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Groundbreaking, record commencement, new programs among top MTSU news stories in 2018

Breaking ground on a multimillion-dollar academic building. Hosting a record-setting spring commencement. Launching an innovative aerospace program. Increasing a top scholarship. Significantly expanding a student recruitment program’s geographic footprint.

Those are five of the top news happenings of 2018 as selected by MTSUNews.com, the university’s news and information website.

MTSU undergraduate students listen carefully to instructions Saturday, May 5, at the university’s spring 2018 morning commencement ceremony in Murphy Center. MTSU presented a record 2,641 degrees — 425 graduate and 2,206 undergraduate — during the two-day event. (MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

MTSU undergraduate students listen carefully to instructions Saturday, May 5, at the university’s spring 2018 morning commencement ceremony in Murphy Center. MTSU presented a record 2,641 degrees — 425 graduate and 2,206 undergraduate — during the two-day event. (MTSU photo by GradImages.com)

MTSUNews.com noted that MTSU’s first commencement ceremonies of the year in May (two undergraduate and one graduate) featured a record 2,641 graduates walking the stage at Murphy Center as the university continues to produce 5,000-plus new alumni each academic year.

Fall semester got off to an exciting start when officials and pilots from Delta airlines visited campus to launch the Delta Propel program, an innovative fast-track program to train student pilots for careers at the major airline and meet a growing demand.

President Sidney A. McPhee said the annual month-by-month look back of the university’s milestone helps the campus community reflect upon the progress of the institution during each calendar year. McPhee featured some of the annual pride points in an online holiday video released before Christmas (above).

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee

Dr. Sidney A. McPhee

“I’m often amazed at the wealth of talent and support from our faculty, staff and students that allow MTSU to continuously expand our academic programs and overall impact on the community, region and state,” he said.

Work continues after September’s groundbreaking ceremony for the new 91,000-square-foot, $39.6 million College of Behavioral and Health Sciences CBHS building, which will house the departments of criminal justice administrationpsychology and social work, including faculty offices, classrooms and laboratory space. It will be located in an area north of the Student Union Commons on what is now partly grass and partly a parking lot. Completion is projected for the summer/fall of 2020.

Of the total cost, $35.1 million is provided by state government and $4.5 million was provided by the university. The Nashville-based architectural firm of Bauer Askew designed the three-story building. New York-based Turner Construction, with offices in Nashville, is the general contractor.

Dr. Terry Whiteside

Dr. Terry Whiteside

Some labs will be dedicated to the collection of questionnaire responses and other data. Others will be used for teaching data collection to both undergraduates and graduates.

Neuroscience programs for the study of electroencephalography, which is the recording of electrical activity in the brain, and eye tracking, which measures eye positions and eye movement, will benefit from the new lab space.

“Student-faculty undergraduate research will grow astronomically,” said Harold “Terry” Whiteside, dean of the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences. “Graduate research and faculty research will also be enhanced.”

Alumnus and MTSU Board of Trustees Chairman Stephen B. “Steve” Smith, one of the undergraduate ceremony speakers in May, told the graduates that day that “choosing optimism over cynicism is a tough, everyday task, and it’s not fashionable.”

“You’re armed with knowledge and confidence. I expect you to win and do great things for yourself, your country and your school.”

Meanwhile, MTSU is one of eight universities selected by Delta airlines this year to identify and mentor the next generation of pilots because of looming retirements across the industry. Officials announced that the airline will be looking to hire employees in mechanical, management/leadership, information technology, engineering, meteorology and other fields.

Dr. Mark Byrnes, university provost

Dr. Mark Byrnes

MTSU Provost Mark Byrnes called the partnership “an amazing opportunity for students to prepare for their careers and be a part of one of the world’s top airlines.” Aerospace department chair Wendy Beckman added that Delta “is a top place to work and a great place to aspire to work for after graduation.”

At an October True Blue Tour stop, McPhee announced that the university was substantially increasing the value and broadening eligibility of its Presidential Scholarship, a move that will more than double the amount awarded to some high-ability freshmen who enroll next fall.

The Presidential Scholarship increases to $18,000 in total value, paid out to eligible incoming freshmen (starting Fall 2019) at $4,500 a year for four years. Students must have a 3.5 high school GPA and score between 25 and 29 on the ACT to qualify for the expanded award.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Grant Hampton.

As MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, makes the announcement, Grant Hampton, 17, of Thompson’s Station, an Independence High School senior, smiles while holding a large replica of an $18,000 check representing the new expanded Presidential Scholarship announced Oct. 2 during the MTSU True Blue Tour visit to Franklin, Tenn. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

The year wrapped up with the Middle Tennessee State University’s Board of Trustees in December to dramatically expand its Regional Scholars Program, which reduces tuition for select potential out-of-state students, to include all eligible residents in states that border Tennessee.

The Regional Scholars Program, which reduces MTSU’s out-of-state tuition by almost 50 percent for qualified students, now extends to those who live anywhere within states that touch Tennessee’s border. It had been restricted to those living within a 250-mile radius of Murfreesboro.

The expansion takes effect for new and returning students starting in the 2019 fall semester.

Here are some of the other top stories from 2018 in chronological order:

JANUARY

MTSU president, trustee join Leadership Nashville panel on area growth, opportunities

Finding and keeping a quality work force in a fast-growth market was the hot topic Jan. 4 at a panel convened by Leadership Nashville that included MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee.

Nashville-based Chris Karbowiak, executive vice president of Bridgestone Americas, and Jim Flautt, CEO for Asia Pacific and Japan at Asurion, joined McPhee and moderator Janet Miller, CEO of Colliers International, to discuss challenges and opportunities facing top employers.

MLK celebration inspires MTSU community to ‘keep pushing forward’

The way MTSU student Damarcus Seaberry sees it, part of Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy is embodied in Seaberry’s very presence on the Blue Raider campus — a young African-American male pursuing his dream of one day becoming an athletic director.

