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March 2021  

Tech honors lives lost in March 3, 2020 tornado

A low angle shot of the north side of Derryberry Hall. Mutliple stars are in the grass with a white pergola behind them.

One year after an F4 tornado violently swept through parts of Baxter, along Highway 70 and into Cookeville, killing 19 people and damaging hundreds of homes, Tennessee Tech University paid tribute to the lives lost and the impact the tornado had on the community by designating March 3, 2021 as Tech Strong: Day of Service.

The Derryberry carillon rang 19 times at 1:48 p.m. to honor each person who died in the tornado in Putnam County, and those 19 victims were honored with a star placed alongside Centennial Plaza.

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Tech to celebrate Wings Up Weekend April 9-10 with virtual and in person events

Awesome Eagle giving the wings up sign. It reads Tennessee Tech Wings Up Weekend, April 9-11, 2021.

Like so many events in 2020-21, this year's Wings Up Weekend will look a bit different with a smaller schedule and both in-person and virtual event options for alumni and friends. This year, both the Evening of Excellence Alumni Awards and the Legacy Gala benefitting the Diversity Scholarship Initiative will be held virtually, while the Appalachian Center for Craft will host its annual Celebration of Craft in person and online. And Tech will celebrate the grand openings of not one, but three new buildings! 


Laboratory Science Commons and Stonecipher Lecture Hall to celebrate grand opening April 9

aerial view of Lab Science Commons Building

Tech will celebrate the grand opening of the Laboratory Science Commons and Stonecipher Lecture Hall on April 9, at 1 p.m. These events will feature short programs outdoors, refreshments, commemorative gifts and socially distanced tours of the new facilities. Face coverings are required. Parking will be reserved for guests in the lots immediately around the new fitness center or Oakley STEM Center and in the gravel parking lot along Willow Avenue.

This grand opening is part of Wings Up Weekend. To view all Wings Up Weekend events, click the link below.

Grand opening of Marc L. Burnett Student Recreation & Fitness Center set for April 9

photo of the facade of the Marc L. Burnett Student Recreation and Fitness Center

Tennessee Tech will hold the official grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of the Marc L. Burnett Student Recreation & Fitness Center on Friday, April 9, at 2 p.m., with students, faculty, staff, university administrators and local officials invited to attend.

The commanding three-level, 165,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art recreation and fitness facility features a basketball gym and multi-activity court, racquetball courts, retractable bleachers for spectators, 13,000-square-foot weight room, 6,000-square-foot cardio room, climbing wall, golf simulator, elevated track, aquatic center, dance studio, game room, and wellness and nutrition area.

This grand opening is part of Wings Up Weekend. To view all Wings Up Weekend events, click the link below.

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Evening of Excellence recognizes 2020 alumni award recipients

A table with flowers and golden eagle head awards

On Apr. 9, the Tennessee Tech Alumni Association will recognize the following 2020 award recipients in a virtual ceremony:

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award
Jake Hoot, '13 interdisciplinary studies

Outstanding Service Award
Maggie R. Smith, '82 animal science

Outstanding Philanthropy Award
Leanna Garrick, '86 business management
H. Ray Sells, '57 mechanical engineering
J. Michael Winchester, '75 history

Distinguished Alumnus Award 
V. Leon Davis, '69 electrical engineering

Some award winners have requested a virtual reception. If you'd like to join one or more of these virtual receptions, click the link below to register. You can view the online presentation and acceptance speeches via the link below as well. Finally, if you would like to send a note of congratulations to one or more of these alumni, email and we will be happy to share those messages with our award recipients. The Evening of Excellence is part of Wings Up Weekend, so be sure to check out the other events going on April 9-11.

watch alumni awards video

New residence hall to be named in honor of J.J. Oakley

an architectural rendering of the proposed design of the J.J .Oakley Innovation Center and Residence Hall

When it comes to Tennessee Tech, the name "Oakley" is synonymous for giving. Millard Oakley and his wife, Joyce Annette, affectionately known as "J.J.," have contributed millions of dollars to the university over the years. As a way of giving back to the Oakleys, a new residence hall will be named the J.J. Oakley Innovation Center and Residence Hall.

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Tennessee Tech celebrates Women's History Month
Women's History Month

Each March, Tennessee Tech celebrates Women's History Month by recognizing the past and present accomplishments and contributions from women to the university. From the first female graduate in 1918 to the first female vice president for research in 2020, and every female in between, Tech's women's history website recognizes the many talented women who helped shape the university.

