The impact that Student Life programs and staff have on students outside of the classroom is making a difference in their time and experiences at UT. Student Life is offering leadership opportunities, connections, and a place where they belong.
Below are a few of the many staff members who are making a difference. Student Life provides transformative experiences that are critical to the realization of academic and personal aspirations of our campus community. We are excited to highlight a few of our leaders that are working to create a campus environment that supports the intellectual, cultural, social, and emotional development of students.
Abigail Brumfield, coordinator of the Office of the Dean of Students
Abigail Brumfield is passionate about student advocacy and supports the student government leaders as they invest in their UT community. In her work with the Office of the Dean of Students, she supports student success and retention through the office’s advisory board, meal share program, and partnerships with academic affairs and athletics. Key initiatives include the Hunger and Homelessness Summit and Big Orange Meal Share, focusing on food insecurity of college students. Last year, the Big Orange Meal Share program donated over 2,600 meals to students in need. In addition, Abigail collaborated with the Student Government Association and the Center for Career Development to lead a pilot program, Smokey’s Closet, providing professional clothing options to over 600 students.
Jerry Bush, director of Student Media
The Office of Student Media provides a co-curricular environment to produce and distribute student-driven content for the campus community. Jerry Bush advises the Daily Beacon, an editorially independent paper entirely written, produced and managed by students. In 2018, the Daily Beacon had over 2.4 million total web page views and received multiple awards for reporting, digital coverage, and graphics.
Working at the Daily Beacon grants real-world experience in everything from print to digital, which is something you can’t learn in a classroom. Combining hands-on experience with forging relationships with mentors and friends, the Office of Student Media is designed to help students learn more about their career field while also supporting them through school.” –Daily Beacon Editor-In-Chief
Michèle Dorsainvil, interim director of the Center for Health Education & Wellness
Michèle has worked to create a culture of consent on campus, focusing on initiatives such as the Red Zone and Hike the Hill in Heels. In 2018-2019, the Center for Health Education & Wellness delivered 44 active bystander programs to teach the campus community how to be an active bystander and take the steps that can make a difference. Michèle actively seeks ways to engage campus partners in all her efforts, bringing more voices to the conversation and meeting students where they are to provide accessible and inclusive education.
“I have always advocated for stopping violence against women, but I have never actively done anything that was not on the personal level. After this program, I will look into expanding my advocacy.” – Healthy Masculinity Participant
Spencer Gregg, director of the Student Health Center
Under his leadership, the Student Health Center received a three-year re-accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Healthcare, and an impressive 685 applicable standards scoring as substantially complaint. In addition, the Student Health Center attained a 98% patient satisfaction rating from the American College Health Association surveys. The Student Health Center had over 42,500 student interactions last year, with 35,500+ appointments.
“I am just so impressed with the appearance of the Student Health Center and the professionalism of the staff. I have been looking for medical answers for so long and this visit made me feel like I was heard and my problems were valid.” – UT Student
Bonnie Johnson (she/her/hers), coordinator for the Pride Center
Bonnie provides leadership for the Pride Center, supporting the LGBTQ+ community at UT. In the last year, the Pride Center trained more than 245 faculty, staff and students in Safe Zone at UT, an educational workshop series focusing on basic language and terminology related to gender and sexuality, awareness and understanding of the intersections of gender, sexuality, and other social identities, and skills to intervene in situations of discrimination and injustice. Bonnie was instrumental in reviving and restructuring the program’s curriculum to better suit the demands of our campus today.
In 2018, Bonnie partnered with UT alumnus Chad Goldman and major gifts officer Mark Clark to create the Vol Means All campaign, hosting events across the country with the goal of endowing the Pride Center. Then in 2019, Bonnie spearheaded the PRIDElist initiative, intent on increasing the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies on campus. The effort garnered over 1,600 signatures in its debut year. She is a proud alumna of UT (’13) and is excited to be giving back to her university community.
