July 2020 Issue of the Alumnus
Leona Lusk Officer Black Cultural Center celebrates 30 years
August 2020 will mark the 30th anniversary of the Leona Lusk Officer Black Cultural Center. The Black Cultural Center was established as a place where Tennessee Tech African-American students could find support among their peers and officially opened its doors in August of 1990. In the spring of 1996, black students and staff voted to rename the Cultural Center after Leona Lusk Officer, the first black graduate of Tennessee Tech. She graduated from Tech in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education.
Located in the Roaden University Center Room 258, the Center provides programs to encourage cultural awareness and educational opportunities outside of the classroom. Students can come to the Center to study and network with other students in the lounge or participate in numerous events hosted throughout the year. A library and computer lab are also available for students.
Several virtual and (hopefully!) in-person anniversary events are being planned throughout the 2020-21 academic school year. More information will be shared on the Multicultural Affairs Office website soon.
Provost shares research with thousands online
Tennessee Tech provost Lori Bruce is accustomed to giving lectures. One of the distinguished lecturers of the geoscience and remote sensing society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Bruce normally has a few hundred to speak to at an event. Earlier this month, however, her research reached thousands. Bruce gave an online presentation titled "Hyperspectral Remote Sensing with Applications of UAVs for Precision Agriculture," which reached more than 14,000 people.
Students enjoying Marc L. Burnett Fitness and Recreation Center
The clanking of weights and the splashing of pool water in the new Marc L. Burnett Fitness and Recreation Center are welcomed sounds to students at Tennessee Tech. The new 157,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility is now open to students, faculty, staff, retired faculty and staff, and Tech alumni.
Professor emeritus and former associate vice president for Academic Affairs Leo McGee announces latest book
The Crawford Alumni Center recently spoke with Leo McGee, professor emeritus and former associate vice president for Academic Affairs at Tech, about his latest book, Letters of the Heart. McGee shared the history behind the story:
"Letters of the Heart had its roots in the ‘50s in Crossett, AR. From age 12 through high school, I worked in the yard of Mrs. Mary Conner. Then I was off to college on a football scholarship. I began my professional career as a school teacher in Chicago and Columbus, OH. I earned masters and Ph.D. degrees from Ohio State. I followed my mentor at OSU, Dr. Arliss Roaden, to Tech in 1977.
On my returns to Crossett, I always visited Mrs. Conner. After her husband took a job in Pennsylvania, I had no contact with her—fifteen years, mind you. In 1983, the current VP of Advancement informed me he had made her acquaintance at a retirement village in Heber Springs, AR. Thus my surrogate/mentor and I began to exchange letters—for twenty years, 1983-2003. I retained all the letters because I knew for sure that this wonderful exchange across racial lines was indeed unique.
The book speaks to the 'instinctive humanitarianism' exhibited by this wonderful human being. She has left an indelible impression on me regarding effective race relations, and she visited my family in Cookeville on two occasions."
McGee retired in 2007 and has authored or co-authored several books. In 2019, he released his book titled Some of the Funniest Things Happen in College Settings.
True To Tech Donors: Why are you True?
We call alumni and friends who loyally give each year True To Tech. In fact, once you have given to Tech two years consecutively, you are automatically a True To Tech donor. Regardless of how much you give or to which fund you give, your loyal support of Tech is one reason the University has such a strong reputation.
If you read the Class Notes section of The Alumnus each month, you see the stories of alumni who proudly credit Tech for new careers, promotions, awards, collaborations, research, and discoveries In one way or another, the support from Tech’s True To Tech donors has made a Tech education possible for thousands of alumni, and we are grateful for more than 2,300 donors who are members of our True To Tech program.
If you are interested in becoming a True To Tech member, all that is required is to make a gift for two or more consecutive years. As a thank you, each year we'll send you a True To Tech car decal and magnet displaying the number of years you have given to Tech. We hope you'll display these on your car, refrigerator, or filing cabinet to show your Tech Pride. If you have questions about becoming True To Tech, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you True To Tech? If so, why are you True? In other words, what motivates you to give? We’d love to hear your story. Please email us at email@example.com and tell us why you choose to give to Tennessee Tech.
Alumni Book Club to read American Dirt in August
If you haven't joined the Tennessee Tech Alumni Book Club, it's not too late! We've had great discussions about Tara Westover's Educated: A Memoir, Malcolm Gladwell's Talking to Strangers, and Delia Owens' Where the Crawdads Sing. In August, we'll be reading American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. To join, click the link below to request access to the private Facebook group. If you have any questions or suggestions for books to read in future months, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We've added a new monthly feature in The Alumnus to test your knowledge of all things Tech. Last month we asked the following question:
Once mandatory for young men attending Tennessee Tech and made voluntary in 1972, in what year did women first join Tech’s ROTC program?
