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February 2023  

Golden Eagle community invited to participate in 5th annual I Heart Tech Students fundraising initiative

I Heart Tech Students

On Feb. 14, Tennessee Tech kicked off its 5th annual I Heart Tech Students fundraising initiative! A gift of any amount made to any area Feb. 14-March 27 will count towards the I Heart Tech Students total, but we will specifically highlight scholarships, programs and areas on campus that put students first. For six weeks, the Golden Eagle community will come together to provide extraordinary support for students, and we hope you'll be a part of it. Click the link below to learn more or to make a gift.

learn more and make a gift

Tennessee Tech to host Wings Up Weekend April 14-16

Wings Up Weekend graphic

This year's Wings Up Weekend, a celebration of all things purple and gold, includes something for everyone! On Friday, the Crawford Alumni Center will host a reunion for all past and present ASB/SGA members. On Saturday, the Golden Eagle Football team will play their spring purple and gold game. Wings Up Weekend also includes Window on the World and the annual Eagle Works competition, as well as numerous other campus and community events. Check out the full list of upcoming events via the link below, and we hope to see you on campus in April!

view all upcoming events


Tennessee Tech Homecoming 2023 date set for November 4

A group of students in the stands of Tucker Stadium

Save the date! Homecoming 2023 will be Saturday, Nov. 4, and the Homecoming football game will be at 1:30 p.m. versus U.T. Martin.

More details will be shared in the coming months, but we hope you'll make plans to join us for Homecoming this year!

Alumni and friends invited to Tennessee Tech night at Orlando Guardians XFL Game March 11

The Orlando Guardians logo

On March 11, the Orlando Guardians will host a Tennessee Tech night at their home game against the Houston Roughnecks.

If you live in the Orlando area or if you're planning to be there in March (Spring Break!), we hope you'll join us for the game. The Orlando Guardians are providing a special discount for Tech alumni who register through the link below.

Tennessee Tech football alum Dontez Byrd, `17 interdisciplinary studies, plays wide receiver for the Guardians. After the game, the Guardians will have a special on-field experience for Tech alumni and guests, including a group photo with Dontez.

purchase tickets

25th Annual Celebration of Craft to be held Saturday, April 1

Sat. Apr. 1, 2023 - 25th annual Celebration of CraftA

The Appalachian Center for Craft's 25th annual Celebration of Craft will be Saturday, April 1, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This event includes live demonstrations in blacksmithing, clay, fibers, glass, metals and wood; live music; hands-on craft activities for kids; a 25% discount on handmade items in the gallery and tasty food from a variety of vendors.

The Celebration is free and open to the public. Bring the family for great art, music and fun!

visit appalachian center for craft website

Tech alumna to compete in 2023 Iditarod dog race

Jennifer LaBar with two of her sled dogs.

In the November edition of The Alumnus, we announced that Jennifer LaBar, `05 secondary education, is training to participate in the 2023 Iditarod, an annual long-distance sled dog race that runs from Anchorage to Nome, AK. Check out the article linked below that shares more of LaBar's story, including what she will experience when the race begins on March 4.

READ more

Crawford Alumni Center shares results of last month's travel poll

Golden Eagle Travel logo

Last month, the Crawford Alumni Center invited alumni to tell us the destinations they'd like to see offered in upcoming Golden Eagle Travel opportunities. The results are in, and the top destinations were Boston and Cape Cod, Maine and Yellowstone National Park. Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete our survey! We will try to offer all three of these (as well as some additional surprise destinations as well) in the next two to three years. Check out our Golden Eagle Travel website often to see when new trips are added.

Wings Up Across America!

golden eagle travel website

Mike and Lisa MacIndoe named 2023 Golden Eagle Lovebirds

the MacIndoes

Mike MacIndoe, `84 civil engineering, and Lisa Chambers MacIndoe, `84 human ecology, have been named the 2023 winners of Tennessee Tech's annual Golden Eagle Lovebirds contest! Some Tech SWAG is on the way to their home this week.

