Chancellor's Blue Ribbon Award

Jack Pitkin

May 2024 Recipient - Jack Pitkin

Jack Pitkin, Senior Teaching Lab Specialist and Clarence T. Jones Observatory Operations Manager in the Chemistry & Physics Department, was nominated for a Blue Ribbon Award by a multitude of his colleagues and peers. In his dual roles, Mr. Pitkin has effectively and consistently been able to share his keen knowledge, talents, and enthusiastic spirit with a wide swath of campus. The joy with which he conducts his incredibly important work is not only shared with campus colleagues and students, but he has been a shining light to students in the greater Chattanooga and Hamilton County communities. In the words of one nominator: “Jack exemplifies the spirit of this award.”

Lauren Ouwerkerk

April 2024 Recipient - Lauren Ouwerkerk

Lauren Ouwerkerk, Associate Director for the Center for Women & Gender Equity and Prism Center, was recognized by her peer, Emily Rosenquist. Ms. Rosenquist made it clear that, since her time with UTC began in 2016, she has been an instrumental force in creating a culture of “programming, assessment, and community building” for her area, which informs the broad range of campus support systems for the UTC community.  Not only has Lauren successfully fostered a culture of data-driven advocacy and lifelong learning here, but she has engaged in and managed valuable partnerships with leaders across the greater Chattanooga community.  Ms. Rosenquist said it best: “She taught me that Chattanooga could be my home, and that UTC was somewhere I could create a culture of change.  She taught me that the work we do is always worth it, even when it’s difficult.  I can think of no one that deserves the Chancellor’s Blue Ribbon award [more] than her.” 

Joel Wands

March 2024 Recipient - Joel Wands

Joel Wands, Fire Safety Specialist with Environmental Health & Safety, was recognized for his tremendous efforts by his colleague, Bob Jackson: “Wands was a leader preparing the campus’s Housing water pipes to handle ten consecutive days of freezing temperatures in January. Wands took charge to install new equipment before the freeze. The buildings’ pipes suffered no damages or financial losses, despite seven straight nights with wind chill temperatures in the teens. The equipment [he] chose had an immediate financial payback for UTC and will continue to provide early detection and protection for many years. Similar temperatures in previous years resulted in damages in the tens of thousands of dollars, drastically displaced many students from their apartments for weeks, and damaged the students’ personal property. Wands is one of our unsung heroes of the snow/freeze. Wands has been a perpetual giver of outstanding effort for UTC since he started in 2015. I can think of few more deserving of a Blue Ribbon Award.” This campus is made better for his hard work and determination.

Ginger Yates

February 2024 Recipient - Ginger Yates

Ginger Yates, Police Officer with the UTC Police Department, was acknowledged for her outstanding dedication by her fellow officer, Sgt. John West. Sgt. West recalled Officer Yates’s incredibly moving acts of selflessness in assisting unhoused individuals in our downtown community. Not only did she provide aid and comfort to individuals and families occupying space at the Chatt Foundation, but she utilized contacts gathered over her years of service to her community to provide direct assistance to families in need of food, housing, and other basic needs, which so many of us often take for granted. Her colleagues have made it clear that Officer Yates is a prime example of what it means to truly embody service to others and the spirit of generosity, and that is why the Blue Ribbon Award was created – to recognize individuals like her for making UTC and Chattanooga a better place to be.

michael jackson

January 2024 Recipient - Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson, Director of Arena Ticket Operations, was recognized for his impactful contributions by University Registrar, Joel Wells. Since 2020, UTC has needed to limit attendance at various Arena events, including commencement ceremonies. The Arena Box Office partnered with various campus counterparts, including the Registrar’s Office, to create and issue tickets tailored to these needs. Mr. Wells made it abundantly clear that Mike was instrumental in ensuring timely responses to various issues that arise with ticketing and RSVPs. He was able to effectively handle all scenarios, good and bad, with the utmost professionalism and respect, allowing members of the campus and Chattanooga communities to celebrate and be present. UTC is truly thankful for Mike’s patience and reliability in playing a crucial role supporting the joyous celebration “that families expect when their loved one participates in commencement.”