The answer was 1973. Several alumni guessed correctly, and the winner of the drawing for some Tech SWAG was Chris S. Cox!
Christy Vermillion, 91 technical communication, shared this fun bit of trivia with us as well:
"My mom, Peggy Rittenberry, was the secretary of Tech's ROTC department from 1965 to 2009. TECH-nically, she was the first female in Tech's ROTC department!"
Thank you, Peggy, for your many years of service to Tech ROTC and to your daughter, Christy, for sharing this with us.
This month's question is as follows:
In 1993, the third annual International Submarine Races were held in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The team from Tennessee Tech took several prizes, including the $5,000 grand prize for its joystick-operated, human-powered (via pedals) submersible vehicle. What was the name of Tech’s 120-pound sub?
If you know the answer, email email@example.com. We'll randomly select one of the correct answers to win some Tech swag!
Are you curious about investing? Unsure how to get started? Skeptical of the stock market during these uncertain times?
Lofton Carter, '20 biology, is an MBA candidate and graduate assistant in the Crawford Alumni Center. He has a passion for financial independence and investing and is excited to share some investment tips with his fellow alumni through a series of blog posts.
Lofton's first blog is titled "Staying the Course: The Secret to Retiring Early."
"The four most dangerous words in investing are ‘This time it's different.'" --Sir John Templeton
Ugh, it happened again! It's been months and your investments are still at rock bottom. Half your portfolio has been wiped out. Selling low is a mistake all too common in volatile times. Many people believe investing in the stock market is just gambling. While this may be true in the short term, history tells a different story for the long term. Over the past 100 years, the market has averaged 7% gains per year. Keep in mind the last century included two World Wars, the Great Depression, the Dot-Com crash, the Great Recession, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, investors still made money, as long as they kept their money in the market in well-diversified portfolios. Volatility is part and parcel of being an investor.
To read the full blog post, click the link below.
This month, the University Archives blog shares the story of Professor Emeritus Robert E. Jager and the original scores and manuscripts he recently donated to the archives. The three-time winner of the American Bandmasters Association Ostwald Composition Award donated his personal archives, dating from 1956 to 2018. The archives include original sketchbooks and manuscripts, published and unpublished musical scores, and papers that provide a near-complete account of his music career as a conductor and composer from early childhood through 2018.
A large portion of the Robert E. Jager papers, including published works and audio recordings, are available to search via Eagle Search. This collection showcases his musical process from the beginning stages of development to finish. The papers are open to all researchers wishing to read about Jager's history, career, and subsequent influence on the musical community or to casual patrons interested in hearing the fabulous compositions.
Photo: Robert Jager at his desk in 1982
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 the full blog post below:
Do you have a question about resume writing, interviewing, or career planning? Email Russ, and you might just see your question answered in a future edition of "Career Corner"!
Dr. Joseph W. Underwood, '75 speech and theater, retired on June 30 after teaching since 1985 at Miami Senior High School in Miami, FL. Some of his many accomplishments include FEA Teacher of Excellence in 2010, Miami High Alumni Association Teacher of the Year in 2009, Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher in Tokyo in 2008, and National Teacher Hall of Fame Inductee in 2007.
Julie A. Vincent, '01 M.A. curriculum and instruction and '08 Ed.S. instructional leadership, was named Special Education Supervisor for Cannon County Schools. Read more.
Matt Howard, '16 wildlife and fisheries science, has been named TWRA Officer for DeKalb County. Read more.
Janet E. Graham, '77 B.S. elementary education, '81 M.A. administration and supervision, '03 Ed.S. instructional leadership, recently retired from the Cumberland County school system, closing out a 43-year career in education. Read more.
Kent Eastman, '81 finance, has been named executive vice president and Texas Division president for Simmons Bank. His responsibilities range from overseeing business development and brand awareness to driving community engagement. Read more.
Derek Bergman, '01 industrial technology and history, was recently promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserves. He is currently on active duty and serves as the Intel Plans Operations Officer for G2 (Intelligence & Security Directorate) of the US Army Materiel Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL. Derek received his commission from the Tennessee Tech Army ROTC program in August 2001. Since then, he has spent 14 years with the Alabama Army National Guard and four years with the Army Reserves.
Thomas Greer, '02 history, partner at Bailey & Greer, PLLC, has been named Outstanding Tennessee Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA). View a video about Thomas Greer and his award here.
Dr. Robert Summers, '97 history and '98 foreign language, has been named vice provost of International Affairs at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU).
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
July 27-29: Diploma frames $25 off
The University Bookstore also offers some high-end Tennessee Tech items including Cutter & Buck shirts, 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. But these are great options if you are looking for something unique for yourself or a nice gift for someone else.
NOTE: The University Bookstore is currently closed to visitors but is still open for online purchases.
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!