The Distinguished Alumnus, Outstanding Service and Outstanding Young Alumnus awards are the highest bestowed by the university's alumni association. They recognize those who have demonstrated professional excellence and achievement or outstanding service to the university.
This year’s Distinguished Alumnus award winners are U.S. Congressman Lincoln Davis and Rear Admiral Vinson E. Smith of the United States Navy. Cookeville physician Tom Lawrence and area businessman and broadcaster Drue Huffines will be honored as Outstanding Service Award winners. Tennessee’s Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Paula Flowers and accomplished musician Kenyon Wilson are this year’s Outstanding Young Alumni.
The awards reception and ceremony will take place at 4 p.m., Friday, Oct. 31, in the Roaden University Center OVC Room.
DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARD RECIPIENTS
Raised in rural Fentress County, U.S Representative Davis has been serving Tennesseans since the late 1970s when he began his career in public service as mayor of Byrdstown. Davis served in Tennessee’s House of Representatives for two terms and in the Senate for two terms. He now represents Tennessee’s 4th Congressional District in Washington.
Davis, a 1966 TTU agriculture graduate, holds membership in the House Committee on Science, the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
In the state legislature, Davis supported state employee and teacher pay raises, long-term care for senior citizens, character education in schools and new domestic violence legislation. Davis initiated and fought for a bill requiring counseling and a 12-hour holding period for domestic violence offenders.
Davis, who lives in Pall Mall, also started a construction business, Diversified Construction Co., which builds homes, apartments and offices. With his business, he has provided jobs and opportunities for decades in the same district he serves.-more-
Davis and his wife, Lynda, an elementary school teacher, have three daughters, Larissa, Lynn and Libby, and five grandchildren, Ashton, Alexia, Andrew, Austin and Adam.
Rear Admiral Smith, a native of Carthage, is Commander of U.S. Naval Forces, U.S. Southern Command. A 1974 TTU agriculture graduate who majored in horticulture, Smith received his commission following graduation and reported to the USS Nimitz, where he completed three division office tours and three deployments.
After two years at the Naval Amphibious School as an instructor, he completed tours on the USS Charles F. Adams and the USS Luce. As a department head, he deployed to the North Atlantic with the Standing Naval Force Atlantic and to the Arabian Gulf during the Iran/Iraq tanker war. In 1990, he was deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
In 1992, Smith assumed command of the USS Robert G. Bradley, and in 1996, he assumed command of Naval Station San Diego. In August 1999, he reported to the staff of Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, serving as Director of Personal Readiness and Community Support, Washington Liaison Attachment, and as Branch Head for Plans and Policy for the Shore Installation Management Division. His most recent assignment was as Commander, Navy Region Northwest, `and Naval Surface Group, Pacific Northwest.
Smith earned two master’s degrees — one in strategic studies and national defense from the Naval War College and a second in international relations from Salve Regina University.
His awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with two gold stars, and the Navy Commendation Medal.
OUTSTANDING SERVICE AWARD WINNERS
Lawrence, owner of Upper Cumberland Otolaryngology in Cookeville, has a history of investing his time and resources in the university’s School of Nursing. A founding member of the Nursing Foundation, he has spent more than 15 years working as a liaison between TTU and his peers and colleagues.
Following that commitment, Lawrence was the first local physician to make a substantial pledge to the capital campaign for TTU’s new School of Nursing Building fund-raising drive. He volunteered to spearhead the campaign, giving his time to work with local physicians on behalf of the university. His support also extended to the establishment of the Fran Rothschild Scholarship Endowment at TTU. In other university service, he visits TTU music classrooms and teaches students about how the human voice works.
In the community, Lawrence has served as past president and long-time member of Noonday Rotary. A strong supporter of the YMCA, he served as chairperson of the capital campaign drive for current facility. He also is a familiar figure at work during Habitat for Humanity’s annual Cooking on the Square.
An active member of Cookeville’s First United Methodist Church, Lawrence has made a mission trip to the Dominican Republic and plans to travel to Nigeria on a medical mission in November 2003.
Followers of TTU basketball or horse show enthusiasts might recognize Huffines’ voice before they recognize his face. He has been the public address announcer for TTU men’s basketball for more than 20 years and has emceed horse shows for decades across the region, but Huffines lends more than his voice to support the university.
As a businessman, he has seen his share of success as co-owner of a Gainesboro grocery, a board member of Jackson Bank and Trust, a radio station owner, and as a founding member of what is now American Bank and Trust of Livingston. He began working at WLIV radio in Livingston in 1957, working through the years as a disc jockey, newsman, sportscaster and salesperson before purchasing the station. In 1981 he purchased WPTN-AM and WPTN-FM (now known as the Country Giant). He and a partner sold the stations in 1989.
In 1982, he joined the College of Business Foundation, where he has since served as president, vice president, and fundraising chairman and currently serves on the Executive Scholarship and Nominating committees. He regularly volunteers his time to the College of Business, announcing awards banquets, serving on committees and providing leadership. In 1998, COBAF awarded him its Outstanding Leadership Award.
Currently, he serves alongside TTU President Bob Bell as the business co-chair of the Upper Cumberland Regional P-16 Council.
In the community, Huffines served as Putnam County Chamber of Commerce president in 1988 and is now in his second term on the Chamber board. He co-chaired the fundraising committee for the Leslie Town Centre and is now a member of the Centre’s Building Authority.
Huffines and his wife of 47 years, Mary Ann, have a daughter, Lucretia Maxwell, married to Gary Mawxell, and two grandsons, Davis and Lee.
OUTSTANDING YOUNG ALUMNUS AWARDS
Flowers was chosen by Gov. Phil Bredesen to lead the Department of Commerce and Insurance, putting her in charge of a wide variety of the state’s regulatory functions, including those of the state fire marshal’s office.
A Monterey, Tenn., native, Flowers holds a master’s degree in civil engineering and a law degree. She earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from TTU in 1990.
Before becoming commissioner, Flowers served as special council to the department’s TennCare Oversight Division and served the department during the liquidation of two troubled managed health-care organizations. She also worked as special deputy receiver to another managed-care organization, Xantus Healthplan of Tennessee
A co-founder of the Nashville law firm of Farmer and Luna PLLC, Flowers specialized in regulatory and administrative law. Before pursuing law, she worked as an environmental engineer for Lockheed Martin Energy Systems.
Flowers’ major initiatives as commissioner include an emphasis on consumer education and advocacy, the creation of the Fire Mortality Prevention Task Force to reduce Tennessee’s fire death rate, and expansion of regulatory information available to the public.
She is a member of the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council, State Insurance Plan Committee, State Local Education Insurance Plan Committee and the Tennessee Health Services Development Agency.
She is married to Jim Flowers, and they have three sons, ages ten, eight and five.
Wilson, a visiting assistant professor of tuba/euphonium at Central Michigan University, cultivated his skills and passion for the tuba at Tennessee Tech under the direction of Winston Morris.
After graduating from TTU in 1992, he earned his master’s degree in music theory and performance from Baylor University and his doctorate of musical arts in tuba performance from the University of Georgia. At Georgia, he again drew on his experience at Tennessee Tech, writing his dissertation on the solo tuba works of Robert Jager, a former TTU faculty member.
Wilson joined Valdosta State University in 1996 as a tuba/euphonium and music theory instructor. In 2002, Wilson became the first scholar in the arts to be placed in the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan when he was chosen as a Lecturing Fulbright Scholar. During his stay, he presented a recital and lecturing tour through the neighboring countries of Georgia and Armenia.
Currently he is teaching at Central Michigan while serving as principal tubist with the Augusta Symphony Orchestra in Georgia. He is also performing free recitals featuring music of Azerbaijani composers as a follow-up to his Fulbright appointment. In his scholarly activity, the International Tuba/Euphonium Association Journal recently published his four-part series on the music of Robert Jager and will publish his article on low brass teachers in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.Coming full circle, he is also serving as assistant editor of the second edition of the Tuba Source Book, founded by Winston Morris, which is due for release in 2004.