Haslam guest speaker for 28th Annual Academic Letters Banquet
From Staff Reports
Gov. Bill Haslam will be the guest speaker at The Daily Times 28th Annual Academic Letters Awards Banquet, Publisher Carl Esposito announced Friday.
The event will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 28, at Heritage High School.
More than 200 top academic students from the five public high schools in The Times’ circulation area and their parents will be guests of The Times and its sponsors. Each recipient will receive a school letter indicating his or her award.
Born and raised in Knoxville, Haslam excelled in academics and sports and was a student leader.
At 13, he got a job pumping gas at a family-owned service station and quickly learned that running a small business took diligent work.
At 16, tragedy struck his family with the unexpected death of his mother which marked a turning point in his life. Haslam’s father pulled the family together and they leaned on each other and on their faith to get through the tough days.
In 1976, he entered Emory University in Atlanta and on the first day in class met Crissy, a young woman from Memphis who later became his wife. At Emory, Haslam was a volunteer leader for Young Life, a Christian ministry that reaches out to adolescents. During the summer, he volunteered for the grass-roots political campaigns of Howard Baker and Lamar Alexander, gaining a deep understanding of the type of principled leadership needed to govern.
Graduating with a degree in history, he and Crissy married and moved to Knoxville. He had agreed at his father’s urging to work for a couple of years managing the family’s small chain of gas stations.
He spent long days driving all over the country, identifying, negotiating and purchasing good locations for new truck stops. As a result of his leadership, Pilot Corp. grew from 800 employees to more than 14,000 in 39 states. He sustained the company’s growth by allocating resources wisely, managing the business conservatively, working hard to increase sales, satisfy customers and learned what makes the chief executive officer of complicated enterprise successful.
The governor’s father, Jim Haslam II, was a lineman on the 1951 national champion UT football team and captain of the 1952 team. The governor’s brother, Jimmy Haslam III, recently purchased the Cleveland Browns football team and is CEO of Pilot Flying J and is on Forbes’ list of billionaires.
In 2003, Haslam ran successfully for mayor of Knoxville and was re-elected in 2007 with 87 percent of the vote. He balanced seven consecutive city budgets, tripled the rainy day fund, insisted that city government focus on providing services in an efficient manner, helped found key education initiatives and recruited and retained thousands of jobs in the city.
In 2010, he was elected governor with 65 percent of the vote, winning 90 of 95 counties and securing the largest victory of any non-incumbent gubernatorial candidate in the state’s history.