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Orientation 2023 Speakers

Dana Abu Haltam

Graduate Student Senate

Dana Abu Haltam is working towards a PhD in political science at UT. A Jordanian, originally from Palestine, Abu Haltam has worked at the Chinese embassy in Jordan and pursued a master’s degree in that country. This work further kindled her interest in international relations, and she is now working on her dissertation, which focuses on the foreign policies of Middle Eastern countries towards China.

Michelle Brannen

UT Libraries

Michelle Brannen is the Head of Immersive Technologies and Spaces at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Libraries. Her work focuses on supporting scholars working with media, design, and digital scholarship tools and supporting a team of librarians and information specialists who work with scholars across the university community.

Laura Bryant

Office of Title IX

Laura Bryant serves as the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Prevention, Training, and Evaluation in the Office of Title IX. Laura oversees the university’s comprehensive approach to preventing sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. Laura has worked at UT for eleven years, and currently serves as a member of the Commission for LGBT People and on the College of Social Work Advisory Board where she is also an adjunct professor.

Rochelle Butler

Office of Innovative Technologies

Rochelle Butler is a Research Consultant in the Office of Innovative Technology (OIT). She provides statistical consulting and qualitative research design and analysis support to faculty, staff, and students utilizing university-supported research software.

Courtney Gallagher

Office of Undergraduate Admissions

Courtney Gallagher is the Coordinator of First-Year Recruitment and Regional Recruiter for Alabama and Georgia for Undergraduate Admissions. She has recruited prospective first-year students to UT for over five years, and has also been an instructor for the First-Year Studies program for two years. Courtney earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Florida State University and her master’s degree in educational psychology from UT.

Jennifer Hardy

Office of the Registrar

Jennifer Hardy is the Deputy Registrar and Residency Coordinator at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her work history includes administrative experience at public and private schools and at small and large institutions. Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree in classics from the University of Cincinnati and a master’s degree in classics from Vanderbilt University. She has been at UT since 2006.

Robert Jacobsen

Teaching and Learning Innovation

As a lecturer in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, Dr. Robert Jacobsen teaches introductory geology and geoscience education. Jacobsen also works with Teaching & Learning Innovation as the UT Institutional Leader of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, & Learning. Jacobsen leads programs for graduate students and postdocs focused on evidence-based teaching practices in STEM. Jacobsen is also the Assistant Director of the Tennessee Space Grant Consortium, which exists to support STEM learning opportunities at UT and in the community.

Shaun McComas

Student Conduct & Community Standards

Shaun McComas has served students at UT in Student Conduct & Community Standards since 2016. Shaun’s primary focus has been working with faculty, staff, and students to address behavioral and academic misconduct on campus while maintaining responsibility for office assessment, evaluation, and administration of Maxient’s student conduct database software. Shaun’s professional experiences paired with his Social Work education allow him to approach Student Conduct with compassion, understanding, and attention to environmental factors to promote student development.

Matilene Osho

Center for Health Education and Wellness

Matilene Osho is the Assistant Director for the Center of Health Education and Wellness here at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her master’s degree in public health from East Carolina University. She has worked as a public health professional for over 7 years.

Bethany Parker

Graduate Student Senate

Bethany Parker is a third year PhD student in the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education. Her specialization is in cultural studies of educational foundations. Her research interests include exploring Appalachian storytelling practices as a powerful pedagogical tool addressing issues of inequity in both school and community spaces. Additionally, she is interested in the subjectivities inherent in research and how post-qualitative inquiry offers the potential to ask questions we often leave unexplored.

Rose Parker

Office of Innovative Technologies

Rose Parker, a graduate of UT with a master’s degree in education, is an assistant director in the Office of Innovative Technologies (OIT). With 20+ years in IT support at the university, she coordinates the communication efforts for OIT and provides support to faculty, staff, and students for various OIT services.

Anna Sandelli

UT Libraries

Anna Sandelli is Associate Professor and Head of Teaching and Learning Programs at the University of Tennessee Libraries, where she oversees a department focused on information literacy, online learning, and student success. Her teaching has included first-year and transfer student undergraduate instruction, as well as graduate student instruction for the School of Information Sciences, and workshops for a variety of student and faculty audiences, in in-person and online environments.

Rosie Sasso

Office of Innovative Technologies

Rosie Sasso is the Teaching & Learning Technologies Support Manager in the Office of Innovative Technologies. Her team supports a wide array of instructional services utilized across all aspects of course design and delivery by faculty, staff, and students. Services include our campus Learning Management System (Canvas), synchronous course delivery (Zoom), technology-enhanced classrooms, personal response systems, and training.

