Blue Ribbon Winners, 2009

Sharon Williams
’ primary duties are for housing accounts payable and budget, and Director of Housing Steven Hood says she does an excellent job.  Specifically, Williams’ recent findings have resulted in savings of $1543.13.  “Sharon found a flyer from ICI Paints, which indicated a lower rate for paint as compared to what we had been paying,” Hood said. “Through investigation of previous invoices and working closely with key staff at ICI, Sharon was able to have credits applied to many of our previous invoices.  There is no doubt Sharon spent a great deal of time in researching and communicating with our vendor to obtain this credit.

November 2009
Melissa Laseter
, Academic Support Specialist for Student Support Services, worked hard to assist students who perform poorly on writing assignments in non tutorial courses.  “She put her English degree to work and responded to their needs and provided one-on-one tutorials,” said Shirl S. Gholston, Director, Student Support Services “On several occasions, she would rearrange her lunch break to proof papers so that students could meet their deadlines,” Golston said. “Regardless of whose job it is, once Melissa takes ownership of a problem, she follows through to its resolution.  In my absence, she realized that students did not submit time sheets.  She took the initiative to contact students who were not under her supervision to ensure that their payroll was submitted on time.  She effectively contributed to the department during a period of transition due to recently hiring an Academic Specialist.  Without directives from me, she increased her workload and took on extra duties to monitor students’ academic progress.  She is also the first to volunteer to oversee or provide unsolicited assistance to a new program initiative.  Just recently, she provided information that will increase our chances for securing funds to increase the retention and graduation rates of students who are STEM majors.”

October 2009
UTC housing security guard Alletha Nelson was the first responder to the fire in a disabled student’s bedroom at UTC Place in September 2009.  According to Sergeant Karen Farrow of UTC Campus Police, Nelson extinguished the flames, removed a bed cover from the student, and in dense smoke, tried to help her get out of the bed.  At that point, the Chattanooga Fire Department arrived and rescued the student, who sustained minor injuries.  A Fire Investigation Division spokesperson said Nelson’s actions saved the student from more serious injuries.  “I’m very proud of Alletha.  She is an outstanding security officer,” Farrow said.

Charity Trillet
, Director of Technology Support Services, Information Technology has always been very helpful and accessible for all departmental requests made by Vanasia Parks, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Business Activities.  Trillet has assisted the Bursar’s office and other areas that report to Parks by resetting passwords, recovering lost data, and providing guidance to overcome difficult computer issues.  She assisted by setting up a new and challenging check-writing program and helped the Bursar’s office with creating a shared drive to make data more assessable to the staff.  “The most recent issue involved me personally, when I made the HUGE mistake of deleting some files that were very important to the daily activities in my area.  I was not able to recover the files and was in a panic until Charity was able to get the right people to assist me with recovering the files.  Thanks to Charity and the assistance of other key staff members, all of my files were recovered,” Parks said.

Steve Smith
, Electrical Specialist in Facilities: Building Trades Maintenance, came to the rescue of a baby bird that was stuck inside a campus building, perched near the ceiling on a high interior wall.  It had been there more than 24 hours when Smith, who was working nearby, was asked by Maria Derrick to help.  “It was a Friday and there was a very real chance it would remain there over the weekend, without access to food or water,” said Derrick, Assistant Director in the Office of Grants and Research.  “He first tried to reach the bird by standing on a low support, but when that didn’t work he left and came back shortly with a ladder, which he used to reach the bird.  He quickly captured it and released it outside.  It only took a few moments, but he is a real hero in my mind because he took the time to help a trapped creature.”

Kellie Karaky
, IT Technologist II, Walker Teaching Resource Center, was nominated by Dr. John Friedl for the July Blue Ribbon Service Award.  Friedl said Karaky was “professional in every respect” as she assisted him with a project that required Microsoft Word formatting assistance.  “I truly believe I could not have completed this project without her help and guidance,” Friedl said.

Bobi Reed
, Administrative Support Asst III, Engineering Management, began working in 2007 and quickly became a great addition to the program, according to Dr. Neslihan Alp, Director of Engineering Management and Graduate Programs.  “While I was out of country to attend to the Linden Educational Fair in India for two weeks in September and later had a complicated surgery in December, which caused me to stay home for most part of December, Bobi worked very hard to make sure that our current students, online students, and also prospective students were assisted on a timely manner,” Alp said.  “She worked very hard during the past holiday season to assist our students and inform them about the program.  I really appreciate Bobi’s dedication and willingness to help everybody, which makes the job done always on a timely and correctly manner.”  Alp adds that both faculty and students are appreciative of Bobi’s efforts, always delivered with a positive attitude.