Mike shares the story of how he and Lisa met on campus:

"We met in February 1981 at a FIJI Mystery Date Party. Leading up to the party, each brother pulled a name from a hat. The initial 'mystery' was not knowing who pulled your name. Given a name, the next task was finding the person a date. And clearly there was an opportunity for shenanigans.

"Date night started with all the young men standing in the fraternity house living room with blindfolds on. A slow song kicked off the event, and the ladies danced with several men before concluding the dance with their date. At the end of the song, the ladies removed the blindfold and voila! The date was revealed. Lisa and I had never met before. Little did we know that our mystery date would be the start of a lifelong relationship. We married in Cookeville in 1984 (38 years and counting) and have two children (Michael and Kate -- both Tennessee Tech graduates). We recently purchased a farm in Cookeville and look forward to our retirement years back in Cookeville."

Each year, Tennessee Tech asks alumni who met their significant other on campus to share their Golden Eagle Lovebirds story. On Valentine's Day, we randomly select one of the stories submitted to win some Tech SWAG. Thank you to everyone who participated this year!

previous winners

Tech Took Us ThereTrailblazer Safaris owner credits Tennessee Tech education, student-athlete experience for career in travel industry

Melisa Cansado on safari

Trailblazer Safaris owner Melisa Cansado says her Tennessee Tech world culture and business degree combined with her experience on the Tech tennis team gave her the entrepreneurial, business and networking skills to own a business.

Originally from Argentina, Cansado, `05 world culture and business and `08 MBA, says Tech gave her the chance to play tennis -- a sport she had played since she was a child -- and earn an education at the same time. And Cansado says that education has been invaluable.

"Tech gave me the foundations to manage my own business," she said. "It helped me run a business more professionally and be more organized -- especially at the beginning when you are still small and can't afford a secretary, accountant or anyone else to manage the day-to-day finances. I learned about market research, basic accounting, finance, marketing and many more tools that I could apply to my own business. At Tech, I felt the faculty genuinely cared. I wasn't just another student trying to pass a class or another foreign student registering in the international education office."

Click the link below to read the full story about how Cansado established Trailblazer Safaris.

Tennessee Tech's Crawford Alumni Center has partnered with Trailblazer Safaris to offer Tanzania safari trips for alumni! There are two dates to choose from -- September 2023 and February 2024 -- and the full itinerary is available on the Golden Eagle Travel website.

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

read full story


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

Wattenbarger Auditorium

Last month we asked the following trivia question:  

A member of the first class of music majors to graduate from Tech in 1951, this individual went on to direct high school bands in Tennessee, earn a doctorate, and teach in Saudi Arabia and Austria before returning to Tennessee Tech in 1963 to chair the department of music. He also formed the Tech Community Symphony Orchestra, which is now the Bryan Symphony Orchestra. What was his name?

The answer was James Wattenbarger!

Congratulations to Carl Sandlin, `71 chemical engineering, who won some Tech SWAG! 

And now for this month's question: 

Each February, Tennessee Tech celebrates Black History Month with events across campus designed to facilitate constructive conversations about the importance of diversity and to celebrate the contributions of African-Americans to our university and society. What do the letters RACE stand for in Tech's RACE Program? (Hint: Check out the Intercultural Affairs section of for the answer!)

Photo top left: Wattenbarger Auditorium in Tennessee Tech's Bryan Fine Arts Building, named for James Wattenbarger

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 

follow the Crawford alumni center on facebook

Friends Remembered

Rob Austin

Rob Austin, a long-time Tennessee Tech supporter and friend of the Athletics program, passed away on Jan. 8. He was 85.

Austin attended Florida State and later graduated from Southern Miss with degrees in geology and geography. Following graduation, he became the chief geologist at the New Jersey Zinc Mine in Carthage, Tennessee. After his father passed, he oversaw his family's business as a natural gas and oil lease broker.

Austin also developed a love of photography. He opened Austin's 1-Hour Photo and ran the business for many years. He developed a long relationship with Tech Athletics, providing pictures for use by the Tech Sports Information office -- including Hall of Fame photos, action photos and other pictures for coaches to use. For years, he traveled with the Sports Information staff on road trips and took photos of events.

