A diverse array of centers and institutes focus the talents and attention of the MTSU community on problems that affect us all.
by Patsy Weiler
The various Middle Tennessee State University academic centers not only enrich the lives of those on campus, the surrounding community, the state and beyond; collectively, their academic, government, and business partnerships bring millions of dollars to fund cutting-edge research and community service offerings.
From helping a student struggling with dyslexia to assisting iconic WSM-AM place its historic radio broadcasting tower on the National Register of Historic Places, the work of MTSU’s diverse group of centers results in far-reaching, positive effects.
Here, then, is a brief look at some of MTSU’s most conspicuous centers and institutes as well as a sampling of their efforts.
Center for Historic Preservation
The Center for Historic Preservation works across Tennessee to identify, preserve, interpret, sensitively promote, and sustain our historic environment.
Work Samples: The Tennessee Century Farms Program recognizes and documents Tennessee farms owned by the same family and in continuous production for at least 100 years. The statewide program includes more than 1,400 farms.
The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, operated in partnership with the National Park Service, is the nation’s only heritage area to encompass an entire state.
The Tennessee Rural African American Church Project is an ongoing survey of rural African American churches that date from 1850 to 1970. The project collects the history of significant events, people, and architecture associated with the various places of worship.
Did you know? Center director Dr. Carroll Van West co-chaired the state of Tennessee’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, the body created to lead the state’s efforts in commemorating the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.
Vision: “To support and sustain meaningful field projects, public-service efforts and student training.”
—Carroll Van West, director
Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia
The center is dedicated to unraveling the puzzle of dyslexia. It is a model for the organization and delivery of professional services to students with dyslexia, to psychologists and teachers who identify and instruct them, and to schools that must orchestrate a broad range of services to enable these students to achieve their potential.
Work Samples: Training services and workshops are offered statewide, as are specialized in-service school programs. Teachers, school psychologists, speech and language therapists, and administrators are taught how to assess and assist students.
Improving Instruction for Students with Dyslexia is an online, on-demand course offered through MTSU’s University College.
Did you know? The center is the only nonprofit center for the study and treatment of dyslexia in the state established by the Tennessee General Assembly.
Vision: “To bring awareness of what dyslexia is and what schools can do for the students, following identification, to assist them in reaching their full learning abilities.”
—Erin Alexander, assistant director for clinical services
Tennessee Small Business Development Center
T he Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC), headquartered at MTSU, consists of 14 sub-centers, 7 affiliate offices, and an online service center located at universities and community colleges across the state. The center is a network of professional business consultants providing expert business advice to all types of businesses. It also maintains an international trade center.
Work Samples: The most recent economic impact study data revealed that TSBDC clients generated $4.88 million in additional state and federal tax revenue.
TSBDC created 631 new jobs and saved 338 existing jobs. Over $9.1 million in additional capital was raised by clients as a direct result of the assistance of the TSBDC.
Did you know? More than 100,000 businesses have received TSBDC’s expert counsel.
Vision: “The strength of Tennessee’s economic growth is based in part on the small business community and its ability to get products to market. TSBDC is here to help every step of the way.”
—Patrick Geho, director
Albert Gore Research Center
Named for Albert Gore Sr., a former U.S. representative and senator from Tennessee (1939–1970), the center collects and makes available archival materials about the history of middle Tennessee to the public and the campus community.
Work Samples: The Margaret Lindsley Warden Library for Equine Studies is a nationally recognized collection donated by Warden, who for 52 years reported on horse events for the Tennessean, Nashville’s daily newspaper.
The Gore Center contains more than 2,500 bound volumes, some dating to the 16th century. Also, more than 750 oral history projects/interviews have been conducted about middle Tennessee history topics, MTSU campus life, and other subjects. Also included are 400 interviews of veterans, conducted in partnership with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.
Did you know? The University’s original 1911 payroll ledger is at the center. The book contains the signatures of the first president, R. L. Jones, and members of the campus staff from professors to janitor, all of whom had to sign for their paychecks.
Vision: “To serve the MTSU community as the University’s formal institutional archive and continue to expand our holdings, which help students and others understand the American democratic process.”
—Jim Williams, director
Center For Organizational and Human Resource Effectiveness (Cohre)
The center helps organizations meet their human resource and organizational development needs by providing a wide range of management consulting services, translating state-of-the-art research into practical strategies and solutions for clients.
Work Sample: The center’s expertise has assisted numerous University colleges and departments—including the Office of the President and the Department of Aerospace’s NASA-funded air traffic control simulation lab.
