Alumni & Giving

2017 Gala

The ninth annual Alumni Awards Gala will be held Friday, November 3, 2017. The annual gala benefits the College Fund for the Haslam College of Business. The evening kicks off with cocktails and a silent auction at 6pm and is followed by dinner and the presentation of awards.

To become an event corprate partner or table corporate partner please contact the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs (865) 974-6083.

Event Corporate Partner
$5,000 includes table partner benefits plus logo recognition on the event invitation, signs, marketing materials, and displays

Table Corporate Partner
$2,500 includes a table of eight seats and name recognition on event signs and displays
 

2016 Gala Photo Gallery


Alumni Awards

Distinguished Alum Award

Distinguished Alum Award recipients are extraordinary professionals who personify leadership. Through their vision, intellect, passion for excellence, and boldness of spirit, these individuals have touched countless lives.

Our distinguished alumni share two common characteristics of which we are both proud and grateful: each is an alum of the Haslam College of Business, and each has generously invested in the college in a multitude of ways.


Entrepreneur of the Year

As the largest influence on American job growth, entrepreneurship is a vital part of business education. The Haslam College recognizes the importance of entrepreneurship in the global economy and is committed to providing its students the foundation necessary for future entrepreneurial growth. In recognition of the entrepreneurial spirit embraced by the college, the Entrepreneur of the Year award spotlights an alum who shares this same passion.


Outstanding Corporate Partner Award

Haslam College corporate partners invest in the college by giving of time, talent, and financial philanthropic support. Hiring students as interns, recruiting recent graduates as employees, mentoring students in the classroom, and providing resources through financial gifts are just a few examples of the ways these organizations invest in business education. The Outstanding Corporate Partner Award recognizes organizations that have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the success of the college’s students, faculty, and programs.


Outstanding Young Alum Award

The Haslam College has successful alumni of all ages, many of whom acheived professional excellence early in their careers. The Outstanding Young Alum Award recognizes alumni aged 40 or younger who have demonstrated records of achievement, leadership, and promising futures in business disciplines.


2017 Distinguished Alum – Chris Kinney

After launching his career at a commercial bank in Knoxville, Chris Kinney (HCB, ’81) relocated to Atlanta to become a managing director at JPMorgan Chase from 1985–2001. He spent eighteen years working in investment banking, eventually moving to New York. Kinney witnessed the events of 9/11 from the downtown window of his office at Barclays Capital in Manhattan.

Read more

2017 Distinguished Alum – Chris Kinney

After launching his career at a commercial bank in Knoxville, Chris Kinney (HCB, ’81) relocated to Atlanta to become a managing director at JPMorgan Chase from 1985–2001. He spent eighteen years working in investment banking, eventually moving to New York. Kinney witnessed the events of 9/11 from the downtown window of his office at Barclays Capital in Manhattan.

Two years later, Kinney and his family returned to Knoxville, where he became the city’s senior director of finance under new mayor Bill Haslam. In this role, Kinney had the opportunity to work with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, administration on various projects, including the revitalization of the Second Creek greenway. “It was in pretty bad shape and we worked to get a beautification grant and design a project,” he says. “I enjoyed collaborating with university administration and from that point, I decided I would stay involved with the university as much as I could.”

Kinney served the City of Knoxville for three years before starting a New York-based investment management business, SteelRiver Infrastructure Partners, in 2006. “We manage investments in utilities, pipelines, railroads, electric transmission companies and marine ports,” Kinney says. “Rather than investing in stocks, we purchase and operate entire companies.” Today, SteelRiver Infrastructure Partners has offices in New York and San Francisco, California, and their companies are located in 23 US states.

Over the past decade, Kinney and his wife Donna (HCB, ’82) have ramped up their involvement at the Haslam College of Business, establishing a fellowship for rising professors who want to spend more time on research projects, particularly in the summer months. The fellowship has continued to grow since its inception. Today, the Kinney Fellowship supports roughly 40 percent of the program’s fellows and Kinney also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council. “I’m happy that it’s successful, and I’ve enjoyed getting to meet the recipients,” he says. “Some of our disciplines are high in the national rankings, and that’s a testament to the quality and dedication of these professors.”

