The Faculty Managers of the Ned Ray McWherter Institute for Collaboration and Innovation (NRMI) represent each of the university’s five colleges. Working in partnership with the director, Faculty Managers’ responsibilities include the development, implementation, and delivery of NRMI programs. The Faculty Managers establish curricular content and lead the Institute’s Collaboratory sessions. They meet regularly with the director to plan and organize the activities of The Institute. In addition, they maintain open lines of communication with students – assisting them with assigned projects, serving as mentors, offering feedback and support, and assessing their progress as McWherter Innovators. Partnering with a wide range of internal and external constituents, the Faculty Manager Team works with the director to develop and deliver quality and impactful programs. Faculty Managers provide encouragement and support to NRMI students as they engage in innovative experiential learning opportunities, collaborate with a wide range of individuals and organizations, strive for excellence in their chosen fields, and lead through service and by example.
Interim Director of The Ned Ray McWherter Institute for Collaboration & Innovation
Ashton is a fundraiser who advocates for the University to alumni and friends, primarily in Middle Tennessee. Ashton Jennings joined the advancement team as a Nashville based Regional Gifts Officer. Before coming to U.T. Martin, Ashton spent 6 years in sales and marketing in the motor-sports and sponsorship development industries. He also owned and operated Premier Racing Inc. based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Ashton is proud to return to his home state as a 6th generation Tennessean. He and his wife Lindy reside in Nashville.
Diane Austin is a transplanted Canadian who has embraced the warmth of Tennessee for over 25 years. She is a Registered Nurse, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 1999, attained a Master of Science degree from Union University in 2005, and is pursuing a PhD in Nursing Science from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. She is active in research with interest in Intention and Behavioral Change. Her clinical experience is rooted in Medical-Surgical Nursing and Critical Care Nursing within rural and urban acute care facilities in Tennessee. Currently Diane serves UT-Martin as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nursing and as a member of the Faculty Senate, Undergraduate Committee, and as a Faculty Manager for The Ned Ray McWherter Institute for Collaboration and Innovation. She has represented UT-Martin and the Department of Nursing as a liaison for faculty-student exchange with the University of New Brunswick- Saint John. Her approach to teaching, learning, nursing, and living is the purposeful pursuit to become the best one can be while humbled by the knowledge that our actions impact others.
Robbie Montgomery, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Analytical Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Physics. Dr. Montgomery received her B.S. in Chemistry from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2002 and her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 2008. While at SIUC, she started a research development company, RM Technology, which was later closed when she accepted the faculty position at UTM. Since coming to UTM Dr. Montgomery has worked along with Criminal Justice Department to develop a Forensic Science program at UTM. She has also served as a research mentor in the area of protein separations for many undergraduate research students who have presented their work at local, regional, and national meetings. Dr. Montgomery is also an advisor for students majoring in chemistry and for those planning to attend pharmacy, dental, or medical school.
Thomas H. Payne, Ph.D. is the Horace and Sara Dunagan Chair of Excellence in Banking and Professor of Finance at the University of Tennessee at Martin. Dr. Payne holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Arkansas, an MBA with a concentration in Finance from the University of Texas at Dallas, and a Ph.D. in Finance from the University of Arkansas. Since coming to academia from the private sector where he worked for two Fortune 500 companies, Dr. Payne has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles and earned a reputation as an outstanding speaker, author, teacher, and consultant. In addition to his duties as Dunagan Chair of Banking, Tom served as Interim Chair of Accounting, Finance, Economics and Political Science from 2007-2013 and currently serves as a Faculty Manager for the Ned Ray McWherter Institute for Collaboration and Innovation. Prior to coming to UT Martin in 1998, Dr. Payne taught commercial banking, financial markets, and the capstone course in corporate finance as Associate Professor of Finance at UT Chattanooga.
Tom serves on the faculty of the Tennessee Bankers Association Southeastern School of Consumer Credit, the Barret Graduate School of Banking in Memphis, and the Graduate School of Banking at LSU where he was honored as the 2013 recipient of the Eugene Spragens President’s Award for teaching excellence. Tom has been instrumental in the establishment and delivery of UT Martin’s online MBA for Banking and Financial Services Professionals. In 2013, this program was ranked tenth in the nation among all online MBAs by U.S. News & World Report. Tom hosts the annual Mid-South Agricultural Lending Conference and is co-director of the new Mid-South School of Advanced Agricultural Lending.
Tom is chairman of the Martin Industrial Development Board and a member of the Weakley County Economic Development Board of Directors. He is a former member of the WestStar Leadership Program Board of Trustees and founder of the UTM Regional Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (REED) Center. An active Rotarian and Paul Harris Fellow, Tom is a past president of the Martin Rotary Club.
Jason Roberts, Ph.D., a veterinarian, is the founding director of the University of Tennessee at Martin Veterinary Technology Program and an associate professor in the Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Geosciences. Dr. Roberts received his bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from UT Martin in 1998 and his doctor of veterinary medicine degree from The University of Tennessee in 2002. Previously, he worked 7 years as a private veterinary practitioner in a rural Tennessee community before joining UT Martin. Along with serving as Director of the Veterinary Technology program, he teaches, advises, and coordinates the pre-veterinary medicine and veterinary technology option at UT Martin.
Kate Stumpo, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry in the Chemistry & Physics Department at UT Martin. Dr. Stumpo received her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Northern Iowa in 2003 and her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Texas A&M University in 2008. She then spent two years as a post-doctoral associate at the University of New Hampshire's Glycomics Center. In addition to teaching and advising Chemistry students, Dr. Stumpo has an active research group of undergraduate students at UT Martin, who regularly present their research at local and regional meetings. The ideas of creativity and collaboration started early with Kate, and she used that drive to pursue unique opportunities during her educational career, such as flying two missions with NASA's Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program and spending a summer in Russia. As a faculty member, Kate co-developed an undergraduate retreat at Natchez State Park (through the local American Chemical Society section and the Ole Miss ACS local section) and piloted a STEM travel study program to Germany in 2013.