Haslam College of Business Honors Best and Brightest at Annual Awards Reception

May 23, 2023

The University of Tennessee Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business honored outstanding faculty and staff achievements at Haslam’s annual awards reception on May 10 in the West Club at Neyland Stadium. Chad Autry, the college’s associate dean for research and faculty, emceed the ceremony.

Haslam College of Business Staff Awards

Laura Watts from the Department of Business Analytics and Statistics received the Staff Award for Superior Customer Responsiveness. Nominators praised Watts’ efficiency and accuracy, with one recommender saying, “She anticipates needed support so that she is always one step ahead of us.”

The Staff Award for Innovation and Creativity went to Beth Weissmueller from the Department of Economics. Despite being in her position for only one year, Weissmueller received kudos for improving administrative processes and never being afraid of a challenge.

Elizabeth Ferguson from the Department of Accounting and Information Management was the winner of the Tim Williams Staff Award for Professionalism. One nominator said, “Elizabeth exemplifies professionalism in everything she does. She has served the Volunteer community for over 30 years. She really deserves a lifetime achievement award.”

Staff Awards in Graduate and Executive Education (GEE)

The Staff Excellence Award for Outstanding Service in Graduate and Executive Education (GEE) was presented to Ashley Sams and Laura Williams. Sams was recognized for her leadership in the graduate admissions office, while Williams was honored for supporting students and working to increase their engagement. 

Izabela VanDeest won the Staff Excellence Award for Outstanding Results in GEE. She was commended for going above and beyond the expectations of her position, as well as for the care she shows to students.

The Staff Excellence Award for Outstanding Innovation in GEE went to the Data, Admissions, Recruitment and Technology (DART) team of Taylor Brewster, Darren Purkey, Billy Topley and Cole Turner. Autry told the team, “Your great ideas have enhanced the student experience and made our sixth floor an easy place to come and learn for people from all over the world.”

Erica da Silva was honored with the Staff Excellence Award for Outstanding Teamwork and Collaboration in GEE. One nominator commented, “Erica holds an ‘all in this together’ approach and is ready and available to help whenever she is able. She does her best to ensure that everyone, for all Executive MBA programs, is prepared.”

Bill Peterson received the George Miller Jr. Award for Lifetime Achievement in Executive Education. Presenting the award, associate dean for GEE Amy Cathey said, “He not only makes an impact within GEE, but impacts the university through his Lean Applied to Business Processes training initiatives.”

The Richard Sanders Faculty Leadership Award in GEE was presented to Nancy Scott. She received recognition for her leadership and her innovative work on GEE’s leadership development program.

Faculty and Doctoral Student Awards

Annika Abell was the winner of the Allen H. Keally Award for Teaching Excellence. Her nominators praised her for providing a safe, fun learning environment and for creating a unique experiential learning opportunity that allows students to hone their digital marketing skills.

The Outstanding Doctoral Student Researcher Award went to Ashley Roccapriore. With nominations submitted by the college’s Ph.D. program directors, the award honored Roccapriore’s exceptional efforts in the area of research.

Ace Beorchia received the Outstanding Doctoral Student Teacher Award. He was commended for listening to his students’ needs and for maintaining rigor in his course without sacrificing evaluation ratings.

The Richard C. Reizenstein Outstanding Commitment to Students Award was presented to Amelia Hart. One recommender said, “She believes that promoting our students and creating opportunities for their success is a task that happens both inside and outside the classroom.”

Alex Scott was honored with the Rising Star Research Award. He was lauded for his growing reputation as one of the nation’s leading transportation scholars, buoyed by publications in multiple premier journals and numerous conference presentations.

The Vallett Family Outstanding Researcher Award went to Jonathan Hasford. He was recognized for having seven publications in premier journals. This prolific output places Hasford among the top 100 marketing scholars worldwide.

Lauren Cunningham was the winner of the Diversity and Inclusion Award. She was honored for her work with the Office of Access and Community ConnectionsBusiness Education for Talented Students (BETS) and Accounting and Information Management Accounting and Information Management (AIM) Academy programs, as well as for her research and pedagogy around unconscious bias.

Wenjun Zhou received the Martin and Carol Robinson Excellence in Teaching, Research and Service Award, which honors the year’s best all-around faculty member. She was described as “a beloved teacher,” “the ideal scholar and colleague” and “one of the brightest minds on our faculty.”

The Bank of America Faculty Leadership Award was presented to Lauren Cunningham. She was recognized for her innovative teaching, her commitment to diversity and her leadership role as director of research for the Neel Corporate Governance Center.

Special Recognitions

In addition to the annual awards listed above, the college presented two Volunteer Spirit Awards, an honor reserved for occasions when the deans feel a faculty or staff member is deserving of special commendation. Economics doctoral student Trinity Douglass received the award for volunteering to teach a course when the department found itself short of available instructors at the last minute, and Reagan Professor of Business Kelly Hewett was recognized for leading a group of first-semester students on a study abroad trip to Cuba.

Autry also recognized the winners of annual research grants provided by the Applied Supply Chain Collaborative (ASCC). Two $4,500 grants were awarded to the faculty project teams of Charles Liu and Yang Liu for their construction of an AI-based index approach to work design, and Annika Abell and Ruta Ruzeviciute for their study of how product portioning impacts retail sales. Student awards in the form of $1,000 stipends went to Gavin Williamson for his study of entrepreneurs re-entering the labor market; Chinedu Ufodike for his analysis of how and when clean port programs cause trucking companies to adopt newer, cleaner trucks; and Becca Arwine for her in-depth case studies of collective identities in entrepreneurial ventures.


Stacy Estep, writer/publicist, sestep3@utk.edu