The official opening of the $147 million state-of-the-art Science Building in mid-October was among the top highlights of another busy year for Middle Tennessee State University.
The year started with churches in the community coming together to help provide emergency grants for MTSU students in a financial pinch. Throughout the year, a number of agreements — including several with Chinese universities — were signed and partnerships forged to provide MTSU students and prospective students a better opportunity to enhance their educations and obtain their degrees.
Now in his 14th year of leading the campus, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee held a series of town hall meetings in the spring to provide students, faculty and staff an opportunity to discuss the ongoing Quest for Student Success initiative. Launched in fall 2013, the reforms aim to help students stay on track academically, resulting in more students completing their degrees.
McPhee had a straightforward message to faculty and administration during his State of the University address at the annual Fall Faculty Meeting inside Tucker Theatre in late August.
“We must ensure that we recruit, retain and graduate students,” he said.
Here’s a month-by-month look at some of the top stories reported by MTSUNews.com in 2014.
* Churches from across the area gathered at World Outreach Church to help MTSU students stay on the path to getting their degrees. Coordinated by MTSU first lady Elizabeth McPhee, “Building Community: An Event for MTSU” was organized by a committee of local church leaders to assist MTSU students needing emergency financial assistance.
* Students, faculty and staff grabbed markers in support of nonviolence as the university continued its observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by tying his message of peace with the campus’ True Blue community values. Student artists painted versions of “I AM true BLUE” on several banners that hung across campus for anyone to sign with a statement of why they are True Blue.
* Friends and colleagues joined together to honor MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and his wife, Elizabeth McPhee, at The City Schools Foundation’s seventh annual Excellence in Education Celebration. The celebration was held at Stones River Country Club and featured John Pittard Elementary. Money raised benefited Murfreesboro City Schools’ pre-K through sixth grade students.
* MTSU and the College of Mass Communication partnered with the Franklin-based Americana Music Association for an event at the legendary Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood, California, to honor the late Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers, who died in 2013. Mass Comm Dean Ken Paulson, President Sidney A. McPhee and Beverly Keel, chair of the Department of Recording Industry, met with MTSU alumni and friends in Southern California.
* MTSU alumnus and multi-award-winning songwriter Luke Laird added another hyphenate to his name when the project he co-produced, Kacey Musgraves’ “Same Trailer, Different Park,” took the 2014 Grammy for Best Country Album. Laird, who earned his recording industry degree from MTSU in 2001, also co-wrote six of the album’s 12 tracks, including three with co-producer Shane McAnally.
* MT women’s basketball senior Ebony Rowe became the school’s all-time leading scorer, breaking a 27-year-old mark held by former Smyrna great Kim Webb.
* Reopening in new space on the second-floor atrium of the Bragg Mass Communication Building, the Baldwin Gallery’s inaugural exhibit by photographic artists Jerry Uelsmann and Maggie Taylor drew appreciative crowds. The exhibit kicked off the gallery’s 50th year. Professor Harold Baldwin started the photography program at MTSU in 1959 and established the photo gallery five years later.
* The 18th annual Unity Luncheon at MTSU honored three African-American residents who have contributed greatly to the community: James L. “Link” Butler Sr. of Murfreesboro, Pearlie Mae Martin of Murfreesboro, and Dr. Phyllis Hickerson-Washington of Murfreesboro.
* The MTSU Poll showed Tennesseans oppose legalizing marijuana generally but appear willing to allow medical marijuana use. The poll also found 64 percent opposed gay marriage.
* Team Music City, an interdisciplinary group from MTSU, Vanderbilt University and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville, was selected to compete in the Solar Decathlon 2015, a U.S. Department of Energy event that challenges students to design and build a functioning, energy-efficient, solar-powered house. The team’s conceptual design — Harmony House — forges a connection between Southern living and modern green technologies.
* The Rev. James McCarroll, pastor of First Baptist Church on East Castle Street, announced “Blue Pride Saturday” at a Blue Raider Athletic Association meeting. Set for March 1, the day featured Blue Raider baseball as well as men’s and women’s basketball games. The effort is part of the True Blue Community Initiative, a grass-roots effort to deepen support for MTSU academics and athletics across all segments of the community.
* The Tennessee Veteran Education Task Force met at the James Union Building. Many-Bears Grinder, commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs, serves as chair of the statewide task force. The group agreed that its mission is to help Tennessee become the No. 1 state in the country for veteran educational achievement and employment.
