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August 2022  

Tennessee Tech to host 91st Homecoming November 5

Hollywood Homecoming 2022

Tennessee Tech will host its 91st Homecoming on November 5, and this year's theme is Hollywood Homecoming!

The Crawford Alumni Center will host its annual Homecoming Parade watch party at 9:30 a.m. We'll have coffee, donuts and fun giveaways. The parade kicks off on Dixie Avenue at 10:30 a.m. At 1:30 p.m., the Golden Eagle football team will take on Lindenwood at Tucker Stadium. Be sure to check out the other events going on around campus via the link below, and check back often because more events will be added in the coming weeks. We hope to see you on campus in November!

Crawford Alumni Center Events Page

Convocation welcomes class of 2026 to Tennessee Tech

Students arranged on Overall Field in a formation that reads "TECH"

Fall Convocation for the class of 2026 officially welcomed the newest members of the Tennessee Tech University family this month.

The annual ceremony formally inducted freshmen students into Tech's academic community and signaled the start of their college careers. With more than 2,000 students, the 2022-23 incoming freshman class is expected to be one of the largest to enter the university since 2013.

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Tennessee Tech Pride Days are here

Tennessee Tech Pride sign in the Quad

New Tennessee Tech Pride yard signs are now available!

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


Whitson-Hester School of Nursing celebrates 40 years
A 3-D golden "40"

Tennessee Tech's Whitson-Hester School of Nursing is celebrating 40 years! All nursing alumni, students and faculty as well as nurses in the community are invited to celebrate this milestone on Friday, September 23, from 1 to 5 p.m. in Robert and Gloria Bell Hall. Join us for a day to reconnect with fellow alumni and nurses, learn more about current research grants, hear from students and much more! This year's celebration will recognize where we are today and honor the history of our school.

register to attend

Tennessee Tech grads from the 1980s reunite on campus

Part of the group of alumni smile up at the camera.

In June, the Crawford Alumni Center hosted a reunion for a group of friends who met in the residence halls in the early 1980s. It was the first time in 40 years that the entire group of 30 alumni (who now live in five different states) have been together in person. They shared photos from their dorm days, and former WTTU DJ Ed Cooper played hits from the `80s.

Do you have a group you'd like to reconnect with? Contact CAC events coordinator Brooke Fleenor at

Tennessee Tech alumni create employment and community opportunities at The Exceptional Bean

Michael and Cigi England pose with employess of the Exceptional Bean.

Be kind. Drink coffee.

That's the motto of Cookeville's newest coffee shop, where two Tennessee Tech alumni are making Cookeville a more inclusive place for individuals with special needs. Last month, Michael and Cigi England opened The Exceptional Bean, a nonprofit that provides employment opportunities in a supportive environment for individuals with disabilities. The Englands say they hope to cultivate a community of inclusivity where all members have purpose and value.

"Everyone wants to be seen," Cigi said. "Everyone wants to have a purpose. Everyone wants to be needed. But the world doesn't always allow that."

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Alumni Association Board seeks new members

Alumni Association Tech Seal

Last chance to apply to be a member of the Tennessee Tech Alumni Association Board!

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 a few 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.

The Board meets four times a year and assists the Crawford Alumni Center in 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, please submit the application linked below by August 31. If you have any questions, email


Tabula rasa — centennial celebration starts new chapter for 2022 football team

Football helmets

Tabula rasa — in Latin, it means scraped tablet — a clean slate, in more modern parlance. In Roman times, the tabula — a wax-covered tablet used for notetaking — would be heated, allowing the wax to be smoothed out and allowing new text to be implanted on the surface.

That is the mindset the Tennessee Tech football team is adopting for the 2022 campaign as the program celebrates its 100th anniversary of its varsity game. However, it's not ignoring what has happened before, but it stands as a new chapter, a new leaf to be written on, a new beginning so to speak.

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read more about the 100th anniversary of tech football

Alumna Elaine Tilley shows Tech Pride in Zambia

Elaine Tilley in front of a sunset

Elaine Tilley, `02 secondary education and `05 M.A., showed her Tech Pride in Zambia this summer! She was there on a mission trip, and this was actually her sixth trip to Africa.

"I always try to represent Tech when I travel, especially because my career is helping first generation students get to college," she said. "I want my students to know my degree from Tech is the reason I can travel all over. Plus, you never know when you'll find a new friend because of representing where you are from!"

Tilley works for a Federal TRIO grant called Talent Search. Their goal is to ensure students in grades 6-12 have the skills that will lead to college completion. Tilley says each spring she brings one or two groups of 11th graders to Tech for a campus tour.

"I have several students attending Tech this year, based on the experience on the tours," she said. "I enjoy showing my students why I think Tech is a good option to explore."

Thank you, Elaine Tilley, for showing your Tech Pride and for encouraging students to consider Tennessee Tech!

