Skip to content

Winners of the Chancellor’s Academic Outreach Award

The Chancellor’s Academic Outreach Award is presented each year at the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet to a faculty member who academic expertise to engage the community in reciprocal, collaborative relationships that: a) improve the quality of life for citizens and, b) inform the scholarship and learning of faculty and students.

Past Recipients:


 2016: Rupy Sawhney

Sawhney_RupyRupy Sawhney, a Heath Fellow in Business and Engineering and a professor of industrial and systems engineering, has developed outreach initiatives that model effective collaboration between universities and local communities. They include the popular Kids U summer program “Do You Want to Be an Engineer?” for middle and high school students and the Lean Enterprise Systems Summer Program, which hosts international students in Knoxville for five weeks to strengthen participants’ multicultural awareness. Sawhney also works to make life better for Knoxvillians with disabilities. Project Eric, named for his student Eric Arendt, resulted in an app that gives disabled citizens the ability to connect with drivers through a preloaded text format that is fully integrated into the public transportation system. He also helped an alumnus with cerebral palsy become more independent by conducting a time-and-motion study that led to the design of a mechanical assistance system. The research from this project has helped in the analysis of other disabilities that affect movement. In 2015, Sawhney was appointed to the Mayor’s Council on Disability Initiatives.


2015: Katherine B. Ambroziak

Katherine B. AmbroziakKatherine B. Ambroziak, associate professor in the College of Architecture and Design, combines her wealth of knowledge and love for service to benefit people far beyond our campus. She helped develop and launch the Smart Communities Initiative, which is now active in the city of Cleveland, Tennessee. She’s also passionate about the Odd Fellows Cemetery and Potters Fields projects, both of which involve reclamation and rehabilitation of historically and culturally significant places in East Knoxville. Her nominator said, “Katherine’s work has helped to build a powerful bridge to this East Knoxville community. Not only has she brought the community to the table, she has brought our whole college along with her.”

Ambroziak’s work in rural Appalachia explores ways to address needs where poverty, illiteracy, and a lack of health care are prevalent. Her most recent efforts have focused on a new volunteer firehouse at the Red Bird Mission in Clay County, Kentucky, as part of the Community Health and Disaster Readiness project funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Ambroziak has coordinated conversations between UT students and Red Bird staff, fire and disaster officials, and other community residents to facilitate a design that will have a long-term positive impact.


2014: Suzanne Lenhart

Suzanne LenhartThroughout her distinguished career, Suzanne Lenhart has worked to share her research and teaching with the wider community. Lenhart, a mathematics professor and Chancellor’s Professor, also serves as associate director for education, outreach, and diversity at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis. Lenhart’s outreach efforts have included volunteering at middle schools and a high school in Knox County. As a MATHCOUNTS coach, she led her middle school math competition team to win Knoxville’s competition and place second in the state tournament. She was president of the Association for Women in Mathematics from 2001 to 2003, helping to organize a teacher partnership program that matches K–12 teachers with mathematicians from academia, government, and industry. She also served as director of UT’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, funded by the National Science Foundation. Since joining NIMBioS, Lenhart has taken part in a wide range of outreach programs, including a series of workshops for teachers and girls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) camp for middle school students in Campbell County; Biology in a Box workshops for more than eighty school systems across Tennessee; and NIMBioS undergraduate and graduate workshops at UT. Louis Gross, the director of NIMBioS, wrote in her nomination letter that Lenhart’s “persistent devotion” to giving more opportunities to students interested in STEM careers has “directly benefitted thousands of participants since NIMBioS has operated, and been a major contributor to the ongoing success of this institute.”


2013: David A. Patterson

David A. PattersonDavid A. Patterson has spent much of the past eight years studying and trying to ease the problem of homelessness in our community. His work has helped improve conditions for people who are homeless and agencies that help them. Patterson, a social work professor, has been at UT since 1993. He teaches primarily in the Master of Science in Social Work program. Since 2004, Patterson has directed KnoxHMIS, a web-based data system administered by UT’s Social Work Office of Research and Public Service. It logs information about the homeless and their needs. The project has required Patterson to work closely with a long list of agencies, including the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the United Way, Knox County, the City of Knoxville, the East Tennessee Foundation, and the Knoxville Homeless Coalition. Last year, Patterson and KnoxHMIS released major reports giving community leaders ideas about how to provide more efficient and cost-effective services for homeless people. Patterson and KnoxHMIS were honored as an “Exemplary Project” in the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award competition. Contest officials praised Patterson’s work as “a wonderful example of the spirit of the higher education engagement movement and an outstanding reflection of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.”


2012: Becky Jacobs

JacobsBecky L. Jacobs brought more than a decade of national and international experience in the corporate world when she joined the College of Law faculty in 2002. Jacobs came to UT from Duke Energy International’s Sao Paulo, Brazil office, where she worked as an Assistant General Counsel. Early in her career, she clerked for the Honorable Pasco M. Bowman on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. She then practiced with the law firms of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher and Shook, Hardy & Bacon, spending time in the London offices of both firms, and she also worked as an in house lawyer for CNG Transmission and Conoco. Jacobs has extensive experience with international transactions and also has practiced in the areas of environmental, energy, and administrative/regulatory law. The top graduate in her law class at the University of Georgia, Jacobs was named to the Order of the Coif and was Symposium Editor of the Georgia Law Review.


