Has a UTC employee gone the extra mile to help you?

You can show your appreciation by nominating that person for the Blue Ribbon Award. A committee appointed by the chancellor will select monthly an award winner who exhibits outstanding service to others. Nominations should be specific in identifying incidents or situations that show the nominee has served his/her customers with special distinction.

If you have a nominee to be considered at an upcoming meeting, please e-mail your nomination to Melanie Sadler (Melanie-Sadler@utc.edu), Human Resources Administrative Assistant, or mail to Dept. 3603.

All non-faculty staff (full or part-time) with at least one year’s regular service are eligible for the award. Any UTC faculty, staff, student, alumnus, or member of the community are invited to submit nominations.

Blue Ribbon Winners, 2014


Val Sample, Director of Housing and Residence Life, keeps track of finances, staffing, camps, and conferences, and has her finger on the pulse of all of the department’s projects and their progress. When personnel changes took place in the department, she made sure positions were filled in a timely manner and kept the department running in a consistent fashion. Even with her attention to detail in the office, Sample’s attention to her staff creates a great work environment in the department. “Val is always on top of things, and always remembers staff birthdays and anniversary dates. She is very encouraging to staff to pursue personal development through training, classes, and seminars,” said Melita Rector.  Rector and Sharon Williams, who both work in Housing and Residence Life, nominated Sample.


Chris Charland has used many of his lunch hours to educate UTC students about how to prepare and nourish the soil of the UTC Sustainability Garden.  He also taught them how to use a gas-powered tiller and properly plant vegetables.

According to Lisa Darger, Sustainability Coordinator, Charland’s primary responsibility as Campus Services Supervisor is to maintain a clean, safe, well-landscaped campus.  He also assists faculty, staff, and students with numerous projects.

“Just in my short tenure here at UTC, Chris has orchestrated the inaugural I LOVE UTC campus beautification projects in 2013 and 2014, providing planning, mulch, straw, plants and tools to over 80 students. He was instrumental in providing support for the recent Tree Campus USA recertification and the Tennessee Arboretum designation, particularly in on-going maintenance of signage, tracking tree and shrub plantings, and project costs. The student Wildlife-Zoology Club adopted the Challenger Center wetland as a 2014 project, with Chris as an advisor to plant specimen, location, and maintenance,” Darger said.

Darger adds that each time a student group, faculty or staff member approaches with a request, Charland is immediately accommodating and gracious, interacts patiently with students, is generous with his time while balancing his daily responsibilities, and goes out of his way to ensure that each experience benefits the campus and those participating in the project.


Scott Newby, Senior Power Plant Operator, stayed at the UTC Central Energy Plant for more than 30 hours recently when inclement weather lead to problems with the boilers and chillers.

Newby was nominated by Brandon McDonough, Power Plant Foreman, who also worked to address the problem.  McDonough explained that as long as the boilers and chillers function well, most people on campus are blissfully ignorant of how the Central Energy Plant runs.

Thanks to Scott and Brandon for keeping our work environments comfortable!


Since Doug Burkhart, Craft Supervisor for Housing and Residence Life, joined the UTC staff a little more than a year ago, he has impressed Bud Sisler, his supervisor.

“When Doug was hired he hit the ground running, learning all the buildings he was responsible for and learning the skill levels of his direct employees to understand their strengths and weaknesses.  Those who report to him maintain a great relationship and they have never come to me with a negative word. If anything, they thank me for making the choice to hire him over the other candidates,” Sisler said.

Burkhart always responds to requests for help, whether it’s during or after business hours.  Sisler explains that Burkhart works very well with other departments and vendors that service the campus, all the while maintaining a positive attitude.  He also arrives on time and seeks the best answer to an elusive problem.

“I really can’t say enough about his added talents and contributions to our department. If all my employees modeled his behavior, you would need a lot more blue ribbons to go around,” Sisler said.


Rebecca Dragoo has helped Dr. Elizabeth Gailey on a number of occasions by locating new classrooms for her when audio-video and/or seating issues threatened to hamper her ability to teach (and for her students to learn). “Rebecca is always polite, responds to requests quickly, and–most importantly–has come through 100 percent of the time when I’ve asked for a classroom change–no matter how late in the semester. Her conduct and attitude suggest that she understands the importance of classroom environment in teaching and learning–especially in communication courses that rely heavily on being able to play music and show TV and movie clips to illustrate key concepts,” Gailey said.


Michael Savini, a two-time alumnus of UTC, loved using the lap pool at the ARC while he was earning his second degree in Chemical Engineering from 2011-2013.  He says he now has an “incredible job thanks to UTC.” Unfortunately, the job and the drive prevented him from using the ARC during the summer hours, which used to be Monday through Friday from 6 a.m.-5 p.m.  He called Caesar Wood, Director of Campus Recreation, to discuss the problem—that there wasn’t time for alumni to use the ARC pool after work.  That conversation had a productive outcome when the pool hours were lengthened. “For Caesar to call one alumnus, take the time to listen and then to make something happen!   That’s the type of staff that I want at my university.   I know Caesar hasn’t been at UTC very long, but you definitely found a top-notch manager.  I am very grateful he took the time and listened.  Thank you Caesar,” Savini said.  Savini’s son will enter UTC in fall semester as a junior, and he is hopeful his daughter and younger son will also be future Mocs!

