Hundreds of students, faculty, and staff turned out Thursday afternoon at the plaza between Perkins and Ferris Halls to honor John D. Tickle and thank him for a legacy of support that includes the recent naming of the Tickle College of Engineering.
Excitement for the event was evident, with people lining up a full hour before the program began to get a free T-shirt with the college’s new name and logo, all of which were quickly distributed.
“The Tickles’ support will have an impact on our students, faculty, staff, and the engineering profession for many years to come,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “Momentum gained by this naming will help us continue to make great strides in our journey to become a top-ranked public research institution.
“It shows that we have the will and the resources to prepare our graduates to compete in an ever-changing global workforce.”
As part of Thursday’s ceremony, Tickle was presented with thank-you notes from many of the college’s four thousand students along with a model of the Camaro used as UT’s current EcoCAR—complete with his name over the door.
Tickle began giving back to his alma mater almost immediately after his 1965 graduation with a degree in industrial engineering.
The naming of the college, which was approved at the fall UT Board of Trustees meeting in honor of Tickle’s most recent transformative gift, continues that legacy.
Other signs of his commitment include the John D. Tickle Engineering Building, the John and Ann Tickle Small Animal Hospital, and the John and Ann Tickle Athletic Development Suite in the Brenda Lawson Athletic Center.
“This is hopefully a catalyst for the college,” said Tickle, chairman of Bristol-based Strongwell Corporation. “It’s all about you—the faculty, students, and staff—and my trust in you. Keep taking the school forward.”
Tickle’s most recent gift will help the college create a graduate fellowship for doctoral students; establish professorships to recognize, recruit, and retain key faculty; and add professional advisors to help students develop and reach their academic goals. All of those programs will bear his name.
For Wayne Davis, the college’s dean, the celebration and gifts were merely tokens of appreciation for the positive changes and growth Tickle has helped fuel.
“John’s support and partnership have been vital in our recent growth and in laying the foundation for us to be a successful college for years to come,” said Davis. “As a dean, it’s been fantastic to see those developments, but as an alumnus it means a lot to me personally, as well.
“This is the best time ever to be an engineer at or from the University of Tennessee.”
Some of the more visible signs of that growth include a 60 percent climb in enrollment, doubled research funding, and the addition of 30 world-renowned faculty, all in just the past decade.
The college has also risen more than 10 spots among public institutions in U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings to become the country’s 32nd- and 36th-ranked undergraduate and graduate engineering schools, respectively. At the same time, the quality of students has increased: this year’s freshmen have an average GPA of 4.0 and math ACT score above 30.
For information on Tickle and the college that bears his name, click here
David Goddard (865-974-0683, firstname.lastname@example.org)