In the News: Higher education, scrap metal, Hurric...

In the News: Higher education, scrap metal, Hurricane Dorian, technology regulation and more

MTSU faculty and staff recently provided reporters with their perspectives on numerous issues, including Hurricane Dorian, COVID-19 cases, the early whiskey industry, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and other subjects.

Odie Blackmon, coordinator of the Commercial Songwriting Program in the Department of Recording Industry in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainmen and an MTSU alumnus. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Odie Blackmon

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

Dr. Daniel Smith

Odie Blackmon, an associate professor of recording industry, provided his list of “five songs that shaped the songwriter” for an Oct. 6 article at His choices can be read here.

• Dr. Daniel Smith, director of the Political Economy Research Institute and a professor of economics, penned an editorial positing that governmental regulation of technology will have negative effects. The column, which was published Oct. 7 in the Memphis Commercial Appeal and other Gannett newspapers, is available here.

Smith delivered a lecture titled “Good Distiller, Bad Distiller: Market Honesty and Political Dishonesty in Early American Whiskey” at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee. The lecture, which was based on a paper he co-authored with Macy Scheck, was posted on YouTube Oct. 13 and can be seen here.

Kristi Plunk, assistant professor, nursing

Kristi Plunk

Dr. Michael Federici, chair, Department of Political Science and International Relations

Dr. Michael Federici

Kristi Plunk, an assistant professor of nursing, nominated all nursing students, including MTSU nursing students, for “Healthcare Heroes” recognition by WKRN-TV in Nashville Oct. 7. Her views can be accessed here.

• Dr. Michael Federici, chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, delivered a lecture titled “Lessons from the Trenches of Higher Education” at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The video, which was posted to YouTube Oct. 12, can be seen here.

Rick Chapman

Rick Chapman

Kent Syler, assistant professor, political science

Kent Syler

• Dr. Richard Chapman, director of student health services, and Lisa Schrader, director of health promotion, commented on the spike in COVID-19 cases that occurred on campus earlier in the fall for an Oct. 14 story at The article is available here.

Kent Syler, a professor of political science and international relations, said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee might benefit politically from having his COVID-19 policies halted by the courts and from being criticized by President Joe Biden in an Oct. 14 article by Chalkbeat Tennessee that was republished by His views can be accessed here.

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

Dr. Ben Stickle

Dr. Crystal deGregory, research fellow, Center for Historic Preservation

Dr. Crystal deGregory

• Dr. Ben Stickle, an associate professor of criminal justice administration, said scrap metal is attractive to home invaders in an Oct. 14 photo essay in Reader’s Digest. His comments are available here.

• Dr. Crystal deGregory, a research fellow at the Center for Historic Preservation, explained her digital storytelling project “Dorian and Beyond,” a chronicle of Bahamian survivors of Hurricane Dorian, for an Oct. 19 story at The article 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 (