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September 2023

Nominations now open for 2024 Tennessee Tech Alumni Awards

eagle head alumni awards on a table

The Tennessee Tech Alumni Association annually presents awards to individuals who have demonstrated great professional success in the following four categories:

  • Distinguished Alumnus Award
  • Outstanding Young Alumnus Award
  • Outstanding Service Award
  • Outstanding Philanthropy Award

Click the link below to read the criteria for each award or to submit a nomination in one of the four categories. The deadline to submit a nomination for a 2024 award is Nov. 15, 2023. Email with questions.

2024 alumni awards nominations form

2023 alumni award winners

Tech grows total enrollment by more than 10,100 students, fueled by fourth largest freshman class in university history

students at convocation

Tennessee Tech University announced a total enrollment of more than 10,100 students for the first time in three years. Fall 2023 census data showed that the university's ranks grew to 10,117 students, an increase of more than 200 students from the previous year. The university's enrollment gains were driven by the fourth largest freshman class in Tech's 108-year history, increases in transfer students, new graduate students and doctoral candidates and a strong retention rate among continuing sophomores.

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Fitness trainer, business owner and author Jarrod Houston found space to mature and grow at Tennessee Tech

Jarrod Houston in the gym

Today, Jarrod Houston, `07 business management, co-owns three TITLE Boxing Clubs and has trained some of the biggest names in entertainment including Kane Brown, Morgan Wallen, Ryan Seacrest and Bobby Bones, just to name a few. But the road to success wasn't always easy for Houston who experienced sexual, mental and spiritual abuse as a child. Houston learned to draw from his experiences at Tech -- which included joining the Chi Lambda chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, playing for Tech's football team and majoring in business management -- to turn past trauma into a rewarding career path.

"I will always be grateful to Tennessee Tech for giving me the space to mature and for not treating me like a product," Houston said. "Even with all of the immaturity that I brought to campus, Tech believed in me and helped me along the way."

Houston is featured in The Alumnus: Tech Took Us There edition. To read his full story and the stories of other alumni who credit Tech for amazing careers, click the link below. If you prefer a hard copy, email And if you believe Tech prepared you for your career, let us know. We'd love to hear your story.

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Nursing alumni represent Tennessee Tech at Vanderbilt's Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital

Kelsea Anderson and Dani Keegan

Kelsea Anderson, `19 nursing, and Danielle "Dani" Keegan, `19 nursing, didn't select an easy career path after graduating from Tennessee Tech. Anderson and Keegan work in pediatric oncology at Vanderbilt's Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital and say that despite the challenges, they know they are doing the work they were meant to do.

The alumnae chose Tech because of the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing's reputation, and both say their nursing classes, professors and simulations in Tech's Sim Lab prepared them for their careers.

"Tech's nursing program teaches you to expect the unexpected at all times," Keegan said.

Anderson added, "As much as I dreaded them at the time, the clinicals and simulations were so helpful. In our specialized area, kids can get very, very sick very, very quickly. The simulations teach you to look for warning signs and know when to call the doctor. Looking back, those experiences did help me in the long run, and I am very thankful for them."

Anderson and Keegan are featured in The Alumnus: Tech Took Us There edition. To read their full story and the stories of other alumni who credit Tech for amazing careers, click the link below. If you prefer a hard copy, email And if you believe Tech prepared you for your career, let us know. We'd love to hear your story.

Tennessee Tech names Susan Luna-Hazlewood director of the Crawford Alumni Center

Susan Luna-Hazlewood

Tennessee Tech University has named a distinguished alumna, local community member and former associate athletics director in its Office of University Development as the new director of the Crawford Alumni Center.

Susan Luna-Hazlewood, a 2007 Tech graduate, assumed her role as director of the Center on Sept. 1. The Center manages alumni engagement, annual giving and stewardship efforts for the university and is the main point of contact for the Tennessee Tech Alumni Association.

"Susan brings impressive and diverse experiences to a highly visible role that is vital to Tech's overall advancement effort," said Kevin Braswell, Ph.D., vice president for university advancement at Tech, in a message to members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. "Her knowledge, skills, abilities and credentials are a great fit for the core competencies for this key leadership position."

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Tech alumni share travel adventures with Awesome Eagle

Cameron and Allie Reed with their little stuffed eagle in GreeceCameron Reed, `21 chemical engineering, and Allie Reed, `20 marketing and `12 MBA, recently traveled to Greece with Awesome Eagle! They took photos at the Parthenon in Athens and from their hotel balcony in Mykonos. The Reeds say they were happy to have a piece of Tech with them on their travels.

Angie and Eric Hyche with their little stuffed eagle in Pinnacles.