Did you know? In addition to its work on campus, COHRE has custom designed programs to assist Rutherford County government, State Farm, the Tennessee Supreme Court, Gaylord Entertainment, United Way, Comdata, and Nissan North America, among others.
Vision: “COHRE partnerships continue to have a growing influence on our community’s economic development while simultaneously providing our faculty and students with applied opportunities to sharpen their professional skills.”
—Michael Hein, director
Center for Health and Human Services
The center initiates and strengthens programs in health and human services to support workforce development and promote healthy communities in Tennessee.
Work Samples: The Death Scene Investigation/SIDS Project is a statewide training program for investigating sudden infant death, with the goal of creating evidence-based programs to reduce these tragedies.
Did you know? Collaboration with the Tennessee Cancer Coalition educates daycare/preschool providers on healthy lifestyles to decrease the risk of developing cancer and other lifestyle-associated diseases and conditions.
Vision: “As we strive to monitor health status to identify and solve community health problems; inform, educate, and empower people about health issues; mobilize community health partnerships; and attract highly capable students into the health professions, we will continue to improve the health of the citizens of Tennessee.”
—M. Jo Edwards, director
Middle East Center
The center’s focus is to promote an understanding of the various populations and cultures of the Middle East among the student body as well as in the surrounding communities. It also encourages faculty research and seeks to serve and respond to the needs of Middle Eastern students on campus.
Work Sample: MTSU is one of just a few universities nationwide that offers Kurdish language instruction. Why is that significant? As a result of Saddam Hussein’s regime, which for years forced Kurds to learn Arabic, the Kurdish language is actually endangered. Middle Tennessee is home to the largest Kurdish community in the nation.
Did you know? The center is the first of its kind established in Tennessee.
Vision: “Current events and continued U.S. involvement in various parts of the Middle East remind us how important the region is and how important it is for us to learn more about its rich and diverse cultures.”
—Allen Hibbard, director
Interdisciplinary Microanalysis and Imaging Center (MIMIC)
MIMIC is a core facility for microscopy and other characterization equipment used by a broad range of diverse disciplines, from Concrete Industry Management to Forensic Science.
Work Sample: Hitachi Scanning Electron and Transmission Electron microscopes aid faculty and students in diverse research projects such as “Quantum-Dot Sensitized Solar Cells Using Copper (I) Oxide as the Hole Transport Layer.”
Did you know? MTSU is the first U.S. customer for the new TESCAN focused ion beam-scanning electron microscope system.
Vision: “MIMIC strives to provide consultation, services, training and equipment usage pertaining to microscopy and microanalysis for both MTSU and off-campus clients. MIMIC also collaborates with industrial and academic partners in solving problems in which nanoscale or microscale characterization plays a key role.”
—Ngee Sing Chong, director
Center for Environmental Education (CEE)
The center is dedicated to improving environmental education in middle Tennessee and statewide, inspiring commitment about our environment and its inhabitants.
Work Sample: The Tennessee Amphibian Monitoring Program (TAMP) is an all-volunteer effort to assess the abundance of breeding populations of frogs and toads in Tennessee.
Did you know? The center’s “Whale Man,” Dr. Padgett Kelly, brings a 50-foot long, life-sized adult humpback whale model to middle Tennessee elementary schools in his “Whale of a Tale” program to teach landlocked students about life in the ocean.
Vision: “Environmental topics are gaining higher visibility in the media and in daily conversations of the general public. We hope that the CEE will continue to move people from awareness about the environment to action for the environment.”
—Cindi Smith-Walters, codirector
Tennessee Center for Child Welfare (TCCW)
As the agency responsible for training the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) workforce and resource parents, TCCW and its partners bear a great deal of responsibility for the quality of child welfare practice in Tennessee.
Work Sample: One recent project involved evaluation of a new statewide effort called “multiple response” or “differential response,” which retrains protective services employees to better determine the exact nature of abuse or neglect calls (many of which can be remedied by simply aligning families with helping agencies) before automatically sending investigators to homes.
Did you know? TCCW is the recipient of the largest grant awarded to MTSU, funded by the DCS.
The institute exists to enhance the understanding of Chinese language and culture, facilitate engagement with China, and create opportunities for exchange and collaboration between communities in Tennessee and China.
Work Sample: The institute provides teaching resources and offers assistance to interested K–12 schools developing Chinese language programs. It organizes summer camps, forges collaborations between schools in middle Tennessee and in China, and even recruits volunteer Chinese language teachers from China to teach at K–12 schools.
Did you know? MTSU’s center was established in partnership with Hangzhou Normal University of China.
Vision: “The institute seeks to become a hub for China-related activities and a resource center for Chinese language, history, contemporary society, and culture.”
—Guanping Zheng, director