Chattanooga True Blue Tour stop touts family, stay...

Chattanooga True Blue Tour stop touts family, staying connected

CHATTANOOGA — MTSU as “family” and keeping students connected while they are on campus were among the many discussion highlights of the university’s first fall True Blue Tour recruiting stop Sept. 17.

“We are one big family,” university President Sidney A. McPhee told the crowd of 225 people at the downtown Chattanooga Convention Center event, which kicked off a six-city statewide tour to recruit students. Chattanooga nearly doubled its 2012 attendance with 108 students at Tuesday’s event.

“It is family-centered,” alumnus Amy Loudermilk of Chattanooga said of the university where she earned her degree.

Signal Mountain High School senior J.C. Stricklin, left, and his mother, Denise, listen as MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee talks about the university and college life during the True Blue Tour at the Chattanooga Convention Center Sept. 17. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

Alumnus and criminal justice graduate student Mandy Mullins and senior special education major Kayla Butler, both Chattanoogans, told the crowd “you have to get involved” in the campus community and communicate with faculty. Both are Blue Elite tour guides for the MTSU Admissions Office.

Butler also is vice president of the Collegiate 100 Black Women of Middle Tennessee, the National Society of Leadership and Success and Blue Elite. Mullins also has worked with the New Vision Baptist Church’s College-Age Ministry on campus.

MTSU implemented the new MyMT Connection Points to connect first-year freshmen to out-of-class campus activities. Students had to attend University Convocation, then choose five other events in the first six weeks of the fall semester.

“Let them know who you are,” Mullins said of MTSU professors. “They can help you out with your career and other opportunities.”

Mullins’ mother, Kim, and Butler’s mother, Mandy, also attended the True Blue Tour event.

Kim Harris Mullins, an alumna who worked for MTSU alumnus and former congressman Bart Gordon and taught public relations at MTSU, said her daughter attended a small high school before coming to MTSU and joining its then-26,000-student enrollment.

“She loved her professors and enjoyed her classes,” Kim Mullins said. “It needs to be a family decision. Be supportive.”

Signal Mountain High School senior J.C. Stricklin visited MTSU three times, but he admitted his mind already was made up.

True Blue Tour graphic cropped“I applied the minute I could,” said Stricklin, who plans to study theatre. “I looked at several schools. MTSU is where I wanted to go.”

Denise Stricklin, his mother, said she was “really impressed by President McPhee. He made you feel like he cares about the students.”

During the city visit, McPhee spent more than an hour with the Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial board, which includes MTSU alumnus Mark Kennedy, editorial page editor at the daily newspaper.

Kennedy and fellow alumni Angela Lewis, Karen Hill, Casey Phillips, John Ralston, Robin Rudd and Nick Fowler had their photo taken with McPhee. Earlier, Times Free Press retail advertising assistant and alumnus Ryan Kennedy — no relation to Mark Kennedy — greeted the president as he entered the building.

The next True Blue Tour stops are set for 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, in Johnson City at the Millennium Center, 2001 Millennium Place, and Tuesday, Sept. 24, in Knoxville, with an 11:30 a.m. counselor luncheon and a 6 p.m. student reception at Club LeConte, 800 S. Gay St.

For more information about admissions and the True Blue Tours, call 615-898-2111 or visit

— Randy Weiler (

Dr. Lana Seivers, right, dean of the MTSU College of Education, makes a point while discussing education programs at the Sept. 17 True Blue Tour stop in Chattanooga. Listening are, from left, Cathy Duckworth, Abby Duckworth, Carroll Duckworth and Freya Chilton. Abby Duckworth and Chilton are seniors at East Hamilton High School.

Tyner Academy seniors Deja Pope, left, and Legend Arnold check out information for prospective students attending the MTSU True Blue Tour event Sept. 17 at the Chattanooga Convention Center.