About The President

For Phil Oldham, who became Tennessee Tech’s ninth president on July 1, 2012, the future at Tech is about building on Tech’s reputation as a nationally ranked and locally loved university, while continuing to elevate the university experience for current and future students.

“Our students are our priority. What we set to accomplish focuses on putting students first,” Oldham said. 

On Oldham’s watch, Tech started the fall 2023 semester with the fourth largest freshman class in university history and has now been ranked as a top national university for nine straight years by U.S. News and World Report. The 2024 rankings listed Tech among the top five universities in the state and the top two public universities. Thanks in part to the growing number of freshmen, the university’s total enrollment for fall 2023 grew to more than 10,100 students. 

Tech’s academic offerings have grown under Oldham’s leadership as well. The university recently added new majors to its 200-plus fields of study, including sought-after programs such as a bachelor’s degree in music with a concentration in live audio engineering and a doctoral degree in higher education. In fall 2024, Tech will launch its highly anticipated nuclear engineering degree program, only the second in the state.

“Tech is continuing to invest in our greatest asset – our students – with more expansive and relevant course offerings,” Oldham said. “There are two things universities must do well: create and disseminate knowledge and identify and develop talent. At Tech, I truly believe we can do those things in a way that sets us apart by providing something students cannot get anywhere else.”

President Oldham posing in front of Lab Science Commons.Under Oldham’s leadership, Tech also continues its role as an economic engine for Tennessee, recording an annual statewide economic impact of $1.52 billion in the last non-pandemic year. One of the ways Tech has stimulated local economies in the state is through its Rural Reimagined Grand Challenge, launched in 2019 at Oldham’s direction. The program leverages the talent of Tech students, faculty and staff to help economically distressed counties. To date, the program has helped hundreds of small businesses at no cost to them and helped drive the number of distressed counties to the lowest level in Tennessee history.

A chemist by training, Oldham is also guiding Tech as it cements its place as a top research institution. On Oldham’s watch, Tech set an all-time record for externally funded research in fiscal year 2023, topping $36.3 million – surpassing the previous record by nearly $13 million.   

Campus construction and revitalization continue at a pace not seen in decades. Since Oldham’s arrival as president, the Jere Whitson Building was renovated, the Roaden University Center was expanded, Centennial Plaza was constructed, and Johnson Hall ­– home to the College of Business – is undergoing a multi-million-dollar renovation slated for completion by spring 2026.

Tech also recently welcomed students into the new Marc L. Burnett Recreation and Fitness Center and the state-of-the-art Laboratory Science Commons, while the Ashraf Islam Engineering Building is expected to be completed in 2024, and plans are underway for rebuilding the west side of Tucker Stadium, along with a new dedicated football operations center.

Before presiding at Tech, Oldham served as provost and senior vice chancellor of academic affairs at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Freed-Hardeman University and his doctorate in analytical chemistry from Texas A&M University, he spent a year following his graduate work at Glaxo Smith-Kline before joining the faculty at Mississippi State University. There, he served as head of the chemistry department for five years prior to becoming dean of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Additionally, Oldham serves on the NCAA Presidential Forum for Division I athletics, the Tennessee Valley Corridor Board of Directors and as board chair for the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to his administrative accomplishments, Oldham has authored more than 35 peer-reviewed research articles, holds two patents and has presented at approximately 100 conferences. His research has been financially supported by the National Science Foundation, American Chemical Society, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Geological Survey and private industry.

Oldham and his wife, Kari, are parents to three sons, Clay, Paden and Sam, and a daughter, Audrey. Their family includes three daughters-in-law, Rebecca, Amy and Ciera, and a grandson, Charlie.


Experience Tech For Yourself

Visit us to see what sets us apart.

Schedule Your Visit