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VOL. 45 | NO. 16 | Friday, April 16, 2021

Wirth wins national broadcast education award

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Michael O. Wirth, Ph.D. and dean of the College of Communication and Information at the University of Tennessee, has won the 2021 Broadcast Education Association’s Distinguished Education Service Award.

The DESA is awarded to an individual who has made a significant and lasting contribution to the American system of electronic media education.

An internationally known expert in the field of cable telecommunication and broadcast economics, law and management, Wirth has conducted research under grants from a number of organizations, including the National Science Foundation and the National Association of Broadcasters.

He was the first guest professor from the U.S. to the School of Journalism and Communication at Renmin University in Beijing, China (1997), and served as the first visiting professor from the U.S. to Zhejiang University’s School of Journalism & Communication, in Hangzhou, China (2001).

Wirth was one of only two academics, worldwide, invited to deliver a keynote speech to China Central Television’s International Forum on Chinese TV and Media Development (2003).

He served as a member of the National Television Academy’s Education Committee (2003-2007) and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication (2018-2021). The International Radio and Television Society Foundation honored him as its 2000 Frank Stanton Fellow.

Wirth has extensive training and experience in statistical and research analysis. He specializes in the development of econometric models characterizing various aspects of media economics, marketing and policy.

Over the years he has provided consulting services to such organizations as Capital Cities/ABC; American Television and Communications Corporation/Time Warner Cable; Knight-Ridder Broadcasting, Inc.; Tele-Communications, Inc./AT&T Broadband; DirecTV; Viacom Cable Inc.; the National Cable & Telecommunications Association; the National Association of Broadcasters; the National Basketball Association; and Women In Cable and Telecommunications.

UT honors six seniors as Torchbearers

The University of Tennessee’s highest undergraduate honor, the Torchbearer, has been given to six seniors.

Each year, a group of students who have gone above and beyond in demonstrating their commitment to service, outstanding leadership, and academic achievement are named Torchbearers in recognition of their extraordinary accomplishments.

The 2021 Torchbearers:

Taylor Boyer, of Knoxville, is a 1794 Scholar studying marketing with a collateral in international business. She is the founder and president of Women of Haslam, a student organization focused on bringing together business-minded women from across campus for networking and professional development opportunities. Boyer has served as a Haslam Ambassador, Smith Global Leadership Scholar, president of the South Carrick Residence Hall Council, a member of Student Alumni Associates, and president of the Order of Omega Greek leadership honor society. She has held numerous leadership positions in the Haslam College of Business and across campus. Boyer plans to attend UT’s College of Law in the fall.

Natalie Campbell, of Knoxville, is studying special education with a minor in English. She served as a student director for Ignite, an extended orientation program in UT’s Jones Center for Leadership and Service that welcomes first-year students to UT by connecting them to Knoxville and providing community service opportunities. Campbell worked overtime with JCLS staff to reimagine the program after the pandemic threatened to shut down the experience for incoming students. She has also served as a Student Ambassador tour guide, a Leadership Knoxville Scholar, Camp Koinonia counselor, and art director of Students for the Rock. Campbell will go on to pursue her master’s degree in special education at UT this fall and gain her Tennessee teaching license with the hopes of becoming a school administrator.

Trey Smith, of Jackson, graduated in December with a degree in recreation and sports management. An All-American guard and captain of the Tennessee football team, Smith was an active leader on and off the field, organizing donation drives for nonprofit organizations in Knoxville, volunteering at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, and assisting with a peaceful campus march for racial justice. He served on the SEC Football Leadership Council and was a member of the VOLeaders Academy and a two-time SEC Community Service Team representative. Smith is currently preparing for the 2021 NFL draft and hopes to create a foundation to help communities as well as a scholarship in his late mother’s name should he reach the NFL.

Maria Urias, of Lenoir City, is studying sociology with minors in political science, leadership studies, and social entrepreneurship. She has held multiple leadership positions in the Student Government Association and wrote a referendum to amend UT’s Student Code of Conduct. After years of advocacy work, the student-centered changes to the code passed a UT Board of Trustees vote and will move on to the Tennessee Senate for consideration this summer. Urias has served as a Baker Scholar, student director of the VOLbreaks program, an Ignite team leader, and a member of the Honors Leadership Program and Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity. She plans to begin working toward a master’s degree in community development and action at Vanderbilt University this fall.

