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In Memorium: Cole Piper

Head shot of Cole Piper

The Department of Retail, Hospitality & Tourism Management mourns the unexpected passing of A. Coleman “Cole” Piper.

As Executive-in-Residence, Piper taught the Retail Operations course. His time as COO of Proffitt’s Department Store provided invaluable insights to students and encouraged many to embark on a career in this field.


Piper also helped start the Retail Market Planning course, which culminated in New York City with students shadowing buyers from various department stores. His industry contacts allowed students to view the “workings in the back” that cannot be taught in a classroom. So many students commented that this was one of the most influential classes they took at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, because it solidified for them the career path they wished to follow.

Perhaps Piper’s greatest contribution to RHTM was his willingness to mentor students. His office door was always open, and he posted an insightful quote on this door every week. Upon hearing of his passing, students commented: “We’ve truly lost one of the greats. What an incredible privilege to have known, learned from him and worked with him at UT.” “What an amazing man! I am so thankful for my dear memories of him. He taught me so much.”

He will truly be missed.