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June 2023

Where in the world is Awesome Eagle?

photos of a small stuffed eagle in destinations

Are you traveling this summer? Take Awesome Eagle with you, and send us photos of his adventures!

Make a gift of $35 or more to the University Memorial Scholarship by July 15, and receive your very own 6" Awesome Eagle.

Then, snap a travel photo of your eagle and share it with us via email ( or by tagging us on Facebook (/tntechalumni) or Instagram (@tntechalumni).

So far, Awesome has traveled to Atlanta, Ga.; Sandestin, Fla.; Valley Forge, Pa.; Winston-Salem, N.C., Newburyport, Mass., Acadia National Park in Maine and even all the way to Mexico!

We can't wait to see where he shows up next!

Make a Gift, Get an Eagle!

Three 1972 agriculture alumni reunite

Photo of the friends' reunion in front of a brick home

Three 1972 agriculture alumni recently reunited, and Awesome Eagle made an appearance!

From left to right, pictured are Carl Davis from Winston-Salem, N.C.; Mike Palk from Cookeville, Tenn.; and Ronnie Charles from Winston-Salem, N.C.

All three were members of Alpha Gamma Sigma, a professional agriculture fraternity, while enrolled at Tech. This wasn't the first reunion for this fraternity; in April of 2018, approximately 40 alumni from the classes of 1961 to 1977 reunited in Cookeville, and a group of 20 met once again in March of this year in Lenoir City, Tenn. They hope to reunite again in the future. Many are celebrating their golden grad anniversary!

Click the link below to find out how you can have Awesome Eagle join you on your summer adventures!

Make a Gift, Get an Eagle!

Eric and Angie Hyche on a quest to visit all 63 National Parks

Eric and Angie Hyche

Eric Hyche, `87 electrical engineering, and Angie Hyche, `87 biology, are on a quest to visit all 63 National Parks! They recently completed a two-week trip through Colorado, checking parks 42 (Gateway Arch), 43 (Black Canyon of the Gunnison), 44 (Petrified Forest), 45 (Mesa Verde) and 46 (Grand Sand Dunes) off the list. The Hyches are six years True To Tech (they have given to Tech six years in a row), and we thank them for showing their True To Tech Pride in their photo!

Learn More About True To Tech

EE alum Jeff Davidson shows Tech Pride in Alaska

Jeff Davidson

Jeff Davidson, `85 electrical engineering and `88 M.S., and his family recently went on an Alaskan cruise. Jeff snapped a photo holding his True To Tech decal at Sawyer Glacier on the Tracy Arm Fjord. Thanks, Jeff, for being True to Tech and for showing your Tech Pride across the country!

Learn More About True To Tech

ME alum Billy Lewis shows Tech Pride on Mt. Mitchell

Billy Lewis at Mt. Mitchell

While traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway recently, Billy Lewis, `82 mechanical engineering, showed his Tech Pride on Mt. Mitchell.

Thank you, Billy, for being True To Tech and for wearing your Tennessee Tech gear proudly!

Are you traveling this summer? If so, be sure to pack a Tech t-shirt or hat like Billy did, and take a photo of wherever you're exploring.

If you're a member of True To Tech (meaning you give to Tech every year), take your True To Tech magnet or decal with you.

Or, click the link below to see how you can take (a miniature) Awesome Eagle with you on your next vacation!

Make a Gift, Get an Eagle!

Golden Eagle Travel announces March 2024 trip: Great Trains and Grand Canyons

Aerial view of the Grand Canyon

The Crawford Alumni Center, in partnership with Premier World Discovery, is excited to announce the next trip as part of our Golden Eagle Travel Program: Great Trains and Grand Canyons!

From March 3-8, 2024, we'll spend six days/five nights in Sedona, Arizona. The itinerary 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!

Visit our Golden Eagle Travel website to learn more or to sign up using web code 172250.

golden eagle travel

Golden Eagle Travel announces October 2024 trip: Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Colorful hot air balloons

From October 9 through 14, 2024, we'll travel to the Land of Enchantment where we'll enjoy New Mexico's beautiful landscapes, history and architecture. We'll spend three nights in Santa Fe, which was founded in 1607, making it America's oldest state capital city. Other attractions include the Los Alamos Bradbury Museum, Plaza, Palace of the Governor's and Loretto Chapel.

