Cookeville native Lt. Gen. Thurman D. Rodgers and his wife, June Scobee Rodgers, will speak to the 842 students expected to receive undergraduate and graduate degrees at the ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. in the university's Hooper-Eblen Center.
Rodgers earned his electrical engineering degree from Tennessee Technological University in 1957. In the university's ROTC program, he received his commission as second lieutenant. Rodgers also holds an advanced degree in Public Administration from the University of Northern Colorado.
A veteran of Vietnam and Korea, Rodgers became the Army's Director of Information Systems C4, overseeing the planning and policy operations of the Information Mission Area, a sweeping high-tech program impacting the entire Army.
As commander of the global Information Systems, he led the largest military communications/automation organization in the world, managing 50,000 personnel throughout the United States and more than a dozen other nations.
In 1990, Rodgers became Defense Communications Agency director, overseeing the Department of Defense's worldwide communications and information systems. As National Communications System manager, he was responsible for assisting the president and his staff in planning national security and emergency preparedness telecommunications.
Rodgers' awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service, Legion of Merit and Bronze Star Medals. He retired to Chattanooga in 1991 with his wife, June.
Mrs. Rodgers leads the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, recognized as one of the country's most innovative projects for teaching science and math. With teaching experience in every grade-level classroom from kindergarten through college, she spent the early 1980's integrating the wonder of the science into the "ho-hum" classroom.
Mrs. Rodgers' late husband, astronaut Dick Scobee, commanded the Space Shuttle Challenger's Teacher in Space mission. Led by Mrs. Rodgers, the Challenger astronaut families founded the Challenger Center to continue the crew's educational mission. Busy as a speaker on national news and talk shows, Mrs. Rodgers also recently served on the President's National Advisory Council on Education and is a member of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.Students graduating from Tennessee Tech this spring hail from 20 states including Tennessee, 81 Tennessee counties and 15 foreign countries. They represent 38 undergraduate fields of study and 14 graduate fields. Following spring commencement, Tennessee Tech will have granted some 44,000 degrees.