COOKEVILLE – For 35 years Carl Owens has been a dedicated faculty member at Tennessee Tech, helping move the College of Education forward in technology facilities and integration. With a long list of academic accolades, Owens had achieved almost everything he has set out to accomplish at Tech except for one thing — give a commencement address.

On Saturday, Owen’s dream came to fruition as he spoke to more than 1,500 graduates during morning and afternoon commencement ceremonies inside the Hooper Eblen Center.

“My dream was to be asked to deliver a commencement address here before I retired,” said Owens. “I never once hinted to anyone that it was my dream. So, when I got the call I went to my favorite chair in my home and I wept.”

Owens, who manages the college’s million-dollar Jeffers-Davis endowment to support technology for the teacher education program, spoke fondly of his time at Tech. An Apple Distinguished Educator, he traveled around the United States and to several foreign countries speaking on technology in education.

Known for his instructional use of digital content creation, video, music and digital photography, he was the founding director for Tech’s Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence.

“Years from now you will look back on today and you may not remember one word spoken by me or my name,” said Owens. “And long after my time is done on this earth and when the story is told in a future history of Tennessee Tech, know that a brown man came to this institution thinking he would spend a couple of years and move on to something bigger and better. Being here right now is far bigger and far better than anything I could have ever imagined.”

Tech President Phil Oldham presided over both commencement ceremonies as degrees were awarded to 1,509 women and men who came to Tech from 78 counties throughout Tennessee, 35 states, and 35 other countries. Undergraduate degrees represented 41 fields of study while those receiving graduate degrees represented 23 fields of study.

“You’ve shown tenacity and understanding while earning an education that promises to transform your lives,” said Oldham. “You have a degree from a university that was recently named number one among public universities in Tennessee for early career pay. You are set to get a great return on investment.”

The morning ceremony recognized graduates of the colleges of Arts & Sciences, Engineering, and Interdisciplinary Studies, and the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing. The afternoon ceremony included graduates of the colleges of Agriculture & Human Ecology, Business, Education, and Fine Arts.

There were a combined 38 graduates who serve or have served in the United States Armed Forces.

“There’s one thing that gives me more excitement than being able to return to my office on Monday — it is knowing that on Monday you all will be Tech alumni,” said Oldham. “My experience is your experience; thank you for making it awesome.”

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