New TTU residence hall to honor J.J. Oakley

When it comes to Tennessee Tech, the name “Oakley” is synonymous for giving. Millard Oakley and his wife, Joyce Annette, affectionately known as “J.J.”, have contributed millions of dollars to the university over the years. As a way of giving back to the Oakleys, a new residence hall will be named J.J. Oakley Innovation Center and Resident Hall.

“I cannot express how much gratitude I feel for this honor,” said J.J. Oakley. “In my wildest dreams, I could not imagine having a building named after me; however, a lot of the accolades go to my friend, mentor, and husband, who has guided me on this journey of service to community and commitment to others. As you know, we both believe in the power of higher education and everything that Tennessee Tech symbolizes.”

A native of East Tennessee, she graduated from West Virginia University with a bachelor of science in nursing in 1972. After teaching nursing for several years, she returned to Tennessee where she earned a masters in nursing in 1980 and a law degree in 1982 from University of Tennessee. In 1986, J.J. and Millard were married and moved to Overton County, where they still reside.

“We both love Tennessee Tech and feel that it is one of the best institutions for higher learning,” said Mrs. Oakley. “We are blessed to have our granddaughter graduate from TTU this year.”

The name “Oakley” is already associated with campus. There is J.J. Oakley Health Services, which is located at the corner of 7th and Mahler Avenue, on the east side of Bell Hall. There is Millard Oakley STEM Center for the Teaching and Learning of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It offers educators, schools, students (PreK through college), and the regional community a wealth of interactive programs, activities and events. 

Oakley Hall, located on the Quad, houses offices and classrooms for the School of Agriculture and the School of Human Ecology as well as the Friday Café.

In 2017, a gift by the Oakleys increased the size of Tech’s campus by 1,400 acres when they donated a large portion of their farm in Overton County, along with the livestock and equipment on the property, to Tech – a donation worth more than $9 million.

The new residence hall, which will be located near the current intersection of University Drive and Whitney Avenue, was presented to the board at the September 2020 meeting. This residence hall will combine an innovation space along with more than 300 residential spaces and has an estimated $30 million cost, which will be funded through student rental income.

The initial timeline for the project has construction starting early in 2022, with completion during summer 2023. The hall would be open to residents starting that fall.