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December 2023

Tech's holiday schedule and end-of-year giving information

Lighting the Quad

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to all Tennessee Tech alumni and friends!

This time of year we often receive questions about end-of-the year giving. To make a gift and have it count for 2023 tax purposes, make your gift online at by Dec. 31. If you prefer to mail a check, address it to Tennessee Tech, Campus Box 1915, Cookeville, TN 38505 and make your check payable to the TTU Foundation. It must be postmarked by Dec. 31 to be processed as a 2023 gift.

Tech offices will be closed Dec. 22 through Jan. 1; however, the Crawford Alumni Center will check email periodically throughout the break. Email if you have an urgent question about an end-of-the-year gift.

Wishing you and your loved ones a festive holiday season and a wonderful remainder of 2023!

Tennessee Tech welcomes more than 1,050 new graduates at fall commencement

Graduates at fall commencement

Tennessee Tech welcomed more than 1,050 students into the ranks of its newest alumni on Friday, Dec. 8.

The fall 2023 graduating class encompassed students from 71 counties throughout Tennessee, 21 states and 19 other countries -- all with birth years ranging from 1958 to 2003. Undergraduate degrees were awarded to students across 45 fields of study, while graduate degrees were awarded to students representing 32 fields of study.

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Let's get Wilder: Bobby Wilder named new Tennessee Tech head football coach

Bobby Wilder

A proven winner, Bobby Wilder plans to shake things up for the Tennessee Tech football program. His coaching philosophy leans toward an aggressive offense and a stingy defense and, during his time at Old Dominion, it delivered results.

Wilder was selected Sunday as the 13th head coach in Tech football history, and things are going to look a bit "Wilder" ahead for the Golden Eagles.

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New Tech head football coach Wilder

Tennessee Tech's Giving Tuesday honors 100 years of The Oracle

Thank You - Giving Tuesday

Tennessee Tech celebrated its most successful Giving Tuesday in history on Nov. 28 when it asked alumni and friends to honor 100 years of free speech, campus news and experiential learning by making a gift to The Oracle student newspaper. The very first "Tech Oracle" was published on April 24, 1924. On Giving Tuesday, more than 150 alumni and friends made a gift to help fund the print and online versions of the newspaper, resulting in the most gifts Tech has ever received on a Giving Tuesday.

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Tennessee Tech alumni and friends explore Canada

Alumni group in Canada

A group of Tennessee Tech alumni and friends recently returned from a trip to Canada!

We spent two nights in Quebec City and two nights in Montreal. The trip included tours of each city, meals at local famed restaurants and stays at the Fairmont Chateau le Frontenac in Quebec City (one of the most photographed hotels in the world) and the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth in Montreal. Shopping at Canada's Christmas Markets (modeled after Germany's Christmas Markets) was the highlight of this tour!

If you are interested in exploring new places and meeting new friends, consider a Golden Eagle Travel experience! Tennessee Tech partners with Premier World Discovery, a company that specializes in group and alumni travel. Premier takes care of all of the planning so you can sit back and enjoy the trip.

Check out what we have planned for 2024 via the story below, our Golden Eagle Travel website, or by emailing for more information.

Last chance to sign up for Great Trains & Grand Canyons trip

The Verde Canyon Railroad

Don't miss the opportunity to sign up for Tech's Great Trains & Grand Canyons trip!

The itinerary features five nights in Sedona, Ariz., and includes two historic train rides, Chapel of the Holy Cross, the Spanish-Mexican Village of Tlaquepaque, Uptown Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, Montezuma Castle National Monument, the old mining town of Jerome and Old Town Scottsdale. The highlight of the trip is a two-hour train journey aboard the Grand Canyon Railway to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park!

This trip is in partnership with Premier World Discovery and will take place March 3-8, 2024. Spots are limited, so register TODAY if you are interested. Click the link below to learn more.