“Martin Luther King spoke perseverance,” said Seaberry, a 22-year-old senior leisure, sports and tourism studies major. “That no matter what we go through in life … no matter what obstacles come our way, we always have to keep pushing forward.”

The MTSU Generation of Purpose gospel choir performs “King Jesus is A-Listening” during the Monday, Jan. 15, celebration and candlelight vigil at Tucker Theatre in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

The MTSU Generation of Purpose gospel choir performs “King Jesus is A-Listening” during the Monday, Jan. 15, celebration and candlelight vigil at Tucker Theatre in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

Seaberry was among a diverse crowd of roughly 250 attendees, including MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, at the Jan. 15, university-sponsored celebration and candlelight vigil inside Tucker Theatre in observance of the federal holiday in honor of the slain civil rights leader.

Hosted by Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity (of which King was a member), the event was highlighted by featured speaker Phil Darius Wallace, an actor and writer from Memphis, the city where King would be struck down by a sniper’s bullet on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel 50 years ago during his visit in support of a sanitation workers’ strike there.

FEBRUARY

State lawmakers learn about MTSU Botanical Medicine Center’s hemp research [+VIDEO]

House Speaker Beth Harwell led a delegation of Tennessee legislators to campus Feb. 5 to learn more about Middle Tennessee State University’s Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research and its ongoing studies with nonpsychotropic cannabinoids, which are derived from hemp.

“I’m so proud of your ability to lead the nation with this research,” said Harwell, R-Nashville. “You’re on the cutting edge of offering what other people need. … Something near and dear to me is research.”

MTSU invited the state lawmakers to illustrate the development and research underway and showing the medicinal strides being made. The research would be pertinent if Tennessee expands on a medical cannabis patient program.

MTSU graduate student Shannon Smith, left, explains some of the steps in botanical medical research to Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, a major supporter of MTSU’s ginseng research initiative, Feb. 5 in the Science Building experimental greenhouse. Faison was part of a group of state legislators touring the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medical Research inside MTSU’s Science Building. (MTSU photo by Andy HeidT)

Girls reign at MTSU math, science event [+VIDEO]

It may have been raining outside, but girls reigned supreme inside during the 21st Expanding Your Horizons in Math and Science Conference at MTSU Saturday, Feb. 10, in the Science Building and other university facilities.

Middle school and high school girls attended workshops, heard from mentors and keynote speaker Jennifer Williams, enjoyed hands-on experiences while learning about careers in science, technology, engineering and math and learned more about college life at MTSU.

Williams, who has been a part of EYH conferences since 2001 and now serves MTSU’s College of Basic and Applied Sciences as an academic adviser, spoke about their futures, including potential careers in the STEM disciplines.

This group of EYH attendees show off their lab results.

A group of Expanding Your Horizons girls show their various bottled liquid completed projects in the Science Building laboratory Feb. 10. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

MTSU Black History Month speaker Thomas delivers urgent call with hip-hop history lesson [+VIDEO]

“Tonight, it’s my job to get you to operate with the spirit of urgency that your ancestors operated (with).”

Alternating between hip-hop communicator and first-generation educator, Eric Thomas lovingly delivered a wake-up call to a standing-room only audience inside MTSU’s Student Union Ballroom Feb. 26. His speech was the keynote address of the university’s Black History Month activities.

Speaking to a largely student audience, the author, minister and motivational speaker — also known as “ET, The Hip-Hop Preacher” — emphasized the importance of taking advantage of opportunities such as going to college instead of playing and partying at the expense of their education.

MARCH

‘Persistent’ coach, trailblazers celebrated at MTSU National Women’s History Month kickoff

MTSU kicked off its National Women’s History Month festivities by celebrating a native Tennessean while also honoring a group of women leaders on the Blue Raider campus.

At the opening ceremony, the late University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt was revealed as the woman featured on buttons being distributed around campus.

Two of Summitt’s former players, MTSU assistant women’s basketball coach Shalon Pillow and business owner Tiffany Woosley, spoke in tribute to Summitt, who died in 2016 due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

MTSU, Middle TN Scouts Council partner to strengthen science, educational opportunities [+VIDEO]

Middle Tennessee State University and the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America signed a partnership that will allow the university to be a greater resource for Scouting programs, particularly in science and technology.

In doing so, the university will gain an opportunity to reach and recruit prospective students from the council, which serves 37 Middle Tennessee counties and Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee joined former Council President J.B. Baker, now a member of the university’s Board of Trustees, and Council Scout Executive and CEO Larry Brown in signing the partnership.

From right to left, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, MTSU Trustee J.B. Baker, and Larry Brown, CEO of the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America, shake hands after signing a partnership Wednesday, March 7, in the Strobel Lobby at MTSU. Behind them are Cub Scouts from Scales and Rockvale elementary schools. The agreement allows the university to be a greater resource for scouting programs, particularly in science and technology. (MTSU photo by Eric B. Sutton)

From right to left, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, MTSU Trustee J.B. Baker, and Larry Brown, CEO of the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America, shake hands after signing a partnership Wednesday, March 7, in the Strobel Lobby at MTSU. Behind them are Cub Scouts from Scales and Rockvale elementary schools. The agreement allows the university to be a greater resource for scouting programs, particularly in science and technology. (MTSU photo by Eric B. Sutton)

‘Tennessee grows really smart kids,’ guest tells young inventors at MTSU’s 26th annual Invention Convention

Young Middle Tennessee inventors apparently have developed quite the reputation among national Invention Convention leaders and participants.

“Tennessee grows some really, really smart kids,” Juli Shively, senior director of outreach for the STEMIE Coalition’s National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo told more than 800 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade geniuses attending MTSU’s 26th annual Invention Convention.

“I got to walk around and see several of your inventions, and that’s the only thing to say.”

Each year, the youngsters create and present inventions from one of two categories —”Games” and “Make Our Lives Easier” — and compete for trophies, ribbons, and for the first time this year, cash awards.

