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UT President DiPietro Recognizes Four Employees with University’s Highest Honor

Category: Employees

Joe DiPietro with award winners Steve Butler, Jason Robersts, Christine smith and Guy Reed

NASHVILLE— From establishing a foot clinic for the homeless to developing a novel treatment for dissolving blood clots, the four faculty and staff winners of the 2017 University of Tennessee President’s Awards are using their talents to impact lives across the state and beyond.

UT President Joe DiPietro announced the winners today during his second State of the University address in Nashville, attended by a crowd of legislators, alumni and friends.

“Every success we achieve as a University is the result of hard work and dedication by the thousands of faculty and staff who pursue their passions on our campuses and in our classrooms, laboratories and communities across the state,” DiPietro said. “I believe in the importance of saying ‘thank you’ whenever possible and recognizing and rewarding outstanding contributions. That’s what this program is about, and I’m honored to work alongside individuals like the four remarkable people acknowledged today and the 19 other nominees.”

The award program was established in 2016 to recognize employees for exceptional contributions to fulfillment of the University’s mission— education, research and outreach – and one to a person who supports the mission.

President’s Awards are the highest honor a UT faculty or staff member can receive from the institution and are intended to spotlight success and inspire excellence. Honorees are selected each year from a system-wide pool of candidates nominated by campus and institute leaders. Commemorative plaques and monetary awards of $3,000 are presented.

Jason Roberts

Jason Roberts, associate professor of animal science at UT Martin, was the education category honoree. This award honors accomplishments that enhance educational offerings and diverse learning environments.

In his nomination letter, former UT Martin Interim Chancellor Robert Smith said, “Few on our campus have had the impact on our students as Dr. Roberts.” More than 90 percent of students in Roberts’ pre-veterinary science program are accepted in veterinary school each year—with last year’s students averaging three offers from schools across the country.

In addition to teaching and advising, Roberts serves as director of the West Tennessee Animal Disease Diagnostics Laboratory and of the UT Martin Veterinary Technology Program. In 2015, he received the UT Martin Coffey Outstanding Teaching Award and is credited a team player, devoted mentor and selfless employee by those with whom he works.

Guy Reed

Guy Reed, Lemuel Diggs Professor of Medicine and chair of the department of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center, was recognized as the discover category honoree. This award honors discoveries and applications of knowledge.

“He began more than 10 years ago to research a safer, more effective therapy for dissolving blood clots, the cause of most strokes,” UT Health Science Center Chancellor Steve Schwab said. “The outcome of his research is a novel thrombus- (blood clot) dissolving agent, TS23, which is currently undergoing clinical trials.”

Reed, a prolific researcher, has secured 22 grants, including 11 National Institutes of Health and four American Heart grants, since 1989. He holds 23 U.S. patents and has more than 90 peer-reviewed publications. He was one of four recipients of the Inside Memphis Business magazine’s 2016 Innovation Awards.

Christine Smith

Christine Smith, director of the school of Nursing and Student Health Services Clinic at UT Chattanooga, was the connect category honoree. This award honors outreach, engagement and service efforts and programs.

“She goes above the call of duty for her University and the larger Chattanooga community,” wrote Steve Angle, chancellor of UT Chattanooga, in his nomination letter. “Her service is truly exceptional.”

On top of demanding administrative positions, Smith supported nursing faculty members in their development of a foot care clinic to combat chronic disease in the region’s homeless residents. Nursing students are involved at the clinic, and Smith also looks for opportunities to expose them to the international medical care through in-service trips to Haiti and Costa Rica.

Steve Butler

Steve Butler, director of instructional technology services at the UT Health Science Center, was recognized as the support category honoree. This award honors efforts in support of educational excellence; discoveries and applications of knowledge; and outreach, engagement and service.

In nominating him for the award, Schwab credited Butler’s work with helping transform the campus into a 21st-century academic health science center.

Butler designed and supported the first distance education classroom at UTHSC. The installation now connects more than 20 classrooms in Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville. Technologies brought on and supported by Butler and his team enable communication among pharmacy residents at rural locations across the state; participation in lectures, seminars and rounds by medical residents at various hospitals; and follow-up treatment with the Hamilton Eye Institute for patients around the world. He joined UT in 1981, has more than 35 years of experience in information technology, and received the UTHSC Exceptional Service Award in 2011.

To learn more about the President’s Award program, visit The list of nominees for this year’s awards is included below.

DiPietro’s address, the presentation of the President’s Awards, and the entire webcast are archived at

2017 President’s Award Nominees


  • Noma Anderson, UT System, special advisor to the president on diversity and inclusion
  • Joanne Logan, UT Institute of Agriculture, associate professor, biosystems engineering and soil science
  • Laurie Melnik, UT Chattanooga, executive director of the Southeast Center for Education in the Arts
  • Elisabeth Schussler, UT Knoxville, associate professor, director of biology teaching and learning
  • Trevor Sweatman, UT Health Science Center, professor, pharmacology and medical education


  • Michael Gibson, UT Martin, professor, geology
  • Hope Klug, UT Chattanooga, UC Foundation associate professor, biology, geology and environmental science
  • Daniel Simberloff, UT Knoxville, professor, environmental studies
  • Neal Stewart, UT Institute of Agriculture, Ivan Racheff chair of excellence and professor, plant sciences


  • Justin Crowe, UT Institute of Agriculture, extension specialist, 4-H youth development
  • Nan Gaylord, UT Knoxville, associate professor, nursing
  • Margaret Thorman Hartig, UT Health Science Center, professor, health promotion and disease prevention
  • Walter Idol, UT Institute for Public Service, manager, health, safety and preparedness
  • Carey Whitworth, UT System, director of advocacy and special assistant to the vice president


  • Dorothy Bryson, UT Foundation, executive director, development
  • Alice-Catherine Carls, UT Martin, Tom Elam distinguished professor, history
  • Teresa Lynn Fisher, UT Institute of Agriculture, program director, Companion Animal Initiative of Tennessee
  • Yancy Freeman, UT Chattanooga, associate provost, enrollment services
  • Trevor Moeller, UT Space Institute, associate professor and graduate program director, mechanical, aerospace and biomedical engineering


Gina Stafford

Ellie Amador

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Category: Employees