To honor his far-reaching career, distinguished service to the university and generous giving of talents and resources, the Haslam College of Business is proud to present its 2017 Distinguished Alum Award to Chris Kinney.

Previous Recipients


2017 Entrepreneur of the Year – Shelly Sun

Knoxville native Shelly Sun (HCB, ’92) came to the Haslam College of Business in the late 1980s in pursuit of an accounting degree. Driven to succeed, Sun placed in the top 100 of the CPA exam within a year of graduation. “I was well supported through the Haslam accounting program with two amazing internships,” she says. “As a junior, I interned at DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware, and as a senior, I worked at EY’s Knoxville office.”

Read more

2017 Entrepreneur of the Year – Shelly Sun

Knoxville native Shelly Sun (HCB, ’92) came to the Haslam College of Business in the late 1980s in pursuit of an accounting degree. Driven to succeed, Sun placed in the top 100 of the CPA exam within a year of graduation. “I was well supported through the Haslam accounting program with two amazing internships,” she says. “As a junior, I interned at DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware, and as a senior, I worked at EY’s Knoxville office.”

Sun spent the first decade of her career in various corporate roles within the technology, food distribution, and insurance industries as an assistant controller. Her work in health insurance drew her to property and casualty insurance, but it was a personal experience that led her to become an entrepreneur. “I was looking for home care for a family member and didn’t find the options we needed or expected,” she says. “That experience influenced a passion for families looking for the best care for their loved ones. I realized there was an opportunity to provide that care.”

In 2002, Sun started BrightStar Care, a Chicago-based premium healthcare company focusing on home care for homebound patients and medical staffing. The venture grew at a rapid rate, and in 2005, she decided to expand its reach through franchising. “My hope was to be able to help families everywhere by taking care of more mom and dads, grandmas and grandpas across the country,” she says. “Today, BrightStar Care is a large operation in more than 300 markets and $400 million in revenue each year. We operate across the United States and Canada.”

Sun’s vision for the company was to provide franchisees the opportunity to run the business on a local level and to select and hire the best caregivers. In 2012, she was featured on CBS’s Undercover Boss and decided to write a book to share her ideas and experiences with other entrepreneurs. “I wrote Grow Smart With Less in 2012 as a way to give back to the franchise industry,” Sun says. “The premise was to help those who might want to know how I was able to start BrightStar Care locally and scale it to a multi-million dollar business.”

Along the way, Sun has surrounded herself with positive people. “I needed people who helped me believe I could do it, and I’ve continued to have that positive momentum around me,” she says. “Having great mentors and a board of advisors has been invaluable to my success as an entrepreneur.”

For her career success, the Haslam College of Business is proud to name Shelly Sun the Entrepreneur of the Year for 2017.

Previous Recipients


2017 Outstanding Corporate Sponsor – Citizens Bank

Founded in 1934, Citizens Bank became the only bank in Carter County, Tennessee, during the Great Depression. The late Joe LaPorte, Jr., began work there in 1956 and was promoted to president six years later. In 1983, Joe and his four sons purchased 100 percent interest in Citizens Bank. Under their leadership, the bank has received national recognition for its performance and growth.

Read more

2017 Outstanding Corporate Sponsor – Citizens Bank

Founded in 1934, Citizens Bank became the only bank in Carter County, Tennessee, during the Great Depression. The late Joe LaPorte, Jr., began work there in 1956 and was promoted to president six years later. In 1983, Joe and his four sons purchased 100 percent interest in Citizens Bank. Under their leadership, the bank has received national recognition for its performance and growth.

Today, Joe LaPorte III (HCB, ’78) carries on as CEO and president of Citizens Bank. Since the early 1960s (when the institution’s assets were about $5 million), it has grown to an area-wide system that operates 12 branch locations in East Tennessee and is approaching $1 billion in assets. “We’ve grown from a tiny community bank to what we are today,” Joe LaPorte says. “Our greatest asset will always be our customers, and our partnership with the University of Tennessee is one way we’re investing in their future.”