Madison Woods, of Memphis, is a Chancellor’s Honors Program student majoring in psychology. A first-generation student, Woods found her passion for service and social justice through various programs offered by the Jones Center for Leadership and Service and the Office of Multicultural Student Life. She has served as president of the Multicultural Mentoring Program, an education student director of the VOLbreaks program, an Early Learning Center student teacher, and student representative on the Chancellor’s Commission for Blacks among other leadership roles. Woods will begin her master’s degree in higher education administration and student affairs this fall.

Tyler Young, of Knoxville, is studying supply chain management and business analytics. As Lead Ambassador for the Haslam College of Business, Young has dedicated much of his time to supporting students in his program and welcoming prospective Vols to campus. He has served in multiple peer mentor roles within the college, spent a term as vice president of Beta Upsilon Chi fraternity, participated in the Student Alumni Associates, and volunteered at Emmett Elementary School in Bristol, Tennessee, where he taught business principles to fifth graders. After serving as a supply chain intern with Dell Technologies last summer, Young will go on to work with the company as a part of their Supply Chain Development Program based in Austin, starting in June.

Tillery promoted to vice president at KCDC

Matt Tillery has been promoted to vice president of rental assistance at Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation.

Tillery, who is a Knoxville native, had served KCDC for the past year as a housing operations director. The vice president of rental assistance oversees multiple Section 8 programs for KCDC.

Previously, he held positions in property and asset management and in social and community services, outreach and development. Tillery recently served as assistant director of trauma and addiction for the Knoxville Leadership Foundation and managed the Permanent Supportive Housing pilot program.

“Matt will provide oversight for rental assistance operations and identify additional methods to address housing needs in our community,” says Ben Bentley, executive director and CEO of KCDC. “He recognizes that KCDC is a crucial partner in Knoxville to find solutions that make long-term, sustainable change for residents in our communities.”

He replaces Debbie Taylor-Allen, who is retiring from KCDC after 30 years of service.

“I would like to thank Debbie for her service to KCDC and the excellence she brought to the organization for three decades,” Bentley says. “This is a well-deserved retirement.”

Tillery received a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in human development and learning from East Tennessee State University in 2008. He earned a master’s degree in healthcare administration from Austin-Peay State University in 2019.

Tillery serves on the board of directors for the Equality Coalition for Housing Opportunities and is president of the Knoxville-Knox County Homeless Coalition. He recently was appointed vice chair for the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Advisory Council by Gov. Bill Lee.

Trust hires Ranisate as operations specialist

The Trust Company of Tennessee has added Michael Ranisate to its staff as a Retirement Plan Services operations specialist.

“Michael brings over 12 years of experience in RPS operations to our team,” says Daniel Carter, president of The Trust Company. “His passion for helping others save for the future and his skill set in operations will be assets to our team and our clients.”

Ranisate currently is completing an online degree in business management and finance from Brigham Young University-Idaho. He previously worked as an operations analyst at LT Trust in Denver where he implemented new operation procedures and settled daily trades. Ranisate also has experience as a retirement plan processor and 401(k) account manager.

Pilot promotes Chiu to senior director

Pilot Company has promoted James Chiu to senior director of strategy and execution, reporting to CEO Shameek Konar.

“James has a great depth of expertise and experience in complex transactions, acquisitions, integration and managing strategic partnerships, especially within the energy sector,” Konar says. “His ability to analyze, connect and diversify our platforms in the transportation and energy sectors will help fuel Pilot Company’s growth and deliver value to our guest and customers.”

As part of this change, Chiu has relocated to Knoxville.

Bringing a strong background in investment and business development in the energy trading sector, Chiu joined Pilot Company in 2018, serving as senior director of crude logistics for Pilot Energy in Houston. Previous roles in origination, investments and mergers and acquisitions for Morgan Stanley & Co., Mercuria Energy Group and Castleton Commodities International took Chiu to multiple cities around the world, including New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Beijing and Geneva.

Chiu’s new role will leverage experience from these previous roles, such as the development of a strategic alliance between Pilot Company and Southern Tire Mart, which over the next three years will grow to approximately 200 points of service for commercial vehicle maintenance at Pilot Flying J travel centers across the United States. In addition, Chiu will utilize his expertise to support Pilot Company’s strategy in evolving fueling technologies, such as autonomous trucking and electric vehicles.

“Pilot Company is a sophisticated player that is succeeding in a complex ecosystem within the energy and logistics industries,” Chiu says. “The pressures of the past year have accelerated changes in the market, and our team is proactively addressing shifting logistics and consumption patterns. We are excited about what’s ahead and anticipate continued progress, transformation and growth for Pilot Company and the industry.”

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