Are you traveling this summer? Snap a photo of yourself wearing a Tech shirt or hat. Hashtag your photo #WhereAreYouTrue on Facebook or Instagram or send your photos to

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

A graphic of a blue heeler in front of a fire hydrant

Last month we asked the following trivia question:  

Gordon Pennebaker was hired at Tennessee Tech (then known as TPI) in 1946, served as chair of the biology department and was the first dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. When he taught genetics, what campus critter did he use to illustrate inherited traits?

The answer was Dammit the dog! To learn more about this furry legend, check out Tech's Traditions website or this Tennessee Tech Traditions video.  

Congratulations to David Cook, `14 mechanical engineering, who won some Tech SWAG this month! David also shared with us that Dr. Pennebaker likely used pigeons to illustrate inherited traits as well, since Pennebaker published research on the topic. 

And now for this month's question:

Four buildings on campus have had the word "south" in their names at some point in time. The most recent South Hall was also known as the student union and library annex at different points in time. It is now Oakley Hall, home of the College of Agriculture and Human Ecology. New Hall South is a residence hall. And Southwest Hall is the home of the College of Interdisciplinary Studies. What fourth building, now called by a different name, was called South Hall when it was first built in the 1950s?

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! 

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Donor Spotlight

James J. Cowan Scholarship provides opportunities for nontraditional veteran students at Tennessee Tech

A portrait of Jimmy Cowan

James "Jimmy" Cowan's college journey didn't follow a traditional path. In fact, it took Jimmy 30 years to obtain a bachelor's degree. But through persistence, perseverance and passion, Jimmy received his bachelor's degree from Tennessee Tech's College of Interdisciplinary Studies (CoIS) in December 2019.

Jimmy passed away less than a year later, on July 22, 2020, at the age of 52. His wife Dylcia and their son Hayden have chosen to honor his memory through a scholarship in his name. They hope that the James J. Cowan Scholarship for Nontraditional Veteran Students will provide opportunities for other students whose college journeys may look a bit different.

"Jimmy was always a dreamer," Dylcia said. "So much so that he didn't really live up to his potential in school. But he lived a full life in his 52 short years, living every day to the fullest. One of his proudest moments was hearing 'James Joel Cowan, Cum Laude' over the loudspeaker at his commencement ceremony."

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Tech Took Us There

Tennessee Tech communication alumna is new morning anchor for KSLA News

Biskie DuncanKSLA News in Shreveport, Louisiana, recently announced their newest morning anchor. Biskie Duncan, a 2014 communication graduate of Tennessee Tech, says the new role combines her favorite parts of working in media.

"The most rewarding aspect is being able to say that you helped someone tell their story," she said. "That is the best feeling in the world. Whether it's a kid who started his own lemonade stand to fundraise for his classroom or a new business bringing something to the area that's never been done before, you see people who are passionate about what they are doing. There are so many negative things in the world, but I think it's better to shine a light on incredible people.

Duncan didn't set out to become a news anchor. She worked for Zimmer Broadcasting in Cookeville for two years during college and says it's where she was first introduced to the magic of radio. She later worked for The River 95.7 in Shreveport for nine years.

While Duncan says she never intended to pursue a career in television, one of her communication classes might have hinted at something different.

"My sophomore year, Karen Lykins decided to teach a broadcasting class," Duncan said. "She took us to the television studio in the basement of the library and showed us what it would be like to produce a newscast. It was a really cool class -- really intriguing -- but I thought, 'I'm never going to do anything with TV. I'm never going to use this skill.' It was foreshadowing."

Tech Took Us There features outstanding Tech alumni who credit their career success to the education they received at Tennessee Tech.

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Friends Remembered

Dr. Kenneth Purdy passed away on August 9, 2022.Dr. Purdy at a chalkboard

He was born on October 16, 1933, in New Rochelle, New York. He graduated from Palm Beach High School and attracted the attention of a benefactor who sponsored his college education at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

He earned three degrees at Georgia Tech and, after completing his doctorate in mechanical engineering, chose a career in academia and research as his life's work. He taught at Purdue University for four years before accepting a full professorship at Tennessee Tech, where he piloted its Ph.D. program in the College of Engineering. Throughout his teaching career, Dr. Purdy influenced countless students as an advisor and mentor, and never ceased to be as proud of their accomplishments as he was of his own. He received the university's Outstanding Faculty Award and the Engineering Faculty Award in recognition of his consummate teaching skills.

Prior to his retirement, Dr. Purdy also served as associate dean of Tech's College of Engineering, as principal research engineer at Georgia Tech's Experiment Station and as vice president of engineering for American Carbons, Inc.  

full obituary

Joe WilliamsJoe Anderson Williams, born June 3, 1931, passed away on August 2, 2022, in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

Williams was born and raised in Tullahoma. He received a bachelor's degree in business management from Tennessee Tech in 1953 and a juris doctorate from Nashville School of Law in 1976.

