UT Alumnus, Senator Bob Corker Visits
the College of Business Administration

In February, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) was hosted by the Corporate Governance Center at UT to speak to local business leaders, students, and faculty, primarily about issues surrounding financial regulatory reform. The senator, a 1974 graduate of the UT College of Business Administration, recently has pursued a bipartisan approach to financial reform in the U.S. Senate.

Bob Corker with Bill Haslam“Given the fact that any legislation affecting the financial and capital markets is handled in the Senate by the Banking Committee, where Senator Corker is a key player, his presentation on financial regulatory reform was timely and important,” says Joe Carcello, co-founder  and director of research for the Corporate Governance Center. “Banking and securities legislation relates to the mandate of the Corporate Governance Center, and specifically the Senate Banking Committee, where Senator Corker is a key player is working on legislation to overhaul the regulation of U.S. financial markets.” 

The Corporate Governance Center is among national leaders in conducting and disseminating research on aspects of corporate governance. Its primary emphasis is on those aspects of corporate governance with a significant public policy focus: the work of the audit committee, compensation committee, and nominating committee. The center initially began as a collaboration between the Colleges of Business Administration and Law, and it regularly hosts prominent speakers including Martin Gruenberg (vice chairman of the FDIC), Stephen Lamb (vice chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery), and Stephen Sedove (chairman and CEO of Saks, Inc.).

Corker’s presentation was made in the James A. Haslam II Business Building on the UT Knoxville campus, with over 100 guests (including Mr. Haslam) in attendance. “If we’d had a facility this nice when I was in school, I might have attended class more often,” says Corker jokingly. “This is an incredible facility, generously donated to cultivate business minds like yours that you can prevent future economic situations like we are dealing with now.”

Bob CorkeFellow College of Business Administration graduate and prominent Knoxville Democrat Doug Horne also attended the presentation and says he appreciates Corker’s work: “He (Corker) tries to work the problems out, and I think he’s to be commended.” 

After Corker earned his degree in industrial management, he worked for four years as a construction superintendent before starting his own construction company. The company grew quickly and eventually expanded to operations in 18 states. Over time, Corker’s business interests evolved to acquiring and developing commercial real estate. After traveling with his church on a mission trip to Haiti in his late twenties, Corker began to examine the needs in his own community. He led the creation of Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise, a non-profit that has helped over 10,000 families secure affordable housing through low-interest loans and personalized training in home maintenance.

In 1994, Corker was appointed Tennessee Commissioner of Finance and Administration, serving for two years in the highest appointed office in state government. As commissioner, he tightened the state's budget and helped move almost 40,000 Tennesseans off welfare and into jobs. In 2001, he was elected mayor of Chattanooga. He transformed the city’s waterfront, attracting $2.1 billion of investments to revitalize the city. He implemented merit bonus pay for teachers, which dramatically led to a rise in student achievement in some of the city’s most challenged schools, and he worked with local law enforcement officials to cut violent crime in half.

On November 7, 2006, Corker was elected to serve the people of Tennessee in the United States Senate. He is a member of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee; the Energy and Natural Resources Committee; the Foreign Relations Committee; and ranking member (lead Republican) of the Special Committee on Aging.

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