He won the university’s annual Derryberry Award, which recognizes one graduating senior who has demonstrated “potential for future service and effective leadership in American society” through his moral and academic integrity in scholastic achievement, participation in campus activities that demonstrate a commitment to citizenship and fondness for and success in sports.
Four other TTU seniors were nominated for the award. Robert Griffin, a mechanical engineering major from Ooltewah, is the son of Jan and Jim Griffin and a graduate of Boyd Buchanan High School. Griffin graduated from TTU in December, 2012. Claudia Harke is an economics major from Appleton, Wis. The daughter of Ron and Nancy Harke, she graduated from Kimberly High School. Ashley Humphrey is an accounting major from Lakesite. Her parents are Eugene and Sharyl Smith and she is a graduate of Soddy Daisy High School. Beth Miller is a human ecology, nutrition and dietetics major from Watertown, Wis. She graduated from Watertown High School and is the daughter of Doug and Kathy Miller. Griffin, Harke, Humphrey and Miller will graduate in the spring.
Gatts will accept the university’s most prestigious student honor at a luncheon forum April 29.
Gatts, of Livingston, Tenn., is a political science major with a concentration in pre-law. His parents are Tim and Angie Sells and Donnie Gatts. He is a graduate of Livingston Academy.
Gatts has served in the Student Government Association, the Pre-Law Club and a variety of university committees. His freshman year, he was elected president of the Residence Hall Association executive council. He held the SGA treasurer’s position in 2010-2011 and has been SGA president for the past two years. In that capacity, he has been an active member of the Tennessee Board of Regents Student Presidents Council, serving as its chair this year.
Gatts served last year as the TBR student regent, the sole representative for more than 200,000 students at TBR universities, community colleges and technology centers. As regent, he served on committees for finance and business operations, academic policies and programs, and student life. After his one-year term as regent, he interned in TBR Chancellor John Morgan’s office.
In the classroom, Gatts’ grades have qualified him for the TTU dean’s list and the athletic director’s honor roll every semester. He belongs to several honor societies: Mortar Board, Pi Sigma Alpha, Order of Omega and Alpha Lambda Delta.
Gatts is the football team video coordinator and he was the coordinator for the men’s basketball team from 2009-2011. He was the Wendy’s Scholar-Athlete of the Game during the Dec. 6, 2012 women’s basketball game, and he has been an umpire in his hometown since 2006.
A member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, TTU’s Greek Life Office has named Gatts both new member of the year and member of the year in 2011 and 2012, respectively. He has been treasurer, vice president and warden of his fraternity.
Gatts has volunteered with the Lions Club, Relay for Life, Jaycees Toys for Tots, and the American Heart Walk, and his fraternity raises awareness of Lou Gehrig’s disease with a 5K event. He is working with the town of Rickman to start a community library. He served as a student representative for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
The Derryberry Award was established in honor of Everett Derryberry, who was TTU’s president for 34 years. He retired in 1974.