Stories @ TCAT

NASHVILLE (Nov. 10, 2020) – Military veterans at Tennessee’s community and technical colleges are being honored in Veterans Day activities this week – and one veteran at each college will be awarded the inaugural Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Veterans.

The Tennessee Board of Regents and Chancellor Flora W. Tydings established the new commendation as a system-level award to honor the service, bravery and sacrifices of military veterans in the campus communities. It supplements Veterans Day ceremonies, observances or recognitions that the colleges traditionally conduct.

Recipients of the new Chancellor’s Commendation were nominated by the college presidents and include students, faculty, staff and alumni. One of this first year’s recipients will be honored posthumously – Dr. Charles M. Temple, the late former president of State Technical Institute at Memphis, a predecessor of Southwest Tennessee Community College. The posthumous commendation will be presented to his surviving spouse, Dr. Patra Temple.

As part of their Veterans Day observances, the college presidents will present recipients of the commendation a special Challenge Coin on behalf of the chancellor.  Challenge coins are a rich tradition in all branches of the military and signify special achievement, excellence, hard work, unit pride, respect and esprit de corps.

“Our college communities are strengthened by the presence, the experience and the perspective of veterans and active duty military personnel – as students and faculty and staff,” said Dr. Tydings. “They – and the many different skills and leadership abilities they acquired during their service – are an important part of the great diversity of people and backgrounds on our campuses, which are all the richer as a result of their presence.

“We are glad they’re here, and we’re privileged to honor their service – not only on Veterans Day but all year long,” the chancellor, the daughter of a career military officer, said.

TCAT Dickson's recipient of the Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Service is Robert Fox, a veteran of the United States Army. Robert is a student in the Computer Information Technology program and serves as the Student Government Association president. He is the TCAT liaison to the statewide Student Government Association Presidents' Council Executive Board. Dr. Arrita Summers had the honor of presenting the Chancellor's Challenge Coin to Mr. Fox during a special Veterans Day ceremony.  Dr. Summers stated, "Robert Fox has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills and academic achievement. We thank him, and all of our veteran students and employees, for their service."

During the 2019-2020 academic year, 3,436 students in the College System of Tennessee self-reported as veterans and active duty military personnel on their admission materials. Since such reporting is not required, there are likely more student veterans – and they are in addition to the many veterans in the faculty, staff and alumni ranks.

Nine of the 13 Tennessee community colleges have earned the VETS Campus Designation, as established in 2014 by the Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act. To earn VETS Campus certification, an institution must prioritize outreach to veterans and successfully deliver services necessary to create a supportive environment where student veterans can prosper while pursuing their education. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has currently certified 24 public and private colleges and universities as VETS Campuses. Certification is reviewed annually.

Tydings asked the college presidents to submit ideas for a system-level Veterans Day recognition. The presidents then voted on the ideas submitted, one of which was a Chancellor’s Commendation, represented by a special challenge coin. With the concept in place, the chancellor asked the presidents to nominate a veteran in their campus communities for the commendation. She approved each of the nominees.

“These 34 men and women represent the spirit and values of our colleges, their communities – and the highest ideals of military service,” Tydings said.

Recipients of the first Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Service, their college, association with the college, and military branch are:


Chattanooga State: Jack Chislett, Student, U.S. Coast Guard
Cleveland State: Katina Green, Alumna, U.S. Army
Columbia State: Bob Toothaker, Staff, U.S. Army
Dyersburg State: James Beel, Staff, U.S. Navy
Jackson State: Billy Wesson, Faculty, U.S. Army
Motlow State: Zachary Dwyer, Student, U.S. Navy
Nashville State: Fred Frazier, Staff, U.S. Navy
Northeast State: Fred Lewis, Staff (retired), U.S. Air Force & U.S. Navy
Pellissippi State: Randy Martinez, Alumnus, U.S. Army
Roane State: Dean Cantrell, Faculty, U.S. Navy & U.S. Army
Southwest Tennessee: Charles Temple (posthumously), Former President, U.S. Marines
Volunteer State: LaDarius Roberts, Student, U.S. Army
Walters State: Savang Moua, Student, U.S. Navy


TCAT Covington: Doyle Hamilton, Faculty, U.S. Army
TCAT Dickson: Robert Fox, Student, U.S. Army
TCAT Elizabethton: Myles H. Cook, Faculty, U.S. Marines
TCAT Hartsville: Daniel Allen, Student, U.S. Air Force
TCAT Hohenwald: Randy Duncan, Student, U.S. Army
TCAT Jacksboro: Anthony Hamblin, Faculty, U.S. Army
TCAT Jackson: Robert Pepper, Faculty, U.S. Army
TCAT Knoxville: Jerin Kaldenberg, Student, U.S. Army
TCAT McKenzie: Joshua McCutcheon, Student, U.S. Army
TCAT McMinnville: Kevin Honaker, Student, U.S. Marines
TCAT Memphis: Ernestine Peete, Faculty, U.S. Air Force
TCAT Morristown: Matthew Skirvin, Student, U.S. Army
TCAT Murfreesboro: Steve Purcell, Faculty, U.S. Navy
TCAT Nashville: Gregory Whitehead, Faculty, U.S. Navy
TCAT Newbern: Barry Tompkins, Faculty (retired), U.S. Navy
TCAT Oneida/Huntsville: Brian T. Shanley, Student, U.S. Navy
TCAT Paris: Teresa Townley, Faculty (retired) & Alumna, U.S. Army
TCAT Pulaski: Mike Manning, Student, U.S. Army
TCAT Ripley: David Stewart, Student, U.S. Army
TCAT Shelbyville: James Potts, Staff, U.S. Army
TCAT Whiteville: Jon Walls, Faculty, U.S. Army