TTU First Lady Gloria Bell designs university's first official flag

Although technology fills college classrooms, Tennessee Tech University First Lady Gloria Bell senses the timing is right to introduce a traditional symbol to represent the never-changing values of the university she serves.

Bell has designed Tennessee Tech’s first official flag, which will be unveiled to students, faculty, staff and alumni during a series of ceremonies associated with Homecoming 2003.

“This flag is a visual symbol of what I hold in my heart for Tennessee Tech,” she said. “There’s such a great history at this university, and I want to contribute to its legacy in some small way.”

TTU first ladies traditionally have contributed to the university’s culture and history by following their own personal interests and talents. Joan Derryberry wrote the university’s alma mater, the Tech Hymn, in 1943, and arranged for the carillon to play the clock tower bells. As a student, Margaret Prescott was the first female Student Government Association president, as well as editor of the yearbook, and later dedicated herself to several university organizations. Mary Etta Roaden’s unwavering commitment to the Tech Faculty Women's Club facilitated the bonding of new faculty with the Tech family and raised large sums of money for student scholarships. Bell’s predecessor, Jennette Volpe, was known for her hospitality and her community work with hospice patients.

In that same spirit, Bell set out to design a gift for the university that would endure beyond her stay. A flag was her first choice because flags are often used to represent the historic and idyllic characteristics of an institution. Bell’s search through TTU’s archives turned up no evidence of the university ever adopting an official flag.

With scissors, colored wrapping paper and hand-drawings, she put her preliminary ideas down on paper. Later versions were transformed into computer models. On and off for more than a year she worked with groups of alumni and other university representatives to view her designs and help her develop the flag into its final version.

No image of the flag will be released until students are allowed to see the flag at an unveiling ceremony incorporated into this year’s Homecoming Pep Rally.


Bell’s design features three elements that represent historical strengths of the university — the pride, honor and strength and spirit of our students, faculty and staff; the knowledge, intellect and experience of our academic reputation; and the foundation of character, commitment and endurance of our culture.

The university flag will be flown alongside the U.S. and Tennessee flags in prominent locations around campus, including in front of Derryberry Hall. Bell says she hopes to make flags available to alumni and the public though the Alumni Office, with proceeds benefiting the university.

“A flag can visually remind you of the pride you feel,” said Bell. “My hope is that the flag is received with the same spirit in which it is given.”

The flag will first be unveiled at the student Homecoming pep rally at 4 p.m., Friday, Oct. 31, in Memorial Gym. Other campus members and alumni can see the flag at the Alumni Awards Reception at 4:30 p.m. in the O.V.C. Room. The flag will also be presented in a pre-game ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 1, before the football game.

Apply Now