“True Blue” is far more than a rhyming slogan using one of Middle Tennessee State University’s colors, professor Robert Gordon reminded the 850-plus graduating members of the Class of 2022 Saturday, Aug. 6, at the university’s summer 2022 commencement.
The phrase — a distillation of MTSU’s core values of honesty, integrity, civility and respect for diversity that’s been a pledge for the campus community since 2011 — also urges self-examination, said Gordon.
“MTSU has a great slogan: ‘True Blue.’ ‘Remember to always be True Blue.’ It’s short, it’s two words: True. Blue. Blue’s a great color. It’s far better-looking than orange,” the Department of Media Arts associate professor said, prompting sudden laughter and extended applause.
“But the operative word is ‘true.’ Be true. Be authentic. Be transparent. Be honest. Be responsible to everyone you meet, but more importantly than that, be true to yourself. Be transparent, authentic, honest, reliable — to you. Don’t kid yourself. Don’t lie to yourself. Don’t overpromote yourself, and don’t sell yourself short. Be true.”
Gordon, the departing 2021-22 president of MTSU’s Faculty Senate whose 40-year career in TV includes 15 years at MTSU, coordinates the live production and multi-camera concentration of his department’s Video and Film Production Program in the College of Media and Entertainment.
His students manage, produce, direct and crew live sports, election specials, dance and theater performances, in-house series, award shows and concerts, and he’s led the university’s coverage of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival since 2015.
Gordon urged the new graduates to accept and prepare for “Murphy’s law” and the inevitable personal and professional challenges they’ll face and to ensure that they leave a positive legacy, “… to have a life that is remembered well, live a life worth being well-remembered” through their generosity, thoughtfulness and forgiveness.
New grads grateful for support
One of those new graduates, McMinnville, Tennessee, native Kaitlyn Berry, is prepared with a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology from the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences to help guide her future colleagues toward more respectful, thoughtful workplace relationships.
She already holds a bachelor’s degree from MTSU in the field, often abbreviated to “I/O psych,” but had initially intended to seek a degree as a music therapist. Her educational path diverged several times, however, and included neuroscience, but I/O psychology won her heart.
“I had worked full time from the moment I had turned 16, so it was natural for me to gravitate back to the workplace,” said Berry, who plans to work in either learning and development or training areas of I/O psychology as a specialist or consultant.
Berry said she’s grateful to the supportive relationships her MTSU colleagues have offered, “from the lovely janitor who greeted me each day and cheered me on to graduation in Jones Hall to my mentors at the Center for Dyslexia and the Honors College to Dr. (Jamie) Burriss (in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs) to all of the I/O faculty who have supported me in my program.”
Her August 2022 classmate Daniel Garrett, a U.S. Army veteran from Chapel Hill, Tennessee, who graduated with his master’s degree in engineering technology, said he now “has ambitions for my children. I want them to see that going to college is a good thing.”
Garrett, whose children and stepchildren are ages 11, 9, 20 and 18, also is now a two-time MTSU alumnus, earning his bachelor’s degree in unmanned aerial systems operations from the Department of Aerospace in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.
He’s been a student worker, contractor, graduate assistant, adjunct faculty member and director of the Department of Engineering Technology‘s electronics laboratory for the past two years.
“I’m not planning on going out into the workforce, per se,” said Garrett, whose wife will wrap up her master’s degree in public health this fall. “I’m thinking about doing some teaching because I really like working with other students, and that’s been something that’s helped me through my degree — working with other students.”
Garrett spent four years in the Army, including a nine-month tour in Afghanistan where he worked as an explosive ordnance disposal technician.
‘A bright future for our great state’
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee noted that workplaces across the country and around the world benefit from the experiences of MTSU graduates, and Tennessee tops that list of beneficiaries.
“Your university continues to serve as a powerful economic engine for our community and the entire state of Tennessee,” McPhee told the audience inside MTSU’s Murphy Center. “A recent study affirmed that MTSU was responsible for more than $1.42 billion in economic impact and almost 11,500 jobs statewide.
“We take great pride in our institution’s economic impact on our community as we work to fulfill our mission of preparing the next generations of leaders, entrepreneurs, and highly skilled professionals across the workforce.
“Indeed, almost 80 percent of our alumni chose to remain, live and work in Tennessee. Our graduates engage, invest and give back to their local communities. Each of them, and all of you, represents a bright future for our great state.”
The August 2022 graduating class at MTSU, totaling 857 students, comprises 564 undergraduates and 293 graduate scholars from all MTSU’s colleges — including Graduate Studies, the Jones College of Business, the College of Education, Liberal Arts and the University College alongside Basic and Applied Sciences, Behavioral and Health Sciences, and Media and Entertainment.
The graduate student group includes 265 master’s, seven education-specialist and 21 doctoral degree recipients. Twelve students also received graduate certificates.
This graduating group brings the total degrees MTSU’s awarded since its 1911 founding to more than 176,500.
The official commencement program, listing all the August 2022 graduates by college and noting their honors, is available at https://bit.ly/MTSummer2022GradProgram.
The two-hour ceremony, which was livestreamed on the university website and its social media channels, will be rebroadcast Sunday, Aug. 7, at 6 p.m. Central and again Sunday, Aug. 14, at 2 p.m. Central on MTSU’s “True Blue TV” station on local cable channels and at x https://mtsu.edu/TrueBlueTV.
A video with highlights from the day’s events is available above. More photos can be found at https://bit.ly/MTSummer2022gradphotos.
The university’s 2022-23 academic year begins Monday, Aug. 22, with the first official day of fall 2022 classes. For more information about MTSU and its special events, visit https://mtsu.edu.
— Gina E. Fann, Gina K. Logue and Randy Weiler (firstname.lastname@example.org)