Austin also served as a volunteer coach with Bobby Nichols and the Tech golf teams, filling in when Nichols was unavailable to travel. With Nichols and Jim Ragland, Austin was one of the three people instrumental in establishing the Golden Eagle Scramble as a fundraiser. He was a longtime member of Tech's President's Club.

In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to Tennessee Tech Athletics.

read full obituary

long time supporter rob austin passes away at 85

Dr. DeivySubramaniam Deivanayagam, or "Dr. Deivy" as he was more commonly known, passed away on Jan. 20, 2023.

For nearly three decades, Dr. Deivy served Tech, working as a faculty member, chair of Industrial Engineering, and as associate dean for Graduate Studies and Research in Engineering.

He personally had a passion for supporting graduate students. He and his wife, Ratna, established an endowment in honor of his grandfather to aid graduate students in engineering. He was awarded the Brown-Henderson Award for outstanding performance in teaching and research in 2001.

He also served as president of the Tamil Nadu Foundation, which is devoted to promoting educational, social and charitable projects for the welfare of the people of Tamil Nadu.


R. K. Fletcher

Dr. Richard K. Fletcher, Jr., professor emeritus, passed away on Feb. 3. He influenced hundreds of teachers through his service to Tennessee Tech's College of Education.

His leadership roles at Tech included being co-director of the Educational Conference for area teachers, Director of the College of Education Learning Resources Center and Director of the Upper Cumberland Regional Science and Engineering Fair. A math and chemistry major in college, he earned a doctorate in science education and taught survey courses in the physical sciences, science education, mathematics education, environmental education, computer education, and educational research and statistical methods.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the following funds at Tennessee Tech: R.K. and Marcia Fletcher Scholarship Endowment, Marvin Tidwell Science/Engineering Fair or Education Technology Fund. To make a gift, visit, select "other" and type in the name of the fund you wish to support. If you prefer to mail a check, send it to Tennessee Tech, Box 1915, Cookeville, TN 38505. Make the check out to the TTU Foundation and indicate which area you wish to support.


Sara GotcherSara Elizabeth Gotcher, 64, passed away on Jan. 30, 2023.

She was a native Clarksvillian, a 1976 graduate from Clarksville High School and a 1981 graduate of the Department of Speech, Communication and Theatre at Austin Peay.

She earned her MFA at the University of Florida and her Ph.D. in theatre at LSU. She earned her Actor's Equity card and worked in professional theatre in the southeast before returning to Austin Peay to teach. She retired from APSU after 25 years of teaching. She loved the performing arts. She directed and acted in numerous productions at APSU and the Roxy. She brought laughter and tears to thousands of audience members.

Sara's husband, Mike Gotcher, is Dean of the College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Tennessee Tech.


Clarice Hargrove with two of her cousins in 1950.

Clarice W. Cummins Hargrove, `50 music education, passed away on Jan. 19, 2023, after a brief stay in the hospital.

She was buried at Pine Hill cemetery on the Cummins family land near Cummins Falls, and a celebration of life occurred at the Belmont Church in Nashville, where she lived with her daughter.

She was in the very first class to graduate with a music degree from Tennessee Tech. Clarice left instructions for her 50-year Tennessee Tech Golden Grad medallion to be displayed with her awards from the W.O. Smith Nashville Community Music School (Teacher of the Year, a "Smitty" Award for long and distinguished volunteer service and a nomination for a Mary Katherine Strobel Award).

Her piano teaching career spanned 70 years. She studied with former first lady Joan Derryberry during her time at Tech and graduated in the class one year ahead of James Wattenbarger (former Tech professor and chair of the music department).

Photo top left: Clarice Cummings Hargrove (far right) with two cousins at Tennessee Tech graduation in 1950.


Larry PeachDr. Larry Eugene Peach, professor emeritus at Tennessee Tech, passed away suddenly on Feb. 20, 2023.

