President’s Awards are the highest honor a UT employee can receive from the University and are intended to spotlight success and inspire excellence. Honorees are selected each year from a Systemwide pool of candidates nominated by campus and institute leaders. Winners receive commemorative plaques and monetary awards of $3,000.

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Bold and Impactful Honorees:

Dr. David Shibata

Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery and Executive Director/Chief Medical Officer of the UTHSC Cancer Program, College of Medicine

UT Health Science Center

Dr. David Shibata, MD, FACS, FSS, FASCRS, holds multiple prestigious titles at the UT Health Science Center. He is the Harwell Wilson Alumni Endowed Chair in Surgery, professor and chair of the Department of Surgery. Additionally, he is the executive director and chief medical officer of the UT Health Science Center Cancer Program.

Dr. Shibata is internationally recognized for his expertise in the multidisciplinary management of colorectal cancer, particularly in minimally invasive and robot-assisted surgical approaches. He also has extensive experience in managing patients with early-onset and hereditary colorectal cancers.

He serves on the board of directors of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and holds appointments on its guidelines panels for colon and rectum cancers, as well as genetics/high risk assessment for colorectal cancer. Dr. Shibata has been a member of the Lower GI Expert Panel for the American Joint Commission on Cancer and was the past chair and served on the executive council of the Society of Surgical Oncology’s (SSO) Colorectal Disease Site Working Group. Additionally, he holds committee appointments in multiple national surgical societies.

Dr. Shibata continues to lead a research program funded by the National Institutes of Health. He has published over 180 peer-reviewed publications, reviews and book chapters. Throughout his career, he has been the principal or co-investigator on grants and awards totaling over $30 million.

Dr.David Shibata


Claire Paul

Assistant Professor, Division of Education and Program Coordinator, Special Education

UT Southern

Claire Paul, Ed. D, assistant professor and program coordinator for special education at UT Southern, has had a significant impact not only within the UT System but also throughout the entire state, according to UT Southern Interim Chancellor Linda Martin. She tackled UT System’s ‘Strengthening Rural Communities’ Grand Challenge and made a profound difference. One of her notable contributions is the formation of the Rural Disability Resources Network (RDRN). The RDRN aims to eliminate barriers to information and access to disability services for families residing in rural areas.

Dr. Paul joined UT Southern in 2021, and since then, her ability to bring about positive change has been evident. She consistently thinks big and serves with purpose. Before creating the RDRN, Dr. Paul initiated the annual FIRE (Fostering Inclusion through Resource Efforts) Resource Fair in 2023. Additionally, she works tirelessly to ensure that UT Southern maintains accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation .

Undeniably, Paul has had a significant impact on advancing K-12 education and strengthening rural communities.

Claire Paul


Ammar Ammar

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Technology and Information Security Officer

UT Health Science Center

In an increasingly interconnected world, the UT Health Science Center faced mounting security challenges due to rapidly increasing cyber threats that demanded a proactive approach. Ammar L. Ammar, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Chief Technology and Information Security Officer, who has been with UT Health Science Center for nine years, recognized the critical need to safeguard the campus’ sensitive data, systems, and networks. He meticulously analyzed the existing security protocols, identifying vulnerabilities and areas for improvement. Ammar’s efforts to enhance network reliability and speed have ensured the smooth operation of both UT Health Science Center’s local and distance learning programs, according to UT Health Science Center Chancellor Peter Buckley. As a result, the UT Health Science Center can successfully operate within the digital education environment. Ammar’s initiatives have not only advanced the UT Health Science Center’s technological capabilities but also play a significant role in enhancing its educational mission.
Ammar L. Ammar


Bold and Impactful Nominees:

  • Trent Clagg –Program Manager, Naifeh Center for Effective Leadership, UT Institute for Public Service
  • Hunter Holzhauer – Associate Professor of Economics, Rollins College of Business, UT Chattanooga
  • Erica Holmes-Trujillo – Director of the College of Arts and Sciences Advising Hub, UT Chattanooga
  • Matthew Harris –Associate Professor of Health Economics, Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research and Department of Economics, UT Knoxville
  • Lawrence Kessler –Associate Professor, Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research and Department of Economics, UT Knoxville
  • Steve Elliot – Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, UT Martin
  • John Lacey – Systems Strategist, Division of Communications and Marketing, UT System Administration
  • Craig Ingram – Director of Information Technology Services, UT Martin

