Hundreds of Tennesseans every day benefit from UT programs. Here are a few examples of the great things happening at UT and in communities across the state to fulfill this mission:
A version of this story was originally published in the Tennessee Alumnus.
What started out as a supporting role to the Tennessee Solar Institute's initiative to bring scientists, engineers and other technical experts together with industry leaders and policymakers to speed the development and implementation of solar technologies has led to the UT Center for Industrial Services (CIS) being one of the main characters in energy-saving efforts by cities and counties across the state.
Several years ago, CIS, an agency of the UT Institute for Public Service, began working on a solar energy grant with the Tennessee Solar Institute. The agency's purpose was to promote solar energy for manufacturers and to provide solar energy training for companies. As that grant closed, CIS began to think of how it could use this new knowledge to help others.
In the meantime, CIS' sister agencies, the County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) and the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS), were constantly hearing from the local governments they serve about how they believed they could trim their budgets by being more energy efficient in their facilities. The three agencies put their heads together to develop projects that could help cities and counties maximize their energy and decrease costs. The agencies have conducted energy audits for these governments, assisted them in applying for grants to fund projects, and educated them on energy savings and alternative energy sources, including the use of geothermal programs for schools, recreational facilities and prisons.
Counties and cities often request that facilities with heavy energy usage, such as jails and schools, undergo an energy audit. One project was the Sumner County jail, where CIS first conducted an energy audit to determine where improvements were needed. The audit revealed that the jail could save millions by updating lighting and making heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) changes.
As a result of its energy audit, the Rutherford County jail received a new roof that will keep that facility warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. "We received a grant to replace the roof, plus we made some internal changes, and although I don't have an exact figure, I know we are using less energy," says Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold. "This is a great resource for every sheriff's office in the state."
The three agencies meet monthly to identify city and county building assets that can benefit from energy efficiency audits. The projects include HVAC, lighting, motors, pumps, air-handling systems, chillers and boiler improvements.
Originally published in Dentistry (Winter 2014), a UTHSC publication
For 10 years, volunteers have gone to health fairs held in schools, malls and parks. They use simple tools—flashlights, tongue blades and gauze squares—to examine soft tissue and teeth for obvious problems.
"It is surprising that we don't find more children with decayed teeth, that we don't find more dental problems," said Tennessee Smiles volunteer and UT College of Dentistry faculty member Marjorie Woods.
Since its inception in 2003, the Tennessee Smiles Program, a volunteer oral health outreach initiative based at the UT College of Dentistry, has become a much sought after participant for Memphis-area health and career fairs. The faculty and students who volunteer for Tennessee Smiles provide complimentary dental screenings, oral health screenings and oral health information. Carrying an array of donated dental care products and oral health educational tools, the grassroots initiative often serves area residents, both young and old, who have fallen between the cracks when it comes to dental care.
Tennessee Smiles was initiated by Waletha Wasson, associate professor in the Department of Endodontics and Operative Dentistry. Those who volunteer also serve as ambassadors of the dental profession and the UT College of Dentistry.
"Interacting with people, the patients, the students, is the fun part of this job," said Woods. "We get information to people who may not realize where or how they can receive dental care."
Information about the UT College of Dentistry dental clinic also is available at the events. Many of the citizens are pleased to learn they have dental health care options and can receive quality care from student doctors practicing at the centrally located Dunn Dental building clinics.
"Many don't know that this option is available," explained Wasson. "We hear it all the time, people have no idea that we are here...even those who cannot afford dental care."
Tennessee Smiles brings together members from all facets of the college. "We have a unique group that is full of passion," said Wasson. "We have everyone from the college pitching in at these community engagement efforts—deans, chairs, directors, faculty, student doctors, staff, family and friends. It is quite remarkable."
Tennessee Smiles has grown so that requests are outpacing the time and resources that the group can provide. The demand for screenings, supplies and dental instruction has provided a few hurdles that are forcing the outreach program to become selective as to which events they attend.
"There is an enormous need for oral health care in the community, and the requests are coming in so fast, there is more than we can possibly do," said Wasson. It's disheartening."
Originally published in Tennessee Alumnus (Spring 2014), a UT System alumni publication
After the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn saw what two of his crime-scene investigators learned from attending the UT National Forensic Academy (NFA), he wanted all TBI investigators to participate in the academy. However, the NFA, a program of the UT Law Enforcement Innovation Center, only offers two sessions a year and accepts 25 investigators in each session.
Gwyn knew that, at that rate, it would take years for all of his investigators to complete the program. In 2012, TBI received grant funding for five weeks of forensic investigation training at the NFA, and agents received the remaining five weeks in early 2013. Through funding from the Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs, TBI sent 15 agents for a second session that ran from December 2013 through February 2014. In two years, 35 TBI agents have completed the NFA.
Originally featured on ag.tennessee.edu
After a long winter, many kids dream of summer fun—and that could include a trip to a Tennessee 4-H camp.
More than 4,000 Tennessee youth are expected to attend the three summer camps in 2014. Any child in the fourth through the eighth grade is eligible. Kids can take part in activities from arts and crafts to zip-lining. Each camp also has its own pool and dormitories, as well as nature centers, hiking trails and sports fields.
"They get an opportunity to do archery, rifle, canoeing, swimming—some things they don't get to do at home in the summertime," said Scottie Fillers, camp director at the Clyde York Center in Crossville. "It's all really hands-on, and we focus on getting them moving." The other Tennessee camps are the W.P. Ridley Center in Columbia and the Clyde Austin Center in Greeneville.
