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December 2020  

President Phil Oldham and First Lady Kari Oldham invite Golden Eagle community to enjoy the tradition of Lighting the Quad

President Phil Oldham and First Lady Kari Oldham sit in front of the lights on the Quad at dusk with their two dogs.

Although Tech did not hold a kickoff event this year, President Phil Oldham and First Lady Kari Oldham invite you to enjoy the tradition of Lighting the Quad. The lights will be turned on each evening at 5:00 p.m. and will be on through Jan. 3. Come out and enjoy the lights with your friends and loved ones and share your photos with us using #TNTechLights!

A video message from Phil and Kari Oldham

Fall 2020 graduates celebrate with live commencement
A photo of socially distanced students during commencement. One of the students is giving the camera the "wings up" sign.

One of the most challenging semesters in the storied history of Tennessee Tech University wrapped up on Saturday, Dec. 12. Almost 700 students came to campus with family and friends to celebrate Fall 2020 commencement ceremonies at the Hooper Eblen Center.

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Giving Tuesday focuses on preserving Tennessee Tech's history for future generations

A historic photo of what is now Derryberry Hall when it was Dixie College. The photo is credited Harding Studio.

While 2020 has been a struggle for many, University Archives and Special Collections chose to create successes out of challenges. From helping survivors of the March 3 tornadoes to documenting stories of the COVID-19 pandemic to making materials more digitally accessible than ever before, Archives has gone above and beyond to help the Golden Eagle community. This is why Tennessee Tech chose to make this area the focus of its Giving Tuesday fundraising efforts this year.

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Tennessee Tech Women's Basketball celebrates 50 years

A classic photo and modern photo of Tech women's basketball. There is a 50 years logo in the center of the graphic.

Once upon a time, a young girl picked up a basketball. From those first dribbles and shots, something clicked. Something told this girl that she too wanted to play this game. It grew into a love of the game, a competitive spirit and much, more more.

Fifty years ago, Marynell Meadors, a recent graduate from Middle Tennessee, saw an opportunity -- give young women the opportunity to play the game, to learn and grow from it and create something that could become not only special to themselves, but to the campus and its community.

As Tennessee Tech celebrates 50 years of women's basketball, we will take an in-depth look back at some of the legendary figures from the program, some of the teams that helped the program take flight and tell the story of some of the greatest victories recorded through the years.

Visit to read the full series of articles or click the links below.

Read "Kicking off the Celebration"

read "the inaugural season"

read "cassity, burgess hastings set the stage for early success"


Troubadours record jazz arrangement of Tech Hymn

A view of the north side of Derryberry Hall - link to

The Tennessee Tech Troubadours recorded the Tech Hymn this semester using a jazz arrangement Professor of Music Chris McCormick wrote a few years ago. The Troubadours are Tech's top jazz band, and they have a long and storied tradition at Tennessee Tech. The first jazz ensemble formed at Tech in 1948 by then-chair of Music, Col. Maurice Haste. By the 1950s, the Troubadours played regularly at dances, both on campus and off. All of the performers in this recording are current Tech students, and the project was recorded in the Bryan Fine Arts Building.

Recording of Tech Hymn

School of Music presents virtual Candlelight Christmas Concert

A photo of music students performing in Wattenbarger Auditorium.

Tennessee Tech's School of Music found ways to perform concerts and recitals safely this semester, and they recently presented their annual Candlelight Christmas Concert virtually. Click the link below to view the concert on YouTube, and follow the Tennessee Tech College of Fine Arts on Facebook to view many more performances online!

watch candlelight christmas concert

Jack Daniel's names chemistry alumnus as new master distillerChris Fletcher is seated at an antique desk in front of a portrait of Jack Daniels.

For Chris Fletcher, '03 chemistry, the journey to becoming master distiller of Jack Daniel's began in Lynchburg, Tennessee, Fletcher's hometown and the home of Jack Daniel Distillery. Fletcher grew up hearing the name Jack Daniel. His maternal grandfather was the company's fifth master distiller, retiring in 1989 when Fletcher was eight years old.

Fletcher's family has a long history with Tennessee Tech as well. His parents, paternal grandfather, sister and brother-in-law all went to Tech, so when it came time to choose a university, Tech was already on his mind.

