Dr. Michael Thompson and Will Watson of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga have been selected to the 2022-2023 All-Southern Conference Faculty and Staff Team.
Thompson and Watson joined representatives selected from each of the 10 member schools in the conference. While selections at the individual Southern Conference schools are left to each institution’s discretion, all recipients share the common characteristics of demonstrated service to the institution through vital contributions to teaching, research, service and campus life.
Award recipients will receive an engraved plaque presented by Southern Conference Commissioner Jim Schaus at a home men’s basketball game Feb. 22 vs. Samford.
Thompson, a member of the UTC faculty since 2009, is a UC Foundation associate professor of American History and head of the Department of History. He is a scholar and teacher of the American South and slavery and the early national and antebellum United States.
Thompson’s first book was an award-winning study of waterfront labor and laborers in Charleston, South Carolina, between the American Revolution and the Civil War. He is now working on a book that examines the historical relationship of essential labor, racial presumptions and disease in urban environments—as well as a history of enslavement in and around Chattanooga and Hamilton County, Tennessee.
As the history department’s internship coordinator from 2015 to 2022, he cultivated approximately 25 partnerships through which more than 90 student interns served the community for more than 12,000 hours.
“I am honored and humbled to be selected for this year’s All-Southern Conference Faculty and Staff Team,” Thompson said. “I also am grateful for an amazing group of colleagues who work alongside me every day to serve our students, the UTC campus and the Chattanooga community.”
Thompson trained and ran with the Ann Arbor Track Club during his freshman year at the University of Michigan, where he majored in history “and developed a commitment to servant leadership.” He made the Michigan track team during his sophomore year as a walk-on half-miler, but an injury prevented him from competing.
“My limited time and experience as a college athlete instilled a deep appreciation for student-athletes at UTC and across the Southern Conference,” Thompson said. “It’s such an honor to be associated through this award with so many hard-working and dedicated college students who also are playing competitive sports.”
Watson, who received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UTC, is the workforce development specialist for the Center for Professional Education. In his role, Watson has developed health care certification programs and removed barriers to train and prepare adult learners to enter health care occupations such as certified nursing assistant and clinical medical assistant.
Watson has overseen the training and certification of roughly 750 adult learners while providing them with direct pathways to meaningful employment through employer partnerships—which cover the cost of tuition for students, provide them with pay while in training and guarantee full-time employment once they finish. Recent strains on the health care system and labor market make these training programs vital in supporting the health care field.
He was recently selected to be a part of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce’s Protégé Chattanooga 2022-23 cohort.
“I’m proud to represent UTC as a two-time graduate—and now a staff member—and I’m proud to be honored by the SoCon,” Watson said. “While this is an individual achievement, I could not have done it without the folks in my office. Without them, I certainly wouldn’t have had the support and the ability to bounce ideas off and grow and learn.”
Watson credited CPE Director John Freeze, in particular, with enabling his success.
“Frankly, one reason I’ve been successful is because of John,” Watson said. “His leadership, guidance, servant heart; he’s somebody I’m very grateful for. He’s given me the opportunity to do some of the things that I’ve accomplished, and I have so much gratitude for that.”
Past UTC recipients of Southern Conference faculty and staff awards include:
- Dr. Mike Jones (2015-2016)
- Dr. Gretchen Potts and Lisa Tarr (2016-2017)
- Dr. Valerie Rutledge and Emily Quinn (2017-2018)
- Dr. Jamie Harvey and Melanie Ribaric (2018-2019)
- Dr. Debbie Ingram and Terry Denniston (2019-2020)
- Dr. Chris Smith and Endia Butler (2020-2021)
- Dr. Mark Schorr and Christopher Stokes (2021-2022).
SoCon 2022-2023 faculty and staff honorees:
- UTC: Dr. Michael Thompson and Will Watson
- The Citadel: Dr. Deirdre Ragan and Kester Melville
- East Tennessee State University: Dr. Don Good and Levi Smith
- Furman University: Dr. John Harris and Hunter Reid
- Mercer University: Dr. Caryn Seney and Katie Johnson
- University of North Carolina-Greensboro: Dr. Susan Phillips Keane and Melinda Wolf
- Samford University: Laura Promer and Doug Wilson
- Virginia Military Institute: Col. Tom Timmes and Sgt. Maj. Tom Sowers
- Western Carolina University: Dr. Cyndy Caravelis and Brian Boyer
- Wofford University: Dr. Cecile Nowatka and Dr. James Stukes