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March 2020  

"I Heart Tech Students" Campaign raises more than $350,000

A yellow graphic with a purple border that reads "I Heart Tech Students"

This year's "I Heart Tech Students" Campaign focused on Tech's Accessible Education Center, Counseling Center, Eagle Assistance Grant, Food Pantry, and Veteran's Center--programs designed to keep students enrolled during challenging times. But when we launched this campaign, we never could have predicted the challenging times that lay ahead for the City of Cookeville, Tennessee Tech, and our nation. After the Mar. 3 tornadoes, students needed these resources more than ever, and thanks to your support, help was there when they asked for it. The Campaign ran from Mar. 10 through Mar. 27 and at its conclusion, Tech faculty, staff, alumni, and friends had raised more than $350,000 for the students affected and the programs that help them stay enrolled. 

While the campaign concluded on Mar. 27, it is never too late to help a student in need. The areas of focus that assisted students affected by the tornadoes earlier this month are now being called on to assist students impacted by COVID-19. Visit our website at to make a gift. Thank you for allowing students to continue to live Wings Up.

Statement on COVID-19 response from Tennessee Tech
Photo of Philip Oldham with a purple hue over the image

Tennessee Tech University has made the safety and health of our students, faculty, and staff a priority in all conversations about our COVID-19 response. Tech will also ensure that students can complete the semester. Spring break was extended to run from Mar. 16 through Mar. 27. On Mar. 30, the university transitioned from face-to-face instruction to online classes and alternate delivery.

All campus events are cancelled through May 9, unless they are being held virtually. Spring commencement is postponed.   

Please note that Hooper Eblen Center is closed for walking and public activities through the end of the semester, the Fitness Center is closed, and the Bookstore will be operating online only. 

Tech's website, 2019 Novel Coronavirus COVID-19, will continue to be updated as new information becomes available.

Tech helping fight COVID-19 with 3-D printing

A 3-D printer is printing the outline of the headband portion of a face mask.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Governor Bill Lee have the goal to use 3-D printers to manufacture headbands for COVID-19 face masks. Tennessee Tech says it has already operationalized, and the initiative is spreading across partner institutions and community members in three Upper Cumberland counties. And it's growing by the minute. 

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Tech thanks students and alumni working in healthcareStock photo of nursing students working in the SIM lab

We are grateful for our students and alumni who work in the healthcare field. Thank you for your service, your desire to help others, and for bravely living Wings Up.

Click the link below to read about some former Tennessee Tech student-athletes and Whitson-Hester School of Nursing graduates who are all playing their part and doing what they can to try to stem the virus's spread. It's a selfless compassion for others that drives them in their work.

Tech ITS supporting campus employees during COVID-19

Still image of Yvette Clark - she has short brown hair and is wearing a gray suit

On Monday, Mar. 30, Tennessee Tech students returned from a two-week spring break and resumed their spring 2020 classes with one significant change: All classes are now online. In the video linked below, Executive Director of Information Technology Services Yvette Clark discusses how ITS is helping faculty and students transition to an online learning environment for the remainder of the semester.

watch video

Accessible Education Center adapting to online environment The staff of the Accessible Education Center are watching as the braile printer generates a document.

An extended spring break and the transition of classes going online will create some challenges around the Tennessee Tech campus. For the staff of the Accessible Education Center, it's a challenge that requires flexibility and creativity.

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Tech loves Cookeville

A female student carries a laundry basket of bedding. Threre are piles of wood and debris behind her  - what remains of homes destroyed by the tornadoes.

Tennessee Tech loves Cookeville. That statement was never more evident than on Mar. 4 when hundreds of students, faculty, and staff turned out to assist tornado victims in the community.

Even though Tennessee Tech did not have any injuries reported or structural damage to any buildings on campus from the EF-4 twister that ravaged homes and businesses and killed 19 people a few miles away, President Phil Oldham canceled classes and closed campus on Mar. 3 and 4. He urged the Tech community to show its love for Cookeville and Putnam County in a Day of Service for those willing and able to volunteer and help victims. 

Click the link below to read the full story. Other stories about Tech's volunteer spirit are linked below as well.

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Volunteer spirit    tornado relief    file recovery

OVC to cancel athletic competitions through end of academic year

logo of the Ohio Valley Conference

The Ohio Valley Conference Board of Presidents have announced the cancellation of all intercollegiate competitions, including OVC Championships, through the end of the 2019-20 academic year due to the COVID-19 public health threat.

Tech alumna serves State of Tennessee as Chief Information Officer

Portrait of Stephanie Dedmon. She has shoulder-length blonde hair and is wearing a red blouse and black cardigan.

Stephanie Erwin Dedmon credits a Tennessee Tech education, inspiring professors, and campus and community involvement with preparing her to become Tennessee's top technology official. 

As the chief information officer (CIO) for the State of Tennessee, Dedmon is focused on customer needs and solving problems to help support state agencies in providing services to the citizens of Tennessee through information technology (IT). Dedmon is responsible for all operational areas of the state's central IT organization, Strategic Technology Solutions (STS). This includes managing the team's IT service delivery, technical infrastructure development and maintenance, support of the consolidated state network and two state-owned data centers, business application development, customer service management, and the support of a workforce of more than 1,300 IT professionals.

