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, 2017


Jerry “J.J.” Taylor, Building Trades Asst Superintendent, Facilities Planning & Management, demonstrates the true meaning of customer service.

“J.J.’s big smile and caring attitude made a large problem seem small,” said Melissa Hays, Director of Procurement & Contract Services.

When the Office of Procurement & Contract Services moved to a new location in October 2016, they encountered an electrical issue. Within twenty minutes, J.J. personally inspected the issue and put a team in place to trouble shoot. The problem was resolved within twenty four hours with minimal disruption to the office. Over the next week, J.J. personally followed up twice to make sure the problem was taken care of and that there were no further concerns.


Carrie Sherbesman, Director of New Student & Family Programs, goes out of her way to make sure that potential students visiting Campus have a wonderful experience. For Carrie, making UTC a beautiful place is just a part of her daily routine.

In Summer 2016, Carrie spearheaded the Stuff the Bus campaign, which asked new Mocs to donate school supplies for elementary students at Orientation. UTC raised approximately $10,000 worth of supplies during the event.

Carrie’s love of UTC is visible in her everyday actions. One day in particular, as she was greeting everyone with a smile and holding doors open for students in the UC, Carrie spotted a few pieces of trash. She went out of her way to pick them up and throw them away.

“She did not have to, was not expected to, and truthfully I never even noticed the trash,” said Tonia Martin, CRM Administrator, Banner Student Support Systems. “These little extra touches are what makes her one of the shining stars at UTC.”


Dr. Cheryl Murphy, Faculty Associate, Biology, Geology and Environmental Science, regularly goes above and beyond the call of her regular duties, particularly when she took the lead on the department’s partial move from Holt Hall to Davenport while Holt undergoes renovations.

Moving a science department is particularly complex. There were regulatory hurdles in moving chemicals, space restraints, specialized laboratory needs, and a tight schedule to ensure the new space was ready for summer and fall classes and research. Cheryl was the liaison between the department, Facilities staff, animal care and use staff, office movers, specialized chemical and equipment movers, and everyone else involved in the project.

“Without her help and dedication, the department would have encountered many difficulties that she helped mitigate,” said Dr Ethan Carver, UC Foundation Collins Associate Professor of Biology, Geology and Environmental Science and Assistant Dean of the Graduate School. “The department is really lucky to have such an outstanding person working within it.”


Michelle Walters, Administrative Specialist, Management, makes her job look easy even as she takes on additional work outside of her normal responsibilities.

When the Accounting Department lost their Administrative Assistant over the summer, Michelle stepped in to fill the gap in addition to the heavy workload she already handles. Despite being unfamiliar with the circumstances, when UTC accounting students out of town at a conference encountered a small emergency, Michelle was able to help solve the issue and ensure that the students did not suffer as a result.

“I know that whenever I cannot get a problem resolved on my own, I can turn to Michelle, and she can always help me find a solution,” said Dr. Joanie Sompayrac, Professor of Accounting.


Sandy Zitkus, Interim Registrar, and Rebecca Dragoo, Associate Registrar, don’t let a heavy workload keep them from having a “Students First” attitude.

Even though their office processes the registration of more than 11,000 students each school year, Sandy and Rebecca stay flexible and don’t hesitate to jump in to help.

After a mix-up with his employer, a nursing student needed to get back into his classes right before the semester started. Sandy and Rebecca didn’t hesitate to personally assist him. Dr. Jerald Ainsworth, UTC Provost, noticed Sandy and Rebecca’s hard work and readily nominated them for the Blue Ribbon Award.

Dr. Chris Smith, Director of the School of Nursing also had thanks for the two registrars.

“To have this resolved so quickly showed me that Sandy and Rebecca put aside everything else to get this student back in class. I am so grateful for their assistance in making what we thought would be a huge bump in the road just a small pot hole. I cannot thank them enough for what they do for all students at UTC,” she said.


Aaron Grisham, Associate Director of the University Center, always embodies positivity and customer service, even when under pressure.

Working in the University Center, Aaron regularly lends a hand in campus events. He sees challenges as opportunities to assist his fellow employees and support the University. He thoughtfully listens and readily offers creative solutions to problems.