Joe III and his three brothers all attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and have remained involved with supporting the university. Chris (HCB, ’75) and Joe found their niche at the Haslam College of Business and have both served on the UT Foundation Board. “Chris majored in general business and I focused on finance,” says Joe. “It was a great education and a wonderful experience.”

Through Citizens Bank and family foundations, the LaPorte brothers and their families have been consistent donors to the college for decades and also generously support the university’s athletics program and law school. Chris and his wife, Quinita, support the LaPorte Torch Fund, an investment portfolio managed by MBA students, and the brothers honored their mother by dedicating a classroom at the college in her name. Citizens Bank provided funds to enable the college to acquire 12 Bloomberg terminals, which are invaluable in preparing students for job opportunities in the investment world. The bank also established an endowment earmarked for Haslam undergraduates that provides partial scholarships for eight different students. “We’ve been blessed and are extremely fortunate, so we’re proud to give back,” Chris says. “It’s an opportunity for us to make a difference by assisting the university in achieving its goals. For us, it’s all about promoting education and helping the students.”

For their service to the community and generosity to the Haslam College of Business, Citizens Bank is the Outstanding Corporate Partner for 2017.

Previous Recipients


2017 Outstanding Young Alum – Michael D. Greene

Originally from Morristown, Tennessee, Michael D. Greene (HCB, ’01) transferred to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, after two years at a smaller university. Greene earned a double major in finance and classical philosophy and met his wife, Elizabeth, along the way. When he finished his bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 2002, Greene faced a difficult job market. “I initially wanted to be a fund manager, but my father was ill and I needed to stay close to home,” Greene says. “Instead, I chose a career in banking.” Greene spent some time at the National Bank of Commerce, and then joined SunTrust’s real estate finance group as a credit analyst, where he enjoyed a great deal of success.

Read more

2017 Outstanding Young Alum – Michael D. Greene

Originally from Morristown, Tennessee, Michael D. Greene (HCB, ’01) transferred to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, after two years at a smaller university. Greene earned a double major in finance and classical philosophy and met his wife, Elizabeth, along the way. When he finished his bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 2002, Greene faced a difficult job market. “I initially wanted to be a fund manager, but my father was ill and I needed to stay close to home,” Greene says. “Instead, I chose a career in banking.” Greene spent some time at the National Bank of Commerce, and then joined SunTrust’s real estate finance group as a credit analyst, where he enjoyed a great deal of success.

The financial crisis of 2009 forced Greene to reevaluate his course. “Banking was in shambles and real estate even worse,” he says. “For a real estate banker, those were difficult times.” After many talks with his wife, his father, and mentors, Greene decided to return to the Haslam College of Business for an MBA. “I felt that I had a unique opportunity to raise my career ceiling,” he says. “Meanwhile, I decided to stay in real estate. I loved being able to see the tangible results of my work.”

Two months before graduation, Greene’s father passed away. “He was a major force in my decision to pursue an MBA,” says Greene. “It was crushing not to have him there when I finished, but my classmates and professors were very supportive.”

In 2011, Greene became a commercial property affiliate broker at Wood Properties, Inc., where he works across the range of commercial property transactions but focuses on industrial warehousing and distribution centers. Since then, he’s also done financial consulting work for a development firm. “Consulting has been stimulating,” he says. “It allows me to use a lot of the analysis and Excel skills I took away from the MBA program.”

In 2016, Greene created the David L. Green, MD, Memorial MBA Fellowship Endowment for Haslam students in honor of his late father. “I benefited from fellowships as a student and wanted to pay it forward,” he says. “I must be a good steward of the opportunities I’ve been blessed with.”

In honor of his career achievement, generosity, and ongoing engagement with his alma mater, the Haslam College of Business is proud to name Michael Greene the Outstanding Young Alum of 2017.

Previous Recipients