Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tennessee Tech University

A historical sketch by W. Calvin Dickinson from Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture

In 1915, following an intense lobbying effort on the part of Putnam County's state representatives, the general assembly chartered Tennessee Polytechnic Institute (TPI), located on the grounds of Dixie College in Cookeville. Established in 1909 by the Church of Christ, Dixie College suffered from a lack of financial support and never achieved college status, serving instead as an academy of secondary education.

State Democratic politics made the creation of TPI a political football. The split in the Democratic Party over the question of prohibition had weakened the party and made party leaders anxious to guarantee an election victory. Governor Thomas C. Rye was given assurances that the location of a school in Cookeville would win support for him from Putnam and the surrounding counties, with the possible exception of White County. In another political move, the legislators created a technical school rather than a teachers college in order to still opposition from the three normal schools already in operation. Although high school administrators objected strenuously, TPI's funding came from the high school fund rather than the normal school fund.
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