Charlene Groce Mullins Dr. Phillip Bertram Bonnie McIntyre Carolyn Livingston Clayton Clem Pepper Owens

Charlene Groce

Dr. Phillip






Six honored as 2012 Outstanding Alumni

Six Tennessee Tech University alumni were recognized for their significant impact on their career fields and their personal accomplishments at a reception, dinner and ceremony at the Leslie Town Centre on Friday, Feb. 10. The ceremony was streamed live for those who could not attend. View a slideshow of the event.

College of Agricultural and Human Sciences

Charlene Groce Mullins
B.S. Home Economics, 1950

Charlene Groce Mullins has dedicated her life to children and families, first of all preserving an agricultural heritage for her children, Ralph and Deborah, and as a TTU faculty member, advocating excellent care for expectant mothers and promoting high education standards for preschoolers.

One of the longest-serving TTU faculty members, Mullins received her bachelor’s degree in home economics in 1950 at TTU and went on to complete a master’s degree in home economics in 1953 at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

In 1953 she joined the TTU faculty in the department of home economics to expand offerings in human development and relationships.

Her life’s work has focused on early childhood development. She established the Tech Nursery School, now the Child Development Lab. Mullins showed nursing, education and home economics majors how to conduct preschool in an orderly fashion at a time when there were no state standards for daycares or preschools in Tennessee.

To create those standards, she chaired the governor’s Committee on Day Care Standards and served on the task force to organize Head Start centers throughout the Upper Cumberland. She also spearheaded the movement to establish kindergartens in Tennessee.

In the early 1960s, TTU President Everett Derryberry tapped Mullins to chair a curricula sub-committee on educational programs. It was TTU’s first self-study in preparation for accreditation.

Her extensive career prompted the School of Human Ecology to name her 2008’s Outstanding Alumna.

Mullins has been recognized nationally for her agricultural heritage work. Her genealogical research of Upper Cumberland pioneers is in the national archives of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington, D.C. The Putnam County Farm Bureau named the Mullins family a Farm Family of the Year in 1986 and again in 2007, and she has served on its board of directors for a decade.

Mullins helped honor the history of her husband Harlan’s family, which began farming in Putnam County in 1943, by overseeing the relocation and log-by-log reconstruction of the 25,000-square-foot Mullbro Heritage House. The house was moved from its original location near Dale Hollow Dam in Clay County to Cookeville in 1980. The house’s first of five rooms was built between 1835 and 1845. More than 25,000 visitors have toured the house, including many TTU students and faculty.

She was one of the first to recognize the need for a crisis pregnancy center in the Upper Cumberland. She worked diligently to establish the Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic, where nearly 22,000 women have received counseling since the mid ‘80s. Since the early ‘60s, Mullins’ research and instruction has advocated the importance of good prenatal care, citing the dangers of drug use, prolonged emotional stress, poor maternal diet and diseases such as diabetes and influenza as having detrimental affects on infant development.

A Pickett County native, Charlene Mullins was valedictorian of the county’s high school in 1943. Her parents were Herbert Turney Groce and Nina Belle Rich Groce.

When Mullins retired in 2007, Dr. Bell presented her a certificate of appreciation for 54 years of service. She had served with five TTU presidents.

College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Phillip Bertram
B.S. Pre-med, 1966

Dr. Phillip Bertram is a Cookeville gastroenterologist who readily admits he would not be the person he is today if not for Tennessee Tech University.

Bertram received his bachelor’s degree from TTU in 1966 and completed his medical degree at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center in 1968. He completed his internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship at City of Memphis Hospital. He became board certified in internal medicine in 1973 and in gastroenterology in 1976, and his latest recertification in gastroenterology came in 2011.

Bertram credits TTU as the foundation of his career. TTU gave him a well-rounded education for what was certainly a good value at that time, and his TTU degree and faculty recommendation helped to ensure his admission to medical school.

