Tom Tozer, MTSU’s director of news and media relations, will retire at the end of January after nearly 20 years of service to the University.
Hired initially as a staff writer, Tozer later became director of media relations and then director of what was long known as MTSU’s Office of News and Public Affairs. In 2011, he helped create MTSUNews.com as the University’s primary information platform, replacing two longtime print publications, The Record and The Alumni Record.
Tozer also helped launch “Out of the Blue,” a monthly video magazine about MTSU produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications that airs on local cable stations across the Midstate.
“Through his excellent work with all forms of media, Tom Tozer has done tremendous work in helping spread the news about the good works of our University,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. “We thank him for his devoted service, and we wish him well in his retirement.”
Tozer also organized MTSU’s “Building Runners,” who help alert and guide students, faculty and staff to safety during campus emergencies like tornadoes. He and his staff have worked closely with MTSU’s Department of Public Safety to develop and implement emergency notifications with text-messaging technology.
“I have been blessed to work at MTSU, and I hope to continue to contribute in more limited ways,” Tozer said. “I would be remiss in not singling out my staff of news professionals, for whom I have the greatest respect—Gina Fann, Gina Logue, Randy Weiler and Paula Morton. They are first-rate, and the University is fortunate to have them.
“I will miss many good friends at MTSU, but most of all, I’ll miss being among college students,” he continued. “The greatest joy in this job has been to showcase their accomplishments. We have incredible scholars here, and I can only hope that they have kept me young and that their intellect has rubbed off a little.”
One of those scholars is his younger daughter, Alyssa McDonald, who will finish her master’s degree in administration and supervision at MTSU this summer. His eldest daughter, Megan Farmer, graduated from MTSU in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance. Tozer and his wife, Linda, will celebrate their 30th anniversary this year.
Through the years, Tozer has served on many MTSU committees, lectured public-relations classes, worked on promotional campaigns for conferences and other major events and represented the University in many community organizations.
Tozer was hired in 1983 by then-MTSU Public Relations Director Dot Harrison, “back when we still pasted The Record on boards and delivered it to the Daily News Journal for printing, back when we still put campus memos in envelopes instead of sending emails, and back when the doors of the Cason-Kennedy Nursing Building first opened,” he recalled.
“This job runs the gamut,” he said of his longtime MTSU post. “You get to shake a lot of hands, write, speak and create. You also get to serve meals to kids, haul equipment around and pick up a hammer and drive signs in the ground. And that’s while wearing a shirt and tie.”
In 2000, he received the Parthenon Award from the Public Relations Society of America for his media-tip resource “Today’s Response.”
Tozer received the MTSU Foundation Public Service Award in 2007 and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honorary Society in 2008. He has received numerous writing awards from the Tennessee College Public Relations Association and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.
Tozer served as 2000-01 board president of the American Heart Association of Rutherford County and was a board member of the local Salvation Army for 10 years, including seven years as board president. He currently is a member of the board of Elders First of Rutherford County.
“It’s all good, and the next chapter will be even better,” Tozer said, adding that he looks forward to pursuing other interests, “punctuated with a lot of pauses.”