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May 2021  

Tech celebrates commencement with outside ceremonies for spring graduates

A photo of four nursing students smiling and giving a "wings up" to the camera. They are in purple robes and standing in Tucker Stadium on a sunny day.

On a picturesque day in the Upper Cumberland, more than 1,330 degrees were confirmed during commencement ceremonies in an outdoor celebration at Tucker Stadium. Thousands of parents, family and friends joined Tennessee Tech's faculty, staff and alumni to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates during two ceremonies.

Degrees were awarded to women and men who came to Tech from 78 counties throughout Tennessee, 28 states and 20 other countries. Those earning undergraduate degrees represented 42 fields of study, while those earning graduate degrees represented 20 fields of study. The birth dates of the graduates ranged from 1949 to 2001.

The Tennessee Tech Alumni Association is proud to welcome these individuals. We look forward to staying connected, wherever life may take you. Congratulations!

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Gratitude publication honors those affected by tornado, COVID-19 

The cover of the Gratitude publication. It is a photo of graduation in Hooper Eblen Center. We see President Oldham from the back in his regalia standing before socially distanced graduates in purple robes and face masks. The title reads "Gratitude 2021."

Tennessee Tech's annual Gratitude publication honors Tech alumni, donors and friends who help make this university special. The 2021 edition features stories that demonstrate the kindness of the Golden Eagle community in the wake of the March 2020 tornadoes and the pandemic, including a special introduction letter from First Lady Kari Oldham. It also includes stories about an estate gift to establish a scholarship for Upperman High School students, Mike and Lisa MacIndoe's gift to support the School of Human Ecology's Historic Costume Collection and a special thank you to Golden Eagles everywhere who show their Tech pride. 

We have a limited number of print copies available, so if you'd prefer to read a print copy, email us at and we'll put one in the mail for you. We hope everyone will check out the online edition via the link below.

Alumni Association celebrates 100th anniversary

a graphic reading "100th anniversary celebration" - it has the Tennessee Tech Alumni Association Seal

Please make plans to join us on Tech's Main Quad on Saturday, June 12, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. as we celebrate the Tennessee Tech Alumni Association's 100th Anniversary! This event is free and open to the public. No registration is required and you are welcome to drop by and stay as long as you'd like. We'll have food, games, door prizes and more!  

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.

Contact Brooke Fleenor, Crawford Alumni Center's events coordinator, at if you have any questions. We hope to see you on June 12th. You won't want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime event!

Crawford Alumni Center offers unique Tech apparel for limited time

Crawford Alumni Center presents the Tennessee Tech Summer Store - the graphic has images of a purplel Tech polo, purple Tech pullover, white mesh hat, purple ballcap, purple alumni tshirt, and purple beach towel

Show your Tech Pride this summer! The Crawford Alumni Center's pop-up shop is back with unique clothing and accessories that you won't find anywhere else, including items for the beach and the golf course!

These items are only available through June 8, and all items will be produced and shipped after this date. It may take up to six weeks to receive your items so please note that when ordering. While we hope to offer future pop-up shops in the future, we can't guarantee that we'll have these items again. So if you see something you like, grab it now! Email with questions.

Tennessee Tech hosts alumni dinner in Kennesaw, GA June 4 

Logo for Forks and Flavors. A rust colored circle with two crossed white forks. It reads "Forks & Flavors, established 2014, Modern Infused Cuisine"

Last chance to register!

Tech's in Town! Join Tennessee Tech staff from the Crawford Alumni Center, University Development and Student Affairs, as well as your fellow alumni, for dinner at Forks & Flavors in Kennesaw, GA, at 6:30 p.m. EDT on June 4!

Owners David Wilmott and Darnell Morgan opened Forks & Flavors in 2014 with a goal of offering thought-provoking dishes and a world-class dining atmosphere. We hope you'll join us for dinner, support this small business and enjoy a unique dining experience that you won't soon forget!

The cost is $40 per person and includes a buffet dinner of house salad, vegetable gyoza, crab cakes, BBQ jerk ribs, fennel & garlic cavatappi (with grilled chicken optional), white wine green beans, smoked gouda potatoes, water, tea and soda.

Dress code is business casual. Parking is free onsite.

Be sure to register TODAY via the link below if you wish to attend. We look forward to catching up over dinner!

Forks & Flavors Web Site

Alumni invited to write note cards to prospective Tech students

A notecard encouraging an accepted student to attend Tennessee Tech.

At Tennessee Tech, it's personal.

