Valara Sample has been recognized with a University of Tennessee President’s Award, the highest honor a UT employee can receive from the university.
She serves as the executive director for Residential Education and Campus Life at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Sample is this year’s winner in the “support” category of the annual awards that recognize exceptional contributions by faculty and staff statewide in the areas of education, research, outreach and advancing diversity, in addition to the category of support for the institutional mission.
Honorees are selected each year from a system-wide pool of candidates nominated by campus and institute leaders.
Taking the 2020 pandemic into account, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Yancy Freeman said Sample “has served as the leader during what will likely translate into one of the toughest periods of this decade.”
Nomination documents noted that, “Sample’s leadership and engagement with UTC students and the campus community transformed thinking in regard to residential resources being used to bring people together. She helped to develop UTC’s first faculty-in-residence program and residential colleges in four of the five degree granting academic areas. She assisted in the mission to create an intentional residential education experience through active learning and leadership in a supportive environment that appropriately challenges students inside and outside the classroom.”
Sample joined UTC as assistant director for Residence Life in 2005, coming from the University of Memphis, where she had been an area coordinator since 2002. She served as an area director at Indiana State University from 2000 to 2002.
Sample was named to her current position as executive director for Residential Education and Campus Life in 2020.
She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mississippi State University and an education specialist degree from the University of Memphis.
The President’s Awards were established in 2016 to annually consider the exceptional achievements of employees across the UT system in the areas of the university’s three-part mission to educate, discover and connect as well as to acknowledge outstanding contributions in the areas of support and diversity.
The awards spotlight success and inspire excellence.
Sample’s 2021 UT President’s Award includes a commemorative plaque and a $3,000 cash award.