Presentation of staff awards in several categories was the centerpiece of the third annual celebration of staff held on Tuesday, May 24, from 3:30-5:00 p.m. on the South Lawn of Ayres Hall. Associate Dean Chris Boake organized the nomination and selection process and served as the college liaison to the committee convened to select the winners from the many worthy nominees. Nominations for staff awards were solicited from staff and faculty throughout the college.
Dean Theresa Lee welcomed the group, thanked all attending staff for their service, and presented the six awards.
Pamela Whaley, Department of English, was the recipient of the Outstanding Academic Support Award.
Pamela Whaley was honored for her dedication to the well-being and success of undergraduate students in the Department of English, through her efforts to make them feel welcome, engaged, and at home in a large and diverse department. Pam greets warmly every undergraduate student who walks through the department’s office doors, helps them with their various needs, and remembers nearly all of the department’s more than 350 student majors by name, interest, and area of concentration–a remarkable feat of memory.
Pam plays an indispensable role at the center of the department’s initiative to unify their undergraduate majors and foster a sense of community within their undergraduate program.
Debra Johnson, Department of Physics and Astronomy, was the recipient of the Outstanding Financial Support Award.
Debra Johnson has mastered the art of providing faculty in the Department of Physics and Astronomy with the support they need for preparation, submission, and management of research grants. Her duties include assisting faculty with grant applications, grant budgeting, equipment inventory, and many other financial support tasks. Debra has taken all the IRIS training that is offered and has completed the new sponsored projects accounting financial certification to enhance her skills and knowledge. She has also developed collaborative relationships with staff in the Office of Sponsored Programs to facilitate teamwork in the grant submission process. Faculty nominators declare her an indispensable resource.
David Pratt, Division of Biology, received the Outstanding Technical Support Award.
David Pratt has served the College of Arts and Sciences and the departments in the Division of Biology for the past few decades as manager of the Biology Service Facility (BSF). BSF is an extremely well managed unit that serves hundreds of faculty and students. It provides fabrication and repair services that not only save the university money and time, but also permit innovative solutions that could not be found commercially. In addition, David has been an essential participant and important contributor in new building design and other activities related to the growth and development of biology research at UT. He has managed the duties of his complex position with humor and professionalism.
Kim Harrison, Mary Beckley, and Bernice Koprince, Department of History, received the Outstanding Teamwork Award.
Their nominators describe Kim, Mary, and Bernie as the most helpful, caring, cheerful, hardest-working, and enjoyable administrative team any department could hope to have. All three are seasoned professionals who go out of their way every day to make the lives of history faculty, students, and visitors easier. The team of three actively seek ways to improve the department’s operational efficiency and record keeping. In the words of their nominator, “Kim, Mary, and Bernie infuse a sense of fun and spirit into our daily routine and work together in an attitude of mutual respect that is beautiful to watch!”
At their suggestion, some years ago the department began the process of holding a weekly administrative meeting that connects the three staff members, Kim, Mary, and Bernie, with the faculty leaders in the department (department head, associate head, and director of graduate studies). During these one-hour meetings, the group reviews every detail of department business. Kim, Bernie and Mary each bring great insight to bear, and always come up with creative solutions to the week’s challenges. They often suggest great ideas for improving the way we do our business. Their attitude has remained positive even as their workload has grown steadily each year as they have incorporated additional university and college requirements, and accommodated the needs of a larger and highly productive faculty.
Before and after the awards ceremony, staff enjoyed food and games planned around a carnival theme. Refreshments included an array of tasty treats including cotton candy, popcorn, root beer floats, and hot dogs. The perfect weather and competitive spirit enticed several staff to challenge college administrators in Corn Hole, Lawn Darts, Tip- a-Troll, Quarter Back Challenge, and other games set up on the lawn. Bluegrass music was provided by Taylor Kress and Bonnie Simmons.
The celebration concluded with the awarding of a number of door prizes which included gift certificates from local businesses and many VOLS items.