High school students thinking about coming to Tech have so much to consider. The "It's Personal" campaign is your opportunity to show future Golden Eagles what it really means to be part of the Tech community. Help us reach out to them with personal messages.

We will provide everything you need. Simply email if you'd like to participate. If you live locally, you are welcome to drop by the Varsity Building (705 N. Dixie Ave.) and sign as many cards as you wish. If you don't live locally but still want to participate, we'll mail you 10 cards to write and a pre-paid envelope to return them at no cost to you. Just write a personal note on the cards provided, return them to us and we'll take care of the rest. All cards must be returned by June 15.

You could be the reason a student chooses to come to Tech!

view a short video about the "it's personal" campaign

Golden Eagle football announces 2021 schedule

A photo of Tennessee Tech football players on the field.

The I's are dotted and the T's are crossed, the lines are signed and the contracts are back in. While it may only have been just a handful of weeks since the Tennessee Tech football team finished its 2020-21 campaign, the paperwork is complete on the `21 schedule. Times and additional special events will be announced at a later date.

read full story and view 2021 schedule

Tennessee Tech asks alumni, where are you True?

A graphic with a world map in gold on a purple field that reads "Where are you True, #TrueToTech"

We want to know all the places alumni and their True To Tech decals are visiting this summer! Take a photo of your vehicle with your True To Tech decal displayed at the beach, with the mountains in the background or in front of a "Welcome to the State of ___" sign. Are you flying instead of driving? Take your True To Tech decal or magnet with you and snap a photo of it in front of a landmark. Then, post your photos to Facebook or Instagram using #TrueToTech. If you aren't on social media, send your photos to and we'll be happy to share them for you. 

True To Tech recognizes alumni and friends who have made gifts to Tech every year. Once you have made gifts (of any amount!) two years in a row, you are automatically True To Tech and will receive a decal and magnet each year signifying the number of years you have given consecutively. If you are not yet True To Tech but wish to participate this summer, take a picture of yourself wearing a Tech shirt or hat while on vacation. We can't wait to see your photos!

learn more about True To Tech

Alumni invited to share "Birds of a Feather" (best friends) stories

Two cartoon golden eagles sit on rocks on a gold field. The graphic reads "Birds of a Feather."Did you meet your best friend at Tennessee Tech? How and where did you meet? Do you still keep in touch? The Crawford Alumni Center wants to hear your stories!

In honor of National Best Friend Day on June 8, we are hosting our first-ever "Birds of a Feather" contest. The winner will be featured in our "Birds of a Feather" showcase and win some Tech SWAG. So click the link below to share your "Birds of a Feather" story.

Birds of a feather flock together, and Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles form friendships that last a lifetime!

share your "birds of a feather" best friends story

Discounted 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® Knowledge Certificate Course still available for Tennessee Tech alumni

an image of two people walking on a path through a forest. The graphic reads "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People."

There's still time 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."

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 film "Star Wars: Episode IV" was released in 1977 and instantly became a worldwide phenomenon, inspiring generations of sci-fi fans. A professor at Tech acted as a consultant to George Lucas and helped with the mechanics of the robots. This professor's name 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? 

The answer was Bagci/Bocce, in honor of Cemil Bagci, a Tennessee Tech mechanical engineering professor. A native of Isparta, Turkey, Bagci joined the faculty of Tech's Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1967. He retired in 1996 and passed away just two years later. He is perhaps most fondly known as a contributor to the beloved robots of Star Wars. He provided advice to the production company during the early stages of its research on how to animate models of robots, how drive motors work and how linkages are put together. His contribution is commemorated by "Bocce," a take-off of his own name and the language spoken by household computers and robots.

"Tell your uncle if he gets a translator to make sure it speaks Bocce!" Luke Skywalker's aunt calls out in an early scene of Star Wars. Check out the next story for additional information about this beloved professor. 

Star Wars fans loved last month's trivia question! Thank you to everyone who participated, and congrats to Tommy Ketner, '81 mechanical engineering and '88 MBA, who won the drawing for some Tech SWAG. 

And now for this month's 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?

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 

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Tech Alumnus remembers Cemil Bagci, the professor who forever linked the university to Star Wars   

A black and white portrait of Dr. Cemil Bagci.

