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Haslam Alumni and Corporate Partner Honored at Gala

November 18, 2021

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business recognized the achievements of three alumni and one corporate partner at its 12th annual Alumni Awards Gala on Friday, November 12.

Approximately 300 alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the college attended the event, which included cocktails, dinner and the awards presentation.

This year’s award winners were:

Tom Bell (HCB, ‘70) received the 2021 Distinguished Alum Award. Bell’s 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 (HCB, 88) was honored with the 2021 Outstanding Entrepreneur Award. Burleson is 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.

Wesley Rich (MBA/JD, ’15) garnered the 2021 Outstanding Young Alum Award. 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.

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. 

More information about each recipient will be published in the winter 2022 issue of Haslam Magazine. Proceeds from the gala benefit the College Fund for the Haslam College of Business.