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Tech's Master's in Physical Education ranked among nation's best  

the facade of Memorial Gym

The Department of Exercise Science at Tennessee Tech is home to a nationally-ranked graduate degree recognized by OnlineU - an independent data research organization. Tech's online Master of Arts degree in Physical Education is now ranked #8 in the nation and is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

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Crawford Alumni Center and Premier World Discovery host trip to Cape Cod and surrounding islands

a drawn map of the areas to be visited during the tour - on the peninsula of Massachusetts

Are you ready to start traveling again in 2021? Tech's Crawford Alumni Center has partnered with Premier World Discovery to offer another travel opportunity for alumni and friends. On July 10, 2021, we'll head out on a seven-day adventure to Cape Cod and the surrounding islands, Boston, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and Newport.

And we're already planning a trip to Utah's Mighty National Parks in 2022! This seven-day adventure will explore Canyonlands National Park, Deadhorse Point State Park, Monument Valley, Arches National Park and more!

If you'd like more information on the Cape Cod & the Islands trip or the Utah's Mighty National Parks trip, email us or click the link below. Wings Up Across America!

learn more about golden eagle travel

Alumni Association Board member application now open

the Tech seal for the Alumni Association

Do you love Tennessee Tech? Do you enjoy staying connected with the university and with your fellow alumni? Do you recognize the value in sharing the story of Tech with others?

If so, you might be the perfect candidate for the Alumni Association Board! The Association is in search of energetic new members who can act as a liaison between alumni and the university, plan and host events for alumni across the country and on campus, help alumni connect with classmates, and assist alumni who have questions about Tech. They even help select the Alumni Association Award recipients! (See story above.)

The Board meets four times a year and assists the Crawford Alumni Center keeping alumni engaged with Tech. It's a great way to meet new people, plan and attend fun events around the country and learn more about your alma mater!

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, we hope you'll complete the application form via the link below. And please share this opportunity with anyone who you think would make a great Alumni Association Board member. We look forward to working with you!

True To Tech donors share why they support Tech every year

True To Tech Stories

A portrait of Keith Madison

Keith Madison, '98 business management and '99 MBA, supports Tech's Diversity Scholarship Initiative. Madison says he received a diversity scholarship while he was a student at Tech and believes it is important to pay it forward.

"Tech is a special place to me," said Madison. "The education I received gave me a great foundation for my career, and Tech is where I met my wife and many of my best friends."

Madison remembers that before Marc Burnett retired, he invited alumni to support the Diversity Scholarship Initiative.

"Marc was a mentor for me, and giving back was the least I could do to honor him," said Madison. "I wanted to do my small part to help someone else have the opportunity for the same great education that I was able to receive."

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. 


learn more about true to tech

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:  

Serving as president for 34 years, William Everett Derryberry and his wife Joan Pitt Rew Derryberry left many indelible marks on our campus - one being the Tennessee Tech Hymn. Mrs. Derryberry said this about writing the hymn: "...words and music both being shaped and reshaped after many friendly arguments between my husband and myself." Upon completion, what famous Tech composer did Mrs. Derryberry send the Tech Hymn to for feedback?

The answer was Charles Faulkner Bryan

Congrats to Lisa Bowen Field, '78 music education, who guessed correctly and won some Tech SWAG! 

For more information about Joan Derryberry and the Tech Hymn, be sure to check out the next story.

And now for this month's question: 

On March 27, 1915, what Tennessee governor signed a bill establishing Tennessee Polytechnic Institute, the institution that would later become Tennessee Tech University?

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

A black and white wedding photo of Dr. Everett Deryberry and Joan Pitt Rew Derryberry

Joan Pitt Rew Derryberry was Tennessee Tech's longest-serving first lady, serving from 1940 to 1974. Joan wrote the Tech Hymn which is sung at every commencement, played on Tech's carillon and is the anthem for Golden Eagles. Joan taught many students music history and piano while her husband, President Everett Derryberry, worked to expand the Music Department. Joan was also an artist, and her most popular painting "Sudden Rain" can be seen in numerous Tech offices and alumni homes.

Joan established the "Town and Gown" organization, which was designed to form closer ties between campus and the community, and served as president of the Tech Faculty Women's Club. 

Joan and Everett met in 1928 when Everett was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University. Joan earned a degree in music from London's Royal College of Music and received several certificates from the British Society of Art Masters. The couple married in 1933 and came to Tech in 1940. 

In 1996, Tech's art gallery, located in the Roaden University Center, was named in Joan's honor. 

The quiet hills stand steadfast 'round walls of russet brown. On halls serene and campus green the smoky hills look down; And steadfast may I cherish what thou hast giv'n to me. Oh Alma Mater Tennessee Tech, God prosper thee.

Deep purple stand the mountains and golden sets the sun. We proudly wear these colors fair until our goal is won; We pledge thee faithful service, our love and loyalty. Oh Alma Mater Tennessee Tech, God prosper thee.

Taking the Wheel by Lofton Carter

Moving Up the Corporate Ladder

Everyone has the desire to move up, but few have the willpower it takes to succeed. Time served is no guarantee for a coveted position, so how can you best position yourself for a promotion?

