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KNOXVILLE — Five University of Tennessee development and alumni affairs staff members have been recognized for performance excellence. The awards recognize staff members who go above and beyond expectations to further the university’s fundraising efforts during the current $1 billion capital campaign.

“The university’s goal of $1 billion is the most ambitious in our history,” said Jim Haslam, chair of the UT Foundation. “The money raised will enhance programs of excellence at all of the university’s campuses and institutes. And, the fact is, we aren’t going to raise the money we need without talented, dedicated staff members who are willing to go the extra mile. These people are truly examples of what makes this university great.”

The awardees each will receive a $1,000 stipend. They are:
– Anna Montgomery, director of development communications
– Mary Cruise, associate director of development communications and director of prospect research
– Sherry Smith, director of advancement systems
– Linda Friedland, director of planned giving
– Charley Deal, assistant vice chancellor for alumni relations at UT Martin

Charles Wharton of Winchester, Tenn., a UT board member, personally funded a performance award in the past and the Foundation adopted the principle and established the additional awards.

Staff members were nominated by their peers and supervisors and winners were selected by an anonymous committee.

“The Foundation board originally approved four awards, but due to the caliber of nominees, each member of the committee donated money from their own pocket to fund a fifth,” said Henry Nemcik, vice president for development and alumni affairs and president of the UT Foundation. “As we’re working toward our campaign goal we often ask extra of our employees. They give their time, energy and expertise willingly, so it is important to reward that kind of dedication.”

Montgomery has a long history with UT as a student and then staff member. She first joined the development staff in 1992 and has served as director of development communications since 2005. In that role, she has overseen the production and implementation of communication strategies to reach prospective and current donors, both alumni and friends; the direction of communications efforts for the capital campaign; and direction of the proposal production effort.

Cruise joined the development staff in 1980 and has worked primarily in donor research. In 2006, she assumed new responsibilities in communications and since then has overseen, written and edited approximately 75 major gift proposals in the $1 million to $15 million range, as well as managing the creation of several new publications, a Web site and newsletter. Cruise also facilitates introductory fundraising and prospect research classes through UT’s professional and personal development office.

Smith, a longtime UT employee, joined the advancement services staff in 2002 and has managed the systems group of 25 employees through several audits, an office relocation and other changes in management. “Sherry provides the model on how to successfully manage an office with complex operational, financial and audit responsibilities,” her nominator said.

Friedland has been a member of the development staff since 2003, working in the area of planned giving. She has worked to establish strong relationships with donors, impart knowledge about the planned giving process to other employees and enhance programs benefiting planned giving. Under her co-leadership, the Class Bequest program conducted for 50-year graduates has seen a dynamic increase in the number of participants.

Deal, assistant vice chancellor for alumni relations at UT Martin, has served as a staff member for more than 15 years, starting as a resident assistant in housing. He has moved through the housing, development and alumni affairs offices to his current position. According to his nominator, he often goes beyond his job description to impact the university system and the Martin community. She said, “He has singlehandedly taken the alumni relations office at the University of Tennessee to unprecedented new heights of distinction and prominence.”

The UT Foundation’s mission is to support the university’s educational, research and public service initiatives by seeking, receiving and administering private dollars. A nonprofit corporation, the Foundation helps meet the needs of the university by augmenting state and institutional funds.

Editor’s Note: Photos of award winners are available. Contact Beth Gladden for pictures.



Beth Gladden, UT media relations, (865) 974-9008,