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2017 Alumni Award Recipients

Melinda Stone Keifer Calvin & Nelia Kimbrough Randy G. Darcy Paul Korth Jim & Barbara Greeson Lynne E. Parker Tammy Hatfield Boles Abbye Solis
Calvin & Nelia
Randy G.
Jim &
Lynne E.

Eight recognized at 2017 Outstanding Alumni Awards

Having made an impact in their local communities and around the world, eight Tennessee Tech alumni were recognized with the university’s outstanding alumni awards.

Every year, outstanding alumni are selected from each of Tech’s six colleges, the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing and the athletics program. This year, 10 individuals were honored at a ceremony on Feb. 3, 2017, at the Leslie Town Centre.

View a video of the awards ceremony.

College of Agriculture and Human Ecology

Melinda Stone Keifer

Melinda Keifer has a true heart for her community.

Keifer is currently the Coordinator of Economic and Community Development for the City of Cookeville. She is responsible for developing procedures related to growth management and economic development and grant procurement functions for the City. She assists department directors in all division of the municipality in grant processes, from application to the financial management of awarded grants. She shares her vision for a growing and thriving Upper Cumberland as she consults and advises City staff in matters of strategic visioning to ensure the long term economic sustainability of the community.

Prior to her current position, she was the Director of Community Development for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development where she was responsible for the implementation of the Governor’s Three Star program, a community development program to assist and prepare communities for economic growth.

Keifer served as the Executive Director of CityScape, Cookeville’s Main Street program, from 1993 to 2003. As director, Melinda and her Board of Directors were able to facilitate more than $9 million in public/private investment in downtown Cookeville, culminating with the completion of the $1.2 million Leslie Town Centre which is now home to the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce and a convening facility where we are enjoying tonight’s banquet and the opening of the Cookeville Community Farmers Market.

She and her husband Randy have two daughters: Amanda age 27 and Emily and 23. Randy is the owner/operator of Stone Steel, Inc. Melinda is a 1983 clothing and design graduate from Tech. Randy is a TTU alumnus as well.

College of Arts and Sciences

Calvin and Nelia Kimbrough

Calvin and Nelia Kimbrough spent more than four decades working in appointed ministry with the Methodist Church and providing leadership for causes they are passionate about.

The Kimbroughs each have both a bachelor’s degree in history completed in 1969 and a master’s degree completed in 1971 from Tennessee Tech. She completed her Master of Divinity degree at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in 1974, and he completed his Master of Divinity degree at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in 1975.

Nelia then served as Assistant Dean at Candler until 1977. From 1972 until 1977 Calvin developed and served as Director of the Media Center at Candler. In 1977 the couple helped found the Patchwork Central Community in Evansville, Indiana, living and working there for 27 years. From 2004 until 2016 the Kimbroughs lived and worked at the Open Door Community, a residential community in the Catholic Worker tradition.

Both Calvin and Nelia have been honored among the 175 Makers of History at Emory University and as Distinguished Alumni of Candler School of Theology. Both recently retired after serving 43 years each as ordained elders in the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Department of Athletics

Randy G. Darcy

Randy G. Darcy’s leadership skills have been recognized by some of the biggest names in business strategy and success.

Darcy joined General Mills, Inc. in September 1987 as Director of Cereal Manufacturing and progress steadily with expanded responsibilities throughout the entire technical community. In May, 2005, he was promoted to Executive Vice President, Worldwide Operations and Technology.

He is credited with developing over 1 billion dollars in improved gross margins through his ability to find and implement innovative ideas across all aspects of General Mills. Darcy led the development and implementation of the company-wide “Holistic Margin Management Process” that has more than doubled the company’s cost management effectiveness. This work was the subject of a recent Harvard Business School Case Study. His best practice exercises with NASA, Sky Surfers, NASCAR, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Air Force has been celebrated in many business and popular publications.

Darcy graduated with honors from Tennessee Tech in 1973 earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Darcy retired in August 2008 to pursue his passion for flying, and competitive golf. He and his wife Cathy fly more than 300 hours per year often volunteering their services to those in need through Angel Flights Central.

College of Business

Paul Korth

Paul Korth has taken the accounting degree he earned from Tennessee Tech in 1986 and continued on to a career that now allows him to use his skills to provide exceptional healthcare for the people of Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland.

