Appalachian Spring

by Rebekah Goode
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RHTM students pose by grand piano at Appalachian Spring fundraiser

Written By Addie Morton

Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management students get hands-on experience planning a gala event.

In April 2019, the “for students, by students” Appalachian Spring fundraiser generated over $30,000 and provided outstanding students majoring in retail, hospitality, and tourism management (RHTM) with an enriched educational experience. Proceeds support student participation in industry-related study tours, study abroad programs, competitive internships, and leadership development experiences.

RHTM students on staircase at Appalachian Spring fundraiserEach spring, RHTM students in the Advanced Meetings and Events Management class—under the direction of Jeremy Whaley, assistant professor, and Myra Loveday, lecturer of practice—are required to create and execute the event from start to finish.

Students plan and prepare a four-course gourmet meal and work toward predetermined goals from ticket sales to closing out the silent auction. The course requires students to practice excellent communications skills with faculty, alumni, RHTM industry partners, regional business owners, and college and RHTM advisory board members.

As with any large-scale event, planning started early, and in fall 2018 the lead students were selected to represent student teams for food and beverage, operations management, marketing, and auction. In addition to their instructions, students learned from Ann Fairhurst, RHTM department head; Chef Tyler White, UT’s culinary program manager; Robert Allen, executive chef of Citico’s Restaurant & Club; and Cole Piper, executive in residence.

The event honored R. Brad Martin, former CEO of Saks Inc. and Proffitt’s, who hosted the student leadership team in planning efforts. Martin met with the class at UT and shared his accomplishments, life experiences, and executive leadership strategies.

The event was held at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Knoxville. Student leaders took the stage to a crowd of 300 guests, introduced their team members, and provided insight into how creating the event will assist them in their future career endeavors.

Special Note About Applachian Spring 2020

The Appalachian Spring Fundraiser scheduled for March 27th, 2020 was canceled due to an abundance of caution around the Coronavirus. During times such as these we, as Volunteers, are all called on to be innovative and flexible. We are excited to continue to honor Jack Daniel’s through our online platforms as this year’s Innovator of the Industry for their economic growth impact on the state of Tennessee through retail, hospitality, and tourism and will be highlighting their Lynchburg, Tennessee home place. We are also working to take our incredible silent auction online! Stay tuned for more information on how you can be a part of this adapted event. Jack Daniels has graciously pledged their support to our Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management (RHTM) department during this unprecedented time. We are so very grateful.

Our Volunteer spirit often shines its brightest during challenging times. We are seeing examples of this every day as this situation continues to evolve. We appreciate your continued support. Please email Myra Loveday at if you have any additional questions about this event.

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