Years of anticipation end in celebration today as Tennessee Tech University’s Ray Morris Hall, home of the Millard Oakley STEM Center, opens with ceremonies and self-guided tours.
University officials will join STEM Center benefactors Ray Morris and Millard Oakley, NASA astronaut and TTU alumnus Barry Wilmore, and state and local dignitaries, in an afternoon grand opening ceremony, which will take place in the facility’s auditorium. U.S. Reps. Bart Gordon and Lincoln Davis, along with former U.S. Sen. Jim Sasser, will attend.
Ceremonies begin at 1:30 p.m. and also will feature founding director Margaret Phelps, TTU President Bob Bell, Oakley STEM Center Director Sally Pardue, and a NASA representative.
The ceremonies will be followed by a ribbon cutting at the Seventh Avenue entrance. Self-guided tours will begin after the ribbon cutting. Festivities will include a video featuring the Soaring Science Eagle sculpted by Brad Sells.
Oakley, an Upper Cumberland businessman and shareholder of First National Bank of Tennessee, and his wife, J.J., committed $2 million to launch STEM Center efforts. The building constructed to house the STEM Center is named for Morris, president of Venture Construction Co. and a 1959 TTU civil engineering graduate, whose significant contribution helped fund the facility.
State and university officials broke ground for the $8 million, 26,000-square-foot Ray Morris Hall in early May 2008.
Public parking will be ample on campus; university classes have ended. The only restricted areas are Seventh Street and the north lot behind the STEM Center.