The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business Department of Business Analytics and Statistics (BAS) officially opened its new Melton Collaboration Space in mid-September. Dozens of students and Melton Scholars, many wearing orange T-shirts emblazoned with the words, “Meet Me in the Melton Lounge!,” gathered with BAS faculty and staff and the program’s benefactors, George and Margaret (Peggy) Melton, to mark the occasion.
In opening remarks, Stephen L. Mangum, dean of the college and Stokely Foundation Leadership Chair, introduced the Meltons, lauding their contributions to the department while noting that philanthropists such as the Meltons fund about one-fifth of the college’s operations.
George Melton spoke of his time in the statistics program, where he met his wife during his senior year. He went on to say that in his career statistics had been an invaluable tool to guide his decision making, helping him rise from being an entry-level budget analyst to running multiple companies.
“Don’t worry too much about where you start,” he said. “Just start, and if you’re any good, you’ll impress someone, and you’ll be on your way.”
Mike Galbreth, department head and Pilot Corporation Chair, praised Melton’s vision for an elite BAS department at Haslam. He credited Melton’s gift that established the Melton Scholars program for raising the department’s profile across the country, including its No. 11 rank among public schools and No. 17 rank nationally in the 2022 U.S. News and World Report Best Undergraduate Business Programs rankings.
"George and Peggy Melton have been great friends and supporters of the department for several years,” Galbreth said. "With this latest initiative, they shared the department’s vision of offering a world-class space to match our world-class programs, and their gift made that space possible."
After the ceremony, those assembled explored the Melton Collaboration Space, situated on the second floor of the Stokely Management Center. A plaque honoring the Meltons’ distinguished service and commitment to the department welcomes visitors. The tablet also bears the names of current Melton Scholars and alumni.
The intimate, multiuse area is divided into a lounge section and a work area. The lounge is furnished with long, upholstered, L-shaped sectional seating along one wall with small white tables and white stools with orange cushions in the middle and a large monitor on the wall to which students and faculty can easily share their computer screens as they collaborate. The work area holds four white rolling tables and desk chairs and two double-sided whiteboards, also on wheels. The department envisions the space will promote collaborative efforts, where students interact with classmates and faculty, work on group projects and spend time together in a warm, functional space.
Students and faculty attending the celebration affirmed the department’s concept for the space. MSBA student and graduate teaching assistant Vedrana Vujic meets with her students in the space during her office hours and gets together with other MBA students there.
“It’s a good area for everybody to come and get to know one another and hear what everyone else is working on,” she said.
“It's really amazing," senior Melton Scholar Sofia Tomov said. "I am so grateful to the Meltons, not only for making possible this beautiful space for people to work in, but also for their extremely generous donation that has benefited me and the other Melton Scholars."
The Melton Scholars program pairs accomplished undergraduate students with business analytics and statistics faculty members to actively pursue academic research. Recipients receive funding and course credit for two semesters during their senior year while they conduct an original research project. By the time they graduate, they will have submitted a paper to an academic journal, presented at a research conference and/or converted the research into innovative instruction.
About George Melton
George Melton was born in Maryville, Tennessee, 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.
Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist, email@example.com