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Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek celebrated faculty, staff, and students for their accomplishments and service Monday during the annual Honors Banquet.

The banquet is the largest UT honors event of the year. It was held in the Carolyn P. Brown Memorial University Center.

Top awards presented included:

Bill Fox
Bill Fox

Macebearer: Bill Fox

Fox is the William B. Stokely Distinguished Professor for the College of Business Administration and director of the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER). The Macebearer—the top faculty honor—carries the mace, an ornate scepter, and leads the faculty in processionals during commencement exercises for a full academic year. The honor comes with a $5,000 award.

Fox has traveled to more than forty countries on five continents to advise governments on tax policy. Stateside, he’s consulted with US governors, legislatures, tax commissions, and big business. Fox’s work has received close to $36 million in funding and helps to bridge academia and practice. Through his leadership, the CBER has grown both in size and stature, making it one of UT’s most prominent and respected programs.

Gary McCracken
Gary McCracken

Alexander Prize: Gary McCracken

McCracken is the James R. Cox Professor and head of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He also is one of the world’s leading experts on bats. He is at the forefront of research into fighting White Nose Syndrome, a fungal disease that is sweeping through bat colonies across North America—including Tennessee—and killing bats by the tens of thousands. McCracken brings his passion for science and conservation into the classroom and he has created two new undergraduate courses, Conservation Biology and Evolution and Society, to bring critical biological and policy issues before students.

Named for former UT president and now Senator Lamar Alexander and his wife, Honey, the $12,000 award recognizes superior teaching and distinguished scholarship.

Paul Gellert
Paul Gellert

Jefferson Prize: Paul Gellert

Gellert is an associate professor of sociology. He is an expert on Indonesian resource extraction and the industry’s effects on the nation’s society, its politics, and the local and global economies.

The Jefferson Prize honors the principles of Thomas Jefferson and his pursuit of freedom and knowledge. It is a three-year grant of $6,000 each year given to researchers working in areas of science where funding is difficult to obtain. This will enable Gellert to further research the connections between the Indonesian province of Kalimantan and the Appalachian region of the United States, exploring the struggles and dynamics of places where there are rich resources but people locked in poverty.

Lee Reidinger
Lee Reidinger

L. R. Hesler Award: Lee Riedinger

Riedinger is a professor of physics. He is the founding director of the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education, a premier doctoral program created in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory. At the center, Riedinger ensures that all emerging scholars can learn from one another’s diverse backgrounds. He conducts his own research through a project with Argonne National Lab and always shares what his students call an “infectious enthusiasm” for science. Riedinger previously served as vice chancellor of research.

The $12,000 L. R. Hesler Award is named for the longtime department head and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and recognizes exceptional teaching and service. Of the amount, Riedinger will receive $3,000 as an honorarium, $3,000 will be given to the UT Libraries for acquisitions in Riedinger’s field, and $6,000 will be directed toward a program or project of interest to Riedinger.

TorchbearersThe Torchbearer award is the highest honor given to a student and is based on academic achievement, leadership, and outstanding service. Cheek presented the 2013 Torchbearers with medals and they each passed the ceremonial torch at the event.

The honorees:

Katie Arnold is a senior in nursing from Dayton, Tennessee. As president of Alpha Chi Omega sorority, she took the reins during a crucial time for the chapter. She led the transition to a new house and guided the young women in achieving their best recruitment in years. Arnold also played a pivotal role on the Greek Life Task Force that was formed last fall. She has served others through Habitat for Humanity, the Family Justice Center, and around the globe through nursing’s international service-learning trips.

Daniel Aycock is senior accounting major from Kingsport, Tennessee. He is a member of the second class of the Haslam Scholars Program. He also is a member of the Chancellor’s Honors Program Honors Council, where he works to make his peers’ time at UT better through improving programming, advocacy, and communication. He is involved in organizations including the Student Government Association and the UT Men’s Chorale. He has volunteered with the Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee and the Jazz for Justice project, which works for holistic post-conflict reconstruction in northern Uganda.

Jon Carleton is a senior in English literature from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He is working to make UT and the Knoxville community a little greener and has logged hundreds of volunteer hours removing invasive plants in parks and picking up litter around the community. He is the compost manager for UT Recycling and directs Student Government Association’s Environment and Sustainability Committee. He also serves on the student board that decides how to best allocate Green Fee funds.

Betty Hong is a senior human resource management major from Nashville. She channeled her passion for social and economic justice into the creation of the Taking Action for Social Change (TASC) Force in 2010. The organization raised money to buy bicycles for high school and college students in Cambodia to travel to and from school. Hong also led an initiative to fund ten months of hot supplemental meals for thirty preschool students in the Svay Att Village of Cambodia. She and other TASC Force leaders have hosted programs about genocide, poverty, and hunger affecting Third World countries for their peers and the Knoxville community.

Blair Kuykendall, of Germantown, Tennessee, is graduating with an interdisciplinary degree in international law and economics. She is a Haslam Scholar, a Baker Scholar, and part of the College Scholars Program. One of her greatest achievements has been her work on the Daily Beacon. In two years as editor in chief, she has dedicated many evenings and countless hours to make it a better publication. Last summer, Kuykendall studied abroad at the London School of Economics. She plans to attend law school at Georgetown University in the fall.

Will Logan is a senior in language and world business from Walton, Kentucky. He also is a Chancellor’s Honors Scholar. During his year as president of the local chapter of his fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, he boosted participation in community service, doubled the amount of funds raised for philanthropic organizations and garnered both the UT Interfraternity Council’s Chapter of the Year award and recognition as a Delta Tau Delta national Chapter of the Year. Logan is finishing an undergraduate research project on boosting retention rates and fostering a sense of belonging among students who leave home to come to Big Orange Country.

Adam Roddy is a political science major from Dayton, Tennessee, and a member of the Chancellor’s Honors Program. As president of the Student Government Association, he has worked to give a voice to a broader base of students. He served as a legislative intern in the US House of Representatives and is a member of Student Alumni Associates, a UT ambassador, an Alternative Spring Break participant, and a Camp Koinonia counselor. He has served on the Alumni Board of Directors, a Board of Trustees committee, and the Chancellor’s Associates.

Nia Sherif is a psychology and sociology major from Arlington, Tennessee. As a UT ambassador and a member of ME4UT, she welcomed prospective students to campus, with an emphasis on recruiting students from diverse cultures and backgrounds. For the past two years, Sherif has been a resident assistant and has focused her programming on safe habits and healthy lifestyles. She is a member of the Muslim Student Association and president of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She also works with the American Cancer Society, Bridge Refugee Services, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Akshitha Yarrabothula is a chemical and biomolecular engineering major from Memphis. She also is a Haslam Scholar, Chancellor’s Scholar, and Baker Scholar. Her dedication to research earned her a position as an undergraduate research assistant conducting graduate-level research. Yarrabothula has led campus groups such as the Delta Phi Omega Sorority and the Society of Women Engineers. She has volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Knoxville and in the emergency room at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, among other organizations.

The full list of all faculty, staff, and student awards is available on the chancellor’s website.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lola.alapo@tennessee.edu)