APRIL

Award-winning actress Selenis Leyva talks self-love, misrepresentation at women’s history event

Growing up in the Bronx, New York, Selenis Leyva didn’t see herself as the poverty-stricken 13-year-old girl others treated her from childhood to adulthood.

At right, Barbara Scales, director of MTSU’s June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, smiles as she has her poster autographed by MTSU Women's History Month keynote speaker Selenis Leyva, one of the breakout stars of Netflix’s hit series “Orange Is The New Black.” Leyva shared her thoughts about self-image, diversity and inclusion April 9 inside MTSU’s Tucker Theatre. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

At right, Barbara Scales, director of MTSU’s June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, smiles as she has her poster autographed by MTSU Women’s History Month keynote speaker Selenis Leyva, one of the breakout stars of Netflix’s hit series “Orange Is The New Black.” Leyva shared her thoughts about self-image, diversity and inclusion April 9 inside MTSU’s Tucker Theatre. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

“I had my locker vandalized with all these nasty words spray-painted on it and I realized, ‘Wow! I thought I had been accepted, but clearly that’s not the feeling,’” Leyva said during her April 9 address in Tucker Theatre.

Leyva, who portrays jail inmate Gloria Mendoza in Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” was this year’s keynote speaker for students, faculty and staff for MTSU’s celebration of National Women’s History Month.

The actress spoke on the importance of representation both on and off the screen.

MTSU media students get experience ‘beyond … wildest dreams’ before ACM Awards Show in Vegas [+VIDEO]

LAS VEGAS — As the clock ticked to showtime for the 53rd annual Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday, April 15, Pete Fisher reflected on his journey from Middle Tennessee State University student to CEO of one of music’s biggest events.

“I recall having big dreams about where a career in the music industry could take me,” said Fisher, who became ACM’s top executive after working 17 years at the Grand Ole Opry, most recently as its general manager and vice president.

“Those lofty dreams have definitely been exceeded.”

Fisher earned a bachelor’s degree in recording industry management from MTSU in 1987 and was recognized as a distinguished alumnus in 2004. He also serves on the Board of Trust for MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment.

MTSU students help youngsters discover life on a farm at Ag Education Spring Fling [+VIDEO]

Standing outside a back entrance, you could hear the buzz of little voices coming from inside the MTSU Tennessee Livestock Center.

It was about 300 children — the first of three waves of youngsters to come April 17 for the fourth annual Ag Education Spring Fling— visiting various agriculture-related stations during their two-hour visit to learn about life on a farm.School of Agriculture logo

They saw horses, pigs, a cow, ducks and other animals; learned about honey bees, soil, and where food comes from; could walk or run through a straw maze, play cornhole, make a Holstein dairy cow puppet craft and learn about how fruits and vegetables are grown. Some even brought a sack lunch.

More than 900 elementary-age children from Christiana, Campus School, Thurman Francis, Blackman and Smyrna schools, plus teachers, parents and more than 80 combined MTSU agritourism class and agriculture students, kept things hopping in the livestock center.

MTSU aerospace students receive Top Hawk Cessna Skyhawk 172 to recruit, promote program [+VIDEO]

WICHITA, Kan. — Middle Tennessee State University aerospace students claimed their prize — use of a new, custom-branded Cessna Skyhawk 172 — as part of Textron Aviation Inc.’s 2018 Top Hawk program.

Six student flight instructors and aerospace administrators accepted delivery of the plane from Textron Aviation officials April 12 during a ceremony in the Flight Operations building at Textron Aviation headquarters at Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport in Wichita, Kansas.

Elizabeth Keller and Harry Arcamuzi, two of the flight instructors, submitted MTSU’s application, which was one of five chosen by Textron Aviation.

MTSU learned last November of its selection. Under the Top Hawk program, MTSU will use the plane until late September 2018 to support flight training, recruiting efforts and promotional activities throughout the spring and summer.

MTSU thanks special donors for ‘huge impact’ at 1911 Society Luncheon

For MTSU nontraditional student Corbitt Huseth, the scholarships and financial assistance he received thanks to MTSU donors was critical in him being able to balance family and a graduate assistantship.

He earned his degree in exercise science in fall 2017 and is working on finishing his master’s over the summer while continuing as a graduate teaching assistant in MTSU’s underwater treadmill lab, which provides treatment for those with spinal injuries. He hopes to start on his Ph.D. this fall.

“The fact that I did receive (a scholarship), financially was a huge impact on me,” he told donors at MTSU’s sixth annual 1911 Society Luncheon earlier this month. “It allowed me to work less, study more, and it allowed me to spend more time with my family. … It also allowed me to continue to work in the underwater treadmill lab, which changes lives on a daily basis.”

Huseth along with two other MTSU top scholars publicly gave thanks earlier this month to the newest members of the 1911 Society, which celebrates individuals and families who have created gifts to the university through their estate plans.

First-time awards highlight spring Graduating Veterans Stole Ceremony [+VIDEO]

Daniel Ladendorf and Ed Russell knew they were going to receive an award during the 10th MTSU Graduating Veterans Stole Ceremony.

They probably were not aware of the first-time significance.

MTSU officials with the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center presented the new Veteran Leadership Award and Journey Award to Ladendorf and Russell, respectively, during the spring Stole Ceremony April 25.

During the ceremony, held in the Miller Education Center’s second-floor atrium, the university recognized student veterans not for only their service to their country but for finishing their dream of obtaining a college degree.

MTSU graduating student veteran Darrell Wright, right, shakes hands with David Corlew as Hilary Miller introduces the pair. Corlew is a board member and Journey Home Project co-founder along with legendary musician Charlie Daniels. The organization has provided $120,000 for the Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center that Miller directs. Wright graduated in December. The spring Stole Ceremony will start at 10 a.m. April 25. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

MAY

MTSU, Motlow State presidents sign agreement to ease transfer process [+VIDEO]

SMYRNA, Tenn. — The presidents of Motlow State Community College and Middle Tennessee State University signed an agreement Tuesday, May 1, that highlights the pathways for Motlow students with associate degrees to move seamlessly to the four-year university.

