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KNOXVILLE — The College of Business Administration at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has honored four alumni and organizations for their extraordinary commitment to the college and their community.

The awards were given out on Friday at an alumni gala at the James A. Haslam II Business Building.

Michael Strickland was honored as the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year for his outstanding contribution to the college and his chosen profession. He is the 20th person recognized with this award, which was given for the first time in 1982.

Three awards were given for the first time this year: David Evans was honored as the Outstanding Young Alumnus; Home Federal Bank of Tennessee was named the Outstanding Corporate Partner; and Randy Boyd, CEO of Radio Systems, received the Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Michael Strickland
Michael Strickland

Distinguished Alum: Michael Strickland

Strickland is founder and owner of Bandit Lites, known as the “Rolls Royce of entertainment lighting.” Bandit Lites has received dozens of national and international lighting-industry awards. It also has received countless accolades for business and civic leadership and for being an outstanding employer.

Bandit Lites serves the world’s most famous music and performance artists from its offices in Nashville, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Strickland started Bandit Lites in 1968 at the age of 12 in his hometown of Kingsport. He moved the company to Knoxville in 1973 when he attended the College of Business Administration to earn his bachelor’s degree in general business. He remained in Knoxville after graduation to direct the company’s global expansion; the company now employs 500 people worldwide. Named CNN-USA Today Entrepreneur of the Year in 1999, Strickland has founded several non-profit and for-profit organizations in the area of entertainment and has numerous lighting patents and inventions to his credit.

Strickland currently commits the majority of his time to philanthropic and civic endeavors. At UT, he generously gives of his time, both in the classroom and serving on the College of Business Administration’s Campaign Leadership Team.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today but for the education I received at UT,” Strickland said. “It is where I developed the principles, foundations, knowledge and habits that have helped me be successful in the workplace.”

Outstanding Young Alum: David Evans

David Evans
David Evans

Evans, a 1994 graduate of the College of Business Administration, participates in the annual Accounting Roundtable — an alumni advisory board that counsels the Department of Accounting and Information Management — and recruits for his employer, the top-20 accounting firm Dixon Hughes.

“I enjoy being around students, sharing industry experiences with the faculty, and suggesting ways that the program can give students an even greater edge in the marketplace,” Evans said.

Evans credits “great connections with the faculty” for shaping the course of his life and instilling in him a passion for giving back to the college. He not only personally gives generously to the college but also spearheads a giving campaign every year for Dixon Hughes’ College of Business Administration graduates.

Outstanding Corporate Partner: Home Federal Bank of Tennessee

Home Federal Bank of Tennessee has given more than $850,000 to the college by establishing the David E. Sharp/Home Federal Bank of Tennessee Professor of Banking and Finance and the Home Federal Bank Excellence Endowment in the Department of Finance.

Home Federal Bank President and CEO Dale Keasling said the bank places a high priority on supporting higher education, particularly at UT.

“UT has such a tremendous impact on our marketplace and upon our staff and board. A large number of our key people are graduates of the College of Business Administration, and we owe a debt of gratitude to UT for supplying us with such sharp, capable people.”

Keasling said his favorite part of supporting the university is hearing from scholarship recipients, many who would not have been able to go to college without the bank’s support.

“We get thank you letters every semester from students, and it’s a thrill to imagine the impact that each one of these students will make. As they become productive members of our community, they will ‘pay back’ that gift many times over. So, a gift to UT is not just a gift to UT — it’s a gift to the community at large,” Keasling said.

Randy Boyd
Randy Boyd

Entrepreneur of the Year: Randy Boyd

Years ago, as a young Boy Scout, Randy Boyd learned a camping creed that would become a guiding philosophy of his life: “Leave every campsite better than you found it.” Boyd has been named the 2009 CEO of the Year by Business TN magazine and lauded as a regional finalist for the 2008 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Boyd has been involved with the college’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation from its early stages, volunteering numerous hours to the program by speaking to entrepreneurship classes, judging the undergraduate business plan competition, and establishing the Randal D. Boyd Venture Fund for Student Entrepreneurs Endowment, which will support center programs.

“Investing in this program will improve our community for generations to come,” Boyd said. “By teaching young people to be entrepreneurs and innovators, we’ll create opportunities and businesses right here in our own community; that, in turn, will expand our tax base and improve educational opportunities for the next generation.”

C O N T A C T :

Cindy Raines (865-974-4359,