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MTSU continues progress with new buildings, nation...

MTSU continues progress with new buildings, national exposure, historic milestones in 2022

Middle Tennessee State University departs 2022 following a year of noteworthy accomplishments by its students, faculty, staff and alumni as well as a historic milestone for the entire university.

Here are some of the top news stories for the Blue Raider campus for 2022:

Economic engine statewide

The year began with promising news of MTSU’s economic impact on the region and state, with a report by the Business and Economic Research Center in the Jones College of Business showing that the university creates a $1.42 billion economic impact annually and sustains 11,500 job statewide.

Not only does the institution generate jobs, but its graduates stay close to home. MTSU accounts for nearly 2 in every 5 adults with bachelor’s degrees or above in Rutherford County and 1 in every 6 adults in the Nashville metro area, the report noted. Also, in 2021, 90% of the almost 21,000 students at the university were from Tennessee; 79% of MTSU alumni live in Tennessee.

A continued draw for many prospective students and future graduates is the university’s highly touted aerospace program. The explosion of interest in a high-demand field, particularly for pilot training, drew critical financial support from the state of Tennessee in the spring when it allocated more than $60 million in funding to expand MTSU flight operations.

MTSU celebrated its latest large-scale capital improvement this fall with the grand opening of an innovative, $40.1 million School of Concrete and Construction Management Building that has already begun training the next generation of professionals in another industry craving for a skilled workforce.

With a large crowd gathered on the lawn outside the just-opened MTSU Concrete and Construction Management Building, they listen as university President Sidney A. McPhee acknowledges all the support that went into the $40.1 million facility Thursday, Oct. 13. MTSU unveiled the 54,000-square-foot building with a ribbon cutting, speeches and tours. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)
A large crowd listens on the lawn outside the just-opened MTSU Concrete and Construction Management Building as university President Sidney A. McPhee acknowledges all the support that went into the $40.1 million facility in this file photo from the Oct. 13 grand opening event. MTSU unveiled the 54,000-square-foot building with a ribbon cutting, speeches and tours. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

And for the fourth straight year, MTSU was named to The Princeton Review’s annual list of best colleges in the nation, the only locally governed institution in Tennessee recognized by the publication. First achieving its spot in 2019, MTSU is one of only five higher education entities in the state — two public and three private — included in the 31st edition of “The Best 388 Colleges” for 2023.

Dr. Sidney A. McPhee, MTSU president
Dr. Sidney A. McPhee

“It’s remarkable what the dedicated faculty and staff at our institution continues to achieve year after year in an effort to enhance the quality of life in our community, certainly in partnership with our Board of Trustees and a host of faithful alumni, community supporters and business and industry partners,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, now in his 21st year of leading the Blue Raider campus.

“MTSU will remain a forward-looking institution, constantly seeking ways to enhance the educational experience of our students but also providing them a foundation to become the engaged, productive and caring citizens who contribute to their communities and tangibly demonstrate what it means to be True Blue.”

Music, medicine, more

In the spring, a delegation of the students, faculty and staff resumed its annual treto the Grammys, after a pandemic hiatus the previous year, to network with industry professionals and continue the tradition of recognizing the various alumni from the College of Media and Entertainment and School of Music who were nominated for the coveted music industry award.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, center right, stands with faculty, students and recent alumni from the university’s Department of Recording Industry on the red carpet before the MusiCares fundraiser at the site of the 2022 Grammy Awards in Las Vegas. (MTSU file photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Weeks after returning from the Grammys, the university celebrated more music industry achievement by joining a throng of supporters for MTSU alumna and “American Idol” finalist Hunter “HunterGirl” Wolkonowski during a special celebration in her hometown of Winchester, Tennessee. University officials presented her with an honorary professorship during the May event.

Just as Nashville and the Midstate are known for music, health care is a foundational economic sector as well. Recognizing the importance of this field in the region and state, the university in the spring welcomed the inaugural cohort of students for the new Physician Assistant Studies Program, the first at a public institution in the state. 

The first cohort of Middle Tennessee State University’s new Physician Assistant Studies graduate program of 30 students attends its grand opening event in their gray scrubs at the Cason Kennedy Nursing Building on campus on May 13, 2022. (MTSU photo by J Intintoli)
The first cohort of Middle Tennessee State University’s new Physician Assistant Studies graduate program of 30 students attends its grand opening event in their gray scrubs at the Cason Kennedy Nursing Building on campus on May 13, 2022. (MTSU photo by J Intintoli)

Successful candidates in the 27-month master’s level program are licensed to diagnose and treat illness and disease, prescribe medication and perform procedures. They work in collaboration with licensed physicians in a variety of settings, including hospitals and clinics.

“This is a day that we have been working toward for years,” University Provost Mark Byrnes said in recognizing those who made the program a reality, particularly program director Marie Patterson. “The medical community here in Murfreesboro, Rutherford County are very supportive of this. It’s the only public program in the middle part of Tennessee.”

A hands-on summer

The Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts returned to campus in early summer, hosting almost 300 students from 31 different counties across the state, who were selected from among 600 applicants this year.

MTSU assistant theatre professor Kate Goodwinthe new director of Governor’s School, noted that students attending this year, as in previous years, had to go through an application and selection process for the three-week summer residency program. It serves public, private and home-schooled high school juniors and seniors in music, theater, visual arts, dance and filmmaking, aided by faculty and performing artists from across the country.

Visual art participants in the 2022 Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts at Middle Tennessee State University stand with their collective painting, created with charcoal, inside the Todd Art Gallery Tuesday, June 21, before presenting it at the Governor’s School grand finale. More than 290 high school juniors and seniors participated in the three-week arts residency in vocal and instrumental music, visual art, theater, dance and filmmaking at the annual event, held at MTSU since 1985. (MTSU file photo by Favour Boluwade)

MTSU students continued taking advantage of real-world training opportunities over the summer with a return of College of Media and Entertainment students and faculty to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, including an expanded production role thanks to the stellar professionalism of faculty-led students in capturing the various artist performances for broadcast on streaming services.

“I have produced hundreds of live events and can say, without question, that MTSU student production team’s work was top notch and the work looked amazing and fit seamless into our overall programming,” said Devin DeHaven, executive producer for Bonnaroo/Hulu/Fortress Entertainment. “Their composure in being part of a national broadcast with A-list artists is a testament to their skills and of MTSU’s programs.” 

A group of MTSU students, faculty, staff and administrators show their True Blue spirit Friday, June 17, at the 2022 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival held June 16-19 in Manchester, Tenn. MTSU returned to the festival this year as part of its ongoing partnership with the event to provide College of Media and Entertainment students with real-world experience. (MTSU file photo by Jonathan Trundle)
Kindred Locke of Knoxville, Tenn., a senior entrepreneurship major at MTSU who also works with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Rutherford County, helps a group of club members learn about podcasting in the university’s James E. Walker Library MakerSpace digital creation and design center as part of a new digital literacy and social media safety project. The project, a partnership between the MTSU School of Journalism and Strategic Media and the Boys and Girls Clubs funded by a grant from the Tennessee Board of Regents, brought about 40 middle- and junior high school students to campus last month for two weeklong programs called “Come to Voice,” where they wrote, filmed, edited and premiered their own “documentaries”; worked with a green screen; checked out podcasting; learned about drone filming; completed an interactive campus scavenger hunt; and focused on social media safety with the help of MTSU professors and students. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

Summer also saw the launch of a digital literacy camp coordinated through the School of Journalism and Strategic Media to help the tweens and teens using TikTok better understand the power, pros and cons, of digital media. The grant-funded effort led to a partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Rutherford County to bring 40 local middle and junior high school students to campus to learn the importance of responsible social media usage and digital literacy.

Meanwhile, the MTSU College of Basic and Applied Sciences launched its inaugural Summer STEM Camp, a weeklong camp for high school sophomore and juniors surrounding the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Campers caught darters in area streams, made solar panels using circuit boards, performed chemistry-related food activities and more at on- and off-campus locations.

Facilities, firsts, 50th

The university broke ground for its new $7.1 million outdoor tennis complex in a ceremony in mid-September on the site for the new facility at the corner of Middle Tennessee Boulevard and Greenland Drive. 

This new state-of-the-art facility will serve as the on-campus home of MTSU’s men’s and women’s tennis program and feature new locker rooms, spectator facilities for 250 Blue Raiders fans, eight upgraded tennis courts and new coaches’ offices, among many other amenities.

Built on the site of the current Buck Bouldin Tennis Courts, this new tennis complex is the latest development to get underway from MT Athletics’ “Build Blue” capital campaign, which has a goal of providing all 17 MTSU Athletics programs with the resources and infrastructure to compete at a championship level.

MTSU men’s tennis coach Jimmy Borendame displays multiple conference title rings as evidence of the tennis program’s progress Thursday, Sept. 15, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Blue Raiders’ new outdoor tennis complex to be built near the corner of Middle Tennessee Boulevard and Greenland Drive where the current outdoor courts are located. At left is MTSU women’s tennis coach Tayo Bailey-Duvall. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)
Maria Hite, left, of La Vergne, Tenn., Claire Ritter of Nashville, Tenn., Pierce Creighton of Lascassas, Tenn., and Kirolos Michael, left, of Brentwood, Tenn., are the first group from Middle Tennessee State University to head to Meharry Medical College’s School of Medicine to continue their education begun in MTSU’s Medical School Early Acceptance Program. The program aims to increase the number of primary care physicians serving medically underserved populations as well as alleviating health care disparities in rural Tennessee. (Submitted photo)

On the academic side, the university also celebrated the first four MTSU undergraduates to successfully advance in their studies as part of a special partnership with Meharry Medical College School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.

Maria Hite of La Vergne, Tennessee, and classmates Claire Ritter of Nashville, Tennessee; Pierce Creighton of Lascassas, Tennessee; and Kirolos Michael of Brentwood, Tennessee, have completed their first three years of study in a prescribed undergraduate premedical school curriculum, and they’ve now begun the first of their four years of medical school study.

A collaboration between MTSU’s College of Basic and Applied Sciences and Meharry, the Medical School Early Acceptance Program aims to increase the number of primary care physicians serving medically underserved populations as well as alleviating health care disparities in rural Tennessee.

MTSU Athletics Director Chris Massaro thanks Blue Raider fans for their support Tuesday, Oct. 18, to the kickoff event on the track concourse of the Murphy Center at Middle Tennessee State University for a yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the iconic building, known affectionately as “The Glass House” and recently undergoing almost $6 million in renovations. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)
MTSU Athletics Director Chris Massaro thanks Blue Raider fans for their support Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the kickoff event on the track concourse of the university’s Murphy Center for a yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the iconic building, known affectionately as “The Glass House,” which recently completed almost $6 million in renovations. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)
Wynonna Judd, center right, poses with Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee, center left, McPhee’s wife Elizabeth McPhee, right, and Dean of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment Beverly Keel at the red carpet for the “The Judds: Love is Alive – The Final Concert” event hosted at the Murphy Center on the university’s campus on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022. (MTSU photo by James Cessna and Cat Curtis Murphy)
Wynonna Judd, center right, poses with Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee, center left, McPhee’s wife Elizabeth McPhee, right, and Beverly Keel, dean of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, at the red carpet for the “The Judds: Love is Alive – The Final Concert” event hosted at Murphy Center on the university’s campus on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022. (MTSU file photo by James Cessna and Cat Curtis Murphy)

Certainly a highlight to round out 2022 has been kicking off the yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of “The Glass House,” Murphy Center, fresh off a $6 million-plus renovation project that included a complete replacement of the famous glass panels with “smart window” technology to resolve longstanding glare and temperature issues.

To help the university celebrate that milestone, country music superstar Wynonna Judd brought “The Judds: Love is Alive – The Final Concert” to Murphy Center in early November — an historic homecoming to the venue that recreated the 1991 farewell concert with her late mother for a star-studded, made-for-TV event set to air in spring 2023. 

“This anniversary concert … truly epitomizes the education MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment provides our students,” Dean Beverly Keel said of the event, which involved over 50 student workers and a host of alumni behind the scenes.

“Our students have been here in the mix of everything,” Keel said. “Opportunities like this teach them so much, from emotional intelligence of how to react to people, how to handle problems, how to communicate effectively, to literal hands-on experience.”

Here is a recap of top MTSU stories for 2022 in chronological order:

JANUARY

Legendary MTSU track and field coach Hayes dies at 84

Dean Hayes, the MTSU Blue Raiders’ legendary track coach of 57 years and athletics pioneer, died with his family by his side at Ascension St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital on Jan. 7. He was 84.

Featured image of legendary track and field coach Dean Hayes, who died Jan. 7.

Dean Hayes was a champion in so many ways: As a father, mentor and role model, a world-class recruiter, and a winning coach at the highest echelons,” university President Sidney A. McPhee said. “Dean was a living legend. I speak for Elizabeth and my family, as well as all Blue Raiders, in expressing our deepest and heartfelt condolences to Jan and all of his family.”

Overall, Hayes guided the programs to 29 Ohio Valley Conference titles, 19 Sun Belt Conference championships and 20 NCAA Top 25 finishes.