With almost thirty years’ experience in healthcare, Korth became the Chief Executive Officer at Cookeville Regional Medical Center in February of 2013. He previously served as the Chief Financial Officer for 13 years. Prior to joining the staff at Cookeville Regional in May 1999, he was a staff accountant for Douglas Standifer, CPA for two years, at Clay County Hospital as the CFO for four years and then CFO for Livingston Regional Hospital for eight years.

At Cookeville Regional Korth has achieved many significant milestones in his career including a key role in establishing and maintaining the recent affiliation agreement with Vanderbilt Medical Center. He is responsible for managing all aspects of the 247-bed regional referral facility as well as the Cookeville Regional Health System that includes not only Cookeville Regional Medical Center but also Cookeville Regional Medical Group, the CRMC Foundation and Cumberland River Hospital.

Korth serves on the Cookeville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors as the Secretary/Treasurer. He also serves on the Tennessee Hospital Association Board of Directors.

Korth was recently appointed by Governor Bill Haslam to serve a three year term on the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency Board of Directors.

He resides in Cookeville with his wife Janice, son Wes and daughter-in-law Katie, daughter Macey and grandson Cameron.

College of Education

Jim and Barbara Greeson

With a combined 84 years (and counting) experience in their careers as educators, Jim and Barbara Greeson have positively impacted a countless number of students.

Barbara, a Cookeville native, and Jim, a Chattanooga native, each earned three degrees through the College of Education at Tennessee Tech: Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education; a master’s in reading; and an Education Specialist degree in Administration and Supervision. He has 45 years of experience in the education profession and she has 39.

Jim is a U.S. Army veteran who worked as a teacher and basketball coach at Cookeville Junior High School and was also principal at Capshaw Elementary School. He has served school systems across the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee as a consultant with the Tennessee Department of Education, facilitated school board retreats on developing comprehensive strategic plans for the Tennessee School Boards Association and he currently works with the Office of Teacher Education at Tech supervising student teachers.

Jim has served as a member of the professional education organization Phi Delta Kappa, on the board of directors for the United Way and on the Upper Cumberland Public Television Board of Directors. He produced and hosted a weekly public television program called “Education in the Upper Cumberland,” he is a senior adult Sunday school leader in his church, is a Putnam County Heart of the Cumberland group leader and is a docent at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.

Jim has been recognized with the Phi Delta Kappa International Service Key Award, as an honorary Tennessee School Board Member adopted by the Board of Directors of the Tennessee School Boards Association and the Flavious Smith Distinguished Alumnus Award from Tennessee Tech.

For 18 years, Barbara was a classroom teacher at Capshaw Elementary School here in Putnam County. She also spent a year as school librarian at Cane Creek Elementary School. She is a Sunday school teacher, has served as a board member for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and is a member of Phi Delta Kappa.

Barbara has been recognized as a Putnam County School System Teacher of the Year, Middle Tennessee Region Teacher of the Year and Phi Delta Kappa Teacher of the Year.

Currently, she works in the Putnam County School district and in the community on the Birth-to-Five early childhood education initiative.

Both have worked as adjunct professors at Tech.

Jim and Barbara support Tennessee Tech as members of the President’s Club, providing the Jim and Barbara Greeson Education Scholarship.

College of Engineering

Lynne E. Parker

Lynne E. Parker currently serves as associate dean for faculty affairs and engagement in the Tickle College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee Knoxville and is a professor in the department of electrical engineering and computer science there.

Parker recently completed two years of service in the federal government at the National Science Foundation (NSF), serving as Division Director of Information and Intelligent Systems. She also previously spent several years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a Distinguished Research and Development Staff Member. She received her PhD in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994, her M.S. in Computer Science from UT-Knoxville in 1988, and her B.S. in Computer Science from Tennessee Tech in 1983.

In her recent service at NSF, Lynne oversaw $200M of research and development investments in the areas of artificial intelligence, cyber-human systems, computational neuroscience, robotics and autonomous systems, smart and connected health, big data, and cyberlearning.

She co-chaired a White House-commissioned task force that created the National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan, which was released by the White House in October 2016.

Parker has been on the University of Tennessee faculty since 2002. She is the founder of the Distributed Intelligence Laboratory at UT, which conducts research in multi-robot systems, sensor networks, machine learning, and human-robot interaction. She has made significant research contributions in these areas and publishes extensively, with over 150 peer-reviewed articles.

