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November 2021  

Tech's first alumni director leads homecoming parade

Tom Moran and his granddaugther ride in the bed of the Pep Truck in the 2021 Homecoming parade.

On Nov. 13, Tech celebrated its 90th Homecoming with a theme of Tech Back in Time: Homecoming Through the Decades! Tom Moran, `58 physics, served as the parade's grand marshal.

In 1965, President Everett Derryberry had an idea to create an office specifically focused on alumni relations and fundraising. Moran learned about the job from a friend and decided to apply. He served as Tech's very first alumni director from 1965 to 1968 and says he was fortunate to receive unwavering support from Derryberry as he built the alumni program.

But perhaps what Moran is best known for is what he calls his five minutes of fame or "the great eagle heist of 1952." Those five minutes of fame have turned into a 70-year Tennessee Tech tradition: the true story of how the eagle came to sit atop Derryberry Hall.

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Former members of Golden Eagle tennis team say friendships still strong after 20 years

A photo of the former members of the tennis team featured in the story standing with their arms around each other on the tennis field.

Eight former members of the Tennessee Tech women's tennis team have remained friends since their time at Tech 20 years ago, despite living in four states and four countries. The secret to staying in touch, they said, is simple.

"It all comes down to a bit of effort."

They came to Tech from all over the world, and their Tech degrees and experiences as student-athletes have led to impressive careers all around the world as well. And five of the teammates actually reunited in Cookeville for Tech's Homecoming this month!

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Golden Eagle community invited to participate in Giving Tuesday

A graphic that reads "Giving Tuesday" with a woven purple and gold heart

So many Tech traditions are centered around athletics: Homecoming, Shinny-Ninny, the blizzard, the pep truck, Tommy Tech and Awesome Eagle, Purple Pride and Wings Up. Regardless of when you graduated, at least one of these traditions was part of your Tech experience.

Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, an international day of giving to support the causes that positively impact our communities. This year, Tech is asking alumni and friends to make a gift to establish a Football Operations Center. Your support will continue the 100-year tradition of Tech football and allow future generations of Golden Eagles to experience the Tech traditions we know and love.

Tennessee Tech's annual Lighting the Quad set for Nov. 30

A photo of Awesome Eagle in a Santa costume standing in front of the decorated Quad

Tennessee Tech is ready to flip the switch on its annual holiday tradition of Lighting the Quad, set for Nov. 30 at 5:30 p.m. on the university's historic quad in front of Derryberry Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

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Tech's Presidential Scholars program supports students

President Oldham walks in front of Henderson Hall with a couple of students

Earlier this fall, Tennessee Tech launched the new Presidential Scholars program to offer more scholarships for more students, guaranteed. The program has so far awarded 1,522 students a four-year total of more than $23 million in scholarships.

To apply for any university scholarship, apply for admission ( and scholarships ( by Dec. 15. Tech encourages its alumni to remind any prospective or current students you may know to apply for scholarships by the deadline. Learn more via the links below.

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Impact 2021 highlights stories of campus expansion

A drone view of campus with the title "Impact 2021" in a purple field in the upper right corner of the image.

Impact is an annual publication, produced by Tech's Crawford Alumni Center, that tells the story of how donor support makes a difference on campus. The 2021 edition focuses on campus expansion and features stories about the Ashraf Islam Engineering Building, Lab Science Commons and Stonecipher Lecture Hall, Marc L. Burnett Student Recreation and Fitness Center, J.J. Oakley Innovation Center and Residence Hall and, Tech's newest project, a Football Operations Center. Click the link below to read the full publication. We also have a few print copies available, so if you prefer a print copy, email us and we'll put one in the mail for you.

read 2021 edition of impact

Tech alumni who worked for NASA invited to share their stories

A header for a special NASA edition of The Alumnus - Awesome Eagle is wearing a space helmet. The moon is behind the logo.

