President's Commission on Student Centeredness

February Student Centeredness Award Winners



An hour before the University was forced to close early due to heavy snowfall last Tuesday, two employees armed with legal pads, pens and business cards ready to tackle whatever issue for which they were summoned entered the Levis House to meet with President Lloyd Jacobs.

Although they work in very different areas, Sammy Spann, director of Camp Adventure in the Judith Herb College of Education, and Julie Quinonez, assistant registrar on the Main Campus, were called to the Levis House for the same reason.

Spann and Quinonez were named February’s Students First Award winners and presented with gift certificates by Jacobs. Although the winners were caught off-guard by the awards, it came as no surprise to those who nominated them.          

UTjunior Amber Aziza nominated Spann, who has worked with Camp Adventure for five years, because she said, “When I hear student-centeredness, I think of Sammy. Working in the office with him I see how dedicated he is to students even after they graduate. He continues to call them and treat them as part of the family after they leave.”

Camp Adventure’s purpose is to bring magical moments to children at U.S. Department of Defense Child Development Centers for eight to 12 weeks during the summer. U.S. college students run the camps and are trained in specifics that include activities, songs and games.

During the three years of the program at UT, more than 450 students have participated in Camp Adventure, serving in places that include Guam, Germany, Iceland, Russia, China and Japan.

A doctoral student himself, Spann said he loves to see College of Education students develop as leaders through Camp Adventure.

“I think the little bit extra attention we give our students is the reason our program is the youngest yet the largest Camp Adventure training site in the nation,” Spann said.

Quinonez has been with the Registrar’s Office for almost 10 years and currently supervises the student records area.

She said what she likes about the job is “being able to get things done.”

That includes reviewing and responding to student requests for administrative adjustments related to class registration due to extraordinary circumstances such as illness or a death in the family.

Janine Losek, administrative secretary in the Registrar’s Office who nominated Quinonez, said, “Many of the students want to talk with someone, not just fill out forms, and although she is extremely busy, Julie has a box of tissues in her office and is always available to meet with students.”

Quinonez said making time to help others comes naturally to her because that’s how she was raised.

“I don’t view it as student-centeredness, I like to think of it as acting people-centered,” Quinonez said.

Dr. Carol Bresnahan, vice provost and chair of the Students First Award selection committee, said the winners were chosen out of dozens of impressive nominations.

Nominate a Peer

  • The President's Commission on Student Centeredness is now recognizing University employees who go above and beyond the call of duty to help students and ensure their success.
  • The contest winner will receive a $75 gift certificate to the UT Bookstore, a $25 gift certificate to Starbuck's and a specially designed pin.
  • They also will be eligible to win $1,500 as the student-centered employee of the year.
  • Nomination Form
Last Updated: 6/26/15