No Lazy Days of Summer for Tennessee Tech

The Tennessee Technological University campus is anything but quiet this summer. In addition to the 3,200 students taking summer classes at Tennessee Tech, the university plays host to thousands of visitors for camps, conferences and other events. For many of them, the visit is a chance to taste a part of college life -- living in dormitories, eating at the cafeteria and enjoying all the resources the campus has to offer.

Take the sports camps, for example. Between basketball, volleyball, softball, baseball and tennis, about 3,250 young men and women will spend several days at Tennessee Tech. Approximately 1,100 young women will take part in women's basketball camp this summer alone.

"It's our number one recruiting tool," says Bill Worrell, head coach of Tennessee Tech's women's basketball team. "Eleven of the thirteen women who make up the team for the 1996-97 season attended basketball camp at Tennessee Tech."

About 1,800 young men are expected to take part in basketball camps this summer. Frank Harrell, coach of the men's basketball team, agrees with Worrell about the recruitment aspect of the camps. He says about half of the university's basketball squad is made up of former campers.

"In some cases, it's the first time we ever get to see a kid play," says Harrell. "We also get to know all the coaches. It's a very good recruiting tool." Harrell estimates that 5-10 percent of the campers enroll at Tennessee Tech.

Women's volleyball camps will bring anywhere from 100 to 175 young women to campus this summer, according to Jennie Gilbert, Tennessee Tech women's volleyball coach. Gilbert's been running the camps at Tennessee Tech for the past three years, and she says about 15-20 participants each year decide to enroll.

Sports camps, however, are not the only programs bringing students to campus. The Cumberland Career Equity Program brings together about 20 high-school girls throughout the year in an educational and social program that encourages the girls to pursue education beyond high school. The group spends a week on campus during the summer, taking mini-classes in such topics as math, science and computers, as well as cultural and social field trips. A follow-up study of past participants found that half chose to attend Tennessee Tech.

The Young Scholars Program brings about 50 students to the university each summer. Tony Marable, director of the Minority Engineering Program, says an average of 12-15 percent of the students who attend the summer program choose Tennessee Tech. Some years, as many as 30 percent do.

The Department of Music and Art attracts a significant number of students to the university as a result of its successful summer band camps, according to Joe Hermann, professor and band director. Eleven hundred students from around the region arrive for band camps throughout July. Earlier this summer, 100 high school musicians from Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Louisiana took part in the second annual Southeast Chamber Music Institute.

"I think a pretty fair amount of the camp participants come to Tennessee Tech," says Hermann. "They get a chance to become familiar with the campus, to work with the music faculty and to learn about the individual programs we offer.

"The summer camps help popularize the Tennessee Tech campus, even among those who don't come to school here. They gain an awareness of and admiration for the university, and Tennessee Tech becomes a viable option for the future."

According to Ben Byler, director of the School of Agriculture at Tennessee Tech, the Hyder-Burks Agricultural Pavilion gives thousands of young people a chance to experience the university. Byler estimates that about 1,500 area students will participate in any one of the many agriculture competitions held this summer, such as the Eastern Regional Junior Simmental Competition, the District Four Livestock Competition and the state sheep show.

"Thirty thousand people have been to the Agriculture Pavilion since July 1, 1995," says Byler. "We set up recruiting booths at many events, and we also talk to parents about Tennessee Tech."

About 1,800 students will attend cheer and dance camps at Tennessee Tech. David Mullinax, director of the Fitness Center, says he thinks about 15-20 percent of the cheer camp participants choose Tennessee Tech. Mullinax notes that most of the participants come from within 150 miles of campus, making Tennessee Tech an ideal choice among schools.

As an incentive, the Fitness Center offers campers a one-semester housing scholarship through monies generated by cheer camps. Scholarship recipients and other former campers also have the opportunity to work at the Fitness Center for minimum wage. Ten housing scholarships are available annually, and the university identifies about 50-100 potential students each year who are eligible for the scholarships.

Earlier in the summer, American Legion Boys' State brought about 600 top achievers from high schools around the state to the campus for a week of education on civics and leadership. For many of the rising seniors, Boys' State is their first visit to Tennessee Tech and their first opportunity to get to know the campus. Tennessee Tech faculty, staff and administrators serve as counselors and organizers for the annual event, allowing the participants to get to know some of the university personnel, too.

While they're here, the visiting students might find themselves face to face with some of the 1,300 entering freshman or 300 transfer students who arrive on campus during the summer for pre-registration and orientation. Admissions Counselor Bobby Hodum notes that about 100 prospective students and their families will travel to Cookeville this summer for a campus tour.

The university also hosts programs for teachers - the people students turn to for advice when choosing a school. Hundreds will participate in the Tennessee Collaborative Academy and the Agriculture in Classrooms workshops. On top of that, hundreds more will take advantage of the wide range of programs offered by Extended Education and the Appalachian Center for Crafts, increasing awareness and understanding of the university in the community.

While for most students, school's out for the summer, educational opportunities abound on the campus of Tennessee Tech.