Bestselling author tells students to live with cou...

Bestselling author tells students to live with courage

Dave Isay

MTSU University Convocation speaker Dave Isay told a full house Sunday in Murphy Center that the stories we share with loved ones are much more interesting than the “nonsense we’re fed on cable TV and the news.”

Isay is the author of Listening Is an Act of Love, national bestseller and MTSU’s 2011 Summer Reading Selection.

The University Convocation, which welcomes freshmen, transfer students and their families, is the traditional kickoff of the new academic year. This year’s Convocation also marks the beginning of MTSU’s 100th year.

“You are our centennial class,” MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee said as he recognized the new students and their families. “You will meet people here who will literally change your life.

“If you take the time to listen, you’ll find wisdom and wonder. What you have to say is important. You deserve to be heard.”

Isay’s book encapsulates the nation’s largest oral-history project ever compiled and features stories from more than 10,000 interviews conducted by Isay’s StoryCorps organization. During his address, Isay played several audio and video interviews of stories from average Americans.

“In these interviews you hear the real American story—stories of generosity, courage and grace,” Isay said.

“Think about the people in your life whom you would like to honor. Take time to stop, listen and tell loved ones how much they mean to you. All of you can think of people in your lives who have sacrificed everything for you.”

MTSU partnered with Linebaugh Public Library and eight area high schools to introduce Isay’s book to the community. Incoming freshmen read Isay’s book before coming to campus, and they will discuss the book in their University 1010 classes. Faculty also will incorporate the book into their lesson plans and class discussions throughout this fall 2011 semester.

“Take the time when you go home this year to interview loved ones, and tell them what they mean to you by listening to their story,” Isay directed the students.

MTSU officials selected Isay’s book, in part, because this year the University is celebrating its own stories throughout its first 100 years. Middle Tennessee State Normal School opened its doors on Sept. 11, 1911, with an enrollment of 127 students. MTSU’s fall enrollment during this centennial year will exceed 26,000 students.

Sunday’s event featured faculty marching in their regalia, music by the MTSU Band of Blue, rousing welcomes by 400 student leaders, athletes and organizations—and the unveiling of the University’s new True Blue Pledge, aimed at peaceful conflict resolution.

To learn more about the True Blue Pledge, read this article and watch the video from Convocation here. To watch a brief slideshow from the 2011 University Convocation, click here.

— Tom Tozer (