A $1 million gift from the Boeing Foundation will help Tennessee Tech University attract and retain top faculty at the Cookeville campus.
The money, along with a $1 million match from the university's foundation, will be used for outstanding faculty members who are prominent in the fields of computer science, computer engineering, and management information systems in TTU's Information Technology program.
"These outstanding teacher-scholars will bring the design, operation and application knowledge together to create new programs for Tennessee Tech," said TTU President Bob Bell. "The programs will produce graduates capable of achieving great success in a rapidly evolving computerized world."
The fund is the first of its kind for TTU, which like other state universities, is struggling to attract expert faculty members because of poor funding and state budget shortfalls. The money will not only address the issue of teachers and leaders, but will also emphasize Tennessee Tech University's leadership in the Information Technology field.
"Our need for distinguished senior faculty is great, but the competition for outstanding faculty talent is keen, and the competition grows each year because of a long-standing shortage," said Bell. That shortage has drastically influenced the market for experienced IT faculty where salaries have risen. The increased competition for scarce academic talent has widened the gap between state-appropriated funding and the resources required to attract and keep outstanding senior faculty.
The gift is unique for the Boeing Foundation, which doesn't usually fund professorships. The foundation made the donation to honor Boeing's retiring vice chair, Harry Stonecipher, a TTU alumnus and chairman of the TTU Foundation. The resulting fund will be named the "Harry C. Stonecipher Professors of Distinction."
Stonecipher has a long history of support for his alma mater. He served as National Steering Committee chairperson for the university's first multi-million dollar fund raising campaign in the early '90s. He has helped generate more than $5 million in gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations through the years. In 1991 he earned the university's Distinguished Alumnus Award.
"This investment establishes a living, timeless memorial in the name of Harry Stonecipher, a memorial that will remain long after less permanent fixtures like buildings and equipment have come and gone," said Bell. "From here on out, it will influence every student who studies information technology at Tennessee Tech."