"I enrolled in chemistry at Tech because I felt like with science, you really learn unique and new things every day," said Fletcher. "Chemistry is what I wanted to study, and that led me down the path of distilling."


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Tech alumnus presented with flag flown over Derryberry Hall

Two gentlemen are shaking hands while one is presented with the framed American Flag and a certificate.

Col. David R. Morrow, '96 mechanical engineering, was commissioned in the United States Air Force (USAF) in front of Derryberry Hall on Aug. 3, 1996. He retired from the USAF on Nov. 25 after 24 years of honorable service and, as is the custom, received an American flag for his service -- but not just any flag. 

Prior to Morrow's retirement ceremony, his long-time friend Devon Parker, '96 mechanical engineering, asked Tennessee Tech if they would fly this flag over Derryberry Hall to honor Morrow's service. And on Oct. 21, the university did just that. When Morrow received his flag, he also received a certificate of authenticity to commemorate the day it flew on the Tech campus.

Parker and Morrow graduated from Tech on the same day -- Aug. 3, 1996 -- both with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering.

A graphic that is made to look like a word find. The words Tennesee, Tech, Trivia, Puzzle, Crawford, Quiz, Games, and Alumni are circled.

A photo of a small, crocheted Awesome Eagle in a white poinsettia plant.

Monthly trivia questions in The Alumnus are designed to test your knowledge of all things Tech! Last month we asked the following question: 

What distinguished Tech alumnus was presented the first Robert Hill Johnson Memorial Award, was the first Tech athlete to play professional football, and is the only athlete to date to have been selected All-OVC in both football and basketball?

The answer was Dr. Flavious Smith. Dr. Smith passed away on Nov. 1 at the age of 91. He was a man who embodied academic and athletic excellence as a Tech student, faculty member and leader, and we wrote the November trivia question to honor his life and legacy. Thank you to all who participated and shared stories about their experiences with Dr. Smith. And congrats to Lloyd Covington who won the drawing for some Tech SWAG!

And now for this month's question:  

In what year was the Tech mascot officially named "Awesome Eagle"?

Hint: There's a clue on the Crawford Alumni Center Facebook page. You've heard of Elf on the Shelf, but what about Awesome in a Blossom? Follow us on Facebook to see Awesome's adventures in the Varsity Building throughout the month of December, and see if you can find the clue that tells when he was officially named!

If you know the answer, email We'll randomly select one of the correct answers to win some Tech SWAG! 

Tech-themed games and activities 

follow the Crawford alumni center on facebook

 Archives with Atkinson Graphic

A group of students in the Leona Lusk Officer Black Cultural Center in a photo dated 10-14-1999.

University Archives is curating three digital exhibits to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of the Leona Lusk Officer Black Cultural Center at Tennessee Tech. The second exhibit focuses on the Center's history and traces the philosophy of Black cultural centers in the United States to the Black student movement of the 1960s and 70s. The exhibit outlines the climate in which Tech students decided to push for the founding of their own center in the late 80s. Exhibit pages describe the continuity and changes in the Center over time, spotlight staff and leaders, and provide a detailed biography of the Center's namesake, Leona Lusk Officer, the first African American student and graduate of Tennessee Tech. The exhibit features more than 60 items including photographs, web pages, scrapbook pages, news releases, flyers and other documents. The exhibit was curated by Hannah O'Daniel McCallon, assistant archivist. 

University Archivist Megan Atkinson and the University Archives staff are 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 their office with questions, and watch for more "Archives with Atkinson" in future editions of The Alumnus. 

Photo top left: Students posing as a group in the Black Cultural Center on Oct. 14, 1999
Source: Office of Intercultural Affairs records

read archives' blog

Follow Tech Archives on Facebook

view history of the leona lusk officer black cultural center exhibit

view black cultural center events exhibit

learn more about the black cultural center's 30th anniversary

Class Notes

A photo of BeckyMagura and Jack Stoddart standing together and a photo of news correspondent Martha Teichner.Becky Magura, '80 B.S. curriculum and instruction and '81 M.A. curriculum and instruction, was featured on CBS Sunday Morning! The segment included CBS News correspondent Martha Teichner; Paula Kerger, PBS president and CEO; and Ken Burns, producer and director, and celebrated the historic milestone of when PBS first went on the air 50 years ago. Magura is the president and CEO of WCTE PBS in Cookeville, TN. Read more and watch the "PBS turns 50" Sunday Morning segment online.

