Having served at the university's helm for more than 11 years already, Volpe plans to retire on July 1, 2000. He made the announcement as he welcomed faculty back for the beginning of fall semester. It was during his 12th welcome that he said his first good-bye.
"The notion of a new president of Tennessee Tech beginning his or her duties at the start of the first academic year of what will generally be accepted as a new decade, a new century and a new millennium seems very appropriate to me," Volpe remarked.
He chose to announce his retirement 22 months in advance to allow time for the search process and for a smooth transition. He plans to spend some of his remaining months on fund-raising efforts, he said, but he made it clear that he has no intention of becoming a "lame-duck."
Volpe became the seventh president of Tennessee Tech in 1987. Only two previous TTU presidents have held the office longer: Everett Derryberry, who presided for 34 years, and Q.M. Smith who held the title for 18 years.
"Angelo Volpe has served with great distinction during his 11 years at Tennessee Tech," said Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Charles Smith. "It has been a great pleasure and honor to work with him. Since I have been in the Regents system, his contributions to Tennessee Tech have been immeasurable.
"I am glad he will be serving two more years," he added, "but he certainly deserves the opportunity to slow down a bit and enjoy retirement."
During Volpe's 11 years as Tennessee Tech's president, the university completed a $21 million capital campaign and gained a new state-of-the-art library, recreation center and agricultural pavilion.
While Volpe is quick to point out that the years of hard work by many who came before and after him led to many of the university's accomplishments, the campus' two Chairs of Excellence, the Leona Lusk Officer Black Cultural Center and the Women's Center were created during his tenure. And Volpe's contribution to outreach efforts helped make possible a virtual embrace of a then-Soviet university through the Citizen Exchange Council as well as continued ties to another "sister" school, Dohto University in Japan.
He and his wife, Jennette, plan to remain in Cookeville after his retirement, and after completing some extensive travel plans.
"Cookeville is home for us," Volpe said. "We love it here, and we want to have time to do things that will enable us to give back to this wonderful community."
Volpe came to Tennessee from East Carolina University, where he was vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. He followed the time-honored path of many professionals in higher education on his way to TTU's presidency. After earning his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Brooklyn College, he received his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Maryland. He taught at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey before moving to East Carolina University as chairperson of the Chemistry Department and advancing through the ranks to dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and then to his vice chancellor post.Tennessee Tech officials plan to begin the search process for a new president in 1999.