A decorated law enforcement officer and an accomplished scholar have been named Roane State Community College’s 2012 Outstanding Alumni.
The recipients are Jeff Burchfield of Maryville, captain and training supervisor for the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, and Barry Vann of Corbin, Ky., professor of higher education and geography at the University of the Cumberlands.
Burchfield graduated from Roane State in 1993 with an associate’s degree in police technology. He spent eight years with the Maryville Police Department before joining the Blount County Sheriff’s Office in 1996.
In 2001, he became the first director of the Blount Special Operations Response Team, a multiagency task force for rescue and recovery operations. The team is a model of cross-agency cooperation and collaboration.
Burchfield has studied at the FBI National Academy and worked undercover for numerous federal agencies. He has assisted with arrests in 50 states and five countries.
Burchfield is also a community-minded leader who has participated in youth projects and fundraisers for those in need. As a member of Lodge No. 9 of the Fraternal Order of Police, he was head counselor for the lodge’s youth camp for underprivileged children and an organizer for the lodge’s “Shop with a Cop” program.
Burchfield has served in many officer positions with the FOP, is a board member for the Blount County Rescue Squad and is a public safety scuba instructor.
During his career, Burchfield has received more than 20 awards and commendations. In January 2012, he received the Albert Pierce Medal for Heroism in recognition of his achievements.
“My instructors at Roane State really encouraged and motivated me,” he said. “They saw potential in me that I didn’t realize was there. I’ll always be grateful to Roane State and my instructors for the knowledge and inspiration they instilled in me.”
Vann is director of the Ed.D. program at the University of the Cumberlands. He graduated from Roane State in 1985 and received his bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Tech in 1988.
Vann has a master’s degree in geosciences from Western Kentucky University, a doctorate in adult education from the University of Arkansas, and a doctorate dually awarded by the Department of Geographical and Earth Sciences and the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.
Vann taught at the University of Dundee in Scotland, served in leadership positions at Delta State University in Mississippi and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, and was founding director of Lincoln Memorial University’s Appalachian Development Studies program and geography program.
He is most noted for his work in religious and historical geography and human-environmental relationships. Vann has appeared as an expert on Fox News, Science Fantastic, Ecotopia and BBC Scotland.
Vann has written more than 20 articles and seven books. His writings have appeared in the Huffington Post, the Journal of Historical Sociology, the Journal of American History and in many other academic publications. Vann has also directed 40 dissertations that led to doctorates.
Originally from Oliver Springs, Vann struggled with math and writing when he started at Roane State. With encouragement and one-on-one help from his Roane State professors, Vann persevered. From those early days at Roane State, he has become a distinguished writer and educator.
“Roane State faculty helped me develop math and writing skills,” Dr. Vann said. “My love of history and my love of social geography was born at Roane State. Roane State’s professors inspired me to learn something that could have some relevance and value to other people.”