On Dec. 7, 1972, NASA launched Apollo 17, the final moon-landing mission of NASA's Apollo program. Next year marks the 50th anniversary of this launch, and to celebrate, we want to honor Tennessee Tech alumni who have worked for NASA. The employment can be in any capacity (internship, co-op, full-time) and in any field (engineering, biology, marketing, communications, human resources, etc.). We know alumni who have worked for NASA have amazing stories to tell, and we want to record them for future generations! Click the link below to submit your story.

We also plan to host a gathering of all Tech NASA alumni in late spring of 2022. If this is something you would be interested in, please indicate that on the form linked below. More information will be shared in future editions of The Alumnus and via email.

Class of 1971 celebrates 50 years at Golden Grad Reunion

A group photo of attendees of the Golden Grad reunion. They are standing on the stairs going into the basement of the University Center.

During homecoming weekend, members of the Class of 1971 celebrated their 50-year reunion and were inducted into the Golden Grad Society. The alumni reconnected over lunch in the Tech Pride Room, received Golden Grad medallions from President Phil Oldham and First Lady Kari Oldham, went on a campus tour, attended a parade viewing party, were welcomed as special guests in the President's tailgate tent and had reserved seating at the homecoming game. Because the Class of 1970 was not able to celebrate in person last year, they were recognized in this year's reunion, and all Golden Grad Society members (classes prior to 1970) were invited as well.

The class of 1971 has been extremely generous in giving back to their alma mater. In total, they have given more than $1.1 million and pledged an additional $3 million in planned gifts for the university.

Congratulations, Class of 1970 and 1971 grads!

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Alumnus shares story of Tech students' 1957 prank on Crossville

A black and white photo of a group of men seeming to be performing a survey

This month, dozens of graduates from the Class of 1971 (and prior) came together to celebrate their Golden Grad Reunion and share memories of their time at Tech. More than 60 years after graduating, Jimmy Bridges, `58 industrial management, still remembers being a part of a four-man fake survey crew who fooled the City of Crossville.

In 1957, Tech was preparing for the All Campus Picnic at Cumberland Mountain State Park, near Crossville. Bridges recruited friends Clyde Hembree, Dick Moore and Euclid Williams to play a prank on Cookeville's sister city. The students posed as a survey crew to make the citizens of Crossville think a new highway was in the works. Hembree, an engineering major, borrowed old survey equipment from the engineering department. He played the part of survey crew supervisor and took notes. Moore, school photographer, operated the level. Williams was the rod man. Bridges, editor-in-chief of the 1957 Eagle yearbook, used a 4x5 Graflex camera to shoot pictures of the survey crew in action. The students stationed themselves along Highway 70 and loudly posed questions such as "How high will the water come?" and "Will the buildings have to be moved back from the street?" The citizens of Crossville overheard, and word quickly spread that a new highway was coming to Crossville. (It wasn't.) The 1958 Eagle Yearbook published photos of the faux survey crew prank in action.

Photo credit: 1958 Eagle Yearbook


Nine inducted into TTU Sports Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame inductees pose with their plaques

On Nov. 12, Tennessee Tech held its 46th and 47th TTU Sports Hall of Fame inductions during Homecoming weekend. After forgoing last year's induction ceremony due to COVID-19, Tech recognized the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 together this year. The Class of 2020 includes A. J. Kirby-Jones (baseball, 2008-10), Stephanie Place Buchanan (women's cross country/track & field, 2005-10), Thomas Squires (football, 1985-87) and Borja Zarco (men's tennis, 2005-08). The Class of 2021 includes Morris Irby (baseball, 1968-71), Frank Harrell (men's basketball head coach/administration, 1980-present), Leah Meffert Turner (volleyball, 2007-10), Chad Oberacker (baseball, 2008-11) and Ashley Potts Williams (softball, 2004-07).

Bragga returns as Tennessee Tech baseball head coach

A profile photo of Matt Bragga in a baseball uniform.

Six Ohio Valley Conference championships. Three NCAA Tournament appearances. Four 40-win seasons. Arguably the greatest single season in program and OVC history. Numerous All-Americans and four OVC Coach of the Year honors. All of that history and experience returned to Cookeville as Tennessee Tech Director of Athletics Mark Wilson announced the return of Matt Bragga as the Golden Eagle baseball program's head coach, effective Nov. 11.