Embrace Diversity Honorees:

Dr. Katy Chiles

Associate Professor, English

UT Knoxville

Katy Chiles teaches and writes about African American and Native American literature, early American literature and culture, and print cultures at UT Knoxville. Affiliated with the Africana Studies program, Chiles teaches courses such as Major Black Writers, the Antebellum Black Atlantic and Black American Literature and Aesthetics. She has been awarded the University of Tennessee Research and Creative Achievement—Professional Promise Award from the Chancellor ’s Office at UT Knoxville and Outstanding Teacher Award from the University of Tennessee Alumni Association. Her work has appeared in journals such as PMLA, American Literature and Early American Literature and has been supported by the Mellon Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the American Antiquarian Society, the Newberry Library, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her book, “Transformable Race: Surprising Metamorphoses in the Literatures of Early America,” was published by Oxford University Press. She is currently working on another book project that examines race, collaboration and print history in early American literature. She serves as the Co-Editor for Reviews for Early American Literature.
Kathy Chiles



Angie Carrier

Program Manager, Municipal Management
Municipal Technical Advisory Service

UT Institute for Public Service

Angie Carrier, the municipal management program manager, joined the UT Institute for Public Service – Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) in January 2018. She is always ready to help her assigned cities with any state law changes that may impact purchasing limits. Her guidance in drafting resolutions or updating policies and ordinances to comply with new standards has proven invaluable to these cities, according to MTAS Executive Director Margaret Norris. Before joining MTAS, she held the position of development services director in Johnson City. Carrier holds a master’s degree in city management and currently serves municipalities in East Tennessee.
Angie Carrier


Embrace Diversity Nominees:

  • Matt Matthews – Vice Provost, Academic Affairs, UT Chattanooga
  • Tammy Stanford – Student Success Counselor, Student Success Center, UT Martin
  • Tara Tansil-Gentry – Lecturer, Department of Health and Human Performance, UT Martin
  • Janice Cosey – Bursar, UT Chattanooga
  • Michelle Martin – Professor, College of Medicine’s Department of Preventive Medicine, UT Health Science Center
  • Eva Cowell – Senior Lecturer, Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, UT Knoxville
  • Lauren Cunningham – Associate Professor, Department of Accounting and information Management, UT Knoxville
  • Amelia Hart – Associate Professor of Practice, Department of Accounting and Information Management, UT Knoxville
  • John Toman – Director for UT Extension Evaluation and Staff Development, UT Extension Evaluation and Staff Development, UT Institute of Agriculture
  • Sarah Catherine Richardson – Dean of Students, Department of Student Life, UT Southern

Optimistic and Visionary Honorees:

Joseph Ostenson

Professor, Department of Psychology and Interim Director, Center for Global Engagement and Experience

UT Martin

Dr. Joseph Ostenson, Ph. D., is responsible for developing UT Martin’s program in Sienna, Italy, which is the school’s signature study abroad program. Launched in 2017, this long-term program is specifically designed to accommodate students who are typically underrepresented in study abroad programs. This includes students from low-income households, students of color, and first-generation students. Over the past five years, including during the pandemic, Ostenson’s efforts have led to UT Martin sponsoring programs abroad in agriculture, English, art and art history, psychology, nursing, pre-med and fashion. Dr. Ostenson has been a university instructor and researcher since 2009 and joined UT Martin in 2012. He holds a Ph.D. in Theoretical Psychology, and much of his writing and research focuses on marriage from psychological, sociological, historical and religious perspectives. His dedication to serving others is unwavering, and he consistently demonstrates a commitment to creating a brighter, more inclusive future for all.
Joseph Ostenson



Kari Alldredge

Vice Provost, Enrollment Management

UT Knoxville

Kari Alldredge currently holds the position of Vice Provost for Enrollment Management at UT Knoxville. In this role, she provides leadership to various departments, namely the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, University Registrar, One Stop, Enrollment Communications, Undergraduate Admissions, Transfer Center, International Recruitment, and Enrollment Research and Analysis. Under her guidance, UT Knoxville has achieved record enrollment levels in terms of both size and quality. Additionally, Alldredge has spearheaded the launch of new initiatives that prioritize student success, transfer students, and the overall UT Knoxville experience.

