Crawford Alumni Center

The Alumnus Logo

Upcoming Events              Tech news              Make a gift

June 2021  

Tennessee Tech Alumni Association celebrates 100 years

A photo from the 100th Anniversary Event. Dr. Bob Bell waves at the camera with Gloria Bell and Becky Magura. Becky is giving wings up.

On June 12, hundreds of faculty, staff, alumni and friends gathered on Tech's Main Quad to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Alumni Association. The event included bounce houses, a balloon artist, food trucks, former presidents and chairs of the Alumni Association, a performance by the Tech Troubadours, a special message from President Oldham and so much more. Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate with us.

In honor of the Association's 100th anniversary, the Crawford Alumni Center produced a special anniversary edition of The Alumnus newsletter. A link to this special edition is below.

Here's to 100 more years of awesome alumni at Tennessee Tech!

read special edition of the alumnus

Tech alumni reconnect over dinner in Kennesaw, Georgia

A group photo of the Kennesaw dinner attendees.

Thank you to all of the Georgia-area alumni who joined us for dinner at Forks & Flavors in Kennesaw on June 4! We loved reconnecting with you. And thank you to restaurant owners David Wilmott and Darnell Morgan for providing such a wonderful venue for us.

Would you like to see an alumni event in your town? Contact Brooke Fleenor, Crawford Alumni Center's events coordinator, at if you would be willing to help host a dinner or other event in your area.

Tech Alumni cheer Atlanta Braves on to a win at Truist Park

A view of Truist Park

On June 5, 80 Tennessee Tech alumni and friends came together to cheer the Atlanta Braves on to a win against the Dodgers at Truist Park's Xfinity Rooftop! This alumni event sold out in just 36 hours, and we are already planning to do it again next year. Thank you to everyone who joined us for the game. Whether you were already in the Atlanta area or drove in from out of state, it was great to see you!

Would you like to see an alumni event in your town? Contact Brooke Fleenor, Crawford Alumni Center's events coordinator, at

Alumni share favorite Tech memories with prospective students through It's Personal notecard-writing campaign

A photo of a notecard encouraging a potential student to come to Tennessee Tech.

Thank you to everyone who volunteered to participate in our "It's Personal" notecard-writing campaign! Your stories, fond memories of campus and personal messages of encouragement to prospective students will no doubt help us recruit the next class of Golden Eagles. Alumni, Foundation Board members, President's Club members and University Advancement staff came together to write 765 notecards to prospective students! These cards are on their way to students who are considering enrolling this fall. You could be the reason they choose Tech!

Tennessee Tech asks alumni, where are you True?

a bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting on a concrete bench - there is a 3 years True To Tech magnet placed in his right hand, which lays atop a bronze stovepipe hat

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! 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

True To Tech recognizes donors who make a gift (of any amount) to Tennessee 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 can't wait to see where Tech alumni are traveling this summer!

Watch a video about where are you true

learn more about true to tech

Tech alumni celebrate National Best Friend Day

Two cartoon golden eagles sit on rocks on a gold field. The graphic reads "Birds of a Feather."

A photo of Elisa Tanksley Mask, Brittany Wiggins, and Melissa Edwards with Awesome Eagle.

In honor of National Best Friend Day on June 8, we asked alumni who met their best friend at Tech to share their stories! We randomly selected an entry, and Elisa Tanksley Mask's story was the winner!

Here, Elisa shares how she met TWO best friends at Tech:

"I'm lucky enough to have not just one, but two best friends from my time at Tech. Brittany Wiggins and I met in New Hall South and were neighbors in the same hall. Melissa lived in Crawford but quickly became a good friend as well. I could fill a novel with all the crazy adventures we had in our four years at Tech, from swimming at Cummins Falls, to exploring the now closed treehouse in Crossville to sledding down snow-covered hills on campus in the middle of the night on cardboard boxes we found.

"Our friendship has stayed strong even after graduation. Melissa is an officer in the United States Army and Brittany is a travel nurse, but that has yet to stop us from going on a girls trip to the Caribbean, Canada and the Blue Ridge Mountains. We still talk at least once a month and have a group chat we use almost daily. These girls have been there for me through thick and thin; they were even the ones who talked me into joining a dating app where I ended up meeting my husband!

