University of Tennessee

Donor establishes student award to honor popular business analytics and statistics lecturer

April 13, 2022

Students of Brian Stevens, senior lecturer in the Department of Business Analytics and Statistics (BAS) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business, have described him as “engaging,” accessible” and “responsive.” Stevens, whom students have called the best teacher they’ve ever had, has won multiple teaching awards and is known for inspiring students to delve further into the discipline. In recognition of his teaching prowess, a new award has been named for him: the Brian Stevens Analytics Student of the Year award.

This distinction comes thanks to the generosity of George Melton (HCB, ’68) and Peggy Melton, longtime supporters of the department. Passionate about bolstering an exceptional undergraduate experience in the BAS program, the Meltons have contributed in many ways, including supporting development of the department’s Melton Collaboration Space and sponsoring its elite Melton Scholars program.

Now, through the creation of this student tribute, the couple has found a new way to promote exceptionalism in the department. Of establishing the award, George Melton says, “It is our objective to acknowledge instructor excellence and student achievement.”

Stevens says he is honored by the generosity of the couple. “The business analytics program is not only about furthering one’s education, but also building community and helping our fellow volunteers,” he says. “This award will help us honor students who embody the volunteer spirit and through this spirit enrich the lives and educations of their fellow classmates.”

Mike Galbreth, department head, said the Meltons have been stalwart advocates for the business analytics and statistics program for years. “We are so grateful to George and Peggy for creating this award in acknowledgement of Brian’s transformational impact on our undergraduate students,” Galbreth says. “It will reward recipients who exemplify the qualities Brian strives to instill.”

Beginning in May 2022, the award will be presented to a deserving undergraduate who demonstrates an aptitude for critical thinking, sets a positive example, is driven to go above and beyond and whose achievements enhance the UT and BAS brands.

Former student Nick Brown (HCB, ’17), now principal data scientist and MLOps architect at IHSMarkit in Denver, Colo., called the award an appropriate accolade for his former professor.

“Brian’s care and intentionality for what and how he teaches is a masterclass in passion and dedication,” Brown said. “He combines levity with a deep, inquisitive curiosity, which always left me energized with answers and more questions. The collaborative learning culture he fosters and cultivates is an inspiration for all students interested in leading, particularly in analytics.”

About George Melton

George Melton was born in Maryville, Tenn., and graduated from Chattanooga’s Red Bank High School. He earned his bachelor’s in statistics from UT in 1968. After serving in the U.S. Army Signal Corp, including a year in Vietnam, Melton enjoyed a successful 43-year career in the aerospace and defense industry, including executive positions with Allied-Signal, Tracor, BAE Systems, EG&G and Wyle Inc. He met his wife, Peggy, at UT in 1967. Together for more than 50 years, the couple resides in Ojai, California.

About the Department of Business Analytics and Statistics at UT’s Haslam College of Business

The Department of Business Analytics and Statistics’ mission is to create knowledge through research and to disseminate that knowledge through its degree programs. The faculty uses the results of its application-focused research to educate students on how to effect positive change within organizations by emphasizing soft skills such as communication and team building alongside the targeted and effective use of analytics. The department’s continually evolving curriculum draws upon state-of-the-art theoretical and practical content from the fields of statistics, machine learning and operations research.

CONTACT:

Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist, rmcnutt4@utk.edu