List of Notable Alumni

Photos of Mark Dean, Amy Miles, Min Kao, and Sharon Price Jones

Many UTK alumni have distinguished themselves in their careers, their communities, and in their service to others. Through their accomplishments and contributions these alumni have reflected honor on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. We recognize and celebrate these notable alumni here. The alumni recognized on this website have met some or all of the following criteria:

  • Attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Attained the highest level of professional accomplishments or made outstanding contributions to their chosen profession
  • Demonstrated high standards of integrity and character
  • Invested voluntary service on a local, state, national, or international level
  • Earned special honors or recognition
  • Provided leadership or service to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The following names represent some of our most noteworthy alumni:

College of Arts & Sciences

John Cullum

(1953) is a Tony award-winning actor. He won the top theater award for his roles in Shenandoah and On the Twentieth Century. He was the star of the television series Northern Exposure.

Nancy-Ann Min DeParle

(1978) served as counselor to President Barack Obama and Director of the White House Office of Health Reform from 2009-13. She was the university’s first female Rhodes Scholar and the first female president of the Student Government Association at Knoxville. She was Tennessee commissioner of human services from 1987-89.

Dr. Marion Dorset

(1893) discovered the cause of hog cholera and developed a serum for it. He also developed a rapid diagnostic test for pullorum, a disease of chickens that has saved poultry farmers millions of dollars. The purple ink used by government graders on meat to indicate that the meat is healthy and wholesome is a Dorset invention. He is a member of the Tennessee Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Todd Helton

(1995) is first baseman with the Colorado Rockies, and is a five-time All Star, four-time Silver Slugger, and three-time Golden Glove Award winner. He played baseball for Tennessee from 1992 to 1995 and was a two-time All-American.

Chamique Holdsclaw

(1999) is a retired WNBA player, having played at Washington, Los Angeles, Atlanta and San Antonio. At UT, she twice received the Naismith National Player of the Year Award and was a three-time All-America selection. She won an Olympic gold medal with the USA Women's Basketball team at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney.

Allan Houston

(1993) is UT men’s basketball all-time career scoring leader. He played professionally for the New York Knicks.

Joseph Wood Krutch

(1915) was an author as well as drama critic and associate editor of The Nation. His The Measure of Man won the National Book Award for non-fiction in 1955.

Cormac McCarthy

(1955) is a novelist who attended UT Knoxville from 1951-52 and 1957-60. He won the National Book Award in 1992 for All the Pretty Horses and the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for The Road. He was honored with the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction in 2008.

Lindsey Nelson

(1941) was announcer for UT football, sports director and announcer for NBC, and announcer for the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants. He is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and UT’s baseball stadium in Knoxville is named for him.

Michael C. Polt

(1977) was sworn in as the U.S. ambassador to Estonia in November 2009. During 2004-2007, Polt served as U.S. ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro.

Kathryn Dee Robinson

(1972) is a former U.S. ambassador to Ghana. She began her diplomatic career in 1975 with an assignment in India and also served in China, Indonesia, and Korea.

Edward Terry Sanford

(1883) was a U.S. Supreme Court Justice from 1923 to 1930.

James R. “Jim” Sasser

(1957)attended UT from 1954 to 1955. He was a U.S. senator from Tennessee, serving from 1977 to 1995. He also was ambassador to China.

Margaret Scobey

(1971, 1973) served as U.S. ambassador to Egypt from 2008-11. She previously served in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Kuwait.

Ann Tanner Taylor

(1958) is a newscaster for National Public Radio.

Christopher Whittle

(1969) is the founder and CEO of Edison Schools.

College of Business Administration

Samuel E. Beall III

(1973) is the founder of Ruby Tuesday restaurants. He is former chairman and chief executive officer of Ruby Tuesday Inc., and former president, CEO, and chairman of the board of Morrison Inc.

Dr. James McGill Buchanan

(1941) won the Nobel Prize in 1986 for his theory of public choice in politics and economics. He is the author of numerous books and is a fellow of the American Economic Association.

John Compton

(1983) He is former CEO for North America with PepsiCo and former president and CEO of Quaker Tropicana Gatorade.

Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr.

(1970) is chairman of O’Melveny & Myers, an international law firm of more than 1,000 lawyers. From 1987 to 1989, he was chief White House counsel to President Ronald Reagan. He is a member of the board of trustees of the Brookings Institution.

Charles Ergen

(1974) is co-founder and chairman of the board of DISH Network. He previously was president and CEO of DISH Network.

Ernest “Ernie” Grunfeld

(1977) is general manager of the NBA's Washington Wizards. He won a gold medal as a member of the 1976 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team. He played in the NBA and was formerly the general manager of the New York Knicks and the Milwaukee Bucks.

James A. Haslam II

(1952) is founder of Pilot Corp., one of the largest privately owned companies in the U.S. and is headquartered in Knoxville. In 2006, he and his wife, Natalie (1952), made a $32.5 million gift to the university, the school's largest gift ever.

Francis E. “Hank” Lauricella

(1953) was an All-American football player and runner-up for the Heisman trophy. He is a member of the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame. He also served 32 years in the Louisiana legislature.