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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:  

Which building is named for a member of the first graduating class of Tennessee Polytechnic Institute, the first president of the Alumni Association and Tech's bursar from 1918 to 1967?

The correct answer was Kittrell Hall, named after Thomas William Kittrell. Congratulations to Jon Pace, `89 electrical engineering, who won some Tech SWAG! 

And now for this month's question: 

Tennessee Tech Football is proud to have had a number of players who went on to actively play in the NFL. You will receive one point for each player you can name. The person with the most points will win the Tech SWAG this month. In the case of a tie, we will do a random drawing. For some hints, check out the Giving Tuesday website:

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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T. W. Kittrell's legacy still felt on campus

A black and white photo of a reunion of the class of 1929.

Thomas William Kittrell, commonly known as T.W., was Tennessee Tech's Bursar from 1918 to 1967 and served as the first president of Tech's Alumni Association, organized on June 6, 1921. In the 1940s, Kittrell and his wife actually lived in the building that would later become Kittrell Hall! The Kittrells then purchased a house on Peachtree and rented rooms to eight Tech students -- common in those days due to a lack of residence halls. Anytime one of the Kittrells' female renters had a date, she would be required to introduce the young man to the Kittrells first. The Kittrells developed close relationships with the students who lived with them and ensured their safety. Each Homecoming, Kittrell ordered a ham and a coconut cake from Gladys Crawford who ran Tech's cafeteria. Homecoming was a huge event for the Cookeville community, and the entire town celebrated. Tech remains grateful to Kittrell, the Crawford's and so many others who helped establish TPI and Tennessee Tech.

Special thanks to Deborah Kudrey and Genny Kudrey Patterson, the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of the Kittrells, for providing additional information for this newsletter. Kudrey and Patterson are Tech alumni, and Patterson works on campus as a librarian in the Jeffers Learning Resources Center.

Photo: T. W. Kittrell is in the second row, second from right


Donor Spotlight

A portrait of Kathy Ligon

Tennessee Tech was always an important part of Katherine ("Kathy") Ligon's life. She grew up in Cookeville and when it came time to choose a college, there was never any doubt that she would choose Tech.

But while choosing a university was easy, choosing a major proved to be more difficult. Ligon initially enrolled at Tech as a psychology major. She then changed her major to business, but neither felt like the right fit, and her grades suffered as a result.

"I was actually put on probation and academically dismissed from the university," Ligon said. "I was on the seven-and-a-half year plan. It took me seven and a half years to get my bachelor's degree."

Ligon knew that not completing her degree was not an option. She did some soul searching and ultimately realized that her academic struggles were not due to a lack of ambition or ability. She simply hadn't found the right major for her skillset and passion. Ligon liked to read, write and talk, so she decided to become a teacher.

Ligon says she begged the dean of the College of Education to give her a second chance, and he did. She re-enrolled at Tech and never looked back. Ligon would eventually earn her bachelor's, master's and educational specialist degrees from Tech as well as a doctorate in education from Tennessee State University.

Ligon credits many Tech faculty who helped her along the way and has chosen to give back by establishing the Katherine C. Ligon Scholarship for secondary education majors.

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Friends Remembered

A snapshot of T Cebe smiling on a fishing boat.

Dennis Robert Cebe, known to many as "T," passed away on Oct. 6, 2021.

T was born in Louisville, KY, in 1939.

T's love for sports began in Louisville where he played quarterback for DuPont Manual High School. He graduated from high school in 1957 and decided to continue playing football at Tennessee Tech.

It was at Tech where he earned the nickname "T." The nickname came from the Tennessee Tech letterman's jacket and baseball cap he often wore. T played football for the Golden Eagles from 1957 to 1960.

read full obituary

Charlie standing with carved wooden eagles.

Charles "Charlie" Hawkins, `53 industrial management, passed away on Oct. 27.