Alldredge is deeply passionate about college access and believes in the transformative power of higher education. She has served on various community and national boards focused on education. In recognition of her contributions to the community, Alldredge was selected as one of Knoxville’s 40 Under 40 in 2018.

Kari Alldredge


Optimistic and Visionary Nominees:

  • Paul Middlebrooks – Director, APEX Program, Center for Industrial Services, UT Institute for Public Service
  • Morgan Smith – Associate Professor of Anthropology, Department of Social, Cultural, and Justice Studies, UT Chattanooga
  • Brandalyn Shropshire – Associate Director of Engagement, Undergraduate Admissions, UT Chattanooga
  • Gina McClure – Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student and Residential Life, Student Affairs, UT Martin
  • Jeffrey Brooks – Professor and Chair, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, College of Dentistry, UT Health Science Center
  • Lyndsay Pittman – Assistant Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management, UT Health Science Center
  • Bonnie Ownley –Professor of Entomology and Plant Pathology, UT Institute of Agriculture
  • Andrea Ludwig – Associate Professor of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, UT Institute of Agriculture
  • Justin Watson – Head Cross Country/Track and Field Coach, Department of Athletics, UT Southern

Nimble and Innovative Honorees:

Brian Stevens

Sr. Lecturer, Business Analytics and Statistics

UT Knoxville

Brian Stevens began his educational career in 2010 as a teaching assistant in the Master of Science Business Analytics Program at UT Knoxville. This early experience allowed Steven to develop a strong foundation in both business analytics and effective teaching methodologies. Recognizing the potential of online education, he committed himself to creating engaging and accessible learning experiences for his students. In 2019, Stevens introduced an interactive class experience delivered via YouTube, allowing students to actively participate in live streams and making the learning process more dynamic and interactive. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Stevens expanded the online format to all the courses he teaches, ensuring that his students continued to receive high-quality education despite the challenging circumstances.

Stevens’ innovative use of technology, including tools like Open Broadcast Software, a stream deck, wireless microphones and a four-screen setup, has transformed his teaching methods. His integration of gamification elements, such as MuBot (the class mascot), further enhances student engagement by rewarding participation and creating a lively online community.

As the senior lecturer and faculty director for technology-enhanced education in the Haslam College of Business, Stevens continues to inspire and educate future business analytics professionals, constantly exploring new ways to enhance the learning experience through innovative online platforms.

Brian Stevens



Dr. Mina Sartipi

Director, Research Institute

UT Chattanooga

Dr. Mina Sartipi is the founding director of the Center for Urban Informatics and Progress (CUIP) at UT Chattanooga, where she also holds the position Guerry Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department. Her research, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) National Institute of Health (NIH), Department of Energy (DOE), the state of Tennessee, the Lyndhurst Foundation and other industry organizations, focuses on data-driven approaches to tackle real-world challenges in smart city applications, specifically in the areas of mobility, energy and health. At CUIP, she coordinates cross-disciplinary research and strategic visions for urbanism and smart cities advancement, with a particular emphasis on improving people’s quality of life.

Dr. Sartipi is a member of various technical program committees for workshops and conferences on topics related to AI and smart city operations. She was named a 2019 Chattanooga Influencer by the Edge, Chattanooga’s business magazine, for her contributions to smart city research and collaboration with city, county and industry partners. She has received several awards, including the 2016 UT Chattanooga Outstanding Faculty Research and Creative Achievement award, UC Foundation Professorship and the 2020 Smart 50 awards in Digital Transformation at the Smart Cities Connect (in collaboration with the city of Chattanooga and EPB). She has delivered keynotes and presentations at various events, including the U.S. Congressional Caucus on Smart Cities, the Smart Cities Connect conference, and the National Transportation Training Directors. Dr. Sartipi has been an Institute of Electronical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) senior member since 2016 and serves on the board of directors for startups and non-profit organizations.

