The Distinguished Alumnus, Outstanding Service and Outstanding Young Alumnus awards are the highest bestowed by the university's alumni association. They recognize those who have demonstrated professional excellence and achievement or outstanding service to the university.
This year’s Outstanding Service Award winners are Jim Hicks, senior vice president of Community Bank of the Cumberlands, and the Southern Middle Tennessee Alumni Chapter.
The awards reception and ceremony will take place at 4 p.m., Friday, Nov. 5, in the Roaden University Center Tech Pride Room. The public is encouraged and invited to attend.
Southern Middle Tennessee Alumni Chapter
A group of alumni in and around Maury County have turned Columbia’s world-famous Mule Day into a goldmine for Tennessee Tech students for some 30 years.
Alumnus Randy Wilmore nominated the Southern Middle Tennessee Alumni Chapter for this year’s service award because the chapter has raised more than $637,000 and funded more than 200 scholarships during that time.
“It may be out of the ordinary to nominate a group of people rather than an individual, but after moving to Columbia and becoming a part of this unique Tech community, it would be unfair to nominate one person for all the years of service and commitment that a group has made,” said TTU graduate Randy Wilmore.
As the exclusive souvenir provider for Mule Day, the chapter sells caps, T-shirts, buttons, annual theme mugs and belt buckles. The group’s souvenir sales had humble beginnings in 1975 when a group of young alumni bought buttons for 35 cents made at TTU and sold them at Mule Day.
Bob Morgan, the chapter’s current president, said the genesis for the Mule Day fund-raiser came from TTU alumnus Wilson Barnett, who was both chapter president and president of Mule Day in the early 70s.
The chapter’s strong support of Tennessee Tech reaches beyond the scholarships, explained Morgan.
“With 52 members, 10 of those second-generation Tech graduates, we work throughout the year at local, state and national levels to promote the university,” Morgan said. “Some of us have served on the national alumni board and as officers, and in Maury County we work through high school counselors to make sure students are well-informed about Tennessee Tech.”
The chapter annually recognizes high school and junior college transfer students who make Tennessee Tech their choice by featuring their photos in the local newspaper. Morgan said chapter representatives are frequently called on to talk to prospective students during college fairs and other gatherings.
Current year Mule Day souvenirs are available at www.muleday.com.
A Cookeville banker for more than 38 years, Jim Hicks has used his role as a community leader to serve the university in a variety of ways. Hicks, now senior vice president of the Community Bank of the Cumberlands, continues to dedicate himself to supporting the university through scholarships, professional leadership and personal concern.
As American Bank and Trust president, he arranged for the bank to donate the TTU Tennis Center on North Willow Avenue, which was one of the largest donations to the university at that time. During his tenure at AmSouth, he coordinated bank efforts to provide monies to support two annual scholarships in TTU’s College of Business Administration.
“Tennessee Tech University has helped to provide a broader economic base to Putnam County and the Upper Cumberland,” Hicks said. “It has been a leader and has made a tremendous impact on lives and the quality of life available. Tech continues to be a visionary university that helps develop students with leadership abilities.”
Particularly active through the College of Business Administration Foundation, Hicks has served as president, vice president and secretary of the Board of Trustees and currently serves as a board member. Through the foundation, he established the Jim and EvonHicks Scholarship for an undergraduate business major. He is also a past recipient of the college’s Louis Johnson Outstanding Alumnus Award.
During recent efforts to renovate spaces in TTU’s Johnson Hall, Hicks supported the Tommy Lynn Executive Suite and Virginia Plummer Reception Room projects. He is frequently involved with other colleges and groups of students.
He’s served on numerous TTU job search committees and was a College of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors Founding Member. He formerly served as chapter adviser for Sigma Chi Fraternity and as a member of the University Christian Center Advisory Board. He was also TTU’s 1978-79 National Chairman of Development.
In his community service, Hicks served as the 2004 Putnam County American Red Cross chairperson as well as the 2004 chairperson for the Friends of Scouting for the Upper Cumberland. He’s held offices including past president of Breakfast Rotary, past chairman of the Cookeville/Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, and treasurer of both the Putnam County Friends of the Library and the Bryan Symphony Orchestra. He also serves as a deacon at Jefferson Avenue Church of Christ.
Hicks, and his wife, Evon, a TTU graduate and supervisor of middle schools and secondary schools in Putnam County, have a son, Lee Turner Hicks of Boston.