OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — A new tree was planted on Roane State Community College's Oak Ridge campus in memory of a beloved professor who passed away earlier this year.
In February, Dr. Arthur Lee died after serving as a member of the college's faculty for around 21 years. Chris Whaley, the president of Roane State, said he was "one of the smartest people I've ever known" during a ceremony to honor Lee.
"He loved interacting with his students," said Dr. Sylvia Pastor.
According to a release from Roane State, Lee was her mentor while she went through the process to secure tenure. Together, they launched a "Lab-in-a-Box" program which gave middle school students a chance to learn about science hands-on, using containers full of different scientific components.
Twenty-seven middle schools in East Tennessee now have the kits.
Lee also taught geology classes to inmates at Morgan County Correctional Complex, helping them get college degrees while in prison.
"He always had a smile on his face," said Assistant Professor Connie Blalock, whose office was next door to Lee's. "I miss him a lot."
Faculty members planted the sapling in front of the Coffey/McNally Building. It is a tulip poplar, one of the tallest of the native American hardwoods. The college also previously established the Arthur Lee Memorial Fund, which will be used to provide an annual scholarship to a Roane County student.
"He really made me feel I was part of this college," said Ted Stryk, an associate professor who said he used to discuss several topics with Lee. "He was extremely knowledgeable, but also not intimidating."