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KNOXVILLE—The Department of Geography at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has honored Professor Emeritus Sidney R. Jumper with the Outstanding Alumnus Award for his significant contributions to geography education.

Sid JumperJumper received his doctorate in 1960, and after a few years of teaching at Tennessee Tech University, he joined the UT Knoxville faculty. He advanced through the ranks and served as department head from 1977 to 1995.

Professor Bruce Ralston, who presented the award on behalf of the department, said without Jumper’s leadership, the department would not be as strong as it is today.

“As I look at students and faculty in our department, I realize that every one of us has been touched by this man,” Ralston said.

Under Jumper’s leadership, the department gained additional faculty positions, placed renewed emphasis on research and scholarship, and developed a culture of open management and civility. In addition, he played a key role in securing funding for the Burchfiel Geography Building, which now houses the department.

In 1986, he and colleague Ted Schmudde founded the Tennessee Geographic Alliance (TGA), a partnership between UT and the National Geographic Society to improve geography education in the state. Form its humble beginnings, the TGA—which was one of seven pilot alliances in the US—has grown to include membership of nearly 5,000 teachers in grades K–12.

Jumper’s accomplishments have been recognized outside the department as well. He was awarded the Chancellor’s Citation for Extraordinary Service in 1990. In 1994, he received the Distinguished Service Award of the UT National Alumni Association, and in 1997, he was deemed geography professor emeritus. In 2000, the Association of American Geographers presented Jumper with the AAG Distinguished Service Honors.

“For more than thirty years, the name Sidney Jumper has been synonymous with geography education in Tennessee,” said Ronald Abler, executive director of the AAG.

In the following year, the National Geographic Society announced the establishment of the Sidney Jumper Grant for Teaching Research. Jumper’s contributions continue today, as he serves the Tennessee Geographic Alliance on a part-time basis.


Amy Blakely, (865-974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu)