Updates and Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Skip to main content

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee has named B. Otto Wheeley its 2005 Volunteer of the Year.

The award is UT’s highest honor and is given to individuals whose untiring service and devotion to the university and the community represent the volunteer spirit.

Wheeley was presented the award held in October at the annual Chancellor’s Associates dinner.

Dr. H. Lee Martin, managing member, Clarity Resources, LLC; B. Otto Wheeley; Kathleen Wheeley; and UT Knoxville Chancellor Loren Crabtree

He is a native of the Long Creek Community in Macon County, Tenn., and now lives in semi-retirement in Crossville, Tenn., with his wife, Kathleen.

Wheeley, who received a bachelor of science in chemical engineering from UT in 1943, has been active in venture capital and entrepreneurial advocacy since 1984. He has helped 15 to 20 East Tennessee businesses get started and is director of six entrepreneurial start-up technology companies.

Radio Systems, Pro2Serve, ASIC International and Computational Systems Inc. are some of his local successes.

He also has worked with UT to promote commercial development of university research.

“Otto Wheeley is more than simply an advocate for the University of Tennessee. He is a living embodiment of the volunteer spirit,” Chancellor Loren Crabtree said. “Otto is a true community leader who gives of his time and energy freely. His dedication and support for innovation is legendary. We’re honored to have Otto Wheeley as the Volunteer of the Year.”

Wheeley was named UT’s Outstanding Engineer Alumnus in 1976 and 1987, and was a mentor to Venture First Associations Inc. and to Technology 2020’s Strategic Alliance Program, which gives small businesses access to mentoring and business incubator services.

He established and funded the B. Otto and Kathleen Wheeley Award for excellence in technology transfer, which fosters innovation.

Since its establishment in 1989, eight UT faculty members have received the award, which is the most prestigious research award given by the university.

In 1961, Wheeley received a scholarship to the Brookings Institute. In 1973, he was named Marketing Man of the Year by the National Account Marketing Association. He received the Coopers and Lybrand Entrepreneurial Business Support Award in 1988.

He is a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers.

Wheeley began working for Koppers Company Inc. in 1943, and left as its deputy chairman in 1984. He also was president of Kopvenco, a venture capital subsidiary of Koppers Company Inc.

He has served on the board of directors for DNAP Corporation, Genex Corp., Ceramatec Inc., American Cimflex, Presbyterian University Hospital and the U.S. Korea Economic Council.

Wheeley was an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and has served as a member of advisory boards for the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, the Appalachian University School of Business and the Oxford Venture Fund.

He also served on the Salvation Army of Western Pennsylvania board.

He is a trustee of Alderson-Broaddus College, Eastern Baptist College and Seminary and Belmont University. He received an honorary law degree from Alderson-Broaddus College.

Wheeley is a member of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Foundation, and served as president of the American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware that named him Layman of the Year in 1973.

Contact: Linda Davidson (865-974-2115)