MTSU announces an ambitious $80 million campaign!
By Drew Ruble
Imagine a typical day at Middle Tennessee State University three years from now.
In the brand-new, recently opened science building, students from different disciplines gather in hallway nooks working together as teams, scribbling on whiteboards, scratching their heads, and making impassioned cases for their scientific theories. Down the hall, in a spacious laboratory, a team of Ph.D. students collaborates with highly skilled faculty in the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medical Research on the creation of new drug therapies that could cure innumerable diseases—even cancer. And through the doors of the naturally lit lobby comes MTSU’s undergraduate forensics squad, fresh off a visit to the University’s field laboratory and headed toward the state-of-the-art research lab for follow-up evaluation. Across campus, a world-renowned guitarist who just an hour before stepped off a plane from Germany pushes through the doors of the School of Music on her way to teach a master class and present a performance. Her visit is the fruit of an endowed professorship in music studies that enables MTSU to attract—for the benefit of its students—top musicians from around the globe to middle Tennessee. From the office of the dean of the Honors College, excited voices begin filling the halls as news spreads that multiple Fulbright scholarships have again been awarded to top MTSU students. The prestigious study-abroad scholarships go to those who could have chosen to study etymology, computational science, or sport management at any university in America but chose MTSU for its stellar academic programs and generous scholarship assistance. And inside a renovated Floyd Stadium, anticipation runs high as the Blue Raider football squad, fresh off a major bowl appearance the previous year, takes the practice field bolstered by the highest-ranked recruiting class in its history, a nucleus of top young athletes supported by premiere athletics scholarships that might even land the Blue Raiders in the top 25preseason NCAA football polls.
Welcome to the near future of MTSU.
To usher in this vision from the soon to the now, the University has launched the most comprehensive and ambitious fundraising campaign in its history—the Centennial Campaign. For most of MTSU’s first century, the institution looked primarily to the state for the resources needed to maintain its campus and support its students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Unfortunately, demands on state resources and resulting reductions in funding for higher education are increasingly challenging the University to sustain the level of quality that students, alumni, and other constituents have come to expect. It is imperative that MTSU anticipates the opportunities that lie ahead as it begins planning for a second century of excellence. MTSU’s most ambitious quest for philanthropy in history addressees strategic needs across all areas of MTSU’s enterprise and affects the entire MTSU family. The effort will ensure the University’s place among the nation’s top comprehensive universities, further raise its visibility nationally and internationally, and maintain its legacy as a center of higher education excellence for the future. Nearly $54 million has already been committed toward the campaign’s $80 million goal. Raised over the past three years during the “quiet phase,” the $54million alone would constitute a successful effort at many comprehensive universities. President Sidney A. McPhee says financial support from alumni, friends, and the community has become a vital component of MTSU’s rich heritage. “MTSU would not be what it is today without the leadership and generosity of our donors and friends,” McPhee says. “We hope to inspire our philanthropic partners to join us in building an even stronger university. These investments are necessary to secure our role as a leader in public higher education, not only in Tennessee but across the nation.” The following pages outline the focus of the campaign, the strong leadership in place to guide it, and the story of one particularly generous donor—alumnus Andrew “Woody” Miller (’66)—whose $10 million gift, the largest outright donation from an MTSU alum, kicked off the public phase of MTSU’s Centennial Campaign. Perhaps you, too, will be inspired to make a gift to your alma mater at this historic time.
The Brass Tacks
MTSU has outlined four priorities for the use of the$80 million to be raised in its current capital campaign.
Increasing financial aid and support available to students with both merit- and need-based scholarships, including 100Centennial Scholarships.
The brightest young minds, those destined to become the next generation of doctors, lawyers, statesmen, scientists, and teachers, are sought by universities around the world. In turn, these institutions provide opportunities and resources to meet the needs and expectations of such students. For MTSU to continue as the institution of choice for Tennessee’s best and brightest, it must offer competitive financial aid packages to attract and support these exceptional scholars.
Maintaining the finest teaching and research faculty possible through establishing 30 new endowed faculty positions and securing additional awards for outstanding teaching, advising, and research, as well as additional graduate assistants and stipends.
Exceptional students deserve an exceptional faculty. To ensure that the needs of our students are met and that we maintain the best faculty, the University intends to establish a cadre of endowed chairs and professorships. These awards will enable the University to attract prestigious scholars, whose teaching and research will energize our campus by attracting national attention to MTSU and raising the profile of our academic and research programs.
Enhancing the physical facilities and program opportunities for students, including enhancing the library, strengthening the math science education program, and expanding international and cultural programs for students.
MTSU remains dedicated to providing every student access to the finest facilities, the most modern equipment, and the most innovative academic programs, further supporting our commitment to quality and a student-centered environment. Funds provided for academic program enhancement will enable us to better internationalize our curricula, ensure that our students have hands-on exposure to and familiarity with state-of-the-art technologies, and enable us to better utilize our extensive experience as an entrepreneurial institution to better serve our students and the economy of the state, among other efforts.
Enhancing the Blue Raider Athletic Program with 50 scholarships to ensure that student-athletes have the opportunity to fulfill their potential and providing new training and practice facilities, upgrading and enhancing the Murphy Center environment, and building a new indoor tennis complex.
Regional and national recognition provide a link between the University, its alumni, and the community at large. It also builds alumni and public support for all aspects of the University. Maintaining our position on the national sports scene requires that we remain competitive in our ability to recruit succeeding generations of talented student-athletes. MTSU must have the financial support to offer competitive student aid packages to attract and support exceptional student-athletes; provide them with access to facilities that allow year-round training; and build a new facility to house key athletic administrators and staff, group coaches in key sports, and provide academic and resource space for student-athletes. MTSU