Honorees represent the state's three grand divisions and all four UTIA units


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture celebrated the accomplishments of 34 outstanding faculty and staff members at its annual awards and promotions luncheon on Aug. 1. The honorees hailed from all regions of the state and were recognized with 21 different awards, either individually or as members of an outstanding research, teaching or outreach team.

Here are the 2014 honorees:

Chancellor's Institute Professor Award

Michael Davidson, professor of food microbiology and former head of the Department of Food Science and Technology, was granted the first-ever Chancellor’s Institute Professor Award. Davidson has served as a professor with distinction in a number of leadership roles across the Institute since 1991, and among his many accolades are numerous leadership positions at national and international professional societies.

The Charles and Julie Wharton Award for Outstanding Extension Achievements

This award is presented to three UT Extension agents annually. These agents may conduct programs in any area, including agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, 4-H youth development, and resource development. Special consideration is given to those individuals who have demonstrated excellence in serving local needs for five years or more.

Ty Petty – Extension Agent III & County Director - Unicoi County
Martha M. Pile – Extension Agent III – Montgomery County
Steve E. Walker – Extension Agent III & County Director – Macon County

J.E. Moss Achievement Awards

Established in memory of J.E. and Ann Moss, this award recognizes excellent achievement in teaching, research and Extension for the Institute of Agriculture. Awards are provided each year for each of the four units of the Institute of Agriculture. They are selected by a committee of the chancellor, and the four deans of the Institute.    

F. Lee Ellis – Research Associate I – East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center
Janet B. Jones – Clinical Director – Small Animal Clinical Sciences
Jennifer K. Richards – Research Assistant Professor – Food Science and Technology
Annette L. Wszelaki – Associate Professor – Plant Sciences

G.L. Carter Jr. Outstanding 4-H Youth Development Agent Award

This award was established by Dr. G.L. Carter Jr., whose Extension career began in 1949 in Greene County where he served as a 4-H agent. He was also a Hamblen County 4-H member. Dr. Carter was the first in his family to graduate from college, later earning an M.S. and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. His 44-year career included working as the youth editor of a farm and ranch magazine; serving as a state 4-H staff member in both Tennessee and North Carolina; and helping to create the Journal of Extension, a professional publication for Extension agents and specialists. Dr. Carter has provided the funding through an endowment to recognize an Outstanding 4-H Youth Development Agent.

Melissa A. Henry – Extension Agent III – Putnam County


Alice Ann Moore Outstanding 4-H Agent Award

This award was established by Alice Ann Moore, former director of UT Extension 4-H Youth Development programs, who, for more than 30 years, has provided exemplary service to the University of Tennessee in many capacities. She herself was a 4-H member in Crockett County. Under her leadership, Tennessee 4-H developed a life skills evaluation system that is nationally recognized as a ground-breaking scientific means of providing feedback on the effectiveness of 4-H youth education programs. She is also an honorary life member of the Tennessee 4-H Foundation.

Kenneth M. Herndon – Extension Agent III – Carroll County


Vernon and Ida Darter Award

Named for the late Extension Dean Emeritus Vernon W. Darter and his wife, the late Ida Darter, this award recognizes excellence among the ranks of Associate Extension Agents.

Shelly N. Barnes – Extension Agent II – Wilson County

The Lloyd and Nettie Downen Endowment Fund Leadership Enhancement Award

Established by Dr. and Mrs. M. Lloyd Downen, dean emeritus of the Agricultural Extension Service, this award recognizes Extension faculty members who serve in leadership roles across the state.

Jeffery D. Via – Extension Agent III & County Director – Fayette County


TAAA&S-Hicks Awards of Excellence

Established by the Tennessee Association of Agricultural Agents and Specialists and other endowment funds, this award is presented annually to up to three agricultural Extension faculty who are also members of TAAA&S.

Rebecca C. Muller – Extension Agent III & County Director - Tipton County
Lena Beth Reynolds – Extension Area Specialist III – McMinn County
Jeffery D. Via – Extension Agent III & County Director – Fayette County


Professional/Academic Award for Outstanding Service

Provided by the Institute of Agriculture administration, this award is given to a recipient among the professional and other academic employees who has contributed most to the attainment of the objectives of the Institute of Agriculture.

J. Missy Kitts – Financial Specialist I – Extension Administration

William D. Bishop Outstanding Service Award

Presented in memory of Dean Emeritus William D. Bishop, this award recognizes a member of the field force of University of Tennessee Extension who has contributed most to the attainment of Extension objectives.