Fifty-three of his student-athletes have earned a total of 125 All-America honors, five have become national champions six times and a number of them have gone on to compete internationally in the Olympic Games, World University Games, World Championships, Goodwill Games, Pan-American Games and African Championships.

MTSU, Chick-fil-A cook up tuition partnership to help local restaurant workers [+ VIDEO]

Mascots for Middle Tennessee State University and Chick-fil-A shook hooves to celebrate a winning partnership Jan. 12 as the university and fast-food chain signed an agreement that provides tuition assistance to qualifying local Chick-fil-A employees.

With the university’s Lightning and the restaurant chain’s Cow in attendance, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Beau Noblitt, restaurant operator for Chick-fil-A Murfreesboro, revealed details of the pact during a signing ceremony at the Chick-fil-A restaurant at 2216 Memorial Blvd. in Murfreesboro. (A video from the event is available below.)

Under the Noblitt True Blue Educational Partnership, eligible employees at the two restaurants in Murfreesboro will be able to take up to six credit hours of MTSU classes each year, with 100% of their tuition costs fully funded, beginning in the spring 2022 semester.

Tech-driven MTSU students use ‘hackathon’ to bolster resumes [+VIDEO]

Approaching her 30th birthday, Marie McCord is finding herself a nontraditional student about to graduate from MTSU in May — and mapping out the next chapters of her life.

McCord, one of 60 students participating in the seventh annual “HackMT” Jan. 28-30 in the Science Building, has spent the past three years commuting from her Antioch, Tennessee, home to Murfreesboro, where she’s a computer science major with minors in math and statistics.

Mark Lowe, 26, an MTSU data science major from Nashville, Tenn., explains his team’s technology that can be used to help people find nonprofits nationwide Sunday, Jan. 30, during the seventh annual HackMT finale event in the MTSU Science Building’s Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium. The MTSU Data Science Club placed first in the event. (MTSU file photo by James Cessna)

HackMT, a “hackathon” and project expo hosted annually by MTSU’s Department of Computer Science, brings software developers and visual designers together with computer science and data science students from regional universities.

Teams try to invent new web platforms, mobile apps and electronic gadgets during more than 36 intense hours. Their creations this year included a way for people to find nonprofits nationally and a method to help match people with different-sized feet with correct shoe sizes through an app.

FEBRUARY

Comedian, author Hughley riffs on myriad topics during Black History Month keynote

Comedian, author and Peabody Award-winner D.L. Hughley gives keynote remarks Thursday, Feb. 3, inside the State Farm Lecture Hall in the Business and Aerospace Building. Hughley gave his address as part of MTSU’s Black History Month activities. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)
Comedian, author and Peabody Award-winner D.L. Hughley gives keynote remarks Thursday, Feb. 3, inside the State Farm Lecture Hall in the Business and Aerospace Building. Hughley gave his address as part of MTSU’s Black History Month activities. (MTSU file photo by James Cessna)

His gift for gab obvious, as well as honed comedic timing and a unique social commentary on American politics and culture, comedian, author and Peabody Award-winner D.L. Hughley enthralled a packed house inside the university’s Business and Aerospace Building Feb. 3 during his Black History Month keynote address.

Introduced by fellow Omega Psi Phi fraternity brother Vincent Windrow, a friend and the university’s associate vice provost of student success, Hughley drew laughter throughout his 30-minute address, followed by a longer and extensive Q&A session with the audience that delved into issues ranging from social media to U.S. politics and from confederate monuments to the NFL, plus much more.

“Relax, laugh it up. We’re risking our lives to be together. … Oh, I forgot, we’re in Tennessee. COVID ain’t real here,” Hughley deadpanned to the mostly masked audience inside the State Farm Lecture Hall, drawing a round of raucous laughter.

Black community stalwarts get their ‘propers’ at MTSU’s Unity Luncheon

Lifelong activists who helped to create a “community of solidarity” received honors Feb. 10 at MTSU’s 26th annual Unity Luncheon in the second floor ballroom of the Student Union.

The event, which has been a staple of the university’s Black History Month celebration since 1996, pays homage to “unsung heroes” in the Black community and has recognized more than 130 citizens since its inception.

"Unsung heroes" of the Black community were honored for their lifelong achievements in five categories at the 26th annual Unity Luncheon Feb. 10 at MTSU. From L, Carl E. Watkins, Advocate of Civility; Melbra Simmons, Community Service; Robert Orr Jr., Contribution to Black Arts; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee; Elma Black McKnight, Education; and Thomas Keith, Excellence in Sports. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)
“Unsung heroes” of the Black community gather for a photo after they were honored for their lifelong achievements in five categories at the 26th annual Unity Luncheon Feb. 10 at MTSU. From left are Carl E. Watkins, Advocate of Civility; Melbra Simmons, Community Service; Robert Orr Jr., Contribution to Black Arts; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee; Elma Black McKnight, Education; and Thomas Keith, Excellence in Sports. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

This year’s honorees were: Elma Black McKnight, a retired educator in the Murfreesboro City Schools, recognized for her service to education; Thomas Keith, an MTSU alumnus and a longtime track and field coach, recognized for his excellence in sports; Carl E. Watkins, a retired Murfreesboro Police captain and longtime youth volunteer, recognized as an advocate of civility; Melbra Simmons, the media office coordinator for MTSU’s True Blue TV and a committee member for the annual Tennessee Girls in STEM Conference, recognized for her community service; and Robert Orr Jr., a Murfreesboro artist, recognized for his commitment to Black arts. Brelinda Johnson, manager of the MTSU Scholars Academy, accepted the “Unsung Staff Award.”

Featured speaker Dr. Sekou Franklin, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations, called the community leaders “living testaments that provide examples of a world that we want to be in and offer the inspiration for moving forward.”

National Pan-Hellenic Council celebrates 50 years of service, friendship at MTSU

Bronze plaques representing renowned student organizations are in place at Middle Tennessee State University to celebrate the institution’s 50-year relationship with the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

Before an audience of fraternity and sorority members clad in their groups’ respective colors, university and group officials dedicated the plaques Feb. 17 in a ceremony at the Student Union.

MTSU personnel and alumni attended a Feb. 17 dedication of 10 bronze plaques located in the Student Union Commons recognizing National Pan-Hellenic Council fraternities and sororities and the council’s 50-year relationship with the university. Standing with a prototype of the omnibus plaque are, from left, Leslie Merritt, director of Fraternity and Sorority Life; the Rev. Deborah Smith Owens, Eta Psi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee; and Jalen Everett, president of the MTSU National Pan-Hellenic Council and member of Phi Beta Sigma. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)
MTSU personnel and alumni attend a Feb. 17 dedication of 10 bronze plaques located in the Student Union Commons recognizing National Pan-Hellenic Council fraternities and sororities and the council’s 50-year relationship with the university. Standing with a prototype of the omnibus plaque are, from left, Leslie Merritt, director of Fraternity and Sorority Life; the Rev. Deborah Smith Owens, Eta Psi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee; and Jalen Everett, president of the MTSU National Pan-Hellenic Council and member of Phi Beta Sigma. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

The member organizations represented at MTSU are the sororities of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Gamma Rho and Zeta Phi Beta and the fraternities of Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi and Phi Beta Sigma.

These groups, along with fraternities Alpha Phi Alpha and Iota Phi Theta, represent the “Divine 9” nationally recognized historically Black fraternities and sororities. In December, 10 plaques measuring 2-by-3-feet each were installed on the Student Union Commons, one for each of the “Divine 9” and the tenth to represent the NPHC on campus.

Young inventors return to MTSU’s delayed 29th Invention Convention bursting with ideas, energy

They spent months brainstorming and building and breaking and fixing and testing and getting their creations almost perfect.

That’s why it was no surprise to see some young inventors abruptly make a couple of high-speed circuits around the Student Union ballroom at Middle Tennessee State University‘s 29th annual Invention Convention, nimbly dodging teachers, judges, parents, siblings and fellow fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders and boomeranging back to their assigned spots and their 340 devices, gadgets and games.

Makiya Lankford, left, and Richard Finley, both fifth graders at East Side Elementary School in Shelbyville, Tenn., pose in their customized T-shirts with “The Extenda Stool,” their invention to help shoppers more safely reach grocery items, in Middle Tennessee State University's Student Union Ballroom Thursday, Feb. 17, at the 29th annual Invention Convention. The pair were among 700-plus fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students from 36 schools across the Midstate who showcased their inventions to make life easier, their newly invented games and their entrepreneurship plans for their projects. (MTSU photo by Gina E. Fann)
Makiya Lankford, left, and Richard Finley, both fifth graders at East Side Elementary School in Shelbyville, Tenn., pose in their customized T-shirts with “The Extenda Stool,” their invention to help shoppers more safely reach grocery items, in Middle Tennessee State University’s Student Union ballroom Thursday, Feb. 17, at the 29th annual Invention Convention. The pair were among 700-plus fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students from 36 schools across the Midstate who showcased their inventions to make life easier, their newly invented games and their entrepreneurship plans for their projects. (MTSU file photo by Gina E. Fann)

These 700-plus young innovators from 36 schools across the Midstate had to burn off some of that creative energy somewhere. They’ve spent more than 18 months cooped up at home, attending virtual school, then finally real school again, inventing something for the Feb. 17 event.

MTSU alumna Dixon crowned United States of America’s Mrs. 2022 in Las Vegas

Rutherford County Public Health Director LaShan Dixon, an MTSU alumna, brought home the crown to become the United States of America Mrs. 2022 from the February pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Rutherford County Public Health Director LaShan Dixon, an MTSU alumna, is all smiles after being crowned the United States of America Mrs. 2022 following competing in the Feb. 17-19 pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo courtesy of United States of America Pageants)
Rutherford County Public Health Director LaShan Dixon, an MTSU alumna, is all smiles after being crowned the United States of America Mrs. 2022 following competing in the Feb. 17-19 pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo courtesy of United States of America Pageants)

A Nashville, Tennessee, native, Dixon has over 15 years in the fashion and pageant industry and believes that “by walking in your purpose you can boldly walk with a purpose.” 

A 2020 recipient of the Young Alumni of the Year award from Middle Tennessee State University, she earned her bachelor’s degree in exercise science, graduate certificates in health care management and gerontology, and her master’s in health and human performance.

United States of America Pageants are designed to encourage women to strive to achieve their hopes, dreams, goals and aspirations, while making them feel confident and beautiful inside and out, according to unitedstatesofamericapageants.com. Dixon was crowned Feb. 19.

Murfreesboro NAACP presents special awards to McPhees for community, education work

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and his wife, MTSU first lady Elizabeth McPhee, received special awards Feb. 21 by the Murfreesboro Branch of the NAACP for their ongoing community service and support of underserved student populations at the university and Murfreesboro City Schools.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, center left, and his wife, MTSU first lady Elizabeth McPhee, center right, were presented special awards by the Murfreesboro Branch of the NAACP for their ongoing community service and support of underserved student populations at the university and Murfreesboro City Schools. The McPhees were presented the NAACP’s President’s Awards during a virtual Martin Luther King Jr. and Social Justice Celebration that was broadcast Monday, Feb. 21. NAACP first vice president, the Rev. Goldy Wade, far left, and NAACP Executive Committee member Aaron Treadwell, an MTSU assistant professor of history, presented the awards on behalf of current NAACP President Katie Wilson. (Submitted photo)
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, center left, and his wife, MTSU first lady Elizabeth McPhee, center right, accept special awards from the Murfreesboro Branch of the NAACP for their ongoing community service and support of underserved student populations at the university and Murfreesboro City Schools. The McPhees received the NAACP’s President’s Awards during a virtual Martin Luther King Jr. and Social Justice Celebration that was broadcast Monday, Feb. 21. The Rev. Goldy Wade, left, NAACP first vice president, and NAACP Executive Committee member Aaron Treadwell, an MTSU assistant professor of history, presented the awards on behalf of current NAACP President Katie Wilson. (Submitted photo)

The McPhees received the NAACP’s President’s Awards during a virtual Martin Luther King Jr. and Social Justice Celebration broadcast.

“We are humbled, and (I’m) humbled that the organization has seen fit to give this honor to me,” President Sidney A. McPhee said in accepting the award from the Rev. Goldy Wade, longtime local NAACP member and first vice president, who presented the award on behalf of current NAACP President Katie Wilson.

“It’s always been our desire to make this community a place for all of the citizens,” McPhee continued. “Our university is a critical part of the development of the community, and this reflects the work of many on our university campus in making sure that MTSU is an inclusive institution.”

‘Improbable journey’ brings Ghana native academic acclaim, MTSU Pleas Award [+VIDEO]

“It has been an improbable journey.” With those words and expressions of gratitude for a host of mentors, MTSU professor Andrew Owusu accepted the John Pleas Faculty Award and a big hug from his 7-year-old son, Kai, in a Feb. 23 ceremony in the James Union Building.

