Charles P. Tombras Jr. (’64)

Category: Alumni Professional Achievement

2017 Alumni Professional Achievement Award Winner

UT has a long history of excellence in advertising. Charlie Tombras is a testament to the university’s teaching and a symbol of the innovative spirit that UT seeks to foster.

Tombras graduated from the College of Communication and Information with a degree in advertising in 1964. After graduation, he served for two years in the US Army, where he became an airborne ranger in the 82nd Airborne Division and an infantry rifle platoon leader in the 1st Brigade Airborne of the 1st Cavalry Division Airmobile in Vietnam. He was awarded the Air Medal, Bronze Star, and Bronze Star for Valor.

On his return to Knoxville, Tombras joined his father’s advertising agency, where his hard work, leadership, and integrity led him to become president in 1980. Under his guidance, the Tombras Group has grown tremendously to employ more than 300 people and become a top 25 independent agency in North America. The agency has been honored by Ad Age as the National Small Agency of the Year in 2015 and as an A-List Agency to Watch in 2019, as well as by Fast Company as one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies in 2018.

Tombras, a graduate of Leadership Knoxville, has served his community as director of the Knoxville City Ballet, St. Mary’s Medical Center Advisory Board, Junior Achievement, Knoxville Museum of Art, and the Knoxville Opera Company. Since 2014 he has been a member of the College of Communication and Information’s Board of Visitors and has provided generous support for the CCI Social Media Command Center.

In 2018, Tombras transitioned into his new role as chairperson, passing the presidential reins to his son, Dooley.