|Tim Reese '76 Running Shows at University of Tennessee
When he graduated from Lebanon Valley College with a degree in psychology, Tim Reese ’76 was sure he would become a guidance counselor and coach football somewhere. But Reese was led down a different path, and he credits the liberal arts model used at LVC for his ability to adapt.
Reese has managed the Thompson-Boling Arena at the University of Tennessee since its opening in 1987. After working in the university’s student activities office for six years, he was given the job on what was supposed to be a temporary basis.
“When I worked in student activities, one of our responsibilities was to plan shows in our old arena,” Reese said. “It just so happened that my boss was also going to ultimately be responsible for the Thompson-Boling Arena. They went through a search process, but in the end he wanted me in the job. That was supposed to be on a temporary basis, but that was so many years ago that I might be the longest temporary employee around.”
Thompson-Boling Arena is a 21,678-seat venue in Knoxville, Tenn., that houses men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball for the university. It is also the premiere special events venue in town and hosts major concerts, monster truck rallies, bull riding competitions, conferences, and university special events.
“Our building is an auxiliary, which means we do not receive state funding,” Reese said, “ but there isn’t much of a disconnect between athletics and the administration in Division I. When you have a 21,000-seat arena and a 100,000-seat football stadium, you don’t hide yourself.”
Reese estimates that 40 percent of the days in a year are event days, but the building is used nearly every day with team practices factored in. The event load creates a lot of responsibility for Reese, who manages the building’s calendar and event coordination, budgeting, and facility services. He is the lead university liaison with event planners looking to stage events in Knoxville.
“We have a sense of responsibility [for the event attendees],” Reese said. “If someone is paying $100 a ticket, you want to make sure the environment they’re coming into is worth that money. With parking, dinner, and a babysitter, a couple might spend $400.”
Some of the highlights of his career at Thompson-Boling have included basketball games against storied Kentucky and Florida programs, and concerts with big-name acts like George Strait, Garth Brooks, and Hannah Montana.
“I’m a huge fan of UT athletics,” Reese said. “It’s an integral part of what we do because they’re our primary tenant. If you watch a game on TV, you’ll see me sitting right behind the bench because I’m a contact point if we need to make decisions on certain aspects of the game.”
Before going to work at Tennessee, Reese earned a master of education with emphasis in student personnel degree from Penn State University in 1977. He began his career at Wake Forest University, supervising residence halls and working in student activities before taking his first job at Tennessee.
A native of Manheim, Pa., Reese has strong connections to LVC and its surrounding area. He and his sister are both alumni of the College. His sister, an upperclassman when Reese was a freshman, introduced him to his future wife, Jean Boag Reese ’76, as a punishment of sort.
“Jean had a lot of demerits at Delta Lambda Sigma, and she was told that if she dated me that some of those would go away,” Reese said.
Reese’s connection to LVC is extended through his wife’s family, which now boasts its fourth-generation attendee, Kate Boag ’13. He has visited the Valley in recent years to see some of the changes occurring on campus and is quick to admire the Arnold Sports Center after having seen games played at Lynch Memorial Hall as a student.
“The experiences I had at LVC were ones that have lent very well to my vocation,” Reese said. “The liberal arts experience and the ability to be challenged in academics and extracurriculars has helped me greatly. There’s not a whole lot of people in my industry who have come up with a psychology degree.”