Tim Rosser arrived on the MTSU campus last summer, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hired as an associate professor in the Aerospace Department, the career aviation expert awaited his next chapter after a dozen years at Florida Institute of Technology.
Nearly nine months later, he’s had little face-to-face contact with fellow faculty members as all meetings have been virtually with Zoom. Yet, Rosser’s thankful for in-person classes with students, many of whom are pursuing his same love of flying as professional pilots.
Despite COVID and its many curves for everyone, the former regional airline pilot’s work ethic through two semesters in his second venture into the academic world has drawn rave reviews from students and faculty members.
At 57, Rosser’s still experiencing “a fairly steep learning curve” in adapting to MTSU, “but I’m getting a lot of help from my colleagues and department chair (Wendy Beckman),” the Murfreesboro resident said. “I’m still getting to know MTSU and how everything and the department works.”
“I’ve got a new course (Aviation Laws and Regulations) I’m teaching remotely to 60 students,” he added. “I’m just getting comfortable with that course and delivering the material. It’s new to me, but it has been taught in the department for years.”
Rosser’s other two classes, both in-person with a combined 60 students are Theory of Flight and Professional Pilot I. His fall 2020 schedule included two in-person and one virtual class — and he definitely prefers in-person.
With regard to COVID, Rosser said he’s “handling it well. We’ve gotten to the point, here after a year of this, that we understand what we need to do to get past this, buckle down and get back to life before COVID, so we can enjoy it and (eventually) not have to wear masks and social distance.”
Rosser calls Zoom — and it bringing him and his students together remotely — “a great tool, but I would rather be looking at their actual face than their image on Zoom.”
He has been “very impressed” with MTSU students. “I find they are attentive. They certainly convey to me they get the material and they are motivated. I see them as very good students with the work they are doing.
“All students have stepped up. They’ve recognized what we need to do. They’ve gotten used to wearing masks in buildings and social distancing. They’re doing work they need to continue in their education.”
Rosser’s always checking his email from students “because I don’t want to leave them hanging. I’ll try to address their questions right away.”
A working history in aviation
Rosser grew up in Long Island, New York. He flew for an airline in the Northeast for 15 years. At Florida Institute of Technology, a private school in Melbourne, Florida, he was a department undergraduate division director in the College of Aeronautics and held other positions. “As much as we tried to like Florida, we never fell in love with living there,” he said.
When an opportunity opened at MTSU, he applied and interviewed in February 2020. En route to his eventual hiring, the coronavirus pandemic happened.
“The opportunity here was a motivator,” he said. “I had done quite a bit at FIT. My next steps would have been associate dean or dean. I did not see myself there. It was time for a change, doing something different. … There were no delays in being hired (at MTSU); everything went through smoothly. We love the (Murfreesboro) area and love where life has brought us.”
A love of outdoors
Away from campus, Rosser loves to fly (trips out of the Smyrna, Tennessee, Airport are proof) and he and wife Lynn, who interned with Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine, truly love the great outdoors. They hike, kayak and he is scuba-certified.
They are avowed tent campers, and have already discovered Cedars of Lebanon, Rock Island, Edgar Evins and other Tennessee State Parks.
Daughter Kristen Rosser, 30, followed her father’s path and is a flight instructor in Salt Lake City, Utah. Daughter Katie Shaffer, 28, awaits the results of a background check for a job with the State Department in Washington, D.C.
Rosser’s also building an airplane from a manufactured kit “in my garage. I’m a couple of years from having it done. I’ve never undertaken anything like this. It’s a daunting project, but felt it was very doable and I’m up to my eyeballs in aluminum in my garage.”
—Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)