* MTSU’s Quest for Student Success efforts were recognized by state Rep. Dawn White before the House Education Committee at the state Capitol. White, who received three degrees from MTSU, introduced President Sidney A. McPhee and John Hood, director of government and community affairs.
* MTSU and Columbia State signed a pact allowing community college students to earn a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness without ever having to leave Marshall County. The Agribusiness Program 2+2 Agreement — two years at the community college and two at a university — would begin in fall 2014. Students can move from an associate degree to an MTSU bachelor’s degree at Columbia State’s Lewisburg campus.
* Seeking his master’s degree in African-American history, MTSU graduate student Joshua Crutchfield made some personal history when he traveled to the nation’s capital to introduce President Barack Obama at a gathering of grass-roots organizations. The nonprofit Organizing for Action invited the Murfreesboro resident to introduce Obama at The National Organizing Summit on Feb. 25 in Washington, D.C. “It was a pretty amazing experience,” he said.
* MTSU’s Wind Ensemble released its second CD, “Earthrise,” a collaboration with three international composers, on one of the world’s most prestigious classical labels — Naxos of America, the Franklin, Tenn., U.S. headquarters for the Hong Kong-based Naxos classical music group. “We’re the only school in Tennessee that has one CD with Naxos, let alone two,” said Dr. Reed Thomas, director of bands and a professor of music and conducting in MTSU’s renowned School of Music.
* On the pristine Rutherford County Century Farm where MTSU alumnus Katherine Batey Whitt grew up in the Blackman community, she and her husband, fellow alumnus Brandon Whitt, were presented an “MTSU blue” GMC Sierra truck from Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac of Murfreesboro for being named Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award recipients by the American Farm Bureau Federation.
* More than 300 young Midstate creators attending the 22nd annual Invention Convention at MTSU earnestly explained and demonstrated their innovations to play games or “make life easier.” Fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade participants from public and private schools in Coffee, DeKalb, Franklin, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner and Wilson counties attended the event.
* MTSU embarked on another phase of its emphasis on student success with the opening of the $16 million Student Services and Admissions Center and MT One Stop. Nearly 100 MTSU employees from five offices and three buildings entered their new quarters and workspace. What this means for current and prospective students and visitors is student-centeredness and a convenience of key offices being centrally located under one roof.
* Increasing from five to 300 members in 2013 alone, the MTSU student organization known as BRAVO experienced tremendous growth. The progression was acknowledged when the Student Veterans of America national organization selected BRAVO — Blue Raider American Veteran Organization — as Chapter of the Month for March 2014. SVA is a coalition of student veterans groups on more than 950 college campuses worldwide.
* No. 20/22 Middle Tennessee Women’s Basketball learned that they would be headed west to Seattle, Washington, for the program’s 17th NCAA Tournament appearance. The Blue Raiders (29-4) put together the second most wins in program history. The Raiders won the Conference USA regular season and tournament title in the school’s first year in the league.
* MT women’s basketball senior Ebony Rowe is named Conference USA Player of the Year, while teammate Olivia Jones is named Freshman of the Year. A few days later, MT men’s basketball senior forward Shawn Jones is named CUSA Player of the Year.
* In the inaugural season competing in Conference USA, the MT men’s basketball team won a share of the regular season title, before falling in the semifinals of the CUSA tournament to end their season.
* MTSU’s Forensic Institute for Research and Education, known as FIRE, used a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to partner with WillowTree Apps, an award-winning mobile application development company headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia, to create CASE, a crime scene checklist app for law enforcement agencies.
* Military Times named the MTSU Jennings A. Jones College of Business in the publication’s “Best for Vets: Business Schools 2014” rankings. The Jones College is one of 64 schools in the country to have made this list.
* MTSU students, faculty and staff now have convenient access to a host of top quality printing services with the opening of BLUE print Solutions on the first floor of the Student Union. The university’s first retail printing center held a grand opening celebration to officially introduce the state-of-the-art printing capabilities now available to the campus community.
* Recalling colorful anecdotes from her life and career, journalist Soledad O’Brien charmed and enlightened her audience at MTSU. The award-winning broadcaster, best known for her documentary work with CNN, delivered the keynote address for MTSU’s National Women’s History Month celebration at the Student Union Ballroom.