Emma Sampson

December 2023 Recipient - Emma Sampson

Emma Sampson, MPH Program Manager in the Health and Human Performance Department, was recognized for her wonderful efforts by Melissa Powell, Marissa McElrone, and Marisa Colston. They clearly illustrated that Emma is instrumental in developing the success of UTC’s MPH programs, especially throughout the accreditation processes. Not only has she successfully navigated her program’s complex challenges for the university, but she has also had a tremendously positive impact on her coworkers and students by connecting them with meaningful academic and professional experiences, which is vital in developing their capacity to excel in addressing public health concerns in our local community. To share one nominator’s words: “Among all the amazing services Emma provides for our department, which includes day to day operations of the MPH, it never ceases to amaze me that every day that I see her, she always asks if there is anything she can do to assist us.” UTC thanks her for going above and beyond for those around her.

Lili Reynolds

November 2023 Recipient - Lili Reynolds

Lili Reynolds, Registered Nurse in University Health Services, was recognized for her valuable work by her colleagues, Drs. Chris Smith and Yasmine Key.  Among the many positive comments that were expressed in her nominations, here are just a few: “Lili has shown a true passion for the work she is doing and beams with pride over working at our wonderful university.  I am grateful she is on our team.”  “She does her job exceptionally well. And when she does three jobs, she does them exceptionally, exceptionally, exceptionally well … I do not take nominations for honors like these lightly … When I saw the [nomination] link today, I immediately thought of Lili.  She is very deserving and probably will be embarrassed but honored to be chosen.”  Lili has received glowing reviews from her peers, and her monumental impact has not gone unnoticed.  UTC thanks her for her exceptional work to make the university a wonderful place to be.

Brandalyn Shropshire

October 2023 Recipient - Brandalyn Shropshire

Brandalyn Shropshire, Associate Director of Engagement in Undergraduate Admissions, was recognized for her impactful efforts by her colleague, Carrie Sherbesman: “Brandalyn has gone above and beyond in her role coordinating campus tours. She holds training sessions on the weekends [to] accommodate the students’ schedule best. She keeps extra snacks in her office (that she pays for herself) for the tour guides and always makes sure they have an umbrella, jacket, or bottle of water. Recently, Brandalyn created a UTC Spanish-speaking campus tour, complete with a student and faculty panel in Spanish. Brandalyn created this program on her own accord because she saw that there was a need.” Her efforts to excel above and beyond in her position, successfully widening access to our wonderful campus, have not gone unnoticed, and along with her peers, UTC thanks her for her marvelous work.

August winner 2023

September 2023 Recipient - Shari Kappel

Shari Kappel, Administrative Specialist for Management in the Rollins College of Business, was recognized for her great work by her colleagues, Rebecca Shortridge and Derron Bishop. They describe Shari as a “huge asset to the Rollins College of Business,” as she has played a pivotal role in keeping their programs and daily operations moving during one of the busiest times of the academic semester. “While serving as the administrative assistant for four [department] heads, she has amazingly kept us all on task, helped with schedule changes, assisted in posting faculty lines and admin [sic] roles, greeted those coming [into] the office, and helped plan events for the fall. She does not complain about the volume of work or about working for four different bosses.” “She does all of this with a smile and with good humor.” UTC truly thanks her for all her hard work, keeping her departments afloat and still finding time to welcome new and returning employees and students.

August winner 2023 blue ribbon

August 2023 Recipient - Stephanie Orr

Stephanie Orr, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions, was recognized for her outstanding efforts by her colleague, Shewanee Howard-Baptiste: “Stephanie was a critical piece in the success of University High, particularly in the areas of the application and interview process for students,” dedicating her valuable time during a high-volume season in Admissions. These critical efforts are the lifeblood of what UTC has to offer, connecting us to our partners in Hamilton County Schools and the greater Chattanooga community. It is evident that she has gone above and beyond in continuing to support the University High program and other recruitment efforts, and UTC thanks her for her impactful service.

