KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Dwight Kessel, businessman, community leader and public servant, has been chosen the University of Tennessee’s 1998 Volunteer of the Year.
The award, which is for service and commitment to UT and the community, was presented Tuesday at a dinner meeting of the Chancellor’s Associates in the Hyatt Regency.
A Volunteer of the Year is chosen annually by UT President Joe Johnson and UT-Knoxville Chancellor Bill Snyder.
Kessel, a native of West Virginia, graduated from UT in 1950 with a degree in industrial engineering. He was working with Chapman Drugs when neighbors suggested he run for public office.
Kessel was a member of Knoxville City Council from 1963 until 1966, Knox County Clerk from 1966 to 1980, and elected the first Knox County Executive in 1980, a position he held 14 years.
In addition to his business interests, which include real estate development and assisting start-up companies, Kessel has supported the Girl’s Club, WORD for Living, and the United Way.
Kessel also has chaired the UT Development Council and the Chancellor’s Associates, and served as a member of the UT-Knoxville College of Engineering’s Board of Advisors.
Kessel and his wife, Gloria, have established scholarships, professorships and fellowships in the College of Engineering and created an endowment for UT’s Institute for Public Service to assist county governments in the state.
“Dwight Kessel is a true volunteer,” Johnson said. “His service is reflected in his superb leadership of the UT Development Council and by the example-setting gifts he and Gloria have made to UT and its academic programs.”
Snyder said Kessel and his wife have gone more than an “extra mile” in their support of UT and the community.
“Although Dwight’s formal education was in engineering, I am delighted that he chose a career in public service,” Snyder said. “His generosity and leadership have been invaluable.”
Kessel said he and Gloria have followed lessons learned early in life.
“Gloria and I were taught from childhood that we should share our good fortune with others,” Kessel said.
“I’ve enjoyed helping people, both at the university and in the community.”
The Kessels have two children, Edgar and Karen, and two grandchildren, Matthew and Kathryn.