grew as much as they did in the process. Later, working on branding and curriculum with the faculty was particularly rewarding.
CCI – Why have you chosen to support the college (financially and/or with your time)? Why do you see this as important?
Dan – This is our state flagship university, the college is known nationally and my major, advertising, is particularly recognized. I’ve been here from, quite literally, the very beginning of the college and I take great pride in representing it to one and all. Great success is behind us, and greater success built on that foundation is ahead. Add that both of my children have degrees from the college, and I’m a little surprised I don’t glow orange in the dark.
CCI – What do you hope to accomplish during your term with the BOV?
Dan – Since I’m stepping off this year, in answering this question I’m reminded of blues woman Ma Rainey’s epitaph on her tombstone in Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, “Ain’t ever had enough of nothing, and it’s too damn late now.”
CCI – Is there anything exciting or interesting going on “behind the scenes” in CCI that the average alum might not be aware of?
Dan – Dean Wirth plays the accordion in a polka band on odd weekends. Actually, very odd.
CCI – If someone is considering volunteerism as a way to “give back” to the University, what advice would you have for them? Why should they do it?
Dan – First, it’s up to each individual to measure what they can give to the university in time, treasure and talent … one, two or all three … based on what the university has given them.
Second, what you give to athletics is fine. It has nothing to do with helping the College of Communication and Information achieve its goals or enhance its mission.
Third, if why you should do it is still a question for you, then you probably shouldn’t.
CCI – What from your UT and CCI experience has “stuck with you” during life since graduating?
Dan – All of it.
CCI – What is your favorite memory from your time as a student at UT?
Dan – I learned more in less time about everything and enjoyed every second of it more, and more recklessly and colorfully, than any like period before or since.
Three things stand out:
1. Getting married my senior year. Neither one of us had a clue nor a dime, but we’re still waking up next to each other 40 years later. We’re still working on clues and dimes, too.
2. Winning the AAF Student Advertising Competition as part of a great UT team. (picture) I’m the guy on the right. Yes, those dresses were that short, I was that skinny, and the tie was that wide.
3. Directing and co-writing the winning Carnicus skit based on the musical “Hair.”
CCI – Anything else you’d like to share?
Dan – My thanks to Professor Richard Joel for teaching me that curiosity and passion are the things that sustain us.