Some 825 students are expected to graduate this semester.
A long-time adviser to Phil Bredesen and veteran political consultant, Cooley worked as Bredesen's chief of staff during his first term as Nashville's mayor, served as senior campaign strategist during last year's successful gubernatorial election and directed the new governor's transition team.
Cooley, a 1984 education graduate of Tennessee Tech, is a native of Rockwood, Tenn. Over the years, he's stayed in touch with the university's History Department, Boys' State leaders and President Bob Bell.
"I maintain close ties with dozens of friends and supporters of the governor who live in Cookeville and the Upper Cumberland," Cooley said. "I consider the area to be a second home of sorts."
Formerly a partner at Nashville public relations firm McNeely Pigott and Fox, Cooley earned a master's degree from the University of West Florida.
Students graduating from Tennessee Tech this spring hail from 20 states including Tennessee, 79 Tennessee counties and 13 foreign countries. They represent 39 undergraduate fields of study and 17 graduate fields. Following spring commencement, Tennessee Tech will have granted more than 50,000 degrees.