"Mr. Tennessee Tech" or "The Face of the Place" are often the responses you get when someone mentions Tennessee Tech University's Jim Gray. Gray's 27 years of student recruiting and building relationships has earned him this year's Outstanding Professional Award presented by the university. As associate director of Admissions, he has represented Tennessee Tech to students in every county in the state and is known by most counselors, principals and teachers across the state as the primary contact for information about the university.
As the lead representative of TTU's Admissions Office, he is called upon to recruit high profile students and to handle special projects. But he exhibits an unwavering commitment to speak to all high school students about the advantages of higher education in general.
"Jim has become somewhat of a legend across the TTU campus for the way he helps prospective students and their parents by imparting his uncanny knowledge of university facts and figures," said Robert L. Hodum, TTU's executive director of enrollment management. "I can't tell you how many people have indicated that they chose TTU because of their interactions with Jim Gray."
Hodum says Gray pioneered the campus visit program and the telecounseling program. His duties include traveling the state and putting in many weekends of effort. He has been an integral part of the enrollment management team that set almost a decade of consecutive years of record undergraduate growth. He was instrumental in having the university designated as a National Merit Scholarship sponsoring institution.
Gray has served on the committee that coordinates college fairs throughout the state and is a member of the Tennessee Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. He also has served as a liaison between the university and the Tennessee Counseling Association, the professional organization for many high school counselors.
With an unwavering positive attitude, Gray is often described in absolute terms—always energetic, always excited, always friendly and always helpful.
"He is always eager to personally 'make' a day, a job or a life better," said TTU Director of Bands Joe Hermann. "His positive demeanor is capable of changing worlds, and there are hundreds of families, students and faculty who could provide the testimony."
Gray has often said he represents Tennessee Tech 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"No one ever tries to catch Jim 'on a good day,'" said Hodum. "All his days are good ones."