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November 2019  

Class of 1969 celebrates 50 years and joins Golden Grad Society

 Group photo of members of Class of 1969 at Medallion Ceremony, held November 7, 2019

More than 50 members of the class of 1969 recently returned to campus to participate in homecoming activities, celebrate their 50th reunion, and be inducted into the Golden Grad Society. These Tech alumni shared class memories over lunch in Memorial Gym (a significant building for the class because it's where they attended the required public programs class, concerts, dances, sporting events, and graduation), went on a campus tour, attended a homecoming parade viewing party, were welcomed as special guests in the president's tailgate tent, and had reserved seating at the homecoming football game. President Phil Oldham also presented the class of 1969 with their medallions at an official induction ceremony into the Golden Grad Society which consists of all Tech alumni who have celebrated their golden anniversary.

Each year, the golden grads come together to support Tech through a class gift and, coincidentally, the class of 1969 class gift totaled $69,000! The class gift focused on the Eagle Assistance Grant this year.


Greek Life celebrates 50 years at Tennessee Tech
Sorority particpating in game where they are sitting on the ground and holding onto the feel of the person behind them.

On November 15, 1956, approximately 200 male students attended a meeting in Derryberry Hall to hear student leaders discuss a proposal to establish a fraternity system at Tennessee Tech. It would be another 13 years before Tech students would see official Greek organizations on campus. Many social clubs that operated "underground" for years formed charters with national fraternities and sororities and by 1969, seven fraternities and six sororities had acquired national recognition.

Prior to 1969, the Tennessee Tech handbook stated, "Secret societies or fraternities are prohibited." Fraternity and sorority members met off campus to avoid being expelled from school for belonging to a non-campus organization. How much President Derryberry knew or admitted to knowing about these secret societies remains a mystery; however, many alumni say Derryberry knew everything that went on at Tech. 

Nearly half of the organizations that went national in 1969 are still in existence at Tech in 2019, and many celebrated their 50th anniversary this year. Greek organizations have come a long a way from having to operate in secret; today, fraternities and sororities have a strong public presence--both on campus and in the community.


Giving Tuesday to focus on Eagle Assistance Grant on December 3

 Save the Date, December 3, 2019 #Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is an international day of giving celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving each year. This day of giving originated in 2012, and 2019 will be Tech's fourth year to participate. The focus this year will be on the Eagle Assistance Grant, a new hardship grant that provides emergency need-based funds that can be applied towards any financial hardship. On December 3, Tech alumni and friends will have the option to support the Eagle Assistance Grant Endowment or the Eagle Assistance Grant Fund. Click the links below to watch a video describing what the Eagle Assistance Grant is and a video explaining the difference between the endowment and the fund. Follow us on social media for more information. Help a student today. Help a student tomorrow.

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About the Eagle Assistance Grant:

The difference between an endowment and a fund:

Tech celebrates Veterans Week

 Veterans Day flag ceremony in front of Derryberry Hall

When Travis Williams graduated from Upperman High School in 2011, he decided to serve his country in the United States Army instead of going to college. Eight years later, Williams has the opportunity to pursue a college degree. He is a freshman majoring in legal studies and hopes to become a lawyer someday. Williams is one of many veterans on Tech's campus who were honored during Veterans Week Nov. 11-15.

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New engineering building top priority in the THEC capital projects recommendations

Architectural draft of new engineering building

Members of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission voted today to approve capital projects recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year, and Tennessee Tech's new $55 million engineering building topped the list. According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, each year Tech awards nearly a quarter of all engineering and computer science degrees from Tennessee's nine public universities. The proposed 100,000-square-foot engineering building is a student-centered, interdisciplinary space used by all departments in the College of Engineering, which comprises more than 25% of Tech's students.

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Alumni reception at Vanderbilt University versus Tech women's basketball game

 Tech women's basketball still of woman dribbling ball in a scrimmage.

