Gov. Bill Haslam, left, greets Michael Decosimo Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in the University Center dining area.

Successful collaboration between the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the local Orange Grove Center and state agencies advocating for employment opportunities for the intellectually and developmentally disabled is an example of “how government is supposed to work,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said during a Thursday visit to UTC.

Orange Grove University is the name of a partnership between Orange Grove Centers that serve the developmentally disabled and UTC to facilitate employment for disabled people. The partnership resulted from Haslam’s Employment First Task Force, initiated in 2013 to encourage more jobs for Tennesseans with disabilities.

Haslam’s visit was to meet people employed at UTC as part of the Orange Grove University partnership and to formally receive the fifth and final annual report, as Tennessee governor, on the work of the Employment First Task Force.

“I love that we are here. The partnership between Orange Grove and UTC is kind of how it should work” Haslam said. The event gathered around 100 Chattanooga leaders from the Orange Grove Center, UTC and Aramark, the University’s food service vendor.

Haslam was joined by the state Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Debra K. Payne, Department of Human Services Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes, UTC Chancellor Steven R. Angle and Executive Vice Chancellor Richard Brown.

Brown praised the opportunity for partnership by saying, “This is truly the mission of the engaged metropolitan university as we touch the community and transform the lives of all Tennesseans.”

Haslam, who leaves office at the end of 2018 and two terms, also noted “the remarkable progress” at UTC over his eight years as governor.


Media Relations Contacts: Email Shawn Ryan or call (423) 425-4363.
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