The agreement, signed on the college’s Smyrna campus with MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, was one of the first official actions by new Motlow State President Michael L. Torrence.

The university will tout its efforts to aid Motlow transfers as the MTSU Promise, pledging support to help them complete their associate degree, then move forward in seeking a four-year degree.

MTSU debaters argue their way to extraordinary success as 2017-18 season concludes

MTSU’s award-winning Blue Raider Debate Team has experienced one of the best seasons in its more than century-long history.

The team of 25 students won 148 awards over the 2017-18 season. Its accomplishments include the top national award in International Public Debate Association team competition.

“The (IPDA) format focuses on delivery skill and argumentation,” said team coach Pat Richey, director of forensics and assistant professor of communication studies. “Judges can be any citizens, and debaters are encouraged to tailor their messages to multiple audiences, giving students real-world skills.”

Their work led to a total of five top national awards, a regional title and two Tennessee state titles, as well as numerous individual titles in various tournaments throughout the season.

MTSU Debate Team members pose with some of the group's top national, regional and individual awards while wrapping up one of their best seasons ever in 2017-18. Shown from left are Skye Irish, a political science major from Rockwood, Tenn.; Steven Barhorst, an international relations major from Chicago; Joshua Hendricks, a communications studies major from Jefferson City, Tenn.; Alex Fingeroot, a history, political science and religious studies major from Nashville, Tenn.; Jordan Nickell, an interactive media and sociology major from Jackson, Tenn.; Katelyn Brooks, a fall 2017 graduate in anthropology and communications studies from Nashville; and Josh Tilton, an English major from Moscow, Russia. (MTSU photo by Jimmy Hart)

MTSU Debate Team members pose with some of the group’s top national, regional and individual awards while wrapping up one of their best seasons ever in 2017-18. Shown from left are Skye Irish, a political science major from Rockwood, Tenn.; Steven Barhorst, an international relations major from Chicago; Joshua Hendricks, a communications studies major from Jefferson City, Tenn.; Alex Fingeroot, a history, political science and religious studies major from Nashville, Tenn.; Jordan Nickell, an interactive media and sociology major from Jackson, Tenn.; Katelyn Brooks, a fall 2017 graduate in anthropology and communications studies from Nashville; and Josh Tilton, an English major from Moscow, Russia. (MTSU photo by Jimmy Hart)

Hop Springs tour provides sneak peek of MTSU fermentation science lab

Attendees of the Brewers Association’s national 2018 Craft Brewing Conference in Nashville got a sneak peek Friday, May 4, of MTSU’s Fermentation Sciences laboratory under construction at the Hop Springs agritourism destination being built by Steel Barrel Brewery.

Provost Mark Byrnes joined College of Basic and Applied Sciences Dean Bud Fischer and Tony Johnston, director of MTSU’s fermentation science program, in welcoming attendees to the open house at the 80-acre Hop Springs construction site, located at 6790 John Bragg Highway.

Johnston will oversee a hands-on laboratory and research site being built as part of the Hop Springs facility. Steel Barrel’s brewing headquarters, anticipated to be complete by fall 2018, will also feature a 2,000-seat amphitheater, a 10-acre hop field, wet and dry dog parks and scenic hiking and biking trails.

MTSU in China: Agreement signed to launch joint International Ginseng Institute [+VIDEO]

NANNING, China — Middle Tennessee State University and its primary research partner in China agreed to create a joint ginseng institute that will study, develop and promote Tennessee-grown herbal products for sale in Asia and other emerging markets.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Miao Jianhua, director of the Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants, signed the agreement during McPhee’s barnstorming trip through China that has taken him also to Beijing, Hangzhou and Changsha.

The new International Ginseng Institute, with MTSU professor Iris Gao serving as its American director, will spin off from the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research at MTSU, which will continue to work with the garden on other projects.

MTSU establishes new Data Science Institute to tackle emerging field of ‘big data’

Mars colonization? Self-driving cars in the Midstate? Integrated health care databases? All are big topics that require “big data” to address.

And they will be among research areas explored initially by Middle Tennessee State University’s new Data Science Institute, launched this month with a mission to promote funded interdisciplinary research and develop public and private collaborations around the emerging field of “big data.”

“The problem is many companies don’t know how to analyze and bring (big data) together to make good business decisions,” said Charlie Apigian, interim director of the institute and a professor of information systems and analytics in MTSU’s Jones College of Business.

The Data Science Institute seeks to create opportunities for faculty and students to collaborate on interdisciplinary research; bring in substantial grants and funding for interdisciplinary data projects; and establish big data partnerships and projects with companies and other external entities.

JUNE

Bonnaroo 2018 Day 1: MTSU multimedia students return for unique, hands-on experience [+VIDEO]

MANCHESTER, Tenn. — It may be the fifth year that Middle Tennessee State University has deployed a team of multimedia communicators to cover the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, yet each one is very different and unique.

About 35 students for MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment journeyed to the 700-acre farm that Dean Ken Paulson calls “the Bonnaroo campus.”

Ken Paulson, dean, College of Media and Entertainment

Ken Paulson

“There’s a special vibrancy to teaching professional skills when the classroom is the Bonnaroo festival,” Paulson said. “Each year students majoring in photography, journalism, audio engineering and video production have a singular learning experience that they’ll never forget.”

Students from all three of the college’s departments are represented at this year’s Bonnaroo. Video and film production and photography majors from the Department of Media Arts and audio production majors from the Department of Recording Industry will be capturing performances of emerging artists on Bonnaroo’s Who Stage, while multimedia majors from the School of Journalism and Strategic Media will be covering acts for area media outlets.

MTSU, local Election Commission team up for new ‘True Blue Voter’ student registration program

As the 2018 midterm elections approached, MTSU announced a dynamic new program to boost the civic participation of college students.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, MTSU Board of Trustees Chairman Stephen Smith and Rutherford County Election Commission Administrator Alan Farley introduced the “True Blue Voter Initiative” Tuesday, June 12, at the Miller Education Center in Murfreesboro.

