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April 2024

Alumni and friends give more than $1 million during 6th annual I Heart Tech Students fundraising initiative

I Heart Tech Students Thank You

"Getting my mechanical engineering degree from Tech was one of the best things I've done in my life. I don't mind helping others achieve that same goal of graduating from Tennessee Tech."

This sentiment, shared by a 1981 engineering alumnus, echoes what we hear so often. Together, throughout the six-week fundraising period, alumni, faculty, staff and friends provided $1,191,384 for scholarships, programs and initiatives that put students first.

Thank you for being a part of our community and supporting the next generation of Golden Eagles.

The Oracle student newspaper celebrates 100 years

President Oldham speaks at The Oracle reunion

On April 13, Tennessee Tech's Crawford Alumni Center, in partnership with The Oracle and Department of Communication, hosted an event to celebrate 100 years of The Oracle student newspaper.

Nearly 100 alumni who worked on The Oracle during their time at Tech attended and shared their favorite memories. Guests mingled with Oracle alumni from different decades over lunch, met the current members of The Oracle staff, toured The Oracle offices and looked through old editions of The Oracle, including the very first edition published on April 25, 1924. They also heard remarks from President Phil Oldham, longtime Oracle faculty advisor Dr. Brenda Wilson, current Oracle faculty advisor Teddy Burch and current Oracle managing editor Bee Goodman.

Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to The Oracle's 100-year history.

Here's to another 100 years!

Tennessee Tech gets its 'Wings' with 70-foot sculpture from acclaimed artist with state ties

A rendering of the completed Ashraf Islam Engineering Building and the sculpture, Wings

The campus of Tennessee Tech will get an added burst of color and creative inspiration with the installation of a monumental sculpture outside its soon-to-be-completed Ashraf Islam Engineering Building.

The towering, nearly 70-foot steel structure is adorned in Tech's signature shade of purple and titled "Wings" for its two outstretched beams. Weighing more than 12 tons, it was designed by famed sculptor John Henry and generously paid for by the late Millard and JJ Oakley.

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Tech alumnus and astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore set to launch to International Space Station May 6

Suni Williams and Barry Wilmore

NASA astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore (`85 electrical engineering, `94 M.S. and `12 honorary doctorate of engineering) is set to launch to the International Space Station on Monday, May 6. Launch is scheduled for no earlier than 10:34 p.m. EDT.

Wilmore and pilot Suni Williams will launch aboard Boeing's Starliner spacecraft on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The duo will make history as the first people to fly on the Starliner spacecraft.

News source:
Photo credit: NASA

Follow Tennessee Tech Alumni Association on LinkedIn

Tennessee Tech Alumni Association

The Tennessee Tech Alumni Association now has an official LinkedIn Page!

We use this platform to share alumni news, announce upcoming events, provide networking opportunities and show the amazing things alumni are doing in their careers and communities.

While the Alumni Association has had a LinkedIn Group for years, we are transitioning to an official LinkedIn Page for a better user experience.

If you've started a new job, received an award, been named to a board or council, written a book or achieved something noteworthy, we hope you'll share it on LinkedIn and tag the Alumni Association page or email us at We'll also share your accomplishments right here -- in the Class Notes section of The Alumnus e-newsletter.

Follow us on LinkedIn via the link below!


Alumni Association Board of Directors seeks new members

Alumni Association Seal

Do you love Tennessee Tech? Do you enjoy staying connected with the university and with fellow alumni? Do you recognize the value in sharing the story of Tech with others? If so, you might be the perfect candidate for the Tennessee Tech Alumni Association Board of Directors!

Board members act as a liaison between alumni and the university, plan and host events for alumni across the country and on campus, help alumni connect with classmates and assist alumni who have questions about Tech. The Board meets four times each year. This is a great way to meet new people, plan and attend fun events around the country and learn more about your alma mater.

Applications must be submitted by April 30 to be considered. If you applied in a previous year, you will need to re-submit your application to be reviewed again this year.