Kara Lawson

(2003) has played for the Connecticut Sun and Sacramento Monarchs of the WNBA. She earned an Olympic gold medal at the 2008 games in Beijing. She also serves as an analyst for ESPN covering college basketball and the NBA. In 2007, she became the first woman to work as a nationwide broadcast analyst for an NBA game.

Dave Ramsey

(1982) is the host of the nationally syndicated Dave Ramsey Show and author of Financial Peace.

William B. Stokely III

(1963) was president and CEO of Stokely-Van Camp Inc. and chairman and president of the Stokely Company.

Joe Weller

(1968) retired in 2006 as chairman and CEO of Nestle USA Inc.

College of Communications

Carol Aebersold

(1970) Co-author of The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition.

Peyton Manning

(1998) is quarterback of the NFL Denver Broncos. He was an All-American at Tennessee and won the Sullivan Award for the top amateur athlete in the nation. He was runner-up for the Heisman trophy. In 2006, Manning led the Indianapolis Colts to victory in Super Bowl XLI and was voted Super Bowl MVP.

Rich Middlemas

(1997) Rich Middlemas got accidental inspiration for his Oscar-winning documentary, Undefeated, while keeping up with the Volunteer football team. A self-described "crazed college football fan," Middlemas was reading a Memphis Commercial Appeal story in 2009 about the 16-year-old left tackle O.C. Brown of the Manassas High Tigers team.

John Noble Wilford

(1955) has won two Pulitzer Prizes for national reporting. He has been a science correspondent for the New York Times and is founder of the paper’s weekly science section.

College of Education, Health & Human Sciences

Deana Kay Carter

(1989) won the Country Music Association Song of the Year award in 1997 for “Strawberry Wine.” She has had three No. 1 country singles.

Tamika Catchings

(2000, 2005) of the Women’s National Basketball Association’s Indiana Fever, was the 2002 WNBA rookie of the year. She was a four-time All-America as a Lady Vol. She won gold medals in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.

Phillip Fulmer

(1973) was head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers football team from 1992-2008, and was inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame in 2012. Fulmer was national coach of the year in 1998, when the Vols won the national championship. He has the second most wins of any Tennessee football coach and had 100 more wins than losses over his career (152-52); he also led the Volunteers to two SEC championships.

John T. Majors

(1957) was an All-American football player in 1956 and runner-up for the Heisman trophy. He was head football coach of the Volunteers from 1977 to 1992 and also coached at the University of Pittsburgh, where his team won the 1976 NCAA National Championship. He is a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame.

Candace Parker

(2008) is a member of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and is considered one of the NCAA's best women’s basketball players of all time. She won a gold medal for women's basketball at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympic Games. In 2008, Parker was named the WNBA Rookie of the Year as well as the Most Valuable Player of the Year; she was the first WNBA player to win both awards in the same season.

Pat Summitt

(1975) won eight national championships as head coach of the basketball Lady Vols. In 2012, she was named Head Coach Emeritus of the Lady Vols basketball team. She is in the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Summitt is the all-time winningest coach in the NCAA with more than 1,000 victories. She won a silver medal in the 1976 Olympics. Summitt received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in May 2012.

Reggie White

(1990) was a football All-American in 1983. He played professionally for the Philadelphia Eagles (1985-92), Green Bay Packers (1993-98) and Carolina Panthers. He is a member of the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

College of Engineering

Clarence Leon Brown

(1910) directed/ produced 53 films, nine of which won Academy Awards. The Clarence Brown Theater at UT Knoxville is named in his honor.

Henry Hartsfield Jr.

(Space Institute 1971) was a NASA astronaut. He made three space flights and was mission commander aboard Discovery in 1984 and Challenger in 1985. He was vice president of Raytheon Aerospace Engineering Services.

Charles O. “Chad” Holliday

(1970) is chairman of Bank of America and is the former CEO, chairman and director of DuPont. In September 2002, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council. As of 2013, he is chairman emeritus of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness and chairman of the Business Roundtable's Task Force for Environment, Technology and Economy. In 2004, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

College of Law

Victor Ashe

(1974) served as U.S. ambassador to Poland from 2004-09. He is a former mayor of Knoxville (1988-2003) and member of the Tennessee General Assembly.

Howard Baker Jr.

(1949, 2005) was U.S. ambassador to Japan from 2001-04. Baker served as Tennessee State Representative and minority and majority leader during his 18 years in the U.S. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984. He was White House chief of staff from 1987-88 under President Ronald Reagan. UT's Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy on UT’s campus is named for him.

Ronald L. Schlicher

(1981) assumed the position of Principal Deputy Assistant Coordinator for Counterterrorism in 2008. He served as U.S. ambassador to Cyprus from 2006-08. Schlicher is a veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service and formerly was coordinator for Iraq in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

John Ward

(1953) is the retired “Voice of the Vols,” who formerly broadcast Volunteer men’s basketball and football. He broadcast UT football for 31 seasons and basketball for 34 until retiring in 1999. He is a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

If there is someone you believe deserves recognition, please send an e-mail to notables@utk.edu. Please provide any information that may be helpful for consideration. A committee will periodically review submissions and make updates to this list of notable alumni.