History and Traditions

Tennessee Technological University is supported by the state of Tennessee and is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents. Established in 1915 by the Tennessee General Assembly, Tennessee Polytechnic Institute was formally opened as a junior college on September 14, 1916. The buildings and grounds of Dixie College, a private school, were purchased, and two new dormitories were built with funds provided by Putnam County and the city of Cookeville. Additional course work was added in 1924 and 1928, and the first four-year degrees were awarded in 1929. Full accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools was attained on March 31, 1939. In 1948, the instructional program was expanded and organized into five schools: Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Home Economics, Business Administration, Education, and Engineering. In 1950, TTU added the Department of Military Science, and in 1951 commissioned the first class of eleven officers. Since that time TTU has commissioned over fifteen hundred officers for service in the U.S. Army, the U.S. Reserve, and the Army National Guard. Many of these have served with great distinction in positions of national importance. In 1958, the program grew to include the Graduate School offering the Master of Arts degree in Education, and in 1964 the Master of Science degree in Engineering was added. The Specialist in Education degree was authorized in 1970, the Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering in 1971, the Master of Business Administration in 1976, the Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Sciences in 1997, and the Doctor of Philosophy in Exceptional Learning in 2000. The University granted its first three Master’s degrees in August 1959. On July 1, 1965, by action of the 84th General Assembly, the name of the institution was changed to Tennessee Technological University. In 1980, the School of Nursing began offering a B.S. degree, and the Joe L. Evins Appalachian Center for Crafts began offering a baccalaureate degree. In 1986, the English department began offering the B.S. degree in Technical Communications, the only degree of its kind in the state at that time. In Fall 1997, a B.S. degree in World Cultures and Business was implemented and the B.S. degree in Computer Engineering was added in 1998. The School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Extended Education was added in 2001 to develop and implement new baccalaureate degrees in the rapidly developing areas of business and technology. TTU was the first Tennessee Board of Regents’ school to graduate a student with the degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. Tech’s multipurpose instructional program, in an age of emphasis on scientific and engineering training, has increasingly attracted students from Tennessee, many other states, and a number of foreign countries. The school colors, purple and gold, were suggested by the beauty of the purple flowers of the iron plant and the golden blossoms of the goldenrod which adorned the roadside and fields of the Cookeville area when Tech first opened. The colors became symbolic of the motto, “In education there is strength and value.” Tech’s athletic teams did not have a name or symbol until 1925, when the Athletic Association selected “Golden Eagle” from suggestions submitted by students to the campus newspaper. The name of the student yearbook was changed from Tech Dynamo to The Eagle; pictures of the eagle soon were used on other publications. The Golden Eagle, which sits on the tower atop Derryberry Hall today, first appeared on the campus during the 1952-53 school year, when a group of students “borrowed” it from a Monteagle motel for a pre-game rally. At the request of Governor Frank G. Clement, the owner, John W. Harton, gave the eagle to Tech on June 5, 1958. It is a constant reminder of Tech spirit. The eagle received its golden finish in 1961, when it was placed in its present location. The late Mrs. Joan Derryberry, concert pianist, former instructor of music at Tech and wife of a past president of the University, composed the “Tennessee Tech Hymn,” which was first presented to the public on the commencement program in 1943. The hymn was adopted by the Associated Student Body, the Alumni Association and the faculty as the official college hymn. In 1949 a ring was designed which incorporated the Golden Eagle, first used by the class of 1929. By action of the Student Council of the Associated Student Body, the Administrative Council, the Tech Alumni Association and the faculty, this design was accepted as Tennessee Tech’s official class ring. Appropriate revisions were made in the design of the ring when the institution achieved university status in 1965.