It’s a common theme: Mocs helping Mocs. But it’s not just an off-the-cuff phrase.
Mocs really do help Mocs every single day on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus. In turn, people have taken notice.
Every month, campus staff and faculty are asked, “Has a UTC employee gone the extra mile to help you or offered outstanding service to others? 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, please take the time to acknowledge their hard work and dedication by nominating him/her for the Chancellor’s Blue Ribbon Award.”
A committee appointed by Chancellor Steven Angle then chooses a monthly Blue Ribbon Award winner from these nominations. Award recipients receive a plaque, a monetary award and a personal congratulations from the chancellor.
In normal times, plaque presentations occur during semi-annual award luncheons. Since these days are far from typical, this summer’s in-person affair will not take place—but the award winners still merit a requisite share of fanfare.
“Even though we cannot host a Blue Ribbon Award luncheon at this time, these individuals who have gone above-and-beyond in supporting the UTC campus community deserve special recognition,” Angle said. “The work they do defines this university, as they truly go the extra mile. People watch and take note of their accomplishments, and that sets the bar for everybody else.”
Here are the Blue Ribbon award-winning recipients for the first six months of 2020.
January: Scott Newby, senior power plant operator, Central Energy Plant
In nominating his co-worker, Dennis Everett wrote about a potentially precarious situation in which Scott Newby was working alone at the Central Energy Plant and the outside temperature had dropped below freezing. “He came through for the entire campus family, keeping all of us warm,” Everett wrote. “The main air compressors failed and both boilers tripped. Due to his fast reaction time, experience and training, he was able to quickly pipe in, power up an old spare air compressor, get the boilers up, and prevent expensive repairs and loss of heating during this critical time.”
February: Zack Ridder, academic advisor, Center for Academic Success and Advisement
“Zack does anything for anyone out of the kindness of his heart,” wrote Samantha Freeman, one of three co-workers to nominate Zack Ridder for the honor. “Students first, that is the hallmark of our institution. Zack consistently puts students first.” Stormy Sims highlighted Ridder’s assistance in aiding her transition to UTC. “As a new employee, I struggled navigating a new campus and a new set of norms, but Zack was always willing to help me find answers to questions I had, give me insight into his experiences, and provide much-needed support,” Sims said. Jacqueline Ozcelik wrote about Ridder’s willingness to help others. “He often comes in early and stays late to help out students. He is also always looking for ways to be a better resource for his students and to be better able to help them meet their goals.”
March: Jordan Hicks, first-year coordinator, Department of Performing Arts
In his nomination letter, Kevin Ford, director of Chattanooga Singers and Chamber Singers, was quick to credit the role Jordan Hicks has taken in departmental recruiting efforts. “He works tirelessly and represents UTC extraordinarily well at on-campus and off-campus events with the community and with potential students,” Ford said. “He wrote and received a grant to bring a music education specialist to campus and has worked with Hamilton County Schools and Chattanooga State to invite their students as well, turning it into a recruiting event.”
April: Endia Butler, student employment coordinator, Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships
Student Juan Aponte first met Endia Butler after learning about a new mentorship program for first-generation students during the 2019-2020 academic year. “Endia became my mentor and helped me adjust to life in college; she helped me build my class schedule when I did not know how,” wrote Aponte, who is now a UTC sophomore. “I could not go home (last) Thanksgiving, and she and her husband opened their doors for me and welcomed me into their home. She has been instrumental to my success as a college student. I don’t truly know how to put into words the ways she has helped me.”
May: Donny Behneman, strategic initiatives manager, Office of Academic Affairs
Vickie Adkison said there is no request that is too big or too small for Donny Behneman, saying that recognition for the May Blue Ribbon award winner was long overdue. “He is a ‘Yes’ man. He has so many skills and talents that he is constantly being asked to assist with things that are not in his job description. I’ve never heard him say ‘No,’” wrote Adkison. “He has a kind heart and is always generous with his time. We can call him ‘Donny on the Spot!’ Helping others has already become his second full-time job.”
June: April Cox, creative director, Division of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
After tornadoes touched down in Chattanooga Easter night, April Cox immediately took action and Tonia Martin took notice. “April saw a need for Mocs to help Mocs,” wrote Martin, director of Strategic Enrollment Technology. “She took it upon herself to set up a Facebook page to help identify employees that needed an extra hand. She invited all of her campus friends to join the group and it spread from there. She coordinated collecting over $1,000 to make a Home Depot run and deliver much-needed supplies to Mocs families. She also helped coordinate generators and connect campus folks to other campus folks that had or needed housing. These things would not have happened had April not jumped at the chance to serve her fellow UTC family.”