Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Croley and Brown Honored with Alumni Awards

The College of Nursing is a nationally recognized leader in the education of highly skilled and visionary nurses. Its graduates make significant impacts on the lives of others and work to meet the mission of the college by improving health for all.

Two of the college’s alumni were honored this year through the university’s Alumni Awards Program, which recognizes outstanding Knoxville campus alumni. Croley and Brown were notified of their awards in the spring and accepted them on September 16.

Distinguished Alumni Award: Sara Croley

Sara Croley worked as a pediatric nurse at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital for many years before refocusing on family, service, and philanthropy.

Croley received her BSN from UT in 2000 and has been a supporter of the college since. Her leadership has been a catalyst in helping fulfill the vision of the college.

Croley and her husband, Ross, made a transformational gift in 2019. The couple gave $7.5 million—the largest gift in the college’s history. The purpose of the gift was twofold, with $5.5 million supporting the college’s new building and $2 million establishing the Sara Rosenbalm Croley Endowed Dean’s Chair.

You can read elsewhere in this issue about the new state-of-the-art nursing building, which will be named the Croley Nursing Building in their honor. Completion of the building is slated for fall 2025.

Dedicated to the spirit of the Volunteer, the Distinguished Alumni Award is the university’s highest alumni honor. It recognizes those who have attained extraordinary distinction and success in their field of endeavor and whose achievements have brought credit to the University of Tennessee and benefit to their fellow citizens.

“Sara is committed to helping the college of nursing advance its place into the future needs of nursing students, staff, and faculty,” said Dean Victoria Niederhauser. “She has enabled us to dream big and realize that dream through the planning and design process of our new building.”

Alumni Professional Achievement Award: Laura Beth Brown

Laura Beth Brown, who received her BSN from UT in 1988, has held numerous roles in which she has made a significant impact on the lives of others.

Brown has served since 2012 as senior vice president of Vanderbilt Health Services. She provides operational oversight for VHS and its subsidiary entities, ensuring Vanderbilt’s fiduciary investment in those partnerships. She also serves as president of Vanderbilt Home Care Services, where she has led the effort to establish the agency as one of the dominant home care providers in the nation. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations and oversight of servicing an average daily census of 600 patients and more than 250 employees.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown was appointed chief nursing officer over the State of Tennessee by Governor Bill Lee and served as part of the three-person team that launched a 1,600-bed alternative care site at a Nashville convention center.

“Laura Beth exemplified a Vol nurse through her professional work and service to her community,” said Niederhauser. “We are proud of all that she has accomplished in her 30-plus-year career as a nurse and excited for what she will continue to do into the future to improve health and health care.”

The Alumni Professional Achievement Award recognizes alumni who have a record of notable career accomplishments and a history of outstanding contributions to their profession. The award is presented to acknowledge their success, which brings honor and credit to the University of Tennessee.