MTSU alumnus Stephen B. Smith was unanimously reelected to a second two-year term Wednesday as chairman of the institution’s Board of Trustees.
Smith, who has held the top trustee role since the board was created in 2017, has been a vocal advocate of the university’s adult degree completion program, earning his bachelor’s degree in 2011, about 30 years after he left the campus as a student-athlete.
The board also reelected fellow MTSU alumnus Darrell Freeman, former executive chairman of Zycron Inc., to a second two-year term as vice chairman during the quarterly meeting inside the Miller Education Center on Bell Street.
And, in other business, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee told trustees this year’s entering freshman class is the largest that the university has enjoyed since 2011, setting new records for ACT scores and high school grade point averages.
Smith, chairman of the board of Haury and Smith Contractors and who served on the board of the Metropolitan Nashville Planning Commission, thanked trustees for their confidence.
“I’m flattered and appreciative. We’ll continue working hard to help more (students) try to have a better life. That’s the one goal that all of us have,” Smith said. “We’re here to help.”
Smith, a member of the Blue Raiders Sport Hall of Fame, earned three letters on the baseball team, winning the Ohio Valley Conference Championship in 1976. He was instrumental in the construction in 2009 of MTSU’s Reese Smith Jr. Field, named for his father.
Freeman, who lent his aircraft and services as a pilot during the recent Raider Relief efforts to help families of Bahamian students impacted by Hurricane Dorian, echoed similar appreciation.
“MTSU changed my life and I hope that the work we do here will change the lives of other students, particularly those who may not have the (same) opportunity to pursue the American dream,” said Freeman, who sold Zycron in 2017 in a deal worth more than $20 million.
Freeman, who got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MTSU, is also co-founder and chairman of Pinnacle Construction Partners, which provides preconstruction planning and construction management services.
McPhee, in his report to the trustees, told the board that new freshmen are up 14.51%, totaling 3,259 – the largest since fall 2011, when the university enrolled 3,439 first-time students.
Other enrollment highlights:
- Total new undergraduates are up 9.9%. The 5,393 new undergraduate students is the largest since 2011, when the university enrolled 5,706 new undergraduates.
- New transfers are up 4.12% over last year. It is the largest entering class of new transfers (2,048) since fall 2012, when 2,048 new transfers were enrolled.
- The ACT average for the Fall 2019 freshman class is 23.34, surpassing last year’s record-setting freshman ACT average of 22.87.
- The average high school GPA for the Fall 2019 freshman class is 3.54, surpassing last year’s freshman class average GPA of 3.49.
- MTSU’s top six feeder institutions for transfer students are: Motlow State (1,861 students); Columbia State (933 students); Nashville State (814 students); Volunteer State (723 students); Pellissippi (264 students); and UT Knoxville (252 students).
- Total transfer students enrolled (10,474) now represent 53.82% of the total undergraduate population.
- This year’s class of dual enrollment students (1,221) is the largest in MTSU’s history. The program allows students to take MTSU courses while enrolled in high school.
“We have enjoyed growth and success without sacrificing quality,” McPhee said.
In other business, trustees endorsed the creation of a Bachelor of Science in Data Science.
Trustee Pam Wright, chair of the Academic Affairs, Student Life and Athletics Committee, said the degree “will prepare individuals to design and manage the construction of databases and related software programs and applications.”
— Andrew Oppmann (Andrew.Oppmann@mtsu.edu)