In the News: Pandemics, school vouchers, Amy Coney...

In the News: Pandemics, school vouchers, Amy Coney Barrett, scrap metal, Halloween and more

In the News graphic-2020

News media platforms around the world recently relied on MTSU faculty and staff for expertise on topics including presidential and vice presidential debates, educational learning communities, Halloween safety, the First Amendment and Internet companies, among others.

Dr. Emily Baran

Dr. Emily Baran

Kent Syler, assistant professor, political science

Kent Syler

• Dr. Emily Baran, a professor of history, noted the suppression of religious freedom for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia in an Oct. 9 story for Times of News. Her words can be read here.

Kent Syler, a professor of political science and international relations, analyzed the vice presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris on WSMV-TV in Nashville Oct. 9. The video can be seen here.

Syler also said he sees school vouchers as a “losing issue” for most of their political supporters in an Oct. 13 article for Chalkbeat Tennessee. The story can be accessed here.

Syler said the third presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will still be an important event despite Biden’s lead in the polls in an Oct. 15 report on WSMV-TV. The video and transcript can be seen here.

Dr. John Vile

Dr. John Vile

Dr. Robert Eaker, professor emeritus of educational leadership, College of Education

Dr. Robert Eaker

• Dr. John Vile, dean of the University Honors College and political scientist, wrote an editorial on the likely impact of confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. His views, which were published in the Knoxville (Tennessee) News Sentinel and other newspapers Oct. 9, are available here.

• Dr. Robert Eaker, professor emeritus of educational leadership, discussed the development and sustenance of educational learning communities on the “Inside the Treehouse” podcast, which debuted Oct. 9. The audio can be heard 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

Lisa T. Schrader, director of health promotion, MTSU Health Services

Lisa Schrader

Lynda Williams, a professor of criminal justice administration, described her new role as president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives in an Oct. 9 article in the Murfreesboro (Tennessee) Post. Her remarks can be accessed here.

Lisa Schrader, director of health promotion, provided tips for having a safe Halloween during the COVID-19 pandemic in an Oct. 12 post at Her suggestions are available here.

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

Dr. Ben Stickle

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

Dr. Katie Foss

• Dr. Ben Stickle, an associate professor of criminal justice administration, said that scrap metal is a highly desirable object for burglars to steal in a Reader’s Digest article posted by MSN Oct. 13. His remarks can be read here.

• Dr. Katie Foss, a professor of media studies, explained how people treated each other during the 1918 flu pandemic in an Oct. 13 story at Her statements can be accessed here.

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

Ken Paulson

Ken Paulson, director of the Free Speech Center, said proposed laws against protesters are threats to the First Amendment in an Oct. 13 story in the Christian Science Monitor. His remarks can be read here.

Paulson said Internet companies have not become any closer to being considered “publishers” because of their editorial judgments in an Oct. 15 story by Voice of America. His remarks are available here.

Paulson wrote an editorial pointing out Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s inability to explain the five freedoms protected in the First Amendment during her Congressional testimony as a nominee for U.S. Supreme Court justice. The editorial was published Oct. 16 in USA Today and can be accessed here.

Chris Combest, assistant professor of music

Chris Combest

Dr. Pramod Iyer, assistant professor, marketing

Dr. Pramod Iyer

Chris Combest, an assistant professor of music who teaches tuba, told researchers how his students put pillowcases over the bells of his instruments to play during the COVID-19 pandemic. His comments were reported in an Oct. 16 story by Kaiser Health News, which can be read here.

• Dr. Pramod Iyer, an assistant professor of marketing, assessed the popularity of bonus credit card rewards in an Oct. 16 at The article is available here.

Dr. Mary A. Evins, professor of history, coordinator of the American Democracy Project, member of the University Honors College faculty

Dr. Mary A. Evins

Dr. James Chaney, assistant professor, global studies and human geography

Dr. James Chaney

• Dr. Mary Evins, a research professor of history and coordinator of the American Democracy Project, said the centennial of the 19th Amendment is prompting several activities such as walking tours and women’s history sites in an Oct. 18 article in the Boston Globe. Her remarks are available here.

• Dr. James Chaney, an assistant professor of global studies and human geography, participated in a videoconference titled “Exploring Housing Options and Challenges with Melbourne’s African Migrants” sponsored by the Hallmark Research Initiative for Affordable Housing Sept. 22. The video, which was posted Oct. 18, can be viewed 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