UT Chancellor Honors Top Faculty, Staff and Students

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KNOXVILLE — Faculty, students, and staff were recognized at the annual University of Tennessee Honors Banquet Monday at the Carolyn P. Brown Memorial University Center.

At the banquet, the largest UT honors event of the year, Chancellor Jimmy Cheek saluted the accomplishments of key members of the campus community.

Among the top awards presented were:

Macebearer: Dr. Susan E. Reichert, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and recently named co-director of the university’s VolsTeach program. Riechert has been with the university since 1973 and is an international expert in the behavior and community ecology of spiders. Riechert began the “Biology in a Box” program more than ten years ago. The program provides science education materials to teachers and students in seventy-seven public schools across Tennessee. Riechert was also a crucial part of the proposal to establish VolsTeach, a new initiative that will increase the number of math and science teachers throughout Tennessee. After working to secure funding for the program, she now serves as co-director. The university’s Macebearer—the top faculty honor—leads the faculty in processionals during commencement exercises.

Alexander Prize: Dr. Aly E. Fathy is an internationally leader in the field of modern microwave technology has taught in UT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science for eight years. Along with teaching courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, he works closely with faculty in other departments, collaborating with the biomedical group, the materials department, the vet school, and the chemistry department. Named for former UT president and now Sen. Lamar Alexander and his wife, Honey, the award recognizes superior teaching and distinguished scholarship.

Jefferson Prize: Made possible by an anonymous donor, the Jefferson Prize honors the principles of Thomas Jefferson and his pursuit of freedom and knowledge. This year two Jefferson Prize honorees were recognized:

Dr. Daniel J. Flint is Proffitt’s Associate Professor of Marketing. His focus is on the emerging field of Shopper Marketing, and he is quickly becoming a dominant leader in the field. He launched the Shopper Marketing Forum at the university in 2009. This event explores contemporary shopper marketing strategies and shares that knowledge with students at all levels.

Dr. Dawn Szymanski joined the Department of Psychology in 2006 and has shown a remarkable research record in a few short years with twenty-three peer-reviewed articles and five more in press. Her work focuses on the understanding of oppression, sexism, heterosexism, and feminist psychology. She has received national recognition from the American Psychological Association and was appointed editor for the “Psychology of Women Quarterly” in 2010.

L.R. Hesler Award: Dr. Michael W. Berry is a computer science professor who has brought $1.7 million in research funding to the university in the last five years. His research focuses on topics such as text mining, bioinformatics, and high-performance computing. Inside the classroom, his teaching effectiveness and contributions are praised by students. In evaluations, they point out his “sincerity and genuine desire to encourage students to excel.” Another says he “consistently goes above and beyond what is required” to provide an “incredibly stimulating environment.” The Hesler Award is named for the long time department head and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Torchbearer is the highest honor given to a student. Cheek presented the 2011 Torchbearers with medals, and they all participated in the ceremonial “passing of the torch” at the event.

The new honorees are:

Nick Averwater is a Chancellor’s Honors student in business administration from Lakeland, Tenn. He has served the university as an Ignite Program team leader, All Campus Events director, Pi Kappa Phi fraternity president, Admissions Ambassador, and Honors Peer Advisor. Perhaps his most long-lasting contribution to UT is his work for his Honors Thesis. Averwater saw a need to further prepare UT student leaders to become citizens and leaders of the world. He has devoted much of his senior year to researching, proposing, and enacting a new Senior Capstone Leadership Course.

Jenny Bledsoe is a Selmer, Tenn. native and Chancellor’s Honors student with a double major in religious studies and English literature, and minoring in Latin and history. Her specialty is Medieval Christianity and her honors thesis project highlights the life of St. Margaret of Antioch in Late Medieval England. This project has led her to conduct field research in England, France, and Italy, and she has presented her research at four scholarly conferences. Bledsoe also served as editor-in-chief for The Daily Beacon, UT’s student newspaper, and is now the editor-in-chief of UT undergraduate research journal, Pursuit.

Anne Buckle, a senior from Fayetteville, Ga., is a double major in music education and international relations with a 4.0 grade point average. Her interest lies in French culture, specifically the United States’ efforts in public diplomacy. She interned with the Office of Western European Affairs in Washington, D.C. and at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. At UT, she works with the Student Alumni Associates and Honors Ambassadors, serves on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council and the Provost’s Student Advisory Council, and volunteers as a French tutor and a violin instructor.

Elliott Devore is a senior in psychology from Knoxville, Tenn. who has served as an Orientation Leader, Resident Assistant, Student Government Association senator, and more. His nominator says, “Elliot’s service on behalf of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community at UT highlights the spirit of the Torchbearer Award and giving light to others.” He wrote and proposed a bill to the SGA last year to create gender-neutral bathrooms on campus; he serves as a volunteer with the LGBT & Ally Resource Center; and he is writing columns for The Daily Beacon about issues facing LGBT people.

Cory Hipps, an Enterprise Management major from Hermitage, Tenn., works with the SGA, Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, and for the Boys & Girls Club. As director of diversity affairs and vice president for the SGA and a member of the university’s Council for Diversity and Interculturalism, Hipps led a number of programs which promoted civility, minority participation, global learning, and diversity. His nominator says, “Cory’s leadership and efforts have motivated students to form their own thoughts about social issues and exposed them to cultural experiences outside the norm.”

Thomas “Tommy” Jervis III, a logistics major from Franklin, Tenn., is a student leader who has lobbied the state legislature for funding, worked on behalf of the student body, and helped plan community-building programs with All Campus Events. He has been closely involved with SGA, serving on everything from Freshman Council to SGA Student Body President. His involvement encompasses student government, social fraternity, student activities, and student alumni, academic, service, and community organizations.

Micah Johnson is a senior marketing student from Kodak, Tenn. She has served as president of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority and was elected Panhellenic president, responsible for the governance of thirteen Panhellenic chapters, consisting of 2,400 women. She has been a leader in the College of Business Administration’s Venture Learning Community and the Senior Gift Campaign and was selected as the 2010 Homecoming Queen. She works closely with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and has created three new events to raise money and awareness for the organization. In 2009, she also was selected as a legislative intern for Senator Bob Corker in Washington, D.C.

Carey Smith is a political science student from Kingsport, Tenn. She has served on Mayor Bill Haslam’s Student Advisory Board, the Provost’s Student Advisory Council, and the UT Commission for Women. Smith volunteers with the Ronald McDonald House and has served for five years with the Volunteer Girls State program. She was selected to intern with the state legislature in Nashville last spring and has worked for the UT Office of State Relations in Nashville. Most recently, she has served as the student representative to the UT Board of Trustees where she led a student initiative to extend the Hope Scholarship to cover summer school tuition.

The full list of all faculty, staff and student awards is available online at http://chancellor.utk.edu/honorsbanquet. Archived video of the event will also be available at this site.

C O N T A C T :

Beth Gladden, beth.gladden@tennessee.edu, 865-974-9008 or 865-771-1284.

 

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