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UT Innovation Challenge Winner ‘Shed a Few Tears’ of Joy

Shakalle Martin, a clinical dental assistant, was surprised and thrilled to be a winner of the UT System Innovation Challenge.

It was almost like a surprise birthday party. That’s how Shakalle Milam, a clinical dental assistant in the UTHSC College of Dentistry, described the way it felt to be notified Friday morning that she was one of nine winners of the UT System’s Innovation Challenge.

In the spring, the system put out a call to faculty and staff for ideas for how UT can improve business practices or save money. There were 117 submissions from all the campuses and institutes. From those, six winning ideas submitted by nine individuals were chosen.

Along with Milam, four other winners are from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Milam said she sent in multiple ideas and was overwhelmed to be a winner for her recommendation that UT implement digital forms with digital workflow routing. The idea was also offered by Bethany Morris from UT Knoxville and Katrina Parnell from UTHSC.

UT Innovation Callenge winners from UTHSC are, from left, Shakalle Milam, Katrina Parnell, Cynthia Vincent, and Shenika Hudson. Not pictured, April Jordan.

The system sent prize boxes to each winner to be distributed Friday morning at the same time in each location. The boxes contained gifts and the notice that each winner will receive a $1,000 one-time bonus.

“I did shed a few tears,” Milam said. “It was really nice.”

Other winners are:

  • Shenika Hudson from UTHSC, who recommended that UT centralize a process for invoice entry and routing to reduce duplicate payments and improve the university’s on-time payment to vendors.
  • Jessica Black from UT Knoxville and Cynthia Vincent from UTHSC both submitted ideas related to creating a centralized platform for all job-related training.
  • April Jordan from UTHSC suggested UT implement a barcode system to allow for a smoother inventory process.
  • Robert Martin from UT Knoxville recommended configuring DASH to remove from inventory any equipment or assets that have depreciated to no value.
  • Chad Gentry from UT System Administration suggested UT sync its BE ONE UT values with its overall performance reviews and its human resources processes

Jennifer Sicking from UT System Communications and Marketing contributed to this story.