Abazid Gassim Headshot

July 2023 Recipient - Gassim Abazid

Gassim Abazid, Police Officer in the UTC Police Department, was recognized for his fantastic efforts by his colleague, Sgt. Kenneth Lloyd, to keep our campus safe for all who learn, work, and visit our university. Sgt. Lloyd shared several specific instances earlier this year where Officer Abazid demonstrated admirable bravery and decisive leadership, including the detaining of several confirmed threats while the rest of the city slept. It is a wonderful fact that members of the UTC and Chattanooga communities can sleep soundly knowing there are individuals like him devoted to public safety. UTC is truly thankful for his service as a protector of the peace.

Chelsie Ewing headshot

June 2023 Recipient - Chelsie Ewing

Chelsie Ewing, Director of Engineering and Planning Services in Facilities, Planning & Management, was nominated for her invaluable efforts by her colleague, Vice Chancellor Brent Goldberg: “Chelsie is a fantastic team player who goes above and beyond on a regular basis to be responsive and inclusive of various campus partners.” Not only is Chelsie managing several large capital projects at any given time, but she is able to successfully navigate the vast complexity among competing needs and interests, demonstrating valuable “patience and problem-solving skills.” In addition to her significant workload and can-do attitude, she has also committed to being a lifelong learner in completing her Master’s program.

University of Tennessee Chattanooga

May 2023 Recipient - Shuntika Cox

Shuntika Cox, Senior Custodian with Facilities, Planning & Management, was recognized for her tremendous efforts by her colleague, Dr. Andy Browne in the Learning and Leadership Department: “Shuntika, who is affectionately known as ‘Sister,’ keeps the halls and offices of Hunter Hall in impeccable condition, and she does it with a personality that is happy, optimistic, and friendly. I truly enjoy seeing Sister's smiling face as we pass in the hall and later in the day when she comes through our offices to make sure we do not need anything … I hope to point out a consistent demonstration of being that person who makes our days better. Sister is undeniably deserving of the Blue Ribbon Award.”

Leslie Tyler

April 2023 Recipient - Leslie Tyler

Leslie Tyler, Internship Coordinator in the Health & Human Performance Department, was recognized for the impact of her efforts by her colleague, Dr. Marisa Colston.  It is clear that her diligence and dedication to students, faculty, staff, and community members is truly remarkable.  Through a vacancy in the HHP department, she “successfully navigated all roles and tasks,” filling all identified gaps while exceptionally maintaining her own responsibilities.  Further, the time she has devoted to training and cross-training new and existing colleagues in your department, now culminating in her role as Internship Coordinator, she has shown incredible commitment and care for fellow members of the UTC community.

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March 2023 Recipient - Steve Jackson

Steve Jackson, Senior Custodian with Facilities, Planning & Management, was nominated for the impact of his efforts by twenty-nine (29) colleagues and students at UTC, particularly those in the Fine Arts Center, where he works incredibly hard to maintain the cleanliness and vibrancy of UTC’s campus. Students, faculty, and staff members shared that Mr. Jackson consistently goes well beyond expectations, expressing friendliness and warmth to his colleagues in his crucial work to beautify the campus, especially the very visible and essential Fine Arts Center. Without him and his tireless work, those around him would not feel as appreciated, welcomed, or cared for. It is clear that Mr. Jackson has made an astoundingly positive impact on students and your peers, and UTC thanks him.

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February 2023 Recipient - Ruby Jordan

Ruby Jordan, Senior Custodian with Facilities, Planning & Management, was recognized for the impact of her efforts by her colleague, Tracy Hughes in the Mathematics Department. Ms. Hughes indicated that Ms. Jordan is a shining star on UTC’s campus: “She takes pride in her work and always goes the extra mile to make sure we have everything we need and our spaces are clean.” More than that, however, her “kind and friendly nature” is truly appreciated by those around her, especially when times are tough. We want to thank Ms. Jordan for being a selfless member of the UTC community and to those around her on a daily basis. According to her nomination, she is “a beloved member of [the] Arts and Sciences family.

