Millard Oakley and his wife, J.J., have been active and enthusiastic supporters of education and other efforts to improve life in the Upper Cumberland for decades.
It’s no surprise then that this fall, a ceremony and re-opening was held outside the newly christened Oakley Hall. Extensive renovations had shuttered the building, previously known as South Hall. It was built in 1954 to house the university’s library annex and student center, and was the original location of the home economics department in 1915.
It is now home to the College of Agriculture and Human Ecology and the Department of Foreign Languages.
Millard Oakley attended Tech in 1947 and earned his bachelor’s degree from Cumberland University School of Law. He served in the Tennessee General Assembly, on the Tennessee Board of Regents and is a member of TTU’s Foundation.
Since 2009, TTU has leased Oakley’s farm in Livingston for $10 a year. At more than 1,400 acres and with several hundred head of brood cows, the lease has quadrupled the available land for agriculture students and faculty to use as a living classroom.
When many agriculture programs in the country rely on textbooks and computer simulations to teach, the generous lease of the farm has allowed TTU students to gain hands-on knowledge and skills, which helps them to launch their careers upon graduation.
A new pavilion at Shipley farm was also named for the late Brenda Waters, in honor of her and her husband Gary’s lasting commitment to support agricultural education at Tech. The pavilion is across the street from Hyder-Burks Agricultural Pavilion. It will be used for workshops, seminars, picnics, events and potentially a farmers market.