Four UT Employees Honored with President’s Awards

Category: Features

NASHVILLE — Four extraordinary UT employees were honored with President’s Awards at a luncheon just for them on Feb. 28 in Nashville. President’s Awards are the highest honor a UT employee can receive from the University and are intended to spotlight success and inspire excellence. The four awards recognize outstanding contributions in the areas of the University’s three-fold mission to provide education, conduct research and offer outreach, with the fourth award presented for exceptional support to fulfillment of that mission.

“One of my greatest honors as president of the University of Tennessee is working with outstanding individuals and having the opportunity to recognize them for their talents, achievements and contributions,” President Joe DiPietro said. 

Honorees are selected each year from a system-wide pool of candidates nominated by campus and institute leaders. Each winner receives a commemorative plaque and a cash award of $3,000.  

The 2018 President’s Award winners are: 

Dr. Trevor Sweatman


Trevor Sweatman, UT Health Science Center professor of pharmacology and medical education. Sweatman was honored for significant and ongoing educational contributions across multiple colleges and academic programs.

“I can think of no one who comes close to the positive academic influence Dr. Trevor Sweatman has had on students across our colleges and academic programs over such a sustained period of time,” Steve Schwab, UT Health Science Center chancellor, wrote in his nomination letter. 

Sweatman has been on the faculty at UTHSC for 35 years.

“I am delighted to receive the 2018 President’s Award for Education,” Sweatman said. “The accelerating pace of scientific discovery and its implication for future health care professionals continues to challenge all of us who strive to provide a meaningful educational experience for our students. I am proud to play my part in providing the foundation upon which so many careers will be based.”


Educate nominees

Noma Anderson, UT System, special advisor to the President on diversity and inclusion 

Trevor Moeller, UT Space Institute, associate professor, aerospace and mechanical engineering

Richard Robinson, UT Martin, associate professor, communications 

Elisabeth Schussler, UT Knoxville, associate professor, ecology and evolutionary biology

John Sorochan, UT Institute of Agriculture, distinguished professor, plant sciences

Henry Spratt, UT Chattanooga, professor, biology, geology and environmental science


Dr. Samuel Dagogo-Jack


Samuel Dagogo-Jack, UT Health Science Center professor of medicine and chief of the division of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism.

Dagogo-Jack’s contributions to his field have added to the understanding of and interventions for diabetes and prediabetes.

“Dr. Dagogo-Jack has my strongest recommendation. His work not only brings positive recognition to UTHSC and the University of Tennessee, but more broadly, it has national and international impact,” said Steve Schwab, UT Health Science Center chancellor, in his nomination letter. 

Dagogo-Jack wanted to share his award with his colleugues in the research enterprise who uphold the conviction that research and discovery chart the only credible path to new treatments and cures for the many ailments that afflict humanity.

“I thank President DiPietro and the University for this award, which recognizes the pivotal value of research to our mission,” Dagogo-Jack said. 


Discover nominees

Mina Sartipi, UT Chattanooga, UC Foundation Professor, computer science and engineering

• John Schmisseur, UT Space Institute, professor and chair, mechanical, aerospace and biomedical engineering

Daniel Simberloff, UT Knoxville, Gore Hunger Professor, environmental studies

Charles Stewart, UT Institute of Agriculture, Ivan Racheff Chair of Excellence, plant molecular genetics

Elizabeth Strand


Elizabeth Strand, UT College of Veterinary Medicine director of veterinary social work and clinical associate professor of biomedical and diagnostic sciences.

Strand is a pioneer in her field of study and works to educate veterinary professionals nationwide.

“She has brought considerable experience to the veterinary social work program and has educated and equipped faculty, staff and students to address and deal with issues of professional grief and human-animal bond loss,” wrote Tim Cross, UT Institute of Agriculture chancellor, in his nomination letter. 

Strand said she is honored by the award. 

“As an alum of UT, being able to serve the University well brings me great satisfaction,” said Strand. “For that work to be honored by the president of my alma mater is more than I could have hoped for. I feel very, very grateful.”


Connect nominees

Nan Gaylord, UT Knoxville, associate professor, nursing

John Oelrich, UT Martin, associate professor of music, director of UT Martin bands

Beth Phillips, UT Institute for Public Service, program manager, economic development

David Stern, UT Health Science Center, vice chancellor, statewide health initiatives

Nikolasa Tejero, UT Chattanooga, associate professor, performing arts 

Carole Thomas, UT Space Institute, program manager, STEM outreach 

Carey Whitworth, UT System, assistant vice president for government relations, director of advocacy

Charley Deal


Charley Deal, UT Martin associate vice chancellor for alumni relations and annual giving.

Deal is passionate about serving the people of West Tennessee and helping others realize their dreams.

“Through determination, planning, fundraising, advocating and diligence, Dr. Deal has been instrumental in assisting UT Martin in founding and opening the Regional Educational Center in Fayette County,” wrote Andy Wilson, UT Martin vice chancellor for university advancement, in nominating Deal. “His efforts helped a region of Tennessee that was in need of higher education access and turned a dream into one of the region’s most beautiful facilities.”

Deal says the award recognizes the important role UT employees have in making education attainable.  

“Working with teachers and community leaders provides a great opportunity to bring UT and our campuses into the local communities and offer greater chances to make a difference,” Deal said. “I was truly honored and humbled that the work I do, because of my passion for higher education, was selected by the committee and the president of the University. I will forever be grateful.”


Support Nominees

Chandra Alston, UT Health Science Center, associate vice chancellor, human resources

Dorothy Bryson, UT Knoxville, executive director of development, Tickle College of Engineering

Jason Cottrell, UT Knoxville, assistant director for landscape services, facilities services

Teresa Fisher, UT Institute of Agriculture, program director for the Companion Animal Initiative of Tennessee, small animal clinical sciences

Laurie Melnik, UT Chattanooga, executive director, Southeast Center for Education in the Arts

To learn more about the President’s Award program, visit