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Betty Bright Retires After 37 Years

Betty Bright, an Administrative Support Assistant in the Academic & Research Administrative Support (ARAS) Department, is retiring June 30 after 37 years with the University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI).

A native of Winchester, Tennessee, Bright joined the staff of the Space Institute in 1979 as a Clerk-Typist in the Short Course Office for Jules Bernard, Manager. Prior to working in the ARAS Dept., Betty worked in Continuing Education as an Administrative Support Assistant where she assisted in coordinating engineering programs to industry, government and various non-government agencies. Before joining the Space Institute, she worked in the Admissions and Records office at Motlow State Community College (MSCC), Lynchburg and the State of Tennessee Employment & Security Office at the Winchester branch.

After graduating from high school in Winchester Bright earned an Associates of Science degree in Sociology from Motlow State Community College, a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology and Psychology from Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tennessee and a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Curriculum Specialists from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

“There have been many memorable experiences for me that I hold dear, and to single out any one particular experience would be hard,” said Bright. “I have enjoyed my friendship with my co-workers and seen many changes at UTSI, met a lot of people, and shared a lot of experiences.”

During Bright’s career at UTSI, she had the opportunity to meet some notable people who have visited the UTSI campus. People like Ben Vereen who she had the pleasure of meeting twice and was known as “Chicken George” in the movie ‘Roots’. NASA Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, Astronaut Guion S. Bluford, Jr. who was the first African American to travel into space, and recently Astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore who is a UTSI graduate. The Honorable Hazel R. O’Leary, former Secretary of Energy who was under the leadership of the former President Bill Clinton and was President of Fisk University in Nashville. Senator Thelma Harper of the 96th Tennessee General Assembly in Nashville. She had the distinguished honor of meeting Lt. Col. Charles Dryden twice who was one of the famed original “Tuskegee Airmen” of World War II whose services helped usher in the desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces. These are only a few notable personalities Betty has had the pleasure of meeting. “There were pictures, autographs and short conversations,” said Bright as she reminisced. “A little something to remember as I leave UTSI. The list could go on about many wonderful experiences.”

“Even though I am undertaking a new direction, I will always hold dear memories of UTSI,” said Bright.

At a recent retirement party held for Bright at the Space Institute, James Simonton, Ph.D., interim Executive Director, highlighted her accomplishments and presented her with a gift from the faculty, staff and students.

Bright plans to spend more time visiting her friends and family far and near and work on outside interests.