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November 2022  

Honor a Golden Eagle on Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday, an international day of giving to support the causes that positively impact our communities. Today, we ask Tennessee Tech alumni and friends to honor a Golden Eagle who made an impact on their college experience. Maybe this was a professor or advisor, or maybe it was a family member or friend. Whether the person is still living or no longer with us, we invite you to make a gift to the University Memorial Scholarship in their honor. Click the link below to learn more or to make a gift.

We honored a few Golden Eagles who left a legacy at Tennessee Tech in the 2022 Special Legacy Edition of Impact Magazine.

Angelo Volpe changed the face of Tennessee Tech

Angelo Volpe

Tennessee Tech would look different if Angelo Volpe hadn't been president.

During Volpe's tenure, Tech built the campus fitness center, Hyder-Burks Agricultural Pavilion and library, later named for Volpe and his wife, Jennette. Volpe also fought to keep the Appalachian Center for Craft open for education, created two chairs of excellence and established the Women's Center and Leona Lusk Officer Black Cultural Center.

And students, faculty and alumni would look different as well.

"Dr. Volpe changed the face of our university -- the actual face," said Rob Owens, Tech's chief diversity officer. "We have a long way to go, but it would look a little bit different without Angelo Volpe. Diversity, from an ethnic standpoint, had not really been a part of the institution -- not with any priority at least -- before President Volpe. That doesn't mean there weren't people of color here before Dr. Volpe, but I don't know that it had ever been important to this institution before him."

The Special Legacy Edition of Impact Magazine, linked below, includes stories of Golden Eagles we have loved and lost. Dr. Volpe's story begins on page 21.

READ Impact online

Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham: Leo McGee showed us how to live well

Leo McGee speaks at the opening of the Leona Lusk Officer Black Cultural Center

Leo McGee is remembered for his love of Tennessee Tech, writing, tennis, hydrangeas and, most of all, his family. The Tech history books remember him as the university's first African American administrator. His colleagues remember him as a mentor. And his wife and daughters remember him as someone who loved people.

When McGee passed away on March 31, 2021, Laura Clemons, `88 journalism, published a tribute in the Herald-Citizen titled "Lifting up Generations: The Legacy of Dr. Leo McGee."

In her tribute, Clemons said, "It is no exaggeration to say that well before he retired from Tennessee Tech in 2007, Dr. Leo McGee had become the most distinguished and beloved administrator on campus. His wit was legendary. His grace and diplomacy taught by example. There are countless students, faculty and staff who are the beneficiaries of his mentoring."

The Special Legacy Edition of Impact Magazine, linked below, includes stories of Golden Eagles we have loved and lost. Dr. McGee's story begins on page 3.

read impact online

Carl and Marie Ventrice encouraged education, opened doors for women in engineering

Marie and Carl Ventrice

Tennessee Tech College of Engineering alumni remember Carl and Marie Ventrice as thought-provoking professors, mentors and encouragers.

Marie Ventrice received the first Ph.D. awarded at Tech, thanks in part to a husband who ignored societal norms and supported his wife in pursuit of not just one, but three engineering degrees. The Ventrices encouraged every person they encountered to earn an education, and Marie's trailblazing efforts opened doors for female students to pursue a field that has historically been dominated by men.

"The Ventrices embodied the spirit of engineering education with their dedication to mentoring students," said Joseph C. Slater, dean for the College of Engineering. "Carl believed in teaching his students to think practically in solving engineering problems, and Marie -- through her own example as the first doctoral graduate and first female engineering faculty member -- ushered in an era of women succeeding in engineering. Carl and Marie, separately and together, were powerful influences on the college and its students."

read impact online

Johnson, Omiyale, Hendrix and Neufeldt honored at Tennessee Tech Evening of Excellence

the four alumni award recipients

Tennessee Tech's 91st homecoming culminated in the university's annual Evening of Excellence which honored alumni for achievements in service, philanthropy and career success.

The Tennessee Tech Alumni Association presented Ron H. R. Johnson with the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, Frank T. Omiyale with the Outstanding Service Award, J. Elizabeth Hendrix with the Outstanding Philanthropy Award and Ellen J. Neufeldt with the Distinguished Alumna Award.

read full story

Tennessee Tech's class of 1972 celebrates Golden Grad reunion

Golden Grad attendees with Phil and Kari Oldham

Tennessee Tech University recently welcomed the class of 1972 back to campus for a Golden Grad reunion during homecoming.

Golden Grads attended a banquet, toured campus, joined a homecoming parade viewing party and were welcomed as special guests in the president's tailgate tent at the homecoming football game. Alumni from eight different states attended Golden Grad weekend.


