Remembering campus in 1970 and 71 as classes join the Golden Grad Society

A crowd gather on campus in 1971.

Each year Tennessee Tech University honors their Golden Grads at the homecoming festivities: graduates who earned their degrees 50 years ago. Because of last year’s altered homecoming schedule, Tech honored graduates from years 1970 and 1971 as part of its 90th homecoming ceremonies.

Here are just a few things that were going on around Tech’s campus in those years, according to old issues of The Oracle newspaper:

  • The university boasted of its largest freshmen enrollment since 1966: 2,008 freshmen, making it 5,784 students in total on campus. Homecoming 1971
  • The spiral stairway in the “new” University Center is claimed to be the largest of its kind in the world, according to the Oracle on Oct. 9, 1970.
  • Also in October of 1970, plans for the library were being discussed, though a completion date had not yet been set. Though there were arguments about where or not it should take priority over the construction of a new coliseum. “Since the coliseum is a revenue producing structure, we can borrow money for it,” said William L. Jones, business manager at Tech at the time. “The library has to be funded entirely from state funds.”
  • The announcement of the opening of the new Chemical Civil Engineering Building was the headline of the paper on Oct. 23, 1970. It was set to be the largest classroom laboratory structure at Tech. Construction began in the fall of 1969 and its opening was slated for spring of 1971. Homecoming marching band 1971
  • The musical group The Temptations was a sell out in November of 1971. Oracle Reporter P.R. Patel wrote, “The secret is, they sing and dance the way everybody would like to. They have the coordinated delicacy that most ballet corps vie. They sing with a harmony which has its roots in the old gospel songs but has a special dash of the contemporary.”
  • The new University Center was fully opened to students on a regular basis on Jan. 3, 1971. According to The Oracle, the new building doubled the business of all the facilities inside, including the book store, cafeteria and snack bar.A picnic on the Main Quad in 1970
  • Summer job postings from April 16, 1971, show employers wanting to hire student summer workers at places such as Jack Sell’s Bookstore, Johnny’s Pizza, and Echo Valley Pool.
  • Governor Winfield Dunn and other high-ranking officials in the Tennessee state government were speakers at the inaugural Governor’s Collegiate Forum at Tech on May 7-8 in 1971.
  • Tech rifle team members set a new world civilian prone team record (160 rounds), which was only 13 points less than a perfect sore.
  • The Ice Cream Shop opened up in the University Center in October of ’71, the proceeds of which went back to Food Services. There were 20 flavors to choose from, but “if enough people request a certain flavor of ice cream, the shop will order it.”

Tennessee Tech Homecoming Parade 1971

Photos courtesy of University Archives.

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