Bill May, Executive Director of Arrowmont® School of Arts and Crats, has received Pi Beta Phi® Fraternity for Women’s prestigious Friend of Distinction Award. The award honors and recognizes non-members who support fraternity or sorority initiatives and are distinguished friends to Pi Beta Phi and the fraternity and sorority world. It is presented at Pi Beta Phi’s biennial convention.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Bill received his bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and did graduate work in English and gifted education at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. In his early career, Bill taught high school English. His love of nature and outdoor activities motivated his move to Sevier County and the Great Smoky Mountains. He bought a small farm and fulfilled a lifelong desire to design and build his own house, believed to be the first passive solar house in Sevier County. During the construction process, Bill became increasingly interested in art and design and served an apprenticeship in a stained-glass studio. He took classes at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, where he found education, encouragement and inspiration.
In 1992, Bill established his art glass studio and designed, fabricated and installed art glass for churches, public spaces, commercial buildings and residences throughout the country. Architectural commissions by May Studios received national recognition and numerous awards. In addition to his work in the studio, Bill maintained his connection to Arrowmont and served as an instructor for many years. He was asked to join the Board of Governors in 2009 and was hired as the school’s fifth Executive Director in June 2011.
As Executive Director of Arrowmont, Bill oversees school operations, programs and development. He recently led an $8 million fundraising effort which enabled the school to purchase its historic campus. Bill received the 2014 Award for Service to Appalachia presented by Carson Newman University in recognition of his contributions to the appreciation and preservation of Appalachian arts and culture. In 2015, he received the Governor’s Award for Arts Leadership for his work to purchase the Arrowmont campus and preserve it for future generations.
“It is with great respect and gratitude that we honor Bill as a Friend of Distinction,” said Pi Beta Phi President Paula Shepherd. “Bill embodies the Pi Phi spirit and our core values. Though his time as Executive Director came at a time of transition for the school, I think of him as a guardian of the Arrowmont legacy. His leadership has brought financial stability and a fresh appreciation of this hidden jewel in the Appalachian Mountains.”