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August 2021 Issue of the Alumnus

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August 2021  


Tech to break ground on new engineering building Sept. 10 

A rendering of the proposed facade of the new Ashraf Islam Engineering Building.

On Sept. 10, Tech will break ground on our first engineering building in 50 years! The 100,000-square-foot College of Engineering building will be a showcase for our flagship college, fusing innovation, smart building technology and a living water laboratory to foster cross-disciplinary learning while inspiring new generations of engineers. The groundbreaking ceremony will be held on Sept. 10 at 1:30 p.m. in Sherlock Park. It is free and open to the public.

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Tennessee Tech engineering building named for alumnus known for success in transportation industry

A portrait of Ashraf Islam.

A highly respected Texas businessman who credits his Tennessee Tech civil engineering degree for his success in the transportation industry has committed $3 million to make Tech's new engineering building a reality.

Known for his philanthropic and professional accomplishments, Ashraf Islam pledged the transformative gift to show his support for Tech's College of Engineering students. As a result, Tech's Board of Trustees approved the naming of the Ashraf Islam Engineering Building.

"We are so excited about this opportunity and recognize that Ashraf has given both his resources and his time and effort since he graduated," Board Chairperson Trudy Harper said.

In 1985, Islam founded AIA Engineers Ltd, headquartered in Houston, Texas. The company opened additional branches in Texas, as well as in New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, plus Canada and Bangladesh. He is now co-chairman of CONSOR Engineers LLC, founded in 2018 when four firms that are proven leaders in transportation planning and design, structural assessment and construction services merged.

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Tennessee Tech providing assistance to flood-ravaged areas

Our hearts are with you Houston, Humphreys, Dickson & Hickman Counties. There is a yellow outline of Tennessee with a purple heart.

Tennessee Tech is providing support and assistance to students and others from the flood ravaged areas of Waverly, Humphreys County, Hickman County and surrounding areas.

There are 36 Tennessee Tech students from the impacted area. Each student is being contacted by the Dean of Students office to assess needs and work to get assistance to families affected by the flood.

To read more about the volunteer opportunities Tech is coordinating, click the link below.

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Tennessee Tech Fall 2022 application for admission now open

Several students stand around Awesome Eagle on Centennial Plaza. All are making the "wings up" sign at the camera.

Tennessee Tech's Fall 2022 application for admission opened August 1. The recruitment season is beginning in earnest this year with visits planned across the state.

"Tech's Office of Admissions is excited to get back into high schools to help students continue their education beyond high school and join the amazing Tennessee Tech community," said Steve Keller, director of admissions. "We look forward to working with students in person and seeing them begin their educational journey."

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Tennessee Tech Pride Days are here

A photo of a purple and gold Tennessee Tech Pride sign in front of the stone fountain in Centennial Plaza.

It's that time of year again! Tennessee Tech Pride Days are here and run through Sept. 2. Purple and gold yard signs are available that say "Tennessee Tech Pride" and incorporate the university's logo.

To help the community celebrate, Tech Pride yard signs are free and available for pick up on campus at the Crawford Alumni Center (in the Varsity Building, 705 N. Dixie Ave. -- the old Varsity Cinema), at the Campus Information Desk and University Bookstore inside the Roaden University Center and at the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce in the Leslie Town Centre.

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Tech raises $22 million in 2020-2021, sets new record

A drone view of the front of Derryberry Hall

University officials announced that Tennessee Tech raised more than $22 million in the recently completed 2020-2021 fiscal year, a new record.

"This year, more than $6 million was raised for student scholarships," said Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham. "This includes nearly $2 million from cash gifts, which have an immediate impact on the lives of Tech students."

Donors committed $22.2 million in the fiscal year ending June 30. The total includes cash, pledges, stocks, gifts-in-kind and new planned gifts.

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Tech to host 17th annual Nolan Fowler Constitution Day Sept. 13

A simple outline of the U.S. Capitol with the words "Constitution Day" and red stars beneath

On Sept. 13, Tennessee Tech will host the 17th annual Nolan Fowler Constitution Day Celebration. This year's speaker is John Fabian Witt, Ph.D., a professor of law at Yale University Law School, and the title of his presentation is Epidemics and the Constitution: A Contested History.

Witt is the author of a number of books, including American Contagions: Epidemics and the Law from Smallpox to COVID-19 and Lincoln's Code: The Laws of War in American History, which was awarded the Bancroft Prize, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, was selected for the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award and was a New York Times Notable Book. Witt holds a J.D. and a Ph.D. in history from Yale.