Mostly though the chief experience kids get from a week at camp is meeting new friends. "It's like a city of kids," said Joshua Taylor, a 4-Her from Sumner County.
"My favorite part has probably been meeting new people, not just from this area, but from all over Tennessee," said Cumberland County 4-Her Callie Strong.
"It's been a really, really exciting experience because I've never been to summer camp before, and I just love it here," said Smith County 4-Her Chloe Baker.
4-H agents with UT Extension also spend a week at camp with the kids. "It's really cool that parents trust us enough to send their kids with us for a week. We just try to keep them busy, keep them engaged, and usually by Friday they're worn out, but they've had a great week," said Taunee Whittenbarger with UT Extension in Cumberland County.
4-H is the youth development program for UT Extension. 4-H teaches leadership, citizenship and service learning to approximately 184,600 Tennessee youth in the fourth through twelfth grades. 4-H also has more than 6,100 adult volunteers in the state.
This story was a featured Community Connection item from UTC News.
For local entrepreneurs Shayne Woods and Maurice Saliaba, having access to reliable data analytics is integral to the growth of their new business ventures. For help, they turned to Dr. Ashish Gupta, Associate Professor of Analytics for the UTC College of Business.
Woods and Saliaba recently formed a partnership between their companies—FwdHealth and Picture Wellness—to create a community-based wellness initiative.
FwdHealth, a healthcare technology company, provides mobile-based health management tools for personal and corporate clients. Picture Wellness, a health and wellness consulting company, offers motivational and educational services to improve the health of those living with chronic conditions.
Their new joint initiative will use activity data collected from mobile apps, like a step tracker or food log, to gauge the progress of participants. Analyzing this data will help Woods, Saliaba, and their partners better understand each individual patient's health journey and spot emerging trends in the region.
"Analyzing the data allows us to read between the lines and spot trends. Using user-submitted data and other available data, we can answer questions like, 'How does disease spread through a city?' 'Does it follow along an interstate?' 'Is it related to income?'" Woods said.
"Data is our blueprint. Especially when we want to change our healthcare system from a reactive system to a proactive one. We need data. As we're climbing this mountain, data is our foothold. We can't move forward without it," he continued.
According to Saliaba, CEO of Picture Wellness, the data is different from what is collected in traditional research studies.
"This data comes from real world. This is real research taking place in the community. Research from people who go to work, who struggle with their finances, families, and lives just like the rest of us. With this data, we can see and predict how change happens when it's not in a controlled environment," he said.
Plans are in the works to have several UTC students assist on this project.
"Students from the College of Business will be assisting me in developing models and algorithms for analysis," Gupta said. "The data analytics program is focused on not only helping the local community, but also providing our students with practical experience. This project is a perfect way to bring the two together."
A version of this story was originally published in Torchbearer, a UT Knoxville campus publication
Since opening in 1963, more than 1.4 million visitors have enjoyed the McClung Museum of Natural History. The museum's permanent and rotating exhibits showcase the geologic, historical and artistic past of Tennessee, as well as cultures from around the globe.
The McClung Museum's latest addition is a 2,400-pound and 24-foot-long bronze skeleton of an Edmontosaurus annectens—a duck-billed dinosaur—which sits outside of the museum's entrance. Its selection is fitting because the hadrosaur once roamed the coastal plains of Tennessee. The McClung Museum also houses actual hadrosaur bones—the only nonavian dinosaur bones ever found in the state—in its Geology and Fossil History of Tennessee permanent exhibit.
Admission and parking are free for the McClung Musuem and special events are hosted for the campus and surrounding communities every month. Learn more »
Fall 2014 will mark the 40th Anniversary Season of the Clarence Brown Theatre, just a few minutes from the museum. The Theatre was built and dedicated in 1970, financed through the generous support of Clarence Brown, a filmmaker and alumnus of the University of Tennessee.
The Clarence Brown Theatre was recognized by the East Tennessee Historical Society in early 2014 for its production of The Whipping Man, a Civil War-era play that tackles difficult issues and the region's history.
With a dual mission to train the next generation of theatre artists and to provide top quality professional theatre, the Clarence Brown Theatre is one of only 12 academic LORT (League of Resident Theatre) institutions in the nation. Under the artistic direction of Calvin MacLean, the 40th season kicks off September 4 with a production of Hank Williams: Lost Highway.
Promotional photo for The Whipping Man, performed on the Clarence Brown Theatre Mainstage in early 2014. The production received the Award of Distinction from the East Tennessee Historical Society in 2014.
A version of this story was originally published in For Your Benefit, UT's employee newsletter
Clinton Smith's office is covered with pictures of his athletes and their smiles. While other people display pictures of their children, Smith proudly flaunts the accomplishments of his Special Olympians for everyone to see.
Smith, an assistant professor of special education at UT Martin, has been a certified basketball and track and field coach with Special Olympics for more than 20 years.
"When an athlete wins a medal at an event, I can look in their eyes and tell they are proud of themselves," he said. "I can see the confidence it instills in them, and I'm like a proud parent every time one of my athletes wins a medal."
Smith attended the USA Special Olympics National Games as a coach in 2006 and 2010, with Team Tennessee basketball winning the gold medal in the highest division at the 2010 National Games. In June, he will return to the National Games as Team Tennessee's head track and field coach in hopes of helping another group of Special Olympians achieve their dreams.
"I love working with people with disabilities," Smith said. "Just to see them succeed at a sport or an activity is the most awesome feeling."
Coaching isn't his only involvement with Special Olympics. For three years, Smith participated in the organization's "Over the Edge" fundraiser—repelling down the side of a 24-story bank building to help raise money.