April 2021 Issue of the Alumnus
Tech celebrates grand openings of largest buildings on campus
April 9 was a big day for Tennessee Tech as students, faculty, staff, alumni and special dignitaries helped dedicate and celebrate the grand openings of the two biggest buildings on campus -- the Laboratory Science Commons and the Marc L. Burnett Student Recreation and Fitness Center. Included in the grand opening of the Laboratory Science Commons was the dedication of the Stonecipher Lecture Hall for Tech alumnus Harry Stonecipher.
Third annual I Heart Tech Students campaign raises $501,530
On Feb. 12, Tennessee Tech launched its third annual "I Heart Tech Students" Campaign. With a focus on keeping students enrolled during challenging times, the campaign raised money for Tech's Accessible Education Center, Counseling Center, Eagle Assistance Grant, Food Pantry and Health Services. When the six-week campaign concluded, Tech alumni and friends had given $501,530 to help students! While the campaign has concluded, it's never too late to help a student in need. Visit tntech.edu/giving to support any area on campus.
Alumni Association to celebrate 100th anniversary in June
Save the date! On June 6, Tennessee Tech's Alumni Association turns 100! And on Saturday, June 12, all alumni are invited to join us in a 100th anniversary celebration on Tech's Quad.
What is the Alumni Association? It's you! Anyone who has successfully completed at least one class at Tech is automatically a member. The Alumni Association was first organized on June 6, 1921, with T. W. Kittrell serving as the Association's first president. But the concept of having an office dedicated to alumni really started with Leonard Crawford, the namesake of the Crawford Alumni Center.
Tech has several things planned to honor the occasion, and all alumni are invited to join us on June 12 for food, crafts, music, door prizes and more! More details will be shared in the coming weeks, but we hope you'll save the date. If you are interested in setting up a craft booth and/or performing as part of a musical group or band on June 12, please contact Brooke Fleenor, the Crawford Alumni Center's events coordinator, at email@example.com.
Human Ecology introduces new master's program for fall 2021
Applications are now live for the newest master's degree at Tennessee Tech, a Master of Science in Community Health and Nutrition, in the School of Human Ecology. The program serves two different audiences: graduate students seeking to become registered dieticians and community health professionals desiring to learn more about serving rural communities.
Alumni Association honors six outstanding alumni
Tennessee Tech's Alumni Association recently honored six individuals who have demonstrated professional success, received recognition and instilled great pride among the faculty, students and alumni of the university. The award recipients accepted their awards, delivered speeches and mingled with friends and family in a virtual reception on April 9.
The 2020 Evening of Excellence recognized Jake Hoot, Outstanding Young Alumnus; Maggie R. Smith, Outstanding Service; Leanna Garrick, H. Ray Sells, and J. Michael Winchester, Outstanding Philanthropy; and V. Leon Davis, Distinguished Alumnus.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® Knowledge Certificate Course offered at discount for Tennessee Tech alumni
Tennessee Tech alumni are invited to register for the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® Knowledge Certificate Course at more than a 50% discount, thanks to a special partnership between the university and FranklinCovey!
This certificate course helps lay the foundation for personal effectiveness by increasing productivity, restoring balance and developing a greater sense of empowerment. Now, you can experience the 7 Habits in a 10-week self-paced online course that includes 27 video-based lessons, 8 webinar lectures, 10 assignments and 8 quizzes.
Click the button below to register, and use promo code 7HBTNTECHAA to receive the course for just $229 plus tax. This is less than half the regular price! Registration is good for 12 months, and after completing the course, you will receive a certificate to add to your resume and LinkedIn profile.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book was written by Stephen R. Covey. It has sold more than 40 million copies in 40 languages worldwide and is recognized as "the most influential business book of the twentieth century."
Alumni and friends invited to explore Utah's Mighty National Parks
Electronic and print brochures for next year's Utah's Mighty National Parks trip are now available! On June 5, 2022, we will head out on a seven-day adventure to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, Dead Horse Point State Park, Monument Valley and much more! And it's not too late to sign up for the July 10, 2021, trip to Cape Cod and the Islands. Visit our Golden Eagle Travel website to learn more or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to request an electronic or printed brochure. Both of these adventures are offered in partnership with Premier World Discovery, a leader in worldwide guided travel. Wings Up Across America!
Alpha Delta Pi founding members reunite after 50 years
In 2019, the Epsilon Psi chapter of Alpha Delta Pi celebrated its 50th anniversary at Tennessee Tech, and in 2020, the founding members of the chapter decided to host their own reunion.
In preparation for this founding member reunion, a group of charter sisters first had to locate the 42 members whose names were listed on the 1969 charter. Their mission was to reconnect all sisters from 50 years ago and host an on-campus reunion at Tech. But COVID-19 presented a challenge. Instead, the group decided to host a virtual reunion. They formed a private Facebook group in March 2020 and, with the help of Tech's Advancement Services and Crawford Alumni Center, were successful in finding 97% of the original charter members.