July Blue Ribbon Award

Melissa Cate’s kindness earned her the Blue Ribbon Award for July 2014.

Cate, Administrative Specialist in Athletics, was working on behalf of UTC at the Southern Conference Championship for women’s golf in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Coincidentally, April Cox, Art Director, in the Office of UTC University Relations, was also in Hilton Head. Cox and her husband were leaving a restaurant and offered their table to a couple standing nearby. The group struck up a conversation, and Cox learned the other couple was in Hilton Head to watch their daughter play golf for Elon.


“After they learned that I work at the University, they told me a story about how they had met someone from UTC who was especially kind. Apparently their daughter is particular about them taking photos of her while she competes. They even said that this weekend was especially unique because their daughter doesn’t normally invite them to watch her, so they were so happy to just be there,” Cox explained.

The couple met Cate on the golf course and had a conversation. They shared some of the same information with Cate, who kindly offered to send them any photos she captured of their daughter at the conference.

“As you can imagine, they were blown away that someone from a competing school would make such an offer. They went on and on about how nice Melissa was and how much it meant to them to get photos of their daughter,” Cox said. “I was so proud that Melissa treated the parents of a student at another University like they were parents of one of our own students. I couldn’t think of a better, more memorable way to represent our great University than what Melissa did that day. What a great example.”

August Blue Ribbon Award

The golf cart used by the Disability Resource Center (DRC) to pick up and return exams to faculty broke down outside the University Center during finals week. Raymond “Beau” Beauregard, Motor Pool Mechanic, quickly came to the assistance of Dr. Bryon Kluesner, Adaptive Technology Coordinator.

“After checking out the broken down golf cart, Bill determined that he would not be able to fix it. He safely assisted me and pulled the golf cart back to the DRC to lock up and wait for servicing,” Kluesner explained.

“Not once did Bill hesitate in assisting me. He stated that if the golf cart would have stayed where it was broken down that it could become damaged or stolen. While Bill is not directly related to the work we do in the DRC, his commitment to UTC is apparent in my many interactions with him.”

September Blue Ribbon Award

Everyone who works at UTC knows Kathleen Metcalf, the charming woman who snaps our pictures to create our Mocscards. You’d better bring your best smile, or Metcalf won’t capture your image.

One day early in fall semester 2014, a student wasn’t smiling, because she had lost her Mocscard and her wallet. Stacie Grisham, Interim Assistant Director, Center for Advisement and Student Success, walked the student over to Metcalf, explaining that the student needed her card to pay for meals. The student could not pay the $15 fee to replace her card because her debit card and only form of identification were also lost. Metcalf made a call to see if the student’s account could be charged, but was told it could not.

To relieve the student’s distress, Metcalf paid for the student’s card out of her own pocket, saying the student could pay her back when she had access to her bank again.

“I really think Mrs. Kathleen did a great job taking care of one of our students and did more than I or the student would have expected… she truly made a difference for that student,” Grisham said.

That’s why Grisham nominated Metcalf for the Blue Ribbon award, which Metcalf received for September 2014.

October Blue Ribbon Award

Lee Pierce, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, has made an impression on Bradley Bell, Assistant Director, New Student and Family Programs Office. “From creating special events to raise awareness about the university, to finding new tactics to reach potential students, she has truly embodied the mission statement and purpose of The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga,” Bell said.

Pierce helped Bell with the orientation program when Carrie Sherbesman, the Director of New Student and Family Programs, was on maternity leave.

“Lee has assisted me in making sure that the orientation program would prosper in Carrie’s absence. From staying late with me to make sure all things were needed and prepped for the next day, to working with parents and difficult situations that orientation may bring, she has made my transition into assistant director very easy and smooth. I believe that she is a direct reflection of what the Blue Ribbon Award stands for,” said Bell. 

November Blue Ribbon Award

Joanna Stephanos, Administrative Support Assistant III, Health and Human Performance, “consistently goes above and beyond for both our internal and external customers. There are so many times she goes out of her way to take special care of each and every person in HHP it is tough to narrow it down to just one,” said Amanda Atkins, Stephanos’ co-worker in HHP.

Atkins said Stephanos recently received a phone call from a work-study student at 6:30 p.m.

“The work-study was in hysterics, she had been in a car wreck and was being transported to the ER and her parents live out of town. This young lady called the next best thing to her mom when she called Joanna. Joanna got to the hospital in less than 15 minutes to sit with her and keep her calm until family arrived. This is something that definitely is not in her job description! Joanna is known in our office as the person who takes care of everyone. Faculty and students both know that they can go to Joanna for anything; she is such a blessing to our department, faculty, and students. I cannot think of anyone more deserving,” said Atkins.

December Blue Ribbon Winner

Flocerfina deGuzman, better known on campus as Peen, is always upbeat and helpful to faculty and students, said Dr. Betsy Alderman, Head of the Communication Department.

deGuzman, Administrative Support Assistant III in the Department of Communication, is “simply a delight to work with,” Alderman said.

“I know all of my faculty would completely agree. She finishes tasks promptly and correctly. She is beyond efficient in the office and manages four budgets (the department’s, a scholarship account, a West Chair account and my Luther Massingil account),” Alderman explained. deGuzman checks equipment in and out to nearly 400 Communication majors and approximately 150 minors.

“Peen goes way beyond what it means to be customer service friendly,” Alderman said.

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