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Chancellor Loren CrabtreeOf the many formal presentations I attend on campus, the Send Roses monthly ceremony, where we honor a dedicated and courteous employee, is one of my favorites.

It was particularly enjoyable recently to honor Terry Baker, a maintenance specialist who takes care of the sometimes-creaky infrastructure in Andy Holt Tower. He was nominated by 22 people and more than 40 folks attended the ceremony.

Terry is the man in Andy Holt Tower who always says hello and smiles – even if you’ve not yet been formally introduced. Without Terry’s prompt, friendly and efficient service, the Tower would not survive. He knows the systems in this over-30-year-old building intimately, and he can fix anything. More than that, he is the friendliest person imaginable.

Terry clearly loves his work and we love him. He is a shining example of how a passion for a job can be contagious. He’s one of the nearly 1,700 people who’ve worked for UT for more than 20 years. With about 6,000 area employees, that’s a great testament to our work environment.

We’re pleased to have so many people who appreciate the role they play in educating our students. That’s not to say we don’t need to improve upon several of the factors that contribute to employee satisfaction. Communication – what each employee hears from supervisors and/or members of the administration – is at the top of the list.

Communication is a two-way street, and we need to improve the opportunities employees have to share suggestions about their work and provide us with feedback about how to improve our processes and procedures.

With such a large campus community, it’s easy to get too wrapped up in our own jobs and lose sight of the big picture. To fulfill our mission of providing the highest quality education and learning experiences, we must have faculty and staff who consistently perform at the highest level.

It is clear to me that people who are content in their jobs are much more likely to deliver quality service to our customers than are people who are not happily employed. To be successful in serving our students, parents and clients, we must have a workplace that is satisfying and meets the needs of our employees.

I hope this new publication – as well as the new electronic version of Tennessee Today – will offer you news and information you will find useful in your job. It’s just a small step; but it is a start in a comprehensive effort to strengthen our two-way communication.

Our goal is to be informative, but also to share news and viewpoints that provide a better understanding of the university’s departments and the people who work in them.

Let us know what you think; we’d like to hear from you so that we know whether we’re accomplishing that goal. Send e-mail to chancellor@utk.edu or call 974-8304

I am proud of the many dedicated faculty and staff of the University of Tennessee. You, too, should be proud of the role you play in shaping the lives of our students.