MTSU launches inaugural conference to explore, pro...

MTSU launches inaugural conference to explore, promote healthy aging

(Desk photo from Adobe Stock Images)

As life expectancy in the United States takes a dip prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Middle Tennessee State University prepares to host a comprehensive exploration of aging in America.

The inaugural Positive Aging Consortium is slated for 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, June 10, at MTSU’s Miller Education Center, 503 Bell St. in Murfreesboro.

“The vision of the consortium is to help older Tennesseans lead healthy, vibrant and productive lives with a mission to emphasize positive aging through research, education, workforce development and advocacy,” said Deborah Lee, holder of the NHC Chair of Excellence in Nursing at MTSU and director of the consortium.

Deborah Lee, NHC Chair of Excellence in Nursing.
Dr. Deborah Lee
Dr. Julie Sweetland
Dr. Julie Sweetland

Julie Sweetland of Washington, D.C.-based FrameWorks Institute will deliver the keynote address, “Building Momentum: How Mindsets on Aging Are Shifting,” at 9:20 a.m. in the main atrium.

Sweetland is a sociolinguist whose research has focused on the intersection of language and race, the role of language variation and language attitudes on student learning and effective professional learning for teachers.

“By 2030 in the state of Tennessee, we’re going to have 20% of our population 65 and older,” Lee said. “So, I think as more people are in that age group and are pushing the boundaries more, it’s going to be something we all have to look at and address.”

Dr. James Houston
Dr. Brandon Grubbs, assistant professor, exercise science
Dr. Brandon Grubbs
Dr. Vaughn Barry
Dr. Vaughn Barry

Scheduled speakers from the MTSU faculty and their topics include:

Jim Houston, associate professor of psychology, “Taking Steps to Maintain a Healthy Brain as We Age.”

Brandon Grubbs, assistant professor, and Vaughn Barry, associate professor, both of health and human performance, “Reaching Your Physical Utopia.”

Keith Gamble, professor of economics, “Financial Decision Making and Scamming.”

Elizabeth A. Smith, assistant professor of human sciences, “Tower Garden to Table: Using Produce to Create Healthy Meals.”

Dr. Keith Gamble, chair, economics and finance
Dr. Keith Gamble
Dr. Elizabeth Ann “Liz” Smith, MTSU assistant professor of nutrition and food science
Dr. Elizabeth Ann Smith

The consortium is for older adults, professionals working with older adults, caregivers and interested members of the community.

Registration includes conference access, free parking, continental breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and a conference tote bag with goodies. The fee is $35, payable only by credit or debit card.

To register or for more information, go to

— Gina K. Logue (