Nine TTU alumni recognized in 2015 as Outstanding
Every year, a select group of alumni are recognized for their lifetime achievements and outstanding support of Tennessee Tech University.
This year, nine will be recognized on Feb. 6 at a reception at the Leslie Town Centre. Each of the university’s six colleges, the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing and Athletics selected a former student to recognize.
College of Agriculture and Human Ecology
Jeff Plant, '86 interior design
Jeff Plant earned his bachelor’s degree in human ecology from Tennessee Tech in 1986. He left Cookeville to attend Virginia Tech and obtained his master’s in housing, interior design and consumer resource management.
After graduate school, Plant taught human environmental sciences at the University of Tennessee, Martin, for 12 years. He returned to TTU in 2000 as an associate professor with the College of Agriculture and Human Ecology.
He met his wife, Stacey, when he returned. She worked at TTU’s Technology Institute and graduated in 2007. They have been married for six years.
Plant received his doctoral degree in workforce education and development from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 1997. His dissertation, “Instructional Uses of Computer Based Communications in Selected University Learning Environments,” investigated the way universities use technology to support distance learning.
Plant is a recipient of the 2009 Tennessee Association of Family & Consumer Science Honor award, has served as president of the organization and has qualified four times for the Who’s Who Among America’s Teacher’s list.
In 2012, Plant earned the title of certified personal and family finance educator from the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences. He serves as vice president of relations for the organization’s Tennessee chapter.
At Trinity Assembly Church in Algood, Plant and his wife serve as life group facilitators for recently married couples. He also assists with the Forge Men’s Ministry program, a group that fosters community and reaches out to those in need.
His youngest daughter, Rachel, is a senior in nursing at TTU. His oldest daughter, Christine, attended TTU for two years and recently became a licensed practical nurse.
College of Arts and Sciences
Bill & Mary Moran, '72 political science and '73 geology
Bill Moran spent most of his life raising money to help fund health care for those in need. He was the president of St. Vincent’s Foundation in Birmingham, Alabama, for nearly 30 years. He has been, since 1977, a key member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
He was born in Albany, Kentucky, and lived there until he enrolled at the University of Kentucky. After two years, he transferred to Tennessee Tech.
At TTU, Bill Moran participated in student government and ROTC. He was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, and chairman of All-Sing, a singing competition.
Bill began his fundraising career in Tennessee. He helped to found the state chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 1980 and served as chapter president in 1984. A few years after he moved to Birmingham, Bill was named the Alabama chapter’s 1988 outstanding fundraising professional.
Since 2002, Bill has served as board member and treasurer of the association’s foundation.
Bill and Mary met while running for student senate. Both were campaigning for the same position: student senator of the College of Arts & Sciences. Both won and they married in 1971.
Mary received her bachelor’s degree in geology in 1973 and a master’s from Vanderbilt University in 1977.
She worked as a hydrologist with the water resources division of the U.S Geological Survey from 1974 to 1977. She worked to assess geothermal resource areas in 1977 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
As a low-level radioactive waste program manager for the Department of Energy, Mary travelled to the Nevada Test Site, Savannah River National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory and the Hanford Site.
Mary was a founding partner of Gallet & Associates in 1987, a multi-state engineering and environmental consulting firm. She helped write licensing legislation, and was appointed by the governor to the first Alabama board of licensure for professional geologists. She holds professional licenses in a number of states.
Mary was a member of the College of Arts & Sciences board of visitors, an advisory group that meets to build community and financial support for the college. At TTU, she was a member of the sorority Phi Mu and president of the geology club.
The Morans have lived in Birmingham for 30 years. They have one daughter, Alice.
Department of Athletics
Ed Henley, '58 social sciences
Ed Henley is a track and field standout from Manchester, Tennessee.
During his three-year career on the Golden Eagle team, Henley won two Ohio Valley Conference titles and held an OVC individual record in the low hurdles from 1956-1963. The record remains unbroken at Tennessee Tech. He graduated in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in business and social studies.
At TTU, Henley was secretary and treasurer of the men’s dorms, an ROTC member, and a member of the international relations and Canterbury clubs.
He has officiated for TSSAA since he was a student and was elected to its hall of fame in 2007, after 56 years of service. He also won an outstanding service award from the Manchester Rotary Club in 1978.