Incoming MTSU freshmen Amarya Zachery, left, and her sister, Tierany Zachery, hold up “I’m registered to vote” signs after registering at one of the True Blue Voter registration tables available this summer at the Campus Recreation Center during the CUSTOMS new student orientation sessions. Almost 200 students have been registered during the ongoing initiative in partnership with the Rutherford County Election Commission. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Incoming MTSU freshmen Amarya Zachery, left, and her sister, Tierany Zachery, hold up “I’m registered to vote” signs after registering at one of the True Blue Voter registration tables available this summer at the Campus Recreation Center during the CUSTOMS new student orientation sessions. Almost 200 students have been registered during the ongoing initiative in partnership with the Rutherford County Election Commission. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

The True Blue Voter Initiative is designed to engage students in civic participation and leadership through voting. The Rutherford County Election Commission will provide expertise to inform MTSU students about absentee voting and voter registration.

Farley said the True Blue Voter Initiative represents a “model partnership” between MTSU and the Election Commission. However, he stressed that this effort extends beyond just Rutherford, adding that they can assist students in registering to cast ballots, including absentee ballots, in any Tennessee county.

Youth discover potential high-flying careers at MTSU summer aviation camp [+VIDEO]

As Middle Tennessee State University wraps up its seventh annual Introduction to Aviation and Professional Pilot Advanced Camp, 34 middle and high school students have gained valuable hands-on experience in how to aviate, navigate and communicate in what could be a future career.

Coordinated by the MTSU Department of Aerospace, the one-week intensive aviation camp started Monday, June 11, and concluded Friday, June 15, at the MTSU Jean A. Jack Flight Education Center at Murfreesboro Municipal Airport and on the MTSU campus in the Business and Aerospace Building.

Opening activities started Monday morning when campers met with MTSU faculty and staff to learn about flight and aerodynamics. From there, campers broke off into four groups for the duration of the week, where they learned various aspects of aviation.

JULY

Billboard again includes MTSU recording industry program in nation’s top music business schools

MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry is back on Billboard‘s semi-annual list of the nation’s top music business schools, once again joining its counterparts at Berklee, UCLA and New York University as the standouts in educating the next generation of music industry pros.Billboard logo

The 2018 alphabetical listing of 17 schools, included in the magazine’s June 30 online and print editions, also adds newcomers like Georgia’s Kennesaw State University and Pennsylvania’s Drexel University alongside stalwarts like the programs at New York University, Syracuse University, the University of Miami and UCLA and Nashville neighbor Belmont University.

MTSU’s program, which is currently celebrating its 45th year, earned special acclaim in its fourth consecutive mention from the music industry magazine for its ongoing “learning experiences for the institution’s recording-industry-program students” at the annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in nearby Manchester, Tennessee.

MTSU extends its China education exchange program for K-12 students [+VIDEO]

HANGZHOU, China — Dancing, singing and classroom work greeted Nashville-area schoolchildren, parents and educators in China Monday as Middle Tennessee State University renewed its exchange with a top Chinese magnet school system.

The 36-member delegation, in the country for two weeks, visited classrooms, participated in enrichment activities and went with Chinese families for home visits as part of the reciprocal exchange with Dongcheng Educational Group.

It was the fourth trip led by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and his wife, retired Murfreesboro City Schools teacher Elizabeth McPhee. Other such MTSU delegations visited China in 2012, 2014 and 2016, and Dongcheng students came to Murfreesboro in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

MTSU first lady Elizabeth McPhee, a retired Murfreesboro City Schools teacher, conducts a classroom demonstration Monday, July 16, for Chinese students at Dongcheng Educational Group in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

MTSU first lady Elizabeth McPhee, a retired Murfreesboro City Schools teacher, conducts a classroom demonstration Monday, July 16, for Chinese students at Dongcheng Educational Group in Hangzhou, China. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

AUGUST

MTSU cuts ribbon on professional sales lab to train business majors [+VIDEO]

Students in MTSU’s Jones College of Business now have access to an innovative sales laboratory that will allow them to hone their selling skills in their efforts to become ready-to-hire graduates.

The university cut the ribbon Tuesday, Aug. 7, on the Mel Adams State Farm Agent Sales Lab on the first floor of its Business and Aerospace Building. It is named in honor of the alumnus (’61) and retired longtime State Farm agent who continues to support the university and its new Professional Selling concentration.

The multifunctional lab will train students to do so, providing real-world sales scenarios to help them practice. The two-room space is equipped with high definition cameras, computers, software and workplace furnishings that are similar to a professional office setting. Students and faculty can record mock interviews and sales calls and will be able to review and analyze their performance to improve interview skills.

Students unpack cars, pack residence halls during ‘We-Haul’ [+VIDEO]

With a flurry of boxes, hangers and paraphernalia essential to making a dorm room a home, MTSU welcomed students into their residence halls Aug. 24, day one of the annual “We-Haul” move-in effort.

Volunteers from the Division of Student Affairs, Enrollment and Academic Services and fraternities and sororities, as well as local community organizations, were on hand to provide dollies and physical assistance as parents off-loaded their youngsters’ items and found places to park.

“It is always an exciting beginning to the new school year,” said Dr. Deb Sells, vice president for student affairs and vice provost for enrollment and academic services. “We love to see the new students coming, and their parents are always so excited, as well.”

Nick McDevitt, center, MTSU head men’s basketball coach, helps unload a vehicle filled with a student's belongings Friday, Aug. 24, outside Corlew Hall during the annual We-Haul move-in event. Volunteers helped hundreds of students get settled into their dorms in preparation for the start of fall semester classes Monday, Aug. 27. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Nick McDevitt, center, MTSU head men’s basketball coach, helps unload a vehicle filled with a student’s belongings Friday, Aug. 24, outside Corlew Hall during the annual We-Haul move-in event. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU president urges faculty, staff to embrace ‘calling to make a difference’ in new academic year [+VIDEO]

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee kicked off the new academic year Thursday, Aug. 23, by applauding the university’s faculty and staff for continued progress in student retention and graduation while emphasizing the need to develop new strategies in an ever-evolving higher education landscape.

