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Ogle Carries on Big Orange Family Tradition

For Connie Ogle, who is in her 39th year in the Department of Psychology, being at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has always felt right.

Ogle’s dad retired from the UT Police Department. Her mom was a support staff member and retired from the Agriculture Campus after 33.5 years.

“I kind of grew up here,” Ogle said. And she’s happy to be continuing her family’s Big Orange legacy. “I have been so totally blessed to be here. I love the people. I love my work.”

Now an administrative specialist III, Ogle started working at UT in 1984 when her son, Justin, was very young. She has been the assistant to the psychology department head since January 1989, and she’s served as the department’s staff and work-study supervisor and Graduate Programs Coordinator since 1997.

“I love assisting with the administrative duties that come with being a department head and doing what I can to make the department head’s job easier because they have unbelievable requirements on them.”

Ogle said working with graduate students is “a wonderful part of my job. We have fantastic graduate students, and over the years I have made friends with graduate students who are now all over the world.”

Ogle won the College of Arts and Sciences’ award for outstanding academic support in 2017.

Over the years, Ogle has seen her department and UT through a lot of changes.

“One of the biggest ones is that staff members are treated with more respect now than when I first came here. I think everyone has come to realize that administrative staff members are an important part of university work.”

An animal lover, Ogle has kept horses in the past. Thanks to her grandson, Jeffery, she is now tending to two cats and an aquatic turtle. But her baby is her dog, Montana.

Ogle said her sister, Wanda, met and fell in love with a stray dog while visiting the Blackfeet Nation, a Native American reservation in Browning, Montana, in 2017. The dog had been named Glacier by U.S. soldiers staying in a hotel in Browning, which is near Glacier National Park.

With help from reservation residents, Ogle’s sister flew back to Montana about a month later to adopt Glacier. She didn’t know the dog was pregnant with five puppies.

“We watched those puppies being born. The last one was the biggest, and that is now my 5-year-old Montana.”

Montana is a 100-pound mixed breed whose lineage includes Akita, shepherd, bearded collie, mastiff, and Shar Pei.

“My Montana is a very socially anxious dog. Loud noises scare her, and she is anxious around most people. We are very bonded, and we spend lots of time together. She is my Montana princess.”

Ogle also enjoys traveling with her sister, whom she calls her “best friend.” They have been taking their grandsons on annual vacations around the United States.

In 2021, they visited Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, the Badlands, and the Great Salt Lake. This year, they went to several National Parks in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. Next year, they hope to tour New England.

“We’re trying to take them to as many states as we can,” she said.

Ogle has a big extended family and, when she’s not working, she loves spending time with them.

“I consider myself very blessed,” she said.

Story by Amy Blakely