Working Together: UTHSC Supports Sisters

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Husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, parents and children. Many UT employees go to work every day with relatives.


Sue Scates loved working for UT Health Science Center so much that she recruited her daughters, Ramona Jackson and Emily Cooley, to come work for UT as well.

Scates started at the University in 1986 and, ultimately, found her passion working as the benefits coordinator in human resources. She retired in 2008.

After Scates passed away in January, the UT family she and her daughters built over the years at the Health Science Center rallied around the sisters.

“Just tons of people came to the visitation,” Emily Cooley says. “They came from all over campus, even people that we knew just casually and UT retirees.”

It was easy to see why Scates was so well-liked, says longtime co-worker and HR Director Jerry Hall.

“It’s really the department’s responsibility to notify us when an employee is out for more than three days so we can put them on Family Medical Leave, but Sue kind of took it upon herself that if she heard someone was out for three days to actually send information to that employee,” Hall says.

“It didn’t matter if it was in her job description or not, she was going to do it. She made HR and the University look good.”

“Sue knew the benefits in and out,” Hall says. “With her personality and knowledge, Sue was able to explain benefits to everyone.”

Scates wasn’t just an expert in UT benefits; she took advantage of the programs offered, including educational assistance. She graduated from UT Martin two years prior to her retirement with a bachelor’s degree in university studies.

It was great benefits, like the educational assistance program, and the opportunities for advancement that motivated her to recruit her daughters to UT.

Cooley began work at UTHSC in 1988 in the department of education. After three years, she moved to the office of student life as an administrative aide.

Jackson started her career at UTHSC as a campus police dispatcher. Although she left the University briefly, she came back to the College of Medicine in 2002 and currently works as the BSN/CNL program coordinator for the College of Nursing.

Cooley has 24 years of experience at UTHSC. Jackson has worked at UTHSC 19 years. They agree that working with each other and their mother on campus has great benefits.

“I’ll be honest with you, it comes in handy to have family here,” says Jackson. “Mom was so well-known and well-liked that it would help me build a bridge when working with people I hadn’t worked with before. People would say, ‘Oh! You’re Sue’s daughter!’ And Emily’s so loved by the students that it’s just a huge advantage.”

Both said they were overwhelmed with the support they received from their UT family upon their mother’s death and are grateful to UTHSC, which they describe as a close-knit family.

“I think we’re fortunate to have one, a larger UT family, and then to have a campus-level family,” says Hall.