And we'll spend two nights in Albuquerque. The highlight of this tour is the Albuquerque Balloon Festival -- the world's largest hot air ballooning event! You will get to witness the Mass Ascension, which includes more than 500 balloons taking to the skies. And you will have the opportunity to view the balloons up close and illuminated on solid ground during the Balloon Glow.

Use web code 167745 to register via the link below.

Albuquerque Balloon Festival

Donor Spotlight

Tommy Moffitt Strength and Conditioning Scholarship honors coach who inspires others

Jeff Piersall, Judy Piersall, Hunter Barnhart, Tommy Moffitt, Wes Piersall and Associate Vice President of University Development for Tennessee Tech John Smith

When Tennessee Tech's Department of Exercise Science and Physical Wellness presented the first Tommy Moffitt Strength and Conditioning Scholarship at its annual awards ceremony, there were a few people to recognize: the donors who established the scholarship, the man who inspired it and the young Tech graduate-turned Texas A&M coach who connected them all.

Jeff Piersall and his wife Judy, along with their Think Happy Thoughts Foundation, established the Tommy Moffitt Scholarship at Tech because of the impact Moffitt had on their son, Wes.

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 question

Two eagle mascots on Overall Field

Last month we asked the following trivia question:  

What is the name of Awesome Eagle's counterpart mascot pictured above and to the left? (In the photo, Awesome Eagle stands next to another eagle mascot who is wearing a suit, holding a cane and sporting a mustache.)

The answer was Grandpappy Eagle! Congratulations to last month's trivia winner, Nichole Norris, `99 business management, who guessed correctly and won some Tech SWAG. 

And now for this month's question: 

In 2003, (20 years ago this year!) Tennessee Tech's official flag was introduced. Who designed it? 

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

Archives with Atkinson Graphic

Tennessee Tech encyclopedia and President Thomas Alva Early

Thomas Alva Early

This month's blog is written by political science alum Dean Duncan-Morin from the Spring 2023 HIST 3420 Archives Research and Management class.

A larger project Tennessee Tech Archives is building is a Tennessee Tech encyclopedia, modeled after UTK's Volopedia. HIST 3420 students participated in this project by researching, digitizing and writing histories for numerous notable individuals at Tech who we will feature in the future encyclopedia and in The Alumnus blog. The first encyclopedia article discusses Tennessee Polytechnic Institute's first president, Thomas Alva Early. This will be included in the future encyclopedia which will have alphabetically-arranged entries of Tech history, traditions and people, and it will be hosted on the web and free for all to research and review.

Tech Archives hopes the future encyclopedia will elevate the campus and community's knowledge about our history, but also provide an outlet for the campus and community to take part in creating the project and learning our history through hands-on experiences of working with historical documents. While much of this project will be done with volunteers, we are in search of a coordinator. If you are interested in funding this project, visit the website linked below to make a gift.

Image description: Acrylic portrait on canvas of Thomas Alva Early painted by M. L. Stone in 1960. This picture was painted for Tennessee Tech, and details of hair and eye color were provided by government records.

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

Dr. Charles E. Hickman

Dr. Charles E. Hickman

Dr. Charles E. Hickman, also known as "Doc," passed away on June 16, 2023, at the age of 89.

Dr. Hickman received three degrees in electrical engineering, including a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee. He taught electrical engineering and conducted research at Auburn University for six years, followed by sixteen years in the research and environmental affairs department at Southern Company Services in Birmingham.

He was the interim dean and director of the Center for Electric Power at Tennessee Tech University. He also served as an adjunct professor for the computer and electrical engineering department at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. During his career, he developed and presented workshops related to noise and vibration control and consulted with companies to reduce noise and vibration to reduce acoustics.

in lieu of flowers, the family wishes for donations to be made to the Charles E. Hickman Engineering Endowment at Tennessee Tech. Mail checks (made out to the TTU Foundation) to TTU, Box 1915, Cookeville, TN 38505 or give online at Be sure to indicate that your gift is for the Charles Hickman Engineering Endowment.

