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Campus to officially welcome Oldham during investiture

By Will Housley
On October 25, 2012

  • Oldham. Photo Services

The official welcoming and initiation ceremony of President Phil Oldham will take place Nov. 2 in the midst of Homecoming festivities.
Oldham will become the ninth president at Tech as the campus community bestows the office of the president on him at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 2 at the Hooper Eblen Center. Queena Jones, director of News and Communications, said more than 1,100 people have RSVP'd to attend Friday's ceremony.
"I'm excited to be president of Tennessee Tech," Oldham said. "I want to have an 'open-door' policy for everybody on campus.
"I'm on Twitter, I don't always have the opportunity to respond to every tweet I get, but I do read them. People can comment on my blog, catch me as I'm walking around campus or even goes as far as getting an appointment to see me in my office. I want to be as accessible as possible.
"I love Tennessee Tech. It's a great place. I hope that the investiture is a lot of fun for everybody."
Classes have not been canceled for the event, though offices around campus will be closed from 9 a.m. to noon so students and staff can attend the ceremony. Students have been encouraged to ask their professors to excuse them from class during the ceremony.
Oldham said the ceremony isn't about him, but about the entire Tech community instead.
"I'm very honored to have this position, and very humbled by the attention," Oldham said. "But the ceremony is more about the institution, more about Tennessee Tech than myself."
Several businesses and organizations in Cookeville donated goods or services to keep the cost of the ceremony low, including the Appalachian Center for Craft, Chartwells and Johnson's Nursery and Garden Center.
"I owe a lot of thanks to a large number of individuals who spent time to plan and organize the investiture," Oldham said. "They worked on an extremely limited budget.
"One of reasons we planned this during Homecoming was to be able to utilize some of the events that were going on already to conserve limited resources. We're doing this in a fiscally responsible way."
After the ceremony, there will be a reception around the Hoop concourse, which will be decorated with student Homecoming banners. First lady Kari Oldham will judge the winning banner for the Homecoming competition.
All ceremony participants and attendees were asked to RSVP to the investiture to ensure event organizers ordered enough food for the reception afterward but not so much that there would be a lot of waste.
Reminders were posted on Tech's homepage and Facebook page, in Tech Times and on the YouTube show "Live with Sarah & Ross." Table tents were posted around campus dining facilities, and invitations were stuffed into Recycling Committee water bottles, which were handed out during the Oct. 6 football game.
Oldham joined Tech July 1 as its ninth president. Oldham previously served as provost and senior vice chancellor of academic affairs at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, a position he had held since 2007.
Oldham received his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Freed-Hardeman University in 1980 and his doctorate in analytical chemistry from Texas A&M University in 1985. He spent a year following his graduate work as a Wellcome Research Fellow at Burroughs Wellcome Co. (GlaxoSmithKline) before joining the faculty at Mississippi State University in 1986. Oldham served as head of Mississippi State University's chemistry department for five years prior to becoming MSU's College of Arts and Sciences dean in 2001.
The event will be live-streamed on Tech's website for those unable to attend.
Fore more information about the investiture ceremony, visit
To read President Oldham's blog, visit

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