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The big-screen TV is mounted, the mural of equations is on the wall, the displays from each COE department are in place, and it's now official – College of Engineering's Student Success Center is open for business. It's taken months of planning and preparation, but in late October it became a reality.


Aimed at serving as an incubator for study and scholarship, the Student Success Center supports students toward their academic goals and helps connect them with assistance if they start to fall behind.

TTU13407-009Members of the Advisory Council for Engineering were in attendance, along with the College of Engineering's Student Ambassadors.

"October 25, 2013 was a special day for us in the Clay N. Hixson Student Success Center as we celebrated the legacy of a generous alumnus," said Laurie Roberson, director of the Student Success Center. "This officially kicks off the beginning of implementing student success strategies and working toward the common goal of student retention in the College of Engineering's Strategic Plan and with the University's Flight Plan."

COE Dean Joseph Rencis was present and delivered a short speech, as did Development Director Tracy Russell and TTU President Phil Oldham.

"This is a transformative day in the history of the College of Engineering, and in the future we're expecting many more transformative days like this one as we move forward with our Strategic Plan," said Rencis. "This is a commitment on the part of our faculty and staff toward student success and their progression through our program, and a reflection of where we are putting our priorities, with students first always."

The Student Success Center would never have been possible without Clay N. Hixson. Hixson was a 1953 College of Engineering graduate, after returning from Navy service in WWII. Hixson scraped together the money for his education by wiring houses on weekends and in the evenings and remained forever grateful to TTU for his experiences there.

Hixson suffered a stroke that left him impaired in 1996, yet stayed engaged with the university through the help of his old friend Mary Northrup. After he passed away in April 2009, TTU was bestowed with a $1.5 million estate gift to the College of Engineering.

"He would be so proud," said Northrup. "He was a real unusual person, someone who everyone liked. He mentioned Tech so often and at one point I asked him, 'Well, Clay, what is it with Tennessee Tech?' He turned to me and said, 'Mary, I would never have gotten to where I am today if it hadn't been for Tennessee Tech." That's exactly how he felt about it."


--Jerry Renshaw