Click the link below to apply.

apply now

Tennessee Tech to offer two additional African safari trips in 2025

Tech Alumni on safari pose with the Trailblazers jeep

Tennessee Tech is excited to partner with Tech alumna-owned safari company Trailblazer Safaris again to offer two more safari trips for alumni and friends.

We will offer seven-day safaris on May 25-31, 2025 and September 7-13, 2025. The itinerary includes Serengeti National Park, Tarangire National Park, Olduvai Gorge, Ngorongoro Crater, a hot air balloon ride and, of course, lots of wildlife viewing.

Visit Tech's Golden Eagle Travel website or contact for more information.

Golden Eagle Travel

Read about the Feb. 2024 Alumni African safari

Boyd elevated to head coach of Tech soccer program, Springthorpe to serve athletics in administrative role

Springthorpe and Boyd

Tennessee Tech Director of Athletics Mark Wilson has announced a pair of staff changes to the Golden Eagle soccer program, with associate head coach Corey Boyd being elevated to head coach and previous head coach Steve Springthorpe shifting to the administrative side of the Tech athletics department.

Boyd will officially be named the ninth head coach in program history while Springthorpe will serve the department as the executive assistant to the director of athletics.

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Tech women's basketball heading to Portugal in August, fan travel package available

Womens Basketball team

Tennessee Tech women's basketball will spend part of their summer vacation in Portugal, and fans will be invited to make the trip with them! The trip will run from August 3-11 with two games slated during this time. The team will spend time in Lisbon, Porto and Cascais among other Portuguese locales.

Among the seven nights in Portugal will be three nights in Porto and four nights in Cascais. The travel package includes hotel, basic ground transportation, admission to games, breakfast, excursions and guides. The fan package does not include the flight, meals outside of breakfast, trip insurance or passport fees. The activities during the trip will be highlighted by a tuk-tuk tour of Lisbon, a tour of Sintra and Pena Palace, a visit to Cabo da Poca, a trip to Coimbra, a bus tour of Porto and a cruise down the Duoro River. Double occupancy is $2,775 per person and single occupancy is $3,445. Both packages require a $1,500 deposit.

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Donor Spotlight

Tennessee Tech graduate's love for history and music appreciation course inspires gift

Don Barry

Dr. Don Barry says his four years at Tennessee Tech were full of meaningful experiences, and some of the most beneficial and treasured of those experiences were his history courses. The knowledge he acquired from enthusiastic history professors prepared him to earn master's and Ph.D. degrees and embark on a 44-year career teaching and writing about history.

A Tech basketball scholarship covered Barry's undergraduate expenses, but he recognizes that not all students are as fortunate as he. That's why he decided to establish the Don Barry History Scholarship Endowment for history majors with financial need.

"I came from a family that didn't have a lot of money, and I needed financial assistance to go to college," Barry explained. "The basketball scholarship at Tech served that purpose for me. That's part of the inspiration for the scholarship, and it's one of the reasons why I want to give back to Tech."

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Tennessee Tech's vision for Golden Eagle Football inspires gift to Football Operations Center  

The Bodaks

Tennessee Tech alumnus Jim Bodak says he was inspired to give to the university's Football Operations Center because of a shared vision among President Phil Oldham, Athletic Director Mark Wilson and Head Football Coach Bobby Wilder to take Tech's football program to the next level.

"I have a passion for football and the university," Bodak said. "I'm excited that Coach Wilder is there, and I appreciate his enthusiasm and what all he is doing for the program. I want student-athletes to have the very best facilities to help them achieve success both on and off the field."

Tech's 40,000-square-foot Football Operations Center will include a new locker room and meeting rooms, players' lounge, theater-style auditorium, sports medicine center and turf practice field.

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Tech Took Us There

U.S. Army Captain says Tennessee Tech communication degree and ROTC prepared her to serve, educate and lead

Melissa Edwards

As Tennessee Tech's newspaper, The Oracle, celebrates its 100th anniversary this month, one communication alumna is using her experience on The Oracle staff to serve her country.

