by Tammy George
Gloria Bell was a first lady at Tennessee Tech with her husband, President Robert Bell from 2000 to 2012. Gloria Bell was the designer of the Tech Flag.
As first lady, Gloria Bell desired to leave a lasting gift to the campus she served, and that began with a search through the university’s archives. Bell wanted to design a flag for the university marking the spirit and traditions of the campus. Through her research, she established that there was no official flag dedicated to the university. With general ideas already formed, she used basic materials of colored wrapping paper and hand drawings to create samples of her vision. Bell convened a group of university alumni and other campus representatives to assist her in finalizing the design. For more than a year, Bell worked with the selected focus group to create an official flag following five key rules which were: keep it simple; use meaningful symbolism; incorporate only 2-3 basic colors, no lettering, identical sides, and lastly, the flag must be distinctive or be related.
It took several rough drafts with various arrangements of the shapes and images to come to the final design. Bell’s first rendition of the design was a solid purple background with a golden circle set in the center displaying a brown eagle with outstretched wings and a vertical golden column along the end. The final goal of the flag was to honor the most familiar and longstanding traditions of the university. Along with the focus group, Bell’s final concept resulted in the university’s first official flag. The flag had these three components representing the historic and ideal characteristics of Tennessee Tech and its quality reputation including:
1. The golden eagle. This magnificent bird, with wings outstretched, depicts the pride, honor, strength, and spirit of our students, faculty, and staff.
2. The bold pillar. This column of gold represents the pillar of knowledge, intellect, and experience – all qualities of our prestigious academic reputation.
3. The purple base. This field of majestic purple represents the strong foundation of character, commitment, and endurance indicative of our university’s culture.
May this flag forever wave, and may the history and future of Tennessee Tech University prosper in its shadow.
“The Tennessee Tech University Flag.” From Tennessee Tech Archives RG 116 Christine Spivey Jones subject files, Box 47, Folder 4, October 2003
The University made the decision not to reveal an image of the flag publicly until students viewed it for the first time during an unveiling ceremony held at the Homecoming pep rally on Friday, October 31, 2003. Brent Waugh, President of the Student Government Association, introduced University President, Dr. Robert Roy Bell and First Lady, Gloria Bell, along with Julie Galloway, President of the TTU Alumni Association for the first presentation of the flag. The flag was also displayed for viewing at the Alumni Awards Reception which was held later that same day. Another presentation of the flag took place during a pre-game ceremony on the following evening, Saturday, November 1, 2003.
As of 2023, Gloria Bell’s flag was still the official university flag. The flag was displayed alongside the US and Tennessee flags in prominent locations around campus as well as in front of Derryberry Hall.
“Design of TN Tech flag 2002-2003.” From Tennessee Tech Archives RG 116 Christine Spivey Jones subject files, Box 47, Folder 4.
Lykins, Karen. “TTU First Lady Gloria Bell designs university’s first official flag.” TTU News, October 30, 2003. From Tennessee Tech Archives RG 116 Christine Spivey Jones subject files, Box 47, Folder 4.
The Oracle, Vol. 85 No. 7.
The Oracle, Vol. 85 No. 8.
“The Tennessee Tech University Flag.” From Tennessee Tech Archives RG 116 Christine Spivey Jones subject files, Box 47, Folder 4.
“TTU FLAG DESIGN.” From Tennessee Tech Archives RG 116 Christine Spivey Jones subject files, Box 47, Folder 4.