Homecoming fundraising brings in thousands for campus food pantry

students cheering at a football game

Tennessee Tech University student organizations and donors helped to eliminate hidden hunger on campus during the annual crowdfunding drive to support the Tech food pantry, which was part of homecoming activities again this year.

Officially running Oct. 31 through Nov. 2, the initial goal of the three-day crowdfunding effort was to raise $10,000. The Golden Eagle community exceeded that goal, raising $34,439.68.

read full story

Tech football alum Clark Richey ponders fate of Meriwether Lewis in new film

portrait of Clark Richey and a photo of him on Overall Field

A legendary explorer travels through Tennessee and dies in a mysterious manner. What did happen to Meriwether Lewis, half of the famed Lewis and Clark duo that traversed the unknown wilderness of the American Southeast?

That's the question posed by Clark Richey, whose film "Mysterious Circumstance: The Death of Meriwether Lewis" opened to rent or buy on Apple TV+ and other major streaming and cable platforms last month.

Richey, a Tennessee Tech football alum who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering, wrote and directed the film under his Six Shooter Studios banner. The film stars Evan Williams and John Schneider.

read full story

Women's Center opens new gallery to exhibit student art

Anna Grayson poses with their exhibit

The Tennessee Tech Women's Center has opened a new gallery to exhibit student art! This year, the Women's Center began awarding two exhibition awards to fine arts students through the B.F.A. Juried Art Exhibition that happens every spring. Anna Grayson, a metals student, won the first award, and their exhibition "Hidden" is currently displayed in the gallery.

"The Women's Center is doing so much for Tech, and I'm proud to be a part of that in some way," Grayson said. "My art being a part of this amazing organization inside of Tech makes me proud to be here and to have my voice heard."

Rebecca Hahnert was the second winner, and her exhibition will debut in January. Thanks to donors, the Women's Center was able to give a $250 cash prize to each winner.

women's center gallery website

Tennessee Tech to host annual Lighting the Quad event Nov. 29

Awesome Eagle admires the lights on the Quad

Tennessee Tech is ready to turn on the lights at its annual holiday tradition of Lighting the Quad set for Nov. 29 at 5:30 p.m. on the university's Main Quad. The event is free and open to the public.

"This is one of our favorite events," said Tennessee Tech First Lady Kari Oldham. "We started this tradition several years ago, and it has continued to grow in popularity. It really brings the campus community together to celebrate during this special time of year."

This event features holiday lights, music, hot chocolate, free t-shirts, selfie stations and more. In the event of unfavorable weather, a rain date has been scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 1, at 5:30 p.m.

read full story

Crawford Alumni Center creates alumni holiday cookbook

Holiday Recipe Exchange

Thank you to everyone who submitted a holiday recipe for our Tennessee Tech alumni cookbook! We've loved reading the stories behind your favorite family recipes and will share the virtual cookbook via email and social media very soon.

New Golden Eagle Travel itinerary: Montreal and Quebec City Christmas Markets, December 2023

A Christmas market lit up with holiday lights.

Do you love this time of year? If so, you may be interested in our our newest Golden Eagle Travel opportunity -- and we're going international this time! From Dec. 7-11, 2023, we'll spend four nights in Quebec City and Montreal, Canada! The outdoor Canadian Christmas markets are the highlight of this tour. Shop for handmade wooden toys, ornaments and local crafts. Enjoy the sound of carolers, music and horse-drawn wagons on cobblestones. Explore the delightfully-decorated town squares with magical streets and the scents of gingerbread. We'll spend two nights in the historic Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal and two nights in one of the most photographed hotels in the world, the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac Hotel in Quebec City.

Click the link below to view the full itinerary or sign up using web code 158203. If you'd like a print brochure mailed to you, email Wings Up Across Canada!

visit golden eagle travel website

Alumna-owned travel company offers small group safari tours for alumni and friends

A herd of elephants walk across a grassy plain

The Tennessee Tech Crawford Alumni Center is excited to partner with Tech alumna-owned Trailblazer Safaris to offer African safari adventures for alumni and friends. If an African safari has been on your bucket list, we hope you'll consider traveling with us!

We are offering a week-long safari on two dates: Sept. 10-16, 2023 or Feb. 4-10, 2024. The cost per person is $5,500 which does not include international airfare. For more information, visit or contact Melisa Cansado, `05 world cultures and business, at or 573-258-0807. Visit the link below to learn more. Wings Up Across the World!

If you're looking for something adventurous but a little closer to home, check out our Summer 2023 Black Hills, Badlands & Mount Rushmore trip!

visit golden eagle travel website

Alumna Jennifer LaBar to participate in Iditarod sled dog race

Jennifer LaBar with her sled dog team.

