For just the second time in the 222-year history of UT, an academic college has been named in recognition of an alumnus and donor. On October 14, 2016, the university's Board of Trustees voted to name our college the Tickle College of Engineering in recognition of the latest transformational support from a longtime benefactor.
John D. Tickle is the longtime president and current chairman of the Strongwell Corporation of Bristol, Virginia.
Tickle, along with his wife, Ann, has invested in many of UT's academic and athletics initiatives since he earned his BS in industrial engineering in 1965. The Tickles provided support for the construction of the John D. Tickle Engineering Building, the John and Ann Tickle Small Animal Hospital, and the John and Ann Tickle Athletic Development Suite.
In his 44-plus years of leading what is now Strongwell, Tickle has helped grow a small company into the world's largest composites manufacturer specializing in pultrusion.
Tickle sold the company in 1988 before repurchasing it from Shell Polymer Ventures in 1993 and consolidated its sole ownership in 2000.
Tickle sets a high standard for giving back to organizations and institutions that help to make a difference in the lives of others. He was appointed to the UT Board of Trustees in 2015. He has served on the boards of many chamber organizations in the Bristol area.
Tickle's contributions to society have earned recognition and awards from the United Way, the American Composites Manufacturing Association, the National Society of Fundraising Executives, and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, which bestowed upon him their Lifetime Achievement Award. Last spring the Boy Scouts of America awarded him the Silver Buffalo, the organization's highest national commendation for service to youth.
He was also named the Greater Tri-Cities Executive of the Year in 1993, the Citizen Hall of Fame Award of 1996 for the area, an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2009, and numerous other industry awards in the field that he has served for almost 50 years.
A native of Bristol, Tennessee, and a graduate of Tennessee High, he now resides in Bristol, Tennessee, with his wife, Ann.
He has two sons, John D. (Spike) Tickle II and Jeffery E. Tickle; a stepdaughter, Cindy Akard; two grandsons, Jeffrey Edward Tickle II and John D. Tickle III; and one granddaughter, Josie Tickle.
In addition to his work with UT and community organizations, Tickle enjoys golfing, hunting, fishing, and is an avid Volunteer athletics fan.
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