On October 19, 2020, the charter members of Epsilon Psi gathered for a reunion on Zoom. Tech President Phil Oldham and First Lady Kari Oldham shared a video message congratulating the charter members for their contributions to Greek Life, and the sisters shared memories and life successes from the past 50 years. The virtual reunion was featured in the Spring 2021 edition of the sorority's national magazine, The Adelphean.
Since that October 2020 reunion, the charter members have kept in touch! They host monthly Zoom "Pi" coffee talks and provide updates through the private Facebook group. And they still plan to get together for an on-campus, in-person reunion when it is safe to do so. They hope their experience inspires others to reconnect!
Is your sorority, fraternity, organization or sports team interested in having a similar reunion? If so, contact Brooke Fleenor, events coordinator for the Crawford Alumni Center, at email@example.com.
True To Tech donors share why they support Tech every year
Kathleen Lordo, '00 geology, is True To Tech because she sees firsthand how donor support makes a difference.
"Now that I work in University Advancement at Tech, I understand the importance of gifts to scholarships, grants and departments. I think a lot of people assume that budget, tuition and fees should cover everything, but the truth is they don't. I can't help out a whole lot, but I like to know that I contributed what I could to help students achieve their goals."
Lordo has made gifts to the Food Pantry, Accessible Education Center, Eagle Assistance Grant, University Archives, Diversity Scholarship Initiative and Earth Sciences.
"I was one of those people who would get the solicitation in the mail and put it on the refrigerator until I had a little more money to give," Lordo explained. "I did that year after year, and then I thought that it had been so long since it was sent that it was too late. When I started working here and realized how important those gifts really are, I started contributing what I could when I could. I realized that giving even $5 or $20 each year has a positive impact for students, and I don't have to wait until I have $100 extra dollars to give all at once."
True To Tech recognizes donors who consistently give each year, regardless of the area they support or the amount of the gift. Once a donor has given to Tech for two consecutive years, s/he is recognized as True To Tech. Each year, True To Tech donors receive a True To Tech magnet and decal displaying the number of consecutive years they have given. Decals and magnets can be seen across the state on filing cabinets, doors, refrigerators and vehicles. We love to see True To Tech donors show their Tech pride.
Last month we asked the following trivia question:
On March 27, 1915, what Tennessee governor signed a bill establishing Tennessee Polytechnic Institute, the institution that would later become Tennessee Tech University?
The answer was Governor Thomas C. Rye.
Congrats to Brandy Cope, '98 business management and '11 MBA, who guessed correctly and won some Tech SWAG!
For more information about the historic signing of this bill, check out the next story.
And now for this month's question:
The film "Star Wars: Episode IV" was released in 1977 and instantly became a worldwide phenomenon, inspiring generations of sci-fi fans. Tennessee Tech actually has a tie to Star Wars! A professor at Tech acted as a consultant to George Lucas and helped with the mechanics of the beloved droid, R2-D2. The name of this professor is commemorated as the language that Aunt Beru asks Luke to remind his Uncle Owen they need the translator droid to speak. What is the name of that professor/droid language? And May the 4th be with you next week!
Monthly trivia questions in The Alumnus are designed to test your knowledge of all things Tech! If you know the answer, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll randomly select one of the correct answers to win some Tech SWAG!
The famous pen that established Tennessee Polytechnic Institute
On March 27, 1915, when the bill establishing Tennessee Polytechnic Institute was ready for the signature of Governor Tom C. Rye, the following leaders who had been instrumental in its enactment gathered in Governor Rye's office to witness the event: James N. Cox, Robert L. Farley, Senator John Gore, Alvin Gilliam Maxwell, William Stanton and Jere Whitson. Whitson purchased a fountain pen just for the occasion and had it engraved with Governor Rye's name.
Photo: Alvin Gilliam Maxwell. At the time this photo was taken, Maxwell was 90 years
old and the last living person who took an active part in establishing Tennessee Polytechnic
Institute. He is holding the pen that Governor Tom C. Rye used to sign the bill to
Source: The Story of Tennessee Tech
On Friday, April 2, President Phil Oldham shared the following with Tennessee Tech faculty, staff and students:
"With a heavy heart, I am sharing the news of the loss of a man who showed us how to live well. This week brought shock and sadness to our university and our community as we learned that Dr. Leo McGee died on Wednesday [March 31, 2021]. His service to Tech spanned decades that were marked by great accomplishments, but thinking of Leo first makes me think of the engaging stories, laughter and smiles.
"In 1977, Leo became the first African-American hired as an administrator of Tech. He was recruited by President Arliss Roaden, who had been his mentor at Ohio State University while he was enrolled in the Ph.D. program. Leo earned his master's and doctorate degrees in education from Ohio State. He also spent time working at Ohio State and Tennessee State University.
"During his 30-year career at Tennessee Tech, he served as assistant and then associate dean of extended education, associate and then professor of education, assistant and then associate vice president for academic affairs, and a two-year stint as interim vice president. Leo retired from Tech in 2007, but he continued to serve the university.
