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Professional Fellowship Program Continues to Expand

The Division of Student Life is committed to enhancing the professional development of division staff. Assistant Vice Chancellor Jill Zambito and executive leadership saw an opportunity to pair individual staff members with other Student Life departments to provide staff an opportunity to gain valuable work experience in new offices or fields. The Professional Fellowship program welcomed its first fellows in spring 2021. The program has connected 12 fellows with Student Life offices and recently offered a fellowship outside Student Life with UT Human Resources. These connections help staff gain professional experience in a different department or functional area in Student Life and the university. 

12 professional fellowships have been hosted since the program’s inception in spring 2021.

“The fellowship provides staff members options to gain new experiences, contribute to different functional areas or departments, and learn from other professionals,” said Jill Zambito, assistant vice chancellor for Student Life, and Professional Fellowship Chair. “It’s a wonderful way to learn and simultaneously fill gaps in your resume.”

Host offices have included the Pride Center, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Life, Student Conduct and Community Standards, Assessment and Strategic Initiatives, Student Disability Services, the Office of the Dean of Students, and RecSports.

During these fellowships, fellows have the opportunity to learn more about the host office, work on special projects, and learn how to connect the fellows’ everyday work to the work of the host office. During her fellowship with the Office of Assessment and Strategic Initiatives (OASI), Jennifer Pierce-Thomas from the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life, partnered with OASI and the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment to provide a robust analysis of Greek-letter organization membership and its impact on the student experience. 

Pam Vatter, an administrative support assistant for note taking in Student Disability Services, was a fellow for UT Human Resources in spring 2022. She assisted in creating information for an HR newsletter and information about the mental health of employees. 

“Pam was amazing and such a value-add. She was always willing to help out and learn as much as possible about HR,” said Senior Employee Relations Consultant in HR and fellowship supervisor Jon Chandler. “Pam was always good about communication and engaged in any activities we offered or requested her assistance on. The overall fellowship program was a new experience for me and I feel it’s such a value-add for employees that want to learn more about a specific department, function, or operation within UT Knoxville going forward.”

The Professional Fellowship Program has allowed Student Life staff to continue to learn and grow outside of their current role. Expanding professional development is key in staff satisfaction and retention.