October Student First Award Winners
Two UT employees recently were awarded the Students First Award for the month of October. President Lloyd Jacobs recognized the winners in front of the group the award is given for: students.
Tracci Harmon, manager of retail operations and student staffing, and Dr. Dennis Morse, professor emeritus of neurosciences in the College of Medicine, were October’s Students First Award winners. Both were nominated by students and were chosen by the committee from the President’s Commission on Student Centeredness.
Harmon was nominated for keeping students at the forefront of her job and working beyond expected hours. She has been serving UT students for a number of years, both as director of student activities and leadership and her current position.
She has gone as far as providing snacks for students who did not have time to eat breakfast before early summer classes from her own resources and, according to her nominator, a recent UT graduate and student leader, “She goes above and beyond the call of duty. Her door is literally always open.” He added, “She [listens to students about] their lives and struggles. She shows students that she is not only interested in their campus involvement, but also in their hearts and minds.”
“Iam truly delighted to have received this award, and receiving it during the holiday season stirs even more emotion,” Harmon said. “I am passionate about helping students set and achieve their goals. It gives me great joy to know that my efforts are appreciated by the students and acknowledged by President Jacobs and the University.”
A student who saw Morse’s attention to detail and devotion to teaching nominated him because these qualities make him a student-centered faculty member.
Much of Morse’s career has been spent teaching and researching vertebrate cardiovascular and visual systems, but in an effort to make teaching more student-centered and informed by developing technology, he shifted his interests to the development of software that effectively teaches students about gross anatomy and histology.
According to the student who nominated him, Morse is known as “the artist” among his colleagues because of his elegant and clear illustrations. Beyond the technical end of his job, he also spends time making sure each of his students understands the material.
“He spends time working with students who have difficulty mastering this challenging subject and makes sure that they receive the attention they need from their professors in order to succeed,” wrote his nominator. “When you spend time with Dr. Morse, you can tell his focus in education is the student. He cares for his students, not only whether or not they perform well on an exam, but who they are as people.”
“The receipt of the Students First Award is very special to me since it represents the best kind of feedback — from the consumer,” Morse said. “My success in the classroom is made possible by the opportunity to work with bright, motivated adult learners and by being a member of a team of anatomists with similar educational philosophies.”
Jacobs surprised both winners with their awards right before Thanksgiving. Each received gift cards to Barnes & Noble and Starbucks, and at the end of the academic year, one overall winner will be chosen to receive a prize of $1,500.