“The Pride Center was the first place on campus I felt fully safe and comfortable to be myself. The center helps me feel empowered and inspired to be exactly who I am while being at UT and I am so grateful for everything the center does for this campus.” – UT Student
Laura Ketola, assistant director of the Jones Center for Leadership and Service
Laura works directly with Knoxville and service-based initiatives in the Jones Center. One of the programs she oversees, Leadership Knoxville Scholars, is a two-year leadership development and community immersion program in partnership with Leadership Knoxville. Last year, LKS Scholars completed over 700 hours of community service with over 10 different community partners through their Community Action Projects.
Additionally, Laura works with the Jones Center Ambassadors. This group of students serves as a resource group to the office by planning service events for campus. One of the programs they coordinate is VOLServe, a monthly service series that connects students with meaningful service opportunities in the Knoxville community. Under her leadership, over 600 students served the Knoxville community through days of service last year. In addition to VOLServe, she oversees the Sign Up to Serve Calendar which allows students, faculty, and staff to find service opportunities all year long.
Laura said “I feel extremely honored to be able to do the work I do. Every day I get to see and hear about the impact that our students make in the community and in return the valuable things they are learning from our community partners. I feel lucky to work on a campus that values community service and in a community that welcomes our Volunteers. As both a professional and alum, it is very fulfilling.”
Shea Kidd-Houze, assistant vice chancellor of Student Life and Dean of Students
For more than ten years, Dean Shea Kidd Houze has enjoyed a career in college administration at a number of institutions of higher education in Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Mississippi. Shortly after beginning her role at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Dean Shea set out to make a difference at UT. In partnership with Academic Affairs, Vol is a Verb was created to support the Mattering & Belonging initiative, encouraging Volunteers to put actions behind our words to cultivate a campus where all students matter and belong on Rocky Top.
The campaign began in the fall of 2019, with Dear World serving as the kickoff event. Faculty, staff, and students engaged in an unforgettable experience that celebrates the stories of our community.
Shea explained “Vol is a Verb is active. It’s tactile. It is aspirational. It is who we strive to be as Volunteers. Each of us has a story, and that story has significance. When we feel like we matter and belong, we feel connected to ourselves and those around us. My hope is that this campaign inspires conversations that lead to action and actions that truly make our campus home sweet home for everyone.”
Stephanie Kit, director of the Center for Career Development
Stephanie Kit has a passion for supporting students as they choose majors and develop career goals. She has served the Center for Career Development for over 24 years and leads a talented team of professionals who provide career counseling and coaching to undergraduate and graduate students. Over 19,600 students utilized services offered by the Center for Career Development, and the employer development team visited more than 100 organizations in Tennessee and the Southeast to create employment opportunities.
Stephanie explained “All of our students are preparing for their next step in life whether that is a full-time job or continuing education. It is rewarding to be a part of that process knowing that you made an impact on students’ ability to find purposeful work.”
Jennifer Pierce, associate director of the Office of Sorority & Fraternity Life
Jennifer was awarded the 2019 Outstanding Fraternity/Sorority Professional by the Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values and the 2017 Outstanding Panhellenic Advisor Award by the National Panhellenic Conference. She has championed the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation as a Panhellenic sorority philanthropy, advocating for all women to stand together across affiliation, age, color, and creed to make a difference in the lives of women around the world through access to education. Through this initiative, she empowered the Panhellenic sorority community to raise the funds to support two school builds, one in Haiti in 2016 and the second in Senegal in 2018. This past year, the Panhellenic community was the first sorority community in the nation to fund a $10,000 grant through the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation to support refugee women in Indiana.
Making up 22% of the campus community, the Office of Sorority & Fraternity Life provides educational opportunities, fosters collaborative relationships, and empowers students to uphold a mentality of ethical leadership and citizenship.
Jennifer said “I am so proud to be able to support the University of Tennessee’s mission to create globally engaged citizens simply by supporting and advocating for a Foundation that I love. Watching the women of the Panhellenic community unite through a shared passion of providing access to education for women worldwide has truly been one of the favorite parts of my job.”
*Please note: All statistics have been pulled from the 2018-19 Annual Report.