Larry was born Sept. 18, 1939, in Humboldt, Tennessee. He received his bachelor's degree in education from Lambuth College, his master's from Memphis State University and his doctorate from University of Tennessee Knoxville. His career, from teacher to superintendent to administrator, has been one of servitude. Using the tools of higher education to "pass forward" his love of educating and helping others, he will forever be recognized for his dedication and hard work to help advance others. He will continue to foster growth in others through the Larry and Allene Peach Endowed Scholarship in Early Childhood Education at Tennessee Tech University, where he taught, garnered his deanship and eventually his well-deserved title of professor emeritus in retirement.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Larry and Allene Peach Endowed Scholarship in Early Childhood Education. Make checks out to the TTU Foundation and mail to Tennessee Tech, Box 1915, Cookeville, TN 38505 or give online at Indicate that your gift is for the Larry and Allene Peach Scholarship.


Ottis PhillipsOttis Phillips, age 71 of Cookeville, passed away suddenly on February 7, 2023, at his home.

He was born July 19, 1951, in Cookeville. Ottis graduated from Putnam County Senior High School in 1969 before enrolling at Tennessee Tech in the fall of that year. As a walk-on player, Ottis earned an athletic scholarship and was a four-year letterman for the Golden Eagle football team. He received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1974 and his MBA in 1978.

Ottis was passionate about his alma mater and his community, serving on the Cavalier Foundation supporting Cookeville High School, the Hall of Fame Committee for TTU Athletics and the TTU Foundation Board of Directors, and he was a past chairman of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce. He served as the first chair of the TSSAA Steering Committee, which brought the BlueCross/BlueShield Bowl to Cookeville in 2008. In 2022, Ottis was inducted into the TTU Sports Hall of Fame. In 2013, he was named the Tennessee Tech Athletics Outstanding Alumnus of the Year and in 2018, he was honored with the Outstanding Philanthropy Award from Tennessee Tech's Alumni Association.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Tennessee Tech Football Operations Center online or by mailing a check to TTU, Box 1915, Cookeville, TN 38505. Please make the check out to the TTU Foundation and indicate it is for the Football Operations Center.


TTU Sports Hall of Famer Ottis Phillips passes away at 71


Archives with Atkinson Graphic

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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view university archives' digital collections

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Class Notes

Ekmarul Haque Ehite receives his award

Rich Cabrera, `99 multidisciplinary studies and `01 M.A., is in his second year as head basketball coach at Tallahassee Community College. Last month, his team held a 21-1 record, won 20 straight games and beat the number one team in the nation. Cabrera is a former Golden Eagle basketball player and basketball assistant. Read more.

Mike Croley, `20 M.P.S., was recently announced as a finalist for the Presidential Management Fellowship program. Read more.

Ekramul Haque Ehite, `18 M.S. mechanical engineering, received the Pharos of Alexandria Global Learning Award from The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). Ehite is a Ph.D. candidate in biosystems engineering at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Read more.

John Gore, `98 civil engineering, and Jeff Hooper, `93 civil engineering, are two of the three new owners of Nashville-based civil engineering firm Barge Civil Associates, previously known as Barge Cauthen & Associates.

Savana Pugh Keeton, `19 wildlife and fisheries science, is the new executive director of the Crossville, Tennessee-based Cumberland Trails Conference. Read more.

Dr. Anne Koci, `94 nursing, was one of 50 nurses honored at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing's 50th anniversary celebration this month. She received her master's in nursing from UT after graduating from Tech with her bachelor's. Read more.

Ryan Nation, `04 journalism, published an article about the late Tennessee businessman and wrestling promoter, Jerry Jarrett. Nation's article chronicles his relationship with Jarrett, who promoted wrestling events in the Upper Cumberland during the `70s, `80s and `90s. Read more.

Ginger Scoggins, `86 mechanical engineering, is the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) national president-elect.

Ron Woody, `83 finance, retired last year after 38 years in public service. He served as Roane County Executive from 2010 to 2022.

Photo top left: Ekramul Haque Ehite, `18 M.S. mechanical engineering, receives the Pharos of Alexandria Global Learning Award from ASABE at the ASABE Annual International Meeting in Houston, Texas.

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