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Blackberry Farm’s Brian Lee to Receive UT Alumni Service Award

Brian Lee, Director of Guest Relations at Blackberry Farm, is a proud recipient of 2024 UT Alumni Service Award. The students in the Hotel Development and Analytics class, along with faculty and staff from the Department of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management (RHTM) surprised Brian with the exciting news of this prestigious honor. Brian has been a dedicated supporter and partner of RHTM and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, since graduating in May 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration from RHTM.

Brian Lee on left of picture receives news o of his award from Junehee Kwon, RHTM department head.

Brain Lee reacts as he receives the news from RHTM department head, Junehee Kwon

Soon after graduation, he started his career at Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN. Starting from a concierge (1995-1996) to dining room manager (1996-1998), lodging manager (1998-2000), guest relations manager (2000-2015), general manager (2015-2022), and finally, director of guest relations (2022-present), he has impacted nearly every department of this award-winning resort. Blackberry Farm holds membership in the exclusive Relais & Châteaux, and U.S. News & World Report has consistently ranked it as the #1 Best Hotel in Tennessee and the #3 Best All-Inclusive Resort in the U.S. The resort’s world-class service quality makes it a true hidden gem in East Tennessee, and Brian’s alma mater takes immense pride in his accomplishments.

Brian Lee, on left of photo talks with Junehee Kown, RHTM Department Head on right of photo

Brian Lee and RHTM Department Head, Junehee Kwon discuss his award

Throughout his extensive tenure at Blackberry Farm, Brian has exemplified true hospitality and emerged as one of the resort’s most influential executives. Recognizing the exceptional learning opportunities the resort offers for hospitality and tourism management students, Brian actively engaged students by sharing his expertise and providing them with access to the facility. His dedication to student development and experiential learning has been invaluable, and the RHTM department is deeply grateful for his contributions. Beyond his remarkable career achievements, Brian has consistently demonstrated a spirit of service extending beyond the hospitality industry.

Brain Lee poses with a group of HTM students

Brian Lee with his HTM 450 Hotel Development and Analytics students

“He is an incredible instructor who relates to students very effectively,” stated Junehee Kwon, Department Head of RHTM. “Brian’s numerous guest lectures have inspired students to pursue excellence in hospitality, drawing on his extensive experience in resort operations to teach lessons on world-class service standards, quality assurance, and luxury resort management.” Moreover, Brian has facilitated numerous internship and employment opportunities for UT students, regardless of their majors, at Blackberry Farm, serving as a vital link between UT students and the resort.

Group photo of Brian Lee with RHTM faculty and staff. There are six people in the photo.

Brain Lee with RHTM faculty and staff

In addition to his educational contributions, Brian has served as a member of the RHTM Advisory Board for over a decade, providing invaluable guidance on curriculum modernization, internship and employment opportunities, and fundraising initiatives. Furthermore, Brian has served as a Chancellor’s Associate for UT for the past three years, further demonstrating his commitment to the university’s mission and community.

The College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences and the RHTM department extend heartfelt congratulations to Brian on receiving the 2024 UT Alumni Service Award. The award ceremony is scheduled for September 13, followed by attendance at a home football game against Kent State University on September 14, 2024.