The couple was the first nominated by Tennessee Tech University.
They were honored in a ceremony on Monday at the TTU Appalachian Center for Craft. The audience was made up of both TTU and Tennessee Board of Regents representatives, including Regent Noble Cody and Chancellor Charles Manning.
The McSpaddens said they were humbled to be selected for the award, created last year by the TBR Donor Recognition Committee to recognize individuals and organizations that have given special assistance to at least one TBR institution and whose financial assistance and leadership have been important to the nominating institution.
" We believe that success is adding value to your own life, but significance is adding value to other peoples’ lives and the community around you," Donna McSpadden said.
Lem McSpadden recalled some of the couple’s fondest memories as TTU students. "TTU has many fond memories for us — from the cold nights we walked to Ralph’s for donuts and coffee, to the fondest memory of all — Bartoo Hall. For those of you who don’t know, that’s where I proposed to Donna," he said.
TTU President Bob Bell, in his nomination letter for the award, said the McSpaddens are excellent candidates because of their extraordinary commitments to TTU, in both fund raising and volunteer efforts.
Donna McSpadden, for instance, volunteered to assume the presidency of the TTU School of Nursing Foundation, where she provided outstanding leadership for two terms.
" Donna provided the best leadership of a foundation that I have see during my tenure," said Tom Hamilton, director of University Development.
" In summary, she provided a strong sense of purpose for the Foundation’s primary mission of supporting the School of Nursing," Bell said.
In addition, Lem McSpadden serves on TTU’s College of Engineering Manufacturing and Industrial Technology advisory board and chairs its fund raising committee.
He also serves in a position dedicated to securing funds and encouraging others to financially support the Engineering Development Foundation, as well as chair for a committee to rewrite its bylaws.
" Lem McSpadden was also one of seven alumni invited to be a charter member of the university’s newly reorganized Alumni Association Advisory Board," Bell said. "In the past, he has served on the Alumni Association Scholarship Committee and participated in selecting recipients for TTU’s most prestigious recognition, the Outstanding Alumni Awards."
The McSpaddens have been major financial contributors to TTU since 1985, and they have earned recognition at the highest level, the TTU President’s Club 1915 Society.
Their gifts support an MIT scholarship and priority needs and funding for a new School of Nursing building, and the university has committed to naming the main conference room in the new nursing building in their honor.
" The TBR needs more advocates across the state like the couple being honored here today, people who realize the importance of raising the public’s skill level and who understand that doing so requires more funding," said Chancellor Manning.
Each TBR institution is allowed to make one nomination annually for the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy, and the TBR Donor Recognition Committee recommends a slate of award winners to the Chancellor each year.
Lem McSpadden is the owner of A+ Home Inspection Services of Cookeville, and Donna McSpadden is a senior consultant for DLM Associates, a medical management consulting service in Cookeville.