Five Minutes with President Sidney A. McPhee

Five Minutes with President Sidney A. McPhee

The buzz phrase around MTSU these days is “student success.” I know that means a lot of things to you. Could you spotlight, though, one specific program or initiative that you think speaks to what MTSU means by ensuring student success?

Many MTSU students are first-generation college students who are juggling academic and work demands in pursuit of a degree. For many, a relatively small financial barrier—say, an emergency room visit or unexpected car repair— can cause a delay in their studies and progress toward a college degree.

Students who find themselves in a financial pinch can now apply for one-time emergency microgrants aimed at keeping them in school and on track to earning a degree.

Through a wave of local support and the existing Lewis Hazelwood Student Emergency Fund, MTSU can help students with emergency needs.The microgrants are designed to help with verified needs associated with the student’s education such as tuition, fees, books, housing, and transportation.

Grants up to $250 are available to qualified undergraduate, graduate, and international students. Interested students should contact their college advisors or their dean’s office. The grants do not have to be repaid; however, students may receive such grants only once during their time at MTSU. To be eligible, students must be in academic good standing with a minimum 2.0 GPA at the time of the request.

I applaud the community’s support for students, many of whom remain in the midstate area following their graduation and invest back into the campus and the surrounding community. Creation of the funding source followed an effort spearheaded by my wife, Elizabeth, who called on area churches and local citizens to consider financial support for needy students. She pointed to the assistance that she and I received years ago as graduate students that helped us continue our own educations.

I believe this effort serves as a perfect example of our collective focus on the success of our students, which is the top priority of this University.These funds are a concrete expression of local commitment to helping us fulfill that mission. We are truly grateful for the support.

Let me also mention two other helpful student assistance programs: the MTSU Food Pantry and Raiders Closet. The pantry, stocked entirely by donations, has distributed more than 3,700 pounds of food in the last two years to students in need. Raiders Closet, an outreach of Jones College of Business,helps students acquire donated professional attire for internships and job interviews.

Thank you, Mr. President.



Case in Point

Senior education major Jordan Raines-Ownby and her husband have four children. Jordan’s niece and nephew live with the couple as well. Last semester, Jordan strongly considered dropping out of school and delaying her graduation in order to get a full-time job to help with the costs of raising six children. The staff of the College of Education helped Jordan acquire a microgrant that kept her on track to becoming a school teacher. “It got me through the semester,” Jordan states. “It really did help. And they also put me in touch with a number of other local programs that help students.”

True Blue!



Anyone wishing to contribute to the microgrant fund can do so at or mail donations to the Office of Development, MTSU Box 109, Murfreesboro, TN 37132. Make checks payable to the MTSU Foundation, and designate the gift to the MTSU Student Assistance Fund on the memo line. Other information about microgrants can be found at