The award is named for the late state representative who was instrumental in passing legislation to create programs to recognize outstanding community service among higher education students, faculty, and staff. Each recipient receives a $1,000 cash prize.
Blaze, the Art Stolnitz and Elvin E. Overton Distinguished Professor of Law, serves as the director of UT Law’s Institute for Professional Leadership, which he helped found in 2014. He also served as dean of the College of Law from 2008 to 2015.
Beyond UT, he is active on various bar committees, including the Tennessee Bar Association Access to Justice Committee and the Knoxville Bar Association Access to Justice Initiative. Through the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, he conducts trainings in professional skills for law firms and legal service organizations around the country. Blaze also served on the Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission from 2009 to 2016.
Before coming to UT, Blaze was a member of the law faculty at Arizona State University, where he helped establish a community-based legal service clinic.
He has received numerous honors and awards, including the 2013 Deborah Rhode Award from the Association of American Law Schools for his work in promoting pro bono and access to justice. He also received the Bass, Berry & Sims Award for Outstanding Service to the Bench and Bar, the Harold Warner Outstanding Teacher Award, and the Carden Institutional Service Award. For his efforts to promote equal access to justice in Tennessee, he received the B. Riney Green Award in 2003.