Ricky Shelton, '85 marketing, was named chief strategy officer for Cookeville Regional Medical Center (CRMC) this month. Shelton presently serves as mayor of the City of Cookeville. Read more.

David Hagewood, '82 mechanical engineering, recently became the chief operations officer for Prime Power Services, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, GA, but serving the entire southeast with engineering and emergency generator services.

Traci Holton, '97 civil engineering, has been named 2020 Government Engineer of the Year by the Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers' Nashville Chapter. Holton is the assistant vice president for development and engineering at the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority (MNAA). Read more.

John Arp, '95 electrical engineering, has been promoted to vice president of engineering, operations and power supply at Rappahannock Electric Cooperative. Read more.

Rich Froning, '09 exercise science, physical education and wellness, is a four-time CrossFit Games champion and has been a partner with Reebok for more than 10 years. To celebrate, the brand gave the accomplished athlete his own shoe, remixing its latest model built for the sport -- the Nano 10. Read more.

Blanton Alspaugh, '81 music education, has been nominated for another Grammy! He has received eight Grammys since 2008, including Producer of the Year, Best Opera Recording, Best Choral Performance and Best Ensemble Performance. Read more.

Lee Harrell, '02 history, joined Tennesseans for Quality Early Education (TQEE) as vice president of advocacy and will direct the group's state advocacy work. TQEE is a nonprofit focused on early-learning initiatives. Read more.

Jennifer Brogdon, '96 civil engineering, is the new CEO and general manager of Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation (UCEMC). Read more.

Michael Buckner, '89 wildlife management, has retired after more than 30 years of service, most recently as a wildlife officer for McMinn County, TN. Read more.

Patricia Coffey, '98 biology, retired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this month where she served as deputy district engineer. More than 120 employees, leaders and friends joined the ceremony virtually to recognize Coffey's career and leadership. Read more.

Scott Butler, '96 sociology, has been promoted to deputy chief with the Franklin Police Department where he will be responsible for Field Operations and Special Operations. He has 25 years of law enforcement experience with the Franklin Police Department and Smithville Police Department. Read more.

James Locum, '14 B.S. civil engineering and '15 M.S. civil engineering, and Heather Hall, '98 B.S. civil engineering and '00 M.B.A., along with Tech faculty Dr. L. K. Crouch and Dr. Daniel Badoe, were recently featured in a four-part series in Tennessee Concrete Magazine. The series is titled "Going Past TDOT Specifications to Lower Concrete Permeability" and investigates exceeding limitations on currently approved Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) supplementary cementing materials (SCMs) and using SCMs not currently approved by TDOT.

We continue to be impressed by the successes of Tennessee Tech alumni. Email us your promotions, awards and other achievements, and we'll share in the next edition of The Alumnus

Upcoming Tennessee Tech University bookstore sales

A golden Tennessee Tech snowflake on a purple alumnium tree.

Dec. 17-26: 50% off clearance

Jan. 4-8: Up to 50% off gifts & accessories

Jan. 11-14: 25% off drinkware

Jan. 18-21: 25% off cold weather accessories, fleece/outerwear & blankets

Jan. 25-28: 25% off Under Armour, Nike & Adidas and up to 50% off gifts and accessories

Free shipping on orders of $49 or more!

The bookstore offers some high-end items including jewelry & watches, glassware and home decor items. These items are exclusively sold online, and most are produced on demand so they take about 2-4 weeks for production and shipping. These are great options if you are looking for something unique for yourself or a nice gift for someone else. 

The University Bookstore is now open to serve you. Their hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

shop the Tech bookstore online

The Crawford Alumni Center hopes all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends stay safe and healthy. Please continue to live Wings Up—just keep a six-foot wingspan between you and your fellow Golden Eagles!

The Crawford Alumni Center


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