Dr. Mina Sartipi


Nimble and Innovative Nominees:

  • Arben Asllani – Professor of Artificial Intelligence, Rollins College of Business, UT Chattanooga
  • Adnan Rasool – Assistant Professor of Political Science, UT Martin
  • Anne Alexandrov – Professor, Department of Acute and Tertiary Care, College of Medicine, UT Health Science Center
  • Dustin Fulton – Assistant Dean of Admissions, College of Medicine, UT Health Science Center
  • Missy Kitts – Budget Director, UT Extension Business Office, UT Institute of Agriculture
  • Anthony Nownes – Professor and Department Head, Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences, UT Knoxville
  • Abner Oglesby – Legal and Codes Manager, Municipal Technical Advisory Service, UT Institute for Public Service
  • Shannon Perry – Director of Student Conduct and Care, Department of Student Affairs, UT Martin
  • Tami Wyatt – Assistant Dean of Research, College of Nursing, UT Knoxville
  • Dan Yoder – Professor and Assistant Department Head, Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, UT Institute of Agriculture
  • Olivia Officer – Director of Alumni Engagement, UT Southern

Excel In All We Do Honorees:

Dr. Nicole Labbe

Assistant Director, Center for Renewable Carbon, School of Natural Resources

UT Institute of Agriculture

Dr. Nicole (Niki) Labbé is a professor of biomass chemistry and the director of the Center for Renewable Carbon, with her academic appointment in the School of Natural Resources at the UT Institute of Agriculture. Over the past 20 years, Labbé has been developing sustainable approaches to fractionate and valorize lignocellulosic biomass constituents. She is the co-lead of the new Circular Bioeconomy Systems Convergent Research Initiative, a joint research effort between the UT Institute of Agriculture and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Additionally, she serves as the UT Institute of Agriculture lead for a National Science Foundation Engine Development grant focused on the development of a circular bioeconomy innovation ecosystem in the southeast.
Dr. Nicole Labbe


Brett Fuchs

Associate Dean of Students

UT Chattanooga

Brett Fuchs is known as a pillar of support for students at UT Chattanooga. In addition to his role as Associate Dean of Students, he also oversees the Office of Student Conduct and the Office of Student Outreach and Support. He chairs the university-wide Case Assessment, Review and Evaluation (CARE) Team and serves as the deputy Title IX coordinator. Fuchs has earned a great deal of trust, which is why he was chosen to lead the search committee for UT Chattanooga’s first associate vice chancellor of public safety. Whether he is fulfilling one of his many duties working with the Student Government Association, or attending home football games without fail, Fuchs promotes genuine connections and camaraderie throughout the campus of UT Chattanooga.
Brett Fuchs


Excel In All We Do Nominees:

  • Judy Sandefer – Executive Assistant to the Chancellor, Office of the Chancellor, UT Martin
  • Rachna Tewari – Professor of Agriculture Economics, Department of Agriculture, Geoscience, and Natural Resources, UT Martin
  • Hilary Jasmin – Assistant Professor, Health Sciences Library, UT Health Science Center
  • Elizabeth Hathaway – Associate Professor, Department of Health and Human Performance, UT Chattanooga
  • Betsy Adams – Assistant Dean of Finance and Administration, Haslam College of Business, UT Knoxville
  • Diana Beeler – Business Manager, Department of Political Science, UT Knoxville
  • Liz Gossett – Director of Marketing, County Technical Assistance Service, UT Institute for Public Service
  • Jennesa LaSane Moore – Assistant Director of Student Life and Health Care Programs, Office of Student Success, UT Health Science Center
  • Eric Haley – Professor, Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations, UT Knoxville
  • Tracy Brewer – Clinical Professor and Chair of the Doctor of Nursing Program, College of Nursing, UT Knoxville
  • Gennifer Baker Moon – Assistant Professor of Nursing, College of Nursing, UT Southern

United and Connected Honorees:

Dr. Bruce Keisling

Shainberg Professor and Executive Director of the Center on Developmental Disabilities, College of Medicine, Departments of Pediatrics and Medical Education

UT Health Science Center

Bruce Keisling, Ph.D., ABPP, FAAIDD, is a professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Medical Education at the UT Health Science Center. As a board-certified clinical child and adolescent psychologist and executive director of the Center on Developmental Disabilities, Dr. Keisling leads a variety of programs that connect Tennessee communities with the university, including the state’s largest Relative Caregiver Program and the state’s first University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. He is actively involved in the disability field nationally and statewide, having served as the board president of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities and a board member with the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities and Disability Rights Tennessee. Dr. Keisling helps unite state and university employees through his work as a facilitator with the UT Leadership Institute and the Leadership Academy for Excellence in Disability Services, the nation’s first disability-specific leadership training program in state government.
Dr. Bruce Keisling