Bertram was among five TTU classmates to finish medical school together. He has endowed a scholarship to honor one of those classmates, Dr. Stanley Erwin. He also has endowed a scholarship named for his parents, Marshall and Thelma G. Bertram. The scholarships are for students majoring in mathematics and the liberal arts — favorite subjects of Erwin and the Bertrams.

Bertram also married a TTU alumna. His wife, Jennifer Jones Bertram, completed her bachelor’s degree in biology at TTU in 1982.

TTU professors who influenced Bertram were Howard Ashburn, chemistry, Clement Eyler, English, and Nolan Fowler, history. Bertram said, “They enjoyed seeing people learn. They broadened my horizons and opened my eyes to the world.”

Bertram serves on the Board of Visitors for the TTU College of Arts and Sciences. He said he champions the university as an excellent choice for pre-professional majors because its professors have a personal interest in student success, and the rigors of the TTU chemistry and biology courses are excellent preparation for medical school.

Bertram is an adjunct TTU faculty member. For five years, he has taught the Humanism in Medicine course. He is also an associate clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University. Bertram has served as governor of the Tennessee chapter of the American College of Physicians and has a mastership with the American College of Physicians.

For Bertram, the outstanding TTU alumni award is as important as any he has ever received, and he said he is humbled and honored by the recognition.

College of Business

Bonnie McIntyre
M.B.A., 1980

Bonnie McIntyre was among the first 50 graduates of Tennessee Tech University’s MBA program, and the seventh woman to complete the rigorous program. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and accompanied her husband, William Noonan, to Cookeville who took a position at Fleetguard. She agreed to come only after hearing about the strength of the MBA program at the TTU College of Business.

After graduating from TTU, she joined Fleetguard/Cummins as well and stayed with them for nearly two decades, moving to Belgium and Mexico City as part of their corporate team.

She then went to Grainger, an international corporation that works to provide businesses around the globe with the supplies they need to thrive. At Grainger, she was responsible for leading 200 people in the international development division. She was also responsible for opening the company’s China division. McIntyre retired in 2010 as the vice president of international marketing development.

Being one of the first women to complete a master’s degree in business administration, she believes it is important for women to have high aspirations. In her retirement, she said she hopes to find time to mentor young, professional women and to volunteer internationally to help people, men and women, start their own businesses.

McIntyre credits Tennessee Tech for teaching her to write well and to make sure her work was correct before she sent it to another person. Her desire to mentor and help aspiring women motivates her to maintain her connections with her alma mater, despite her busy career and global travel schedule.

McIntyre will be the first speaker in the College of Business’ inaugural Women in Business series at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 10, in the Heidtke Training Room in Johnson Hall. She will return to campus in the fall to join other prominent College of Business alumnae, including Ann Massey, the College of Business’ Outstanding Alumna in 2011. The series will give prominent TTU business alumnae like McIntyre a chance to connect with and mentor current women business students.

College of Education

Carolyn Livingston
B.A. Music Education, English, 1959

As a young child, Carolyn Livingston knew she wanted to study at Tennessee Tech. She never expected to find her life’s work there.

An Algood native, Livingston got her bachelor’s degree in the late 1950s from TTU and went on to get her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Florida. On the lookout for a topic for her dissertation, she stumbled across an article in The Tennessean about Charles Faulkner Bryan, the composer responsible for getting TTU’s music program on its feet.

That article sparked a lifelong interest in Bryan and music education that continues to this day. Throughout her career, which included teaching in Maryland, Tennessee and Florida, Livingston wrote two books and a large number of articles about Charles Faulkner Bryan. She has given presentations at state, regional, national and international conferences.

Livingston, who is married to Burton Zitkin, worked in the University of Rhode Island’s music department from 1987 until she retired to become an emeritus faculty member in 2008. There, she taught 24 different undergraduate and graduate courses, including a women and music course that she designed. She was founder and director of the university’s Children’s Chorus, coordinator of music education and director of music graduate studies.

