The university’s eighth president joined TTU’s faculty in 1976 as chairman of the department of management and marketing. He was named assistant dean and associate dean before being named dean and professor of management in the College of Business Administration in 1991.
Under his leadership, the university secured funds and constructed the Nursing and Health Services building and Ray Morris Hall, which houses the Millard Oakley Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Center.
During Bell's administration, the TTU endowment grew to $59.5 million, more than double its value at the start of his presidency.
(Much of the information in this section was drawn from Austin Wheeler Smith’s book, “The Story of Tennessee Tech,” published in 1957, and “The Search for Identity: A History of Tennessee Technological University, 1915-1985” by Harvey G. Neufeldt and W.Calvin Dickinson.)
During Volpe's tenure, the university saw its endowment grow from $1 million to $27 million, drew acclaim for its academic and athletic programs, and developed a sense of family and community. He oversaw the building of a new state-of-the-art library (now the Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library and Media Center), recreation center and agricultural pavilion. Two Chairs of Excellence, the Leona Lusk Officer Black Cultural Center and the Women's Center also were created during his tenure.
Prescott, who served as chief academic officer during part of President Derryberry’s tenure and provost and vice president for most of President Roaden’s tenure, accepted the interim presidency after Roaden’s departure. He came out of retirement to serve the university in transition. Prescott held a long association with Tech, earning his engineering degree as a student, serving as a faculty member and holding the dean of faculty position.
During Roaden's tenure, the university experienced growth in programs and visibility. The four-year nursing curriculum, three university research chairs and the Office of University Development were established. Under his leadership, the university built the Bryan Fine Arts Building, acquired the Joe L. Evins Appalachian Center for Craft and received its first state "centers of excellence." In 1985, he became executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
A Columbia, Tenn., native, Everett Derryberry was a Rhodes Scholar and a four-year letterman in football at the University of Tennessee, where he graduated with a 4.0 GPA. In 1940, at the age of 34, he was appointed president of Tennessee Tech. He and his wife, Joan, whom he'd met during his years at Oxford, England, came to a school many thought shouldn't exist with only 700 students, 31 faculty members and just a few buildings. By the time he retired in 1974, the Derryberrys had seen Tennessee Tech grow to a comprehensive university with 276 faculty members and 7,000 students on a campus of 225 acres.
During his tenure, Tech gained admission to the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. He is also credited with expanding the athletic program.
The first faculty members holding Ph.D.s were employed under Smith. He secured State Board of Education approval for a four-year college curriculum. During his administration, the university constructed the science building and heating plant, as well as the machine and woodworking shop, dairy barn, and president’s home. Under his watch, the university received a $225,000 appropriation with which the engineering and home economics building were constructed.
Early is credited with using his organizational and administrative prowess to help TTU thrive with meager financial resources. Under his administration, the 1917 state legislature appropriated $100,000 for buildings, which led to the construction of South Hall and the addition of two wings and an auditorium to the administration building.