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KNOXVILLE — The alumni board of directors at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, honored 12 of its most outstanding members in a gala held Friday, Sept. 10, at the Marriott in downtown Knoxville. Four people were honored as distinguished alumni for their years of service and great personal and professional success.

Winners of the Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award at the UT Knoxville Alumni Board of Directors gala, pictured from left to right: Alumni Board of Directors president Alan Wilson; winners Joel Katz, William Stokely, Nancy-Ann DeParle and John Cullum; UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek; former UT System President Joseph E. Johnson and current UT Interim President Jan Simek.Alan Wilson, president, CEO and chairman of the board of McCormick and Co., serves as president of the board and emceed the event. Wilson is a 1980 graduate of the College of Communication and Information.

The Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award recognizes those alumni who have attained extraordinary distinction and success in their chosen fields of endeavor. Through their accomplishments, they have brought credit and acclaim to UT Knoxville and have benefited society at large.

The winners of the Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus Award were:

John Cullum, who is a 1975 and 1978 Tony Award-winning actor, attended UT Knoxville on a tennis scholarship but ended up cutting his teeth on stage, performing in more than 30 productions at UT Knoxville. He has starred in numerous Broadway productions but is probably best known for his role as Holling Vincoeur in the popular 1990s television series “Northern Exposure.” In 2004, Cullum returned to UT Knoxville to star alongside his son, J.D. Cullum, in the Clarence Brown Theatre’s 30th anniversary production of “The Dresser.”

Winners of the Alumni Promise Award at the UT Knoxville Alumni Board of Directors gala, pictured from left to right: Alumni Board of Directors president Alan Wilson; winners Gregory Cox Jr., Nick Dryden, Jason Houser, Crista Martinez-Padua and Jennifer Stanley; and UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek.Nancy-Ann DeParle, who serves as President Barack Obama’s “Health Reform Czar,” received her bachelor’s degree in 1978. She earned a law degree from Harvard University and a master’s degree from Oxford University, and she was selected to be a Rhodes Scholar. DeParle has led the state’s Department of Human Services, served as a key representative on health care reform for President Bill Clinton and, in 2009, was nominated by President Obama to head up the new White House Office of Health Reform.

Joel Katz, who is recognized as one of the world’s foremost attorneys in the field of entertainment law, graduated from the UT College of Law in 1969. Katz’s client list is made up of some of the most celebrated artists in the music industry, including Willie Nelson, James Taylor and Jimmy Buffett. Katz continues to be an avid supporter of the College of Law and UT Knoxville. He has established the Katz Family Scholarships to support law students who have an interest in entrepreneurial or business law, endowed a professorship and made a tremendous gift to benefit the law library, which also bears his name. He also cosponsors a law lecture series with SunTrust Bank.

Winners of the Alumni Service Award at the UT Knoxville Alumni Board of Directors gala, pictured from left to right: Alumni Board of Directors president Alan Wilson; winners Joe Crafton, Dean Skadberg and Michael Strickland; and UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek.William Stokely graduated from UT Knoxville in 1963. Since then, he’s served in leadership roles for several of the family’s enterprises, including serving as chairman and chief executive of Stokely Van-Camp Inc. He is now chair emeritus of the Campaign for Tennessee and was the chair of the College of Business Administration’s first capital campaign and the first to chair the dean’s advisory council. He was national chair of the university’s 21st Century Campaign and the corporate co-chair of the Tennessee Tomorrow Campaign. He also led his family in creating the Stokely Foundation Leadership Chair, the first endowed chair at UT, and is among the university’s most loyal financial supporters.

The Alumni Service Award recognizes exceptional long term continuing service and leadership to UT. The winners of the Alumni Service Award were:

  • Joe R. Crafton Jr., president, CROSSMARK Inc.
  • A. Dean Skadberg Sr., former director of industry affairs, Procter & Gamble
  • Michael T. Strickland, founder, Bandit Lites

The Alumni Promise Award recognizes alumni 40 years old or younger who have demonstrated distinctive achievement in their careers, civic involvement or both. The winners of the Alumni Promise Award were:

  • Gregory Cox Jr., financial planning and analysis manager, American Cancer Society headquarters
  • Nick Dryden, founder, Dryden Abernathy Architecture Design
  • Jason Houser, associate assistant director of legislative affairs, Department of Homeland Security
  • Crista Martinez Padua, executive director, Families First Parenting Programs
  • Jennifer S. Stanley, founder, OX1 Consulting firm

The alumni board of directors provides advice and counsel to the university administration and guidance for alumni initiatives.

C O N T A C T:

Whitney Holmes (865-974-5460,