Dr. Andrew Owusu, right, professor of health and human performance at MTSU, receives the 2022 John Pleas Faculty Award from Dr. Jennifer Woodard, assistant dean of the College of Media and Entertainment and 2021 Pleas Award recipient, at a Feb. 23 ceremony in James Union Building. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)
Dr. Andrew Owusu, right, professor of health and human performance at MTSU, receives the 2022 John Pleas Faculty Award from Dr. Jennifer Woodard, assistant dean of the College of Media and Entertainment and 2021 Pleas Award recipient, at a Feb. 23 ceremony in James Union Building. (MTSU file photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

Owusu, graduate director for the public health unit in the Department of Health and Human Performance, became the 26th recipient of the honor.

MTSU presents the award annually during the university’s Black History Month observance to a tenured or tenure-track Black faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and service.

Free Speech Center salutes Rascals’ Cavaliere with award, free concert

Felix Cavaliere, a founding member of the legendary rock band The Rascals, was honored with the Free Speech in Music Award Feb. 23 on a night of music and celebration at Middle Tennessee State University.

Presented by the Free Speech Center at MTSU in partnership with the university’s Center for Popular Music and College of Media and Entertainment, the honor recognizes artists who have used their talents, fame and visibility to address important social issues and who have demonstrated the power of music as a form of free speech.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Felix Cavaliere, left, is shown during a performance in this 2019 publicity photo by Leon Volskis and at far right on the cover of the 1966 debut album with The Young Rascals. Cavaliere , whose March 2022 autobiography is shown in the center, will be honored with the Free Speech in Music Award from the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University Wednesday, Feb. 23, on a night of music and celebration. (Cavaliere photo courtesy of Leon Volskis; album cover by Atlantic Records)
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Felix Cavaliere, left, is shown during a performance in this 2019 publicity photo by Leon Volskis and at far right on the cover of the 1966 debut album of The Young Rascals. Cavaliere, whose March 2022 autobiography is shown in the center, was honored with the Free Speech in Music Award from the Free Speech Center at MTSU Wednesday, Feb. 23. (Cavaliere photo courtesy of Leon Volskis; album cover by Atlantic Records)

The evening, which was free and open to the public, included a conversation between Cavaliere and Ken Paulson, director of the Free Speech Center, and a special appearance by the artist’s current touring band, Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals.

MTSU, Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts renew partnership [+VIDEO]

Middle Tennessee State University and the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America renewed their partnership that will allow the university to remain a resource for Scouting programs through 2025.

The renewal, announced Feb. 24 by the university, was praised as a win-win by officials from both organizations. It allows prospective students from the council, which serves 37 Middle Tennessee counties and Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to attend events on campus and seek faculty mentors for activities and merit badges.

MTSU Provost Mark Byrnes joined former Council President J.B. Baker, a member of the university’s Board of Trustees, and Council Scout Executive and CEO Larry Brown signed the renewal document at the recent 32nd annual MTSU Merit Badge University. The event attracted more than 120 Scouts, who attended merit badge classes taught by faculty and staff.

Seated from left, MTSU Provost Mark Byrnes, former Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America President J.B. Baker, a member of the university’s Board of Trustees, and Council Scout Executive and CEO Larry Brown sign the renewal document at the 32nd annual MTSU Merit Badge University as scouts look on Saturday, Feb. 19, on the Middle Tennessee State University campus. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)
MTSU Provost Mark Byrnes, seated at left, joins former Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America President J.B. Baker, a member of the university’s Board of Trustees, and Council Scout Executive and CEO Larry Brown to sign the renewal document at the 32nd annual MTSU Merit Badge University as scouts look on Saturday, Feb. 19, on the Middle Tennessee State University campus. (MTSU file photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

MTSU entrepreneurship program receives Small Business Institute ‘Showcase Award’

MTSU’s Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship program has been recognized by the Small Business Institute as the 2022 “Showcase Award” winner, signifying its selection as the top entrepreneurship program of the year.

Headquartered in Clinton, Mississippi, the Small Business Institute has a mission “to be the premier provider of professional development for those engaged in experiential student team consulting and related entrepreneurship education, research and activities,” according to its website.

MTSU management professor Joshua Aaron, Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jennings A. Jones College of Business, holds the Small Business Institute’s 2022 “Showcase Award” on the balcony of the Business and Aerospace Building. Aaron accepted the award, signifying the top entrepreneurship program of the year within the professional development organization, at the annual SBI national conference in Charleston, South Carolina, in late February. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)
MTSU management professor Joshua Aaron, who holds the Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jennings A. Jones College of Business, displays the Small Business Institute’s 2022 “Showcase Award” on the balcony of the Business and Aerospace Building. Aaron accepted the award, signifying the top entrepreneurship program of the year within the professional development organization, at the annual SBI national conference in Charleston, South Carolina, in late February. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU management professor Joshua Aaron, who holds the Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jennings A. Jones College of Business, accepted the award at the annual SBI national conference in Charleston, South Carolina, in late February.

Aaron said that he believes a key factor in MTSU’s program being honored was the eye-popping 38% growth of the program in 2021 to roughly 150 majors, a level of growth not found among the roughly 30 peer institutions are SBI members.

‘Dr. Jackie’ encourages ‘cornerstones of our communities’ to ‘speak out’ at MTSU

A woman who speaks from the perspectives of both a doctor and a patient wrote a prescription for her audience at MTSU.

“Dr. Jackie” Jacqueline Walters, a cast member of Bravo’s “Married to Medicine,” delivered the keynote address to conclude Black History Month and kick off Women’s History Month Feb. 28 in the Student Union ballroom.

Walters, an obstetrician-gynecologist, incorporated the themes of both history month celebrations in her speech, speaking directly to women with an emphasis on Black women. Calling all women the “cornerstones of our communities,” Walters encouraged them to be strong and speak up.

Dr. Jacqueline "Jackie" Walters, an obstetrician/gynecologist popular for her appearances on Bravo's "Married to Medicine," delivers the keynote address for Black History Month and National Women's History Month Feb. 28 in MTSU's Student Union Ballroom. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)
Dr. Jacqueline “Jackie” Walters, an obstetrician/gynecologist popular for her appearances on Bravo’s “Married to Medicine,” delivers the keynote address for Black History Month and National Women’s History Month Feb. 28 in MTSU’s Student Union ballroom. (MTSU file photo by James Cessna)

“Without strong women who came before me, there would be no me,” Walters said.

MARCH

MTSU officer Erskine certified as department’s 1st female defensive tactics instructor

Middle Tennessee State University Police Officer Katelynn Erskine displays her recently earned certification to serve as a Defensive Tactics Instructor — the first female officer in the department to do so — outside of the campus police department on Feb. 28, 2022. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)
Middle Tennessee State University Police Officer Katelynn Erskine displays her recently earned certification to serve as a Defensive Tactics Instructor — the first female officer in the department to do so — outside of the campus police department on Feb. 28, 2022. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU Police Officer Katelynn Erksine knows female officers like herself play a vital role in the world of law enforcement.

“I think it’s important to recognize that females can do just as good of a job in this profession as males can,” Erskine said. “We can offer a different perspective to certain issues. Victims can feel more comfortable speaking to a female officer. Escalated individuals can respond better to a female officer’s temperament.”

Erskine recently expanded her role at the MTSU Police Department, earning her certification as a defensive tactics instructor — the first female officer in the department to do so.

MTSU’s inaugural Festival of Veils warms people of all faiths in windy weather

It was a windy, blustery day — a good day to wear a head covering.

At the Festival of Veils on MTSU’s Student Union Commons, more than one woman covered her head and for more than one reason. The March 19 family-friendly event featured booths sponsored by organizations of various faiths hoping to spread enlightenment about the universality of veil-wearing by Muslim, Catholic and Jewish women.

A booth where free blue, black, light green and lilac veils were distributed also offered free demonstrations of how to wear hijab, the traditional covering for the hair and neck worn by Muslim women.

A volunteer explains the hijab, a head covering for Muslim women, to visitors to the Festival of Veils. Posters of various uses of veils in other religions, including Hinduism and Catholicism, are on the grass below tables of free veils. The event was held March 19 on the Student Union Commons. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)
A volunteer explains the hijab, a head covering for Muslim women, to visitors to the Festival of Veils. Posters of various uses of veils in other religions, including Hinduism and Catholicism, are on the grass below tables of free veils. The event was held March 19 on MTSU’s Student Union Commons. (MTSU file photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

MTSU research efforts elevated to elite R2 ‘high research activity’ status [+VIDEO]

Middle Tennessee State University joins an elite group of universities across the country with its advancement to doctoral university: high research activity, or R2, status as designated by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Dr. Mark Byrnes, university provost
Dr. Mark Byrnes

MTSU Provost Mark Byrnes announced the achievement, fittingly, at the closing ceremony of the 16th annual Scholars Week research and creative activity exposition March 25 in the Student Union ballroom. The ceremony capped a week filled with campuswide student research project presentations, keynote talks, student-created performances and more. (A video from the announcement event is below.)

The Carnegie Classification is a framework that recognizes and describes institutional diversity in U.S. higher education, such as types of degrees awarded with a focus on research. Only around 3% of other universities earned the R2 distinction as of the 2021 update.

To move up from the status of a “moderate research,” or R3, doctoral university, MTSU awarded at least 20 research or scholarship doctorates with at least $5 million in research expenditures three years in a row.

MTSU’s National Women’s History Month concludes with 2022 Trailblazer Awards

Six individuals were lauded for their pioneering efforts to aid women at the 2022 Trailblazer Awards at MTSU. In the official closing ceremony for National Women’s History Month, the statuettes were presented March 29 at the MT Center in the Ingram Building. 

The winners represent members of the MTSU community and members of the greater community who are nominated and voted on by MTSU faculty, students and staff.

The winners of the 2022 Trailblazer Awards were MTSU students and Future Trailblazer winners Zaynab Alnassari, Fatimah Alnassari, Ahmad Alnassari and Khadijah Alnassari; Trailblazer winners Lucy Langworthy, advisor to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and Terri Schultz, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Rutherford County. 

The winners of the 2022 Trailblazer Awards pose with their statuettes at the conclusion of MTSU's National Women's History Month Closing Ceremony March 29 at the Ingram Building. From left, MTSU students and Future Trailblazer winners Zaynab Alnassari, Fatimah Alnassari, Ahmad Alnassari, and Khadijah Alnassari; Trailblazer winners Lucy Langworthy, advisor to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and Terri Schultz, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Rutherford County; and Maigan Wipfli, chair of the MTSU NWHM Committee and director of the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)
The winners of the 2022 Trailblazer Awards pose with their statuettes at the conclusion of MTSU’s National Women’s History Month Closing Ceremony March 29 at the Ingram Building. From left are MTSU students and Future Trailblazer winners Zaynab Alnassari, Fatimah Alnassari, Ahmad Alnassari and Khadijah Alnassari; Trailblazer winners Lucy Langworthy, advisor to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and Terri Schultz, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Rutherford County; and Maigan Wipfli, chair of the MTSU NWHM Committee and director of the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

In reflecting on the events celebrating women in the month of March, NWHM Committee chair Maigan Wipfli said they characterized this year’s theme of “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.”

APRIL

MTSU, Delta celebrate 1st ‘Propel’ pilot graduate, partnership [+VIDEO]

MTSU, its Department of Aerospace and Delta Air Lines celebrated the fourth anniversary of their partnership April 5 with a very special occasion: recognizing alumnus Colton Gray as the first graduate of Delta’s Propel pilot program.

A 2018 MTSU graduate, Gray, 29, of Lebanon, Tennessee, will begin training next month to fly for Delta as part of an accelerated program to fill a growing industry need for aviators. Gray applied early, has flown three years with Republic Airways and will be the first Propel pilot for Delta, which has partnerships with 15 aviation schools.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, second from left, presents aerospace alumnus Colton Gray of Lebanon, Tenn., a framed certificate of recognition for becoming the first Delta Propel pilot program graduate, as aerospace Chair Chaminda Prelis, left, and Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives applaud with the rest of the audience. MTSU and Delta celebrated the occasion Tuesday, April 5, in the MTSU Science Building’s Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium. Gray will begin training with Delta on May 10. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, second from left, presents aerospace alumnus Colton Gray of Lebanon, Tenn., with a framed certificate of recognition for becoming the university’s first Delta Propel pilot program graduate, as Department of Aerospace Chair Chaminda Prelis, left, and Keith M. Huber, senior advisor for veterans and leadership initiatives applaud with the rest of the audience. MTSU and Delta celebrated the occasion Tuesday, April 5, in the MTSU Science Building’s Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium. Gray will begin training with Delta on May 10. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Four years ago, MTSU was among the first universities to enter the partnership with Delta to encourage qualified pro pilot majors to pursue a defined, accelerated path. The program allows candidates to earn their flight certifications, build their experience and meet all requirements to become a Delta pilot in 42 months or less.

“I’m very humbled by the entire experience,” said Gray, an Indiana native who also lived in Port Charlotte, Florida. A veteran, he served six years in the U.S. Army, was an aerospace flight instructor for two years and “always wanted to be a pilot” since age 4.

“I’m even more proud to represent MTSU as the first person in the entire Delta program to complete it. It certainly adds a bit of pressure to the experience, but I hope I can make my alma mater proud,” he continued.

