KNOXVILLE, TN — The 2023 Project Grad Celebration of Stars Scholars Dinner was held at the Knoxville Convention Center on Sunday April 16. Over 100 seniors from Fulton and Austin-East High School were recognized by Project Grad and the Knoxville Education Foundation. During the ceremony, two gentlemen who play a great part in the success of Project Grad were also recognized and honored for their dedication to the next generation of leaders. 

Dr. Dorian McCoy is the director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the College of Education, Health, and Human Services at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. During the scholar celebration, McCoy received the Vrondelia “Ronni” Chandler award for his dedication and success to the University of Tennessee GRAD Summer Institute.

McCoy has worked in higher education for 30 years as a student affairs professional, administrator and faculty member. His research centers on Peoples of Color experiences in higher education. His work as the director for the Project Grad Summer Institute over the last eight years and the growth the program experienced under his leadership was recognized by the Knoxville Education Foundation. 

McCoy has received numerous awards locally and nationally. He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and is active in Beta Theta Boule and Knoxville Area Urban League.

Tanisha Fitzgerald-Baker, left, and Fred Lowery are Austin East Grad graduates of 1988 who were also crowned Mr. and Miss Austin East that same year. Photo by Vivian Shipe

President Truman said, “You can get a lot done when you don’t care who gets the credit.” This famous quote describes Project GRAD donor Fred M. Lowery, a quiet, humble man who is also a graduate of the Austin East Class of 1988 where he was crowned Mr. Austin East. For the scholar celebration Lowery was selected for the honor of Mace Bearer. 

Leading the 100 scholars into the ballroom, Lowery, a highly successful business executive, held the Mace high; a perfect example to the students of having lived the life of a GRAD which stands for Graduation Really Achieves Dreams. 

Lowery is the senior vice president and president, Customer Channels at Thermo Fisher Scientific, a billion dollar global company. Lowery also is responsible for Thermo Fisher business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Like McCoy,  Lowery is also a catalyst for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Lowery is the founder and executive sponsor of the JUST Project which provided 32 million in COVID testing supplies to HBCUs to ensure their safe return to campus and committed to hire 500 HBCU graduates over a three-year period.

Fred Lowery, left, and his mother Betty Lowery Photo by Vivian Shipe

After the George Floyd murder, Lowery helped to found the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice fund to support charities that provide services across Massachusetts. Born in Knoxville, he never forgot where he came from.

With a passion for community service, philanthropy, and the arts, Lowery founded the Lowery Family Foundation. One of the three endowments the fund supports is his alma mater Austin East and Project GRAD.

A servant leader, Lowery serves as a member of the Dupont Board of Directors, a member of the Boston Medical Center, and the Boule Foundation. He also serves on the Board of Trustees and Foundation Board of Tennessee Technological University.

McCoy and Lowery are two excellent examples of giving back and making a way for those coming behind them.