"I don't know how different my life would be without them, but I do know my life would be worse off without them in it. I owe them so much more than I could ever tell them."

We mailed Elisa some Tech SWAG to share with her friends. Thank you to all of the alumni who submitted your "Birds of a Feather" stories. Birds of a feather flock together, and Golden Eagles form friendships that last a lifetime!

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: 

In the late 1980s and into the 90s, teams of Tech students and faculty members competed in volleyball eight inches of mud! What was this tradition called?

The answer was Oozeball. Congratulations to Donald Hargis, `94 industrial technology, who guessed correctly and won some Tech SWAG. 

And now for this month's question: 

Tennessee Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1915, and the first 50 students to enroll in the industrial arts program helped construct its academic building in 1916. Every student at TPI was expected to complete five hours of what each week? (Hint: Two words)

Monthly trivia questions in The Alumnus are designed to test your knowledge of all things Tech! 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

An aerial view of the Quad and Derryberry hall that reads "Tech Took Us There"

A portrait of John Smith

John W. Smith, associate vice president of University Development at Tennessee Tech, has been named 2021 Mentor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education's (CASE) District III.

Smith credits a Tech education, the opportunities he received as a graduate assistant and experience in multiple areas of Advancement for his career success.

"I am truly humbled, honored and overwhelmed by this award," said Smith. "Investing in and helping others is a passion of mine, and it derives from so many investing in me. It's simply my way of paying it forward."

Smith graduated from Tech with a bachelor's degree in computer science and a master's degree in business administration. Immediately upon receiving his undergraduate degree, Smith began working in Tech's Office of University Advancement as a graduate assistant. After being hired full time, Smith rose steadily through the ranks of University Advancement, serving as assistant director of Advancement Services, director of Advancement Services, executive director of University Advancement, and now associate vice president of University Development.

The CASE Mentor of the Year Award recognizes an individual who has made an impact on other advancement professionals through mentorship, and candidates are nominated by a mentee who has benefited directly from the personal and professional leadership of the mentor.

The Tech Took Us There series features outstanding Tech alumni who credit their successes in their careers to the education they received at Tennessee Tech.

read john w. smith's full story

Read more Tech Took Us There stories

Friends Remembered

A portrait of Gerry and Joe Fanning

Joe Fanning shared this loving tribute about his wife Gerry Tucker Fanning, `62 human ecology, who passed away on Jan. 20, 2021:

"Gerry and I were married July 7, 1962, immediately after graduation. We enjoyed a beautiful and wonderful happy marriage for 58 1/2 years. She treasured her time at Tech. Gerry had a work scholarship, and Gladys Crawford was her supervisor.

"She was a middle school science and health teacher until we became parents. Then she became a full-time mother, housewife and volunteer. Of course her greatest accomplishment, according to her, was being a good wife to me and mother to two wonderful sons, Wesley and Bret.

"July 7 will be a sad day for me as we celebrate our 59th wedding anniversary (her from heaven). Then on July 19th, she will celebrate her heavenly 81st birthday.

"She died on a Wednesday and was buried on Friday. Both boys live on our farm. On Sunday, when we returned from church, in a tree almost equal distance from our three houses, there was a huge bald eagle. We had never seen him before and haven't seen him since. Some said that was Gerry, now our guardian angel, watching over us."

VIEW gerry fanning's full tribute story

A portrait of Fran Womack Perry

Frankie "Fran" Womack Perry passed away on May 12, 2021.

She attended Tennessee Tech for two years and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. For many years, she was a fourth grade teacher at Clark Memorial School. She was an avid reader, Franklin County Library Board member and member of the Southern Tennessee Ladies Society. She loved her bridge and book clubs and enjoyed restoring and collecting antiques. She was an active member of Christ the King Anglican Church in Decherd.