MTSU Board of Trustees OKs extension of McPhee’s contract through 2026

Middle Tennessee State University’s Board of Trustees voted April 5 to extend President Sidney A. McPhee’s contract through 2026.

McPhee has led MTSU through an extended period of academic progress and more than $1 billion in capital investment during his two decades at the helm while developing world-class programs that attract students from across the country and around the globe.

Before assuming the MTSU presidency in 2001, McPhee served in key leadership roles at the Tennessee Board of Regents, the University of Memphis and the University of Louisville.

His previous contract was set to expire in December 2023. The extension means McPhee, now in his 21st year as chief executive officer of the university, can serve until Dec. 10, 2026.

Two MTSU College of Education alumni win national ‘Oscars’ of education

Two MTSU College of Education alumni were recently recognized for their superior teaching with a Milken Educator Award — known as the “Oscar” of education — and the $25,000 cash prize that accompanies the honor.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn and other officials attended assemblies this month at the award winners’ schools to surprise the two outstanding MTSU-trained educators.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee was one of many officials in attendance at an assembly at Black Fox Elementary School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., to surprise Raeven Brooks, second-grade teacher and Middle Tennessee State University graduate, with a Milken Educator Award recognizing her as an outstanding educator on April 7, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Milken Family Foundation)
Second-grade teacher and Middle Tennessee State University graduate Raeven Brooks, third from left, receives a Milken Educator Award and $25,000 check for being an outstanding teacher during an assembly at Black Fox Elementary School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on April 7, 2022. Shown with Brooks are, from left, are Murfreesboro City Schools Director Trey Duke, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Tennessee Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn, Black Fox Elementary School Principal Tiffany Strevel and Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards. (Photo courtesy of Milken Family Foundation)
Eighth-grade history teacher and Middle Tennessee State University graduate Tyler Hallstedt, third from right, receives a Milken Educator Award and $25,000 check for being an outstanding teacher at an assembly at Mt. Juliet Middle School in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., on April 7, 2022. Pictured, from left, are Tennessee Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn, Wilson County Schools Director Jeff Luttrell, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Hallstedt, Mount Juliet Middle School Principal Candis Vandevort Angle and Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards. (Photo courtesy of Milken Family Foundation)
Eighth-grade history teacher and Middle Tennessee State University graduate Tyler Hallstedt, third from right, receives a Milken Educator Award and $25,000 check for being an outstanding teacher during an assembly at Mt. Juliet Middle School in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., on April 7, 2022. Shown with Hallstedt are, from left, Tennessee Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn, Wilson County Schools Director Jeff Luttrell, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Hallstedt, Mt. Juliet Middle School Principal Candis Vandevort Angle and Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards. (Photo courtesy of Milken Family Foundation)

“I was honestly shocked!” said Raeven Brooks, a second-grade teacher at Black Fox Elementary School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, about the win. “I wasn’t expecting them to say my name. I just felt so honored. It was the biggest surprise and blessing.”

Tyler Hallstedt, an eighth-grade history teacher at Mt. Juliet Middle School in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, said he felt a mix of emotions. “I was excited for the professional opportunities the award could unlock, but I am not a big fan of the spotlight,” he said.

The Milken Family Foundation created the award and prize money 35 years ago to recognize excellence in the world of education by honoring top educators, according to the foundation’s website. The award targets early and midcareer teachers for their already-impressive achievements and the promise of their future accomplishments.

MTSU graduate piano student finds ‘keys’ to ‘Jeopardy!’ championship, gives visibility to cancer recovery [+VIDEO]

MTSU graduate student Christine Whelchel knew it was never too late to achieve her dreams. In the past year, the longtime “Jeopardy!” fan, part-time musician and mother of three dominated on the game show and started a Master of Music degree program — all amid a diagnosis of and treatment for breast cancer.

“I watched ‘Jeopardy!’ as a kid … and started again about eight years ago when I got the bug to try out myself,” Whelchel said. “I thought it was something I could do and wanted to try it … and I always regretted not majoring in music. I saw an opportunity to correct the mistake.”

Whelchel did more than just try: she made it to the show and hit a four-game “Jeopardy!” win streak, earning over $75,000 in shows that aired at the end of February.

A Memphis, Tennessee native, Whelchel applied through the show’s online quiz in spring 2021 soon after receiving her cancer diagnosis. She advanced to the Zoom audition round later that spring and landed a spot on the show.

25th annual math-science event at MTSU abuzz with challenging STEM activities, motivation [+VIDEO]

Bright, animated and full of energy and determination, Chloe Johnstone epitomized many of the girls and young women attending the 25th Tennessee Girls in STEM Conference at MTSU.

“We made it. It worked,” Johnstone, 10, of Hendersonville, Tennessee, squealed with delight as her marble made it down the roller-coaster foam track, through a loop and into the plastic cup. Nearby, volunteer workshop leader Melissa Marr, who works for primary sponsor Nissan and is an MTSU alumna with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, replied, “That’s awesome.”

Tennessee Girls in STEM, or TGIS, helps girls and young women investigate science and mathematics careers, hear from women already in those fields, participate in workshops and learn about other girls interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

About 175 girls and 50 volunteers attended the conference April 9 with most events in the MTSU Science Building. The fall 2021 conference was postponed because of pandemic concerns.

MTSU’s economics Ph.D. program earns first U.S. News and World Report ranking

MTSU’s economics graduate program within the Jennings A. Jones College of Business has made the U.S. News and World Report ranking of top U.S. programs for the first time.

MTSU’s program is ranked No. 134 on the list of the nation’s 139 top programs for 2022. Tied for the top ranking was Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University.

The other Tennessee universities making the list are Vanderbilt University at No. 30 and University of Tennessee-Knoxville at No. 79. The full list can be found at https://bit.ly/3EEBT33.

Dr. David Urban
Dr. David Urban

Jones College Dean David Urban applauded the ranking, saying it was the result of the hard work by the Department of Economics and Finance to address concerns cited in the college’s accreditation review several years ago. AACSB, the premier accrediting body in business education, said then that faculty teaching in the program didn’t have enough publications in journals that would be widely recognized as “A” or “B” journals.

MTSU hires Monica Smith as assistant to president for community engagement, inclusion

Middle Tennessee State University has hired Monica Smith as assistant to the president for community engagement and inclusion.

MTSU’s Board of Trustees approved President Sidney A. McPhee’s recommendation to appoint Smith at its April 5 quarterly meeting. Smith began her new role the following day.

Monica Smith, MTSU’s new assistant to the president for community engagement and inclusion, expresses appreciation for being hired to her new role during the Tuesday, April 5, Board of Trustees quarterly meeting inside the Miller Education Center on Bell Street. Looking on, from left, are Trustees Joey Jacobs and Darrell Freeman, Student Trustee Gabriela Jaimes, and Faculty Trustee Rick Cottle. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)
Monica Smith, right, MTSU’s new assistant to the president for community engagement and inclusion, expresses appreciation at being hired to her new role during the Tuesday, April 5, Board of Trustees quarterly meeting inside the Miller Education Center on Bell Street. Looking on, from left, are trustees Joey Jacobs and Darrell Freeman, Student Trustee Gabriela Jaimes, and Faculty Trustee Rick Cottle. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

Smith will be responsible for developing and supporting relationships with a broad range of community and civic organizations, including those in arts, culture and history, religious organizations and community support, and integrating best practices and university resources across the MTSU campus to promote a culture of inclusion.

“I was attracted to this position because, like my career, it combines community engagement and inclusion work,” said Smith, who was selected from among three finalists following a nationwide search. “That combination is not often seen in higher education, so I was excited about the possibility of working with the visionary leadership that created it.”

MTSU, Siegel High School celebrate inaugural semester of humanities academy [+VIDEO]

A Murfreesboro high school has provided evidence of how a connection with higher education can make its students far more prepared for college and for life.

Jaxyn Luscinski, left, a junior at Siegel High School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., looks over her project for the Siegel Humanities Academy with Leah Tolbert Lyons, dean of Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Liberal Arts, amid a crowd of students, teachers and MTSU guests during an April 2022 ceremony at the high school. The academy, a collaboration between Siegel and the university, celebrated the success of its first semester during the event. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

The Siegel Humanities Academy concluded its first semester April 26 with a celebration of scholarship and partnership attended by school and university officials. The academy is a collaboration between Murfreesboro’s Siegel High School and MTSU.

Dr. Lucy Langworthy, Assistant to the Dean, College of Liberal Arts.
Dr. Lucy Langworthy

“It gives high school students the opportunity to prepare for college and career … so that they can be successful in their next step in life,” said Dr. Leah Tolbert Lyons, dean of the MTSU College of Liberal Arts.

Lucy Langworthy, assistant to the dean and a pivotal force in the academy’s creation, told the students they will receive the assistance they need.

“We’ve got MTSU people here that are supporting you guys and are ready to help you with that next step after high school,” Langworthy said.

MAY

MTSU’s 2,474 spring grads ready for adventure with new degrees, ‘imagination and creativity’ [+VIDEO]

The 2,474 new graduates in Middle Tennessee State University’s first Class of 2022 are on their way to adventures great and small, jubilantly accepting their hard-earned university degrees May 7, during a day of commencement ceremonies marked by three guests who praised their resolve.

“Nothing should hold back the size and shape of your dreams. It is our talent for imagination and creativity that make us humans,” said the Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Edward Davis, speaking to the first group of newly minted MTSU alumni during the morning commencement ceremony for the Jennings A. Jones College of BusinessCollege of Education and the University College.

… The most valuable knowledge you gain here is the importance of keeping your mind open and thinking critically. None of us can afford to be complacent; we must keep learning. So let’s decide, you and I, to make the most of the gift of imagination and creativity and to never allow the fears or limitations of others to overtake our sense of what is possible for ourselves and for our countries.”

Guest speaker Christine Karbowiak, vice chair of MTSU’s Board of Trustees and retired top Bridgestone Americas executive, praised the graduates’ ability to rise to unprecedented challenges and still focus on life-changing opportunities.

“… Plans almost never unfold exactly like we want them to, and thank the stars for that,” she told the afternoon graduates from the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts. “Real life is so much more interesting than plans.”

New ‘XR stage’ courses will turn MTSU students’ skills into media jobs worldwide [+VIDEO]

When an industry can change in what feels like the flash of a pixel, preparing to work in it may seem an adventure into a strange new future.

Middle Tennessee State University’s Department of Media Arts is looking beyond graduation for its students by teaching them new ways to turn ideas into new realities on the screen.

A forest scene displayed on multiple LED screens in a Nashville studio is reflected on a truck used by MTSU media students during production for a "teaser" commercial in Nashville for the Department of Media Arts' new extended reality, or XR, stage, a new type of film and video production stage that will enable them to create projects anywhere, anytime. The MTSU XR facility, the only one of its kind at a Tennessee university, will be ready for classes this fall. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)
A forest scene displayed on multiple LED screens in a Nashville studio is reflected on a truck used by MTSU media students during production for a “teaser” commercial in Nashville for the Department of Media Arts’ new extended reality, or XR, stage, a new type of film and video production stage that will enable them to create projects anywhere, anytime. The MTSU XR facility, the only one of its kind at a Tennessee university, will be ready for classes this fall. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

This fall, on the new extended reality, or XR, stage in the university’s Bragg Media and Entertainment Building, classes will prepare students from the department’s animation and film and TV production programs to reach new heights in virtual production for film, TV and animation.

It’ll be a full XR-capable facility, a roughly $1 million investment that’s the only one at a Tennessee university and among only a few such facilities at any university anywhere.

The students will be able to produce work that looks like it was shot anywhere — real or imagined — just like the creators and crews of films like “Dune” and TV shows like “The Mandalorian” that rely on XR technology to create vast worlds on a soundstage.

MTSU Daniels Center, Opry ‘Salute to Troops’ recognize U.S. Army Reserve leader [+VIDEO]

A decorated and distinguished U.S. Army leader with offices at both the Pentagon and Fort Bragg, North Carolina, spent four hours at MTSU May 24 discovering all that the university provides for its student veterans.

Middle Tennessee State University made a positive, lasting impression on Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew Lombardo of the Army Reserve during his visit to campus with three support staff members. As the Army Reserve’s top enlisted soldier, Lombardo advises the commanding general and other senior Army leaders on regulations, policies and quality of life issues related to nearly 200,000 Army Reserve soldiers serving around the world.

Grand Ole Opry announcer Kelly Sutton, left, presents a plaque to Army Reserve Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew Lombardo during the annual Salute to Troops Opry show at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn. Lombardo, his immediate staff and MTSU officials including President Sidney A. McPhee attended the performance that included country music singer, Army veteran and former MTSU student Craig Morgan wrapping up the show. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)
Grand Ole Opry announcer Kelly Sutton, left, presents a plaque to Army Reserve Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew Lombardo during the annual Salute to Troops Opry show at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn. Lombardo, his immediate staff and MTSU officials, including President Sidney A. McPhee, attended the performance that featured country music singer, Army veteran and former MTSU student Craig Morgan wrapping up the show. (MTSU file photo by James Cessna)

Joined by 81st Readiness Division Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Thomas, Master Sgt. Luke Klein, and Sgt. 1st Class Javier Orona, Lombardo toured the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center and connected with officers and recent graduates of MTSU’s ROTC and military science programs.

