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Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek celebrated faculty, staff, and students for their accomplishments and service Wednesday 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:

Harry McSweenMacebearer: Harry “Hap” McSween

Distinguished Earth and Planetary Sciences Professor Harry “Hap” McSween has served as a department head, an interim department head, and acting associate dean for research and development in the College of Arts and Sciences. He was twice an interim dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, and he chaired the search committee for a new dean. A Chancellor’s Professor, he is the world’s leading expert on the composition of Mars. He is also co-investigator for NASA’s Mars Odyssey and Dawn spacecraft missions and Mars exploration rovers.

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.

Islam, S KamrulAlexander Prize: S. Kamrul Islam

Since S. Kamrul Islam joined the UT faculty in 1999 as a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, he has received numerous research grants, and has worked with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, NASA, and the Office of Naval Research. He is also leading efforts by the university’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science to develop a research program involving electronics, technology, and sensors. To help recruit underrepresented engineering and science students, Islam has been involved with the Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program and has mentored undergraduate students since 2004.

The award recognizes superior teaching and distinguished scholarship.

McKanders-KarlaJefferson Prize: Karla McKanders

During her six years as a faculty member, Karla McKanders has brought a new dimension to the College of Law’s clinical programs. She and her students have represented clients statewide in immigration and asylum cases with a great deal of success. In 2011 and 2012, McKanders was a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Mohamed V-Souissi in Rabat, Morocco. When law classes are not in session, she carries a substantial pro bono and clinic caseload.

The Jefferson Prize honors a tenured or tenure-track faculty member for significant contributions through research and creative activity.

Lawler, JamesL.R. Hesler Award: James E. Lawler

James E. Lawler, professor of psychology, has not slowed down since he became a faculty member in 1975. He has served fifteen years as department head, helped bring technology-driven teaching to the university, and received grants adding up to more than $3 million in today’s dollars. In his research, he created a successful animal model for hypertension study. The paper that first described the model was published thirty-four years ago and is still being cited today.

The 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.


The Torchbearer award is the highest honor given to a student and is based on academic achievement, leadership, and outstanding service.

The honorees:

Atchley-PaigePaige Atchley is a member of the Chancellor’s Honors Program and a Global Leadership Scholar majoring in marketing from Hixson, Tennessee. This year, she has served as vice president of the Student Government Association. Atchley was a co-founder and the first president of the campus philanthropic organization Impact. She also received the Traditions Keeper Award for performing more than forty UT traditions as a student.

Baker-JakeJake Baker is a senior in political science from Franklin, Tennessee, who led the student body as its president this year. He has also served as an admissions ambassador, an orientation leader, and an Ignite team leader during his time at the university.


Barnett-KristenKristen Barnett is a senior in journalism and electronic media from Memphis, Tennessee. Barnett is an anchor, reporter, and producer for the UT Today television program. She has served for four years at the Volunteer Channel along with her work as a student alumni associate and member of the College of Communication and Information Diversity Student Leaders Society. She volunteers with Rock the Vote and Long Distance Voter to promote voter registration among college students.

Buehler-ArielAriel Buehler is Haslam Scholar from Farragut, Tennessee. Buehler is a senior in food science and technology with a minor in music. This year she was awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. She is a violist for the UT Symphony Orchestra, the UT Opera Orchestra, and the UT Chamber Orchestra. She teaches viola as a volunteer at the Joy of Music School. She has served as student trustee for the Knoxville Opera Board of Directors and product development chair for the Institute of Food Technologists Student Association.

Photography by Chad Greene - ChadCRG ImagesLisa Dicker is a Chancellor’s Honors Program senior from Tullahoma, Tennessee. Dicker is majoring in political science and Asian studies. She served as president of the Central Program Council this year. She is a Baker Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa national honor society, and served as president and captain of this year’s Undergraduate Mock Trial.

Dixon-EricEric Dixon, a Knoxville native, graduated in the fall semester with four majors: philosophy, economics, sociology, and global studies. He is the founding president of the university’s Community Partnerships Service Corps, which helped create a culture of sustainable service on campus. He also co-founded the UT Coalition for Responsible Investment and helped establish the campus’s chapter of the Roosevelt Institute. He was a finalist for the Truman Scholarship.

Caroline Knight Photography
Caroline Knight Photography

Jasmine Hammons is a senior in business analytics from Bradenton, Florida. Hammons has served as president of Mortar Board honor society and a vice president of finance for the National Panhellenic Council. She is also a founding member and vice president of UT’s Business Analytics Society. She has coordinated the National Foundation for Suicide Prevention campus walk. She also volunteers with Remote Area Medical, which provides basic health care to underserved populations.

Lee-LindsayLindsay Lee, a senior Haslam Scholar, has been awarded the prestigious Rhodes scholarship, an honor given to only thirty-two students in a pool of 850 nominees. Lee, an Oak Ridge, Tennessee, native, is the founder of Campus Disability Advocates. The group’s annual Disability Awareness Week engages the community in workshops and cultural activities to broaden awareness of disabilities. Campus and city leaders consult the group about creating access for the disabled before starting new buildings or making infrastructure changes.

Nowell-TerryTerry Nowell, a Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native, graduated in the fall with a degree in biology and biochemistry as a Chancellor’s Scholar. He has served as a medical fellow in remote villages in India and worked on health policy issues through an internship in Sen. Lamar Alexander’s office. He’s also been at the center of important issues through the Greek Life Task Force and University Programs and Services Fee Funding Board. He’s been an orientation leader and participated in Alternative Spring Break.

Tate-DianeDiane Tate is a senior communication studies from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Tate is active with the Commission for Blacks, Minority Enhancement for the University of Tennessee, the Student Government Association, the Chancellor’s Civility Task Force, the Vice Chancellor for Student Life’s Diversity Roundtable, and the programming committee of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

Troy-PaulPaul Troy is a senior in history and secondary education from Santa Fe, Tennessee. He has been a resident assistant, executive treasurer for the Student Government Association, and an ambassador. He also serves on the Vice Chancellor for Diversity’s Student Advisory Council. He proposed the SophoMORE Living and Learning Community to help build the foundation for students’ continued service.

Waxstein-KatherineKatherine Waxstein, a child and family studies and psychology major, has dedicated herself to UT’s Center for Leadership and Service, playing vital roles in the Ignite program. She is one of UT’s first Leadership Knoxville Scholars. Waxstein, a native of Maryville, Tennessee, mentors Pond Gap Elementary students weekly through the Character Development Program, which she created to help elementary school youth overcome behavioral issues in the classroom. She is working to develop the program into a UT course.

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

Original-sized headshots are available here.