The Foundation for the College System of Tennessee has established a memorial scholarship fund in honor of Mark Lenz, the president of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Nashville who passed away Wednesday, Sept. 8.
Lenz served as president of TCAT Nashville for 12 years and was passionate about his students, faculty and staff, and the communities the college serves. He was a veteran of the U.S. Navy and worked nearly 30 years in industry, mostly at Bosch Corporation as a production supervisor and training and development manager. In that role, he collaborated with and provided instruction at universities and technical colleges. He went on to earn his master’s degree and transitioned to higher education in 2009 when appointed by the Tennessee Board of Regents to lead Nashville’s public technical college.
The scholarship fund will help students at TCAT Nashville pursue their educations. Contributions to the fund are welcome and can be made online on the Tennessee Board of Regents website at https://www.tbr.edu/advancement/mark-lenz-memorial-scholarship.
“Mark Lenz helped transform the lives of thousands of families across Nashville and Middle Tennessee through his joyful work with students at TCAT Nashville in particular and his passionate advocacy of career and technical education in general. He helped modernize the college, greatly expanded its programs, and took its CTE programs into correctional facilities to help students there learn skills for careers after their release,” said Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora W. Tydings.
“He also served our nation during more than six years of active and reserve service in the Navy. We mourn his passing and honor his legacy by establishing the Mark Lenz Memorial Scholarship,” Tydings said.
Under Lenz’s leadership, TCAT Nashville expanded its programs to more than 20 high-demand career fields and established new apprenticeship partnerships with area businesses and industries to enable students to work and earn while they learn. He opened a new facility with state-of-the-art equipment to train students to repair and maintain large diesel engines, again in partnership with engine and parts manufacturers.
The college is also a model institution frequently visited by education leaders and policymakers, and Lenz enjoyed showing visitors around, stopping in classrooms and labs where he introduced students displaying the skills they were learning. In early 2020, he hosted the U.S. Secretary of Education and Gov. Bill Lee on a tour and a forum on the value of career education.
Remembrances and tributes poured in on the news of Lenz’s passing.
“Mark always had a smile on his face. He genuinely loved not just his work but people and took joy in helping others. Mark was more than a colleague but my partner and friend. I will truly miss him,” said Nashville State Community College President Shanna L. Jackson, whose main campus adjoins TCAT Nashville’s.
“Mark’s pride in his family and his enthusiasm for our TCAT Nashville always made me smile. His spirit was infectious,” said Board of Regents Vice Chair Emily Reynolds, who frequently attended events at the college. “I well remember the evening Governor Lee spoke at the TCAT’s graduation, and no one was more excited to be there than Mark.”
“It’s sad to lose a school leader like Mark. He had great things happening at the college,” said Regent Joey Hatch, who also worked closely with Lenz on fundraising.
Carrington Fox, a graduate of TCAT Nashville’s Building Construction Technology Program and the College System of Tennessee’s Outstanding Technical Student of the Year in 2018, said: “In every conversation with Dr. Lenz, you could hear how generously he wanted happiness and success for his school community. He believed in his students as much as he believed in the power of technical skills to transform their lives. Tennessee has lost a powerful advocate for education.”
“A few years ago while serving as interim president of Nashville State, I had the opportunity to work closely with President Lenz. I was amazed at his eagerness to help guide the two neighboring institutions toward a more meaningful partnership,” said TBR Vice Chancellor Kimberly McCormick.
“He cared very deeply about his faculty, staff and students. His face would light up when he talked about students. The only time I ever saw his face light up more was when he talked about his family,” McCormick said.
Because of his personal and professional experiences, Lenz often said he understood the value of skills development and that possessing a marketable skill set opens doors and future opportunities for citizens. As a youth, he was a lettered athlete and musician, held jobs that taught him the value of work, and participated in community and school activities including choirs, musical productions and Boy Scouts, in which he attained the rank of Eagle Scout.
His Navy service included work as a Gunner’s Mate and Gunner’s Mate Technician and he attained the rank of Petty Officer 2nd Class with military honors, including two humanitarian medals for his help in rescuing refugees off the coast of Vietnam.
The scholarship fund will be administered by The Foundation for the College System of Tennessee, the system’s charitable advancement and fundraising arm.
More information on President Lenz: https://tcatnashville.edu/about/president
More information about TCAT Nashville: https://tcatnashville.edu/
More information about The Foundation for the College System of Tennessee: https://www.tbr.edu/advancement/foundation-college-system-tennessee
The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.