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The Art of Finance

Accounting Coordinator Shelley Gentry is a Master in the ‘Art’ of Finance

Shelley Gentry, accounting coordinator for the School of Art, says she enjoys working with very artistic faculty and students. But she laments that she isn’t an artist herself.

Those who work with her, though, say she is a true master―in the art of finance.

Last year Gentry was honored with the college’s outstanding financial support award.

“I enjoy my job,” she said. “I enjoy serving people, being available, and being able to help people.”

Gentry began working at UT in 1994 when she was tapped from the temp pool to fill in for a College of Arts and Sciences communications employee on maternity leave. When the new mom decided not to return to work, Gentry was hired to replace her.

For 11 years, Gentry helped with college newsletters, scheduled outreach activities for faculty members, and set up for the Pregame Showcase, a long-time College of Arts and Sciences lecture series held prior to UT home football games.

She then moved to the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Office of Lab Animal Care to work in accounting, her initial field of interest.

In 2010, she returned to the College of Arts and Sciences as the accounting manager for the School of Art.

“The School of Art is a fun atmosphere. It’s very casual. The people are so lively and colorful,” she said, adding that she’s enjoyed collecting various pieces of artwork created by faculty and students she’s met over the years.

When the pandemic hit, Gentry packed up her computer and boxes of paperwork to work from home.

“I thought I would enjoy it, but I did not,” she said. “I’m a people person. So as soon as they said, ‘I think we’re going to let people come back,’ I said, ‘OK, I’m coming.’”

Gentry has many special memories of the 28 years she’s worked at UT.

“My favorite was being hired on my son’s birthday,” she said.

She was pleased to be selected to attend UT Connect, a staff leadership development program.

“It was 12 months of reading a book, talking about diversity and how we can do better,” she said. “It connects you with other people on campus.”

And she’s been proud to be honored for her work.

Back in 2017, she received the Mary Lynn Glustoff Award, which is given each year by the college to recognize the contributions of a non-exempt staff member.

That award was very special, Gentry said, because she knew Glustoff, who spent 25 years as the principal secretary in the School of Art. Glustoff’s husband established the award in his late wife’s honor.

The Glustoff Award plaque hangs on her office wall.

When Gentry received her latest honor―the outstanding financial support award she won last year―she was described as “a model for other staff: always punctual, calm, clear in communications, cool under pressure, and professional in demeanor.”

Gentry said her steady demeanor is rooted in self-control.

“I may blow my cool up here,” she said, tapping her head. “But I never blow it out here,” she said, tapping her mouth.

Gentry and her husband, John, have been married for 34 years. They have two children; their eighth grandchild is on the way. In her free time, Gentry enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, cruising in the Smokies on her husband’s motorcycle, riding rugged trails on her Razor four-wheeler, and RV camping with her family.

Story by Amy Blakely