Jennifer LaBar, `05 secondary education, is representing Tennessee Tech in Alaska! Jennifer and her husband Andrew LaBar, `06 industrial technology, own Rockin' Ridge Kennel in Healy, AK. In March 2023, Jennifer will participate in the Iditarod, an annual long-distance sled dog race that runs from Anchorage to Nome, AK.

Do you live in a unique place? If so, we'd love to see a photo of you in your Tech gear or with your True To Tech magnet or decal! Hashtag your photo #WhereAreYouTrue on Facebook or Instagram or send your photos to We can't wait to see where Tech shows up next!

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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.

Alumni invited to participate in monthly Tech Trivia

Bell Witch Cantata

Last month we asked the following trivia question:  

Charles Faulkner Bryan, for whom the Bryan Fine Arts Building is named, was one of Tennessee's most distinguished classical composers. During his time studying with German composer Paul Hindemith, he began composing a folk cantata about the evening that Tennessee's most famous ghost descended on the family it haunted for years. What is the name of that cantata?

The answer was The Bell Witch Cantata. Visit Tennessee Tech's ghost story website to learn more.

Congratulations to Michael Dyer, `12 accounting, who answered correctly and won some Tech SWAG! 

Congratulations to Norma Patton, `66 human ecology, who answered correctly and won some Tech SWAG!

And now for this month's question: 

The Golden Eagle community lost longtime English department faculty member Hugh Hix Stubblefield this month. (See the Friends Remembered section below for his full obituary.) Many alumni don't know that Professor Stubblefield was actually a Tennessee Tech graduate who earned his bachelor's degree here several years before he started teaching journalism classes on campus. What year did he graduate, and what was his bachelor's degree in?

Photo top left: The Bell Witch Cantata program cover. Source: University Archives & Special Collections

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! And if you have an idea for a trivia question, send it to us! You may see it in a future edition of The Alumnus.

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Donor SpotlightTennessee Tech College of Education alum establishes technology fund to prepare future teachers

The Pyles

Mary Ann Pyle, `87 elementary education and `89 M.A., says the education she received from Tennessee Tech -- specifically, technology in teaching -- gave her a competitive edge in her career. Now, she and her husband Robert want to provide the same opportunity for future educators through the Pyle Technology in Education Fund, which will support technology efforts in Tech's College of Education.

"I hope this gift helps students gain the skills they need for their first job," Pyle said. "And I hope they gain confidence using technology in the classroom."

read full story

Friends Remembered

Eston EvansEston Evans passed away on Oct. 28, 2022.

He was a 1958 graduate of Palmyra High School. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1958-1961, at Langley AFB, VA, and Karamursel, Turkey, specializing in communications and cryptography.

Eston earned a bachelor's degree in German in 1958 from Lebanon (PA) Valley College, a master's degree in German from Penn State University in 1975, and his Ph.D. in Germanic language from the University of Texas in 1975. He also studied abroad at American Scandinavian Society/Thord-Gray and participated in Fulbright Travel at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

His career as a professor began at Penn State from 1968-1977. In 1977, he moved to Cookeville where he served at Tennessee Tech University as a professor of German, World Cultures and Business, director of the ESL Institute and interim Foreign Language Department chair until his retirement in 2008.

read full obituary

Ben Kniffin

Benjamin W. Kniffin passed away on Oct. 21, 2022.

Ben was born on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, 1954. He graduated from Concord High School in 1972 and from Tennessee Tech in 1982 with a degree in agriculture.

He was a locksmith and his family says he could do or fix absolutely everything.

Ben's wife, Brenda, said Ben didn't want an obituary, but she had to acknowledge her hero, her voice of reason, a super intelligent man, the love of her life and the father of her children.

read full obituary

Stephen Scott

Stephen Scott passed away on Oct. 25, 2022.

Stephen was born in Greenville, PA, and graduated from Reynolds High School. He earned a bachelor's degree from Thiel College and master's and doctorate degrees from Kent State University.

He was formerly a researcher at Oak Ridge National Lab and more recently a professor of computer science at Tennessee Tech.

He enjoyed many various outdoor activities throughout his lifetime, especially taking people walleye fishing on Lake Erie and trout fishing in Tennessee. He was a member of St. Therese Church in Clinton, TN, and enjoyed studying the Bible.

He is remembered for his deep love and loyalty for his family, his amazing ability to analyze situations, his invaluable advice to colleagues and students and his incredible breadth of knowledge about so many things.

read full obituary

Hix Stubblefield

Hugh Hix Stubblefield passed away on Nov. 9 at the age of 90.

Professor Stubblefield was an English Department faculty member for 37 years who retired in 1999. He taught journalism and advised student publications, including the Oracle newspaper and the Eagle Yearbook. He was named to the honor roll of advisors by the National Council of College Publication Advisors for his work with student publications.