Fran's husband, Richard T. Perry, graduated from Tech in 1959 with a degree in industrial management. Richard is a member of the ROTC Alumni Association and asked that we share this news with alumni.

view frankie perry's full tribute story

A snapshot of Tommye and James Schoolfield

Hannah Tom "Tommye" Robnett Schoolfield, `78 special education, passed away in 2018. Even though it has been a few years, Tommye's son William Schoolfield, `77 music education, wanted to share her story. William said he and his mother actually attended Tech at the same time during his senior year and even took the same education class! Here is William's tribute to his mother:

"After graduating from Tennessee Tech, Tommye served in Bledsoe County Schools from 1980 to 1994 and later substituted at Taft Youth Center, a state school for juvenile offenders, until her retirement. She also served on the executive board of Green Valley Developmental Center in Greeneville, Tennessee. Tommye's teaching career was more than a job to her. Having a servant's heart, she was seldom happier than when she was serving others. Besides helping the mentally disabled at various institutions, she found several local individuals not being served anywhere else and undertook to visit and see to their well-being."

view tommye schoolfield's full tribute story

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, email

A purple and gold graphic reading "donor spotlight."

A photo of Darren and Alexander Bassel on the golf course.

Darren Bassel says his son Alexander is in good hands at Tennessee Tech.

Thanks to the university's reputation and Head Golf Coach Polk Brown, Bassel recently made a generous gift to support Tech's golf program.

"When you're a dad and your son is going to play college golf, you want to make sure the coach is a mentor, not only with athletics but also with academics," said Bassel. "Coach Brown is that mentor. And Tennessee Tech is a great academic school."

Bassel says he was impressed with Brown and Tech from the beginning and appreciates their focus on academics, the requirement of study hall and the investment in how student-athletes are performing -- both on the course and in the classroom.

"Alexander is going to spend four years with a really good coach and mentor," Bassel said. "Coach Brown has the ability to build his program because of who he is and the academic reputation of Tennessee Tech."

The Crawford Alumni Center hopes Mr. Bassel and all Golden Eagle dads had a great Father's Day!

read full story

Taking the Wheel by Lofton Carter

Even though Lofton graduated last month, he's back with a special guest blog!

Whether you're a recent graduate or have been in the workforce for decades, you likely have had to deal with failure at some point. Lofton's blog this month is titled "Facing Failure with Courage" and reminds alumni that, while life may knock you down, the important thing is what you do when you get back up.

Taking the Wheel is a financial literacy blog written by Lofton Carter, '20 biology and '21 MBA. Lofton served as a graduate assistant in Tennessee Tech's Crawford Alumni Center from 2020-2021. Lofton 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.

Read lofton's Blog

 Archives with Atkinson Graphic

Assistant Archivist Hannah wears a mask and looks up at a camera on a rail system with a light box behind her. A large format print lays on the table in front of her.

Let's get digital!

In this month's Archives with Atkinson blog, Megan shares some of the digital projects the University Archives team has been working on lately:

"Tech Archives got an upgrade! We have been determined to create a digitization studio to assist us with digitizing some of our many unique materials. This does not easily come out of the box, so we purchased materials piecemeal and worked on practical solutions for digitizing many different types of materials. We finally saw our efforts come to fruition and wanted to share with you some of what we did!"

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. 

READ full blog post

view university archives' digital collections

learn more about archives and special collections

Follow Tech Archives on Facebook


Class Notes

Nathaniel Akiona, `03 M.A. instructional leadership, has been named the new principal of Cleveland Middle School. 

Zach Bailey, Jr., `12 marketing and `14 M.A., has been named the new athletic director at Maui Preparatory Academy. Read more.

Rick Cabrera, `99 multidisciplinary studies and `01 M.A., has been named the men's basketball head coach at Tallahassee Community College. Cabrera played basketball for Tennessee Tech for two seasons (1996-98) under head coach Frank Harrell. Read more.

Thomas Cagle, `12 multidisciplinary studies, has been named the new assistant principal at DeKalb County High School. Read more.

Pam Caskie, `79 political science, is Spring Hill's new city administrator. Read more.

Emily DeLozier, `17 M.P.S., was awarded the Outstanding Therapist Assistant Educator of the Year Award for 2021. Read more.

