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'Heartland Series' creator to speak at J. Frank White Academy commencement

Staff report • May 13, 2007 at 11:36 AM

HARROGATE, Tenn. - The J. Frank White Academy on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University will hold its annual commencement exercises at 10 a.m. Saturday in the amphitheater near the Spring House. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will move to the auditorium of the Duke Hall of Citizenship.

Stephen W. Dean, creator of "The Heartland Series" on WBIR-TV, will be the speaker.

Dean served for 30 years as community relations and promotions director for the Gannett-owned NBC affiliate in Knoxville and was executive producer of "The Heartland Series" for 20 of those years.

"The Heartland Series" has earned a long list of honors and distinctions at national and international levels, including four Iris Awards from the National Association of Television and Program Executives, three medals from the International Film and Television Festival of New York, as well as three regional Emmys. Dean also has three Emmys to his own credit as a result of his work with the show. "The Heartland Series" has aired on the Travel Channel, where it was known as "Appalachian Stories."

Dean was recognized as one of the top 10 television broadcast marketers in the country by PROMAX and the Broadcast Designers Association in 2003 when he was awarded the prestigious Brand Builder Award.

His work has been acknowledged with national awards from the American Advertising Federation, and he has earned numerous local and regional marketing and advertising honors throughout his career.

After leaving WBIR-TV, Dean formed his own production company called Famfive Productions Inc. Famfive's specialty is the celebration and exhibition of Appalachian culture through the use of video in museums, teaching aids for the classroom, and in television programming.

In 2006, he produced, wrote and directed a documentary about the Big South Fork River called "A River Free." It was the first locally produced documentary presented in high-definition television.

He is currently writing and producing a documentary about the Civil War in East Tennessee, which will be shown at the Frank H. McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee.

"We are certainly honored to have Mr. Dean as our speaker this year," said Academy Principal Sylvia Lynch. "His contributions to the preservation of the way of life here in this area are remarkable, and we like to have speakers for our students who have a good sense of place and an appreciation for the unique culture of this region."

The J. Frank White Academy is a private coeducational college preparatory school located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University and serves students in grades 5-12 from Claiborne, Union, Campbell and Hancock counties in Tennessee; Bell County in Kentucky; and Lee County in Virginia.

For more information contact the Academy Office at 869-6234 or visit www.lmunet.edu/academy.

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