The twelfth annual Alumni Awards Gala was held Friday, November 12, 2021. The annual gala benefits the College Fund for the Haslam College of Business.
The award ceremony recognized the 2021 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.
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.
Tom Bell – 2021 Distinguished Alum
Tom Bell’s (HCB, ‘70) successful career spans from working in the political arena as chief of staff for a US senator, to leading an aerospace company, running a think-tank and a global marketing firm, to working in real estate. He and his wife, Jennifer, have created opportunities for business students through the Bell Family Scholarship Endowment and have brought our university community together by hosting alumni events at their home in Atlanta.
Randy Burleson – 2021 Outstanding Entrepreneur
Randy Burleson (HCB, ‘88) is the founder and CEO of Knoxville-based Burleson Brands. The company is comprised of 20 restaurants — including 14 Aubrey’s locations, Sunspot, Bistro by the Tracks, Blue Tick Tavern, Fieldhouse Social, Stefano’s Pizza and Catering by the Tracks — and employs approximately 1,300 people. Burleson has remained involved with the college, serving on the Department of Economics Advisory Council for a number of years. He enjoys catching up with faculty when they come into the restaurants and recommends the college to young employees.
Ryder – 2021 Outstanding Corporate Partner
Ryder was recognized as the 2021 Outstanding Corporate Partner for its dedication to supply chain education. Its support of NeXxus, a student organization that creates opportunities for young women studying supply chain, has provided scholarships for future leaders of the supply chain industry. The creation of the new Ryder Supply Chain Professorship is an investment in supply chain education that allows UT to recruit top professors. Through its loyalty and generosity, Ryder is paving the way for students and industry.
Wesley Rich - 2021 Outstanding Young Alum
After three years with ExxonMobil, Wesley Rich (HCB, ‘15) joined Google in a leadership role as a policy and legal manager — a mix of law and business that perfectly fits his passions. Rich has found the time to invest in the lives of Haslam business students. Through serving on the Haslam Young Alumni Board, mentoring current students and teaching BUAD, he has bettered the lives of hundreds of business students. Over the past several years, he has made his way back to Knoxville many times to work with our students, and has found ways to engage with them remotely throughout the pandemic.