"He was a noted author of more than 40 professional articles, 20 creative and opinion essays, and several books, as well as a long-time collector of art depicting African-Americans in the Southern cotton industry. And he loved his hydrangeas and playing tennis.
"We send Gloria and his family our deepest sympathy and prayers."
Click the links below to view Dr. McGee's full obituary and to read Laura Clemons' article "Lifting up generations: The legacy of Dr. Leo McGee," originally published in the Herald-Citizen on April 2, 2021.
Photo Top Left: Dr. Leo McGee on the Derryberry Auditorium stage. The photo was taken in 2014 for The Tennessee Tech Centennial book. It was one of Dr. McGee's favorite photos of himself.
University Archives' newest digital exhibit is now available! "Imagine Going Half a Day and Not Seeing Anybody That Looks Like You": A history of Black Students & Employees at Tennessee Tech provides a survey of the Black history of the university from its founding in 1915 through present day.
Tech was originally founded as a racially segregated institution in 1915. By the 1920s, African Americans worked at the college, but the administration relegated them to low-paying employment in the cafeteria. The college was the last higher education institution in the Tennessee Board of Regents system to desegregate. Leona Lusk Officer's enrollment in 1964 opened doors for Black students at Tech.
The exhibit provides snapshots of some of the earliest Black employees and students at the university, traces the founding and activism of historically Black student organizations on campus and contextualizes changes in the campus climate in statewide and national events. It features more than 175 photographs, oral histories, clippings, flyers and other documents.
This exhibit is one of three digital exhibits and one in-person exhibit and was a collaboration between the Office of Multicultural Affairs and University Archives to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Leona Lusk Officer Black Cultural Center.
Photo top left: Student studying outside the Roaden University Center, April 13, 1988.
University Archivist Megan Atkinson, Assistant Archivist Hannah O'Daniel McCallon 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.
Kevin Ashburn, '91 marketing and '93 MBA, joined KPMG as a director in Advisory Practice-Financial Services Regulatory Compliance and Risk. Prior to joining KPMG, Ashburn was a supervisory field examination manager for nine years at the CFPG.
Martia Brown, '06 biology, '07 M.A., and '10 EdS, celebrated her 14-year anniversary with Enterprise Holdings with a promotion to assistant vice president. Read more.
David Coorts, '87 plant and soil science, was named vice president of Technical Development with BPS Agriculture, an Argyle, Texas-based diversified agriculture holding company that currently incubates three start-ups: Verano365, Farm Shield and PureAcre. Read more.
Mark Derakhshan, '89 M.S. mechanical engineering and '94 Ph.D., was named president and chief executive officer of Sumitomo Cryogenics of America, Inc., a leading global provider of innovative cryogenic and vacuum solutions. Read more.
Bill Flanary, '82 agricultural science, has retired from Washington County schools after a 39-year career. After graduating from Tech, Flanary's first job for the county was teaching agriculture at Crockett High School. When he retired, he was director of Washington County schools. Read more.
Tim Hill, '85 secondary education, recently began serving as president of the Bearden Village Council, a community advocacy group. Hill is the co-founder of Hatcher-Hill Properties. Read more.
Lucas Holman, '07 agriculture and '09 M.A., was named head of UT Extension in Wilson County. Read more.
Traci Holton, '97 civil engineering, has been promoted to vice president of Engineering and deputy chief operating officer with the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority. Read more.
Tim Huff, '84 civil engineering and '85 M.S., wrote a book titled A Practical Course in Advanced Structural Design, which has been named the number one new release in civil engineering books by Amazon's Hot New Releases. Huff is an assistant professor of Civil Engineering at Tennessee Tech.
Shane Kirby, '95 electrical engineering, was named president of I.C. Thomasson Associates, Inc. Read more.
George McCleskey, '73 civil engineering, became a board member for Renew Common Goods in Charlotte, NC. Renew Common Goods is a non-profit organization that repurposes household items for the common good of neighbors in need. Read more.
Paul McIlree, '97 civil engineering, was promoted to senior vice president of STV Inc., a leader in providing engineering, architectural, planning, environmental and program management and construction management services for transportation systems, infrastructure, buildings, energy and other facilities. Read more.
Emily Reed, '16 civil engineering and '18 M.S., recently published a paper in the Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering with Tech Professor of Civil Engineering Dan VandenBerge and Ruidong Li from the Geopier Foundation Company. The paper is titled "Mobilized Bearing Capacity Analysis of Global Stability for Walls Supported by Aggregate Piers."
Natalie Robbins, '19 M.P.S., is the College of Interdisciplinary Studies' 2021 Alumna of the Year! Robbins currently works as a research analyst with the Vanderbilt Initiative for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Research.
John W. Smith, '94 computer science and '98 MBA, is the recipient of the 2021 Mentor of the Year Award, presented by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education District III. The Mentor of the Year Award recognizes an individual who has made an impact on other advancement professionals through mentorship. Smith serves as the associate vice president for University Development at Tech.
We love hearing about 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
Current sale: 50% off clearance
Free shipping on online orders of $75 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.
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!