Capt. Melissa Edwards (`14 communication) serves in the United States Army as a Human Resources Department director and U.S. Element Company Commander for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) School in Oberammergau, Germany, and she credits her communication degree and experience in Tech's Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) for instilling service, education and leadership skills.

"I followed my true strengths and passions for writing history and news, and being a communications major allowed me to tap into all of those interests and meet like-minded people," Edwards said. "I really enjoyed interviewing students and staff for my beat stories as a member of The Oracle."

Edwards says favorite Tech memories include being a member of Omega Phi Alpha sorority, attending Window on the World and Backdoor Playhouse performances, meeting international students through the Tech Buddies program, supporting home football games as a member of the Color Guard and Cannon Crew and, of course, meeting friends at Ralph's Donuts.

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

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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

Beulah Betty McDonald

Last month we asked the following trivia question:  

Who was the first person to receive a college degree from Tech? 

Beulah Betty McDonald was the first person to earn a college degree at Tech (then known as Tennessee Polytechnic Institute) in 1918. She received a two-year degree in English. Ms. McDonald taught in Smith County schools for 40 years and died at the age of 93.

Congratulations to Chad Vermillion (`92 finance) for winning this month's trivia prize!

And now for this month's question:

The Oracle newspaper turned 100 this month -- on April 25, 2024. In what year was the first color edition of The Oracle published? 

Photo top left: Beulah Betty McDonald

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. 

follow the Crawford alumni center on facebook

Archives with Atkinson Graphic

When no roads lead home: WCTE's "Wilder-Davidson Project"

Wilder-Davidson labor union

This month's Archives with Atkinson features an article by recent Tech alumnus and archive intern August Pitcher. August worked on preserving and describing the records of the Wilder-Davidson project, a joint effort between WCTE and the Upper Cumberland Institute. The project documented coal mining and miners in Fentress County, Tenn.

Photo top left: Wilder-Davidson local labor union

Photo top left: Promotional photograph of Sally Crain-Jager with students in an art class. (Photo: University Archives, Oct. 12, 1977.)

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. William Paul Bonner

Dr. William Paul Bonner

Dr. William Paul Bonner passed away on April 20 at the age of 92.

Dr. Bonner graduated from Bowden High School in Bowden, Georgia, in 1948 and earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1951 from the University of Georgia. He met his future wife, Marjorie Rice, while stationed at Fort McClellon Army Base in Aniston, Alabama, and they married in 1956. After working for several years, Dr. Bonner was accepted to the University of Florida where he earned a master's in 1965 and a Ph.D. in 1967 in civil engineering. He eventually moved his family to Cookeville where he taught graduate chemistry and other courses in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Tennessee Tech University and became professor and department chairperson. He enjoyed mentoring and teaching his students.

In addition to his academic contributions, Dr. Bonner operated a small cattle farm with the same diligence and care he devoted to all his endeavors and was evidence of the simple pleasures he valued in life.

Jackie Borden

Sam Winfree

John "Jackie" Borden, Jr. passed away on April 19. Jackie was a longtime friend of Tennessee Tech.

He was the third-generation owner of Borden Jewelry and Gifts in Cookeville, a business started by his grandfather, Melvin H. Borden, in 1889.

A proud U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Jackie embodied the Corps' value of honor, courage and commitment throughout his life.

Jackie's commitment to his community was unwavering. As a charter member of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce and a past president of the Tennessee Jewelers Association, he worked tirelessly to support local businesses and foster economic growth. He was also a member of the American Legion as well as a former member of the Kiwanis Club and the Cookeville Jaycees.

He was a longstanding member of the Jefferson Avenue Church of Christ. In addition to his devotion to faith and family, Jackie had a passion for sports, serving as a TSSAA football official for more than 50 years.


Steve Pearson

Steve Pearson

Steve Pearson passed away on April 4.

He graduated from Sewanee Military Academy in 1968 and went on to obtain a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Tennessee Tech in 1972. He remained an active alumnus with both schools.

