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Owen, Brandes and Baumgardner honored with 2015 Alumni Awards

Carson-Newman University President J. Randall O’Brien, left, congratulates those receiving the University’s alumni awards for 2015. With O’Brien, from left to right, are Dr. James Baumgardner, R.R. Turner Spirit of Carson-Newman Award; Sterling Owen IV, Distinguished Alumnus Award; and receiving the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award on behalf of Jeffrey Brandes is his father Russ Brandes and brother Tyler Brandes.

(April 29, 2015)— Carson-Newman University honored three outstanding alumni during its Alumni Awards Banquet April 27 in Stokely Memorial Cafeteria.

The highest honor went to Sterling Owen IV of the class of 1967, named this year’s Distinguished Alumnus. Florida State Sen. Jeffrey P. “Jeff” Brandes, class of 1999, received the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award. The R. R. Turner Spirit of Carson-Newman Award was given to Dr. James Baumgardner, class of 1959.

These Alumni Award recipients deserve the esteem and admiration of the university community,” Associate Vice President for Advancement and Executive Director of Alumni Relations Vickie Butler said. “Each person has brought their Carson-Newman experience to life through their remarkable careers, distinguished service and extraordinary leadership. It is an honor to celebrate their accomplishments together.”

Owen earned the Distinguished Alumnus Award for his accomplishments in three distinct careers. An Air Force veteran, he served as the FBI special weapons and tactics officer for the in Jacksonville, Florida; Chicago, Illinois; and Knoxville. He also acted as the senior team leader and coordinator in Chicago and Knoxville, and worked as an undercover operative and administrator in fighting illegal drug activity.

The Cynthiana, Kentucky native was awarded the federal government’s National Criminal Investigator of the Year Award in 1985 for leadership in the notorious Butcher Bank Fraud Investigation. Six years later he received the FBI’s Merit Award for his role in rescuing 13 hostages during the Talladega Prison Riots. In 2004 he was named chief of Knoxville’s Police Department, having served as the first chair of Knoxville’s Police Advisory Review Committee.

Most recently Owen has worked as a Chapter 22 Bankruptcy trustee in the Eastern District of Tennessee, and a member of the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Panel. He also maintains a private investigations firm that works with federal agencies and corporations.

Owen was given Carson-Newman’s Business Department’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2012, having graduated with a degree in accounting. He is also known for his dedication to a number of community organizations.

Named 2015’s Outstanding Young Alumnus, Jeff Brandes joined the U.S. Army after high school and served in the Army Reserve until 2007, earning his degree from Carson-Newman during that time. After graduation he served as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Following his military career he began work at his family’s lumber business, eventually striking out on his own in investment real estate. He is a 2005 alumnus of Leadership St. Pete, is on the Bay Cities Bank Board of Directors and has been a board member for meettheneed.org.

A St. Petersburg native, Brandes was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2010. He won a seat in the Florida State Senate in 2012 after winning the republican primary with 56 percent of the vote. He chairs the Senate Committee on Transportation.

The R. R. Turner Award is given to select alumni who demonstrate their love for Carson-Newman through their work and regard for its noble mission. Baumgardner earned the honor for dedication throughout his nearly 60-year relationship with Carson-Newman.

Baumgardner began teaching at Carson-Newman in 1964. He has served on countless committees, served as chair of the Department of History and Political Science and chair of Faculty Council during his tenure. The Bristol native was also president of the Tennessee Political Science Association and a James Still Fellow at the University of Kentucky.

The 1991 Carson-Newman Professor of the year and 1997 Tennessee Baptist Convention Bivocational Pastor of the Year still teaches history at Carson-Newman, continuing to submit at least one academic paper per year.

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