The Lupton Library’s “Evening Team” of Cheryl Van Mater and Brandi Alexander usually works from 4 p.m. to midnight, but each spring semester they “do a crazy schedule change and work overnights shift for three days in a row so that the Library can remain open for 24 hour study during final exams,” said Dean of the Library, Theresa Liedtka.  This “great team” conducts business with good will and no complaints, according to Liedtka, who adds that the two are student centered and focused.  “This year was particularly challenging because of the Rave event planned by the students.  The police wanted to shut the Library down completely and not reopen after it happened, but Cheryl and Brandi convinced them otherwise so that the students studying the building (who didn’t participate in the Rave) could keep studying,” Liedtka said.

Liz Walker,
principal secretary for the Athletic Graduate Training Program, took action to get student workers paid when the supervisor for work student students in Health and Human Performances was transferred and the department head was called out of town for a family emergency.  Julia Cronin, Student Financial Aid Office, said Walker quickly determined that the students who sit at the desk, hand out towels and wipe down equipment in the workout room would not be paid if someone did not collect and turn in their time sheets.  “Liz took it upon herself to gather the sign-in sheets from the students, determine to the best of her ability that they were correct, and complete time sheets for them.  She even made a special trip to my office to verify that she had the correct information….I really appreciate Liz taking care of this and feel it goes above and beyond expectations….Liz took the problem seriously, she made it her problem and solved it,” Cronin said.

Miles Ledford,
Coordinator of Club Sports & Outdoor Programming, selflessly helps students and has a serious work ethic, according to Qasim Allen Sheikh, Coordinator of Intramurals.   “In 11 years of working in higher education, I have never seen a more dedicated worker than Miles Ledford.  I cannot think of anyone at UTC that encourages and enlightens students to make good decisions and provides so much programming–he takes three outdoor trips a month, teaches roll classes and teaches first aid,” Sheikh said.   When a group of students took a trip to Virginia, their car hit a deer, Sheikh said.  “Miles drove to Virginia at 3am to get them in a replacement vehicle…..that is just a small part of what he does, but he serves the student’s best interest very well.”  He also works with additional departments to coordinate group rafting trips down the Ocoee and “does this genuinely to help groups have fun,” Sheikh said.

Sarah Blackburn,
administrative assistant in the School of Nursing, went out of her way to assure the smooth running of administrative processes in the School of Nursing while the director of the School, Dr. Kay Lindgren, recovered from an injury she suffered in a fall. Lindgren said Blackburn was able to manage Lindgren’s calendar to allow for surgery, rehab, and recovery time by prioritizing what was essential and what could wait for her to address. “This required Sarah to stretch far above the expectations of her job description. Through her perseverance, the School of Nursing operations went smoothly and we were able to meet all our goals,” Lindgren said.  “In addition when I fell and broke my wrist, she was the one who took me to the ER and advocated for the care that I needed. She would not leave me until my husband was able to travel to the hospital some time later. When I suggested that she could go home for it was getting late, she replied, ‘not until I see you safely in the car headed to your house.’  She called and checked on me regularly and kept the faculty and staff updated on my progress. I was so grateful for this as it allowed me to concentrate on recovery. On my return to work, she had everything that I needed to personally attend to organized. I would still be trying to catch up if Sarah had not committed herself 200% to assure nothing would ‘fall through the cracks.’”

Over the past year Susan Lazenby, Manager of the Student Technology Center, has transformed the University Center Computer lab to a fully functional facility to improve student learning.  Improvements have been made in both labs and in the student technical help desk area, according to Monty Wilson, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Information Technology.  When Lazenby took over management of the lab, Wilson says it was a stock yard lab with rows of computers with limited work area and no space for students to collaborate on class projects, a concern for faculty.   Lazenby conducted a survey of student needs and based upon student input, she developed a phased plan to renovate the lab. “A very innovative approach was taken to arrange the computers in a ‘u’ shape so that all monitors could be seen by the faculty while allowing several areas that students could work together in clusters.  In addition to student use, this layout was very functional when it was selected by the Provost as the Orientation and Freshman advisement Command Center last summer.  This command center is expected to continue in future years,” Wilson said.  Lazenby also addressed the need for more functional furniture in the main lab to provide better services to students.  Funds available in ITD purchased low emission paint for the room.  With no funds available to purchase furniture, Lazenby found a donor.  Unum donated two semi truck loads of functional Herman Miller landscape furniture for use at the University. Unum allowed several staff members to assist with the installation.   “The estimated value of this equipment is in excess of $250,000.  To ensure the best possible layout of the donated furniture Susan worked with the UTC Interior Design department to have four student teams compete on the most functional design for the space with the guidance that the same number of computers remain in the lab after the project is complete,” Wilson said.  He added that the space has been extremely well received by students, faculty administrators and staff. Finally, Lazenby contacted SGA which provided more than $5000 to purchase a smart screen system work area, where students can practice presentations and do group work. 

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