Now in his 18th year leading the Blue Raider campus, McPhee addressed a capacity crowd of faculty and staff inside Tucker Theatre during his annual State of the University remarks as part of the traditional Fall Faculty Meeting in advance of classes beginning Monday, Aug. 27, for the fall 2018 semester.

Equal Justice Initiative leader leaves MTSU Convocation students with message of hope, mercy [+VIDEOS]

Alabama attorney and founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson left thousands of new and returning MTSU students and others with a message of hope and mercy when he spoke Saturday (Aug. 25) at the 17th Middle Tennessee State University Convocation in Murphy Center.

Bryan Stevenson, guest speaker, University Convocation 2018, and author of “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” the Summer Reading Selection

Bryan Stevenson

From freshmen to faculty and administrators, most agreed Stevenson helped jump-start the 2018-19 academic year with a power talk centered on his calling to provide and promote social justice for the injustices people around the country have experienced.

“Even if you are a (University Honors College) Buchanan Scholar or (MTSU) faculty member, you’ve got to change the narrative,” Stevenson said in his talk.

“You have to make a choice,” the Harvard Law School graduate added. “Sometimes you have to do uncomfortable things to save the world. … People change the world when they let ideas in their mind fuel conviction in your heart and do the things that must be done to leave a more approximate society.”

SEPTEMBER

MTSU toasts local dairy, named among first with state’s Tennessee Milk logo [+VIDEO]

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has added a new twist to that national “Got Milk?” branding campaign: It’s “Got Tennessee Milk?”

State Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton announced Sept. 5 that the MTSU Creamery and the Crossville, Tennessee-based Sunrise Dairy are the first to carry the Tennessee Milk logo on their dairy products sold to the public.

Templeton made the announcement in Middle Tennessee State University’s School of Agriculture Stark Ag Building with a crowd of more than 30, including state and dairy industry personnel and MTSU students, staff and administrators, on hand.

Milk receiving the state’s Tennessee Milk designation must be entirely sourced, processed and bottled in Tennessee. The state Department of Agriculture administers the program.

Attendees "toast" the Tennessee Milk logo announcement for MTSU

With MTSU chocolate milk in hand, the crowd toasts the announcement by Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton, center right, for the Tennessee Milk designation. Milk labeled as Tennessee Milk must be entirely sourced, processed and bottled in the state. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

Moving MTSU 9/11 Remembrance grips audience [+VIDEO]

Bringing many people to tears, MTSU‘s nearly 40-minute 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony was held early Sept. 11 at the Veterans Memorial outside the Tom H. Jackson Building.

From cadets and the new Department of Military Science chair Carrick McCarthy to Gold Star Moms Tammy Bass and Jan Edens to Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and military initiatives, the ceremony recalled the events of Sept. 11, 2001, when the United States was attacked in an act of terrorism.

For the fourth year, the university and the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center held a public ceremony to commemorate the 17th anniversary of a series of four coordinated terrorist suicide attacks by the militant extremist group al-Qaida on U.S. landmarks.

Keith M. Huber speaks during 9/11 Observance at MTSU Sept. 11

Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives at MTSU, reflects on the events on Sept. 11, 2001, during the 17th anniversary of the day the U.S. was attacked. Huber spoke during the 9/11 Observance Sept. 11 in the Veterans Memorial site. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

MTSU True Blue Tour stops in Clarksville for first time Sept. 25

Middle Tennessee State University kicked off its 2018 True Blue Tour to recruit prospective students in August with a rousing start at its Murfreesboro campus for the first time — and now Clarksville, Tennessee, is next on the 14-city schedule.

MTSU recruiters, admissions staff, administrators and other team members will take the university on the road Sept. 25 to meet students and their families for a 6 to 8 p.m. reception at the Wilma Rudolph Event Center, 1190 Cumberland Drive, in Clarksville. It marks MTSU’s first tour appearance in Clarksville.

MTSU's Deb Sells offers advice to Diamond Bryant

Deb Sells, MTSU vice president of student affairs, offers advice to Diamond Bryant, 16, a Clarksville Academy sophomore, Sept. 25 during the True Blue Tour visit to Clarksville. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

MTSU celebrates mechatronics engineering accreditation

Middle Tennessee State University academic officials laid the groundwork for a new mechatronics engineering program in 2012-13. With the state’s blessings, the program went from ground zero in early August 2013 to 20 students that first semester.

Five years and nearly 400 students later, mechatronics is a fast-growing program that’s already graduated 66 students earning $65,000 to $75,000 per year. Now it’s received a titanic boost by recently earning accreditation from the Baltimore, Maryland-based Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Inc., or ABET, and its Engineering Accreditation Commission.

OCTOBER

Winning combination completes 2018 homecoming festivities [+VIDEOS]

It was chilly, rainy and overcast as MTSU students, alumni and others gathered for pregame activities Oct. 20 for the 2018 Homecoming events.

As skies began clearing and the sun popped out, opponent University of North Carolina-Charlotte dominated in nearly all phases of the football game — except the scoreboard, where it mattered most, as the Blue Raiders prevailed 21-13 in Floyd Stadium and made for a happy homecoming ending.

Homecoming has been a tradition for decades as Blue Raider alumni, students and fans turn out for the annual chili cook-off, Golden Raiders and Distinguished Alumni celebrations, leading to a full day of Saturday events. “Raidercade,” wordplay on arcade games, served as the homecoming theme.

Holocaust survivor displays spirit of forgiveness in aftermath of anti-Semitic tragedy [+VIDEO]

A Holocaust survivor told an audience at MTSU that she found the Oct. 27 massacre at a Pittsburgh synagogue “very, very eye-opening.”

