Published: Tue Apr 20, 2004For being good stewards of their time and talents, Tennessee Tech University student Theresa Ennis and professor Stuart “Doc” Wells have been honored with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s highest award for community service.
Recently named winners of THEC’s 2004 Rep. Harold Love Outstanding Community Involvement Award, Ennis and Wells are two of five faculty/staff members and five students selected from all of Tennessee's colleges and universities for the honor.
Ennis, a senior secondary education English major, and Wells, a decision sciences and management professor, each demonstrates ways to coordinate their many roles in life so that they can best serve their communities.
Ennis — a wife, mother, full-time college student and TTU employee — established a Cub Scout troop six years ago in Jackson County, where no troop existed. She signed on as Cub Master and began recruiting den leaders and organizing activities. Once the initial group of boys became too old for Cub Scouts, she set up a Boy Scout troop.
She expanded her leadership role by training den leaders in several counties, helping Nashville’s inner-city Scout program and directing summer camp.
Although she devotes considerable time to scouting, Ennis also looks to her campus community for volunteer opportunities. A hostess to two TTU international students from India, she opens her home regularly for meals and visits and takes them on outings, including rafting on the Ocoee River.
Through a service organization, Ennis coordinated a food drive specifically tailored to the needs of Hispanic families. Demonstrating her dedication to children, she has coordinated a reading program, a children’s book drive and a toy drive all through campus associations.
“I am convinced that she truly has a servant’s heart,” said TTU President Bob Bell. “What’s more, she serves with a smile on her face. There is not doubt she enjoys helping others.”
Ennis has received many awards for her volunteer and academic achievement. She’s a three-time winner of the Boy Scouts of America’s Pathfinder Award, as well as the Cub Master Award and the Roundtable Staff Award. She has also conducted presentations at several sociology symposiums.
In addition to her multiple leadership roles in scouting, she is the president of TTU’s Sociology/Criminal Justice Club, vice president of the International English Honor Society and service chair for the Mortar Board Gold Circle Chapter Honor Society.
A master at time management, Wells’ volunteer work had created a dual role for the full-time professor. Wells serves as Chief Deputy of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Reserve Unit and dedicates as many as 100 hours a month — for no pay — performing many of the same duties as a regular deputy.
As chief, he is in charge of all reserve officers, coordinating their training and recruiting, and maintains the fleet of patrol cars. He and his officers support the Sheriff’s Department by working public events, transporting prisoners, running traffic checkpoints, serving warrants and covering other duties that free up the time of full-time law enforcement officers.
Since becoming a sworn deputy in 1995, Wells has made numerous arrests, assisted in manhunts, homicide investigations and emergency response efforts and conducted investigations of physically and/or sexually abused children.
“While volunteering time in law enforcement is a non-traditional community service, Doc Wells feels strongly that this is his way of giving back to the area he loves so dearly,” said Bell. “His role as a professor and law enforcement officer are quite complementary. Both of these roles necessitate being a people person.”
In the classroom, Wells stresses to his students how what he teaches can be applied to real world problems. Demonstrating that commitment, he recently began a Computer Forensics Division for the Sheriff’s Department that parallels his university class on the same subject.
Because of his dedication, the Sheriff’s Department saves the expense of assigning a full-time deputy to oversee the reserve unit. Under Wells’ guidance, the unit saves the department the equivalent of eight and a half full-time officers per month.
Wells and reserve officers also raise money for Triad, a Putnam County home for children who have been displaced from their homes.
THEC recently hosted Ennis and Wells, along with other honorees, at a luncheon at the Parkway Towers in Nashville. Each received a $1,000 award for their service.
Previous winners of the award from Tennessee Tech include curriculum and instruction professor Margaret Phelps, and health and physical education professor LeBron Bell, basic business adviser Katie Kumar and students Lucas Yeary, Noreen Grisolano, Anna LaBar, Destiny Locke and Genetta Gibson. Previous staff winners include Sue Ellen Carter, Mary Ann Cummins, Pat King and Gay Shepherd.