2005 Inductees

Janette Campbell Diehl

Janette Campbell Diehl proves the adage “A woman's place is … any place she chooses to be.” As Janey Campbell, she served as women's sports editor of the ETSU student newspaper and sports editor of the yearbook before she graduated in 1950 with a double major in business administration and health/physical education. She taught school and coached girls' basketball at Sweetwater High School , then married Richard Diehl and returned to Jonesborough to raise four sons.

Once the boys entered school, she turned her attention to her husband's grain and feed- ingredient company. The business began in 1952 with two trucks and has grown over the years to 30 trucks specializing in refrigerated transport.

After her husband's death in 2001, she and her three surviving sons, Chris, Joe, and Jared, have continued to operate the family's successful business, Richard Diehl, Inc. They have expanded their traffic lanes into 48 states and keep growing.

Named the 1996 ETSU Alumna of the Year, she serves on the board of the ETSU Foundation, received the Margin of Excellence Award in 2005, and is a member of the Distinguished President's Trust. Active with the ETSU Pirate Club, she also serves on the Mountain States Health Alliance Foundation Board of Trustees.

An avid supporter of Buccaneer sports and ETSU students, she was honored by the Southern Conference for her support of college athletics, and she and her late husband have endowed scholarships for the James H. Quillen College of Medicine, ETSU basketball program, the Roan Scholars Leadership Program, and a general scholarship in memory of their son, Richard Diehl, Jr.


Stephen R. Dixon

Stephen R. Dixon, a 1995 ETSU graduate, left campus and quickly found a position as a part-time teller with the Bank of Tennessee.

During his campus career, he served as a Student Government Association Senator, resident assistant, and was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. His academic and volunteer record earned him a spot in Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.

His rise at the Bank of Tennessee has been a progression from that initial part-time employment to positions in collections and retail lending. In 2001, he was named a Vice President and Commercial Relationship Manager for Johnson City. That year he also graduated from the Southeastern School of Commercial Lending held at Vanderbilt University.

The Business Journal Tri-Cities, TN/VA recognized his success with a “40 Under Forty” designation in 2002. He is also a graduate of the Washington County/Johnson City 2001-2002 Leadership Class.

When a new division was created at the bank in 2004 to cater to the needs of small businesses, he was named one of the two Small Business Relationship Managers.

He serves ETSU as a community representative on the University Scholarship Committee, the President's Council on Cultural Diversity, and the Race Relations Standing Committee. In addition, he is counted among those on the ETSU Department of Economics, Finance and Urban Studies Advisory Board. A member and past president of the Optimist Club, he is a former board member of Rocky Mount Historical Site and currently serves on the board of the Girl Scouts of the Appalachian Council and the Boys and Girls Club of Johnson City/Washington County.

He resides in Johnson City.


David Farmer

David Farmer came from Knoxville to ETSU with his two best friends, Tim Holt and Kenny Chesney, buddies since the fourth grade.

In 1990, with his business degree from ETSU in hand, he headed back toward home. Always a high achiever, within a few years he was Vice President of Operations at the Oak Ridge Federal Credit Union. He was on track for a successful career in banking, but then fate intervened.

After receiving a guitar as a Christmas present while he attended ETSU, Kenny Chesney learned to play the instrument and was striving to develop a career as an entertainer. He needed the support of friends who believed in him and had his best interests at heart. David Farmer became his manager, and Tim Holt handles marketing and merchandising.

Farmer's job description is deceptively simple: He does whatever is necessary to keep Chesney and his voice in good health; oversees the crew handling technical aspects; and coordinates with other acts participating in tours.

In the early days, Chesney sang in bars and at boat shows, traveling on a bus with a few staff members and pulling a trailer carrying equipment.

Today, the position has changed drastically in scope. Chesney is the reigning Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year. His mammoth 2005 “Somewhere in the Sun Tour” became the most popular music event of the year, playing to hundreds of thousands of fans—55,000, for instance, at the tour's night at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field.

Farmer's simple manager's job description now means overseeing 17 trucks of equipment, a touring staff of 90, including a 10-person culinary staff serving lunch and dinner to some 150 people daily—and a 230-pound stuffed marlin.

There are unique rewards, too: Time spent with good friends, rewarding work, and enjoying a Christmas vacation in the islands, courtesy of the boss.

In spite of his many obligations, Farmer maintains his ties to ETSU and is a member of the ETSU Foundation.

Although he spends a great deal of time on the road, “home” is still Knoxville, where he lives with his wife, ETSU dental hygiene graduate Necia, son Clayton and daughter Sydney.


James Brian Ferguson

J. Brian Ferguson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Eastman Chemical Company since 2002, is a native of Lubbock , Texas , and a graduate of Arizona State University .

He joined Eastman's research and development organization at its Longview , Texas plant, transferred to the corporate offices in Kingsport in 1989, and served in business and strategic planning assignments.

In 1992, he relocated to the Washington , D.C. , office and was named Vice President of Industry and Federal Affairs in 1994, when Eastman spun off from Kodak to become an independent, publicly held company.

While in Washington , he was involved in major initiatives for the American Chemistry Council, the American Plastics Council, and the National Association of Manufacturers.

The late 1990s saw him assuming responsibilities on the other side of the globe as managing director of Singapore-based Eastman Chemical Asia Pacific, with responsibility for all Eastman Chemical Company operations in the Asia Pacific region and two years of service in Hong Kong as Eastman's managing director for Greater China.

By 1999, he was President of Eastman's Polymers Group, and then was named President of the company's Chemicals Group in 2001.

In addition to assuming his present position in 2002, he found time to participate in Harvard University 's Advanced Management Program.

A member of the boards of directors of the American Chemistry Council and National Association of Manufacturers, he serves on the executive committee of the Society of the Chemical Industry, US Section and the Business Roundtable. In 2003, he was appointed to the President's Export Council. Later in the year, he was elected to the Board of Trustees of the United States Council for International Business. First Tennessee Bank's Advisory Board welcomed him in 2004, and, in 2005, he was tapped for the Board of Directors of Florida Power and Light. He is the current chairman of the Tri-Cities Economic Development Alliance.

With his support, Eastman Chemical Company established the Eastman Chemical Distinguished Chair of Business Leadership, which brings prominent speakers to ETSU for discussions regarding business ethics and principled leadership.

A good friend of ETSU, he serves on the ETSU Foundation Board of Directors.

He resides in Jonesborough with his wife, Teri, who holds a master's degree in nursing from the University of Texas and is employed by Mountain States Health Alliance. They have two sons, Eric and Ben.


Dwight Bittle Ferguson, Jr.

Dwight Bittle Ferguson, Jr. , Chief Executive Officer of Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc., began his career with a degree in accounting earned at the University of Virginia .

After graduation, he moved to Atlanta , accepting a position in public accounting with the firm of Main Lafrentz & Co., now part of Peat Marwick.

In 1971, he became a certified public accountant and moved into industry, working in a number of service and manufacturing businesses. His duties covered a wide range of areas, including microfilm processing, nuclear industry consulting, wire and cable manufacturing, aluminum smelting, copper refining, security services, and lead smelting refining and fabrication.

During those years in industry, he held many positions, among them controller, group controller, and chief financial officer.

In 1987, he became a part of Nuclear Fuel Services when Texaco sold the concern to Nuclear Fuel Services, Ltd. During his tenure, he has served as chief financial officer, executive vice president, president, and currently as CEO and a member of the board of directors.

A diligent friend of ETSU, his leadership has placed NFS in the Distinguished President's Trust, and he is a member of the College of Business and Technology Advisory Board.

He and his wife, Beverly, are members of Jonesborough United Methodist Church and reside in Jonesborough. Their extended family includes four children: Ann Ferguson Salway, James Ferguson, Pamela Poole Clayton, and John Poole.


Ellen May Myatt

Ellen May Myatt and her work are familiar to all business people in the region. Since 1997, she has been publisher and editor of The Business Journal Tri-Cities, TN/VA, guiding a staff of 12 as they keep the public informed about news and trends in businesses throughout the area.

The recipient of a Tusculum College bachelor's degree in business, she began her career with seven years as editor of Wytheville , Virginia 's newspaper, The Southwest Virginia Enterprise, spearheading a management team that won a U.S. Senate Award for Productivity in private-sector service.

She then became the publisher and editor of The Smyth County News in Marion , Virginia , guiding the publication through extreme financial challenges.

Coming to Tennessee in 1990, she took over as publisher and editor of The Rogersville Review, a 100-year-old, award-winning community newspaper. Within five years, she reached her goal of turning the weekly publication into twice weekly and creating a total market coverage publication for some 12,000 non-subscribers in Hawkins County .

Active as a community leader, she founded a county-wide arts council and developed top-quality programs for children. Ultimately, the existence of the Arts Councils of Hawkins County led the Hawkins County School System to secure a grant, providing in-school art instruction.

In 1997, she assumed her present position with The Business Journal, covering a two-state region and meeting the needs of an ever-changing, growing, and diverse community. She is responsible for successful sales, editorial direction, distribution, and all financial reporting.

Her latest accomplishment is the launching of generatioNEXT, a magazine dedicated to guiding the career decisions of young professionals, addressing life balance issues, and assisting with financial planning.

Another source of pride is Connect Now, a new 12-county relocation guide, showcasing the Tri-Cities area as an enjoyable place to live and work, and giving real estate and human resource personnel a key recruitment publication.

Active in her community, she is involved in many area organizations, among them the Salvation Army Advisory Board of Kingsport, the Sequoyah Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Tri-Cities TN/VA Partnership. A member of the boards of Care Spark and Wachovia Bank, she also sings in the choir at Colonial Heights Christian Church.

She is a member of the College of Business and Technology Advisory Board.

The Kingsport resident has two daughters, Crystal Sutherland and Heidi Bunch, as well as four grandchildren.


Leslie Parks Pope

Leslie Parks Pope and her family have been involved in the Johnson City area since her grandfather was advised to move to the mountains from the lowlands of eastern North Carolina for his health, and he established here the first Parks-Belk department store in Tennessee in 1929.

She began her association with ETSU as a student in what is now University School . After attending classes at ETSU and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, she continued her education at Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia with a major in economics. Upon the early death of her father, she returned to ETSU to study accounting.

Until 1995, she served as Chairman of the Board of the Parks Belk Company, overseeing her family's highly successful retail venture. Today, she is Chief Executive Officer of The Parks Group in Gray , Tennessee .

First appointed in 1995 to the Tennessee Board of Regents, ETSU's governing body, she was reappointed in 2001 for an additional six-year term.

She has been a member of the Board of Directors of SunTrust Bank of Northeast Tennessee since 1983 and serves on the boards of the Tri-Cities Business Alliance and the Number One Committee.

Active in civic affairs, she is a member of the board of directors for the Sequoyah Council of Boy Scouts of America, Holston United Methodist Home for Children, and the Washington County Heart Association. She also serves as a member of Johnson City Medical Center Hospital 's Foundation Board.

A lifelong advocate for ETSU, she served as president of the ETSU Foundation for three terms as the first woman to hold that position. She continues her service as a member of the ETSU Foundation Executive Committee.

Named the ETSU Honorary Alumna in 1994, she has assisted as a member of the College of Business and Technology Advisory Board, and is responsible for the Leslie Parks Pope Honors Scholarship Endowment. Her husband, Dr. Joseph Pope, joins her in membership in the ETSU Foundation's Distinguished President's Trust, the Silver Society, and the Legacy Society.

She and Dr. Pope are the parents of three children, Charles, Anne, and Sarah.


Leanna Carol Robertson

Leanna Carol Robertson completed high school in 1993 at ETSU's University School. She earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Tennessee Technological University in 1998, and returned to ETSU for a master's degree in technology, which was awarded in 2000.

During her time at ETSU, she was Dr. Andy Czuchry's graduate assistant for the AFG Industries Chair of Excellence in Business and Technology. She credits his mentorship and her professors with helping her explore those business topics that would best match her career goals. She was also president of the ETSU Entrepreneur's Club and active in the Wesley Foundation Campus Ministry.

Her next academic step took her farther afield—to Bergen, Norway—where she graduated from the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration with a master's degree in international business in 2003, thanks to a prestigious Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship.

She is currently the marketing director for Valley Equipment Company, a business established by her grandfather in 1952. The Jonesborough business sells industrial machinery in a wide range of fields such as the coal, aggregate, manufacturing, and ethanol industries. Presently, Valley Equipment encompasses 30 acres filled with machinery, both new surplus and used that they repair and sell back into industry. The work is done in their high-tech repair facilities in a fraction of the time required by the original manufacturer, and generally the cost to the consumer is about 60 percent of the price for comparable new equipment.

Leanna Robertson has brought her own blend of talents to the family business. She began by creating a web site for the company while she was still a student. Now, she handles an array of duties, devising marketing plans, searching out process improvement strategies, and “adding oil to the squeaky places so Valley Equipment runs more smoothly.”

Her community activities include membership in the Johnson City Evening Rotary Club, where she chairs the International Committee, and she serves on the Board of Higher Education for the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. She is a youth leader and Sunday school teacher at Cherokee United Methodist Church, serves as coordinator for the East Tennessee Christian Singles Group, and sits on the board of the ETSU Wesley Foundation.

She and her family have established the Roy A. Robertson Engineering Technology Scholarship in the ETSU Foundation for students in the College of Business and Technology.

She resides in Jonesborough.


James Rogers

James Rogers, a Bristol native, earned his ETSU undergraduate degree in 1964 and stayed to earn an MBA degree in 1966. He entered the Air Force after graduation, and, while stationed at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina , he earned a securities license and certification as a real estate broker. Soon, he began selling securities.

After several false starts in the difficult economic times of the 1970s, he became a founder of Cauble and Co. of Carolina , a commercial real estate mortgage banking and investment brokerage firm. In 1998, Houston-based L.J. Melody and Co. purchased the successful firm, with Rogers staying on as director during the transition.

Ready for a new challenge, he helped establish start-up company First Colony Capital Partners, LLC, an affiliate of First Colony Corporation, a Charlotte full-service real estate company. The business facilitates the transactions of investors looking for real estate purchases and joint venture development.

He has served as president of the Charlotte Region Commercial Board of Realtors, which he helped found and was the 1997 Realtor of the Year. On the state level, he served as president of the North Carolina Income Property Association and Lambda Alpha International. Active in community affairs, he has led organizations as diverse as the local public television station, Charlotte Pops Orchestra, the American Lung Association, Leadership Charlotte, and the UNC-Charlotte Athletic Foundation.

One of his favorite organizations is the YMCA, which he has served in many capacities in Charlotte , continuing a relationship that began when he was five years old and learned to swim at the Bristol Y and flourished during his college years when he worked there part-time. In recognition of his work, he received the George Williams Life Time Achievement Award from the Y in 1997.

An ETSU Award of Honor recipient in 1990, he is past president of the ETSU Alumni Association and serves as a board member of the ETSU Foundation as well as the College of Business and Technology Board of Advisors. In addition, he is a member of the ETSU Foundation's Distinguished President's Trust.

He has two children, Jennifer Griffith, mother of his two grandchildren, and Mark Rogers.


George "Bill" Smith

George “Bill” Smith, now retired, has seen his long and varied career take him away from East Tennessee and bring him home again.

After graduating in 1951, he headed for Huntsville , Alabama , and the new U.S. space program at Redstone Arsenal. When he was ready for a change, he joined Celotex Corporation for 17 years, traveling through the mountains of Tennessee , North Carolina , and Virginia .

The Paty Company then hired him as a general sales manager. While a Paty employee, he convinced the company to sponsor and build the first exterior ticket booths at Memorial Center . A true Buccaneer fan, he became involved with the BUC-O-MO Club, a precursor of today's Pirate Club.

He left Paty after 15 years when he purchased two Ace Hardware businesses, one in Bristol and the other in Kingsport , where he settled, eventually becoming president of the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce.

Finally, he became one of ETSU's bankers when he accepted a position as executive vice president of the Johnson City , Boones Creek, and Elizabethton branches of Heritage Federal Bank.

During those years, he served as chairman of the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce Springfest, director for the Appalachian Fair, and a member of Kiwanis International and Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church .

Currently, he and his wife, Mary Lee, both members of the Distinguished President's Trust, divide their time between Tennessee and Florida . They are the parents of Scott Smith and Sherry Honeycutt.


Diane Thornburg Wear

Diane Thornburg Wear came to ETSU from her home in Greene County and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in 1990. During those exciting years on campus, she participated on the debate team and joined Delta Sigma Pi and Beta Alpha Psi business honoraries. She also met the man she would marry and acquired valuable experience as an intern at Eastman Chemical Company during the summers.

She was quickly hired by KPMG Peat Marwick. The Knoxville-based company was sold two years later to Coopers & Lybrand, which merged with Price Waterhouse in 1998 to form PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Just as her employer has changed and grown over time, so have her duties. Her current title is Assurance and Business Advisory Services Managing Director. She deals mainly in the products industry, which includes manufacturing, retailing, and distribution clients, with a concentration in Securities and Exchange Commission matters. She also works in the specialized industries of benefit plans, banking, health care, and not-for-profits.

Her many civic responsibilities include volunteering with United Way as a campaign chairperson and on allocations panels. She is also active in the Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership, Blount County Chamber of Commerce, Executive Women International, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Additional time is devoted to her church, First Baptist Church of Maryville, in their sports outreach programs and teaching the 2-3 year-olds' Sunday School class.

A faithful alumna, she serves on the ETSU Accounting Advisory Board.

She and her husband, Gary Wear, reside in Knoxville and are the parents of a four-year-old son, Braedon.