Witt's presentation is free and open to the public and will be held on Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. in Derryberry Hall Auditorium. Face coverings are required.


Alumni Association to present awards to four outstanding alumni

Headshots of the four recipients beside their names on a purple background. There is the Tennessee Tech Alumni Association seal in the middle of the graphic.

The Tennessee Tech Alumni Association will recognize the following 2021 alumni award recipients at an Evening of Excellence on November 13:

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award
Camron Rudd, `05 mechanical engineering and foreign languages

Outstanding Service Award
Susan G. Wells, `93 business management and `95 MBA

Outstanding Philanthropy Award
Scott Edwards, `87 business management

Distinguished Alumnus Award
Fred Lowery, `94 mechanical engineering

These awards are presented annually to individuals who have demonstrated professional success, received recognition and instilled great pride among the faculty, students and alumni of Tennessee Tech. This year's Evening of Excellence will be celebrated during Homecoming weekend.


Tech to honor Class of 1970 and Class of 1971 at Golden Grad Reunion during Homecoming weekend

a black and white photo of a crowd at a pep rally during Homecoming week in 1970.

Each year Tennessee Tech celebrates our Golden Grads, alumni who graduated 50 years ago! This year's Golden Grad Reunion will be held during Homecoming weekend (Nov. 12-13) and will honor the classes of 1970 and 1971. All classes who graduated prior to 1970 are also welcome to attend.

Members of the Class of 1970 and 1971 who wish to be included in this year's memory book should submit their information by Oct. 1. Click the link below to learn more.


Tennessee Tech asks alumni, where are you True?

Dontrell Baines holding his True To Tech magnet in front of a sculpture in Tulum, Mexico.

Where are you True?

Are you traveling this summer? We want to see your photos! Snap a photo of your True To Tech magnet or decal in front of a landmark, monument or "Welcome to the State of ___" sign!

True To Tech recognizes donors who make a gift of any amount to Tech each year. Once you have made gifts two years in a row, you will receive a True To Tech magnet and decal displaying the number of years you have supported Tech.

We thank Dontrell Baines, `09 accounting, for sending us a picture from his June trip to Tulum, Mexico! Dontrell is a new member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and began his term on July 1. Welcome to the Board, Dontrell!

Mike Duke smiles in front of a castle in Germany with his Tennessee Tech hat.Don't have a magnet or decal? No problem! Just take a photo of yourself wearing a Tech shirt or hat. Hashtag your photo #TrueToTech on Facebook or Instagram, or send your photos to us at alumni@tntech.edu.

Mike Duke, `81 business management, sent this photo of himself in Heidelburg, Germany. Thanks, Mike, for showing your Tech Pride internationally!

We can't wait to see where Tech Pride shows up next!

Watch a video about where are you true

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

Last month we asked the following trivia question: 

The Summer Olympics are underway in Tokyo, Japan! In what year did a Tennessee Tech student carry the Olympic torch? 

The answer was 1996, and several alumni even knew the name of the student who carried the torch, Andy Holbrook. Congratulations to Stephanie Killian, `82 music therapy, who guessed correctly and won some Tech SWAG. 

While Holbrook was the only person (that we know of) to carry the torch as a current student, Tech alumnus Chris Hennessee had the honor of carrying the torch in 2016. Check out his story below.

And now for this month's question:

Tech looks forward to breaking ground on the Ashraf Islam Engineering Building on Sept. 10! This will be the first new engineering building on campus since Prescott Hall was completed 50 years ago. What was the name of the first engineering building on campus?

Monthly trivia questions in The Alumnus are designed to test your knowledge of all things Tech! If you know the answer, email alumni@tntech.edu. We'll randomly select one of the correct answers to win some Tech SWAG! 

Tech-themed games and activities 

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Chris Hennessee shares story of carrying Olympic torch

A black and white photo with a group of gentlemen standing around a workbench with 20s cars behind them.

Last month's trivia question and the recent 2020 Olympics in Tokyo inspired Chris Hennessee, `13 interdisciplinary studies, to share his story of carrying the Olympic torch for the 2016 Rio games.

Hennessee works for Bridgestone Americas, Inc. As a worldwide Olympic partner, Bridgestone earned a few torchbearer spots and to fill these spots, they asked employees to nominate individuals who exhibited excellence in mentorship and coaching.