Donor Spotlight

Tennessee Tech's Appalachian Center for Craft receives bronze sculpture titled Reverence

Kim Winkle and Bill and Sandy Miller with Reverence

When Bill and Sandy Miller decided to gift their beloved bronze sculpture titled Reverence, they could think of no better place than Tennessee Tech's Appalachian Center for Craft.

"I hope the sculpture welcomes Craft Center visitors," Bill said. "And I hope it inspires creativity for Tech's art students."

Bill and Sandy acquired Reverence on a trip to Santa Fe, N.M., in 2007. They were both drawn to the same piece at the Patricia Carlisle Fine Art Gallery: a life-sized bronze sculpture with arms outstretched, each holding a white bird. The sculpture was created by American artist David Pearson and is the second in a limited edition of 15. The Millers say when they looked at Reverence, they immediately felt a sense of peace and respect and knew they wanted it in their home.

"It took two years before we agreed on a bedspread," Sandy joked. "So, when we agree on art, we usually buy it. We have three or four pieces that we both love, and Reverence is one of them."

After enjoying Reverence in their home for many years, the Millers decided to give the sculpture to Tech so that students, faculty and visitors can enjoy it as well. Reverence was installed at the Craft Center on Oct. 22 and formally dedicated on Nov. 19.

Tennessee Tech professor Ann Davis named first recipient of David K. Morgan Faculty Fellowship

Ann Davis

Dr. Ann Davis has been named the first recipient of Tennessee Tech University's David K. Morgan Faculty Fellowship which recognizes outstanding research, meaningful service and innovative teaching.

Davis joined the Tech faculty in 2012 and is the coordinator for the Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program. She received bachelor's degrees in accounting and finance from Tech in 2000, a Master of Accountancy degree with a concentration in taxation from the University of Tennessee in 2001 and a Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Tennessee in 2010. She is a licensed certified professional accountant (CPA) in the state of Tennessee and a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA).

"I am honored to receive this award at this point in my career," Davis said. "As coordinator of our MAcc program, I am committed to bringing innovative ideas to our hybrid program. I hope that this award will allow me time to focus on research, especially research informing my classroom and impacting the accounting profession."

Davis had the opportunity to meet the donor responsible for her fellowship at the Evening of Excellence Alumni Awards during Homecoming weekend where David K. Morgan (`74 accounting) received the Tennessee Tech Alumni Association's Outstanding Philanthropy Award.

read more on tech's development news site

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 question

Five doors with letters above them

Last month we asked the following trivia question:

The Tennessee Tech building known as Foundation Hall was built in 1932. What was its original name?

The answer was Central High School. Congratulations to Tommy Frasier (`02 political science) who guessed correctly and won some Tech SWAG. Special thanks to the College of Business for inspiring this month's trivia question with their "Friday Facts about Foundation" social media series.

And now for this month's question:

Can you identify the five campus buildings in the photo above, just by seeing a picture of their front door? 

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.

Tech-themed games and activities 

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Archives with Atkinson Graphic

Exploring Yuletide Treasures: A Glimpse into the Upper Cumberland's Historic Christmas Celebrations

Christmas Pageant at Baxter Seminary in 1935

Dive into this month's Archives with Atkinson to take a peek into the wonderful Christmas celebrations of the past in the Upper Cumberland. Discover the distinct local traditions that set us apart from the rest of the United States and shaped unforgettable holiday experiences for our community. Explore the evolution of these traditions and how they've contributed to the festive spirit we cherish today. Happy reading, and we wish you a joyful holiday season!

Photo top left: Christmas Pageant at Baxter Seminary in 1935. Source: Harding Studio Photographs

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.

archives' blog

Friends Remembered

Colonel Tom Hamilton

Tom HamiltonColonel Tom Hamilton, USAF Retired, passed away on Nov. 24.

Tom previously served as associate vice president of University Development at Tennessee Tech.

He was born on Dec. 14, 1941, in Mossy Bottom, Ky. After graduating from Oceana High School in Oceana, W. Va., in 1960, Tom entered the U.S. Air Force academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. After graduating in 1965, he embarked on a heroic military career as an F-4C Phantom fighter pilot, earning Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross and flying 138 combat missions in Vietnam. His distinguished combat service is recognized in the Plaza of Heroes at the USAF Academy SE Asia Memorial. Tom retired from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of Colonel in 1991 after more than 26 years of service.

Tom married Linda Cook and they had two daughters and two grandchildren.

Dr. Ray Jordan

Ray JordanDr. Ray Jordan passed away on Dec. 11, 2023.

Professor Emeritus Jordan was a dedicated biology professor and beloved member of the Golden Eagle community who served students for more than 40 years. He was not only a longtime faculty member, but also a proud Tech alumnus -- earning his undergraduate degree in curriculum and instruction in 1956. He went on to receive a master's degree in zoology from the University of Arkansas.

Throughout his many years on campus, Professor Emeritus Jordan taught courses in herpetology, ornithology and comparative anatomy, among others. With his passion for reptiles and amphibians, he helped establish Tech's "snake labs" and even volunteered his time at annual Nature Fest events in the Cookeville area.

For his dedication to his students, Professor Emeritus Jordan was awarded Tech's 1984 Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching and the 1987 Outstanding Faculty Award for Professional Service. Additionally, he received the Tennessee Education Association's 1997 Distinguished Higher Education Classroom Teacher Award.

J.J. Oakley 

J.J. OakleyJoyce Annette Oakley, affectionately known as "J.J.," passed away on Nov. 30.

She was born in Middlesboro, Ky,, and graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1972. After many years of teaching nursing, J.J. returned to Tennessee and received her Master of Nursing in 1980 as well as a law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1985. J.J. married the late Millard Oakley in 1986 and relocated to their current home in Overton County.

J.J. truly believed in the mission of higher education and the importance a student's college experience can have on their overall success. J.J. and Millard were known for their legacy and passion for education and philanthropy. J.J. was the president of Oakley First National Foundation which provides scholarships to students in need, a member of the American Nursing Association, the Tennessee Bar Association, the Board of Trustees at Livingston Regional Hospital and recently the newest Board of Trust for Cumberland University.

Three Tennessee Tech buildings and departments bear the Oakley name: the Millard Oakley STEM Center, Oakley Hall and J.J. Oakley Health Services.


Class Notes

Jake Burkey

Martia (Patty) Brown (`06 biology, `07 M.A. and `10 Ed.S.) and Leigh Lafever-Ayer (`89 business administration-marketing) recently attended Enterprise Mobility's Global Leadership Conference in Orlando. Martia is a regional vice president in West Tennessee, and Leigh is a vice president of human resources in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Jake Burkey (`09 industrial technology) was featured in a Tennessee Tech article titled "Tech engineering alumnus finds success as off road vehicle titan." 

Tina Francis-Hodges (`85 curriculum and instruction, `86 M.S., `04 Ed.S. and `13 Ed.S.) was named 2023-24 Principal of the Year for the State of Tennessee. She is currently the principal at Jere Whitson Elementary School in Cookeville.

Kristen Joyce (`10 nursing and `15 M.S.) recently joined Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare as a family nurse practitioner.

Dr. Subrata Saha (`69 M.S. mechanical engineering) attended the Sigma Xi 2023 International Forum on Research Excellence Conference in Long Beach, Calif. last month. He was a delegate representing the Sigma Xi chapter of the University of Washington. Dr. Saha serves as president of this chapter and has been nominated to be a member of the Board of Directors of Sigma Xi for the Northwest region.

Photo top left: Jake Burkey is pictured with one of the "rock bouncer" off-road vehicles manufactured at Busted Knuckle Off-Road

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.


The Crawford Alumni Center


Giving to Tennessee Tech