Last month's trivia question inspired Michael T. Davis, '79 mechanical engineering, to share his connection to Cemil Bagci and George Lucas, during his time as a Tech student and in his career with Texas Instruments:

"George Lucas was a big supporter of our efforts in the DLP division of Texas Instruments to convert movie projection in theaters from film to digital projection, and he was an even bigger supporter of our DLP technology as the technology of choice after seeing many of the prototype digital projectors our team designed in the late 90’s. In fact, our DLP Cinema projector (installed in only two theaters in the nation for this release) was used to show an exclusive two-week premier of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace in 1999 using digital projection instead of film. It was the first time in history that digital projection was used in a for-profit showing of a publicly-released movie instead of film. These showings were presented on DLP digital cinema projector prototypes for which I led the design and build team. Having seen both the digital version and the later broadly released film version, I can say for sure the digital version was far superior. Many years later, you now see practically every movie in a theater projected digitally, and well over 90% of those screens use DLP technology. It is a truly rewarding experience to have had a part in changing movie history from decades of archaic film technology to truly spectacular and flawless digital technology.

"It is also my pleasure to have been a student during Professor Bagci’s tenure at TTU. He was known to be a very demanding professor of the machine design courses at the undergraduate level. Although my schedule did not place me directly in his classes, our newest professor, Dr. Richard Houghton, regularly consulted Professor Bagci. I will never forget the critique of my mechanism design project given by Professor Bagci to Dr. Houghton. (Let’s just say it was not very flattering.) Although a demanding professor, Dr. Bagci was also a very generous man and always had the best interests of the students at heart. I also will never forget the time he graciously hosted our student section of the ASME for a cookout at his residence. So it is with great TTU pride that I am aware of Professor Bagci’s contributions to the Star Wars legacy.

"Having crossed paths with two brilliant individuals, Professor Bagci and George Lucas, at different times in my life created an unusual but fortunate convergence that has given me lots of good memories, especially for a country boy from a small town in Tennessee, and strengthened my pride in the excellence of TTU."

Photo: Cemil Bagci
Source: 1998 Eagle Yearbook

Friends Remembered

A portrait of Mrs. Roaden.

Mary Etta Roaden of Nashville, Tennessee passed away on April 21, 2021.

Mary Etta graduated from Carson Newman College and taught elementary school. While in college, she met Arliss Roaden, and the two were married for 65 years. She was his devoted wife and supporter throughout his career, and Tech alumni and friends know her best as Tennessee Tech's First Lady.

Arliss and Mary Etta served as Tech's President and First Lady from 1974 to 1985. Under Roaden's leadership, Tech created its four-year nursing curriculum, established the Office of University Research and received two state research centers of excellence: the Center for Manufacturing Research and the Center for Management, Utilization and Protection of Water Resources. Roaden also established the Office of University Development and by 1983, the university's endowment exceeded $1 million for the first time. With Roaden at the helm, Tech's commitment to the arts deepened. The university built the Bryan Fine Arts Building and acquired the Joe L. Evins Appalachian Center for Craft.

view mary etta roaden's full obituary

A purple and gold graphic reading "donor spotlight."

A photo of Bill Heidtke in the Trading Room named for him.

The "Heidtke" name is well-known in Tennessee Tech's College of Business and in Johnson Hall.

The Heidtke Trading Room is one of the most unique facilities on campus and captures the attention of anyone who walks by. A learning lab that simulates the activities of a real investment firm, the Heidtke Trading Room puts finance majors in charge of real funds and allows them to make their own buy and sell decisions for their portfolio. Students can see the rise and fall of stock exchanges worldwide, commodities, currencies, individual funds, sets of funds and market newsfeeds from a wall of high-definition television screens.

"The college is forever grateful to Mr. Heidtke's ongoing and recent financial support," said Thomas Payne, dean of the College of Business. "His multitude of investments in students, programs and Johnson Hall has transformed our learning environment and placed students on a pathway to achieve professional success."

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Taking the Wheel by Lofton Carter

Lofton is back with what may be his final Taking the Wheel blog! Lofton graduated from Tech with his MBA this month, and we wish him all the best on his future endeavors. But he may pop back up from time to time as a guest blogger for The Alumnus!

For his final blog, Lofton took a different approach and, using his experiences as an undergrad and graduate student, wrote "The Tennessee Tech Story." We hope you'll check it out via the link below, and we hope you've enjoyed Taking the Wheel with Lofton this year.

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

A parody of the Escape From L.A. movie poster, with Megan's face superimposed over Snake Plisskin's and the words "Escape From Atlanta, Meggers is back."

In this month's Archives with Atkinson, Megan shares the importance of having archival materials professionally digitized...and includes an unforeseen adventure she experienced due to the recent gas shortages!

