Communication Studies Professor Virginia Kupritz has been named the inaugural William H. Swain Professor.
The professorship was made possible by a generous gift from Martha S. “Missy” Wallen (BA/CS '74) in honor of her father, William H. Swain, who was also a UT alum.
This five-year rotating professorship recognizes Kupritz for her outstanding research, teaching, and academic/professional service that have uniquely contributed to the mission of the School of Communication Studies, the College of Communication and the University of Tennessee. Her leadership roles at UT include her current service as associate director of the School of Communication Studies and her service as acting director from 2013 to 2015. In addition she has served as principal investigator on multiple grants and contracts, as graduate coordinator for several programs, and as a committee chair for multiple masters and doctoral students. She has also served on the board of an international research association and on the editorial boards of several leading journals.
Kupritz is nationally and internationally known for her expertise in workplace privacy. Her multiple publications include original contributions to privacy, such as her environmental privacy theory that incorporates a systems perspective of privacy. Her honors and research awards include first place research awards in communication and workplace aging issues and online instruction and learning.
Kupritz completed UTK’s year-long Leadership Program and the Women’s Leadership Program at the Center for Creative Leadership. Kupritz is a recipient of the highest teaching award at the University, the UTK Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
William H. "Bill" Swain was a businessman, banker and philanthropist who spent most of his life in Scott County, Tennessee. His professional achievements include serving as director of the Federal Reserve Banks in Nashville and Atlanta and as director of the Tennessee Bankers Association. Together with Howard H. Baker Jr., he led the effort to create the Highland Telephone Cooperative. He was a bank president and CEO.
Swain’s charitable service included serving as director and president of the Catholic Social Services in Knoxville and director of the Catholic Charities Board in Nashville. He established a mini-grant program to fund local educators’ innovative ideas for improving teaching.
In 2006, Swain received the first-ever Papal Honor granted to the East Tennessee Diocese. He served on the UT Development Council, the board of governors of the UT alumni association, the President’s Council, Athletic Board, and several other university committees and boards.
Like her father, Wallen has provided leadership to UT as CCI Board of Visitors chair, a member of the UT Chancellor’s Associates and as part of the UT Knoxville Alumni Association Board of Directors. She is currently chairman of Pinnacle Financial Partners in Knoxville.
“My father invested in his community by investing in education,” Wallen said. “His service for nearly a decade on the State Board of Education made him keenly aware of the need to support and encourage educators.”
"During the time I have worked closely with the College of Communication and Information, I have been privileged to see the outstanding CCI faculty in action. It was a clear choice to honor my father and his many achievements by providing this endowed professorship in his name," she said. "Virginia Kupritz is an excellent choice as the inaugural William H. Swain Professor.”