He joined Sverdrup Technology, Inc. in 1973 following an active-duty assignment in the U.S. Army. He served in progressive management and engineering assignments in Tullahoma and around the world including Detroit, Michigan; Seoul, Korea; Livermore, California; and Canberra, Australia. From 1999 to 2001 Steve served as the project manager for the Department of Energy's $2.5 billion National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In prior years, he served as project manager for the DaimlerChrysler $3 billion Technology Center in Auburn Hills, Michigan. At different times he had engineering projects for technical facilities in the automotive and aerospace industries at home and abroad. Steve retired after serving as general manager at Arnold Engineering Development Center.

He married the love of his life, Rose, and they spent their lives restoring and improving their historic home on Georgia Crossing Road.

Steve previously served on the Advisory Council for Engineering and was a 2005 College of Engineering of Distinction award recipient.


Class Notes

A photo of the sign for Camp Stallings

Ashley Ayub (`13 communication) is the new client relations specialist with structural engineering firm Bennett & Pless, Inc.

Shayne Bilbrey (`19 interdisciplinary studies) was appointed National Committeeman on the Tennessee Young Democrats executive board in Feb. 2024. He will represent Tennessee on the Young Democrats of America National Committee.

Jim Garrick (`87 MBA) joined Ford Motor Blue Oval City in Stanton, Tenn., as a Quality Engineering Specialist with the Quality Performance Delivery Inspection Team. This team focuses on integrating groundbreaking quality practices technology into the manufacturing process of the electric vehicle.

Kevin Hines (`95 mechanical engineering and `06 MBA) was named Vice President of Production Engineering and New Model Quality at Nissan.

Dr. Richard Lukas, a professor of history at Tennessee Tech from 1963-1989, has published 10 books and continues to write today at the age of 86. He recently published a memoir titled The Torpedo Season. All proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Memphis.

Lamar Moore (`12 finance and `13 MBA) was featured in the Spring 2024 edition of The Torch from Nashville School of Law. This edition features alumni and students who have made an impact on Nashville's music industry. Moore serves as vice president and senior credit officer within the entertainment division for City National Bank.

Ezra Pinzur (`19 exercise science, physical education and wellness and `21 M.A.) was named assistant men's basketball coach at the University of Central Arkansas. Coach Pinzur previously served as a graduate assistant and played for the Tennessee Tech men's basketball team.

Mark Rine (`21 wildlife and fisheries science) received the Hector and Susie Black Peace and Reconciliation Award at this year's Window on the World event celebrating international cultures and diversity.

Kaitlin Salyer (`12 sociology) received the Mandala Award at Window on the World. The award is given annually to someone who has demonstrated "exceptional commitment to befriending people from around the world."

Capt. James D. Stallings (`54 agriculture science) is now memorialized with a sign at the entrance of Camp Stallings, Di An Base Camp in Vietnam. On Sept. 25, 1966, Capt. Stallings was killed when his vehicle hit an anti-tank mine and came under enemy fire in Vietnam. Capt. Stallings was an electronic warfare cryptologic officer. Last year, the National Security Agency added his name to the Cryptologic Wall which honors those who served in silence.

Christy Vermillion (`91 technical communication) was named Associate Director of Gift and Donor Services at Vanderbilt University.

Brent Waugh (`04 psychology) has been named Assistant Vice Chancellor for Communications at Vanderbilt University.

Tommy Young (`98 agriculture) received the John J. Harris Surveyor of the Year Award at the 2024 Tennessee Association of Professional Surveyors (TAPS) conference last month. He is the Vice President of Surveying at L.I. Smith & Associates.

Photo top left: A sign honoring Capt. James Stallings at the entrance of Camp Stallings, Di An Base Camp in Vietnam reads "Camp Stallings in memory of Captain James D. Stallings Commanding Officer 337th Radio Research Company killed in action on 25 September 1966 in the Republic of Vietnam." (Photo: Windell Thomas, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence)

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! 

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