Join Tech alumni and friends for a pre-game reception as the Golden Eagle Women's Basketball team takes on Vanderbilt University in Nashville on December 5. The reception will be from 4 to 6 p.m., and the game starts at 7 p.m. The cost is $20 per person which includes food and non-alcoholic beverages. Tickets must be purchased separately but are only $5. Click the links below to register for the pre-game reception and to purchase a ticket. Tech alumni and friends are encouraged to purchase tickets in Section F.


What professor changed your world?

What professor changed your world?

"Two Tennessee Tech professors have impacted my life significantly. I met Seanad and Wei-Tsun Chang at a university summer music camp. After that encounter, I knew I would study music. I moved from Michigan to study first with Mrs. Chang and, later, Dr. Chang as well. They gave me invaluable knowledge, support, and friendship. I will forever be grateful for our time together. Thank you will never be enough." --Jill Vickers, '14 interdisciplinary studies

What professor changed your world? Email us at, and you might see your favorite professor story in a future edition of The Alumnus!

read more "world-changing" professor stories

Archives with Atkinson Graphic

photo circa 1969 - female student registering for a foreign language at a table set up on the floor of memorial gymUniversity Archives brought a small pop-up shop exhibit to the 1969 Golden Grad Reunion which included 1960s yearbooks, Tech Times, student handbooks, and course schedules. They also scanned and digitally displayed 500 photographs and original 1969 moon landing magazines. The rules for women in the student handbooks were of particular interest to the group. If you have Tech history tucked away in a closet or basement, contact Tech Archives! They are always looking for history documenting student life and the Upper Cumberland.

University Archivist Megan Atkinson is responsible for collecting, preserving, and making accessible materials of historical significance to the University and the Upper Cumberland. Follow Archives and Special Collections on Facebook, email Megan's office with questions, and watch for more "Archives with Atkinson" in future editions of The Alumnus. 

read archives' blog

Career Corner with Russ


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Class Notes

Ellen Neufeldt, Ed.D., was appointed president of California State University San Marcos. Neufeldt earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing in 1991 and Master of Arts Degree in 1994 from Tech. She also earned a doctorate of education from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Prior to being appointed president, she served as vice president of student engagement and enrollment services for Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Read more

Leslie Sanders, '03 geology, was recently named the Activities Director at Smith County Health and Rehabilitation, a long-term care facility that also offers short-term rehabilitation services.

Email us your promotions, awards, and other achievements, and we'll share in the next edition of The Alumnus!


donor spotlight graphic


John and Anne HendrixElizabeth Hendrix, '64 administration and supervision, and Sybil Hendrix Fagan, '65 elementary education, established the John and Anne Hendrix Tennessee Tech Assistance Endowment in memory of their parents--two people whose opportunity to pursue higher education after high school was limited, yet they valued education and made sure their daughters could attend Tech. Elizabeth and Sybil had been wanting to make a gift to an area in need to honor their parents. After receiving a letter from President Phil Oldham in spring 2019 concerning students facing financial hardships that could jeopardize the completion of a degree, they recognized this was the right fit. The John and Anne Hendrix Assistance Endowment is modeled after and inspired by the Eagle Assistance Grant (EAG), a safety net for students in emergency situations. On December 3, the entire Tennessee Tech community will be invited to participate in Giving Tuesday and join these two sisters in supporting the EAG.

read donor spotlight

Upcoming Tennessee Tech University bookstore sales

Tech Merchandise - TTU Nutcracker

Nov. 26-27: 25% off entire stock of Under Armour and Nike (online only)
Nov. 29-30: 30% off fleece/cold weather/outerwear (online only)
Dec. 2: 25% off all logoed (online only)
Dec. 4-15: 25% off fleece/cold weather/outerwear (in store and online)

The Tennessee Tech nutcracker is back in stock! Click here to purchase. 

If you are looking for button downs and jackets to give as holiday gifts, be sure to order these early, as many are produced on demand and can take up to two weeks to arrive.

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