Tennessee Tech University’s “Rural Reimagined Grand Challenge” was named a Category Leader in the national “Awards of Excellence” for 2021 from the University Economic Development Association. The institution was the only Tennessee finalist in any of the competition’s six categories.
“Rural Reimagined” began in 2019, growing out of the university’s Tech Tomorrow strategic plan that called for the university to embark on a grand challenge that would integrate experiential learning opportunities to address a significant problem and contribute to impactful interdisciplinary solutions.
Not quite three years later, the program has impacted 44 Tennessee counties; interacted with over 3,000 community members, faculty, staff and students; created more than 100 community partnerships; accumulated 50,000 student service-learning/volunteer hours; and activated more than $4.2 million in rural-related grant funds.
“When we first announced ‘Rural Reimagined,’ I was energized by the thought of what we could do working together as a university to partner with rural communities to address the complex challenges they face,” said Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham. “To see what the entire Tech community – students, faculty and staff – have done in such a short time with distressed and at-risk communities is inspiring, and to receive this national recognition is encouraging as we continue this important initiative.”