Krystyne Savarese

Division of Student Success

Krystyne Savarese serves as the assistant vice provost and chief strategist in the Division of Student Success. In this role, she leads the work of the Volunteer Experience to create a campus rooted in well-being where every student thrives and is career ready. Additionally, she oversees the division’s special events team, organizational culture development, and data analysis efforts.

Abby Sherman

Graduate School

Abby Sherman is the Coordinator of Student Services for the Graduate School. Abby has worked in graduate education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for several years. She advises students on Graduate School policies and procedures as well as thesis and dissertation formatting requirements. She develops resources for supporting students and is part of the graduate and professional student professional development team.

Jeronimo Silva

Graduate Student Senate

Jeronimo was born and raised in Brazil and has lived in the United States since 2009. He received his BS in wildlife sciences from Virginia Tech and his MS in agricultural sciences from Tennessee State University. Jeronimo is currently a third-year PhD student in the comparative and experimental medicine program at the College of Veterinary Medicine. Jeronimo serves in the Graduate Student Senate as the Comparative and Experimental Medicine Senator and the Legislative Committee Chair.

Jaclyn Slack

The Hildreth Agency

Jaclyn Slack is the Senior Account Manager on the UT student health insurance account. She has been with the Hildreth Agency, the insurance broker for the student health insurance, for over 12 years. The Hildreth Agency provides valuable local service to UT students and administration, handles enrollments, and routinely assists students with escalated claims issues.

Lori Smith

Student Disability Services

Lori Smith serves as the Associate Director of Student Disability Services and has been with SDS and the University of Tennessee since 2015. In addition to providing general leadership for SDS, she engages in outreach and educational opportunities for the campus community. Smith has also worked in various capacities at previous institutions including in the areas of student success programming, teaching, and academic advising.

Rachael Stanley

Office of Innovative Technologies

Rachael Stanley is a Learning Technology Specialist in the Office of Innovative Technologies. She provides instructional technology support and training for faculty, staff, and students, utilizing the classrooms, clickers, and educational and business software on campus, including the Microsoft Suite of apps.

Josh Steele

Online Learning and Academic Programs

As Associate Vice Dean, Josh provides support for UT’s strategy to increase access to high quality degree programs through online learning. Previously helping build online programs at two other public, land-grant institutions (University of Arizona, University of Florida), he is passionate about how online education expands the land-grant mission through its ability to welcome new members to our scholarly communities.

Duren Thompson

Office of Ombuds Services

Duren Thompson is the Educational Program Coordinator for the Office of Ombuds Services. Prior to joining the office in Aug. 2022, Duren spent 20+ years as an instructional designer & facilitator of professional development for educational systems-change initiatives in K-12, adult literacy, and higher-education. Duren is currently pursuing a doctorate in Learning, Design, and Technology and a Qualitative Research Certification at the University of Tennessee.

Hannah Thompson

Graduate Student Senate

Hannah is a third year PhD student in the Department of Child and Family Studies. Her research interests include trauma informed care, adverse childhood experiences, and supporting early childhood educators in gaining capacity to support children’s development of social emotional and self-regulation skills through the use of Infant Early Childhood Mental Health and multi-tiered systems of support practices. Hannah is excited to be in her role as GSS Vice President and is driven to support graduate and professional students during their time at UT.

Katherine Trubee

Graduate Student Senate

Katherine is a fifth-year PhD student researching comparative politics. More specifically, she studies the impacts of gender inclusivity on collective action. Katherine has witnessed the potential of the Graduate Student Senate to leave a positive impact in the lives of graduate and professional students and is driven to continue the work of years of GSS leaders before her. In a teaching capacity, she enjoys fostering an appreciation of cross-cultural and political comparisons among undergraduate students.

Ginny Valentin

Online Learning and Academic Programs

As the Executive Director Learner Services, Ginny aims to empower UT’s online students from enrollment to graduation. She has worked with online undergraduate and graduate students for almost half of her twenty-year career in higher education, and recently joined UT in January 2023. She is passionate about providing access to a quality education through online learning and ensuring the success of online students throughout their academic journey.

Tim Woods

Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships

Tim Woods is an associate director in the UT Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships and has been a member of this UT department for 23 years. He coordinates many of our internal processes for a variety of campus-based funds, including the posting of numerous institutional awards and other forms of financial assistance to the accounts of UT students.

Lisa Yamagata-Lynch

Office of Ombuds Services

Lisa Yamagata-Lynch is the University Ombudsperson and Director of the Office of Ombuds Services at UT. Prior to being appointed as the ombudsperson in 2019, she was a faculty member in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences in the Department of Educational Psychology with the rank of professor. She has experience working as the Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Head of the department.