Gala Awards

14th annual Alumni Awards Gala winners

The 14th annual Alumni Awards Gala was held Friday, November 3, 2023. The gala benefits the College Fund for the Haslam College of Business.

The award ceremony recognized the 2023 distinguished alum, outstanding entrepreneur, outstanding corporate partner and outstanding young alum. Our awardees share two common characteristics of which we are both proud and grateful — each is an alum and each has generously invested in the college in a multitude of ways.

Alumni Awards

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.

As the largest influence on American job growth, entrepreneurship is a vital part of business education. The Haslam College of Business recognizes the importance of entrepreneurship in the global economy and is committed to providing its students with 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.

Haslam’s corporate partners invest in the college by giving their 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.

The Haslam College of Business has successful alumni of all ages, many of whom achieved 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.

We would like to thank all our Corporate Partners for their continued support of the Haslam College of Business.

James I. Newsome III

2023 Distinguished Alum Award – James I. Newsome III (HCB, ’76, MBA, ’77)

James I. Newsome III began his career by climbing the ranks at a small shipping agency in Houston, Texas. Between 1987 and 2009, he worked for two major European container shipping companies, Nedlloyd Lines and Hapag-Lloyd. At both companies, he was the first American to serve as president for the Americas region.

Newsome served as president and CEO for the South Carolina Ports Authority from 2009 until his retirement in 2022. During his tenure, he spearheaded numerous improvements to the Port of Charleston, leading it from 700,000 pier containers and $38 million in operating cash flow in 2009 to 1.6 million pier containers and $190 million in operating cash flow in 2022. Newsome continues to be active in retirement, consulting on supply chain visibility and industrial real estate and serving on Haslam’s Dean’s Advisory Council.

Jordan Mollenhour

2023 Outstanding Entrepreneur Award – Jordan Mollenhour (HCB, ’04, MBA, ’06, Law, ’10, EMBA ’18)

Jordan Mollenhour entered the world of real estate in his teens. While studying accounting at Haslam, he met future business partner Dustin Gross (UT, ’04). Together, they expanded their real estate interests to include businesses related to construction, brokerage, land development, building management and mortgages.

The pair’s business ventures struggled following the 2008 financial crisis, but Mollenhour and Gross rallied to start several new businesses, eventually shifting their focus toward investing. Today, Mollenhour Gross is a holding company that includes an e-commerce logistics business, a company that services hotel HVAC systems throughout the U.S., a company that designs and manufactures aircraft parts and a real estate development and management firm.

2023 Outstanding Corporate Partner – PYA

Founded in 1983 and led by several Haslam alumni, including president and CEO Marty Brown (HCB, ’85), PYA is now one of the top 100 largest CPA firms in the nation. The Knoxville-based company consistently ranks as one of the country’s top healthcare consulting firms and top auditors of the nation’s largest health systems.

PYA has invested time and financial resources in Haslam for several years. Firm representatives have advised on curricula and programs, invested in capital improvements, led giving for the Richard Townsend Endowment, hosted students from the college’s summer high school programs and provided many internships for undergraduate and graduate students. PYA also recruits many Haslam graduates — more than 30 percent of PYA employees are UT alumni, most of those from Haslam.

Megan Turner

2023 Outstanding Young Alum Award – Megan Turner (HCB, ’05, MAcc, ’07)

During and after her time at Haslam, Megan Turner completed five separate internships before accepting a full-time position with EY. She has worked with the firm in Atlanta, Memphis, New York and Charlotte over the past 15 years, first as an advisory staff member and later as an advisory services manager. She became a partner in 2020.

In part, Turner credits her career success to her strong family and spiritual foundation. She is also proud of the authentic approach she has taken to her work life and advises young professionals to remain true to themselves throughout their careers.