KNOXVILLE — For his support of public relations and elevating its impact at the University of Tennessee, President Joe DiPietro was named Executive of the Year by the Volunteer Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
DiPietro received the award during a ceremony at the The Foundry at World’s Fair Park on May 12.
“We are very fortunate at the University of Tennessee to have skilled public relations professionals serving every campus and institute throughout the state, and I am both fortunate and grateful for the exceptional team of public relations, communications, marketing and creative experts who work with me on behalf of the statewide UT system,” DiPietro said. “I’m honored by this recognition and I salute our very good team who help me in telling the UT story of impact throughout Tennessee and beyond.
In the nomination statement, the University’s public relations team told of DiPietro seeking counsel in major decisions as well as putting public relations leaders on his executive team. As president-elect, he sought to learn about public relations issues and opportunities. By following the advice of his leaders, he committed significant time and energy to engagement and transparency with the University community.
In his support of DiPietro receiving the award, UT Knoxville alumnus David Bohan, of Bohan Advertising in Nashville, wrote of the challenges DiPietro had to overcome when he took the helm, such as repairing damaged relationships.
“Joe has made tremendous strides in re-establishing those relations across the state—on our campuses, in our institutes, with our community leaders and legislators and with the alumni and friends,” Bohan wrote.
Gina Stafford, assistant vice president and director of communications, noted that DiPietro uses his public relations professionals as strategic assets.
“He realizes the need for effective PR counsel on the front end of challenges and for advice from PR professionals in the midst of a crisis so that—in either case—the best possible outcomes are achieved,” Stafford wrote in her nominating letter.
By elevating and respecting the professionals, Stafford wrote that it has signaled its value to the executive team.
“As a result, PR counsel can be more effective because it is engaged in a more timely manner and more widely across-the-board,” she said.
The University of Tennessee is a statewide system of higher education with campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin and Memphis; the UT Space Institute in Tullahoma; the UT Institute of Agriculture with a presence in every Tennessee county; and the statewide Institute for Public Service. The UT system manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory through its UT-Battelle partnership; enrolls about 50,000 students statewide; produces about 10,000 new graduates every year; and represents more than 360,000 alumni around the world.