Eric Hyche, `87 electrical engineering, and Angie Hyche, `87 biology, are continuing their quest to see all national parks! Most recently, they traveled to Pinnacles National Park in California. We're glad Awesome Eagle gets to experience all of these beautiful national parks, too!

A little stuffed eagle in front of landmarks in Oregon.

Kelly Chambers, `05 journalism and `07 M.A., just returned from a road trip across Oregon, and Awesome Eagle enjoyed some photography along the way! He visited Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach, nine of Oregon's 11 lighthouses and Crater Lake National Park.

Final season of current Tucker Stadium brings memories and exciting future

A collage of old photos of Tucker Stadium

By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

I've lost count of the number of times I've made the trips up and down the Tucker Stadium steps. Just like the rest of the Tennessee Tech campus, it's been home for me for 23 years now. And nearly every one of those years, I've spent time in the Tucker Stadium press box.

Whether it was a student from 2000 to 2005, covering the team at the Cookeville Herald-Citizen from 2006 to 2015, then working as the team's sports information contact from the years since 2016 on, Saturdays (and some random Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons in 2021) have been for Tennessee Tech football.

Read Corhern's full press release via the link below. And we invite Tech alumni and friends to submit your favorite memories of Tucker Stadium! We'll include some of the responses throughout the season.

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submit favorite tucker stadium memories

Donor Spotlight

Latisha Dean Denton Memorial Scholarship honors beloved Clay County teacher

Iswat and Deji Badiru

Latisha Dean Denton is remembered as a passionate educator who dedicated her career to ensuring students reached their fullest learning potential.

Latisha was just three days away from starting her 31st year of teaching in the Clay County School system when she was killed in an automobile accident. Latisha's family and friends say it has been devastating to lose her so suddenly, and the loss has left a void in their lives. To honor Latisha's memory and continue her desire to see students succeed, Latisha's family and friends have chosen to establish the Latisha Dean Denton Memorial Scholarship at Tennessee Tech.

"We chose to endow a scholarship at Tech because we wanted to do something lasting that was also aligned with her life and career," said John Denton, Latisha's brother. "That's why we chose to award it to a graduating Clay County High School senior with preference given to education majors. Latisha was a product of the Clay County School system, and it's where she spent her entire teaching career after graduating from Tech."

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Frank Harrell Basketball Endowment honors Tennessee Tech basketball coach and administrator's 42-year career

Mark Wilson, Frank Harrell, and President Phil OldhamWhen longtime Tennessee Tech Athletics coach and administrator Frank Harrell retired after 42 years with the university, Director of Athletics Mark Wilson and a few of Harrell's friends knew they wanted to do something to honor Harrell's legacy. At Harrell's retirement brunch, Wilson surprised him with the Frank Harrell Basketball Endowment.

"I was humbled by the gift," Harrell said. "Mark knows me well, and he saw moisture in my eyes when he told me about it. I love Tennessee Tech. I love what we stand for in Athletics. I love our desire to win championships. Tech has been my life."

Wilson added, "He tried to keep the emotion in, but I saw it. I think it made him feel loved and appreciated. That's what people can do through endowments. They can honor loved ones, whether it's established for someone who has passed away or someone they want to honor while they are still living. And they can make an impact on any university program."

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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 question


Last month we asked the following trivia question:  

Each fall, Tennessee Tech hosts a formal ceremony of the freshman class where new students are inducted into the academic community of the university. What is this ceremony called?

The answer was Convocation! Congratulations to our winner, Dr. Katelyn Hancock, `17 psychology.

And now for this month's question: 

What does Tennessee Tech's ROTC do on Sept. 11 each year to honor the victims and first responders of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks?

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

Bartoo Hall: From Dormitory to Learning Center

West Hall in 1926

This month's "Archives with Atkinson" is written by Jennifer Dewar and features Bartoo Hall, a campus mainstay dating back to Dixie College. Read and learn about how this building has grown, changed and modernized since its construction in 1916:

From 1989 until 2023, Bartoo Hall contained the offices and classrooms of the Learning Resource Center, the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Support Services and computer labs. Called simply West Hall initially, Bartoo Hall was built in 1916 as one of the three main structures comprising Dixie College and kept its name through the establishment of Tennessee Polytechnic Institute (TPI).

Photo top left: West Hall, as pictured in Tennessee Tech's 1926 Eagle yearbook

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

LeBron Bell

LeBron BellDr. LeBron Bell, 82 of Cookeville, Tenn., passed away on Sept. 15, 2023. He was born in 1941 in Chattanooga, Tenn. During his high school years, Bell discovered that he had a natural ability for "shooting hoops," and his success in the sport earned him scholarships that launched his collegiate career. He led the nation in scoring one season during his collegiate playing days. Bell continued to play well into his adult years including competing in and winning the Senior Olympics in 2003 at the age of 62.

