The Distinguished Alumnus, Outstanding Service and Outstanding Young Alumnus awards are the highest bestowed by the university’s alumni association. They recognize those who have demonstrated professional excellence and achievement or outstanding service to the university.
This year’s Distinguished Alumnus award winners are M. Dianne Murphy, athletic director at Columbia University, and Terry W. Warren, a strategic planner for international insurance broker Willis Group and an accomplished artist. Cookeville business leaders Lem and Donna McSpadden are this year’s Outstanding Service Award winners. Donald D. Viar, owner and managing partner of Cookeville’s Epic Technologies, and Stephen A. Arnette, director of professional service for Sverdrup Technology, are this year’s Outstanding Young Alumni.
The awards reception and ceremony is set for 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4, in the Tech Pride Room of the Roaden University Center. The public is invited and welcome to this and other free Homecoming events.
Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
M. Dianne Murphy
A native of Putnam County and a 1972 and 1973 health and physical education graduate of TTU, Murphy was named athletic director at Columbia University in August 2004 and has served in that position since last November.
Prior to joining Columbia University, she served for six years at the University of Denver, transforming its athletics program from Division II status into one of the top Division I programs in the country, winning four NCAA Division I titles and making it a model for regional and national academic excellence. In 2003, Denver’s program finished in the top 20 percent of all NCAA Division I schools in the USSA Director’s Cup.
Murphy previously served as associate athletics director and senior woman administrator at Cornell University, where she oversaw nine Division I sports, marketing and promotions, sports information and alumni and booster activities.
An 18-year veteran athletics administrator, Murphy served as assistant athletics director responsible for external operations at the University of Iowa, coached for 13 years as head women’s basketball coach at Eastern Kentucky, Florida State University and Shorter College and held several teaching positions.
Murphy was named 2003 Administrator of the Year by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics General Sports Turf West Region Athletic Director of the Year for 2003-04.
Terry W. Warren
Warren began his career in 1974 as a management engineer for Carolinas Hospital and Health Services in Spartanburg, S. C., after graduating from TTU the previous year with a degree in industrial engineering.
In 1975, he began an 11-year career with the Hospital Corp. of America, serving as vice president for management services in Nashville until 1981 and in Sydney, Australia, until 1983. He then returned to Nashville, where he served as director for national accounts until 1986.
In 1987, he joined the Willis Corroon Group, now known as the Willis Group, which is one of the world’s largest firms specializing in risk management services. It employs more than 14,500 people in 300 offices in 100 different countries.
Warren held various high level positions before moving into his current position with the organization in 2003. Currently, he serves as an assistant to the CEO of Willis North America and fills the role of chief change agent for the organization.
Also an accomplished painter, Warren’s first public art show is set for March 1, 2006, at Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville. In an art career that began in 1982, he studied under Jean Poole in Sydney and Mildred Williams and Sandy Shou in Nashville. His style is photorealism, and he is primarily a landscape artist who works in acrylics, colored pencil and pen and ink. He especially enjoys painting New England landscapes, and his show next year will feature works from a series on the Cape Cod area.
Outstanding Service Award Winners
Lem and Donna McSpadden
Cookeville couple and businesspeople Lem and Donna McSpadden, alumni who have been major financial contributors to TTU since 1985, received one of the first ever Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Philanthropy from the Tennessee Board of Regents in 2002.
Donna is a TTU business administration graduate who has served since 2000 as a senior consultant at DLM Associates in Cookeville, providing medical management consulting services and practice set-ups.
Her career began in 1975 as an accounting manager at Cookeville Regional Medical Center, then Cookeville General Hospital. In 1979, she began what would become a 13-year career as an administrator at Putnam Radiology, P.C., in Cookeville, a four physician, 11-employee radiology group that underwent three building projects during her service.
Prior to her current position, she served as president and CEO of Medical Consulting Specialists Inc., of Cookeville, from 1993 until selling the business in 1999. During her service, the organization, which provides management and billing services to medical practices, maintained 20 employees and underwent two construction projects.
Lem, a TTU industrial technology graduate, is owner of Cookeville’s A+ Home Inspection Services, which has provided examinations of structures and their operating components since 2002 in order to help both buyers and sellers.
He started the business after a 30-year career with Fleetguard in Nashville, where he served as a sales training manager before being promoted to senior account manager and retiring as a global account executive.
Throughout their careers, the McSpaddens have established scholarships supporting various colleges and departments at TTU, including engineering and business.
Outstanding Young Alumnus Awards
Donald D. Viar
Viar is a life-long entrepreneur who started his first business out of his parent’s basement when he was still in high school. He started his second business, a consulting business to meet the technological needs of small businesses, while he was still a student at TTU.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in 1992 in business administration with an emphasis in management information systems, and a master’s two years later in business administration with an emphasis in accounting, he began his career as a certified public accountant and financial auditor for Ernst and Young.
He soon became a key resource on the firm’s elite National Health Care Emerging Technologies team, where he frequently served as an adviser for technology decisions to top executives of multi-billion dollar and Fortune 100 health care companies. At the height of the “dot com” boom, Viar helped co-found ConnectedHealth.Net, a $15 million subsidiary of Ernst and Young that delivers healthcare news and continuing education services over the Internet.
In 1998, he became lead financial officer for the retail products division of Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores, where he worked for two years before the lure of entrepreneurialism struck again.
Today, Viar serves as owner and managing partner of Epic Technologies of Cookeville, which develops advanced voice and data communication solutions and provides data security consulting services for more than 425 organizations across the Southeast region. In 2003, industry trade publication CRN Magazine named the company as the 14th fastest growing technology reseller in North America.
Stephen A. Arnette
A 1990 graduate of TTU’s mechanical engineering program, Arnette earned both a master’s degree and doctorate before he began his career in 1995 at Sverdrup Technology, a 4,500-employee, $700 million-revenue subsidiary of Jacobs Engineering. His responsibilities included design analysis and engineering, project management and establishment of a computational fluid dynamics capability.
He left the following year to teach in the mechanical and aerospace engineering department at the University of Dayton, where in one year, he helped acquire research support totaling $200,000 from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the State of Ohio.
He returned to Sverdrup Technology in 1997 to help form the Aerodynamic Engineering and Research Branch, which is dedicated to aerodynamics, acoustics, experimental methods and computational simulation.
In October 1999, Arnette formed the Advanced Technology Segment, a new business unit within the company that provides advanced engineering services to clients in the automotive and aerospace markets.
In December 1999, he became the youngest vice president in the history of Sverdrup Technology. As vice president and director of Advanced Technology, he is responsible for the performance of the segment’s two engineering groups — one in Tullahoma and the other in Southfield, Mich.