In the News: Conspiracy theorists, international m...

In the News: Conspiracy theorists, international migration, Forrest Hall, roseate spoonbills and more

In the News-short mark graphic

Reporters recently obtained insights from MTSU faculty and staff on numerous topics, including vaccination mandates, black student retention, vinyl siding, Nashville’s archaeological history and shaming in the workplace, among other subjects.

Dr. Richard J. Tarpey, Department of Management
Dr. Richard Tarpey
Kent Syler, assistant professor, political science
Kent Syler

• Dr. Richard Tarpey, an assistant professor of management, stated that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about the use of federal health privacy laws pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccine in an Aug. 12 article published in the Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Independent. His views are available here.

Kent Syler, a professor of political science and international relations, commented on the impact of conspiracy theorists on Tennessee politicians in an Aug. 12 report on WSMV-TV in Nashville. The video and transcript can be accessed here.

Dr. Jeffrey Walck, professor, Department of Biology
Dr. Jeffrey Walck
Dr. Patricia Gaitely, associate professor of English
Dr. Patricia Gaitely
Aaron Deter-Wolf, Tennessee state prehistoric archaeologist and MTSU adjunct professor of sociology and anthropology
Aaron Deter-Wolf

• Dr. Jeffrey Walck, a professor of biology, and Dr. Tricia Gaitely, a professor of English, reacted to the unique discovery of a roseate spoonbill in Rockvale, Tennessee, in an Aug. 18 report in the Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The article can be read here.

Aaron Deter-Wolf, an adjunct professor of anthropology and co-author of “Mastodons to Mississippians: Adventures in Nashville’s Deep Past,” answered questions about the book for an Aug. 19 article at His views are available here.

Dr. Dwight Patterson, associate professor, chemistry
Dr. Dwight Patterson
Dr. Jackie Gilbert
Dr. Jackie Gilbert

• Dr. Dwight Patterson, an associate professor of chemistry, assessed the environmental impact of discarded vinyl siding in an Aug. 19 article at His comments can be accessed here.

• Dr. Jackie Gilbert, a professor of management, suggested that shaming is not a viable tool for managers to use with subordinates in an Aug. 19 article in Communication Intelligence magazine. Her perspectives can be read here.

Dr. Katie Foss, associate professor of media studies in MTSU's School of Journalism and Strategic Media
Dr. Katie Foss
Dr. Barbara Lancaster, assistant professor, School of Nursing
Dr. Barbara Lancaster

• Dr. Katie Foss, a professor of media studies, expressed concerns about the conflicting messages parents are getting from school districts about COVID-19 protocols in an Aug. 19 report by WTVF-TV in Nashville. The transcript and video are available here.

• Dr. Barbara Whitman Lancaster, an associate professor of nursing, promoted the School of Nursing’s campaign for donations of shoes to be gathered in exchange for money to benefit the American Heart Association in an Aug. 20 post at Her remarks can be accessed here.

Dr. Sidney A. McPhee, MTSU president
Dr. Sidney A. McPhee
Dr. Debra Sells, Vice President, Student Affairs and Vice Provost for Enrollment and Academic Services
Dr. Debra Sells

• Dr. Sidney A. McPhee, university president, authored an editorial explaining the institution’s position on the renaming of Forrest Hall. The essay was published Aug. 20 in the Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro and can be read here.

McPhee also defended the university’s efforts to retain African American students in an Aug. 22 report in the Nashville Post. His views can be accessed here.

• Dr. Debra Sells, vice president for student affairs and vice provost for enrollment and academic services, previewed the first day of classes of the fall 2021 semester in an Aug. 23 report by WKRN-TV in Nashville. The video and transcript are available here.

Andrew Oppmann, vice president of marketing and communications
Andrew Oppmann
Dr. Crystal deGregory, research fellow, Center for Historic Preservation
Dr. Crystal deGregory

Andrew Oppmann, vice president of marketing and communications, said that state law prohibits state-supported colleges and universities from mandating vaccinations in an Aug. 24 article in Inside Higher Ed. His remarks can be accessed here.

• Dr. Crystal DeGregory, a research fellow at the Center for Historic Preservation, hailed the donation of $120 million to the United Negro College Fund by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife, Patti Quillin, in an Aug. 24 story at Her words can be read here.

Reporters seeking expertise from MTSU personnel, as well as members of the campus community with expertise for media, may contact Gina Logue in the Office of News and Media Relations at 615-631-8322 or via email at

— Gina K. Logue (