Eva Mozes Kor, who, along with her identical twin sister Miriam, was a victim of grotesque scientific experiments in the notorious Auschwitz death camp during World War II, spoke Oct. 30 in MTSU’s Student Union Ballroom to an audience that included both college students and students from local K-12 schools.

Kor, who said she visited Auschwitz just a week earlier, said “crazy people are everywhere,” but we have the power to make a difference.

Holocaust survivor Eva Moses Kor, right, makes a point during her Oct. 30 address at MTSU’s Holocaust Education Day commemoration in the Student Union Building. At left is Jill Coble, Tennessee Holocaust Commission teacher fellow and panel moderator. MTSU’s Jewish and Holocaust Studies Program, the Tennessee Holocaust Commission and the MTSU Department of English sponsored the Holocaust Conference keynote featuring Kor, co-author of “Surviving the Angel of Death” with Lisa Rojany Buccieri. Kor and her identical twin, Miriam, were held captive in the notorious Auschwitz death camp and survived sadistic genetic experimentation by the Nazis. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Holocaust survivor Eva Kor, right, makes a point during her Oct. 30 address at MTSU’s Holocaust Education Day commemoration in the Student Union Building. At left is Jill Coble, Tennessee Holocaust Commission teacher fellow and panel moderator. MTSU’s Jewish and Holocaust Studies Program, the Tennessee Holocaust Commission and the MTSU Department of English sponsored the Holocaust Conference keynote featuring Kor, co-author of “Surviving the Angel of Death” with Lisa Rojany Buccieri. Kor and her identical twin, Miriam, were held captive in the notorious Auschwitz death camp and survived sadistic genetic experimentation by the Nazis. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

NOVEMBER

What a way to make a living! MTSU Theatre jumps into ‘9 to 5: The Musical’ [+VIDEO]

The MTSU Theatre production presented the multi-award-nominated “9 to 5: The Musical” Nov. 8-11.

The cast and crew turned Tucker Theatre into “Consolidated Industries” headquarters for the duration, bursting into song and dance accompanied by an office symphony of clacking keyboards and ringing phones. And of course, it’s all from the mind of one of Tennessee’s gifts to the universe, Dolly Parton.

MTSU Arts logo

Click on the logo for ticket information.

Director and MTSU theatre professor Kristi Shamburger, who’s been guiding the university’s recent superstar musicals like “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Peter Pan,” “West Side Story” and “Les Misérables” with musical director Raphael Bundage, a professor of vocal performance in MTSU’s School of Music, says this semester’s big show is one of the best opportunities they’ve had to entertain audiences.

“It’s a ride down memory lane for those of us who lived through the late ’70s and early ’80s, and it’s a joyful way to celebrate what was such an entertaining and poignant film,” Shamburger says. “It contains all of the iconic moments and characters you know and love — or love to hate — from the movie and adds more music from the incredibly talented Dolly Parton!

MTSU Center for Popular Music included in first phase of ‘Tennessee Music Pathways’ tourism program [+VIDEO]

MTSU’s Center for Popular Music will be among the locations to be included in Phase I of the Tennessee Music Pathways, a statewide initiative that identifies, interprets, promotes and preserves well-known and lesser-known music events, locations and stories across the state.

Gov. Bill Haslam and the State Legislature approved funding for the development, roll out and execution of the initiative. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development officially announced the MTSU center’s inclusion this week and presented university officials with the black and white marker to be prominently displayed inside the Bragg Media and Entertainment Building, where the center is housed.

MTSU ‘salute’ toasts veterans; Davidson receives Nunley award [+VIDEO]

A recognition of MTSU veterans who served — including five who died — in World War I, the legacy from that war, a veterans’ picnic and the presentation of the Dr. Joe Nunley Award to alumnus Jeff Davidson highlighted the pregame activities surrounding the 37th Salute to Veterans and Armed Forces at various campus venues.

The events were among several tied into the nationally televised MTSU-Western Kentucky Conference USA football game Nov. 2 in Floyd Stadium.

MTSU continued its strong tradition of honoring veterans and active-duty military personnel that began in 1982. Events are held around the national observance of Veterans Day, which will be Sunday, Nov. 11.

MTSU nabs ‘blood battle’ trophy for 6th year over WKU; 1,000+ gallons collected, 26K lives helped [+VIDEO]

MTSU proudly accepted the annual “blood battle” challenge trophy for the sixth time in its eight-year competition with Conference USA rival Western Kentucky University, but once again, the true winners are the 3,000-plus neighbors across several states whose lives may be saved by the 1,015 total pints of blood donated this year by the universities’ supporters.

MTSU donors rolled up their sleeves to give 603 pints of whole blood Oct. 29-31, beating the university’s self-imposed three-day goal by 141 pints. WKU beat its 2018 donation goal by 18 much-needed units, collecting 412 pints on the Bowling Green campus over the same three-day period.

This 2018 MTSU tally is nearly a record-breaker, second only to its 2012 collection of 618 pints of blood. WKU set its own record in 2012 to win the challenge trophy with 637 units of donated blood.

MTSU employees pledge record $132K-plus for 2018 Charitable Giving Campaign

The numbers are in, and Middle Tennessee State University employees have again promised to give back to the community in a big way with a record $132,503.04 pledged during this year’s Charitable Giving Campaign.

MTSU Provost Mark Byrnes, left, presents Dr. David Urban, dean of the Jennings A. Jones College of Business, with the Provost Cup, the sixth straight year the Jones College has earned this honor for having the highest percentage of participation in the employee Charitable Giving Campaign. (MTSU photo by Allison McGoffin)

MTSU Provost Mark Byrnes, left, presents Dr. David Urban, dean of the Jennings A. Jones College of Business, with the Provost Cup, the sixth straight year the Jones College has earned this honor for having the highest percentage of participation in the employee Charitable Giving Campaign. (MTSU photo by Allison McGoffin)

The $132,000-plus in pledges represented 106 percent of the $125,000 goal, with 883 participants — 39.4 percent of the university’s faculty and staff — also marking a new record for the campaign.

