1,200 celebrate MTSU’s Centennial at Blue Tie Gala...

1,200 celebrate MTSU’s Centennial at Blue Tie Gala

Tyrone "Super T" Smith serenades a sea of MTSU blue as Centennial Blue Tie Gala attendees dance in the Mirabella Grand Ballroom of the Embassy Suites Murfreesboro Hotel and Conference Center Sept. 9. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Amid a sea of sparkling décor and commemorative backdrops, 1,200 blue-clad attendees shared in the once-in-a-lifetime Blue Tie Gala honoring Middle Tennessee State University’s Centennial Celebration.

(Watch video from the event here.)

The much-anticipated event, 100 years in the making, was held Sept. 9 at Embassy Suites Murfreesboro Hotel and Conference Center.

“Whether you are an employee, an alumnus, a supporter or a fan, I am certain you are bursting with True Blue Pride after viewing that incredible history of our university,” Dr. Sidney A. McPhee, the University’s 10th president, said after the showing of “Traditions of Excellence,” a video chronicling MTSU’s 100 years, and a special prerecorded greeting from Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

“As I enter my 11th year as president here, I remain extremely proud and humbled to have the privilege of leading this outstanding university through its Centennial year and into its second century,” McPhee added.

Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan spoke of the Board’s “pride and admiration in the many remarkable contributions made by MTSU in its first century of service to the state of Tennessee.”

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee addresses the crowd at the Centennial Blue Tie Gala Sept. 9 at the Embassy Suites Murfreesboro Hotel and Conference Center. In the foreground is the Centennial cake, created by alumna Lenneke Lyon Driskill, depicting the beautiful 100-year-old Kirksey Old Main. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

“As this institution has progressed, from its beginnings as a small normal school for training teachers through its years as a state college to its standing today as a major comprehensive university, it has never lost sight of its most important mission: Improving the lives of the citizens of our state,” Morgan added.

Haslam called the gala “a great night for Blue Raiders all over the country.”

“As our state’s largest undergraduate university, MTSU plays a vital role in the education, cultural and economic vitality of our state,” continued the governor, who was unable to attend because of a prior commitment.

“I know all of you are proud of MTSU’s long history of academic excellence. As one of the state’s three original Normal Schools, MTSU’s earliest roots were in developing educators for Tennessee. Over the past century, you’ve grown into a diverse, vibrant, comprehensive university, producing graduates in a wide array of fields and professional areas. Yet, along the way, you stayed true to your roots and remained one of the top schools of education in Tennessee.”

In addition to McPhee, Morgan and Haslam, Cui Pengfei, chairman of the board of trustees of Hangzhou Normal University in China, also spoke on behalf of a delegation of MTSU’s international-education partners, which included representatives from Hunan Normal University, Northwest Normal University and China Agricultural University.

“As a cradle of budding professionals and talents, MTSU has nurtured so many outstanding graduates who possess the knowledge, professionalism and commitment to serve the people of Tennessee as well as the (United) States,” Cui said.

John Hood, an MTSU alumnus, former Tennessee legislator and now director of government and community affairs for the University, served as the gala’s master of ceremonies.

Attendees of the sold-out gala enjoyed a reception, dinner and dancing.

A new 176-page book, Traditions of Excellence: Celebrating the Centennial of Middle Tennessee State University written by alumna Suma M. Clark, also was unveiled at the gala. The book, which costs $40 including tax, can be purchased at Phillips Bookstore on campus or online at Online orders will include a $6.95 ground shipping fee.

— Randy Weiler (

Watch a slideshow of the night’s events here:

Watch a video of President McPhee’s speech here: