The UTC Office of Alumni Affairs honors the 2009 Distinguished Alumnus, The Honorable Mercer Reynolds III at the annual Legends & Leaders Dinner at the Chattanooga Golf & Country Club. Dr. Clifton Cleaveland and his wife, Ruzha, are also honorees as this year’s Outstanding Service Award recipients.
Established in 1969 by the UTC Alumni Council, the Distinguished Alumnus Award was created to recognize alumni who have made significant contributions to the community and society and whose accomplishments and career activities have reflected glory on our University. The Outstanding Service Award was initiated in 1985 to honor someone inside or outside the University family who has given outstanding service to the University and who is also involved in the community.
The Honorable Mercer Reynolds III is the Chairman & CEO of Linger Longer Companies and Reynolds Capital Group with offices in Greensboro & Atlanta, GA. Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his M.B.A. from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 1968.
During the 2000 Presidential Campaign, Reynolds served as a member of the Bush-Cheney National Executive Committee and as Chairman of the campaign’s Ohio Finance Committee. After the 2000 election, President George W. Bush named him a co-chairman of the 2000 Presidential Inauguration Committee. In 2001 he accepted an appointment to become the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. He served as U.S. Ambassador until 2003.
Currently the Chairman and CEO of Linger Longer Companies, Reynolds is an active member of the community and belonged to many civic organizations including The Commonwealth Club, the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, and the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families. He is the Founding Chairman of the Oconee Performing Arts Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the arts in Central Georgia. He also serves on the NCAA Leadership Advisory Board.
Dr. and Mrs. Clifton Cleaveland have both committed years of service to the community and to The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. On the UTC campus, Ruzha Cleaveland has served on the WUTC Advisory Council. She served as the Chairman of the UTC Chancellor’s Roundtable and was a staff assistant for the Meacham Writers’ Workshop. A strong advocate for education, she has given her time and talents to assist many organizations. She has been a PTA President, a member of the Signal Mountain Public Library Building Committee and Board, the Chamber of Commerce Education Task Force, and the Lyndhurst Foundation Teacher Awards Selection Committee. From 1976-1978, she served as the local president for the League of Women Voters, and was the state president in 1982-83.
Dr. Cleaveland received his undergraduate degree from Duke University, his Masters from Oxford University where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and his MD degree from Johns Hopkins University. He served as a clinical assistant professor, clinical associate professor, and clinical professor at The University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Chattanooga unit from 1971-1975. He has also served as a member of the adjunct faculty at UTC, and was awarded the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty award in 2006. Cleaveland is the Founder and President of the George Connor Memorial Society which funds a yearly lectureship at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in literature and religion. He has also participated in PERSPECTIVES: The Raymond B. Witt Lecture Series. Community boards that have benefited from Cleaveland’s service include the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera Association, the Internal Medicine Education Foundation of Chattanooga, the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, and Vanderbilt University Medical Alumni Association. Currently, Cleaveland teaches UTC Honors students and has a bi-monthly column on health issues in the “Chattanooga Times Free Press.”