Distinguished Alumna Judge Pamela Reeves Dies

The College of Law mourns the loss of Federal District Court Judge Pamela L. Reeves, a recent recipient of the University of Tennessee’s Distinguished Alumna Award.

Reeves was given the award, the university’s most prestigious recognition of alumni, earlier this month. She was recognized for attaining extraordinary distinction and success in her field and for achievements that brought credit to university and benefit to the community.

Reeves, 66, died Sept. 10 following a battle with cancer.

Reeves was named chief judge of the U.S. Eastern District of Tennessee in April 2019, the first woman to serve as chief judge in the 222-year history of the court. The Eastern District of the Federal Court in Tennessee is the largest in the state, holding 41 of the state’s 95 counties and 2.5 million people.

Reeves was originally appointed as a federal judge by President Barack Obama and was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate in 2014. She is also a past president of the American College of Civil Trial Mediators and past president of the Tennessee Bar Association

“Judge Reeves was remarkable and inspiring,” said College of Law Interim Dean Doug Blaze. “Her history of accomplishment speaks for itself, but aside from that impressive list of achievements, she’s someone we all look up to.”

Former College of Law Dean Melanie Wilson said she submitted the nomination for Reeves to receive recognition because she is an outstanding role model, as evidenced by her appointment as the first female to become a federal district court judge and chief judge in the Eastern District of Tennessee.

“Judge Reeves has set a standard for every UT Law alum to try and emulate,” Wilson said. “We are so fortunate for her support of UT Law and of the university.”

Reeves came from a humble beginning in Bluff City, Tennessee before she attended the University of Tennessee to study history and earn her bachelor’s degree. In law school, she graduated summa cum laude, served as an orientation leader and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.