This month, Lofton discusses how to improve your knowledge base, increase your network and present yourself in a way that inspires confidence. That way, when the next promotion opportunity comes around, you'll be the one selected. Click the link below to read his blog.

"Taking the Wheel" is a financial literacy blog written by Lofton Carter, '20 biology, an MBA candidate and graduate assistant in the Crawford Alumni Center. 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 financial literacy blog

 Archives with Atkinson Graphic

This month, University Archivist Megan Atkinson shares some best practices for preserving oversize materials such as family certificates, deeds, posters, architectural plans and maps. Click the link below to view Megan's video presentation. And keep an eye out for future videos where Megan will share additional advice on preserving family archives and the best options for preserving family histories...including what NOT to do.

University Archivist Megan Atkinson 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. 

watch megan's video on preserving oversize family documents

read archives' blog

Follow Tech Archives on Facebook

Class Notes

Stephanie Barnes, '94 multidisciplinary studies, '98 M.A., and '13 Ed.S., was named the chief academic officer for the Cumberland County School System. Barnes will oversee educational services for students at the elementary and secondary level and supervise federal programs, special education, the athletic director, inventory control, the PreK-8 supervisor and the 9-12 supervisor. Read more.

Rick Burt, '78 mechanical engineering, was named deputy director of NASA's Marshall Center. Read more. Burt was also featured in an article about his career journey titled Lessons in Leadership.

Samantha Sherrell Cross, '13 accounting, was named the new President of Encompass Manufacturing. Encompass Manufacturing has manufactured a wide variety of plastic molded parts for more than 35 years. In 2019, Sherrell Cross was profiled in an article titled "Women Breaking the Mold" in Plastics News magazine. Read more.

Tigstu T. Dullo, '20 Ph.D. engineering, recently published a paper along with Dr. Alfred Kalyanapu and others titled "Simulation of Hurricane Harvey flood event through coupled hydrologic-hydraulic models: Challenges and next steps." The paper was published in PreventionWeb, an online knowledge portal managed by the United Nations Office of Disaster Risk and Recovery. Read more.

Amy Elliott, '09 mechanical engineering, was honored as one of twenty women making their mark in Robotics & Automation in Smart Manufacturing magazine. Elliott leads the Robotics & Intelligent Systems group in the Manufacturing Science Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Read more.

Shannon Huff, '88 accounting, has been named CEO of Tennessee Farmer's Cooperative. Read more.

Chad Jernigan, '08 industrial technology, co-established DIFF Eyewear. Since 2015, DIFF has sold more than 2 million pairs of glasses and has donated more than 1.5 million pairs of reading glasses to individuals in need around the world. Read more.

Rodney Knight, '95 civil engineering, was selected as Director of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center. As the Center's director, Knight leads and manages nearly 200 people in five states in the southeastern U.S. to provide high-quality water data, interpretations and visualizations for federal, state, tribal, local and non-governmental agencies to further the mission of USGS.

Gregory Lindsay, '87 business management, joined CapStar Bank as Senior Vice President and Commercial Relationship Manager. In his new role, Lindsay will focus on privately owned business, their owners, and real estate investors across the region. Read more.

Brent Price, '96 finance, was appointed Clerk & Master of Hawkins County, Tennessee.

Steven Qualls, '93 civil engineering and '04 M.S., will assume the position of president of Ross Bryan Associates, Inc., effective April 1. Ross Bryan offers a wide range of services to meet the needs of architects, developers, contractors and lenders throughout the United States.

Christopher Reeves, '96 finance, joined AGX Freight, LLC as Chief Commercial Officer. AGX Freight is a North Florida-based provider of non-asset transportation and logistics services. In his new role, Reeves will lead the expansion of AGX Freight's service offerings through a nationwide network of sales and operations professionals. Read more.

Kyle Robinson, '84 industrial technology, is the Director of Supply Chain at ByoPlanet International, a leading manufacturer of electrostatic spray equipment (i.e. air sprayers containing Clorox 360 used to disinfect surfaces and protect against the spread of COVID-19 and other illness-causing germs). In response to COVID-19, ByoPlanet went from producing 1,500 sprayers each week to producing 3,000 sprayers each day. Read more.

Jacob Waddell, '18 MBA, is the new President of the U.S. Hemp Building Association (USHBA). Waddell served as COO of Ology Essentials and was CEO and founder at Tennessee-based Hemp Shiv Technologies. Read more.

Anthony Wilson, '20 civil engineering, joined Reveer Group as a staff engineer. Reveer Group is a civil engineering firm offering engineering consulting, planning and design services. Read more.

Ginger Wilson, '13 interdisciplinary studies, was recently featured in The Oak Ridger. Wilson has written several books, taking class children's stories such as Alice in Wonderland and The Three Little Pigs and giving them a biblical perspective. 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

Mar. 29-Apr. 1: Additional 50% off Clearance (In-Store Only)

Free shipping on online orders of $49 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 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


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