Parker has received numerous awards for her research, teaching and service, including the U.S. Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers Award, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers RAS Distinguished Service Award, and many UT Chancellors, College, and Departmental awards. She is a Fellow of IEEE.

Parker has been active in professional service for many years, having served as the General Chair for the 2015 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, and as Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics journal. She serves on several Federal government advisory review panels, such as a National Research Council panel that oversees research at the Army Research Laboratory. She has also provided technical expertise for many years to the European Research Council’s programs in robotics and cognition.

Lynne and her husband, Bob, have been married for 33 years. Bob is also a Tennessee Tech alumnus, with two Tech degrees.

College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Tammy Hatfield Boles

As a first generation college graduate, Tennessee Tech is all about family for Tammy Boles. Her husband of 29 years, Jeff Boles, is a Tech grad. As a matter of fact Jeff is the chairman of the Chemistry Department.

Tammy and Jeff have two children, Katy, 25, and Jarrod, 23. Katy graduated from Tech with an accounting degree and a masters in business administration while Jarrod recently earned a degree in Fisheries Science from Tech.

The matriarch of the Boles family is an environmental chemistry and environmental studies professor who has taught at Tech for just over three years. She earned both her undergraduate and master’s degrees in chemistry from the University of South Carolina.

In 2009, Tammy earned her doctorate degree in environmental science with a concentration in chemistry from Tennessee Tech.

After working at Tech since 1994, first as a metals chemist at the Water Center and then as an advisor for interdisciplinary studies, she jumped at the chance to become an assistant professor once the School of Environmental Studies was established.

Boles says that interacting with her students is one of her favorite parts of her profession. She enjoys helping students see value in a branch of academics that they might not understand at first.

In addition to teaching environmental chemistry and environmental studies courses, Boles oversees the environmental studies internship program and teaches special topics courses for undergraduate and graduate students. Her research involves the detection and analysis of drugs in the environment.

In addition to her teaching and research duties, Tammy also has the opportunity to speak at the American Chemical Society meetings while serving on the military affairs committee and the faculty senate.

Whitson-Hester School of Nursing

Abbye Solis

Although, Abbye Solis currently lives in Baltimore, her Tennessee roots run deep.

Growing up in Jackson, Tennessee, Tennessee Tech was one of the only colleges Abbye considered attending because of the community her sister, Alison, had found in both fellow students and professors at Tech--and this was exactly what Abbye treasured during her years at TTU.

Solis was involved in several campus organizations while at Tech such as Phi Mu sorority, Chess Club, Student Government Association, Student Admissions Representative, and Omicron Delta Kappa student leadership organization. She was also a freshman representative within the university's presidential search committee in 1999.

Solis was heavily involved within the School of Nursing before graduating in 2003, being a founding member of the School of Nursing's Student Admissions Representatives, a leader within the Student Nurses Association, and a student representative within the planning committee when designing the current Robert and Gloria Bell Hall nursing building. At graduation, she received the Outstanding Student Nursing Award.

Solis started her nursing career at Cookeville Regional Medical Center in cardiac surgery, this experience developed a medical foundation which she still appreciates today. After moving to Washington, D.C., Solis worked in cardiac surgery and was named "One of the Top 100 Nurses in D.C." in 2007. She earned a master’s in nursing with a concentration as an acute care nurse practitioner and post-master's certificate in nursing education in 2008 from Georgetown University. Since 2008, she has been working as an acute care nurse practitioner in a surgical intensive care unit at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. She recently graduated from The University of Virginia with her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

While at Tech, Solis was greatly influenced by her nursing professors, establishing a desire to educate future nurses and nurse practitioners. Because of this influence, she has taught at Georgetown University as an adjunct professor since 2009 in both undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. International medicine and nursing education have been an interest of her’s, leading student nursing immersion trips in South Africa and Haiti from 2010-2014. She has also been a contributing writer to the World Bank, focusing on women's health in Arab Egypt. She will be traveling to Hong Kong this spring to lead an education and mentorship program for ICU nurses.

Solis is a contributing writer for the upcoming publication of the book "Simulation Cases for Advanced Practice Nurse Educators," expected to be released later this year.

Solis continues to be active with Volunteer Girls State, a yearly leadership program for Tennessee high school girls. This year will be her 19th year involved with the program.

Abbye lives in Baltimore with her husband, John Solis, also a TTU alumnus, and beloved border collie, Sawyer.