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

Is there someone who continues to smile and have a positive attitude even when the workload is heavy? If you know just the person who fits this description, you can show your appreciation by nominating that person for the Chancellor’s Blue Ribbon Award.

Each month a committee, appointed by the Chancellor, chooses a Blue Ribbon Award winner who exhibits outstanding service to others from your nominations.  All full and part-time non-faculty UTC or UC Foundation staff are eligible for the award.  Nominations may be submitted by an UTC faculty, staff, student or member of the community.

Nominations must be received by the 10th of every month to be considered for the following month’s award. Submissions received after that date will be considered for the next month.  Nominations should be specific in identifying incidents or situations reflecting the reasons the nominee is deserving of this honor.

Please submit your nomination by clicking here.  Contact Janice Michaels, in Human Resources, at 423-425-4221 or Janice-Michaels@utc.edu if additional information is needed.

Blue Ribbon Winners, 2020


In his nomination letter, Dennis Everett stated that “During a below freezing cold snap, Scott Newby, Sr. Power Plant Operator, was working alone at the Central Energy Plant. With outside air temperature below freezing, the main air compressors failed and both boilers tripped. Alone, cold and under stress the burden of leadership demanded he make the correct move. Due to his fast reaction time, experience and training he was able to quickly pipe in and power up an old spare air compressor and get the boilers up and prevent expensive repairs and loss of heating during this critical time.”



“I can honestly say that Zack goes above and beyond every single day. He is always willing to help out. He often comes in early and stays late to help out students…I can always count on him,” explains Jacqueline Ozcelik in her nomination letter for Zachary Ridder.   Zach was also nominated by Samantha Freeman who states “Zack consistently puts students first…he cares deeply for our student population. He always goes above and beyond!”



Jordan Hicks, Coordinator of First-Year Experience, was nominated by Kevin Ford who states, “Jordan works tirelessly and represents UTC extraordinarily well at on-campus and off-campus events with the community and potential students. Anything he does, he does above expectations.”



UTC student, Juan Aponte nominated Endia Butler, Student Employment Coordinator in the Financial Aid Office, stating, “I met Endia through the First Gen program where she served as my mentor. She helped me adjust to life and college and build class schedule when I didn’t know how. When I could not go home for Thanksgiving one year, Endia and her husband opened the doors to their home for me and welcomed me in.”



In her nomination letter, Vickie Adkinson told us that “Donald Behneman is a YES man.  He is constantly being asked to assist with things that are not in his job description and I have never heard him say no.  Most recently, when COVID forced us to work from home, Donny gathered all the necessary cords, computer screens and other odds & ends. He then followed me home and hooked everything up for me.”



“April saw a need for Mocs to help Mocs after the recent tornadoes in Chattanooga,” says Tonia Martin in her nomination of April Cox.  “She coordinated in collecting over $1,000 to make a Home Depot run and deliver much needed supplies to Mocs families.



Michael Andrews, Video Producer in the Office of Communications & Marketing,  was nominated by Sara Jackson.  Sara stated that “Mr. Andrews has not hesitated to assist CECS with increasing our online presence during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Even though requests for his services exploded when the UTC community realized we were not returning for the Spring 20 semester, he maintains a high standard product and an extraordinarily cordial demeanor.”



In her nomination, Chris Smith tells us that “Student Health Services Director, Dr Yasmine Key has been instrumental in this time of COVID-19. Not only has she kept the health services on campus going during this time, she helped the campus manage the arrival of the pandemic on our campus. She has worked tirelessly to manage how we need to keep faculty, staff and students safe during these uncertain times. She has literally worked 7 days a week since the beginning of March when this started to be a reality.”



“Marcus is demonstrating unparalleled dedication in preparing the residence halls for the return of our students.”, says Eva Mako in her nomination of Housing & Residence Life Warehouse & Custodial Supervisor, Marcus Williams.  “Marcus is on the front-line of our daily operation. He oversees: the ordering and receiving of inventory; the correlation, dissemination and follow-up of work orders; coordinates the services of outside vendors and ensures quality standards are maintained. In my 20+ year career as a manager on multi faceted teams, I’ve never encountered the dedication, persistence and grit that I have seen in Marcus Williams.’



Val Sample, Director of Housing & Residence Life, was chosen by the Chancellor’s Blue Ribbon committee as the October 2020 winner.  In her nomination letter, Abeer Mustafa tells us that “During the COVID-19 pandemic, Val has supported her staff and played an instrumental role in coordinating, communicating, and implementing the task in hand.  She also coordinates with the contact tracing team, University Health Services, Student Support Services and Dining Services to support residential students. Val demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to her university community as well as to her team.



“Hard working, dedicated, amazing leadership & team-building skills” are just a few of the ways that Craig Gosnell, Assistant Director in Club Sports, has been described.  Craig was nominated by 10 individuals for the November Blue Ribbon award.  “He makes aquatics a welcoming environment and is genuinely friendly to every single person who enters.  He teaches responsibility through example. His impact continues to grow.”



Kristen Johnson, Contract Specialist in the Office of Procurement & Contract Services, was nominated by Stuart Benkert.  Stuart tells us, “Our new Music Therapy program requires multiple, time sensitive contracts. We have had many difficulties entering them in the EMS system and each time Ms. Johnson has jumped in to save us. With the many contracts we deal with in performing arts, I feel confident that we will be able to work through them with Kristen filling the role as an important team mate and collaborator.”


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