Brad Harris

Finance and Accounting Consultant
Municipal Technical Advisory Service

UT Institute for Public Service

Brad Harris works as a finance and accounting consultant for the University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service-Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS). He provides services to cities throughout Tennessee and teaches regularly for various organizations statewide, as well as nationally for the Government Finance Officers Association. For over 10 years, he has taught MTAS’s Certified Municipal Finance Officer (CMFO) program. Harris is passionate about making a measurable difference in the lives of the hundreds of cities he serves annually through MTAS.

In addition to his role at MTAS, Harris serves as the agency director for the Tennessee Association of Municipal Clerks and Recorders and served as the president of the Tennessee Government Finance Officers Association in 2022.

Brad Harris


United and Connected Nominees:

  • Andrew Horton – Deputy Athletic Director, Department Athletics, UT Chattanooga
  • Erica Bell – Executive Director, Regional Centers and Online Programs, UT Martin
  • Justin Hargrove – UT Extension Agent in Agriculture and Natural Resources, UT Extension Western Region, UT Institute of Agriculture
  • Jamie Hlubb – Assistant Vice Chancellor of Human Resources, UT Southern
  • Karen Lasater – Clinical Professor, College of Nursing, UT Knoxville
  • Gretchen Neisler – Director and Vice Provost for International Affairs, Center for Global Engagement, UT Knoxville
  • Wes Trotten – Professor and Chair, Department of Agriculture, Geoscience, and Natural Resources, UT Martin
  • Izetta Slade – Executive Director, Employee and Organizational Development, UT System Administration
  • Ramesh Ray – Senior Biological Safety Officer, Office of Research Safety Affairs, UT Health Science Center

Transparent and Trusted Honorees:

Dr. Karen Derefinko

Associate Professor, College of Medicine, Department of Preventive Medicine

UT Health Science Center

Dr. Karen Derefinko, Ph.D., focuses her primary research on preventing and treating substance use, violence and risky sexual practices. She has designed, executed and managed multiple research protocols that investigate the impact of mental health, personality and other factors on externalizing outcomes in both adults and children. Based on the findings from her work, Dr. Derefinko has developed four treatment manuals and completed several treatment outcome studies, four of which have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Drawing on her understanding of the risk and maintenance factors related to substance use, Dr. Derefinko has developed tailored interventions for diverse and challenging populations. She has served as a principal investigator or co-investigator on large-scale treatment outcome studies. Currently, she is examining the role of stress and structural inequity in the initiation of substance use in children. Furthermore, she is actively involved in training the addiction medicine workforce through a service grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Dr. Karen Derefinko


Kaycee Edwards

Business Manager

UT Space Institute

Kaycee Edwards became a service aide at the University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI), part of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in January 2014. Over the years, she worked in different departments before taking on the role of business manager in the Horizon group in June 2019. As the business manager, Edwards is responsible for financial planning, purchasing and liaising with sponsors regarding business operations. Additionally, she has been involved in information security planning to comply with International Traffic-in-Arms (ITAR) protocols. Edwards’ expertise in enhancing financial tracking and planning practices has significantly contributed to strategic financial planning for the further development of hypersonic research at UTSI.
Kaycee Edwards


Transparent and Trusted Nominees:

    • Chris Cunningham – Professor and Graduate Program Director, Department of Psychology, UT Chattanooga
    • George Cheatham – Professor, Division of Humanities, UT Southern
    • John Abel – Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Department of Student Affairs, UT Martin
    • Melisa Kelton – County Government Consultant, County Technical Assistance Service, UT Institute for Public Service
    • Missy Miller – Administrative Associate, College of Nursing, UT Knoxville
    • Brittany Permaul – Director of Finance and Administration, Haslam College of Business, UT Knoxville
    • Teresa Hartnett –Senior Associate Dean of Finance and Administration, College of Medicine, UT Health Science Center
    • Tom Ellis – Assistant Vice Chancellor, Facilities, Planning and Management Department, UT Chattanooga
    • Mahmoud Haddad – Professor, Depart of Accounting, Economics, Finance and Political Science, UT Martin