2011: Jeffrey Kovak

KovakJeffrey Kovak conducts theoretical research in the general area of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics of condensed matter.  His interests in analytical theory include both model calculations and formal theory, including  the structure and dynamics of polymer systems, rubber elasticity, the glass transition, structure and dynamics of liquids, and interfacial systems.  Kovak also carries out research in the history and philosophy of science and in the scholarship of teaching and learning.  His current interests include scientific and professional ethics, the role of metaphor in scientific thought and writing, the teaching of writing of science, and the development and assessment of active learning methods for the teaching of chemistry.  He is also doing research in the history and philosophy of pacifism and conscientious objection.


2010: Ginger Evans

EvansGinger Evans received the Chancellor’s Excellence in Academic Outreach award in 2010 because of her work in the community. Ginger Evans has been a nurse for more than forty years and is an assistant professor in the College of Nursing. She took a special interest in helping victims of domestic violence in her previous work as a psychiatric nurse. Throughout her career she had seen the long-term effects of domestic violence on its victims, even years after they had experienced the trauma. Evans is a sexual assault nurse examiner and an expert in forensic nursing, the newest specialty recognized by the America Association of Nurses. She has taught nursing students, law enforcement personnel, and other health care professionals about domestic violence and sexual assault. Her expert attention, documentation, and court testimony have resulted in a number of rape convictions, including one federal child trafficking case. Evans has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from East Tennessee State University and master’s degrees in nursing and child and family studies from UT.


2009: Michael Lofaro

lofaroMichael A. Lofaro is an expert on James Agee, Daniel Boone, and Davy Crockett. His work has landed him on the Today Show, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, the History Channel, and A&E. Lofaro’s book, Daniel Boone: An American Life, is his third volume on the frontier hero. He also published Davy Crockett’s Riproarious Shemales and Sentimental Sisters: Women’s Tall Tales from the Crockett Almanacs (1835-1856) in 2001. Lofaro is restoring James Agee’s original intended text of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Death in the Family.


2008: John Peters

PetersJohn M. Peters, EdD, has taught courses in collaborative learning, reflective practice, action research, and types of teaching and learning. He has lectured at more than 65 colleges and universities around the world. He has published or presented more than 180 conference papers, articles, chapters, and books, and directed 51 theses and dissertations.  Peters has received numerous awards for teaching, service, and outreach, including three Chancellor’s awards. He was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame in 1997. He served as Secretary and VP of the Adult Education Association (AEA), as book review editor of Adult Education: A Journal of Research and Theory, and on the advisory board of Action Research. 


2007: Marilyn Kallet

KalletMarilyn Kallet was born in Montgomery, Alabama, and grew up in New York; this tension between North and South is one of the themes in her poetry.   Her degrees are from Tufts, the Sorbonne, and Rutgers (Ph.D. in Comparative Literature.) Kallet has published sixteen books, including six volumes of poetry, translations, critical essays, children’s books, pedagogy, and anthologies of women’s literature.   In addition to teaching at the University of Tennessee, she teaches a poetry workshop for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts at their site in Auvillar, France.  Among other honors, she has won the Tennessee Arts Commission Literary Fellowship in poetry, and was inducted into the East Tennessee Literary Hall of Fame in poetry, 2005; the Knoxville YWCA named her Woman of Achievement in the Arts, 2000; she was awarded an Honorary Woodrow Wilson Fellowship.  Kallet has performed her poetry on campuses and in theaters across the United States, in France and in Warsaw and Krakow, as a guest of the U.S. Embassy’s “America Presents” cultural arts program.


2006: Nan Gaylord

GaylordA pediatric nursing expert, Nan Gaylord’s research and work focus on access to health care for children. As part of that, she explores alternative delivery sites for care, alternative providers of care, and how this care is reimbursed. Gaylord is one of the founders of the Vine School Health Center, a school-based health care clinic that serves students in Knox County who have limited access to health care.


2005: Stuart Elston

ElstonProfessor Stuart B. Elston received the B.S. degree in Physics from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1968 and, following two years of service in the United States Marine Corps, earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1975. After two years as a Postdoctoral Research Associate and two years as Research Assistant Professor, he joined the faculty at the University of Tennessee in 1979. He has also held a part-time position as Adjunct R and D Participant in the Physics Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory from 1979 to 1996.


2004: David Fox

FoxDavid Fox has been recognized for his work to promote diversity in architecture and design. The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture has recognized Fox with its Diversity Achievement Award for his efforts to revitalize neighborhoods, introduce sustainable design, and bring about ethnic and racial reconciliation. Fox’s UPSIDE, Urban Program in Sustainable Design Education, has brought together architecture students and local high school students in Chattanooga and Knoxville.  Fox was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for research and teaching in Poland as part of the College of Architecture and Design’s partnership with Krakow Polytechnic.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.