And that "pay-back" time is now, said Noble Cody, speaker at TTU's commencement ceremony and the first Tennessee Board of Regents member from Putnam County. Cody reminded the graduates of the sacrifices many people made so that they could receive their diplomas - from parents to taxpayers, donors, faculty and alumni who support the students and the university in so many ways.
"While the 'pay back' is great, it is YOU who will benefit the most," said Cody. "It will be a labor of love that will enrich your life."
Cody urged the graduates to become good parents and spouses, instilling in their children the values they were taught to cherish. He asked them to be good citizens by participating in the well-being of their communities and to represent the state and university well by supporting a legacy of dedication and hard work. And finally, he urged them to return support to the university through strong relationships and financial donations.
"Do these things and you will have paid your debt, enriched your own and your family's lives, and made the world a little bit better."
A long-time supporter of TTU, Cody graduated from Tennessee Tech in 1956. He opened his own business, Cody Office Supply, in 1965 in Cookeville, where he also served as a long-time city councilman and board member for Cookeville General Hospital. He received the university's Outstanding Service Award in 1981, and was named to the TTU Sports Hall of Fame in 1989.
He shared with the graduates his appreciation for the choices, opportunities and challenges offered him through the years and told them they would face the same. Thanks to TTU, he said, they are "... armed with knowledge, resources, and all the skills it takes to master these challenges, take advantage of these opportunities, and most importantly, use good judgment to make the right choices."
After the ceremony, Tennessee Tech's alumni ranks swelled to almost 48,000. Students from all across Tennessee, 14 other states and 13 foreign countries were represented in the graduating class. All together, the graduates represented 37 undergraduate fields of study and 15 graduate programs. Three doctoral candidates were conferred engineering Ph.D. degrees in absentia.
One student, James Christopher Denn, earned his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in a brief ceremony by the TTU ROTC Battalion shortly before commencement exercises. Another student was recognized as a third-generation graduate. James Monroe Davis, who earned his bachelor of science degree, has a mother who graduated from TTU in the 1970's, a grandfather who graduated in the 1950's, as well as four uncles and an aunt who hold degrees from the university.
TTU President Bob Bell also awarded the 2000 Donald Caplenor Faculty Research Award to Dr. Ali Alouani, a professor of electrical and computer engineering. Alouani earned the award for his research on both theoretical and practical levels in his field.Graduates' birth years in the ceremony ranged from 1943 through 1980, evidence that programs at Tennessee Tech University can benefit almost anyone, said Bell.