Tennessee Tech News

Five to receive alumni honors

Published Thursday Feb 8, 1996

Their fields of endeavor range across arenas of scientific research, education, commerce and medicine. Although their disciplines vary, they share a key quality: Through their work, their spirit and their lives, they have made a positive, lasting impact on our world. And for that reason, Tennessee Technological University is recognizing them as its 1996 Outstanding Alumni.

Tennessee Tech honored five of its own with Outstanding Alumni Awards during an awards dinner Feb. 16, in the University Center Multipurpose Room. The university's 1996 winners are:

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award

Alicia Brahmstedt Mueller, Class of '83, Music Education

In a very short time, Cookeville native Alicia Mueller has developed a distinguished record both on and off the campus of Washington State University, where she holds the rank of assistant professor of music. Hired to reorganize and develop the university's music education program, Mueller has created courses vital and current to the students' future job market, and effected a turnaround in the program's enrollment. Faculty colleagues point to Mueller's caring nature and the positive role model she provides to students, particularly those aspiring to professional careers in music.

Simultaneously with her work at the university, Mueller has taken a leadership role in the state of Washington and in the national music education scene with her research and the quality of her teaching. A prestigious honor came her way last fall, when the foremost music education organization in the nation invited her to give a 75-minute demonstration of the music concepts she has been researching at its national conference. In April, she will do just that when the Music Educators National Conference holds its biennial gathering. Such opportunities for young scholars are rare, especially at MENC, which normally reserves individual presentations of that length for the nation's most notable music educators.

Mueller is the daughter of Tennessee Tech music faculty member Howard and Patricia Brahmstedt, who served as an adjunct faculty member in music for many years. Mueller holds a master's in music education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; teacher certification from George Mason University; and a doctor of education degree in music/secondary education from Arizona State University.

Distinguished Alumnus Awards

Barbara Fleming, Class of '71, Biology

Shelbyville native Barbara Fleming has made substantive contributions as a physician and senior health policy analyst and in her current role as clinical advisor to the Division of Quality Management and Improvement of the Health Care Financing Administration. Juggling policy interests with her medical practice, she serves as an attending physician with the Internal Medicine Clinic at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

In her distinguished career, Fleming has held positions with the National Institutes of Health, the North Carolina State Health Department and other governmental agencies.

One of her continuing focuses has been on advancing understanding and treatment of diabetes. To this end, she has contributed to a series of high-level, multi-agency efforts that aim to bring coherence to this area of medicine. The programs' aims range from formulating a national diabetes education program to coordinating diabetes research to developing national standards of certification for providers of care to patients with diabetes.

Fleming lives in Silver Springs, Md., with her husband Jim, whom Tennessee Tech is also honoring this year. She holds a master's in nutrition from Auburn; a Ph.D. in the same field from Cornell; an M.D. from the University of Maryland; and a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institutes of Health and National Institute on Aging.

Jim Fleming, Class of '71, Biology

Like his wife and fellow award recipient, Jim Fleming has made considerable contributions to policy formulation and research. His focus, though, is areas of wildlife science. As deputy chief of the Division of Cooperative Research with the National Biological Service, Fleming works to establish national program direction and administration of the work of 144 Ph.D. federal scientists located at 56 cooperative fishery and wildlife research units nationwide, including one at Tennessee Tech.

The units he oversees foster partnerships between the federal government, state fish and wildlife agency and participating universities. For Fleming it's a natural role. His career has spanned service as a zoological researcher, faculty member and sector leader in wetland ecology.

Working for the biological service, Fleming established a research program on environmental contaminants and their effects on wildlife. Another contribution was drafting a DDT monitoring program adopted for use by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for implementation at Wheeler National Wildlife Reserve. Much of his work has concentrated on the effects of contaminants on bird populations, with Fleming contributing research findings that formed a database used by state and federal agencies to establish guidelines for the management and protection of our nation's wildlife resources.

Fleming earned a master's in wildlife management from Auburn and a Ph.D. in wildlife science from Cornell.

Outstanding Service Awards

Jimmy Mackie, Classes of '55 and '57, Business Management and Accounting

In 1958 fresh out of Tennessee Tech, Jimmy Mackie started a company that had but one other employee. The Cookeville native had a vision of establishing a distribution network that would serve area needs. Through his efforts, the small company blossomed into today's wide-ranging Institutional Wholesale Company of Cookeville, a 100-employee organization that supplies food and associated goods to hospitals, restaurants and schools across Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky.

Mackie's abilities to see and achieve potential have made him a valuable adviser to business and education. He has served as a director of the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce and member of the boards of directors of First Tennessee Bank and Frosty Acres Brands, one of two organizations affiliated with Institutional Wholesale. He is also active in the National-American Wholesale Grocers Association.

His leadership also extends to his alma mater. For years, Mackie has served Tennessee Tech's College of Business Administration, and currently is vice president of its foundation. He and his brother established an endowed scholarship for business majors at the university. In these ways, Mackie imparts leadership to Tennessee Tech, Cookeville organizations and the community that helps fulfill their vision and potential.

Elizabeth Ellis Taylor, Chemistry

Elizabeth Ellis Taylor focuses on potential -- a quality she sees in young minds and hearts. A born educator and nurturer, Taylor has taught hundreds of students in South Carolina, guiding them in the principles of science and, more broadly, habits of mind that enable them to succeed.

Now retired, she actively contributes time, money, food and clothing to individuals who slip through the service networks of established charitable organizations. For two decades, she has volunteered at Faith Memorial School, where she tutors some 50 students, ranging from kindergartners through fifth-graders.

Through her years of service to Tennessee Tech, Taylor has set an example for other alumni to follow. More than 20 years ago, she established a reunion for alumni who had graduated from Tennessee Tech prior to 1940. She called it the "Pre-40's group." Taylor organized the event, mailed invitations and personally paid all expenses of the reunion for at least 15 years of its existence. The group now meets the second Wednesday of August each year and is one of the most loyal of the university's alumni organizations.

Taylor's service includes contributions to the South Carolina State Board of Education, the Daughters of American Revolution and a number of educational, political and social organizations. Today she makes her home in Greer, South Carolina.

After three years of study at Tennessee Tech, Taylor transferred to Winthrop College, where she earned a bachelor's in chemistry and science. She later received a master's in education from Furman University.

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