Retired Lt. Gen. Keith M. Huber, MTSU senior advisor for veterans and leadership initiatives, introduced Lombardo to a Grand Ole Opry audience that night, where Lombardo had “the opportunity to represent the United States Army Reserve in the Grand Ole Opry’s ‘Salute to Troops.’ They’re incredible supporters of troops. We have 3,500 citizen soldiers that work in Tennessee, so it’s just one small way that I can contribute telling the Army Reserve story.”

The Opry brought Lombardo on stage and presented him with a commemorative plaque as a guest announcer, acknowledging his visit. Looking on from the audience and seated with him and Huber during the show were Hazel Daniels and son Charlie Daniels Jr. Performer and former MTSU student Craig Morgan closed out the show.

New MTSU center to help College of Education students, faculty, staff better serve all students

MTSU College of Education staff are dedicated to making the best teacher preparation program and housing the most effective faculty and staff in the nation.

So when the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education, better known as SCORE, and the MTSU Education Trust came to a joint decision to recommend that the college create a center for diversity, its staff worked hard to make it a reality. 

Michelle Stevens, Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Fairness, Justice and Equity director, and staff put together a fall full of events for education students and faculty to provide them with training to become more informed, inclusive and successful members of their professions and larger communities. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)
Michelle Stevens, Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Fairness, Justice and Equity director, and staff put together a fall full of events for education students and faculty to provide them with training to become more informed, inclusive and successful members of their professions and larger communities. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Two years later, the Center for Fairness, Justice and Equity at MTSU opened this spring. 

CFJE Director Michelle Stevens values the collaboration with the students, faculty and staff at the College of Education that is a large part of her new role. 

As stated on its website, the center’s vision is “to cultivate an inclusive and diverse College of Education by intentionally recruiting diverse faculty, teacher candidates and educational personnel from a multitude of backgrounds. 

MTSU stock horse riders earn 2 national championship team titles

As evidenced by two national championships during the same week, riders for Middle Tennessee State University’s stock horse team definitely enjoy competing in Texas.

Competing in late April at the American Stock Horse Association Collegiate and National Show in Sweetwater, Texas — and for the first time Division 1 — MTSU defeated Texas Tech University to earn the national title.

Members of the MTSU stock horse team gather for a group photo after they earned the American Stock Horse Association Collegiate and National Show’s Division 1 national championship recently in Sweetwater, Texas. They are shown with individual and team awards they received. (Photo courtesy or High Cotton Promotions)

“This championship means a lot,” coach and horse science faculty member Andrea Rego said. “It was our first time attempting the Division 1 category … and we had to step up our game in the non-pro division” by bringing six riders to compete instead of four.

Earlier in the week, MTSU riders earned the Division 2 Reserve Champion national title at the Hughes Ranch Traders National Intercollegiate Ranch and Stock Horse National Championship late in the spring semester in Amarillo, Texas. MTSU also received a $1,000 marketing package for its ranch horse program.

JUNE

MTSU Positive Aging Conference explores bright side of growing older

MTSU has taken its first steps toward changing the narrative about aging from the negative to the positive.

The university’s inaugural Positive Aging Conference welcomed about 100 participants to the Miller Education Center June 10 for a day of upbeat speeches and conversations about growing older in America.

Dr. Julie Sweetland of Frameworks Institute delivers the keynote address at MTSU's Positive Aging Conference June 10 at Miller Education Center.
Dr. Julie Sweetland of Frameworks Institute delivers the keynote address at MTSU’s Positive Aging Conference June 10 at Miller Education Center. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)

Keynote speaker Julie Sweetland, Ph.D., of Frameworks Institute explained how sociological experiments designed to detect implicit bias against older persons help activists understand society’s attitudes toward them.

“If people equate aging with a process of decline, they are less likely to identify themselves as aging,” Sweetland said.

“They’re less likely to support good aging policy, and they are less likely to connect aging to other social issues that they actually care about quite a bit.”

MTSU resumes, expands Bonnaroo partnership in 2022 [+VIDEO]

MANCHESTER, Tenn. — Middle Tennessee State University not only resumed its pandemic-paused partnership this year with the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, it expanded efforts to provide additional learning experiences for its students seeking real-world experience at the iconic entertainment venue.

Students from MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment provided video and streaming services for acts performing on the Who and the Other stages at Bonnaroo starting June 16. 

MTSU students prepare Wednesday, June 15, to film upcoming performances at the 2022 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival June 16-19 in Manchester, Tenn., as part of the university’s ongoing partnership with the event to provide College of Media and Entertainment students with real-world experience. (MTSU file photo by Andrew Oppmann)

They also reported and produced a daily festival preview video podcast that will be broadcast on MTSU’s True Blue TV channel and on the university’s primary Facebook page.

Live video and audio operations by MTSU’s Department of Media Arts and Department of Recording Industry at “The Truck,” the college’s $1.4 million Mobile Production Lab, were expanded to two stages: The Who and the Other. That’s no easy feat.

A first-day recap is available below.

MTSU Daniels Center, Nashville Superspeedway team up to honor veterans

Nashville Superspeedway and the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center at Middle Tennessee State University announced a partnership to support mutual efforts to honor active-duty troops and assist student veterans as they seek educational and employment opportunities.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Erik Moses, Nashville Superspeedway’s president and general manager, announced that the partnership will kick off with the 2022 NASCAR race weekend, beginning June 24 with the Rackley Roofing 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, and will extend throughout the year through joint events and activities.

“It was important to us that we establish a true win-win relationship, benefitting not only the Daniels Center, but also providing support, visibility and opportunities for academic programs that connect with the needs of the Superspeedway,” McPhee said.

“In turn, we hope to support Erik’s efforts to expand the Superspeedway as a venue, not only for these premiere NASCAR races, but for other events beyond race weekend.”

MTSU management professor Nelson named top educator by Nashville education alliance

A Nashville education alliance has named longtime MTSU Department of Management professor Millicent Nelson as its top higher education professional for 2022.

The Greater Nashville Alliance of Black School Educators will formally recognize Nelson, an 18-year veteran of the Jennings A. Jones College of Business and currently an associate professor, during a virtual ceremony in late August as the recipient of the 2022 GNABSE Outstanding Higher Educator of the Year Award.

Millicent Nelson-Alliance Award-promo

The alliance is “a group of professional educators dedicated to promoting excellence in the education of all students, particularly students of African descent.” As part of its mission, the alliance holds a scholarship and awards gala to present scholarships to future educators, to recognize outstanding educators, and to spotlight talented students.

For Nelson, the recognition took on even more meaning once she discovered that the GNABSE, with which she at first wasn’t very familiar, was an affiliate of the National Alliance of Black Schools, which she knew.

“They’re all about bringing forth a successful student, providing students with a model for excellence in the classroom,” she said.

“When I started finding out what they’re mission was … I was really excited. It was really rewarding and also humbling.”

MTSU mourns passing of alumnus, trustee Darrell Freeman

MTSU alumnus and Board of Trustee member Darrell S. Freeman
MTSU alumnus and Board of Trustee member Darrell S. Freeman

The family of alumnus and Board of Trustees member Darrell Freeman Sr. issued a statement early June 29 that Freeman had passed away, saying that he “suffered from a serious illness that he succumbed to on the evening of June 28, 2022.”

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee issued the following statement of condolences on behalf of the University:

“Our university community today mourns the passing of alumnus and Trustee Darrell Freeman Sr., who will be remembered for his passion and advocacy for creating opportunities for others, as well as his business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit.

“He was one of MTSU’s brightest stars, and his light shined through his many accomplishments: A first-generation college graduate; a trail-blazing businessman who created his own IT company, Zycron, that, over 25 years, became a multimillion-dollar business that he sold, then used those resources to help aspiring Black entrepreneurs overcome obstacles and find success in business; a private pilot, who lent his services and aircraft for international relief missions; and so much more.”

JULY

MTSU guitar professor sprints toward another year of world track rankings

Middle Tennessee State University School of Music professor renowned for his classical guitar artistry is on pace for another year of speed on stadium tracks nationwide as one of “America’s fastest men” his age.

William “Bill” Yelverton, professor of guitar, School of Music
Dr. William “Bill” Yelverton

Dr. William “Bill” Yelverton, director of the guitar studies concentration in the School of Music’s Instrumental Performance Programwas asked to run in the Masters Exhibition 800-meter event “that showcased America’s fastest men over age 60” at the recent Toyota USA Track & Field National Championships in Eugene, Oregon, according to a USATF press release.

In that June 26 exhibition race, Yelverton finished third, following a former all-American and the American record holder in the men’s aged 60 to 64 mile category in what was only his fourth 800-meter competition.

A video capturing Yelverton’s introduction at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field — and a mention of MTSU — is available below.

Yelverton, 61, is a seven-time USATF Masters National Champion 400-meter/200-meter sprinter. He competed in 16 track meets in 2021, ending the race year as the world’s fastest 400-meter sprinter over age 60. His world-leading time was 1.33 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.

MTSU launches data science master’s program to equip students for advanced positions in growing industry

Dr. Qiang Wu, director of MTSU’s new Data Science Master’s Program and a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, knows from his 10-plus years of teaching and research that data science solves real-world problems. 

“I believe data science and artificial intelligence will be key powers to develop technology and change the world,” Wu said. 

Middle Tennessee State University professor Qiang Wu, center, director of the university’s new Data Science master’s program works with students, from left, Lindsay Rogerson, Curtis Corazao, Wu, Afsaneh Caden and Ray Hill during the Data Dive event held June 18, 2022, inside Kirksey Old Main. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)
Middle Tennessee State University professor Qiang Wu, center, director of the university’s new Data Science Master’s Program, works with students Lindsay Rogerson, left, Curtis Corazao, Afsaneh Caden and Ray Hill during the Data Dive event held June 18, 2022, inside Kirksey Old Main. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)

After awarding sits first cohort of undergraduate degrees in the spring, MTSU has launched the new master’s program, with the first cohort set to start this fall, to teach its students advanced data science skills so that they are even more competitive when entering this burgeoning and innovative industry. 

“Our target population with the master’s program is students who have a strong intent to develop a career in data science and are expected to be able to analyze a large amount of data and complete other high-level tasks immediately upon graduation,” Wu said. 

Prospective students are not required to hold a data science-related degree to qualify. The minimum admission requirement is a bachelor’s degree and cumulative GPA of 2.75.

MTSU aerospace returns to Oshkosh for world’s largest aviation gathering [+VIDEO]

OSHKOSH, Wis. — Middle Tennessee State University’s Department of Aerospace returned to Wisconsin for the world’s largest gathering of aviation enthusiasts, showcasing its recent investments in new training aircraft and the state’s recent decision to invest $62 million for a new flight training campus.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, as well as students and instructors from the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, arrived July 24 at EAA AirVenture, a massive weeklong aerospace celebration that attracts more than 10,000 aircraft to Oshkosh each year. Last year’s event drew more than 600,000 visitors.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee addresses a host of alumni and supporters Wednesday, July 27, during a barbeque reception at MTSU’s large tent at the 2022 EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

McPhee and his team met with employers, including Delta, FedEx, Endeavor Air and Republic Airlines. They also visited MTSU aerospace industry partners, including Diamond AircraftPiper Aircraft and Garman flight navigation systems.

The president also connected with Brig. Gen. Regena Aye, vice commander of the Civil Air Patrol, the volunteer civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and a partner with MTSU’s Department of Aerospace since 2014. 

But the real opportunity, McPhee said, is the chance to meet and reconnect with alumni at MTSU’s large tent behind the EAA Control Tower. The university hosted a barbecue reception July 27 for alumni and supporters at EAA space, which includes one of the department’s DA-40 Diamond training aircraft.

AUGUST 

MTSU helps Big Machine Music City Grand Prix honor troops, veterans [+VIDEO]

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For one shining moment, in the middle of the biggest Indy Car race in Tennessee, a future Army Reserve officer and incoming Middle Tennessee State University freshman from Watertown was the star of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix biggest stage Aug. 5.

Lancy Fripp, who graduated in May from Watertown High School and will enter MTSU this fall as a professional pilot major in the Department of Aerospace, was recognized at the start of the Grand Prix’s Freedom Friday concert, the cumulation of a daylong series of events at the downtown Nashville racing event that recognized active-duty troops and reserve members as well as veterans and other first responders.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, right, presents a ceremonial scholarship to Lancy Fripp, third from right, a May graduate from Watertown High School. Fripp will enter MTSU this fall as a professional pilot major in the Department of Aerospace. (MTSU file photo by James Cessna)

President Sidney A. McPhee joined Army Reserve Ambassador Andrew Oppmann, an MTSU vice president, and Army Maj. Ben Sweeney from MTSU’s Army Reserve Officer Training Corps detachment, to award a four-year Minuteman Scholarship to Tripp. 