Alexander Hayes, `16 biology, joined the DeKalb Dental Center. Hayes earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the UT-Health Science Center College of Dentistry in Memphis this year. Read more and view Dr. Hayes' bio on the DeKalb Dental Center website.

Marlene Holton, `06 multidisciplinary studies, `10 M.A. and `11 Ed.S., is the new special education supervisor for the Cumberland County School District. Read more.

Tim Huff, `84 civil engineering and `85 M.S., an assistant professor of civil engineering at Tennessee Tech, co-authored a paper titled "Structural Observations and Tornado Damage Mitigation Concepts: March 2020 Tennessee Tornadoes" with fellow Tech civil engineering professor Craig Henderson. Read more.

Steven Jewell, `88 health and physical education and `90 M.A., is the new principal at Corbin High School. Read more.

Richard "Tylor" Luellen, `16 sociology, was recently honored for his heroic actions on the day of the Nashville Christmas bombing. Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter honored Luellen by proclaiming June 15 Tylor Luellen Day. Luellen was the first officer on the scene on Dec. 25. Read more.

Susan Luna-Hazlewood, `07 psychology, is the new director of development and marketing at WCTE PBS in Cookeville.

Corby King, `98 secondary education, `05 M.A., and `08 Ed.S., was named Upper Cumberland Regional 2022 Superintendent of the Year and is one of eight nominees for 2022 Tennessee Superintendent of the Year. King is the director of schools for Putnam County. Read more.

Becky Magura, `80 curriculum and instruction and `81 M.A., has been named a PBS Development Professional of the Year. Magura is the station general manager and CEO for WCTE, the PBS station in Cookeville. Read more.

Matthew Maxfield, `19 civil engineering, joined HMB Professional Engineers, Inc. in their Tennessee office.

Jason Morgan, `95 accounting, has been appointed President of Cartridge Valve Technology at Helios Technologies Inc. Read more.

Shannon Pirtle, `97 music and `04 M.A., is a new assistant principal at Cane Creek Elementary School. Read more.

Kathryn Pursell, `89 early childhood education, `07 M.A. and `09 Ed.S., will join the mental health nonprofit Haven of Hope to offer psychological examinations in the areas of autism, intellectually disabled, dyslexia, ADHD, parenting assessments, anxiety, depression and more. Read more.

Natalie Robbins, `19 P.S.M., was named the College of Interdisciplinary Studies 2021 Alumna of the Year. The CoIS recently released an article about Robbins. Read more.

Subrata Saha, `69 M.S., was recently elected one of 20 fellows in the inaugural class of fellows for Sigma Xi, the Scientific Honor Society with more than 30,000 members.

Richard Simms, `76 wildlife management, was featured in the Chattanooga Times Free Press in an article about Scenic City Fishing Charters, which Simms founded in 2006. Read more.

Heather Tinch, `99 multidisciplinary studies, `07 M.A., and `08 Ed.S., is the new principal at Burks Elementary School. Read more.

Billy Townsend, `15 sociology, was featured in the Williamson Herald for saving a man's life. Townsend has been a member of the Brentwood Police Department for five years. Read more.

Holly Trotter-Vincent, `99 journalism and `03 M.A., was selected as director of the Communications Department at Cleveland State Community College. Read more.

Sam "Joey" Watson, '88 English-journalism, recently joined South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, SC, as public information officer. He previously served as the managing editor of the Johnson City Press, where he worked as a reporter and editor for more than 32 years.

Benjamin Wendt, `06 computer science, has created his own video game called Wark & Wimble, a simple but stylish and challenging puzzle game with 81 puzzles. Read more and visit Wendt's video game website.

Anna Williams, `13 nursing and `17 M.S., joined Innovative Family Care as a family nurse practitioner. Read more.

Hayden Williams, `18 exercise science, physical education and wellness, is the new football coach for Bolivar Central High School. 

Victor "Russell" Wiss, `84 electrical engineering, received the Distinguished Community Service Award for his church and secular community service for the last 20 years. Wiss is a senior sensor systems propagation engineer at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division. 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

The Crawford Alumni Center


Giving to Tennessee Tech