J.W. and Lori Bruce
Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Provost Lori Bruce and Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering J.W. Bruce made their first gift to Tennessee Tech not long after joining the President's Cabinet and College of Engineering faculty, respectively. In addition to making their first gift to Tech, the Bruces also joined the President's Club, a giving society created nearly 40 years ago to recognize the many friends who loyally support the University. Now, they hope to inspire others to give back through the "I Heart Tech Students" faculty and staff giving campaign.
"We wish every Tennessee Tech employee would give through our faculty and staff giving campaign," they said. "The amount of the gift is not nearly as important as the act of giving. There is a saying, 'It isn't the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it.' When we give to Tennessee Tech, especially when we support student activities on campus, we are communicating to the students that what they are doing is important to us."
The Bruces say they enjoy working at Tennessee Tech because of the great team atmosphere and because of the students who keep them energized, push them to have fresh perspectives on all aspects of life, and inspire them to make the University the very best.
"Neither of my parents had the opportunity to go to college when they graduated high school," said Dr. Lori Bruce. "So when I was young, they stressed the importance of education and the belief that a university education could help you become whatever you wanted to be in life. When I was a teenager, my mother earned her bachelor's degree, and I saw firsthand how her education broadened her perspectives of the world and allowed her to have a much more personally-fulfilling and higher-paying job. Education just opens so many doors of opportunity."
Dr. J.W. Bruce added, "Our undergraduate and graduate educations have enabled us to have careers that we love--careers that have provided us with life experiences that we could never have imagined possible. We want everyone, especially Tennessee Tech students, to have those same kinds of opportunities and experiences."
The Bruces designated their first gift to support the TTU Baja team. Dr. J.W. Bruce has been the faculty advisor to several student projects and similar competition teams throughout the years and has witnessed firsthand that no matter how well you plan, there are always issues (and the associated expenses) that crop up unexpectedly.
"I vividly remember the times when my teams struggled with where to find the resources to address the unexpected," said Dr. J.W. Bruce. "It seems that every time, someone stepped up and helped us out, and everything worked out in the end. We felt this was our opportunity to be that someone to step up and help Tennessee Tech students."
The TTU Baja team has a special sentiment to the Bruces. They met as undergraduates when they were both studying engineering, and they worked on a student design team while dating. The two spent many hours working side by side designing and building small autonomous vehicles and taking them to competitions.
Dr. Lori Bruce finds it remarkable that Tech's Baja team started in 1977 in the basement of Brown Hall. In the 40 years since, Tech's student team has finished in the top ten in more than 80% of the competitions they have entered and have placed 1st 12 times, making them the leading National Champion overall.
Dr. Lori Bruce added, "I have personally visited with the Baja student team and their faculty advisor, and they greatly impressed me with their technical skills, teamwork, tenacity, and competitiveness. It is no surprise that they build high quality vehicles that win races and bring national prestige to Tennessee Tech."
"Giving is contagious," said the Bruces. "When we give to Tennessee Tech, it can have a ripple effect of generosity through our community. We hope that our gift inspires others to give back to our students! Together, we can help Tennessee Tech move to even greater successes and heights."
Wilmore gives to Tennessee Tech Athletics because he understands the demands of the student-athlete and believes athletics to be the front door of the University.
"While I want Tech to succeed on the field of competition, I know the biggest impact occurs when these students leave Tech and make a difference in their communities and beyond," he said. "While my college athletic career was very short and I was not a very good athlete, I was determined to be a great teammate. You do not have to be the best player to be an important part of the team. We all have a skillset we bring to every situation, and learning how to work together as a team and respect different abilities and talents only makes the group stronger and better."
Wilmore's career began in banking, but he eventually transitioned into medical practice management where he worked primarily with medical groups, hospitals, and HCA executives. His healthcare career spanned more than 20 years and ultimately brought him to Columbia as the Chief Executive Officer of Mid-Tennessee Bone and Joint Clinic and later at Family Health Group. Columbia introduced him to Farm Bureau, and he made his latest career move to Farm Bureau Health Plans as Chief Marketing Officer.
"I feel very fortunate to be at the Farm Bureau and part of an organization dedicated to the family and the unique culture that comes with working for a company whose board of directors is comprised of fulltime farmers. I only wish it had not taken me 30 years to get here."
In reflecting on how Tech helped him in his career, Wilmore explained, "Tech allowed me to grow and do things I would never have dreamed possible as a student. Those experiences, whether they were successes or failures, made me a better person and prepared me for life in the real world."
Wilmore gives back, not only to his alma mater through financial support, but through his time to civic organizations as well.
"When I was chairing the Clinic Bowl in 1992, I remember my grandfather asking me, 'How much are you getting paid to do that?' It made me stop and think about why I spent so much time volunteering, and the answer was simple: It brings me much joy. Community service has always been something I've done. It was true in high school, it was true at Tech, and it has continued to be a big part of my life today. I really feel we all have a responsibility to give back and try to leave things better than we found them."
Wilmore said he tries to get back to campus as often as he can, whether it be for a football game, basketball game, alumni board meeting, or fraternity graduate dinner.
He added, "It is impressive to see the great changes taking place on campus and inspiring to see the next generation attending Tech. Wings Up!"