Charlie enjoyed a successful sales career with IBM before moving to Chattanooga, where he worked at Provident Insurance as vice president of human resources. Charlie was a long-time member of the Tennessee Tech College of Business Board of Trustees/Advisory Board, serving several times as president. Charlie's financial support established a scholarship endowment, funded an iCube internship and renovated a classroom and the second floor Peachtree Avenue entrance for Johnson Hall.

In 2017, Charlie served as grand marshal of Tech's Homecoming parade. A link to that story is availableThe eagle at Walton House with a wreath placed on it in honor of Charlie. below.

Charlie was best known for his love of eagles.

His house was full of eagles he had collected from all over the world. Over the years, Charlie made numerous campus visits, often bringing eagles from his private collection as gifts for university faculty and staff.

Charlie was fond of saying, "There are two types of people at Tennessee Tech -- those with an eagle and those without an eagle."

Shortly after the death of his wife, Norma, he assisted the university with the acquisition of the eagle now residing at Walton House. The bronze eagle, commissioned by Charlie, is a replica of the eagle which sits atop Derryberry Hall.

read full obituary

2017 charlie hawkins parade grand marshal 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, please email


Archives with Atkinson Graphic

Tennessee Tech Archives had a fabulous homecoming weekend -- interviewing "Great Eagle Heist's" Tom Moran, the homecoming parade and game, and of course celebrating with a display at the Golden Grad lunch.

This year, Archives highlighted its digital collection, which grows larger every day. As a result, this month's Archives with Atkinson features a tutorial showing users how to search Tennessee Tech Archives and Special Collections' resources. The tutorial begins at our website if you would like to follow: You can access the video tutorial here.  

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. 

view university archives' digital collections

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Class Notes

Hunter Collins sits holding an oboe.Barbara Brooks, `83 accounting, is the new CFO of Michael Dunn Center in Kingston, TN.

Hunter Collins, `20 music, won the second oboe/English horn audition for the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra. Collins is pursuing a Master of Music degree at Louisiana State University.

Demario Donnell, `16 finance, has signed with the German Football League Straubing Spiders. Donnell is a former member of the Tennessee Tech football team. Read more.

Tom Grooms, `70 secondary education, released a revised sixth edition of his book titled Business Plan Outline: A Comprehensive Template to Guide You to a Successful Business. Read more.

Ann Massey, `77 geology and `89 MBA, has been appointed to The Kleinfelder Group, Inc. firm's board of directors. Read more.

Michael Montgomery, `75 civil engineering, is president and founder of HydroLOGICA. HydroLOGICA develops Nicaragua's groundwater resources, providing safe water access to schools and communities while training the world. Now, they are venturing into Africa as well. Montgomery says one of his favorite memories of Tech is Kenneth Purdy, a mechanical engineering professor who explained the zeroth law of relative randomness in a way Montgomery had never heard before -- or since! Read more.

Monique Parker, `01 chemical engineering, joined Piedmont Lithium Inc. as vice president of Health, Safety and Environment.

Mark Pemberton, `83 physical education, was selected by the Tennessee Titans organization as the Titans Coach of the Week for the week of Oct. 22. Coach Pemberton and his staff have helped to build an outstanding football program for Rhea County in Tennessee.

Jeremiah Samarrippas, `14 interdisciplinary studies, made his successful debut as head basketball coach of the Lincoln Memorial University men's basketball team. The Railsplitters opened the 2021-22 campaign with an 89-71 win over Clayton State. Samarrippas is a former member of Tech's men's basketball team. Read more.

Photo top left:  Hunter Collins, `20 music

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 graduation regalia and diploma frames

The new Tennessee Tech University Spirit Shop is now open! Check out the bookstore's new website featuring additional apparel, accessories and Tech-themed items for students and alumni. And even more items will be added in the coming months, so check back often! 

The original bookstore website is still available and will focus mainly on textbooks and school supplies, while the Spirit Shop focuses more on Tech-themed gear.

The University Bookstore is open Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


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