“I am very proud and pleased that our True Blue community showed its support for the communities we serve by donating and participating in our Charitable Giving Campaign in record numbers,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee.

MTSU’s annual Charitable Giving Campaign is a monthlong effort by faculty and staff to support worthy causes. The campaign is fueled largely by monthly payroll deductions from employees over the next year, but also allows one-time, lump-sum gifts at the donor’s discretion.

Leaders unite to steer students toward STEM education, careers at MTSU summit [+VIDEO]

STEM educators and industry leaders are painting a bright future, both in jobs and salaries for the coming generation of students considering and pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

About 40 educators and professionals gathered recently at Middle Tennessee State University for the Texas Instruments-sponsored “Building the STEM Bridge … From K-12 to Higher Ed to Careers” Leadership Summit in the Ingram Building’s MT Center.

Following a five-hour session featuring a keynote, two presentations, panel discussion, a networking luncheon and a closing regional STEM initiatives discussion, virtually everyone left the summit with a desire to collaborate, grow, promote and recruit bright young minds into STEM fields.

MTSU math professor Mary Martin, center, and other participants at the recent Texas Instruments-sponsored Leadership Summit discuss STEM-related questions during the networking event held in MTSU’s Ingram Building MT Center. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU math professor Mary Martin, center, and other participants at the recent Texas Instruments-sponsored Leadership Summit discuss STEM-related questions during the networking event held in MTSU’s Ingram Building MT Center. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU students get up-close view of CMA Awards

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Students from Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Media and Entertainment went behind the scenes at the 52nd annual Country Music Association Awards this month to learn from the media professionals staging one of the industry’s biggest award telecasts.

Robert “Bob” Gordon, an assistant professor of television production in the Department of Media Arts, said 11 students served as talent production assistants during rehearsals for the CMA Awards and the telecast at the Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville.

Six of the students got a backstage tour and an opportunity to ask questions of CMA CEO Sarah Trahern as well as the telecast’s director and producer. Several also helped as crew for the pre-awards red-carpet show produced by WKRN-TV, Nashville’s ABC affiliate.

Four of 11 MTSU students who gained behind-the-scenes knowledge at the recent CMA Awards.

MTSU students Andrew Stephens, left, Madison Stewart, Levi Underwood and Minh Phan were among 11 students from MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment who got a behind-the-scenes view at work before and during the telecast of the 52nd Country Music Association Awards earlier this month. (MTSU photo)

DECEMBER

Graduating MTSU student teachers in demand at fall recruitment fair [+VIDEO]

From China, to Washington, D.C., to right here in Rutherford County, representatives from more than 40 school districts and educational entities convened on the Middle Tennessee State University campus this week seeking to hire the next crop of new teachers to help lead their classrooms.

MTSU’s College of Education hosted the Fall 2018 Teacher Recruitment Fair inside the Student Union Ballroom, giving dozens of graduating teacher candidates a chance to hear from recruiters about what their districts could offer while also sharing their own resumes and interest in pursuing any open positions.

The event represented the final seminar for Residency II student teachers who have spent the entire semester at teaching assignments to finish their degree track. Some have job offers already while others were looking to secure one before picking up their diplomas at Saturday’s fall commencement ceremonies at Murphy Center.

1,700-plus new grads ready to face world after fall commencement [+VIDEOS]

MTSU’s 1,731 newest graduates are out in the world and ready to use their education after receiving their degrees — and words of encouragement from enthusiastic guest speakers — in the university’s fall 2018 commencement ceremonies Dec. 15 in Murphy Center.

Wanda Lyle, managing director of UBS AG and general manager of the UBS Business Solutions Center in Nashville, urged students at MTSU’s morning graduation ceremony to recall the adage “education is a gift.”

Alumna and WSMV-Channel 4 news anchor and journalist Holly Thompson reminded her fellow Blue Raiders at the afternoon commencement to hold fast to their principles and have faith in their abilities.

Among graduates was integrated studies major BryTavious Chambers of Memphis, who graduated from MTSU’s University College the same month a rap single he produced went double platinum and No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was nominated for two Grammy Awards.

MTSU senior BryTavious Chambers of Memphis, known professionally as “Tay Keith,” accepts his bachelor’s degree in integrated studies from President Sidney A. McPhee during the university’s fall 2018 commencement ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 15. Chambers earned his degree from MTSU’s University College the same month a rap single he produced, Travis Scott’s “SICKO MODE,” went double platinum and No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was nominated for two Grammy Awards. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

MTSU senior BryTavious Chambers of Memphis, known professionally as “Tay Keith,” accepts his bachelor’s degree in integrated studies from President Sidney A. McPhee during the university’s fall 2018 commencement ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 15. Chambers earned his degree from MTSU’s University College the same month a rap single he produced, Travis Scott’s “SICKO MODE,” went double platinum and No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was nominated for two Grammy Awards. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

MTSU, China university strengthen bond with medicinal research agreement

Officials with Middle Tennessee State University and China’s Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine signed an agreement Dec. 17 solidifying their ties regarding cooperative research into agricultural residues and traditional medicine.

In the agreement, MTSU will join the team of collaborative institutes of the Guangxi Collaborative Innovation Center for Research on Functional Ingredients of Agricultural Residues, a research institute based in China at Guangxi University.

Together, MTSU and the Chinese institutes will participate in joint programs of medicinal research and product development on agricultural botanical residues, including American ginseng extract and persimmon, mango and sugar cane leaves.

MTSU, Guangxi sign medicinal research agreement

As respective Chinese and American colleagues watch from behind, Guangxi University researcher Jiagang Deng, left, and MTSU Provost Mark Byrnes sign memorandum of understanding documents in the President’s Conference Room in the Cope Administration Building on Dec. 17. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

 


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