* MTSU’s College of Mass Communication and the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival entered a partnership that will help students better understand the dynamics of one of the world’s most successful entertainment events. Bonnaroo officials will visit campus for a question-and-answer session with students, while some students will participate in behind-the-scenes activities at the festival as part of their education.
* MTSU alumnus Phil Williams and the “NewsChannel5 Investigates” team win another George Foster Peabody Award, this time for their ongoing investigative report “NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Questions of Influence.” One of broadcast journalism’s highest honors, this coveted award marks the third such career honor for Williams, who graduated from MTSU in 1985 and joined WTVF-TV in Nashville in 1998.
* MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee holds four town hall meetings on campus to provide students, faculty and staff an opportunity to discuss the ongoing Quest for Student Success initiative. The meetings are held in the Parliamentary Room of the Student Union. Launched in fall 2013, the Quest for Student Success aims to help students stay on track academically, resulting in more students completing their degrees.
* The first statewide collegiate conference of its kind in Tennessee was the standout feature of this year’s SpringOut! Pride Week at MTSU. Student organizations from more than 30 colleges and universities along with corporate and community leaders attended the inaugural LGBT+ College Conference on campus.
* The MTSU Blue Raider Debate team hosted the International Public Debate Association’s National Championship Tournament and Convention for colleges and universities.
* MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee was recognized by the Tennessee State Senate for his efforts to expand and strengthen the university’s international partnerships and educational outreach. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey welcomed McPhee and his wife, Elizabeth McPhee, into the Senate chambers for the reading of a resolution, authored by state Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro.
* Nearly 800 youngsters, ages 5 to 8, from schools in Rutherford and Cannon counties and the Murfreesboro City Schools attended the first Agricultural Education Spring Fling at the Tennessee Livestock Center in Murfreesboro.
* The 14-member MTSU moon buggy team captured the Neil Armstrong Best Design Award at the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge, previously known as the Great Moonbuggy Race, held in Huntsville, Ala. The award went to the MTSU Team 2 entry nicknamed “The Beast.”
* After more than 30 years with a name that announced its goals, MTSU’s Project Help took the name of its founder and its expanded services. MTSU unveiled a new sign at the North Baird Lane headquarters that reads “The Ann Campbell Early Learning Center at Middle Tennessee State University.”
* Author and MTSU alumnus Keel Hunt brought the story of Tennessee’s unprecedented bipartisan ouster of corrupt governor Ray Blanton to the Windham Lecture Series. Hunt was joined in MTSU’s Tucker Theatre by former governor Lamar Alexander, now Tennessee’s senior U.S. senator; John Seigenthaler, Tennessean editor emeritus; and former U.S. Attorney Hal Hardin for an in-depth discussion of the 1979 political scandal.
* MTSU School of Music professor Cedric Dent and his longtime colleagues in the multi-award-winning group Take 6 added another line to their resumes: members of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
* MTSU and the Civil Air Patrol’s Tennessee Wing agreed to partner in aerospace education for state high school students in the U.S. Air Force auxiliary’s cadet program. MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Tennessee Wing Commander Col. Bill Lane sign a Memorandum of Agreement that puts into play the educational resources of the university’s Department of Aerospace and the College of Basic and Applied Sciences to engage cadets in science and technology pursuits.
* Noting its special role in educating students and preparing future teachers for the classroom, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee makes a special presentation to the students, faculty and staff of Homer Pittard Campus School in recognition of its 85th anniversary at its Lytle Street location.
* MTSU alumnus Lt. Gen. William Phillips and Madam Xu Lin of China, a vice minister of education and director-general of the worldwide network of Confucius Institutes, were both presented honorary degrees and served as guest speakers for the spring commencement ceremonies. During the ceremonies, 2,303 students earned their degrees — 1,904 undergraduates and 397 graduate students.
* Middle Tennessee Blue Raider defensive tackle Jimmy Staten became the first MTSU player to be drafted since 2011, as he was selected 172nd overall in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. Staten learned of the Seahawks’ decision in the midst of his graduation ceremony.
* Middle Tennessee State University partnered with two Turkish universities to pursue groundbreaking automotive research and development surrounding the plug-in hybrid technology developed by MTSU professor Charles Perry. MTSU signed a letter of intent with Meliksah University and Firat University in Turkey to pursue an academic and industrial partnership to further develop Perry’s retrofit wheel-hub motor.