Bridgestone employee Christine David nominated Hennessee. Her letter outlined how Hennessee encouraged her to apply for a job at Bridgestone and helped her develop strong working relationships within the plant. David's letter was selected, and David was surprised to learn that both she and Hennessee would carry the torch.

The Olympic torch ceremony began in Greece in April 2016. The torch arrived in Brazil in early May and more than 12,000 people carried it before it reached its final destination in Rio de Janeiro, the site of the 2016 Olympic Games. Hennessee and David carried the torch on July 13 in the city of Joinville, a city of 560,000 people and a 12-hour drive from Rio.   

"Carrying the Olympic flame was an awesome experience, but just knowing the impact I made on a co-worker was the best part," said Hennessee. "Our time in Brazil was one i will never forget, as the town of Joinville treated us very well. And just to be a part of such an iconic moment is something I will never forget."

Source: Southern Standard, Jun 23, 2016.

A purple graphic with Friends Remembered and doves in gold

A photo of Mr. Ray smiling in a suit with a purple tie and sitting on a sofa in front of potted plants.

Jeffrey Lee Ray, `86 mechanical engineering and `89 M.S., passed away on July 26, 2021.

Ray grew up outside of Nashville and earned a Journeyman Industrial Electrician license while working at R.R. Donnelley & Sons in Gallatin, Tennessee. He then earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering at Tennessee Tech and completed his doctorate in mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University. He served as Dean of Engineering at Western Carolina University since 2014. Throughout his 28-year academic career, he served in many roles with the ABET and ASEE organizations and was an ASEE Fellow.

 

A black and white yearbook photo of Mr. Love.

James Slayden Love, Jr. of Lexington, Kentucky, passed away on July 22, 2021.

Love graduated from Tennessee Tech (then known as Tennessee Polytechnic Institute) in 1950 with a degree in industrial arts. Love was a World War II Army Air Corps veteran and a construction superintendent for Foster & Creighton Company and Woodford Builders, Inc. He was a 33 degree mason, a member of the Robert M. Sirkle #954 Masonic Lodge and the Scottish Rite and a member of Centenary United Methodist Church.

Love's daughter Charlene Love Riley shared that her father proudly displayed a framed photo of the Tennessee Tech campus in his home.

Photo Source: 1948 Eagle Yearbook

Friends Remembered honors the memories of the Tennessee Tech alumni and friends we have lost. If you would like to include someone in Friends Remembered, please email alumni@tntech.edu.


A purple and gold graphic reading "donor spotlight."

A headshot of Mr. Muir.

Scott Muir always knew he wanted to be a librarian and fell in love with libraries long before he enrolled at Tennessee Tech.

Muir received a bachelor's degree in speech and theatre in 1977 from Tech and went on to earn a master's in librarianship from Emory University and a second master's degree from Eastern Michigan University. Thanks to a generous estate gift, Muir's love for libraries and theatre will ensure future generations of Tech students have access to the areas that were so important to Muir during his time at Tech.

"I enjoyed my time at Tech, particularly with the theatre department," Muir explained. "You have to find where you fit. Whether that's a sorority, fraternity, professional society or sports team, the way to have the best experience at a university is finding where you fit and a place to get involved. The Backdoor Playhouse was my home away from home. That's where I felt a connection. And since I'm a librarian, I thought, 'Let me do something for both of these departments.'"

Muir said he was inspired by Henry "Hank" Rowan, an American engineer and philanthropist who, in the early 90s, made a $100 million gift to Glassboro State University, a tiny school in South Jersey. Rowan's act of extraordinary generosity launched one of the greatest explosions in educational philanthropy, and his story has been featured in numerous articles including Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History podcast titled "My Little Hundred Million." Glassboro State was renamed Rowan University in Rowan's honor.

Muir held seven progressively-responsible library positions throughout his career and retired from Rowan University as the associate provost responsible for three Rowan University libraries.

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Archives with Atkinson Graphic

A masked student sits at a computer and scanner.

Fall 2021 is off to a busy but productive start, with eight students, both new and returning, and tons of archive projects for everyone. Employees spent the last month putting together projects that are useful for the archives and researchers and projects that give students the necessary skills to pursue a future working in the field.