Ruth Correll – Extension Agent II & County Director – Wilson County

Williams - E.R. “Prof” Lidvall Outstanding Teaching Award

Established by Mr. Donald E. Williams, a 1961 graduate of the College of Agriculture, this award honors his former professor and mentor, Professor E.R. “Prof.” Lidvall. The award recognizes faculty who exemplify Prof. Lidvall’s commitment to excellence in the classroom and his commitment to the needs and interests of the student.

Svetlana Zivanovic – Professor – Food Science andTechnology


Webster Pendergrass Outstanding Service Award

This award is presented in memory of former Vice President for Agriculture Webster Pendergrass and recognizes a teaching, research or Extension faculty member who has contributed most to the fulfillment of the Institute’s goals and objectives. 

Michael O. Smith – Professor – Animal Science

Mildred Pendergrass Award for Outstanding Service

This award, presented in memory of Mildred Pendergrass, wife of the former Vice President for Agriculture Webster Pendergrass, is given to employees among the technical, skill and service staff of the Institute.

Darol H. Copley – Agricultural Service Supervisor II – Milan AgResearch and Education Center

T.J. Whatley Distinguished Young Scientist Award

Established by Dr. Thomas Whatley, associate dean emeritus of the Agricultural Experiment Station, this award recognizes a young scientist who has fewer than 12 years of professional experience, with a minimum of five years of service on the agricultural faculty.

James T. Brosnan – Associate Professor – Plant Sciences


Ag Research Impact Award

This award is presented to an AgResearch faculty or professional staff member whose efforts have had a profound effect on improving the efficiency, sustainability and/or economic viability of the food and fiber industry of rural areas of Tennessee.

Patrick D. Keyser – Professor – Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries


William T. Miles, M.D. Memorial Award for Community Service

Named for William T. Miles, a respected medical doctor, this award was established by his son, the late Curtis W. Miles, a long-time devotee of the Field Trials at the Ames Plantation in Grand Junction, Tennessee. In accordance with the younger Miles’ life philosophy, “Treat people like you want to be treated,” the award is intended to recognize significant contributions and service to the Knoxville community.

Bonnie H. Ownley – Professor – Entomology and Plant Pathology

E.J. Chapman Outstanding Service Award

Established by the late E.J. Chapman, who served the university in a wide range of capacities from agronomist to assistant vice president for agriculture, this award recognizes a member of the supporting staff of the teaching, research or Extension divisions.

Rebecca L. Greene – Accounting Specialist III - Small Animal Clinical Sciences


Cavender Outstanding Awards for Best Publication

Established by Dutch Cavender, former director of communications, and his wife, Marilee, this award recognizes excellence in the development of published material produced by professionals in the Institute of Agriculture. This year, we recognize two publications series. These co-winners were chosen from peer-reviewed publications produced by units of UTIA.

PB1810 Identifying Hickory and Walnut Trees Native to Tennessee Using BriefRecognizable Features (BRFs)

Senior Author:
David C. Mercker – Extension Specialist II – West Tennessee Center for Agricultural Research

Secondary Authors:
David S. Buckley – Professor – Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries
Karen Kuers – Professor – University of the South
Brien M. Ostby – Research Associate I – Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries

PB1806 Sales Tax in Tennessee on the Purchase and Sale of Farm Products

W. Hal Pepper – Extension Specialist II – Center for Profitable Agriculture


Gamma Sigma Delta Institute of Agriculture Team Award

This award will be given annually to each member of a team of two or more faculty who have made an outstanding contribution to research, teaching, and/or Extension, either directly or indirectly related to agriculture and related disciplines. Gamma Sigma Delta members are responsible for the promotion, evaluation and selection of the award. A monetary supplement is provided by the Institute of Agriculture and is divided equally among the team members. Membership in Gamma Sigma Delta is not required for nomination. This year’s winning team is the Tennessee Quality Milk Laboratory.

Raul A. Almeida
Oudessa K. Dego
Barbara E. Gillespie
Susan I. Headrick
Stephen P. Oliver

B. Ray Thompson Sr. Outstanding Faculty Performance Award

This award is made possible by earnings from the Thompson Faculty Endowment and is presented annually to faculty in the Institute who have distinguished themselves by their exceptional performance. This award rotates among the four divisions within the Institute of Agriculture.

Alvin R. Womac – Professor – Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science

The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and public service through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch, including its system of 10 research and education centers, and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.


For a list of those employees who received promotions on Aug. 1, please see this link.

For photos of award winners, please click here.