After college, Henley founded Henley Propane Gas. He is the co-owner of his son’s business, Henley Mini-Storage.
Henley was director of the Tennessee L.P. Gas Association for two years. He was a member of the Coffee County school board for six years and taught social studies and physical education in Manchester. Henley is the former president of the Coffee County Central High School Alumni Association. He was the vice president of the Old Stone Fort conservation club for 12 years.
In addition, Henley was chairman of the board for the Coffee County Bank and a member of the board of directors of Manchester’s Chamber of Commerce and the Manchester Rotary Club. He served on the Coffee County election commission for many years and was elected Manchester alderman for a two-year term.
Henley has helped to raise money for needy organizations. He was treasurer for 12 years of the sportsman’s club, which raises money for college scholarships and helps needy families. During his time as chairman and chief fundraiser for the Coffee County General Hospital, he led a campaign to establish an intensive care unit.
Henley has coached football, track and basketball at Westwood Junior High School and serves as president of the Coffee County Athletics Foundation.
Henley lives in Manchester with his wife, Vivian. They celebrated 50 years of marriage in December. The couple has five grandchildren.
College of Business
Charlie Hawkins, '53 industrial management
Charlie Hawkins is well known for the eagles he has given to dozens of campus employees. As the College of Business’ outstanding alumni, this year the university will give one back to him: a bronze statue created by manufacturing and industrial engineering students.
Hawkins came to Cookeville from Gallatin to study engineering but switched to the university’s industrial management program, which combined business and engineering. He graduated and had two interviews: one to be a typewriter salesman and the other selling for IBM. The typewriter company wanted to hire Hawkins immediately while, he says, IBM was less excited about him. Hawkins decided IBM must be the better company.
He worked for them for more than 30 years, working his way up from salesman to the personnel director of the national field force.
After retiring from IBM, Hawkins and his late wife, Norma, moved back to Tennessee and he took a job as the vice president of human resources at Providence Insurance. That was 1984, the same year he started collecting eagles.
From his home in Signal Mountain, Hawkins regularly comes to campus to speak with business students and share his experience and wisdom with them. Since he remembers what it was like to be a penniless college student, Hawkins has also built an endowment to help a couple students annually to earn their degree.
Over the years, Hawkins has served on the College of Business Board of Trustees, including several years as its president. He has received the university’s Outstanding Business Leadership Award.
College of Education
Rich Froning, '09 exercise science, physical education and wellness
Rich Froning has been known around the world since 2011 as the “fittest man on Earth.” He is a four-time back-to-back winner of the Reebok CrossFit Games, a worldwide fitness competition open to men and women.
A 2009 graduate of the College of Education’s exercise science, physical education and wellness program, Froning adopted CrossFit training workouts when a faculty member mentioned it during class. After a few months of “dabbling” with the intense workout regimen, he registered for a sectional qualifier and “got hooked.”
Froning worked for a few years as TTU’s assistant strength and conditioning coach, and was on staff when the football team won the 2011 OVC championship. In 2012, he left TTU to pursue his entrepreneurial interests.
He opened CrossFit Mayhem, which hosts weekend seminars for up to 50 participants who come from all over the world. Froning also hosts charity competitions for local organizations and supports other charity events locally and internationally.
Froning has lived in Cookeville since he was four years old; he left it to play baseball for Walters State Community College. After a short time, he resigned his scholarship and returned to Cookeville to work in the TRW Automotive factory and the Cookeville Fire Department while he pursued a degree at Tennessee Tech.
Though he has retired as an individual competitor, Froning says he plans to compete in the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games with a team from his gym. Various opportunities continue to take Froning and his family around the world, but he says they will always come home to Cookeville.
College of Engineering
Lamar Dunn, '64 civil engineering
In nearly 50 years as a civil engineer, Lamar Dunn helped to solve water-related problems across the U.S. and world, rose to professional leadership positions, and built a company.
At TTU, Dunn participated in a mandatory summer surveying course in which the class laid out the proposed campus roads and other infrastructure. It still looks the same as their drawings.
“I enjoyed my time at Cookeville. I always considered that program to be stellar,” he said. “It’s quite humbling to receive this award. When I look around at the students who were there before me and after me, I think ‘Why me?’ I don’t think I measure up.”