Projects include providing preservation and creating access to the records of the Women's Center, Athletics, Engineering and Communications and Marketing. All of these materials are being rehoused with acid-free folders and boxes, having destructive fasteners such as rusty staples and paperclips removed, and receiving catalog records that assist users in searching the collection. Students are also utilizing the new digitization studio to digitize large scrapbooks. Historically, the university utilized a press clippings service to nationally search newspapers for published information regarding Tennessee Tech. These press clippings were then pasted or taped in large scrapbooks. After digitization, these scrapbooks will be available online and will be text searchable. The digital version will also be more stable than the original because newspaper clippings deteriorate fast and the adhesive on the scrapbooks no longer adheres the clippings to their pages, leaving a trail of newspaper clippings every time the physical books are used.

Tech Archives also has a few other announcements for this semester. We are thrilled to announce that we are participating in the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) as soon as mid-September. This participation will promote and create access to our digital collections worldwide. The DPLA platform aggregates the digital collections of many archives and makes them accessible in one online location. As a result, when searching for archival materials in the DPLA, the user can search across numerous archive repositories at once. For access to the DPLA, follow this link. We installed an onsite exhibit of "Imagine Going Half a Day and Not Seeing Anybody that Looks Like You: A History of Black Students and Employees at Tennessee Tech" on the first floor of the Volpe Library. Lastly, in hopes to accommodate individuals with 9-5 careers, we extended our hours on Tuesdays until 8 p.m. As usual, if you ever need assistance after hours we can set up an appointment with you that works with your schedule.

Photo top left: Jacob Gentry, a senior English major, is currently working with records of the Smithville Jamboree, preserving and processing their collection for the Jamboree's anniversary and for access.

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. 

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Class Notes

Hannah Bratton, `21 music, is the new music teacher at Jere Whitson Elementary.

Alex Butaud, `20 M.P.S., was named executive director at Life Care Center of Tullahoma. Read more.

Alyssa Copeland, `14 agriculture, was featured in a Deming Headlight article titled "Copeland couple keeps generational cattle ranching strong in New Mexico." Read more.

Susan Dakak, `83 civil engineering, was featured in an article in Knox News titled "Having a dream, getting a chance, and becoming an American." Read more.

Zachary Davis, `21 music, is the new band director in the Bledsoe County School System.

Laura Duncan, `01 M.A. and `06 Ed.S., is the new Maury County Public School district's elementary coordinator. Read more.

Melody K. Edmonds, `95 MBA, has been named by the Tennessee Board of Regents as the next president of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology McMinnville. Read more.

Ekramul Ehite, `18 M.S. mechanical engineering, was featured in a Future Leaders for Food & Agriculture Fellows Lightning Talk about how agricultural biomass is a potential game changer for the bioenergy industry. View Ekramul's talk on YouTube.

Cynthia Gammons, `95 M.A. administration and supervision and `02 Ed.S., was named District 6780 Rotary Governor. Gammons has been a member of the Lafayette Rotary Club since 2000, serving as president in 2011-12. Read more.  

Chris Gerbig, `14 MBA, is the co-founder and president of the national lifestyle brand Pink Lily. Pink Lily recently announced that they are one of the 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America for the second time.

David Hinson, `85 mathematics, is the new campus chief information officer for higher education managed technology and IT services leader Apogee. Read more.

Wes Hutton, `20 music, joined New York Life Insurance Company as an agent in their Knoxville office.

Doug Jenkins, `90 business management, is the new president of the Tennessee Trial Judges Association. Read more.

James Laughlin, `16 marketing, is the new Tennessee Tech director of football operations and on-campus recruiting coordinator. Read more. 

John Douglas (Doug) McDurham, `86 secondary education, is the new chief executive officer of Art Center Waco. Read more.

Elijah Muhammad, `10 interdisciplinary studies, was recently featured in an article in Madison 365 titled "Elijah Muhammad - CrossFit star, Project Onyx founder - brings fitness activities, inspiration to Goodman Center teens." Read more.

Max Patterson, `21 music, is the new music teacher at Smithville Elementary and Northside Elementary.

Luke Selby, `21 music, is the new band director at Coopertown Middle School.

Bill Shelmon, `84 mechanical engineering, was featured in the SAE Spotlight section of the September edition of the SAE Detroit Supercharger digital magazine. He is the executive project manager handling strategic planning in the Advanced Product Planning Office at Toyota Motor North America. Read more.

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

Tennessee Tech apparel and teddy bears

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.

shop the Tech bookstore online

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