He earned his bachelor's degree from Tennessee Wesleyan College, and his master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in the School of Exercise Science, Physical Education & Wellness.

In 1971, Bell and his family moved to Cookeville where he joined the faculty at Tennessee Tech University's School of Exercise Science, Physical Education & Wellness, where he served as a professor and coach. Bell continued to teach and coach for 46 years, finally hanging up his academic robes for the last time in 2019.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests gifts be made to the Dr. LeBron Bell Scholarship Endowment by mailing a check to Tennessee Tech, Box 1915, Cookeville, TN 38505 or online at Indicate that the check or online gift is for the Dr. LeBron Bell Scholarship Endowment.


Harold Jackson

Harold JacksonHarold Jackson passed away on Sept. 11, 2023.

He was born on March 15, 1940, in Putnam County.

Harold's professional life was marked by dedicated service. He served as a helicopter pilot in the U.S Army with the 101st Airborne and the Tennessee National Guard, demonstrating courage and commitment to his country. Following his military service, Harold worked for the U.S. Postal Service, eventually becoming the postmaster in Byrdstown, Tenn. In his later years, he found success as a real estate developer, contributing significantly to the growth and development of his beloved Cookeville.

He was deeply involved in his community. He was a member of the Al Menah Shrine Temple in Nashville, the Cookeville Masonic Lodge #266 FA&M and the Cookeville Rotary Club. Harold's civic-mindedness extended to local politics, where he served terms as council member, vice mayor and mayor for the City of Cookeville. He was a passionate advocate for senior citizens, serving on the board for the Cookeville Senior Activity Center, and championing issues that directly impacted seniors.

Peggy Lou Apple Mackie

Peggy Lou Apple MackiePeggy Lou Apple Mackie passed away on Sept. 11, 2023.

She was born on Dec. 6, 1937, in Jackson County, Tenn.

Throughout her life, Peggy was a dedicated homemaker who took great joy in caring for her family. She was a member of Jefferson Avenue Church of Christ, where she served faithfully and found great comfort and community.

Peggy had a passion for gardening, reading and sewing, hobbies that brought her great joy and satisfaction. She was an exceptional cook, often preparing meals for her family that were filled with love and care. Her influence in the kitchen was profound, inspiring her daughters to embrace the art of cooking and carry on her legacy.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Melinda Mackie Anderson, director of Tennessee Tech's School of Human Ecology, and the Apple and Mackie families.

Rose Leigh Bilbrey Vines

Rose Leigh Bilbrey VinesRose Leigh Bilbrey Vines passed away on August 21.

Rose Leigh was born in Cookeville on July 7, 1945. After graduating from Tennessee Tech and the School of Medical Technology at St. Thomas Hospital, Rose Leigh worked as a med-tech for 11 years before earning her Ph.D. in anatomy from the University of Kentucky. From there, she relocated to Sacramento, Calif., and embarked on an illustrious 38-year career in higher education at California State University, and later at California Northstate University.

Rose Leigh returned to Cookeville in 2017 to be near family in retirement.

In addition to being a lifelong member of Cookeville First United Methodist Church, she enjoyed membership in numerous professional organizations and was active in the local chapter of PEO.

In lieu of flowers, the family believes Rose Leigh would prefer donations to the university, scholarship or charity of your choice.


Class Notes

Tai Hintz

Joshua Barnard, `23 agriculture, was named Coffee County School's agriculture advisor.

Pam DeGraffenreid, `18 professional studies, was recognized as a "Microsoft Most Valuable Professional" for both technical expertise and community involvement. There are fewer than 600 people with this distinction in the U.S., and fewer than 80 of them are female. Pam is a developer focused on the Microsoft platform.

Ekramul Ehite, `18 M.S. mechanical engineering, earned his Ph.D. in biosystems engineering from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville last month. Immediately after graduation, he joined GlaxoSmithKline as a principal scientist. He was also invited by the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research to submit an article on his Ph.D. research on agricultural biomass-derived bioenergy.

Tai Hintz, `17 nursing, was featured in a Tennessee Tech Career Stories article about her position as a registered nurse in the cardiovascular intensive care unit at Tri-Star Centennial Medical Center in Nashville. Hintz is also pursuing a master's degree in nursing with a family nurse practitioner focus at Tennessee Tech.

Jenna Huff, `14 foreign language, was sworn in on Sept. 1 as an assistant district attorney in the 13th Judicial District.

Haley Kramer, `20 multidisciplinary studies and `23 M.A., was named an assistant coach for the dance team at Vanderbilt University.

Andrea Watson, `04 M.A. educational psychology and counselor education and `05 Ed.S., joined the Freed-Hardeman University faculty as an instructor in school counseling.

Photo top left: Tai Hintz, `17 nursing

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