After hosting the kickoff session of the pilot Scholars Program to start the fall semester, MTSU’s Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning will host a guest speaker for the program this Friday featuring the head of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency.
Ralph Perrey, executive director of the THDA, will visit campus Friday, Sept. 29, for a discussion on housing with the scholars moderated by Jones College Dean Emeritus David Urban as part of the Scholars Program.
At the kickoff session last month, new Jones College of Business Dean Joyce Heames joined the COE-URP staff, COE-URP Advisory Committee and program faculty mentors to meet with the 11 selected student scholars for a networking session to discuss the first module, to introduce themselves and to discuss the expectations of the new Scholars Program.
The Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning, or COE-URP, aims to encourage dialogue about pressing urban and regional issues in the Middle Tennessee region. Announced in the spring and launched this fall, the COE-URP Scholars Program is a nine-month research and engagement program for undergraduate students designed to bring students, professors and community members together to address pressing urban and regional concerns through academic research.
In addition to gaining relevant experience and learning key skills, students will receive a stipend of $3,900, a completion certificate and the opportunity for a scholarly designation on their graduation diploma.
Paul Martin Jr., COE-URP Advisory Committee chair, welcomed the kickoff meeting attendees and assigned the first milestone, which is to research and identify five urban and regional challenges relevant to the Middle Tennessee region (e.g., housing, workforce development, quality of life, etc.). Each student’s program research topic will be chosen out of these challenges.
Murat Arik, program chair and COE-URP chairholder, set and clarified the timeline, modules, and objectives of the program. The nine modules and six milestones are designed to help move students along the research process, and students will be expected to complete assigned readings ahead of each module.
The program consists of 11 faculty mentors: Iris Gao, Jake Avila, Keith Gamble, Kristie Abston, Patrick Geho, Richard Tarpey, Sean Salter, Tony Johnston, Sam Zaza, Steven Livingston and David Urban. They study a variety of diverse fields, including concrete management, agriculture, information systems, political science, and more.
The student cohort includes Abraham Hernandez, Anna Collins, Eli Askren, Elijah Mitchell, Justin Dohrmann, Mingxuan Liu, Lula Baldriche, Nathaniel Harrison, Nottely Seagraves, Leah Kimbro, and Usman Saeed. Much like the faculty, the students in the program are from equally diverse backgrounds: business administration, mathematics, public policy, economics, geosciences, agribusiness, marketing, and data science.
The students themselves recognize the importance of such a program.
“(The Scholars Program) is not just another school project, but a way to make a difference in my community,” said Mitchell, a data science major from Smyrna, Tennessee.
Added Hernandez, a business administration major from Murfreesboro: “I can use my research to create opportunities for those who are being affected by these issues.”
After the meeting, Advisory Committee member Lori Odom, senior vice president of economic development for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, said she was “so impressed with the students and faculty. We have landed in a great spot with the Scholars Program, and I am really looking forward to hearing their ideas.”
Dean Heames also highlighted the immersive nature of this program that “will help our students grow professionally.”
“The URP-Scholars Program is a solid way to advance the MTSU’s mission through bringing faculty, students, and community stakeholders together,” Heames said.For more information, visit www.mtsu.edu/urp/scholarsprogram.php. For questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.