Ruby Jordan has had a tough few months.
In November, her 42-year-old daughter, April, died of pneumonia. In December, her 32-year-old brother, Jonny, died from kidney failure.
Being chosen one of the Blue Ribbon winners for the first six months of 2023 doesn’t make up for her loss, but it’s good after several months of bad.
“Somebody has been thinking of me after what I’ve been through,” said Jordan, who has worked as a custodian at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for 25 years.
Begun in 1995 to recognize exceptional employee dedication, caring and effort, Blue Ribbon awards are presented twice yearly to honorees named individual winners for each of the preceding six months. Jordan was selected as February’s winner.
Winners are nominated by co-workers and students. A luncheon on Tuesday, Aug. 29, honored winners for the first half of 2023.
“This is an event where I always leave feeling so good about UTC,” Chancellor Steve Angle told the group. “This is why we work here. It really is all about people and each of you, whether you realize it or not, define UTC, define our institution by what you do and how you do it.
“It’s the enthusiasm, the care, the compassion, the attention to detail and, really, the respect for others that help define UTC, and people notice what you do,” he said.
Custodian Shuntika Cox, winner for the month of May, was quivering with excitement—literally quivering—before the luncheon began.
“I feel excited. I didn’t expect this, and it just came out of the blue, and it just made my day,” said Cox, known as “Sister” around Hunter Hall, where she works.
Jordan has been a Blue Ribbon Award winner four times, including her latest on Tuesday (also December 2010, December 2013 and August 2019), but winning is always meaningful, she said.
“Someone is looking after me,” she said.
January 2023: Eddrick Brooks, club sports coordinator, Campus Recreation
Brooks was nominated by his peers and students. Eddrick—or “E,” as he is known to many—has been a driving force in revitalizing Club Sports programs after the COVID-19 pandemic. One nomination described him as “the heart and soul of UTC’s Club Sports program.”
February 2023: Ruby Jordan, senior custodian, Department of Facilities, Planning and Management
Jordan “takes pride in her work and always goes the extra mile to make sure we have everything we need and our spaces are clean,” said Senior Lecturer Tracy Hughes in the Department of Mathematics. Her ever-friendly personality makes her a selfless member of the UTC community.
March 2023: Steve Jackson, senior custodian, Department of Facilities, Planning and Management
Jackson was nominated by 29 UTC colleagues and students. He was praised for consistently going well beyond expectations, expressing friendliness and warmth to his colleagues in his work to beautify the campus, especially the Fine Arts Center. “Without him and his tireless work, those around him would not feel as appreciated or welcomed,” a nomination wrote.
April 2023: Leslie Tyler, internship coordinator, Department of Health and Human Performance Department
Tyler was recognized by Dr. Marisa Colston, UC Foundation professor of Health and Human Performance, for Tyler’s remarkable diligence and dedication to students, faculty, staff, and community members. Filling a vacancy in the department, she “successfully navigated all roles and tasks,” Colston said, while maintaining her own responsibilities.
May 2023: Shuntika Cox, senior custodian, Department of Facilities, Planning and Management
Recognized by Dr. Andy Browne, assistant professor in the Applied Leadership program, Cox—known as “Sister”—“keeps the halls and offices of Hunter Hall in impeccable condition, and she does it with a personality that is happy, optimistic and friendly. I truly enjoy seeing Sister’s smiling face as we pass in the hall.”
June 2023: Chelsie Ewing, director of Engineering and Planning Services, Department of Facilities, Planning and Management
Ewing was nominated by Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Brent Goldberg, who described her as “a fantastic team player who goes above and beyond on a regular basis to be responsive and inclusive of various campus partners.” Managing several large capital projects at any given time demonstrates “patience and problem-solving skills,” Goldberg said.