Supreme Court Justice Sharon G. Lee Receives Distinguished Alumna Award from UT Knoxville

September 20, 2022

Alumni Awards Gala Shines Spotlight on Outstanding Alumni

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A group of 24 alumni of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, were honored Friday, September 16, in the categories of promise, professional achievement, service, and distinction. Each has an inspiring story and has proudly demonstrated the Volunteer spirit, exhibiting strength and leadership and stepping forward to serve their alma mater and their communities.

The awards, which were given in a dinner reception and ceremony in the Pilot Company Ballroom of the Student Union, were presented to alumni who graduated as recently as 2018 to as early as 1966. Additionally, Samuel E. Beall II of the class of 1942 was posthumously named a distinguished alumnus. The group of awardees excels in sports, arts, hospitality, business, military, medicine, law, and beyond. In addition to their accomplishments, they have demonstrated charity and good citizenship worthy of being honored.

The awardees and their friends and families were welcomed by Gary Beard (’80), president of the Alumni Board of Directors.

“We're proud to present these awards,” Beard said as the guests sat down for dinner. “These graduates have gone on to light the way showing strength and leadership during this extraordinary time. They have stepped forward to serve their alma mater and their greater community. Let us acknowledge how true it is that it takes a volunteer to light the way for future generations.”

Chancellor Donde Plowman praised the award winners for their diverse array of talents, experiences, and perspectives.

“They share a love for their alma mater and a demonstrated commitment to service and leadership,” Plowman said. “It is the support and leadership from our alumni and friends, along with the efforts of everyone across our campus, that have generated the momentum we are seeing here on Rocky Top. There has truly never been a better time to be a Volunteer.”

The four award categories of Promise, Professional Achievement, Service, and Distinction, place the 24 honorees in a long tradition of graduates who have made substantial contributions to the world.

The Alumni Promise Award recognizes alumni 40 years of age or younger who are making a mark early in their career and show great promise for the future.

The Alumni Professional Achievement Award recognizes alumni who have achieved a high level of success in their chosen field with notable career accomplishments and a history of outstanding contributions to their profession.

The Alumni Service Award recognizes exceptional service or long-term continuing service and leadership to UT, acknowledging significant amounts of time, talent, or resources given to the university over an extended period of time.

The Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award is the single highest alumni award given and is reserved for alumni who have excelled at the national or international level. Award winners have attained extraordinary distinction and success, brought credit and acclaim to UT, and benefited society at large.

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Tamika Catchings, Retired WNBA & Former Lady Vol; Justice Lee and her granddaughters; and Coach Kellie Harper, Lady Vols Basketball Head Coach