Dr. Hugh Mills

Dr. Hugh Mills, professor emeritus in the Department of Earth Sciences, passed away this spring following an illustrious career of more than 30 years on Tech's campus.

A lifelong learner, Dr. Mills earned his bachelor's degree from Duke University in 1963, followed by a master's degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his Ph.D. in geology from the University of Washington in 1975.

Dr. Mills came to Tech in 1978 after having already lived a rich and fascinating life that included courageous service in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He remained on Tech's faculty until his retirement in 2011 -- teaching, leading and inspiring geology students on Tech's campus for more than a generation.

In those years, Dr. Mills published more than 70 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. He was the leading authority on Appalachian geomorphology, but his research also included areas such as glaciers in the Pacific Northwest and the aftermath of the Mount St. Helens eruption.

Outside of the classroom, Dr. Mills got an up-close look at the earth he had long studied by becoming an avid climber, along with his children. His summits included Mount Kilimanjaro and Denali.



Class Notes

John Jolley

Dusti Brooks, `10 human ecology and `23 elementary education, Gabriela Hernandez, `23 elementary education, Adriana Salinas, `23 elementary education, and Reagan White, `23 elementary education, were recently hired by the Putnam County School System from Tennessee Tech's "Grow Your Own" program.

Dr. Jeremy Byrd, `03 interdisciplinary studies, is the new executive director of Upper Cumberland Habitat for Humanity.

Michael Chai, `08 Ed.S. instructional leadership, received the Professional Educators of Tennessee Principal of the Year Award. Chai is the principal at Arnold Memorial Elementary School in Cleveland, Tenn.

Jared Copeland, `12 secondary education, was featured in a Tennessee Tech article titled "Incoming Van Buren County Director of Schools reflects on years at Tech."

Julie Fuller, `95 mechanical engineering, has been named the new managing director of National Recovery Technologies (NRT).

Arielle Hayes, `08 secondary education and `13 M.A., has been named principal of University High School in Hamilton County, Tenn.

Rachel Honaker, `20 finance, was promoted to office manager at First Freedom Bank in Algood, Tenn.

Shelly Jackson, `13 M.A. instructional leadership, has been named principal at Alpine Crest Elementary School in Hamilton County, Tenn.

Chad Jennings, `95 chemical engineering, is the new plant manager for Chevon Phillips Chemical's Golden Triangle Polymers Company facility in Orange, Texas.

John Jolley, `11 political science, was featured in a Tennessee Tech article titled "Tech alumnus providing free legal representation to underserved Chattanoogans."

Rhyan Karney, `20 history, is the new assistant archivist at the London-based law firm Child & Child. She is a former Tennessee Tech University Archives intern and received her master's in information management and preservation from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

Andrea Kruszka, `22 professional studies, was featured in a Tennessee Tech article titled "Tech's Andrea Kruszka profiled by Cookeville Lifestyle: "a mover and a shaker for all things good." 

Joanna Matthews, `09 accounting, joined First Farmers and Merchants Corporation as a senior personal trust officer.

Robin Newell, `02 M.A. instructional leadership, has been named principal for the Murfreesboro City Schools District Pre-K program.

Tammy Payne, `84 child development and family relations, `86 M.A. and `93 Ed.S., retired from DeKalb West School after 36 years in education.

Martin Plumlee, `06 MBA, was featured in a Tennessee Tech article titled "International MBA experience sparks interest in study missions for Williamson County Tech alumnus." 

Charles Pope, `15 Ed.S. instructional leadership, is the new principal at Shelbyville Central High School.

Natalie Robbins, `19 professional studies, was featured in a Tennessee Tech "Career Stories" article about her career as a geospatial consultant and her Tech degree that focused on geographic information systems.

Dr. Amanda Roberts, `01 agriculture, `17 M.A. and `18 Ph.D., is the author of LITE: The High Treason Incident, which is a 2023 IPPY Medalist. LITE was awarded a Bronze Medal in the Best First Book Juvenile/Young Adult Category.

Mikayla Wood, `21 environmental studies, is the new STEM librarian for engineering at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She recently received her master's degree in information sciences from UTK.

Photo top left: John Jolley, `11 political science, is a staff attorney with Legal Aid of East Tennessee, a nonprofit law firm providing free legal representation to underserved populations.

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