In each issue of the Circle Park News, we feature one or more members of the CCI Board of Visitors through a Q&A session. Gill Duff is this issue’s featured member.
Gill earned his Bachelor of Science in Communications/Advertising from CCI in 1983. He is Global Account Director for DDB Worldwide Communications Group in New York City. In 1998, Gill received CCI’s Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award for his notable contributions to the field of communication. Gill has also received the President’s Award from The Advertising Club of New York. His creative work has received numerous awards including the Cannes Gold Lion for FedEx and an Emmy nomination for AT&T.
CCI – How and when did you first get involved (on a volunteer basis) with CCI?
Gill – I was first introduced to the leadership of CCI when I was named a Donald G. Hileman Award winner. Prior to that, my involvement was basically as an alumnus of the program who always tried to help UT students and graduates get practical experience in the communications industry. Around that time, we began a program for advertising interns from UT CCI at Young & Rubicam (Y&R) in New York.
CCI – In your view, what is the most important or impactful role you’ve played as a volunteer?
Gill – For me, it has been continuing the internship program among NYC advertising agencies. What we started at Y&R, I have since helped launch at BBDO, Publicis and, most recently, at DDB. Many of these interns have become full time employees with successful careers in the advertising and communications field.
CCI – Why have you chosen to support the college (financially and/or with your time)? Why do you see this as important?
Gill – Pride in my alma mater for starters. Additionally, I think college communications programs sometimes get a bad rap, especially in NY, so I try to help UT CCI grads get into the business. Based on this, I particularly love it when people tell me that UT grads are some of the best and most prepared for a career in advertising. Plus, selfishly, the stronger the College becomes, the more value my degree has in the marketplace.
CCI – What do you hope to accomplish during your term with the BOV?
Gill – Continue to provide exposure and access to the “real world” (a.k.a. the advertising industry) for University of Tennessee CCI students and graduates, particularly among advertising majors.
CCI – Is there anything exciting or interesting going on “behind the scenes” in CCI that the average alum might not be aware of?
Gill – I am excited about the new media convergence lab. I haven’t seen it yet, but hope to take a look next time I’m on campus.
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?
Gill – Don’t do it to put on your resume or your Linked In profile. If you do, other things will always take priority. If you do it to truly help the students and graduates, then you’ll always find the resources, whether it be time, money, introductions, etc.
CCI – What from your UT and CCI experience has “stuck with you” during life since graduating?
Gill – I still highly value, and hold near and dear, the classroom learning experience I received from Dr. Richard Joel, the Head of the Advertising Department at the time, as well as the time I spent with Hal Ernest, my first mentor, during a two-term internship I had with a Knoxville ad agency while a student at UT. And, from the recent era, I really enjoyed having the opportunity to deliver the commencement address at a CCI graduation ceremony a few years ago.
CCI – What is your favorite memory from your time at UT?
Gill – I have a lot of great memories. From the more studious and industrious ones mentioned above, to fraternity life (Phi Gamma Delta), to football and basketball games, to time spent on the Cumberland Avenue Strip and much, much more.
CCI – Anything else you’d like to share?
Gill – After 25 years and an incredible amount of change in the advertising industry, I still am excited by it. Same thing goes for my loyalty to the University of Tennessee.