Motlow State President Dr. Michael Torrence selected U.S. Navy veteran and Motlow freshman Zachary Dwyer, from Smyrna, to receive the inaugural Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) Chancellor’s Commendation for Military Veterans. Each of Tennessee’s community and technical colleges selected one veteran for the award.
Zachary is a freshman attending Motlow’s Smyrna campus. He is majoring in general studies and plans to transfer to MTSU to study Geoscience. He graduated from Lancaster Christian Academy in 2010 and joined the Navy in 2011, serving aboard the USS Fitzgerald and USS Bonhomme Richard during his eight years of service.
“Courage, commitment, and honor are the core values of the U.S. Navy, and Zachary Dwyer embodies these core values,” said Dr. Torrence. “In an unprecedented year, Zach’s core values are his anchor and compass as he begins a new journey as an adult learner in a time of uncertainty. He brings as much to the classroom as he receives, and he enjoys the learning experiences and environment of Motlow.”
The Tennessee Board of Regents and Chancellor Flora W. Tydings established the new commendation as a system-level award to honor the service, bravery, and sacrifices of military veterans in the campus communities. It supplements the Veterans Day ceremonies, observances, and recognitions that the colleges traditionally conduct. Recipients of the new Chancellor’s Commendation were nominated by the college presidents and include students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
College presidents presented recipients of the commendation a special Challenge Coin on behalf of the chancellor. Challenge coins are a rich tradition in all military branches and signify special achievement, excellence, hard work, unit pride, respect, and esprit de corps.
“Our college communities are strengthened by the presence, the experience and the perspective of veterans and active duty military personnel – as students and faculty and staff,” said Dr. Tydings. “They – and the many different skills and leadership abilities they acquired during their service – are an important part of the great diversity of people and backgrounds on our campuses, which are all the richer as a result of their presence.
“We are glad they’re here, and we’re privileged to honor their service – not only on Veterans Day but all year long,” the chancellor, the daughter of a career military officer, said.
During the 2019-2020 academic year, 3,436 students in the College System of Tennessee self-reported as veterans and active duty military personnel on their admission materials. Since such reporting is not required, there are likely more student veterans – and they are in addition to the many veterans in the faculty, staff, and alumni ranks.
Tydings asked the college presidents to submit ideas for a system-level Veterans Day recognition. The presidents then voted on the ideas submitted, one of which was a Chancellor’s Commendation, represented by a unique challenge coin. With the concept in place, the chancellor asked the presidents to nominate a veteran in their campus communities for the commendation. She approved each of the nominees.
“These 34 men and women represent the spirit and values of our colleges, their communities – and the highest ideals of military service,” Tydings said.