The scholarship provides full tuition and fees, as well as some room and board expenses, for qualified applicants in exchange for service as a commissioned officer in the Army Reserve upon graduation with an eight-year service obligation.

MTSU brings in $17.2M-plus in donations during record fundraising year

Middle Tennessee State University boasted a record fundraising year for 2021-22, bringing in more than $17.2 million in private donations to support the university’s educational mission.

Joe Bales, MTSU vice president for university advancement
Joe Bales

“That’s easily the biggest fundraising year we’ve ever had,” said Joe Bales, vice president for university advancement. “It’s more than $3 million above our previous record year.”

The university had almost 1,000 more donors than the previous year among the 7,600-plus donors overall, according to the Development Office.

Bales said having robust private donations has become increasingly important for public higher education institutions because of stagnation in state funding over the years, perhaps even more so for universities like MTSU, which have a higher percentage of first-generation college students who rely more on the availability of scholarships to complete their educations.

MTSU collaborates with Nashville mayor’s office, community on heat data collection to help at-risk populations [+VIDEO] 

For MTSU geosciences professor and researcher Alisa Hass and her collaborators at the Nashville, Tennessee, mayor’s office, a recent early morning research excursion was the result of months of hard work and preparation. 

It was finally time to collect Nashville’s heat data as part of their research for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Heat Mapping Campaign to chart heat risk in an urban heat island environment — city areas that can be up to 20 degrees hotter than surrounding rural areas and neighborhoods. The goal is to identify and help communities manage neighborhoods vulnerable to extreme heat. 

Hass and Kendra Abkowitz, chief sustainability and resilience officer at the mayor’s office, set up at 5 a.m. Aug. 14 in the lobby of the Adventure Science Center in Nashville to oversee what was a true community effort. After data collection, the research team shipped the sensors back to the supplier CAPA Strategies LLC to be analyzed, and the results will be publicly available, Hass said. 

“This data will (then) be used by MTSU to develop future research opportunities with students and will be incorporated into courses in the Department of Geosciences,” she said.

True Blue Tour kickoff at MTSU ‘draws’ passionate prospective students, lucky winners

Prospective MTSU students arrived full of passion to learn about the university’s programs, scholarships and community at the kickoff of the 2022 True Blue Tour at the Student Union Building Aug. 17. 

The event — the first of 14 tour stops across the state and Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky throughout the fall semester — welcomed Murfreesboro and the wider Rutherford County community to campus to meet with academic leadership, hear from university President Sidney A. McPhee and even have the chance to win scholarships.

Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee awards prospective student Jonathan Eskobar a $15,000 scholarship while his parents, Maria and Saulramos Eskobar, look on during the kickoff event for the university’s True Blue Tour at the Student Union Building on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)
Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee awards prospective student Jonathan Eskobar a $15,000 scholarship while his parents, Maria and Saulramos Eskobar, look on during the kickoff event for the university’s True Blue Tour at the Student Union Building on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. (MTSU file photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

“We want you at MTSU!” McPhee said emphatically to the sea of prospective students and their families, capping off a speech highlighting the university’s first-rate academics, affordability and small community feel.

The tour features McPhee and Dr. Deb Sells, vice president of student affairs and vice provost for enrollment and academic services, who lead the team that includes staff, deans and other administrators, plus representatives from more than 20 departments prepared to answer questions and provide information for guests.

MTSU grad students, alumna land Fulbright awards with support from Honors College

MTSU faculty and staff work hard to ensure students and alumni are exposed to multiple scholarship and grant opportunities; the latest are two MTSU graduate students and one alumna who have landed spots in the prestigious U.S. Fulbright Scholar Program this fall. 

“We at the Honors College individualize our support to help assist MTSU students and alumni through the application process,” said Laura Clippard, fellowship advisor in the University Honors College, who guides applicants through the process with assistance from faculty. 

“Each of the three Fulbright winners had experience and education well suited to the program.”

Darrika Morklithavong, a Nashville native and graduate student, will complete her Fulbright program in the Southeast Asian country of Laos. Madeline Artibee, also a Nashville graduate student, will complete her program in Europe doing research in Croatia, where she had studied abroad before. Alexis Marshall, an MTSU alumna and morning radio producer for WPLN-FM in Nashville, used her Fulbright to study German media in Berlin this fall. 

New MTSU police chief ready to ‘reach out … build bridges’ within campus community

With less than a month on the job, new MTSU Police Chief Edwin “Ed” Kaup has been busy making the rounds, getting to know his officers, attending campus events and grabbing lunch at the Student Union when time allows, so that students get to know his face.

New MTSU Police Chief Edwin “Ed” Kaup, shown next to a police cruiser near the campus entrance at Greenland Drive and Middle Tennessee Boulevard, took over leadership of the department in early August 2022 and replaces interim Chief Kevin Williams, who held the role for 16 months following the retirement of Buddy Peaster in spring 2021. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

After 27 years in various leadership, administrative and frontline roles with the Chicago Police Department, Kaup has been chosen to lead the university’s 36 commissioned police officers, six full-time dispatchers, approximately 20 part-time student workers as well full-time administrative staff.

“I love the educational setting. Working for a university allows us to do things that traditional law enforcement can’t,” said the 51-year-old Illinois native, who took the helm of the University Police Department in early August.

“At the university, we realize that a lot of students are on their own for the first time and are going to experiment and occasionally make bad decisions,” he added. “If we can help make that bad decision not mar someone’s life long term, that’s a terrific ability that we have in this setting, that is handling it through the university instead of the criminal justice system. …It gives us a better opportunity to engage with youth.”

‘Self-talk’ expert Brinthaupt earns MTSU’s top faculty honor; 10 more professors saluted for teaching, service

The “self-talk” going through Middle Tennessee State University psychology professor Tom Brinthaupt‘s mind was clear on his face as he walked among his applauding colleagues Aug. 18 to accept the university’s highest teaching honor: “This is great, but whew, it’s embarrassing.”

Brinthaupt, who’s spent 32 years in MTSU’s Department of Psychology in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, specializes in “self-talk,” or the internal conversations we have with ourselves. 

MTSU psychology professor Thomas Brinthaupt speaks after receiving the Career Achievement Award Thursday, Aug. 18, during the university’s Fall Faculty Meeting inside Tucker Theatre. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

Now an internationally recognized expert on the phenomenon, he’s the 2022 recipient of the MTSU Foundation’s Career Achievement Award.

University President Sidney A. McPhee and alumnus Ronald Roberts, MTSU Foundation president, presented Brinthaupt with his award in MTSU’s Tucker Theatre, the traditional site for the Fall Faculty Meeting held as each new academic year begins.

MTSU Provost Mark Byrnes also recognized 10 more faculty recipients of MTSU Foundation awards during the gathering for their accomplishments in and outside the classroom. Before the honors, McPhee presented his 2022 State of the University address; that story is available here.

MTSU faculty members gather for a group photo with university leaders Thursday, Aug. 18, after they were recognized by the MTSU Foundation with awards for their service at the 2022 Fall Faculty Meeting in Tucker Theatre. The recipients and their honors include, seated front row from left, Shannon Harmon, Department of Elementary and Special Education, Outstanding Teaching Award; Christina M. Cobb, Department of University Studies, Outstanding General Education Award; Tom Brinthaupt, Department of Psychology, Career Achievement Award; Jennifer L. Caputo, Department of Health and Human Performance, Outstanding Teaching Award; Sisavanh Phouthavong Houghton, Department of Art and Design, Distinguished Research Award; and Lucy M. Matthews, Department of Marketing, Outstanding Teaching Award. Standing from left are Ashleigh E. McKinzie, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Outstanding Teaching Award; Erica M. Stone, Department of English, Outstanding Achievement in Instructional Technology Award; Alyson Muenzer Lynn, Department of English, Outstanding Teaching Award; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee; alumnus and MTSU Foundation President Ronald Roberts; Stuart E. Bernstein, Department of Psychology, Outstanding Achievement in Instructional Technology Award; University Provost Mark Byrnes; and Jing Kong, Department of Chemistry, Distinguished Research Award. Details on each of the professors’ accomplishments are available in the awards program, available in PDF at https://bit.ly/MTFallFacultyMeeting2022. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

SEPTEMBER

U.S. News again ranks MTSU for excellence in ‘social mobility’

Middle Tennessee State University has again made the U.S. News & World Report’s Top 100 national list for Top Performers in Social Mobility for its efforts to help disadvantaged students reach their educational goals.

U.S. News on Monday announced its 2022-23 evaluations of 1,500 colleges and universities, ranking MTSU at No. 82 for social mobilityNo. 156 for Top Public SchoolsNo. 130 for Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (at schools where doctorate not offered); No. 206 in Nursing; and No. 247 in Business. The university also was ranked No. 299 among the publication’s top national universities.

MTSU, which first made U.S. News’ Top 100 in Social Mobility in 2020, devotes considerable efforts to serve first-generation and underrepresented college students.

It recently launched a new push, called MT Tuition Free, to help qualified students determine pathways that could eliminate or greatly reduce their tuition costs. More information about that initiative is available at www.mtsu.edu/mtfree).  

MTSU names 2022-23 Distinguished, Young Alumni, True Blue Citations of Distinction

Middle Tennessee State University again honored outstanding alumni who represent excellence and distinction through their professional careers, loyal support and service to the broader community.

MTSU celebrated its 2022-23 Distinguished Alumni with a special ceremony Friday, Oct. 14, in the MT Center in the Ingram Building. Honorees included, from left, Jackie Morgan, Ed Arning, Katie Vance, Alanna Vaught and Elveta Cooper. Vance received the Distinguished Alumni Award; the others earned MTSU Citations of Distinction. Unable to attend were Tay Keith, the Young Alumni Award recipient, and U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Robert Powell (Citation of Distinction). (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

From 1960 to present, the MTSU Alumni Association has recognized accomplished alumni with the group’s highest honor: the Distinguished Alumni Award.

This year’s recipient is Katie Vance of Nashville, Tennessee, a member of the Class of 2005. She is the partner and chief creative officer of Powell Architecture + Building Studio, an award-winning architecture, interior and construction firm in Nashville.

This year’s Young Alumni Achievement Award, given to a graduate age 35 or younger making a positive impact in the world, goes to Tay Keith of Memphis, Tennessee, a member of the Class of 2018. The Grammy-nominated producer and songwriter already boasts an impressive roster of music collaborations that includes DrakeTravis ScottBeyonceDJ Khaled and more.

MTSU’s new Popular Music Fellow Lunch ‘forged her own path, powerfully’

She emerged from the dark at the back of the room while the documentary faded from the screen, all bright eyes and flashing grin and chic black garb.

Spoken-word artist, activist, musician and self-described agitator Lydia Lunch answers an audience member’s question after a Sept. 19 screening of “The War Is Never Over,” the 2019 documentary about her, inside MTSU’s McWherter Learning Resources Center. Lunch, the newest Fellow of the Center for Popular Music at the university, also presented a spoken-word performance Sept. 20 during her two-day visit to campus. (MTSU file photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

Postpunk and no-wave priestess Lydia Lunch, the new Fellow of the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State Universitysats down and proceeded to eat the lunch, afternoon snack and late supper of anyone who thought they’d get away with rote questions, adoring gazes and begging for selfies.

Forty-four years on stage, sharing her art and her heart without apology, will do that to a person.

“I say to people who want to be an artist, an architect, a chemist, a doctor, if it doesn’t BURN inside you, you are setting yourself up for a world of pain,” Lunch told a group gathered Sept. 19 in the McWherter Learning Resources Center to screen the 2019 documentary “Lydia Lunch: The War is Never Over.” The first female CPM Fellow’s two-day campus visit also included a spoken-word performance.

MTSU almost doubles amount of True Blue Scholarship for qualifying freshmen

Middle Tennessee State University announced Sept. 20 that it substantially increased the value and broadened eligibility of its True Blue Scholarship, almost doubling the amount of the award offered to qualified incoming freshmen.

President Sidney A. McPhee said the True Blue Scholarship, the first tier of MTSU’s array of guaranteed academic scholarships, will now be available to first-time freshmen scoring 22 to 24 on the ACT with at least a 3.5 high school GPA.

McPhee raised the scholarship payout from $8,000 to $14,000 total, making it $3,500 a year for four years. As a guaranteed scholarship, it is awarded automatically to all who meet its criteria — but only if they apply to the university before Dec. 1.

McPhee also announced a new top-tier offering to the university’s guaranteed scholarships: The designation of Centennial Scholar, which provides $32,000 over four years, or $8,000 per year, to students scoring 34 to 36 on the ACT test and earning a 3.5 high school GPA.

MTSU songwriting adjunct writes U.S. Space Force official song

Jamie Teachenor served as a member of the U.S. Air Force band at the Air Force Academy before joining MTSU as an adjunct professor of songwriting (photo provided)
Jamie Teachenor served as a member of the U.S. Air Force band at the Air Force Academy before joining MTSU as an adjunct professor of songwriting (photo submitted)

Every branch of the armed forces has an official song, from “The Army Goes Rolling Along” to “The Marines’ Hymn.” Each song is part of the services’ foundation and represents its values, traditions and culture.

