Don Foster named TTU's Outstanding Professional of 2006

His official title is associate director of Tennessee Tech University’s Career Services, but he may be better known on campus simply as “Mr. Co-op.”

For his commitment and dedication to managing the largest cooperative education program in the state of Tennessee, Don Foster has also received recognition this year as TTU’s Outstanding Professional.

“Don manages the largest co-op program in the state of Tennessee, and he does this without any real staff support,” said Alice Camuti, TTU’s Career Services director.

Among his responsibilities are scheduling on-campus interviews, putting together employer schedules and keeping track of the 300-plus students who are out on work assignments at any given time by making sure they complete required paperwork, register for course credit and perform other tasks to ensure that they have a successful learning experience.

When he took his post in 1986, TTU’s co-op education program offered students only one schedule option, but under his direction, two other student work schedule options have been created.

“With the help of faculty, Mr. Foster was able to get approval of the Plan B work schedule, which is the normal work schedule that NASA uses and many government organizations prefer,” said Leo McGee, associate vice president for Academic Affairs at TTU.

“In addition, Mr. Foster implemented the Plan C, or parallel program, work schedule,” McGee continued. “This enables students to work 20 hours a week, plus take normal college courses. This action has attracted a large number of new employers, as well as students, to the university.”

Foster also goes above and beyond his job requirements by participating in a number of volunteer activities at the university, said Rob Schabert, TTU’s Sports Information director.

Foster has served as a volunteer statistician during TTU’s football season, for instance, and a volunteer phone messenger to ESPN and Sports Ticker at basketball games.

“He has even assisted at some baseball games when we had no students during Spring Break to help with the operations,” Schabert said. “Don has a really deep sense of desire to help anyone who asks for his help in any project or function that is related to the university.”

Most recently, Foster was able to use his experience as a part-time usher and security person at Nashville’s Gaylord Entertainment Center to assist at two different campus concerts.

As for winning this year’s Outstanding Professional Award, Camuti said Foster “earns it every day.”

“TTU is extremely lucky to have an employee who works so hard and with such enthusiasm,” she said.

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