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KNOXVILLE — A long-time executive with Proffitt’s department stores has been chosen as the first executive-in-residence in the UT College of Human Ecology.

Coleman Piper is teaching a course in the Department of Retailing and Merchandising at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

“Cole Piper knows the retailing industry,” said Dr. James Moran, dean of the college. “He is respected by business leaders around the country for his willingness to think with innovation.

“He is already helping us examine our curriculum to be sure it fits what is needed for the coming millennium.”

Piper retired in January as executive vice president after a 30-year career with Proffitt’s.

“I wanted to see if I could take some of the practical experience I’ve had in retailing and bring upper-level UT students some of the things that are vital as they make the transition from the academic to the business world,” Piper said. “I want them to use me as a sounding board and for help in networking.”

The executive-in-residence position was created by an endowment from Dr. Susan Dillard, a former faculty member and alumna of the department. She said that exposure to people from the working world is crucial to both students and faculty in retailing.

“My main purpose is to try to enhance this exposure,” Dillard said. “I want to have a bona fide practitioner come in who is willing to instruct others with those real world experiences and challenge students with problems and questions that require analytical thinking.”