And now the U.S. Space Force, the newest military branch established in 2019 as a part of the U.S. Air Force, has its own anthem, thanks to an adjunct professor of songwriting at Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Media and Entertainment.

The Space Force officially adopted “Semper Supra,” written by Jamie Teachenor, on Sept. 20 during the 2022 Air & Space Forces Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.
 
“Semper Supra” was named for the Space Force motto, which is Latin for “Always Above.” It was created to capture the esprit de corps of both current and future Guardians and intends to bring together service members by giving them a sense of pride.
 
A release by Space Force credited Teachenor, who joined the college’s Commercial Songwriting Program this semester to teach its practicum course, as “the visionary composer and driving force of the song’s creation.”

Holocaust Studies speaker shares journey to discover her ‘hidden child’ Jewish roots [+VIDEO]

Now in her early 80s, Holocaust survivor Sonja Dubois of Knoxville, Tennessee, still carries the pain of so many survivors of one of history’s greatest atrocities. But she continues traveling the state to share her story, ensuring that society never forgets the traumatic ripples that affect her and so many more, even today.

Child Holocaust survivor Sonja Dubois of Knoxville, Tenn., discusses her yearslong journey to discover more about her Jewish heritage during her Sept. 23 talk to close out the university’s 14th biennial Holocaust Studies Conference in the MTSU Student Union Ballroom. (MTSU photo by Jimmy Hart)
Child Holocaust survivor Sonja Dubois of Knoxville, Tenn., discusses her yearslong journey to discover more about her Jewish heritage during her Sept. 23 talk to close out the university’s 14th biennial Holocaust Studies Conference in the MTSU Student Union ballroom. (MTSU photo by Jimmy Hart)

“I am a ‘hidden child.’ It has taken me most of my life to discover who I am and where I belong,” Dubois told an attentive audience in MTSU’s Student Union ballroom during her Sept. 23 talk to close out the university’s 14th biennial Holocaust Studies Conference.

“I’m also one of the last witnesses to share information about the Holocaust.” 

Dubois shared her wrenching childhood survival story — on the way to a Nazi concentration camp, her Jewish parents arranged for a family friend, Dutch artist Dolf Henkes, to have her placed, and hidden, with a Dutch Christian family to save her — and her years-long search as an adult to uncover the truth of her identity and understand her Jewish heritage.

MTSU students join volunteers for Habitat panel build for alumna, family [+VIDEO]

Future Murfreesboro homeowners Arionna “Ari” Robinson Alcocer and Eduardo “Eddie” Alcocer watched as dozens of volunteers — including about 15 Middle Tennessee State University students — started the process of building their new house.

On a picture-perfect fall day Sept. 29 on the Student Union Commons, Robinson, an MTSU alumna, and Alcocer joined volunteers — many with years of experience in hammering nails and other building skills and others with less expertise but eager to lend a hand — in getting the Habitat for Humanity project underway.

MTSU’s Office of Student Organizations and Service has a lengthy history with Habitat builds in an ongoing partnership with the Rutherford County Area Habitat for Humanity. Classes, fraternities and sororities and individual students regularly raise money and contribute time and energy to the community homebuilding effort.

MTSU Fall Career Fair attracts hundreds of students, alumni at new Rec Center location [+VIDEO]

A new location meant a new energy at MTSU’s recent Fall Career Fair as hundreds of students and alumni descended on the Campus Recreation Center’s basketball courts-turned expo space to speak with representatives from dozens of employers and graduate schools about job, internship and enrollment possibilities. 

Hosted and coordinated by the Career Development Center, the university’s only campuswide career fair each year drew roughly 960 students and alumni and 160 employers during the three-hour event on Sept. 29.

Center Director Beka Crocket said relocating the event from the Murphy Center track area to the large, more open space inside the Rec Center allowed the fair to better accommodate the increasing number of companies wanting to participate.

“College is about opportunities and building connections with employers and this is what we’re doing,” Crocket said. “Students from all majors have an opportunity to network and meet industry partners.”

OCTOBER

MTSU among 19 institutions selected for national initiative to close equity gaps for students

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, Middle Tennessee State University is among 19 member institutions selected to execute a comprehensive multiyear initiative designed to help institutions close equity gaps for Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and low-income students.

The AASCU, a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of nearly 400 public colleges, universities, and systems, is among six national and regional organizations selected by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to participate in the effort.

Dr. Rick Sluder, vice provost, Student Success; dean, University College
Dr. Rick Sluder

In support of this initiative, AASCU has selected 19 institutions, including MTSU, to participate in the Student Success Equity Intensive, or SSEI, formerly the Transformation Accelerator Cohort. This is the second national cohort–selected through a highly competitive application.

Dr. Rick Sluder, MTSU’s vice provost for student success and dean of the University College, said the university is fortunate “to be able to work with a cohort of like-minded institutions who are deeply committed to this work.”

MTSU’s back on Billboard’s top music business schools list for 8th year

MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry— and the College of Media and Entertainment that houses it — are marking an eighth year on Billboard‘s latest international list of top music business schools, once again earning acclaim for the program’s diversity, depth and longevity.

Billboard logo 2022

In the article “Billboard’s 2022 Top Music Business Schools Revealed,” the magazine also says “opportunities abound” for students’ professional development, thanks to participation in events like Bonnaroo and the CMA Music Festival; the presence of an active on-campus music venue, the Chris Young Cafe; and the student-run record label, Match Records.

MTSU’s been on Billboard’s best music business schools lists since 2013, receiving recognition that first year for the recording industry program’s entrepreneurial turn. The magazine has published seven such lists since then, plus this year’s; it skipped a 2015 compilation and didn’t publish one for 2021 because of the pandemic.

Beverly Keel, dean, College of Media and Entertainment
Beverly Keel

“I am delighted that MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry has once again made the Billboard list of the top music business schools worldwide,” said Beverly Keel, media college dean and a former recording industry department chair. “This accomplishment is an achievement for our dedicated faculty and staff.”

Blue Raider faithful enjoy sunny skies, fellowship for almost perfect homecoming [+VIDEOS]

It was an almost perfect MTSU homecoming — good weather despite brief light rain briefly, an awesome parade, great tailgating food, a new homecoming king and queen, recognition of the 2022-23 MTSU Distinguished Alumni, lots of student and alumni involvement and much more.

Summer Lester-Jones, left, of Murfreesboro and Carson Wright of Marshall County, Ky., pose for a photo after they were crowned MTSU homecoming queen and king by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee during halftime of the homecoming game Saturday, Oct. 15, in Floyd Stadium. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)
One of numerous 2022 homecoming parade entries, a student organization float with the “Winner’s Circle” theme heads down Middle Tennessee Boulevard Saturday, Oct. 15. The parade traveled from Maney Avenue down East Main Street, turning left onto Middle Tennessee Boulevard and ending just past Faulkinberry. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

On the field at Floyd Stadium, however, the Blue Raiders took an early first-quarter lead but fell to Conference USA rival Western Kentucky, 35-17, on Oct. 15 — the fourth consecutive loss to the Hilltoppers. After beating then-No. 25 Miami Hurricanes in Miami Sept. 24 to move to 3-1 on the season, MT has lost three straight games.

But there was still plenty to celebrate Saturday among the thousands of alumni and True Blue supporters who descended upon campus to tailgate with family and friends, line East Main Street and Middle Tennessee Boulevard to parade-watch or cheer on the football team inside Floyd Stadium.

Events were coordinated by the MTSU Alumni Association, Student Government Association and MT Athletics Marketing.

Forensic scientist Lee brings MTSU’s Bass Legends lecture series back into focus

A world-renowned forensic scientist who’s helped investigate some of the most infamous deaths of the last 50 years helped Middle Tennessee State University resume its acclaimed William M. Bass Legends in Forensic Science Lectureship series this fall.

Dr. Henry C. Lee, forensic scientist, professor emeritus of the University of New Haven’s College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, and guest speaker at the Oct. 20 William M. Bass Legends in Forensic Science Lectureship series at Middle Tennessee State University
Dr. Henry C. Lee

Dr. Henry C. Lee, professor emeritus of the University of New Haven’s College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences that bears his name, spoke Oct. 20 at MTSU’s Student Union ballroom. MTSU’s Forensic Institute for Research and Education, also known as FIRE, sponsored Lee’s free public lecture, “Famous Cases Revisited.”

Forensic Institute for Research and Education (FIRE) logo

The Bass Lecture Series, named for legendary University of Tennessee forensic anthropologist Bill Bass, brings forensic-science experts to MTSU each fall and spring. The series went on hiatus in 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic

Lee, who also is professor emeritus and director of his Connecticut university’s Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science, has consulted on more than 8,000 criminal cases in 46 countries, including the O.J. Simpson trial, the JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation and the “murder without a body” Connecticut woodchipper-disposal case of flight attendant Helle Crafts.

MTSU supporters create big community win from ‘Bleed Blue, Beat WKU’ rivalry

The rivalry returned, and now 831 blood donors around Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and Bowling Green, Kentucky, are back in their daily routines with their superhero capes barely visible.

Meanwhile, the recipients of their lifesaving blood, plasma and platelets — as many as 2,493 across the two states and around the country — are driving their cars, feeding their children, talking in their workplaces and recuperating in their hospital beds, or soon will be, back in their own daily routines.

Diane Turnham, MT Athletics associate athletic director/senior women’s administrator at MTSU, laughs with American Red Cross phlebotomist Tyler Skipworth as she prepares to donate blood Oct. 3 at MTSU’s “Bleed Blue, Beat WKU” blood drive in the Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center. MTSU and Western Kentucky University renewed their blood-drive rivalry this fall after a two-year hiatus, and Turnham, a member of the drive’s planning committee, and other MTSU supporters donated 480 units of blood to WKU’s 351 to win the competition for the eighth time in 13 years. The blood drive challenge trophy was presented Saturday, Oct. 15, during MTSU’s homecoming football game against Western at Floyd Stadium. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

The friendly blood-drive rivalry between football foes Middle Tennessee State University and Western Kentucky University, which began in 2010, resumed this fall after the pandemic and scheduling issues waylaid Western in 2020 and 2021.

MTSU won the 2022 competition with its supporters donating 480 units of blood in an Oct. 3-5 “Bleed Blue, Beat WKU” campus blood drive. The WKU community collected 351 units of blood for its neighbors in a Sept. 26-28 drive.  

The challenge trophy was presented Oct. 15 at Floyd Stadium during MTSU’s homecoming game against Western.

Operation Song helps MTSU veterans, budding songwriters, Nashville pros ‘craft something amazing’

Once, or maybe several times, they were in the room where it happened. Perhaps it was a courtyard instead, or a street, or a playground, or a shop, or a parking lot, years ago.

Some of them haven’t left that room, or that playground, or that street, until a couple of weeks before Veterans Day, when they went into another room, this time with two smiling strangers, talking of music and telling stories … and the door finally opened.

Songwriter and MTSU recording industry alumnus Jason Duke, foreground, concentrates on singing “See the World,” a song about turning frustrating experiences into learning opportunities, as student veteran Ed Watkins, a junior audio production major and newcomer from Charlotte, North Carolina, whose perspective shaped the song, listens in the background during the annual Operation Song writers' retreat at the university. Senior commercial songwriting major Trent Roeder of Rogers, Arkansas, is shown in the center playing guitar. The trio was one of seven who created and performed new songs in MTSU's Keathley University Center Theater at the Oct. 28 event. MTSU's Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center and the Commercial Songwriting Program have hosted Operation Song since 2016. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)
Songwriter and MTSU recording industry alumnus Jason Duke, foreground, concentrates on singing “See the World,” a song about turning frustrating experiences into learning opportunities, as student veteran Ed Watkins, a junior audio production major and newcomer from Charlotte, North Carolina, whose perspective shaped the song, listens in the background during the annual Operation Song writers’ retreat at the university. Senior commercial songwriting major Trent Roeder of Rogers, Arkansas, is shown in the center playing guitar. The trio was one of seven who created and performed new songs in MTSU’s Keathley University Center Theater at the Oct. 28 event. MTSU’s Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center and the Commercial Songwriting Program have hosted Operation Song since 2016. (MTSU file photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

Middle Tennessee State University’s collaboration with Operation Song and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, which began in 2016, recently brought together another group of military veterans whose stories need — and deserve — to be told, again with the help of professional songwriters and students in MTSU’s Commercial Songwriting Program.

Seven trios sat down together again Oct. 28 for a day, talking about families, friends, work and faith, joking through awkward moments and waiting quietly for sudden tears, provoked by a random thought, to dry.

NOVEMBER

MTSU recognized nationally for ‘gold standard’ in teacher prep accreditation

MTSU’s College of Education was one of only 32 total institutions to be recognized by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation for its quality as an education preparation provider.

CAEP logo

Each year, CAEP selects education preparation providers accredited by the council to receive the Frank Murray Leadership Recognition for Continuous Improvement designation, with other winners this year coming from across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Jordan.

Christopher Koch, CAEP president, said the recognition is reserved for those institutions that achieve the gold standard for teacher preparation accreditation from the council with a clean review. 

