David Wade and Alexander “Zan” Guerry have been recognized by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award and Outstanding Service Award recipients, respectively. The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest annual commendation presented to a UTC alumnus or alumna and recognizes extraordinary service to their alma mater, field and community. Wade is a 2004 UTC graduate. The Outstanding Service Award recognizes community leaders who demonstrate exemplary personal service and commitment to UTC and the community.
“Both David and Zan are extraordinary leaders in our community who we are proud to recognize with these distinctive honors,” UTC Chancellor Steven R. Angle said. “Our campus community is a better place because of their support and achievements.”
While Wade began his journey at UTC directly out of high school, he left the University after one semester and joined the workforce. A few years later, he began working at EPB in an entry-level position assisting linemen in 1983. Wade progressed in his career at EPB while returning to take evening courses at UTC where he received a bachelor’s degree in engineering management before eventually being named the president and CEO of EPB in 2016. Wade has continued to serve UTC as a member of the Advisory Board for the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
Among his many notable accomplishments, Wade led EPB’s effort to design and build Chattanooga’s community-wide fiber optic network which also served as the communications backbone for constructing the nation’s most-advanced, automated electric power distribution system. Wade’s focus on fostering innovation has led to the development of groundbreaking projects such as EPB Quantum NetworkSM powered by Qubitekk, the first commercially available quantum network in the nation, and EPB Gig25, the first community-wide 25 gig internet in the nation.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Wade led the effort to launch HCS EdConnect, which provides internet access at no charge to families in need with students in Hamilton County Schools. Unlike other internet access initiatives launched during the pandemic, HCS EdConnect is a permanent program which has grown to enable internet access to nearly 17,000 students who, together with their family members, total more than 28,000 people who have access to fiber optic internet for learning, applying for jobs, remote work and telehealth.
“While I am thankful to UTC for this recognition, my career accomplishments reflect the teamwork of my EPB colleagues and the tremendous support of my family,” Wade said. “My time at UTC gave me the tools to advance my career. My career success is rooted in my desire to help my neighbors, and I’m grateful I get that opportunity.”
Zan Guerry’s deep connection to UTC is rooted in his family’s longstanding involvement, as evidenced by his grandfather, Dr. Alexander Guerry, who was president of the University of Chattanooga from 1929 to 1938 which preceded the University’s inclusion in the University of Tennessee System and renaming in 1969.
Currently leading Hamico, Inc., the family’s charitable foundation, Guerry was the longtime CEO of Chattanooga-based Chattem Inc., a consumer health care company, until 2014. While Guerry has been deeply supportive of a variety of causes and nonprofit organizations throughout the community, his dedication to UTC has been exhibited in many roles, including playing a pivotal part in launching the Honors College, serving as a voluntary assistant tennis coach, supporting the Chattem Basketball Practice Facility and contributing to the creation of the Wolford Family Athletics Center.
“One of my joys in life is doing things where I feel I can make a difference,” Guerry said. “I enjoy being able to help and continue to improve the university.”
Looking ahead, Guerry expressed his hopes for UTC.
“UTC has a lot of momentum,” he said. “It is a great success, which means the students are happy and the school’s doing well with great leaders.”
Both Wade and Guerry will be recognized at a variety of campus events over the next year celebrating their honors and commitment to UTC.