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Educational Assistance Benefit Lauded Among UTHSC Employees

Peggy Reisser crosses the commencement stage Nov. 21, 2020. Reisser took advantage of the Educational Assistance Program offered by UTHSC to earn her Master of Arts in Strategic Communication from UT Martin. (Photo Courtesy of UT Martin Office of University Relations)

Thanks to the university’s support for employees to improve their knowledge and skills through its educational assistance benefit, many at UTHSC have advanced their degrees.

“At the UT Health Science Center, our employees and their spouse or dependents can take advantage of the tuition waiver benefit,” said Chandra Alston, EdD, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, associate vice chancellor of Human Resources at UTHSC. “This is unique because it covers full tuition and most fees for employees and full maintenance fees for dependents. It is not a reimbursement program like many others, where you have to pay up front, obtain a certain grade and wait for a refund. Since fees are covered from the start of classes, our employees and their dependents can use the fund savings for books, gas, or other scholastic needs.”

One of those employees is Peggy Reisser, MASC, communications manager in the UTHSC Office of Communications and Marketing. She enjoyed a successful journalism career that included many years covering the news for the Nashville Banner and then the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Reisser joined the UT Health Science Center Office of Communications and Marketing in 2013 as a communications specialist and now is the communications manager.

In November, she received her Master of Arts in Strategic Communication from the University of Tennessee at Martin, thanks to the UTHSC educational assistance benefit.

“I loved my career in journalism,” Reisser said. “I was made for that, but I have loved working for UTHSC, because it combines the best of my skills, challenges my skills and has given me an opportunity to grow my skills, while I can promote all the wonderful things the university is doing.”

Dr. Alston said many employees and families have lauded this benefit through the years. Programs at UT Martin, UT Knoxville, and UT Chattanooga provide online and in-person options that work well for the university’s state-wide employees and their families.

The objective of the UTHSC benefit is to assist regular employees by providing a student fee discount for their spouse and dependent children who are classified as undergraduate students at approved state of Tennessee schools and to encourage such qualified students to attend the university.

Dustin Fulton, EdD, who was recently promoted to assistant dean for Admissions in the College of Medicine, has taken advantage of the educational assistance benefit for advanced degrees twice. Once to earn a master’s degree in Leadership and Policy Studies with a concentration in Student Personnel and again to earn a doctorate in Higher Education Administration, both from the University of Memphis.

“I am incredibly grateful for the educational assistance benefit afforded to employees of the University of Tennessee,” Dr. Fulton said. “This benefit allowed me to complete a master’s degree and go on to earn a doctoral degree. I am particularly thankful for the opportunity to do so while growing as a leader in various roles at UTHSC.”

Dr. Fulton most recently served as associate director in Student Affairs and Community Engagement, and previously held the position of senior equity assurance administrator in the Office of Equity and Diversity. He has been with UTHSC since 2014.

“I am a strong advocate for education and I believe the educational assistance program lessens the financial burden for employees and families, thus making any educational goals well within reach,” he said.

To learn more about this benefit, visit: https://uthsc.edu/hr/benefits/educational-assistance.php.

The UT Martin Office of University Relations contributed to this story. To read the UTM 2020 winter graduation story visit: https://www.utm.edu/news/2020/11/23/in-person-commencement-a-time-to-celebrate-for-print-journalist/