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Tech Board approves Tech Promise scholarship, adopts flat-rate tuition model

Photo President Phil Oldham standing at a podium and addressing the Board of Trustee in the multi-purpose room.

The Tennessee Tech Board of Trustees met on March 12 and approved two new ways to help Tech students and their families: the Tech Promise scholarship and a flat-rate tuition model. 

"The combination of lowest debt of any public university in Tennessee and highest starting salary is a powerful reason for the success of Tech students," President Phil Oldham said. "Our recent initiatives--flat-rate tuition, Tech Promise scholarship, and reduced out-of-state tuition--when boiled down, is a simple message that benefits students: graduate sooner, pay less, and earn more." 

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Free replacement diplomas for Tech alumni affected by tornadoes

A female student in her purple cap and gown stands at the top of Hooper Eblen smiling at the crowd gathered for commencement.

 If any Tech alumni lost their diploma in the Mar. 3 tornadoes, Tennessee Tech will replace the diploma for free. Contact the Registrar's Office at the following email,, for more information.

Crawford Alumni Center to host Tech Trivia Live event

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

Join Crawford Alumni Center for our first Tech Trivia Live event this Friday, Apr. 3, at 7:00 p.m. CDT. We'll test your knowledge of all things Tennessee Tech with trivia questions about the campus, mascot, history, and more. There will be questions for all ages so we hope you'll play as a family. Follow us on Facebook via the link below, and we'll see you online this Friday!

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What professor changed your world?

What professor changed your world?

Did you know this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first master's degrees in environmental engineering offered at Tech? One of the first graduates shares his story:

"I was one of four people to get a master's degree in 1970 following an environmental curriculum. This master's program was developed and implemented by Dr. Rafael Bustamante. I owe a great deal to Dr. Bustamante. Besides being my thesis advisor and chair of the committee, he was an amazing instructor and facilitated the program by providing myself and others teaching fellowships. The program started during the 1968-69 year, but the first four graduates finished in June of 1970. As I recall, he came to Tech circa 1966/1967 and taught sanitary/environmental engineering classes and was able to implement the graduate program that I was accepted to in the fall of 1968. He later went on to become chair of the Civil Engineering Department. He spent several summers working with NASA on top secret stuff he never could talk about, but I suspect it had to do with waste handling and disposal for people who spent prolonged periods of time in space. He was an innovator, a very hard worker, a great teacher, a mentor, and in my opinion, he was also a practical genius." --Bob O'Dette ('68 B.S. civil engineering and '70 M.S. civil engineering) 

What professor changed your world? Tell us about it! Contact us by email 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

a room full of photos and items recovered from the tornadoesOn the morning after the devastating Mar. 3 tornadoes, Middle Tennessee residents began to find photos and other memories in their lawns--some as far away as Jefferson City and Celina. Volunteers created Facebook pages where users posted their finds and searched for owners. While many families were able to recover their belongings using the Facebook groups, the sheer volume of photos meant more needed to be done. On Mar. 5, University Archives staff began working to create a centralized, long-term location where photographs and owners could be reunited. They cleaned and housed the personal belongings, digitized photographs and materials, and created an online location that was easy to search. The database includes more than 2,000 photos and materials, and items are reunited with their owners daily. Click the link below to view additional photos and to read the full story of how Archives took on this monumental task.

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, or 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

From time to time, Tennessee Tech will partner with third party agencies for the purpose of participating in regional or targeted job fairs that provide our students or alumni with additional access to employment opportunities. Check out Russ's Career Corner blog this month to learn more about these events and for tips on how to prepare. While the HireTennessee events for this spring have been postponed, we will be in touch to let you know as soon as new dates are established.

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"!

read career corner

Class Notes

Jeremy Sims, '06 industrial technology, was recently promoted to the newly-created position of Additive Manufacturing Engineer in the Worldwide Parts Division of John Deere where he is now in charge of developing and implementing the additive manufacturing strategy for worldwide parts.

Spring Hill Eyecare, founded in 2005 by Rob Szeliga ('01 biology), was named U.S. Eyecare Practice of the Year by Transitions Academy last month. Szeliga's practice was also named a 2019 Best Practice by Coopervision, one of America's Finest Optical Retailers by Invision Magazine in 2019, a top three finalist for Review of Optometry magazine's 2019 Office Design Contest, and 2019 Best Healthcare Provider in Spring Hill/Thompson's Station by the Advertiser News.

Charity Hale, '09 biology, currently works as a Pain Management and Palliative Care Clinical Staff Pharmacist, PGY2 Pain Management and Palliative Care Residency Program Director, and Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Pharmacy.

Blake McPherson, '98 marketing, joined United Community Mortgage Services as a mortgage loan originator. His background includes commercial and residential insurance adjusting, litigation management, and mortgage lending.

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

Two TTU tshirts

April 6-10: 25% off Champion and Nike


April 13-17: 25% off sweats and hats


April 27-May 1: 25% off tees and shorts


The University Bookstore also offers some high-end Tennessee Tech items including Cutter & Buck shirts, jewelry & watches, glassware, and home decor items (links provided above).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 words "Cookeville Strong" in an outline of the state of Tennessee.

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


Giving to Tennessee Tech