She has served on the editorial committee of the Journal of Research in Music Education, and she still serves on the committee of the Journal of Historical Research in Music Education.

A premier musical historian, she was one of four researchers invited to present a commemorative centennial special session at the National Association for Music Education’s conference in 2006. That year, she received the organization’s History Special Research Interest Group’s Biennial Award for outstanding service and research.

Throughout her career, Livingston has been instrumental in raising the reputation of Charles Faulkner Bryan and in raising awareness of Tennessee Tech University’s music program nationally and internationally.

College of Engineering

Clayton Clem
B.S. Civil Engineering, 1979

Clayton L. Clem grew up in Athens, Ala., and Hixson, Tenn., and graduated from Hixson High School in 1975. He is married to Quebec native and family physician Diane Fortier, and they live in Ooltewah, Tenn.

Clem graduated summa cum laude from Tennessee Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1979 and went on to receive a master’s degree in engineering with a concentration in applied mechanics from The University of Tennessee Chattanooga in 1985.

A registered engineer in the state, Clem has held various positions in the Tennessee Valley Authority since 1979, with responsibilities including design and construction of telecommunications, transmission line and substation facilities. He oversees the electric system project, which engineers and constructs power system facilities across the seven states and 80,000 square miles that belong to the TVA.

Clem has helped develop several industry guidelines and standards over his career, including the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, Guidelines for Electrical Transmission Line Structural Loading and the National Electrical Safety Code.

He has been named TVA’s Engineer of the Year and has been recognized as one of the Top 10 Federal Engineers by the National Society of Professional Engineers. In the late 1990s, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave him the Innovations in Transmission Line Engineering award. Last year, TTU recognized him as the university’s Engineer of Distinction.

When he is not involved with the power business, Clem serves on the advisory board of TTU’s electrical engineering department and is a member of the President’s Club Eagle Society. He has served as the president of the Chattanooga chapter of the TTU alumni association and is a past member of the university alumni board.

Despite a busy and demanding career, the strong relationships he formed on campus have inspired him to stay involved with his alma mater. Memories of the campus community’s dedication to him prompted Clem to make a similar investment in today’s students.

School of Interdisciplinary Studies

Pepper Owens
B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies, 2007
Master's Mental Health Counseling, 2011

Pepper Owens could tell you a thing or two about work-life balance.

For years, she worked full time and took college courses during her lunch break, all while raising nine children. She ran out of courses before she accumulated enough credits for a bachelor’s degree. She had about 80 hours of credit, across a variety of disciplines. No one discipline had enough hours for a degree. She gave up.

In 2004, TTU’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies reached out to her. Owens enrolled in interdisciplinary studies through the Regents Online Degree Program and finished her degree in the fall of 2007. Then she lost her job just as the economy was starting to turn sour.

In 2008, she went on to start a master’s degree in mental health counseling. She got her second degree from Tennessee Tech in May 2011.

Finishing her degrees was a step-by-step process. She said she was never sure whether she would be able to finish the work required each semester, let alone the next one or the one after that.

But her persistence paid off and enabled her to begin a career as a therapist for foster children with Camelot Care Centers.

Before she lost her job and discovered her new career, Owens held a variety of jobs in the Cookeville area in advertising, marketing and graphic design.

Owens has an appreciation for her earlier work but a passion for her counseling career. Working with foster children who are having trouble resonates with Owens. There was a time in her life when she needed extra help with life’s problems herself. She was the recipient of Putnam County Habitat for Humanity’s first home, and even after raising nine children, she still questions the best ways to handle difficult situations, especially those that arise as a result of mental illnesses.

Owens has overcome adversity and worked against the odds to achieve personal, professional and educational success. Completing her degrees at TTU means more to Owens than finding a rewarding career she loves. Her academic achievements have made her an exemplary role model to encourage her children and her foster children to finish college as well.