College of Education logo

“We need to focus on the future of teaching by emphasizing the recruitment of qualified teacher candidates, supporting them through their preparation and preparing these teachers to the highest standard possible,” Koch said. “This can be done, and it is being done right here by the Middle Tennessee State University College of Education.”

MTSU again tops secretary of state voter registration competition

The tireless work of MTSU professor Mary A. Evins and her team of student and community volunteers has once again registered a success: the university earned its second win as the top four-year public university in Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s College Voter Registration Competition

“Consistency, commitment, perseverance, drive and unwavering dedication got us this win,” said Evins, a professor of history and coordinator of the university’s chapter of the American Democracy Project, or ADP. 

Kayla Jenkins, Middle Tennessee State University graduate student, helps register an MTSU student to vote on Sept. 20, 2022, on campus as part of her work as a public history graduate research assistant and the university’s push to get a record number of MTSU students registered to vote and out to the polls for the November election. Deadline to register to vote in November is Oct. 11. (MTSU photo by Stephanie Barrette)
Kayla Jenkins, Middle Tennessee State University graduate student, helps register an MTSU student to vote on Sept. 20, 2022, on campus as part of her work as a public history graduate research assistant and the university’s push to get a record number of MTSU students registered to vote and out to the polls for the November election. Deadline to register to vote in November is Oct. 11. (MTSU file photo by Stephanie Wagner)

The competition, which ran the full month of September, required competitors not only to register the largest number of students to vote but to launch and manage a creative and unique social media campaign with good engagement, which the secretary’s office tracked. 

“ADP students, with help from the Student Government Association on Tuesdays, were register-to-vote tabling out on campus not just through the month of September but every day for seven solid weeks, from the first day of class through the last day of Tennessee voter registration before fall break,” Evins said.

Reach for the stars Nov. 3-6 with MTSU Theatre’s family-friendly ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’

Local voyagers found a berth available on the good ships Wasp and Neverland to enjoy MTSU Theatre’s production of the multi-Tony-winning “Peter Pan” prequel “Peter and the Starcatcher” Nov. 3-6 in Tucker Theatre.

promo card for MTSU Theatre production of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” set Thursday-Sunday, Nov. 3-6, in Tucker Theatre

Directed by Department of Theatre and Dance professor Kristi Shamburger, the “Starcatcher” cast and crew helped audiences travel from Victorian England to an unknown island paradise with 13-year-old Molly and her father on The Wasp for an important secret mission from Queen Victoria.

Kristi Shamburger, assistant professor, MTSU Department of Theatre and Dance
Kristi Shamburger

A trio of young orphans on the other ship, The Neverland, also were part of the voyage, and all soon found themselves facing pirates who’ve taken over both vessels and want the valuable contents — shining “starstuff” — inside trunks that belonged to the queen.

Thrilling battles, a shipwreck, near-drownings and heroism ensued as the story reveals the origins of Peter Pan, Mrs. Darling, Captain Hook, that sneaky crocodile, a little yellow bird and more, all developed from the 2004 Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson novel that serves as backstory for J.M. Barrie’s “Peter and Wendy.”

The play, written by Rick Elice and with music by Wayne Barker, earned multiple Tonys for the 2012 season, including the awards for featured actor, sound design, lighting, costumes and scenic design.

MTSU honors veterans at 40th Salute game; Hillis receives Nunley award [+VIDEO]  

I.V. Hillis Jr., 92, of McMinnville, Tenn., the 2022 Dr. Joe Nunley Jr. Award recipient, shares from his heart after being recognized for the honor following the tailgating picnic outside the Kennon Hall of Fame during the 40th annual Salute to Veterans and Armed Forces game activities. A radio announcer for 35 years with WSMT-AM in Sparta, Tenn., during his working career, Hillis was a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant, air traffic operator and technical sergeant in the Air Force reserves after his discharge. He led veterans’ effort as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1971-95 and from then until now. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)
I.V. Hillis Jr., 92, of McMinnville, Tenn., the 2022 Dr. Joe Nunley Jr. Award recipient, shares thanks and memories from his heart after he was honored during the 40th annual Salute to Veterans and Armed Forces game activities. (MTSU file photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

I.V. Hillis Jr. was friends with the late Chuck Yeager, the legendary test pilot. They served together in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, then kept up the friendship in later years. Hillis called the late Bob Dole “a true patriot” when they and others championed veterans’ efforts.

Hillis, 92, a McMinnville, Tennessee, native, was a staff sergeant, air traffic control operator and technical sergeant in the Air Force reserves. He would spend 35 years as a news, weather and sports broadcaster at WSMT-AM in Sparta, Tennessee, and served in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1971 to 1995. For more than 50 years, he has been a veterans’ advocate.

With friends and 40 family members present, Hillis received the Dr. Joe Nunley Sr. Award for service to his country during the 40th annual Salute to Veterans and Armed Forces game Nov. 12 on the Middle Tennessee State University campus.

MT Athletics and the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center hosted the game activities.

MTSU band makes history with Space Force anthem performance [+VIDEO]

Middle Tennessee State University became the first collegiate marching band to perform the anthem of the U.S. Space Force, the newest military branch established in 2019 as a part of the U.S. Air Force.

MTSU Recording Industry adjunct professor Jamie Teachenor, center, who wrote “Semper Supra” (Latin for “Always Above”) for the new U.S. Space Force military branch, walks across Horace Jones Field in Floyd Stadium Saturday, Nov. 12, with ROTC cadets and Civil Air Patrol members as the MTSU Band of Blue performs the theme song. Teachenor is a veteran and former member of the Air force Band at the U.S. Air Force Academy. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

The Space Force officially adopted “Semper Supra,” written by MTSU adjunct songwriting professor Jamie Teachenor, in September. 

The Pentagon expedited an arrangement of the anthem in time for the Band of Blue to learn and perform Nov. 12 at MTSU’s 40th annual Salute to Armed Forces and Veterans football event. It’s possible MTSU is the first marching band to perform the anthem. 

MTSU employees pledge almost $145K, set record for 2022-23 Charitable Giving Campaign [+VIDEO]

With a theme this year of “Make a Difference,” Middle Tennessee State University’s 2022-23 Employee Charitable Giving Campaign will do just that with a record-setting amount of almost $145,000 pledged, beating the $142,500 campaign goal.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee lauded the university’s 830 faculty and staff participants for again rising to the occasion and demonstrating their True Blue spirit of giving with pledges totaling $144,906.

MTSU Provost Mark Byrnes, left, presents the Provost Cup to Jones College of Business Dean David Urban recently in the Cope Administration Building lobby to wrap up the 2022-23 MTSU Employee Charitable Giving Campaign. The Provost Cup is a friendly competition between academic units that is awarded to the college with the highest percentage of employee participation. The Jones College of Business has won the cup for 10 straight years. (From MTSU video screen capture)
MTSU Provost Mark Byrnes, left, presents the Provost Cup to Jones College of Business Dean David Urban recently in the Cope Administration Building lobby to wrap up the 2022-23 MTSU Employee Charitable Giving Campaign. The Provost Cup is a friendly competition between academic units that is awarded to the college with the highest percentage of employee participation. The Jones College of Business has won the cup for 10 straight years. (MTSU video screen capture)

“Even as inflationary pressures have impacted us all this year, I’m not surprised that our employees recognized that it was more important than ever to give back during this time to assist the most vulnerable among our neighbors and friends throughout the community,” said McPhee.

MTSU’s annual Charitable Giving Campaign is led by a committee of faculty and staff volunteers to rally financial support for 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. 

Initiation ceremony welcomes elite students into MTSU’s top honor society

Seventy of MTSU’s brightest students and three outstanding faculty members are now members of Middle Tennessee State University’s most prestigious honor society.

MTSU College of Liberal Arts Associate Dean Meredith Dye explains the motto for the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi to students, faculty and guests at the fall 2022 initiation ceremony for the organization in the Tom H. Jackson Building’s Cantrell Hall. More than 70 people, including three faculty members, were initiated into the organization at the mid-November event. (MTSU file photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

Meredith Dye, associate dean of the MTSU College of Liberal Arts, delivered the initiation address at Phi Kappa Phi’s fall 2022 initiation ceremony in the Tom Jackson Building’s Cantrell Hall. 

The primary objective of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi is the recognition and encouragement of superior scholarship in all academic disciplines. By drawing its membership from all fields of study within MTSU, Phi Kappa Phi also serves as a unifying force in higher education.

MTSU showcases ingenuity of Midstate high schoolers at 7th entrepreneurship fair

High school freshmen Wyatt Petelle and Hunter Higgs from Central Magnet School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, eagerly jumped onto their laptop inside MTSU’s Student Union ballroom recently to explain the concept behind their online engineering services business called EngiTex.

“We are an online engineering company that specializes in producing engineering designs for independent engineers,” Petelle said. “We provide online design tutorials, a space for you to upload and to have your design voted on, and a shop for those designs to be bought by our community.”

High school senior Ella Clark, left, and junior Katie Narrell of Murfreesboro’s Central Magnet School stand with their display for Focus Photography during MTSU’s seventh High School Entrepreneurship Fair held Nov. 16 in the Student Union Ballroom. The students earned the fifth place award for their business plan and presentation. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)
High school senior Ella Clark, left, and junior Katie Narrell of Murfreesboro’s Central Magnet School stand with their display for Focus Photography during MTSU’s seventh High School Entrepreneurship Fair held Nov. 16 in the Student Union ballroom. The students earned the fifth-place award for their business plan and presentation. (MTSU file photo by James Cessna)

The two aspiring entrepreneurs were among more than 100 high school students representing 52 teams and 10 high schools in the Midstate for Middle Tennessee State University’s seventh High School Entrepreneurship Fair, held Nov. 16 for the first time since 2019 following a pause because of the pandemic. 

Hosted by the Department of Management and the Pam Wright Chair of Entrepreneurship in the Jones College of Business, the fair was part of MTSU’s Global Entrepreneurship Week activities, which also included a family-business panel and guest speaker.

DECEMBER

MTSU honors 225+ employees for 4,160 combined years of service to students, community

Diane Turnham, left, and Teresa King, MTUS employees with 40 years of service to the university and its students, pose for a photo after the recent Employee Service Award luncheon and reception in the James Union Building. Turnham is senior associate athletic director and senior women’s administrator for MTSU Athletics, and King is a recently retired Department of Human Sciences professor. Their fellow 40-year honorees, Ghassem Homaifar, a professor in the Department of Economics and Finance, and Judy Money, student records coordinator for the Registrar’s Office, are not pictured. MTSU saluted 229 longtime faculty and staff employees for their 4,160 combined years of service devoted to students and the campus community at the event. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Middle Tennessee State University is saluting 229 longtime faculty and staff employees for their 4,160 combined years of service devoted to students and the campus community.

Honorees and guests gathered Dec. 1 for a special luncheon and reception in the Tennessee Room of the James Union Building, where the employees were recognized in five-year increments, beginning with their 10th anniversaries all the way up to their 40th year at the university.

MTSU’s community holiday gift, ‘Joys of the Season,’ premieres on True Blue TV, YouTube, social media

Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Liberal Arts offered the perfect gift as a thank-you to all the university’s neighbors, friends and supporters: the 2022 edition of “Joys of the Season,” the annual holiday-themed arts showcase, available again on TV and online.

“Joys of the Season” once again focused on the creativity of students and faculty from MTSU’s School of Music and Department of Theatre and Dancerecorded live inside the university’s Hinton Hall and Tucker Theatre and in the home of theatre associate professor Kristi Shamburger.

Watch the program below:

Blackman Collegiate Academy students showcase research, dozens consider MTSU

Zach Shafer wants to be a professional pilot one day. He is considering Middle Tennessee State University’s highly regarded Department of Aerospace and two other southern aviation programs to help complete his dream.

This fall, as a Blackman High School senior, Shafer was one of more than 50 Blackman Collegiate Academy students working on research projects. Along with the BCA seniors, Shafer shared his study, “New Technologies in Aviation,” during the eighth annual Blackman High School Collegiate Academy Capstone Symposium at the school Dec. 7.

Launched in 2015 to attract high-achieving students, MTSU and Blackman have partnered with the collegiate academy as a way for students — many of whom will wind up at the university — to gain access to MTSU faculty and resources and grow academically through research and other means. BCA is open to qualifying students in grades 9 through 12. 

One of more than 50 Blackman High School seniors conducting research this fall, TaLese Vaughn stands with her project, “Outdated Medical Technology Affecting the Patients,” at the eighth annual Blackman Collegiate Academy Capstone Symposium Dec. 7 at the school. She is considering Middle Tennessee State University as one of her college choices and plans to major in premedicine. (MTSU file photo by James Cessna)
Blackman High School senior Zach Shafer, who aspires to be a professional pilot, stands alongside the aviation research display he prepared for his fall 2022 Blackman Collegiate Academy capstone project. BCA held its year-end symposium Dec. 7. One day later, Shafer and his family visited the MTSU Department of Aerospace on campus and the Flight Operations Center at Murfreesboro. MTSU is one of the schools Shafer is considering for college. (MTSU file photo by James Cessna)

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