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UT Martin faculty bring home two of three inaugural University of Tennessee President's Awards


Contact 1: Erin Chesnut


MARTIN, Tenn. – University of Tennessee at Martin faculty members Dr. Julie Hill, professor of music, and David McBeth, professor of art, received two of the three 2016 University of Tennessee President’s Awards, announced after UT President Joe DiPietro’s State of the University of Tennessee address Feb. 16 in Nashville.

“In establishing the President’s Awards, my intention is that they pay tribute to the vital role of employees in fulfilling the university’s mission and celebrate those whose exemplary achievements serve as a model for the colleagues statewide,” wrote DiPietro in his announcement letter.

This is the first year for the awards to be presented, and nominations were received from the UT workforce statewide. A selection committee narrowed the field of nominees to 25 finalists, from which DiPietro chose the three winners.

Nominations were accepted in three categories in accordance with the UT System’s mission statements: Educate, which honors accomplishments that enhance educational offerings and diverse learning environments; Discover, which honors discoveries and applications of knowledge; and Connect, which honors engagement and service efforts and programs.

Hill, nominated in the “educate” category, created the Roots of Rhythm program, which exposes young people across West Tennessee to the culture and music of Latin American and African nations through ethnic percussion instruments and styles.

She is also a past recipient of the UT Martin Cunningham Outstanding Teacher/Scholar Award, the Hardy Graham Distinguished Professorship Award and the UT Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award, among others. She performs internationally with the Caixa Percussion Trio and the X4 Percussion Quartet, and regionally with the Paducah Symphony.

In his nomination letter, UT Martin Interim Chancellor Bob Smith attributed Hill’s teaching to the university’s ability to attract young musicians from across the country. “Her modeling of the way has led to a reinvigorating of the entire department and attraction of more majors as well as non-majors who share a love of music and performance,” he wrote.

Hill received her bachelor’s degree from UT Martin in 1994, a master’s degree from Arizona State University in 1996 and a doctoral degree from the University of Kentucky in 2006. She has taught at UT Martin since 2005 and serves as a professor of music, interim chair of the Department of Music and director of percussion studies.

“I felt thrilled and humbled to receive this award because the competition must have been very fierce,” she said. “I hope this is one example of the caliber of faculty we have on the UT Martin campus.”

McBeth, nominated in the “connect” category, is the force behind the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser, which has helped feed the hungry in Weakley County for the past 12 years. McBeth donates his time and the cost of materials to make bowls for the supper each year, leading the effort to produce 500 original works of art every fall.

“I think much of what drives David McBeth as an artist is based on his desire to use art as a force for good,” wrote Doug Cook, chair of the UT Martin Department of Visual and Theatre Arts, in his nomination letter.

McBeth received his bachelor’s degree from Friends University in 1979, and Master of Art and Master of Fine Art degrees from Fort Hays State University in 1985 and 1988, respectively. He has been employed at UT Martin since 1992 as a professor of art and also served as assistant director of Honors Programs from 2002-06. His work can be found in public and private art collections around the world, including in Japan, Sweden, Italy and Australia.

“My initial reaction was to be highly honored and humbled at the same time to be given such an outstanding award,” said McBeth. “The fact that two of us from UT Martin were recognized is quite gratifying and it speaks well for the university.”

UT Martin also had two additional nominees considered for the awards. Dr. Michael Gibson, professor of geology, was nominated in the “discover” category and Charley Deal, associate vice chancellor for alumni relations and annual giving, was nominated in the “educate” category.

Dr. Harry McSween, professor of planetary geoscience at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, received the third 2016 award in the “discover” category.

All three award recipients received a commemorative plaque and a cash award for their accomplishments. DiPietro has also requested their service on a committee to review and select nominees for the 2017 President’s Awards.

For more information, contact the UT Martin Office of University Relations at 731-881-7615.


MARTIN, Tenn., Feb. 17, 2016 - UT MARTIN FACULTY BRING HOME TWO OF THREE INAUGURAL UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE PRESIDENT’S AWARDS – University of Tennessee at Martin faculty members Dr. Julie Hill (left), professor of music, and David McBeth (right), professor of art, received two of the three 2016 University of Tennessee President’s Awards, announced after UT President Joe DiPietro’s State of the University of Tennessee address Feb. 16 in Nashville. They are pictured after the ceremony with UT Martin Interim Chancellor Bob Smith.

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