When he graduated from Tech, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He served two years on active duty from 1954-56 and left the service as a first lieutenant. He returned to Tullahoma where he worked for more than 37 years with ARO, Inc., which changed its corporate identity to Sverdrup Technology, Inc. 13 years before Williams retired in 1993 as Corporate Counsel and Director of Human Resources. He also privately practiced law on a part-time basis.

Williams was involved in many civic endeavors including the Board of Directors of the AEDC Federal Credit Union, of which he was chairman from 1975-78, the Board of Directors of the Tullahoma Industrial Board, of which he was chairman from 1982-85, and the Board of Directors of the South Jackson Civic Association, of which he was president from 1993-94. After he retired from Sverdrup, he provided pro bono work legal services to several local churches and charitable organizations.

Williams was a Tower Society member of Tennessee Tech's President's Club.

full obituary

Archives with Atkinson Graphic

William L. JonesHave you ever wondered how the streets on campus got their names? University Archives' Julia Peacock and Jenny Huffman share the stories behind the names in this month's blog:

Roads, avenues, streets and boulevards provide the means of travel through and around Tech's campus while offering students the ability to take their first steps on their journey at Tennessee Tech University and into their future. Roads across the country have a lot of different, strange and unique names, but what is the reason behind Tech's road names and how did they receive their names?

Click below to read this month's blog titled "Roads were made for journeys, not destinations."

Photo top left: William L. Jones, the namesake of Derryberry Hall's address at 1 William L. Jones Drive. Jones had a long career at Tech, receiving both his bachelor's and master's degrees at the university. He then worked as the chief fiscal officer for the university. In 1974, he became Tech's vice president for Business and Fiscal Affairs.

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. 

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Class Notes

Checovoia Foster Bruce

Elizabeth Boeglin, `18 civil engineering, was featured in a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers article titled "Civil engineer lauded for plan development on dissolved oxygen project." Read more.

Aaron Brooksbank, `15 chemistry, has a new dental practice in Cookeville called Westside Dental Studio. Read more.

Derrick Crabtree, `10 secondary education, is the new principal for Carpenters Elementary School in Blount County, Tennessee. Read more.

Roger Crouch, `62 physics and `12 honorary doctorate of science, was featured in a Times News article titled "Tennessee astronaut never gave up on his dream." Read more.

Paul Degges, `88 civil engineering, will serve as the Tennessee Department of Transportation's chief policy advisor, focusing on legislation and federal affairs. Read more.

Jimmy Dickinson, `83 accounting, was featured in an Upper Cumberland Business Journal article titled "Cookeville Electric Motor to close after 50 years in business." Read more.

Kenny Fields, `16 civil engineering, was featured in a Neel-Schaffer article where he recounted his nine-month deployment with the United States Army. Fields is an engineer intern in the firm's Nashville office and a First Lieutenant in the Army. Read more.

Checovoia Foster-Bruce, `17 political science, is the new Title IX Coordinator and Institutional Compliance Officer for Lincoln Memorial University. Read more.

Laurie Graham, `93 fine arts, has an art exhibit called "Cup-A-Palooza" on display at the In-Town Gallery in Chattanooga. Read more.

Bonnie Holman, `09 agriculture, was named supervisor of Career and Technical Education for Wilson County Schools.

Lee Houston, `92 secondary education and `99 M.A., was appointed to the State Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission. Read more.

Anthony Lippe, `11 secondary education, is the new assistant principal at Warren County High School. Read more.

Jon Long, `91 electrical engineering, joined Dewberry, a privately held professional services firm, as an assistant business unit manager in Nashville to support the firm's growth in the healthcare market. Read more.

Stuart McGregor, `87 M.S. biology, was named Fisheries Conservationist of the Year by The Alabama Wildlife Federation. Read more.

Joi Mitchell, `08 Ed.S. instructional leadership, is the new principal at Stratton Elementary in Nashville. Read more.

Leah Piper, `18 agriculture, joined the Macon County School system. Read more.

Amanda Shappard, `94 accounting, joined the Tennessee Language Center as fiscal director. Read more.

Scott Stallings, `07 business management, secured his first bid to the TOUR Championship. Stallings is a former Tennessee Tech men's golfer and TTU Sports Hall of Famer. Read more.

Greer Tidwell, `86 civil engineering, was named deputy commissioner for the state department of Environment and Conservation's Bureau of Parks and Conservation.

Lydia Johnson Wigner, `18 civil engineering and `19 M.S., was featured in an article titled "5 Questions with CMT's Lydia Wigner, EI." Wigner works for Crawford, Murphy & Tilly in Brentwood, Tennessee. Read more.

Photo top left: Checovoia Foster-Bruce, `17 political science

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

Tech apparel

Check out the bookstore's Tennessee Tech University Spirit Shop featuring apparel, accessories and Tech-themed items for students and alumni.  

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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