Love for Wesleyan: Bill Webb and Burkett Witt's Story

By Bill Webb


I am grateful for the love TWU showed to me as a seventeen-year-old freshman and throughout my four years as a student, finally graduating in May 1971.  

I am especially grateful for the encouragement given to me by the faculty and staff. Had it not been for them, I probably would not have been able to graduate. Several faculty and staff come to mind who have helped me on a path for a successful in life, as well as business. Those individuals include Dean Floyd Bowling; B. T. Hutson, my main business professor; and Judge Fred Pruett, my business law and accounting professor. 

One person who had a profound influence on my life and was truly a mentor to me during those four years in Athens is Burkett Witt. I met Burkett the summer when I first enrolled at Wesleyan. It was a year later when I really got to know Burkett on a more personal level. Burkett became my boss, my friend, and probably the one person who helped me the most to succeed as a student, an employee, and to become a better person. 

At the start of my sophomore year, Dean Bowling let me know that Burkett needed a student to help him in the Soda Shop. I interviewed with Burkett and he hired me to assist with the mad rush experienced in the Soda Shop before and after the Tuesday and Thursday chapel. Burkett even convinced Dean Bowling to excuse me from the mandatory chapel for the next three years.  

Evidently, I impressed Burkett with my culinary skills as he had me working additional hours and asked for my input in hiring additional students to work in the soda shop. Burkett instilled in me his strong work ethic and to work hard at any job you undertake. Burkett knew my parents paid my tuition, but I needed to work to help pay for other expenses besides tuition. Burkett had me assisting him with his personal catering jobs and recommended me to his many friends around Athens that had odd jobs a college kid could do. I worked hard at these jobs as I did not want a poor performance on my part to reflect negatively on Burkett’s recommendation. 
I continue to stay in contact with Burkett. When I am visiting family in Oak Ridge, coming for an alumni function, or for a Board of Trustees meeting I make it a priority to visit with Burkett. We catch up on each other’s families, former students, and the success TWU has accomplished over the years in offering a quality education at an affordable price.  

Burkett instilled in me his strong work ethic and to work hard at any job you undertake.

- Bill Webb

During this Love for Wesleyan Campaign, I am asking fellow alumni and especially my Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity brothers to support this endeavor. Donate to TWU in honor of someone who made a difference in your life. I have donated to honor Dr. Floyd Bowling, B.T. Hutson, Fred Pruett, and Dr. Burkett Witt.