Eddrick Brooks headshot

January 2023 Recipient - Eddrick Brooks

Eddrick Brooks, Club Sports Coordinator with Campus Recreation, was recognized for the impact of his efforts by his colleagues Cindy Strine and Crystal Durham, along with many students involved in Club Sports at UTC. Eddrick, or “E” as he is known around Campus Rec, has been a driving force in revitalizing Club Sports programs after the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted sporting events and gatherings in a unique and challenging way. Through his “genuine care and compassion,” he has given new life to clubs by assisting new and existing organizations to recruit members and be able to gather, practice, and play with other UTC students and external clubs. According to the nominations from his peers and students, it is clear that Eddrick keeps students and their experience at UTC at the forefront of his work, and we want to thank him for his service to the UTC and greater Chattanooga communities, especially during trying times, and for being “the heart and soul of UTC’s Club Sports program.”

Emily Rosenquist Headshot

December 2022 Recipient - Emily Rosenquist

Emily Rosenquist, Assistant Director for Advocacy and Education in the Center for Women and Gender Equity was nominated by one of her colleagues, Lauren Ouwekerk. Even though she arrived here at a tumultuous time, during the Summer of 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic underway, Emily has continued to advocate for survivors’ access to services and outreach programs, emphasizing education and safety above all else.  The implementation of the “Don’t Cancel Your Class” program is a primary example of her successes here at UTC, and the educational seminars conducted by Emily and her team emphasize the importance of education surrounding survivor advocacy on campus and in the greater Chattanooga community. She has devoted her valuable time and energy to support survivors, students, and colleagues alike, and we want to thank her for your efforts at UTC.

Angela Foster

November 2022 Recipient - Angela Foster

Angela Foster, University Photographer, was recognized for the impact of her efforts by twenty (20) of her peers, who expressed immense gratitude for her efforts to capture the heart and essence of what makes UTC special. Through all hours of the day and Angela’s consistent attention to detail, she has successfully shown the best parts of campus and life at UTC to the entire Chattanooga community through her tremendous photography. One colleague noted that “UTC is indeed fortunate to have such an employee here, one with an eye for all [the] best that happens here, a heart to care, and the skill to make all of that shine in her photos.” To some, she is “the quiet person on the sidelines with the big camera; to those with whom she works, she is a big-hearted, beautifully curious pleasure.”

October 2022 Recipient - Kimberly Thomas

Kimberly Thomas, Administrative Assistant for the Departments of Physical Therapy & Occupational Therapy, was recognized by thirty-six (36) valued members of the UTC community, including colleagues and students. These individuals clearly expressed that Kim occupies a truly special place in the departments and at UTC. It would be futile to sum up the outpouring of appreciation from those around her, but a few words to describe her dedication, hard work, and excellence include: "A joy," "our superhero," "the glue of this area," "kind and caring," and "truly a phenomenal individual." As a professional, Kim has demonstrated the utmost care and attention in making those students' and peers' lives better each day. Her work ethic and keen awareness have made her departments and the university a better place to be.  

September 2022 Recipient - Sandra Cordell

Sandra Cordell, Project & Program Coordinator and Veterans Entrepreneurship Program Director, received a nomination by her colleague, Dr. Frank Butler. Sandra has been deemed as “instrumental” to the success of the Rollins College of Business, most notably in delivering the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program. She has excelled above and beyond “to deliver an incredible and inspirational program” in July 2022. “She pushed through fatigue, chaos, and stress, allowing us to have one of our best weeks yet. With the attention to detail, love, and care Sandy puts into this program,” it is clear that she has moved immeasurable mountains to make the program and department run smoothly, cultivating a terrific environment in which to grow and excel.

