Donor Spotlight

Michael and Judy Gunter

Dr. Michael M. Gunter, Ph.D. 


Dr. Michael M. Gunter, professor of political science at Tennessee Tech, recently established the Judy and Michael Gunter Initiative in lasting memory of his beloved wife, Judy, who passed away on May 26, 2019. 

“I’m interested in leaving a positive legacy,” said Michael.  “It’s an initiative to look for positive things that will help people and the world around us by sponsoring worthy people in the years to come in my wife’s memory.  I like that idea.  That’s been my whole career so I like to promote it.”

Judy Kepley Gunter graduated from Wayne State University in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in elementary education and taught first grade for two years before marrying Michael in 1966.  They had two children, Michael Jr. and Heidi.  Michael, Jr. is chair of the Department of Political Science at Rollins College in Florida, and Heidi graduated from Columbia University, her father’s and grandfather’s alma mater.  Michael Jr. and his wife Linda have three children, Ansleigh, Malachi, and Emerson.

Michael started teaching political science at Tech in September 1972.  Judy’s love and support as a homemaker enabled her husband to pursue his successful career of teaching, publishing, and public speaking.  The Gunter family says that Lord Byron’s poem “She Walks in Beauty” describes Judy:

“She walks in beauty, like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that’s best of dark and bright meet in her aspect and her eyes.” 

Judy often accompanied her husband on trips to Paris, London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Istanbul as well as many cities in the United States and Canada including New York, Washington, San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago, Miami, and Montreal, among others.  For the 1978-1979 academic year, Judy and the children accompanied Michael to Ankara, Turkey, where he was a Senior Fulbright Lecturer in International Politics at the Middle East Technical University.  From 2002 to 2010, Judy joined her husband in Vienna, Austria, where he taught at the International University during the summers. 

The Judy and Michael Gunter Initiative will be awarded to students who major in political science, maintain a 3.0 GPA, and exhibit financial need.  Michael believes strongly in the “initiative” part of this endowment and wants the individuals who receive the award to show true initiative toward their pursuit of a political science degree at Tech. 

“Dr. Michael Gunter is not only one of the most prolific publishers at the University, but he is also equally dedicated to teaching his students,” said Lori Maxwell, chair of the Department of Sociology and Political Science.  “Globally recognized as one of the leading authorities on the Kurds, Dr. Gunter never fails to mention Tennessee Tech in his numerous international interviews.  But it was not his own legacy he sought to preserve in creating the Judy and Michael Gunter Initiative.  They decided, together, to financially help students explore political science, one of the loves of Michael's life.  His greatest love, however, will always be Judy.”

The Gunter family chose to establish this endowment in lieu of official services to create a lasting initiative and so that Judy could continue to give.  They hope that Judy’s friends will consider paying forward an act of kindness now or in the future to someone they know who needs assistance.

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