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Noted Cookeville Writer Appointed to Tennessee Arts Commission

NashvilleWhen Leo McGee retired from Tennessee Tech University in 2007, he became a full-time Southern writer with a bucket list that included enhancing his award-winning Hydrangea Garden and visiting the venues of the Grand Slam Tennis Tournaments around the world.

Regular tennis players themselves, McGee and his wife have since been to the US and Australian Opens as well toured the tournament grounds of Wimbledon in London and Roland Garros in Paris. This past year, his Hydrangea garden won the 2013 Better Homes and Gardens National Award and will be featured in an upcoming issue of Country Garden Magazine.

With his bucket list near completion, McGee was excited to be chosen for the Tennessee Arts Commission. “I was truly honored when Governor Haslam appointed me to serve the citizens across the state of Tennessee in this significant capacity,” said McGee. “I look forward with great anticipation to being a productive board member, representing the 6th Congressional District.”

McGee is the author of more than 40 professional articles, 20 creative and opinion essays and has written or co-written five books. One of his creative essays, “Nothing Could Stop My Wife,” was published in Good Housekeeping magazine. Written about his adventures as a house-husband when his wife returned to school, it served as the basis of a television documentary which was produced by Lifetime Cable Network. McGee is also a long-time collector of art depicting African-Americans in the Southern cotton industry. His collection is intended to understand, acknowledge and pay tribute to his ancestors.

Rhea Condra, Chairman of the Arts Commission Board said, “With his extensive experience, Dr. McGee has so much to contribute to the Commission in its effort to help move communities forward through the arts in Tennessee.”

McGee joined the administration at Tennessee Tech in 1977 as assistant dean of Extended Services and associate professor of Education. During his 19-year tenure at the university, he has also served as assistant, associate and interim vice president for Academic Affairs. He holds master’s and doctorate degrees in education from Ohio State University, where he also served as assistant director and director of Student Teaching. McGee later became a department head in the College of Education at Tennessee State University.

His professional memberships before retiring included the American Higher Education Association, National Association of Continuing and Adult Education, and Phi Delta Kappa. He has also been named a fellow with the Harvard University Institute for Educational Management and with the University of Tennessee Institute for Leadership Effectiveness. McGee’s honors include the President’s Award at Philander Smith College, the Distinguished Scholar Award at Ohio State University and a Young Leader in Education Award with Phi Delta Kappa International. McGee is also a member of the Rotary Club of Cookeville. He and his wife, Gloria, Professor Emeritus at Tennessee Tech, have two grown daughters.

The mission of the Tennessee Arts Commission is that all Tennesseans have access to and participate in the arts. In 2013, the Commission made grants totaling $6.3 million to over 600 organizations in every region of the state, over half of which were schools.The Tennessee Arts Commission consists of 15 members who are appointed by the governor from among the citizens of the state who have demonstrated a commitment to the arts.