The Distinguished Alum Award
Leadership casts a long shadow. That observation certainly holds true for each of our recipients of the College of Business Administration’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. They are extraordinary business executives who have personified leadership and have become role models for future generations. Through their vision, intellect, passion for excellence, and boldness of spirit, these individuals have led many companies to greatness and have touched countless lives.
Our distinguished alumni share two common characteristics of which we are extremely proud and profoundly grateful: each is an alumnus of the University of Tennessee College of Business Administration and each has generously given back to the college in a multitude of ways. We applaud them for their achievements and their contributions.
2012 Distinguished Alumna
Mintha Roach was still in her teens when she pulled out the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, catalog to search for a new college major. Enrolled in another program at UT, Roach felt that path wasn’t a good fit.
“In the business curriculum, I saw subject matter that would be helpful to me,” says the 2012 winner of the College of Business Administration’s Distinguished Alum award. “It lined up perfectly with my interests in human resources and management.”
Roach discovered there were not many women choosing business as a major in the early 1970s. “Business majors were predominately men, but I wasn’t deterred by that,” she says.
Navigating classes filled primarily with men provided good training for things to come. As president and CEO at Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB), she is the first woman to hold that position. Roach has been lauded for breaking barriers for women in business in East Tennessee and received the YWCA’s Tribute to Women Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.
It was the usefulness of a business major that appealed to her. “I am a practical person. I was a first-generation college student, and I was serious about getting a good education,” says Roach. “I was focused on learning what I needed to make myself employable.”
After college, she worked for the city of Knoxville in personnel management for 17 years before moving to KUB. Today, in KUB’s top role, she is responsible for electric, gas, water, and wastewater service for almost half-a-million customers.
Roach has been instrumental in transforming KUB, consolidating its business and operating functions to be more efficient. Today, KUB has 40 percent more customers and 30 percent fewer employees than it did when she arrived 20 years ago. The company’s challenges now, she says, are updating its aging infrastructure while keeping utility rates affordable.
“My education shaped who I am,” says Roach. “I trace every opportunity that has come to me back to the decision to go to UT and major in business.”
Her involvement at UT includes being former chair of Chancellor’s Associates, the UT Alumni Board and a current member of the College of Business Administration’s Advisory Council to the Deans and the UT Foundation. Her husband, Jon, is a graduate of UT business and law, and they are parents of two UT business graduates: Jon II, who majored in logistics, and Evan, who majored in finance.
2011 Distinguished Alumnus
James A. Haslam III (“Jimmy”) is president and chief executive officer of Pilot Flying J, one of the top-ten, privately held companies in the United States. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, Pilot Flying J operates a network of more than 550 interstate travel centers and truck stops spanning 43 states and six Canadian provinces.
The company was founded in 1958 as a single gas station in Gate City, Virginia, by Jimmy’s father, James A. Haslam II. By the time Jimmy had joined the family business in 1976, the company had expanded to nearly 100 convenience stores. Shortly after Jimmy was named vice president of sales, development, and operations, the company invested in the restaurant business, and the “travel center” concept—which combines the best features of truck stops, convenience centers, and brand-named restaurants—was born. The company boomed, and by the time Jimmy was named to his current position, Pilot was operating 96 travel centers and 50 convenience stores. A partnership with—and later buyout of—Marathon Petroleum Company as well as a 2010 merger with Flying J Inc. have fueled the company’s most recent growth.
Jimmy currently serves on the boards of First Horizon National, Ruby Tuesday Inc., Anderson Media Corp., and Innovation Valley Inc. He also has served on the boards of directors for the University of Tennessee Athletics, United Way of Knoxville, and Lakeshore Park, among others. He is part owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ardent supporters of the University of Tennessee, Jimmy and his wife Susan “Dee” Bagwell Haslam, also a UT alum, have given $10 million to fund several endowed professorships and to create the prestigious Haslam Scholars university program. In addition, Dee serves on the UT College of Business Administration’s Dean’s Advisory Council.
Looking back on his early years as a student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Jimmy credits the leadership opportunities he enjoyed for opening his eyes to vast-ranging possibilities and also introducing him to people who would shape his career and become friends for life.
“My family and I have the highest respect for the University of Tennessee, and the College of Business Administration is particularly dear to our hearts,” says Jimmy. “We have received so much from UT—we feel an obligation to stay involved and do what we can to make it even better than it was when we were here.”
Distinguished Alumni Profiles
2008: Paul Castagna
2007: Not Awarded
2006: S. Herbert Rhea
2005: Charles C. Anderson, Jr.
2004: James A. Haslam, II
2003: John W. Fisher
2002: Edward J. Boling
2001: Joe M. Weller
2000: William Middlemas
1999: David E. McKinney
1998: David L. Ramsey III
1997: King W. & Judy P. Rogers III
1996: Ardle L. Viles
1995: Jane Salter
1994: William B. Stokely III
1993: Wilma H. Jordan
1992: Dennis R. Hendrix
1991: James F. Smith, Jr.
1983-1990: None Awarded
1982: John Bolinger