Monday, May 14, 2007
Writer: Shanna Relford
UTSI’s Support Council Annual Banquet a Success
A good time was had by all who attended the 2007 University of Tennessee Space Institute Support Council Annual Recognition Banquet held on May 9, 2007. Bill Green, Chair of the Support Council’s Annual Awards Banquet Committee and owner of Excel Foods, the event’s caterer, turned UTSI’s cafeteria into a divine dining area for the event. The large room with a cathedral ceiling and a windowed wall overlooking the lake was decked with white-clothed tables and lit softly with candles. A meal fit for a king, steak and salmon with a variety of veggies, was served to nearly 200 attendees as some of UTSI’s best supporters, students, alumni and employees were recognized for their life achievements and dedication to UTSI.
The evening’s first honors went to UTSI’s 2007 Distinguished Alumni, Dr. David Elrod, general manager of Aerospace Testing Alliance (ATA), the major contractor at Arnold Engineering Development Center, and Dr. Joel Muehlhauser, UTSI’s Assistant Vice President for Research and Development. Dr. Donald Daniel, UT Associate Vice President and UTSI Chief Operating Officer, expressed great pride in the achievements of both men. Dr. Daniel noted in his comments that Dr. Muehlhauser came to UTSI for a visit in 1966 and stayed for a lifetime. One of UTSI’s own for over four decades, Dr. Muehlhauser has held many positions at UTSI over the years, beginning as a Graduate Research Assistant. He earned his Ph.D. in Physics from UTSI in 1974. In his comments, Dr. Muehlhauser encouraged graduating students, also honored at the event, that one day it may be their turn to receive a Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Dr. Elrod graduated from UTSI in 1988 with a Master’s degree in Engineering Management. In addition to being general manager of Aerospace Testing Alliance(ATA), Dr. Elrod is also the senior vice president of Jacobs Technology. He told the large audience that he was grateful and proud to receive the award and that his time at UTSI meant a lot to him.
The next several awards were given to individuals who stand out in the crowd due to their dedication, attitude and exceptional work. Receiving the 2007 Outstanding UTSI Faculty Member Award was Dr. Greg Sedrick, UTSI’s Program Chair of Engineering Management and Chief Information Officer. Dr. Sedrick’s wife and two daughters attended the event and were proud to see Dad honored for his hard work.
The 2007 Outstanding Staff Member Award went to Pam Ledford, Benefits Specialist in UTSI’s Human Resources Department. Mrs. Ledford was so touched to receive the award that she had to fight back tears, and the audience nearly joined her. Her husband, Larry Ledford, who also works at UTSI, knows very well her sweet personality and “go-the-extra-mile” attitude that were cited as reasons for her selection for the award.
Dick Farrar, Chairman of the UTSI Support Council, which sponsored the event, then awarded the 2006 and 2007 Outstanding Support Council Members and Outstanding Support Council Executive Committee Members. For his vision of greatness for the Support Council, Dick Austin was named the 2006 Outstanding Support Council Executive Committee Member. For his energy and for taking such a central role in reaching the Support Council’s goals and objectives, Joe Lester was awarded the 2007 Outstanding Support Council Executive Committee Member. 2006 Outstanding Support Council Member went to Diane Bryant, and 2007 Outstanding Support Council Member went to Alex Money.
Dan Pierre spoke to announce the 2007 Outstanding UTSI Student Award. Mr. Pierre said that the reputation of a university is only as good as its students and alumni, and that it is students like the awardee, Mark Olles, who make UTSI a great university. Olles is president of UTSI’s student government association, and was humbled by the award, thanking the other SGA officers for “making me look better than I am.”
UTSI Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. Bruce Bomar then stood to recognize UTSI’s Fall 2006 and Spring 2007 graduates, a number near 50, mostly earning their Master’s degrees, and a few graduating with their Ph.D’s.
Mr. Farrar was then pleased to present Support Council Resolutions to the families of eight of UTSI’s most influential supporters since its beginnings in the 1960’s. Framed copies of the resolutions will hang in an honored place at UTSI, and each family was presented with their own copy.
First recognized was Mr. William R. Carter, a charter member and organizer of the UTSI Support Council in 1966, who served as chairman for many years, and was a faithful supporter until his death in 2006.
Senator Ernest Crouch, a native of Estill Springs, was recognized as the first chairman of the UTSI Support Council, serving in that capacity from 1966 until 1982, and for being a staunch supporter of The University of Tennessee Space Institute throughout his 30-year political career.
Jordon Ennis accepted a copy of the Support Council’s Resolution on behalf his father, Steve Ennis, honored as a special friend of UTSI, a long-time member of the Support Council and UT Trustee for 18 years, serving as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees from 1995-97.
Past Chairman, Secretary and Honorary Lifetime Member, Nelson Forrester was honored with a Support Council Resolution for his contributions to UTSI and the community. Nelson Forrester, Jr. accepted a copy of the resolution on behalf of his father.
The next resolution honored Major General Lee V. Gossick, Commander of AEDC from 1964 to 1967, critical and formative years for UTSI, at which time Gen. Gossick was highly instrumental in the establishment the Institute. Gen. Gossick remained a strong supporter of UTSI throughout his career, and was a member of the UTSI Support Council until his death in 2006.
Mrs. Helen Mason, UTSI’s first librarian, accepted a resolution honoring her late husband, Dr. Art Mason, stating that she and Art were among the first UTSI employees and had spent many happy years at UTSI, particularly in the library. Dr. Mason was a physics professor, the third full-time faculty member chosen for UTSI, a faculty advisor, and a member of the UTSI Support Council until his passing in 2006.
Dr. Robert Lyle Young was honored with a Support Council resolution as he assembled the first academic program before UTSI opened in 1964, was the first associate dean and director of UTSI’s academic program, and remained an active member of the UTSI Support Council until he passed in 2006. His wife, Sara Crawford-Young accepted the honor on his behalf.
James Threet was honored to accept a Support Council Resolution on behalf of his father, Dr. Ewing Threet, who just passed away in April. Dr. Threet’s smile was a familiar sight on the UTSI campus; he had an energetic spirit, which he used to forward the interests of UTSI. One of the original founders of UTSI, Dr. Threet remained a very active supporter of UTSI throughout his life, served faithfully on the UTSI Support Council and was named Lifetime Treasurer Emeritus of the Support Council.
Last, but certainly not least, the audience gave a lengthy standing ovation when Mr. Farrar read a Letter of Appreciation to Weldon Payne, naming him UTSI Support Council’s Historian Emeritus. Mr. Payne served UTSI for many years in Public Relations, and, in 1995, put the story of UTSI’s first 25 years down on paper in his popular book, Web to The Stars.
“Weldon’s good work through the years in helping tell and preserve the UTSI story has proven invaluable to the Institute,” said Dick Farrar “We salute Weldon for his dedicated service to the UT Space Institute and are pleased to honor him as our historian emeritus. We wish him much luck in his retirement, or as he describes it, his ‘race with the evening sun’.”
UTSI is blessed to have a very active Support Council working to promote the University in every way, and sponsoring such a wonderful annual banquet. The Support Council also presented a bouquet of roses to Dee Merriman and Courtney Maricle, UTSI employees who have been of “indispensable help to the Support Council.”