East Tennessee MTSU recruiting ‘tour’ exceeds expe...

East Tennessee MTSU recruiting ‘tour’ exceeds expectations [+VIDEO]

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. —One of the largest crowds expected during the annual Middle Tennessee State University True Blue Tour blew MTSU officials away Wednesday, Oct. 24, at The Foundry on the Fair Site in Knoxville.

Hundreds of students and their families attended the free event, held by MTSU to recruit prospective students for 2019 and beyond.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee addresses Knoxville crowd.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee talks to the crowd attending the Oct. 24 True Blue Tour event at The Foundry in Knoxville, Tenn., about the benefits of coming to Murfreesboro to continue their education: facilities, caring faculty and staff, scholarship incentives and more. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

A university team travels across Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Kentucky to take MTSU to major cities to meet prospective students interested in a variety of programs ranging from accounting and music to recording industry, education and more.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee again emphasized the expanded Presidential Scholarship — raised to $4,500 per year and $18,000 for four years — for students with a 3.5 or greater GPA and ACT of 25 to 29.

McPhee announced senior Ashley Conser of Hardin Valley Academy in Knoxville as a recipient of the new Presidential Scholarship and recognized others who met the GPA and ACT criteria and will also receive the scholarship. Conser has applied and been accepted by MTSU.

“It’s pretty cool my tuition’s paid for and I don’t have to worry — the weight is off my shoulders,” said Conser, who was accompanied by her mother and father, Terry and Matt Conser.  The incoming member of the Class of 2022 also will utilize the Tennessee Hope lottery scholarship and a music scholarship she’s earned for her talents on the viola.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, talks to Ashley Conser.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, talks to Ashley Conser of Knoxville, Tenn., after announcing she would receive a Presidential Scholarship Oct. 24 at the True Blue Tour recruiting event at The Foundry on the Fair Site in Knoxville. Her father and mother, Matt and Terry Conser, join the recognition. The scholarship is for $18,000 for four years or $4,500 per year. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

To conclude the Knoxville event, McPhee drew Gloria Newton’s name for a $5,000 scholarship. She is a homeschooled student from Knoxville and attended with her mother, Thelma Newton.

During the True Blue Tour luncheon and reception in Knoxville MTSU recognized Class of 2018 alumna Katie Inman, a WBIR-TV reporter and recent graduate.

McPhee praised Inman for her work at WBIR and told area high school counselors assembled at The Foundry for the luncheon that she was a “terrific role model” for prospective and current students.

Inman, a native of Dandridge, Tennessee, joined the WBIR team in June 2018 as a multimedia journalist after graduating from MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment. While at MTSU, she worked for the student-run television station, MT10, and served in the Blue Elite student ambassador program run by the Office of Admissions.

MTSU president shares Presidential Scholarship information in Johnson City.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, points to a graphic revealing the GPA and ACT score students need to guarantee receiving both the Trustee Scholarship and new Presidential Scholarship during the True Blue Tour visit Oct. 23 at the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City, Tenn. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

The Johnson City experience

McPhee was in a giving mood in Johnson City, awarding three certificates for iPads, about $14,000 in scholarships, and gift bags for parents.

Senior Nick Costello of Kingsport, a Dobyns-Bennett senior, and juniors Ali Dockery of the University School and Akira “Jia” Scott of Science Hill received $3,000 scholarships from McPhee.

College freshman Taylor Walters of White House, Tennessee, said she plans to transfer to MTSU in 2019.

The pre-nursing major left with a $1,000 scholarship after informing McPhee, who admitted he has a heart for educators, that “both of my parents are teachers and MTSU alumni.”

Walters said she’ll transfer to MTSU because “it makes more sense to do clinicals in an area where I want to live,” she said, referring to Middle Tennessee. She added that she also expects to receive an additional $1,000 scholarship because her parents are alumni.

Homeschooled student Quinn Foti, 20, and his mother, Theresa Foti, drove from Asheville, North Carolina, to learn more about MTSU. He’s interested in both physics and the physics of music.

Up next: True Blue Tour stops Nos. 11 and 12 will be Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 29-30, in Huntsville and Birmingham, Alabama, respectively.

MTSU’s Oct. 29 Huntsville visit will be at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, 1 Tranquility Base. The Oct. 30 tour will be at the Marriott Birmingham, 3590 Grandview Parkway.

Both events include 12:30 p.m. luncheons for counselors and community college staff and 6 p.m. receptions for students and their families.

— Randy Weiler (

Sierra Long and Joey Clark

Zierra Long, left, of Johnson City, Tenn., a sophomore at Northeast State Community College in Blountville, discusses her transfer options with MTSU recruiter Joey Clark Oct. 23 during the True Blue Tour visit to the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City. Her cousin, Alexis Long of Johnson City, accompanied her to the event. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)