Former student Laura Clemons represented hundreds of Tech journalism graduates when she described him as an "unassuming, seemingly unflappable gentleman who formed the foundation of my career in journalism. Described as 'tough' by many former students who use the word as a compliment, he worked long nights with the student newspaper staff and stood by students as they grew from the experience."

There will be a celebration of life for Professor Stubblefield on Dec. 17, from 9:30-11 a.m., at Friendship United Methodist Church in Cookeville (5454 S Jefferson Ave). Service will follow at 11 a.m.

read full obituary

James White

James. G. "Jim" White, `67 finance, passed away on Nov. 1, 2022.

Jim graduated from Tennessee Tech University in 1967 with a degree in finance and received his Juris Doctor Degree at the University of Tennessee. Outside of the traditional classroom, Jim learned invaluable lessons through his involvement with the Boy Scouts, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. He was also recipient of the Long Rifle Award, the Silver Beaver Award and was a James F. West Fellow. Later, he gave back to the organization and its youth by serving as vice president of the Middle Tennessee Council of Boy Scouts as an active fundraiser.

Jim was a retired Captain in the United States Navy and served in Vietnam. During his naval career, he commanded seven naval reserve units in Alabama and Louisiana. Jim also gave nearly 30 years to public service as Assistant District Attorney General. He was a member of the Tennessee Bar Association and past president of the Lawrence County Bar Association.

read full obituary

Archives with Atkinson Graphic

Tennessee Tech College of Education alum establishes technology fund to prepare future teachers

Scans of punch cardsTennessee Tech Archives recently received a relic from the past -- IBM punch cards. These paper-based, 7 3/8 by 3 1/4 inch cards were the primary means of programming computer instruction, performing data input, and storing data beginning in the late 19th century through to the mid-20th century.

Punch cards originated in the 1880s when United States census clerk Herman Hollerith developed punch cards and the tabulating machine to assist the United States Census in 1890. Hollerith's idea was grounded in the inventions of weaver and merchant Joseph Marie Jacquard, who used punch cards to automate steam-powered looms, and mathematician Charles Babbage, who designed a polynomial calculating machine using punch cards. Player pianos also used a type of punch card technology, where rolls of music with holes would indicate the note played on the piano, as did punched train tickets.

Photo top left: Punch cards used by engineering students for programming and equations

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

Andrew Lynn

Gina Billings, `84 marketing, was promoted to vice president of Marketing and Communications with Averitt. Read more.

Joe Brown, `91 marketing, was featured in a WCNC Charlotte video profiling his participation in the 2022 Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer ride. Watch the video and read Brown's Tech Took Us There story.

Ray Coe, `90 nursing and `09 MBA, was named president-elect of the Tennessee Nurses Association at the Annual Conference.

Jackson Crabtree, `12 accounting, was named chief financial officer of Parkridge East Hospital in Chattanooga, TN. Read more.

Jason Holliman, `02 accounting and finance, was named president of Citizen's National Bank in Sevier County, TN. Read more.

Lorie Krauss, `04 sociology, is the new executive director of Cookeville CityScape. Read more.

Andrew Lynn, `98 music, received the Music Teacher of Excellence Award from the Country Music Association Foundation. Read more.

Jean McClard, `47 human ecology, was named grand marshal of the Macon County Christmas parade. She and her late husband, Bill, served the people of Macon County, TN, for 47 years through their business, McClard Drugs. Read more.

John McNish, `81 physical education and `82 M.A., was featured in an article titled "Boys Basketball: McNish amasses win No. 400 in Weehawken's victory over Wallington." A former member of Tennessee Tech's basketball team, McNish now coaches boys basketball at Weehawken High School in New Jersey. Read more.

Lamar Moore, `12 finance and `13 MBA, was named to the Top 100 People in Finance Magazine list.

Dr. Lynne Parker, `83 computer science, will lead the Artificial Intelligence Research and Education Initiative at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Parker recently completed a four-year post as deputy United States chief technology officer and director of the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office within the White House. Read more.

Mark Rine, `21 wildlife and fisheries science, received the John Lewis Youth Leadership Award from the Putnam County Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Abby Roe, `12 nursing and `22 M.S., joined CHI Memorial Family Practice Associates in Soddy Daisy, TN. Read more.

Tom Sladek, `00 mechanical engineering, was featured in a LinkedIn post about helping to bring Honda's new TrailSport to life. Sladek is a chief engineer with Honda Development and Manufacturing.

Mark Thurman, `91 wildlife and fisheries science and `94 M.S., was named chief of the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency's (TWRA) fisheries division. Read more.

Photo top left: Andrew Lynn, `98 music, wins the Country Music Association Foundation's Music Teacher of Excellence Award.

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

A Tennessee Tech ornament

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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