After he earned his civil engineering degree in 1964, Dunn worked for the Tennessee Health Department’s Division of Sanitary Engineering and earned his master’s from Vanderbilt. He became the executive vice president of domestic operations for Russell and Axon, an international consulting engineering firm. Despite his job title, Dunn traveled widely and has been to all seven continents.
As a manager and executive, Dunn says he hired about a dozen TTU alumni because they were professionals with strong work ethics.
In 1982, Dunn founded Lamar Dunn & Associates Inc., now known as LDA. Dunn retired in 2013, but works as a consultant for LDA and others.
He has served as the president for the Consulting Engineers of Tennessee and national director representing the state in the American Council of Engineering Companies, where he also served as senior vice president for the executive committee. He is a fellow in the council and holds the designation of executive engineer. He served on the business practices committee for the International Federation of Consulting Engineers. His photo hangs on the distinguished engineers and builders wall at the Engineering Center in Nashville’s Adventure Science Center.
In 2014, he received TTU’s College of Engineering engineer of distinction award. He serves on the civil and environmental engineering department’s advisory board and TTU’s Academy for Renaissance Engineering Board.
College of Interdisciplinary Studies
Craig Watson, '08 interdisciplinary studies
Craig Watson, originally from Smithville, Tennessee, is a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern Mississippi. He holds a master’s degree from the Yale School of Music, where he was a founding member of the Yale trombone quartet and was an active freelance performer in New England.
At TTU, he was a member of the Bryan Symphony Orchestra. He also participated in commercial recordings as a member of the TTU Symphony Band and trombone choir.
Watson is a founding member of Tromboteam!, an award-winning chamber ensemble formed at TTU in 2002. The group has performed and taught master classes across the country.
In 2012, Watson helped launch a commissioning project through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter.com which raised $10,000 and resulted in 10 compositions for the ensemble. The group is preparing them for the ensemble’s grant-funded debut album, “Last Lap,” scheduled for release this year.
Watson studied with Scott Hartman, Susan K. Smith, Joshua Hauser and Ben McIlwain. He participated in master classes with trombonists from the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, New York Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera and Vienna Philharmonic. He was winner of the 2012 William T. Gower and University of Southern Mississippi wind ensemble concerto competitions.
Watson is an adjunct music lecturer at the University of Southern Mississippi and plays bass trombone with the Gulf Coast Symphony. He lives in Murfreesboro with his wife, Abigail, and two dogs, Ima and Maggie.
Whitson-Hester School of Nursing
Anne Floyd Koci, '94 nursing
In more than 40 years as a registered nurse and 37 as a family nurse practitioner, Anne Floyd Koci has devoted herself to helping patients in many ways. In recent years, she has been in higher education, teaching the next generation of nurse practitioners and conducting research to help women who have been victims of physical and sexual abuse.
After working with a patient who had been the victim of childhood sexual abuse, Koci’s life changed from clinical practice to research in an effort to help women with a history of abuse. She developed the Koci Marginality Index to shed light on the impact of marginalization on women’s health. The index has been translated into seven languages.
Koci has written multiple publications and has given many national and international presentations about women’s health. In addition to awards and professional recognitions, Koci is on a research team that has received $2.7 million in research grants to conduct a seven-year study with abused women and their children.
Koci has been educating nurses for more than a decade, first at Emory University, then at the Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing at Georgia State University. She is a professor at the Nelda C. Stark College of Nursing at Texas Woman’s University.
Koci became a registered nurse after studying at Chicago’s Michael Reese Hospital School of Nursing in 1970. She became a family nurse practitioner in 1978 after studying at Indiana University Northwest. She earned her bachelor’s degree from TTU’s Whitson-Hester School of Nursing in 1994. After TTU, she earned her master’s degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and her doctoral degree from Emory University in Atlanta.
Despite all of the traveling and research in her career, for the past four years Koci has returned to TTU for the nursing school’s pinning ceremony, where she presents three faculty awards for excellence in research, teaching and service.
“I’m a firm believer that to have competent nurses, you have to have competent faculty,” she said. “I wanted to recognized the Tennessee Tech nursing faculty because I know they are preparing the nurses for my family in the Upper Cumberland area.”