In the News: Vaccines, Facebook, Black Lives Matte...

In the News: Vaccines, Facebook, Black Lives Matter, ‘cancel culture,’ college textbooks and more

In the News graphic-2020

MTSU faculty and staff recently offered their expertise on numerous topics to news agencies. These topics included “cancel culture,” COVID-19 vaccinations, Facebook, forensic analyses of house fires and black rodeo cowboys, among other issues.

Dr. John Vile

Dr. John Vile

Dr. Larry Burriss

Dr. Larry Burriss

• Dr. John Vile, dean of the University Honors College and a political scientist, previewed the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump on the Feb. 9 edition of “MorningLine” on NewsChannel5+. The video can be viewed here.

• Dr. Larry Burriss, a professor of journalism, explained the concept of “cancel culture” and its impact on the First Amendment on the Feb. 11 edition of “MorningLine” on NewsChannel5+. The video can be seen here.

Beverly Keel, dean of the College of Media and Entertainment, assessed the effect of country music star Morgan Wallen’s use of a racial slur on the genre’s reputation in a Feb. 11 story in Billboard Magazine. Her comments are available here.

Beverly Keel, dean, College of Media and Entertainment

Beverly Keel

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

Dr. Katie Foss

• Dr. Katie Foss, a professor of media studies, explained the use of mass vaccination sites in urban areas in a Feb. 17 report at Her remarks can be read here.

Foss opined that higher education professors have been ignored in the hierarchy of groups prioritized to get the COVID-19 vaccine in a Feb. 23 report in The Tennessean. Her comments, which were reprinted by the Columbia (Tennessee) Daily Herald, are available here.

Foss was interviewed about how students studied safely using the radio during the 1937 polio pandemic for “Happy (Half) Hour Live,” a Feb. 23 podcast by the Museum of Broadcast Communications. The video can be seen here.

Foss reiterated her view that higher education professors should not be bypassed in determining who should get the COVID-19 vaccine earliest for a Feb. 24 report on WTVF-TV. The video and transcript are available here.

Ken Paulson, director, Free Speech Center at MTSU, College of Media and Entertainment

Ken Paulson

Dr. Murat Arik, assistant professor of management, Jones College of Business, and director of the MTSU Business and Economic Research Center

Dr. Murat Arik

Ken Paulson, director of the Free Speech Center, commented on Facebook’s decision to shut off news to Australia in a Feb. 19 article by Agence France-Press. His views can be accessed here.

Paulson said the ban on kneeling during the National Anthem during athletic contests at state-supported universities advocated by several state legislators is a violation of free speech in a Feb. 28 report by WZTV-TV in Nashville. The video and transcript are available here.

• Dr. Murat Arik, director of the Business and Economic Research Center, explained how the behavior of new consumers in the area will affect the technology sector in a Feb. 19 report in The Tennessean. His words, as reprinted in the Columbia (Tennessee) Daily Herald, can be read here.

Professor Sisavanh Phouthavong-Houghton, Department of Art and Design

Dr. Sisavanh Phouthavong-Houghton

Dr. William H. “Will” Leggett

• Dr. Sisavanh Phouthavong-Houghton, a professor of art, showed how she created a watercolor painting of the late writer Maya Angelou in a video of an MTSU workshop posted to YouTube Feb. 22. The video can be viewed here.

• Dr. Will Leggett, an associate professor of anthropology, said it is difficult to draw conclusions about Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s silence on the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. His views, which were published Feb. 23 by, are available here.

Dr. Benjamin Stickle, associate professor, Department of Criminal Justice Administration

Dr. Ben Stickle

Dr. Joshua Harms, associate professor, Department of Criminal Justice Administration, College of Behavioral and Health Sciences

Dr. Joshua Harms

• Dr. Ben Stickle and Dr. Joshua Harms, associate professors of criminal justice administration, co-authored an article about their research into porch piracy that was published Feb. 23 by The story can be read here.

Dr. Sekou Franklin

Dr. Sekou Franklin

• Dr. Sekou Franklin, an associate professor of political science and international relations, connected the Black Lives Matter movement with other social justice movements to paint a larger picture of the fight against systemic racism in a Feb. 23 article in Diverse Issues in Higher Education. His words, which were reprinted by Sky News, can be accessed here.

Keith Ryan Cartwright, adjunct professor, journalism

Keith Ryan Cartwright

Kent Syler, assistant professor, political science

Kent Syler

Keith Ryan Cartwright, an adjunct professor of journalism, talked about his career and his new book, “Black Cowboys of Rodeo,” in a Feb. 24 edition of the “Creative Mind” podcast. The audio is available here.

Kent Syler, a professor of political science and international relations, said higher education employees wonder why they are not a high priority group to receive COVID-19 vaccines in a Feb. 24 report on WSMV-TV. The video and transcript can be seen here.

Dr. Hugh Berryman

Dr. Ryan Korstange, Department of University Studies, University College

Dr. Ryan Korstange

• Dr. Hugh Berryman, a research professor of anthropology and director of the Forensic Institute for Research and Education, assessed the likelihood of a house fire victim leaving no trace for investigators to find in a Feb. 24 article at His comments can be accessed here.

• Dr. Ryan Korstange, an assistant professor of university studies, described a new open-format textbook program that will allow students to access textbooks online in a Feb. 25 report on WTVF-TV in Nashville. The video and transcript can be accessed 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 (