In the News: Marijuana, country music fans, extrem...

In the News: Marijuana, country music fans, extremists in the military, COVID relief and more

MTSU faculty and staff provided insight and analysis for stories by numerous news agencies recently on subjects including the riot at the U.S. Capitol, the legalization of marijuana, women in law enforcement and prospects for the passage of COVID relief legislation, among other issues.

Dr. John Vile

Dr. John Vile

• Dr. John Vile, dean of the University Honors College and political scientist, discussed the inauguration of President Joe Biden and the agenda for Biden’s first 100 days in office on “OpenLine with Ben Hall” Jan. 20 on NewsChannel5+. The video can be seen here.

Vile said that Donald Trump’s speech to a crowd of supporters in Washington prior to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is covered by the First Amendment in a Jan. 21 story at His comments can be accessed here.

Dr. Ron Messier, professor emeritus, sociology

Dr. Ron Messier

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

Dr. Katie Foss

• Dr. Ron Messier, emeritus professor of history, wrote a description of his new book “Sijilmassa and His Saharan Destiny: The Last City at the Gates of the Desert” with co-author James Miller for a Jan. 21 post by Al Bayane. The article is available here.

• Dr. Katie Foss, a professor of media studies, reviewed America’s response to polio as an example of how to address the COVID-19 pandemic in a Jan. 22 column in the Washington Post. Her perspectives can be read here.

Dr. Carter Smith, lecturer in the Department of Criminal Justice

Dr. Carter Smith

Dr. Daniel Smith, director of the Political Economy Research Institute; associate professor in Economics and Finance

Dr. Daniel Smith

• Dr. Carter Smith, a senior instructor in the Department of Criminal Justice Administration, was interviewed Jan. 25 about military personnel with extreme right-wing views for the “Today, Explained” podcast. The audio, titled “The military’s far-right problem,” can be heard here. Smith’s audio begins at 13:40.

• Dr. Daniel Smith, an associate professor of economics and director of the Political Economy Research Institute, opined that political conservatives should be in favor of legalizing marijuana in a Jan. 26 column in the Knoxville News Sentinel and other Gannett newspapers. His views can be accessed here.

Lynda Williams, professor, Department of Criminal Justice Administration; former deputy assistant director of the Office of Human Resources of the U.S. Secret Service, and an MTSU alumna

Lynda Williams

Professor Antony “Tony” Rodriguez, Department of Art and Design

Tony Rodriguez

Lynda Williams, a professor of criminal justice administration, hailed the presence of five female captains in the Birmingham, Alabama, police department in a Jan. 26 story in the Birmingham Times. Her comments are available here.

Tony Rodriguez, an assistant professor of art and design, was interviewed about the art of digital illustrations on “Chat and Spin,” a 24-hour, not-for-profit internet radio station based in the United Kingdom, on Jan. 26. The audio and video are on YouTube and can be accessed here.

Frank Baird, assistant professor, Department of Recording Industry

Professor Frank Baird

Beverly Keel, dean, College of Media and Entertainment

Beverly Keel

Frank Baird, associate professor of recording industry, explained the academic value of the Chris Young Café to students for a Jan. 27 report by WTVF-TV in Nashville. The video and transcript can be seen here.

Beverly Keel, dean of the College of Media and Entertainment, was interviewed about her academic career and professional experience for the inaugural podcast of “Real and Raw.” The audio, which was posted Jan. 27, can be heard here.

Keel explained country music fans’ devotion to their favorite artists in a Feb. 1 article in the Washington Post. Her comments are available here.

Keel also addressed the fallout to country music artist Morgan Wallen after he was recently caught on video using a racial slur. The story and interview with WKRN-TV in Nashville are available here.

Dr. Joshua “Josh” Phillips, assistant professor, Department of Computer Science

Dr. Josh Phillips

Kent Syler, assistant professor, political science

Kent Syler

• Dr. Joshua Phillips, an associate professor of computer science, explained the value of the annual “Hack MT” to students in a Jan. 30 report on WTVF-TV in Nashville. The transcript and video can be accessed here.

Kent Syler, a professor of political science and international relations, analyzed the prospects for bipartisan cooperation on a COVID-19 relief bill in a Feb. 2 article in USA Today. His perspectives 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 (