Joseph McCauley  Headshot

August 2022 Recipient - Joseph McCauley

Joseph McCauley, Academic Advisor for the College of Arts and Sciences, was recognized for the impact of his efforts by five colleagues: Nicki Norris, Stephanie Wells, Hannah Hartman, Bryan Bulmer, and Gretchen Potts. Many of his coworkers indicated that Joseph never shies away from stepping in when needed, and that he makes a tremendously positive impact on them as well as students and the UTC community. As a leader in the HUB, his peers relayed that he has navigated daily issues and tasks “with flexibility, level-headedness, and kindness.” One said: “He leads with excellence by example and … has made time to check in personally with each of the staff – veteran and new – on a daily basis.”

July 2022 Recipient - Ann Laster

Ann Laster, Administrative Specialist for the Department of Performing Arts, was nominated by seven fellow employees at UTC: Kevin Ford, Rebecca St. Goar, Lee Harris, Sandy Morris, Anne Swedberg, Alison Allterton, and Jordan Hicks. Ann was recognized for the impact of her efforts over the last few years with the university. “The last three years have been long … and Ann has been an anchor and support throughout.” With no slow days, “Ann is the rock” of Performing Arts. All of Ann’s colleagues indicated that she has handled extraordinarily diverse challenges “without complaint and [is] always pleasant in working with faculty.” 

University of Tennessee Chattanooga

June 2022 Recipient - Latisha Hubbard

Latisha “Tish” Hubbard, Associate Director for Student Outreach & Support and Case Manager, received nominations from several of her peers: Keilan Rickard, Amber Dennison, and Kelly Drake. Tish “is highly dedicated to serving students and is often working after hours to meet with them.” Tish’s coworkers all agree that she is an “excellent colleague who embodies the values of UTC.”

University of Tennessee Chattanooga

May 2022 Recipient - Leslie Ellis

Leslie Ellis, Senior Custodian, was nominated by ten of his colleagues: Sarah Palmer, Nathan Barger, Ashley Grillo, Evan Wilson, Ali Kraus-Saravia, Caroline Bass, Anna Bolton, Eric Roux, Brenda Paider, and Brittney Wilson. According to his coworkers, Leslie “goes the extra mile to make sure that we are always taken care of, and he does an incredible job of keeping all of Mackenzie Arena clean.” Leslie always comes in “with a smile on his face.” With nominations in the double-digits, it is clear that Leslie’s contributions to UTC have made an exceptional impact on the UTC community.

April 2022 Recipient - Bill Floyd

Bill Floyd, Resident Space Educator at the Challenger Center, was nominated by Laurie Allen who said "Bill's passion is space education. He spends countless hours developing content and ensuring all PreK-12 and university students participating in Challenger programming have a meaningful experience. He takes pride in his work and being a part of the Challenger team fulfills his dream." Laurie also shared that "It's important to him that everyone who walks in our building has a positive experience."

Profile photo of Nora Ketron

March 2022 Recipient - Nora Ketron

Nora Ketron, Administrative Specialist in the Library, was nominated by several of her coworkers: Emily Thompson, Laura Perryman, and Ryan Jones. Ryan Jones shared, "she continually went the extra mile," and Laura Perryman stated that while Nora had taken on additional duties of support, "she has graciously accepted" them. Emily Thompson stated, "Nora not only improves the working environment in the Library, but she is incredibly good at her job. Since she came on, all of the tiny but crucial details are just done without asking."

John Johnson

February 2022 Recipient - John Johnson

John Johnson, Parking Assistant in Parking Services, was nominated by David Seidel who shared that "John has gone above-and-beyond in being an ambassador of UTC to the visitors and new students parking in his assigned area. John provides directions, compliments UTC, and provides helpful insights to visitors and new students. We have received multiple compliments from new students, parents, and visitors about John. We believe that he should be recognized for his hard work campus-wide."

Jason Harville

January 2022 Recipient - Jason Harville

Jason Harville, Assistant Director of the Student Success Programs, was nominated by Crystal Edenfield.  Crystal tells us "Not a day goes by when I don't see Jason making meaningful connections with students - he is a resource, a support system and an advocate.  He is passionate about UTC and always willing to help anyone at any time." 

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