"We are very fortunate to have benefited from Dr. Barker's outstanding dedication and service through the years," said President Bob Bell. "He is effective, yet compassionate in his leadership.
"I deeply appreciate his efforts as a mentor and adviser to make me a better dean and a better president," Bell continued. "As the chief operating officer, he has been my closest adviser during my presidency. He has done a phenomenal job."
"Dr. McGee has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to Tech," said Bell. "He was part of a group I turn to routinely to act as my sounding board. He is an excellent mentor and adviser.
"Dr. McGee's outstanding leadership not only to our campus, but also to our community as a whole, will not be forgotten or easily replaced," said Bell.
In April 1990, Barker joined TTU as vice president for academic affairs. In 1997, he was also appointed provost.
During Barker's tenure, he provided faculty and staff with leadership, resources and encouragement in order to achieve the campus' academic and student goals. He excelled in four main areas: the continuous improvement of student learning, the service of students place and/or time bound, the achievement of enrollment growth, and the promotion and improvement of student activities.
Under his leadership, TTU scored at the top of assessments in the state for student gain in general education and knowledge of major fields, surveys of student and alumni satisfaction and other factors designed to measure the value added to students during their undergraduate studies. Student learning transformed from a lecture mode to a student-centered learning environment.
Tennessee Tech also established new degrees and options for undergraduate students as well as instituted two new doctoral programs, one in environmental science and one in exceptional learning.
With Barker's support, faculty members implemented two completely online degree programs: a master's degree in health and physical education and the Distance MBA. Accounting courses and an accounting degree are also offered online. The 2+2 education program involving TTU and four community colleges flourished under his watch, providing needed teachers for Tennessee's rural schools.
Enrollment and retention grew steadily in the past five years due to initiation and improvement of programs including new degrees and options for undergraduate students, student orientation and learning communities. Student activities expanded the intramural program, implemented the Eagle Card system, funded study abroad and student success programs, and upgraded library computers.
The university also demonstrated its commitment to diversity by increasing the number of women faculty members and the number of minority faculty members.
For his professional service, Barker was elected to positions as a section officer of the American Chemical Society in two states, has served as an officer of a state Academy of Sciences and has reviewed refereed journals.
In the community, Barker has given time and energy to the United Way, Rotary International and the United Methodist Church, as well as to chambers of commerce and local school boards. He is a past winner of the U.S. Army Commander's Award for Public Service.
Barker earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Southern Illinois University, then went on to earn his master's degree and doctorate in organic chemistry from Duke University.
Following a post-doctoral position with the University of Illinois, he became an assistant professor of chemistry at Mississippi State University, where he subsequently was appointed head of the chemistry department. In 1980, Barker was named dean of the University of Missouri-Rolla's College of Arts and Sciences.
TTU College of Arts and Sciences Dean Jack Armistead will serve as interim provost and vice president of academic affairs upon Barker's retirement.
McGee joined the administration in 1977 as assistant dean of extended services and associate professor of education. He was promoted to associate dean of extended education in 1985, then to assistant vice president for academic affairs in 1986.
In 1988, McGee was promoted to associate vice president for academic affairs and began a two-year term as interim vice president. In 1990, he returned to his post as associate vice president for academic affairs.
A prolific writer, McGee has authored more than 40 professional articles and 20 creative and opinion essays. He has written or co-written five books. One of his creative essays was published in Good Housekeeping magazine and served as the basis of a television documentary produced by Life-Time Cable Network and aired nationally.
McGee served as coordinator of the Performance Funding Program, which benefited the university by more than $2 million on an annual basis.
In 2000, McGee was elected for a term to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which accredits almost 800 colleges and universities throughout the southeastern United States and Latin America. He assumed the leadership role for the university during the SACS reaffirmation of accreditation process.
After graduating from Philander Smith College in Little Rock with a bachelor's degree in education, he taught in the public school systems in Chicago and Columbus, Ohio. He received his master's degree and doctorate in education from Ohio State University. At Ohio State, he was appointed assistant director and director of student teaching in the College of Education. He later became a department head in the College of Education at Tennessee State University.
McGee's list of honors includes Fellow-Harvard University Institute for Educational Management; President's Award, Philander Smith College; Fellow-University of Tennessee Institute for Leadership Effectiveness; Distinguished Scholars Award, Ohio State University; and Young Leader in Education Award, Phi Delta Kappa International. He has also served as president of the Cookeville Rotary Club.
Mark Stephens, TTU's economics, finance and marketing chairperson, will step into the role of associate vice president of academic affairs upon McGee's retirement.