Celebration at Dogwood Park marks beginning of Centennial year

Centennial Plaza was filled with faculty, students and alumni Friday night as Tennessee Tech’s Centennial Kickoff celebration commenced.

The celebration began on Centennial Plaza and was led downtown to Dogwood Park by the Tech Marching Band and cheerleaders. At the Dogwood Park Amphitheater, the audience was treated to performances by the Faculty Jazz Ensemble, Mentonation, Stage One Dance Studio and monologues by the Tech Players. At the end of the night, the Centennial Traditions Award was given to outstanding members of Tech’s alumni.

“The Downtown Kickoff is sort of a way to really connect with the Cookeville community,” said President Philip Oldham. “And that’s not only very historical in nature, but it’s very important in the sense that this campus was really created because of the efforts of the local community.”

The entire evening was devoted to both Tennessee Tech and the city of Cookeville. The Centennial Walk, which began the event, was done in recognition of Tech’s past.

“This is the mirror image of an event during the 50th anniversary finale,” said Centennial Coordinator Laura Clemons. “Townspeople marched to campus for a picnic on the Main Quad and to show their appreciation for Tech. “

This was not the only activity at the event done in recognition of Tech’s history. Each monologue performed was inspired by an important Tech tradition and was performed in character as important people from Tech’s history. Monologues featured stories about Dammit the Dog, Awesome Eagle, “blizzards” at basketball games, the Tech Hymn and the eagle on top of Derryberry Hall.

“I think it’s been wonderful,” said Liz Mullens, dean of the College of Agriculture and Human Ecology. “I’ve seen things I’ve never seen at Tech before.”

Each monologue provided a backstory for the recipients of the Centennial Traditions Award. Awards were given to nine of Tech’s alumni, faculty and others who were involved as thanks for their contributions to Tech’s campus culture.

The kickoff also served as a launch for the new commemorative book, “The Tennessee Tech University Centennial, A Collection of Essays and Photographs.” The book serves as a history of Tennessee Tech and includes interviews and photos taken from Tech’s archives.

“This book tells the story in a different way,” said Clemons. “One rich with color and images and the personal stories and biographies of so many of our people over the past 100 years.”

The weekend of the Centennial Kickoff also coincided with the Golden Grad reunion, the 50th anniversary of Tech’s 50th class. The class of 1965 was the first class to graduate from Tennessee Tech University, as this was the first year the name had been changed from Tennessee Polytechnic Institute.

The Centennial Kickoff is only the beginning of the celebrations for Tech’s 100th year. There are seven events planned for the fall semester and four for the spring semester. The events include the dedication of Centennial Plaza, a heavy influence in the Homecoming and Cookeville Christmas parades, and new purple robes for commencement. 

“This is really a special school,” said Director of Advancement Kristin Wells, “and we want to use this opportunity to show people that.”