Table of Contents (Summer 2015)

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MTSU Magazine

Middle Tennessee State University

Summer 2015 / vol. 20, no. 1

Feature Stories

Cover Story: Solid Leadership
MTSU’s Concrete Industry Management Department, the first of its kind, is led by Heather Brown, a woman who has defied stereotypes

Middle of it All: For a Song
One of MTSU’s newest professors aims to keep the memory of a country legend alive and help students build careers

Ask an Expert: The Pop Candy Pioneer
How journalist Whitney Matheson found herself at the forefront of New Media

I am True Blue: Terry Whiteside
Ten things you probably didn’t know about one of MTSU’s best-known educators

Feature Story: Tattoo U
A look at the impact of Ink on the student body

Continuing the Quest
A progress report on MTSU’s efforts to improve retention and graduation


A Universal Language
Five Minutes with the President

Class Notes
You Do What?

Letter from the Editor

The Sweet Spot

By Drew Ruble

I live in a family-friendly, bucolic, but lively little town in Williamson County that was recently ranked as the fifth “best value” suburb in America by Business Insider. Right up the road is Nashville. And as 2012-09-09D Witherspoon Wright ConversationUniversity Editor at MTSU, I work in Murfreesboro. I like to tell people that I live in a place like Andy and Opie’s Mayberry, right next door to one of the trendiest cities in America. Plus, I work in a great college town in one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation—Rutherford County. The best of all worlds, I’d say. NashvilleFadeMy contention that Murfreesboro is a great college town got a boost in credibility last year when ranked it 49th nationally out of 280 municipalities on its “Best & Worst College Cities & Towns in America” list. You read that right—Murfreesboro was ranked among the best, higher than Nashville and dozens of other cities and towns across America.The list showed Murfreesboro as the highest-rated college town in Tennessee. The next closest city was Knoxville (56th) followed by Nashville (89th). Factors such as the quality of higher education, crime rates, and cost of living were used to rank the cities and towns “that promise the best or worst combination of academic, social, and economic atmospheres.” The rankings also measured “wallet wellness” and youth-oriented environments. (WalletHub limited its choice of cities and towns to those with university or college populations of at least 10,000. In a subranking for medium-sized cities with populations between 100,000 and 300,000, Murfreesboro ranked an impressive 11th out of 149 cities, beating out Wilmington, N.C., Cambridge, Mass., and Madison, Wis., among others.)WalletHub writer Richard Barnardo wrote that it’s important for prospective students and families to look not only at an institution’s intellectual environment but also at the place students will call home away from home for several years. “Academic success depends on more than just the quality of a program,” Barnardo wrote. “Also important is an area that is safe, affordable, and conducive to personal development through a diversity of cultural and professional experiences.”When pitching the University to prospective students and partners, it’s not uncommon for MTSU faculty, staff, recruiters, supporters, and alumni to note that Nashville is only about a 30-minute drive from Murfreesboro. That’s certainly something worth emphasizing, but it is by no means necessary. Murfreesboro and MTSU stand on their own by any measurement—including their combined ability to provide the total college experience.I hope you think, as I do, that each edition of MTSU Magazine (this one includes stories ranging from Fulbright Scholars to hit songwriters, pop culture icons, and concrete industry experts) illustrates how being True Blue is a sweet way to live.

True Blue!


University Editor

Drew Ruble

Art Director

Kara Hooper

Contributing Editors

Michael Burgin, Darby Campbell, Bill Fisher

Contributing Writers

Lynn Adams, Gina E. Fann, Allison Gorman, Jimmy Hart, Stephanie Stewart-Howard, Gina K. Logue, Katie Porterfield, Randy Weiler

Design Assistance

Darrell Callis Burks, Tadson Bussey,
Keith Dotson, Brian Evans, Lauren Finney, Micah Loyed

University Photographers

J. Intintoli, Andy Heidt

Special thanks to

Heather Brown, Suma Clark, Ginger Freeman and the Alumni Relations staff, Sally Govan, Tara Hollins, Rob Janson, Jayme Jones, Peter Miller, MT Athletics, the MTSU Development and Foundation Office, Ken Paulson, Jack Ross, Richard Sluder, Cindy Speer, David Urban, Doug Williams

University President

Sidney A. McPhee

University Provost

Brad Bartel

Vice President for University Advancement

Joe Bales

Vice President for Marketing and Communications

Andrew Oppmann

Address changes should be sent to Advancement Services, MTSU Box 109, Murfreesboro, TN 37132; Other correspondence should be sent to MTSU Magazine, Drew Ruble, 1301 E. Main St., Box 49, Murfreesboro, TN 37132. For exclusive online content, visit

114,000 copies printed at Lithographics, Nashville, Tenn.
Designed by MTSU Creative and Visual Services.