When UTC hosted the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees meetings, Aaron worked hand-in-hand with the Chancellor’s Office to make sure everything went smoothly.

“Aaron is a huge asset to UTC and has helped me and others in my office countless times. Even when I ask him difficult questions that may require him to go above and beyond his normal job scope, he is always helpful, creative, and willing to pitch in extra work if necessary,” Laura Cagle, Director of University Events, said.


Need something done on campus? Call Corey McGraw, Building Services Supervisor, and David Tuggle, General Maintenance Skilled Craft Worker.

When Dr. Chris Smith, Director of the UTC School of Nursing, needed some last minute help for the school’s 40th anniversary event, McGraw and Tuggle rushed over the Metro building to help and make sure the building looked its best for the returning alumni and other attendees.

“They were so kind and helpful, especially considering it was a huge last minute request.  I am sure a lot of what they did was outside their job assignments, but they did not hesitate to take care of it,” Dr. Smith said.

According to Smith, this isn’t the first time the two employees of UTC Facilities and Planning have stepped up. “Time and time again they have come over to fix things or clean things up sometimes unnoticed and when they should not have had to,” she said.

August 2017

UTC police officers take an oath to protect and serve and sometimes that includes going above and beyond the call of duty. When Corporal John West saw a student needed help changing a flat tire, he didn’t hesitate to offer his assistance.

“We believe in community policing and care for our community. John West demonstrates this on a daily basis, as do all of our officers. This is but one example of the daily effort made by our Police and Security Staff,” Craig Hamilton, UTC Deputy Chief of Police, said.

September 2017

If there’s an event on campus, you’ll most likely see Mike Andrews with a video camera. As the University’s Executive Video Producer, he plans, oversees and executes high quality video productions to tell the stories of UTC’s campus life.

While Andrews prefers to stay behind the scenes, Caesar Wood, Executive Director for the University Center and Campus Recreation, noticed Andrews’s hard work with creating feature pieces for the UTC Rowing team and the Sugar Mocs.

“Mike took a lot of time and effort to work with the rowing students to get some good footage. He was very creative by using the drone to get some great shots on the river of the rowing team to show what UTC has to offer,” Wood said.

Wood also praised Andrews’s dedication to getting to know the students he features in his videos.

“He took time to meet the students and to get some great shots during the Sugar Mocs’ demonstration prior going to camp. We take for granted the work he puts in on a daily basis. He is a dedicated UTC employee who works very hard at his craft and spends the time to get the job done.”

October 2017

When you see Lacy Bobo, Housing Officer in the UTC Police Department, she’ll most likely have a smile on her face. The UTC employee is known for her kindness and positive attitude. She regularly brings in donuts and other treats for her colleagues, picks up extra shifts, and provides directions to campus visitors to help them find their way.

To Lieutenant John Boe, Lacy “exemplifies everything that is good within our organization.”

“Her character, demeanor, knowledge and personality are just a few of the many attributes she possesses that help to make her the approachable, engaging professional police officer is she is today,” he said. “Her willingness to assist others in need and be accountable to the department and university reflect greatly not only upon herself, but to the community in which she serves.”

November 2017

The employees at the Mocs One Center often see dozens of students a day, but that doesn’t stop enrollment counselor Jason Desain from providing personal attention to each one.

When a student with a hearing disability came to the MocsOne Center with questions about his financial aid, Jason didn’t hesitate to help. Jason assisted the student with making telephone calls and completing tasks on the computer. According to the student, Jason “made me feel very comfortable and I am so happy to see that he was willing to take the time to go above and beyond for me.”

“We are proud Jason is a part of our team.” Malarie Thompson, Assistant Director at the MocsOne Center, said.

December 2017

There’s no problem that can’t be fixed by the ingenuity of Ruey Rhodes. The Senior Locksmith in UTC Facilities Planning and Management devised a creative solution for Emma Morris when she was having trouble using her office key.

“I have a disability that limits the use of my hands. I could not make my [original] key work,” Emma, a Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, said. Ruey made me a new oversized key that I could maneuver easily. I was thrilled! It works like a dream. He could not have been nicer, more patient or more creative. He’s my hero!”

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