Go back

Alumnus receives Distinguished Achievement Award at Commencement

On Dec. 16, 1994, Dr. Phillip Roe, M.D., an Austin Peay State University alumnus and Johnson City obstetrician/gynecologist, was the Winter Commencement speaker at his alma mater.

Exactly 11 years later on Dec. 16 during APSUs Winter Commencement, Roe walked away with one of the Universitys most prestigious honors the Distinguished Achievement Award.
On Dec. 16, 1994, Dr. Phillip Roe, M.D., an Austin Peay State University alumnus and Johnson City obstetrician/gynecologist, was the Winter Commencement speaker at his alma mater.

Exactly 11 years later on Dec. 16 during APSU's Winter Commencement, Roe walked away with one of the University's most prestigious honors the Distinguished Achievement Award.

As Commencement speaker 11 years ago, Roe spoke to the graduates from his heart. Toward the end of his talk, he said, “When I went to medical school, my lab partner was a Harvard graduate, and he was not as prepared as I. I know I will never invest in anything that will return (to) me what my Austin Peay education has.”

A man of high principles, Roe believes he has a moral obligation to help others, and he's spent much of his life giving back to APSU for the education he attained here. Although he lives in far eastern Tennessee, he has been one of APSU's most active alumni, serving on the APSU National Alumni Association Executive Board as president, vice president and past president.

Through his leadership, the Class of 1967 raised about $55,000, earmarked to purchase new equipment for science students. He subsequently established a scholarship in honor of Dr. Durward Harris, professor emeritus of chemistry, who had a profound influence on Roe's life.

Because of Roe's sustained generosity to his alma mater, a wing in the Sundquist Science Complex was named for him.

Roe has been a stalwart supporter of APSU athletics for years, most recently providing a significant financial gift to fund the construction and expansion of a state-of-the-art Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes in the Dunn Center.

According to Dave Loos, athletics director, Roe decided to help fund the Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes because he saw a critical need for it. He also is extremely proud of how well Austin Peay's student-athletes perform in the classroom, recently winning the coveted OVC Academic Banner and consistently being among universities nationwide that boast the highest graduation rates among their student-athletes.

Cheryl Holt, assistant athletics director, said, “Phil knows the Academic Support Center will be an important recruitment tool, too. For years, he's demonstrated great although generally quiet support for our athletic program. Although he lives in far eastern Tennessee, he seldom misses a major athletic event on campus. He's a loyal fan and supporter.”

And, according to APSU President Sherry Hoppe, Roe has included a significant gift to APSU in his estate plan.

In addition, by word and action, Roe encourages others to give to APSU. He is vice president of the APSU Foundation Board of Trustees and a member of the steering committee for APSU's first capital campaign, which exceeded its initial goal months ahead of schedule.

Although he maintains a busy medical practice, Roe felt he had an obligation to serve his community, so he currently is Johnson City's vice mayor and city councilman.

His support of higher education doesn't stop with APSU. He is an advocate for higher education, in general, never hesitating to telephone or visit state and federal legislators to lobby for higher education funding.

In a past interview, Roe said, “I believe the future of our country relates directly to how we educate our young people. Education is what will open doors for them. I don't know what I would have been if it had not been for Austin Peay. This school changed my life.”

In recognition of the many ways he is changing the lives of others through his generosity and service, Roe was chosen to receive the Distinguished Achievement Award.

Since its inception in the early 1990s, the award has been bestowed on rare occasions at the discretion of the APSU president. Previous recipients who have received this coveted award include APSU alumnus Wayne Pace, Atlanta and New York City, who is CFO and executive vice president for AOL Time Warner, and Binford Peay, retired four-star general who, after serving as commander of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), was named U.S. Army vice chief of staff and commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command, directing operations in the Persian Gulf, Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. — Dennie B. Burke