In each issue of Circle Park News, we feature one or more members of the CCI Board of Visitors through a Q&A session. Tom Adkinson is this issue’s featured member.
Tom Adkinson earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from UT in 1972. He went on to earn a master’s degree in History from The University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is currently Vice President and Director of Communications for BOHAN Advertising/Marketing in Nashville, having joined BOHAN in 2002.
Tom started his career as a newspaper and magazine journalist, working at Southern Living magazine, and has since written articles for publications across the nation. Additionally, he developed an excellent background in the travel and hospitality industries and corporate communications during 22 years at Gaylord Entertainment Company. Tom is a Marco Polo member of the Society of American Travel Writers, a past chairman of the Southeast Tourism Society and is accredited by the Public Relations Society of America.
Tom and his wife, Lois, have three children, all graduates of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Tom’s tenure on the Board of Visitors will be ending this summer.
CCI – How and when did you first get involved (on a volunteer basis) with CCI?
Tom – I was a very modest financial contributor for several years, and Dean Dwight Teeter drew me into the Board of Visitors sometime in the 1990s.
CCI – In your view, what is the most important or impactful role you’ve played as a volunteer?
Tom – The entire Board of Visitors played an important role of supporting the college’s administration and the faculty for several years when the dean’s position was in flux. I like to think we offered some worthy counsel.
CCI – Why have you chosen to support the college (financially and/or with your time)? Why do you see this as important?
Tom – It’s no secret that every public university needs outside support. University of Tennessee alumni have been national leaders in contributions, and I’ve always enjoyed being part of that. I especially wanted my support to help the college that prepared me for life and work – CCI.
CCI – What did you hope to accomplish during your term with the BOV?
Tom – I see two roles. First, giving faculty members another prism through which to see the job market. Second, encouraging younger alumni to support the college, even if that’s modest in time or money. The important consideration is to stay attached.
CCI – Is there anything exciting or interesting going on “behind the scenes” in CCI that the average alumnus might not be aware of?
Tom – What I suspect the average alumnus doesn’t realize is how dedicated the faculty is to preparing students for success. Their zeal for their work is inspiring.
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?
Tom – I’ve never liked the phrase “giving back.” I prefer thinking of volunteerism as “being a part of something.” If someone is considering supporting the college, I think the driving force should be a desire to be connected and to support an institution that is bigger than the individual.
CCI – What from your UT and CCI experience has “stuck with you” during life?
Tom – I think I realized while still in school that the education and training I was getting at UT were excellent. That was reinforced in my first newspaper job. I fit in well; I contributed immediately and understood what was going on. Then, when a whiz kid from the University of Missouri School of Journalism was hired and practically had to be taught how to find the bathroom, I KNEW my UT background was solid.
CCI – What is your favorite memory from your time at UT?
Tom – My favorite memory from UT is a collage of memories from working on The Daily Beacon. The Beacon was an extraordinary part of my time at UT, and that experience produced friends I have to this day. One particular memory was writing a color story about Richard Nixon’s appearance at a Billy Graham Crusade at Neyland Stadium. That was an odd time for the nation, the university and the student body.