"On May 11, I dropped off some sound and video recording to a professional digitization service in Atlanta, GA, so I could ensure they securely made it to the facility. The materials included oral histories with the Derryberrys, faculty members, WWII veterans, Vietnam veterans, miners from Fentress County and the radio show 'Cumberland Viewpoint' with Dave Johnson.

"Having archival materials digitized by a vendor is often the best choice for an archive or even an individual. Digitization is a timely and costly process. The materials we delivered included reel to real audio, cassette tapes, 8 mm film, 16 mm film, U-matic videotape, Hi 8 videocassettes, VHS-C, DV and mini DV and digital videotapes.

"When I set out for Atlanta, I was unaware of the potential for gas shortages, but I soon found out when I arrived in Atlanta with an empty tank..."  Read Megan's full story via the link below.

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

A photo of Russ and the words "Career Corner with Russ"

The HireTennessee Alumni Career Fair will be held on June 2 and 3. There will be two opportunities to connect: employer group info sessions on June 2 and private candidate interview sessions on June 3. Click the link below to register.

And be sure to check out Center for Career Development Russ Coughenour's blog "Career Corner" for tips and suggestions for resume writing, interviewing and participating in career fairs!

register now

read career corner with russ

Class Notes

Charlotte Austin, `77 business management and `83 M.A., retired after 43 years teaching high school mathematics. She taught her last 12 years in Rutherford County, TN.

Angela Cass, `07 Ed.S, has been named the principal at Soddy Daisy High School. She previously served as principal of Ooltewah High School and has worked as a teacher, district curriculum coach, assistant principal and principal at a variety of schools in the district. Read more.

Jesse Chavez, `06 music and `17 M.A., received the honor of Blue Jacket of the Year by the Navy Band Northeast. Musician 2nd Class Chavez was a student of Winston Morris and a member of the Brass Arts Quintet and Bryan Symphony Orchestra.

Jeff Cundiff, `04 civil engineering, was promoted to Tennessee civil lead at Barge Design Solutions, Inc. In this role, he will provide leadership to technical services and staff and will be responsible for supporting the continued growth of the civil site and land development services, focusing his efforts in Tennessee.

Blaine Donoho, '18 exercise science physical wellness and '19 M.A., is the new strength and conditioning coach at Goodpasture Christian. Donoho previously served as director of campus recreation and wellness at Lipscomb University. Read more.

Chad Driver, `04 business management, joined FirstBank as a senior relationship manager at the Smithville Financial Center. Read more.

Sandra C. Grebel, `84 music therapy, is the vice president of Mental Health Services for Youth and Families at Preferred Behavioral Health Group. She has been employed there for 25 years. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Services Courage and Compassion Award for her efforts related to consumer empowerment.

Andrea Johnson, '03 Ed.S., is the new principal at Barger Academy in the Hamilton County School District. Johnson is a 26-year veteran of Hamilton County Schools. Read more.

Kelly Kennedy, '17 exercise science physical wellness and '19 M.A., is the new head coach for the Franklin County High School Softball Program in Winchester, TN. During her time at Tech, Kennedy played first base and catcher and helped the Golden Eagles win an Ohio Valley Conference Championship in 2015. Read more.

Kathleen Lordo, '00 geology, received the Outstanding Staff Award from Tennessee Tech. Lordo is the web and social media manager for Tech's Crawford Alumni Center.

Michael Odom, `78 industrial engineering, retired after 21 years of service with Boeing in Huntsville, AL. Previous employment included Intergraph in Huntsville and Sperry Univac in Bristol, TN. Mike credits his time at Tech as the start of a long and fulfilling career in industrial engineering.

Chris Provost, `84 civil engineering, is now a board member at the vice president level at Barge Design Solutions, Inc. Provost serves as Barge's executive vice president and chief strategy officer.

Mike Tucker, `97 industrial technology, and his family were featured in The Heart of Farragut magazine in an article titled "The Tucker Family: Making Memories." The article profiles Tucker, his wife Angie and their three children. Tucker is a nephrology endocrinology specialty sales representative with AstraZeneca.

Robert Tyler Hughes, `20 civil engineering, Samuel Mathews, `18 civil engineering and `20 M.S., and John Pearson, `92 civil engineering and `94 M.S.,recently published an article in Tennessee CONCRETE magazine titled "A Brief Look at the Effects of Adding Water and/or Lack of Curing of Residential/Commercial Concrete." Tech civil engineering professors L. K. Crouch and Daniel Badoe are listed as authors on the article as well.

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


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


Giving to Tennessee Tech