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Oldham: Oakley Was A Mentor, Friend And Great Supporter Of TTU

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Oldham: Oakley Was A Mentor, Friend And Great Supporter Of TTU

Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham said there is no separation between the university and the life of Millard Oakley.

Oldham said Oakley made it a special purpose of his to make a mark on higher education.

“He strongly believed in the role of education and how it can help improve the lives and the mobility of individuals in the Upper Cumberland,” Oldham said. “He knew Tennessee Tech had a big role to play in that and it played a big role in his life.”

Oldham said you cannot place a quantitative amount on the role Oakley played. He was the biggest single donor in Tennessee Tech history, according to Oldham. His contributions helped build the Millard Oakley S.T.E.M Center as well as a proposed resident’s hall to be named after his wife J.J Oakley.

“Millard believed strongly in giving back to society more than you take out,” Oldham said. “He was a great example of that through out his life. Particularly in these latter years and has made an incredible impression on the Upper Cumberland and left a great legacy.”

The student health center is also named after Oakley’s wife. The college of agriculture and human ecology was also a beneficiary of his support through the gift of the Oakley Family Farm in Livingston. Oldham said in recognition of that, the old south hall was named after the Oakley’s.

Beyond that, Oldham said Oakley was a mentor and friend. Oldham said he will remember Oakley’s thirst for knowledge, his genuine curiosity and an ageless approach to life.

“He was a veracious consumer of information,” Oldham said. “It made him very interesting. It made him very challenging. He’s always asking questions and was on top of any subject you wanted to bring up. That’s probably at least one of the big takeaways I would have from my time with Millard.”

Oldham said he saw Oakley as someone who could potentially live forever. Oldham said despite his age, he always remained energetic and active. Oldham said it was a great loss both personally and to the community when he heard of Oakley’s passing Thursday.

“It is a sad day, but that will quickly give way to wonderful memories and a great legacy that he leaves us all and hopefully great lessons for all of us to learn and try to emulate,” Oldham said.

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