Featured photo: Brian Winbigler, president of the UT Alumni Association. (Courtesy Photo)
By Jackie Wise
“It’s a lot more fun to be in it than to sit on the sidelines.”
These words encapsulate Brian Winbigler’s (Knoxville ’03, Health Science Center ’14) spirit as he takes on the role of president of the UT Alumni Association this year. Winbigler’s journey from a scholarship-seeking student to an enthusiastic alumni volunteer speaks to his passion for giving back and the profound impact UT had on shaping his life.
In preparing for college, Winbigler applied for every scholarship he could find, eventually receiving the Balanced Man Scholarship from the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity chapter at UT Knoxville. At that point, he hadn’t considered attending UT. However, when he examined the university’s curriculum, he realized the possibilities were endless.
“I can be anything at UT,” he realized.
Embracing the university’s opportunities, Winbigler’s involvement took off through his fraternity and the Student Alumni Associates (SAA). SAA is a student organization that advances the university through programming and events that bolster students’ connection to UT and serves as official host for UT at university and community events. His role as the alumni liaison with SAA opened doors that he never could have imagined, including traveling with legendary Lady Vols Coach Pat Summitt.
“I’m face to face with Coach Summitt for two and a half hours, and it was the coolest experience,” Winbigler says.
SAA’s unique role as student representation at key university events showcased the power of networking. For Winbigler, the experience provided opportunities to meet successful alumni and community members to whom he wouldn’t otherwise have access. These experiences provided him with more than just advice; they offered tangible examples of what he could achieve.
Now, as an alumnus, he meets students from all UT campuses and shares wisdom he gained as an undergraduate student.
“When I talk to prospective students or current students now, it’s not advice; it’s telling them what you can do and showing them that they can be whatever they want to be,” he says.
Post-graduation, Winbigler found himself in Memphis as his now-wife, Jennifer (Knoxville ’06, Health Science Center ’13), began medical school at the UT Health Science Center. During an afternoon on campus, a chance encounter with a UTHSC College of Pharmacy admissions representative set him on a new path. He enrolled at the UT Health Science Center to pursue his pharmacy degree.
Throughout his journey, Winbigler has remained committed to giving back. His desire to remain connected to UT and to keep the spirit of involvement alive fueled his dedication to alumni volunteering.
“I want everybody to feel the way I feel; I want everybody to look at ways they can contribute and participate, regardless of how much money they have or how much time they have,” he says. “Everyone can do something.”
The diplomas adorning his office wall remind him of the experiences that shaped him and motivate him to stay engaged.
“I see those diplomas; that’s why I’m here,” he says.
Winbigler lives in Maryville with his wife, Jennifer, and their three sons, Max, 12; Wyatt, 9; and Ayres, 4. He is the site manager at AMR Knoxville and is the chief operations officer of Winbigler Medical.
2023-24 Board of Governors
April Armstrong-Triggs ’00 Martin
David Bailey ’93 Knoxville
Cindy Brasher ’02 Martin, ’14 Health Science Center
Stephen Carter ’77 Knoxville
Kevin Clark ’95 Knoxville
Kim Coffey ’77, ’87 Chattanooga, ’78 Health Science Center
Jim Duke Jr. ’73 Knoxville
Mary Ergen ’78 Knoxville (UTIA), ’82 Knoxville (vet medicine)
Alison Franklin ’98 Knoxville (UTIA)
Ryan Groves ’01, ’03 Knoxville
Debbie Ingram ’84 Chattanooga, ’94 Knoxville
Donna Lawrence ’81 Chattanooga
Tanika Lester ’93, ’95 Martin
Sarah Luna ’05 Southern
Jimmie Mancell ’90 Martin, ’94 Health Science Center
Jimmie McKinley Jr. ’02, ’04 Knoxville
Levi Pointer ’94 Martin
Carol Wade ’06 Southern
Nathan Zipper ’07 Knoxville