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2019 SIS Hooding Ceremony Celebrated 61 Graduates

Assistant Professor Carolyn Hank with students Kelsey Collins, Elaine Posanka and Joseph Wineberry being given a Diversity & Inclusion BadgetFriends and family packed a recital hall at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville on May 10 – all excited to watch their loved ones cross the stage and graduate from the School of Information Sciences master’s program at the annual SIS Hooding Ceremony.

Sixty-one students graduated with their master's in information sciences from the fall 2018 to summer 2019 classes. That's one of the largest SIS graduating classes in recent years, with 36 students participating in the ceremony. Two CCI Information Sciences PhD students were also hooded May 9, LaVerne Gray and Jim Malone. A livestream video of the ceremony can be viewed on the SIS Facebook page.

Several awards were also given to alumni, faculty and graduates during the program.

Zoe Hoyle ('94) received the SIS Distinguished Alumni Award, which honors an alum who has, through the course of their career, made significant contributions to the information sciences through leadership, service, teaching and/or scholastic activities. Hoyle was a science writer and editor at the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) in Asheville, North Carolina, before retiring in 2017. She established a blog for SRS that is still used today. Prior to that, Hoyle worked as an information specialist for the UTK Office of Research, where she created the university's first on-campus e-newsletter that delivered information to faculty about research findings.

Amy Dye-Reeves ('13) received the SIS Innovator's Award, which is given to an alum who has demonstrated innovation in the field of information sciences. Dye-Reeves is a humanities and instruction librarian and assistant professor at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. Dye-Reeves has used her information sciences skillset to create online instructional videos about information literacy for graduate students, and also recently developed her library's social media policies. Before she was at Murray State University, she was a library media specialist for Jefferson County Schools in Jefferson City, Tennessee.

Associate Professor Devendra Potnis was the recipient of the Bonnie Carroll and Roy Cooper Faculty Enrichment Award, which recognizes a faculty member for distinguished research productivity.

Assistant Professor Xiaohua “Awa” Zhu was the recipient of the Gloria & Dave Sharrar Faculty Research Award, which is given to a faculty member to support ongoing or new research exploring information needs and services in non-traditional information environments, as well as innovative services for specialized audiences.

This was also the inagural year for graduates to earn the SIS Diversity and Inclusion Badge, which recognizes a student’s commitment to diversity and inclusion as exemplified by their scholarship, professional service, and reflective participation while enrolled in our program. Three graduates received this honor: Kelsey Collins, Elaine Posanka and Joseph Winberry. (Pictured above from left, with Assistant Professor Carolyn Hank, on the far left).

Graduates were also recognized with a number of other awards: 

  • Gary Purcell Award - Joseph Winberry
  • CCI Outstanding Information Sciences Master’s Graduate - Karen Held
  • Academic Achievement Award - Jennifer Held and Maggie Marchant
  • Outstanding Service Award - Heather Doncaster and Valerie Aucoin
  • Best ePortfolio Award - Sharra Rosichan and Zachary Wilson

During their time at SIS, students produce a variety of objects that demonstrate the knowledge and skills they’ve gained while completing coursework. These include research papers, websites, databases, and instructional materials. Often times, students work collaboratively in groups to complete projects, and other times they work alone. SIS recognizes the best papers and best technical projects graduates produce with these awards:

  • Best Technical Project Award (Group) - Natalie Cleghorn, Justin Griffin and Scott Shumate, for their joint work on a proposed redesign of the McClung Museum website.
  • Best Technical Project Award Honorable Mention (Group) - Deidre Ford, Sharra Rosichan, David Scott, Kelly Stroud and Zachary Wilson, for their work to construct a pesticides database for the UT Institute of Agriculture.
  • Best Technical Project Award (Individual) - Sharra Rosichan, for her project, "Application of GIS in Mapping of Adult Literacy Outreach Programs and Potential Areas of Impact and Need."
  • Best Paper Award (Group) - Aaron Burnell, Rebecca Everette and Megan Phouthavong, for their paper, "On Tapa the World: The Future of the Food Truck Boom."
  • Best Paper Award (Individual) - Joseph Winberry, for his paper, “Shades of Silver – Applying the Strategic Diversity Manifesto to Tennessee’s Knox County Office on Aging.”  

At the close of the ceremony, SIS Director Diane Kelly reminded graduates of the significance of their accomplishments and their abilities to make the world a better place.

"This is a major accomplishment. Don’t every minimize it. And don’t let anybody tell you it doesn’t matter, because it does. Information matters, you matter and what you can do with information matters. Use it to empower others and elevate your communities," she said.