COOKEVILLE – “I think I would like to do that one day,” were the words that prompted Ruth Grissom and her three daughters to fund the Phillip D. Grissom Memorial Scholarship Endowment.
It was while Phil and Ruth watched daughter Macy give a speech at a College of Engineering scholarship banquet at Tech in 2018 that Phillip mentioned this was something he would like to do one day. Macy was speaking at the banquet on how receiving a scholarship from another alumnus had impacted her education. Sadly, Phil died less than a year after the banquet, and Ruth and her daughters decided to honor his wishes in support of other students.
“Scholarships are so transformational to our students,” said Joseph C. Slater, Dean of the College of Engineering. “Without them, it would be more difficult for students, even with exceptional talent, to attend Tech. Almost 50% of our graduates enter the workforce debt-free. This is due, in part, to the many financially enabling scholarships that are available through the generous support of families like the Grissoms.”
“Phil rarely said anything he wanted,” said Ruth. “Our family benefitted from scholarships received by all three of our children. Macy and Lindsey were able to afford the out-of-state tuition they needed to attend Tech because of scholarships they received from others.”
Because of Phil’s support of women in all professions and majors, the family has asked that the $25,000 Grissom scholarship give preference to female students majoring in Mechanical Engineering.
Phil and Ruth Grissom met on the steps of Murphy Hall at Tennessee Tech during her first semester, and they married on graduation day four years later. Phil received a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Ruth a bachelor’s in Home Economics specializing in Interior Design. Phil began his career at Southern Company Services (later, Southern Nuclear Company) in 1982 in Birmingham, Ala. He continued his education, earning a master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1986, with assistance from SNC’s educational program for employees. He worked at SNC until his retirement in 2019.
Daughters Lindsey (’17) and Macy (’20) are also Mechanical Engineering majors from Tech. Lindsey also majored in English and French (’08). Phil and Ruth’s eldest daughter, Kelsey, attended Birmingham-Southern College and majored in Religion and Music. She is now a Methodist minister, like her mother. The Grissoms’ proud Tech heritage began with their grandparents, who are also Tech alumni, as well as an aunt, an uncle, and a cousin. Lindsey works for SNC in Birmingham, as her father did. Upon graduation in May 2020, Macy is considering a job offer from a design firm in Nashville.
Ruth commented that Mahan Rao, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Tech, gave a perfect welcome as she and Phil attended “Parents’ Weekend.”“The personal attention he gave to us was awesome,” said Ruth.
“We are so grateful to Mrs. Grissom and her daughters for the generous gift they have given to support Mechanical Engineering students,” said Rao. “Macy and Lindsey were both very active in student organizations as they attended Tech. They were both very hard working and bright students.”