Tennessee Tech’s class of 1972 celebrates Golden Grad reunion

Members of the Class of 1972 give a wings up hand gesture.Tennessee Tech University recently welcomed the class of 1972 back to campus for a Golden Grad reunion during homecoming.

Golden Grads attended a banquet, toured campus, joined a homecoming parade viewing party and were welcomed as special guests in the president’s tailgate tent at the homecoming football game. Alumni from eight different states attended Golden Grad weekend.

“I recently moved back to Cookeville after being away for a number of years,” said Dianne Murphy, `72 health and physical education and `73 M.A. “I’m impressed with how far the university has come under President Phil Oldham’s leadership. The campus has grown so much since my time as a Tech student, but the quality of education remains. The faculty and administrators took an interest in me when I was a student, and they continue to show the same dedication to students today.” 

Oldham presented Golden Grad medallions to the class of 1972 and welcomed them into the Golden Grad Society, which consists of all Tech alumni who have celebrated their 50-year reunion.

“Members of the class of 1972, we are in awe of how far you have gone, how much you have grown and what you have accomplished in the last 50 years,” Oldham said. “Your willingness to credit your Tech education as a key factor in your success is one reason our university’s reputation remains strong today. I hope some of your best memories happened on this campus, in these buildings and in this community. Whether you met your spouse here, found a new best friend or learned a life lesson that impacted your career – it is an honor to be a part of that. You live like we encourage our current students to live. Thank you for making Tennessee Tech what it was in 1972 and what it is today in 2022.”

When the class of 1972 graduated, President Derryberry marked his 32nd year as president. Enrollment neared 7,000. And the university hosted a day-long ceremony to officially name and dedicate 13 new buildings including Pennebaker Hall, Foster Hall and Johnson Hall.

The class of 1972 recalled what was trending in pop culture 50 years ago. “The Godfather” led the box office, while popular television shows included “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Gunsmoke” and “Hawaii Five-O.” “American Pie,” “Lean on Me,” and “Heart of Gold” topped the music charts.

Brooke Fleenor, events coordinator for Tech’s Crawford Alumni Center, says it’s important to honor the university’s history.

“Hosting alumni from 1972 is a connection to Tech’s past,” Fleenor said. “It is always great to hear stories of their campus days, and we are reminded how much the university has grown – both in enrollment and physical space. Listening to alumni talk about the faculty and staff who helped shape them into successful people is my favorite part. Our greatest asset is our people – the alumni, faculty and staff who pour themselves into the next generation of graduates.”

Murphy says it’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years since she graduated, but she was excited to attend her Golden Grad reunion.

“Having the opportunity to attend this year’s reunion allowed me to reconnect with former classmates and meet other graduates I wasn’t acquainted with,” Murphy said. “I know the education students receive today will take them as far as they want to go. It certainly did for me.”

Return to News Room