* Double-amputee MTSU student Jared Brentz successfully defended his 2013 Mesquite NV ParaLong Drive National Championship, blasting a 409-yard drive off the tee in the final round.
* University Honors College’s held its Inaugural Presentation of the Buchanan Medallions. The bronze medallions were presented to spring 2014 graduating Buchanan Fellows and those from previous classes. The event also featured the unveiling of a clay bust of Dr. James M. Buchanan (1919-2013), whose donations led to the start of the Buchanan Fellows program in the Honors College.
* MTSU chemistry professor Judith Iriarte-Gross was announced as the inaugural recipient of the ATHENA International Leadership Award. The award was presented by RutherfordCABLE, a women-in-business networking organization.
* Officials from Middle Tennessee State University and Southwest Georgia’s Albany Technical College signed an agreement allowing students who graduate with an associate degree from Albany Tech to transfer to MTSU to earn their bachelor’s degree in electromechanical engineering technology. It marks the first time MTSU has gone beyond the state’s borders to forge such a partnership.
* Middle Tennessee State University signed an agreement to allow select juniors from China’s top communication university to complete their bachelor’s in Murfreesboro — and then earn a master’s degree from MTSU in one additional year. The agreement, known as a “3+1+1 accelerated graduate program,” was signed by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Su Zhiwu, president of Communication University of China, during brief ceremonies at the Beijing campus.
* Middle Tennessee State University and Hangzhou Normal University extended its Confucius Institute partnership — and discussed an idea to expand it with the creation of a Chinese music and cultural center at MTSU. Signed in Hangzhou, China, the second five-year pact will bring at least $500,000 in grant funding to the Murfreesboro campus.
* Middle Tennessee State University gained an international partner with expertise in mechatronics engineering through a pact signed in China with Shanghai Second Polytechnic University. MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and SSPU President Yu Tao signed a memorandum of understanding that will allow the universities to exchange students and faculty and develop joint research projects.
* MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee was among 28 recipients of the Nashville Business Journal’s Rutherford County Impact Awards, presented during an awards luncheon hosted by the publication at Embassy Suites Hotel. McPhee’s wife, Elizabeth, accepted the award on his behalf.
* Middle Tennessee State University’s delegation to China headed home after gaining a fifth new academic partner and setting plans for a group of Rutherford County schoolchildren and parents to visit Xi’an, China, cultural sites in July. MTSU signed a pact with Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an that will allow the two universities to set up student exchanges and develop faculty collaboration.
* MTSU’s student production team took a top national award for their live broadcast coverage of a January men’s basketball matchup inside Murphy Center. Members of EMC Productions, all top students in the university’s Department of Electronic Media Communication, won the “Outstanding Live Game and Event Production” collegiate category at the 2014 College Sports Media Awards.
* In a mere three weeks, some MTSU students transformed a national historic site. Their three-week field school took place on Georgia’s Jekyll Island, where the multimillionaire magnates of America’s Gilded Age created a retreat fit for royalty. The 13 graduate students of MTSU’s Current Issues of Public Policy Practice class set up exhibits, conducted oral history interviews and set up a multimedia website, among other work.
* The Governor’s School for the Arts kicked off its 30th anniversary at Middle Tennessee State University. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who as governor founded the statewide summer programs for gifted high schoolers, spoke at a welcome ceremony for 305 new participants and their families at Tucker Theater.
* Nathan Reale and Matt Houglum are the latest alumni from MTSU and its computer science program to tap the career pipeline to Web service giant Google. In April and May, respectively, the students-turned-alumni learned they had landed full-time positions with Google Inc., the American multinational corporation specializing in Internet-related services and products. They began their careers at Google locations in California and Washington state in June.
* Students from Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Mass Communication provided multimedia coverage of the 13th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, under a unique partnership between the university, the festival and The Tennessean.
* The Department of Aerospace at Middle Tennessee State University was out in full force at the Great Tennessee Air Show in Smyrna, Tennessee. MTSU was the presenting sponsor for the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels precision flight team. About 25 faculty and students worked a display tent about the aerospace department that featured two training aircraft.
* MT Athletics unveiled #TRUE as its marketing theme for the coming season, a more consistent and distinctive advertising concept that will be used by all 17 teams and also connects to the University’s ongoing “I am True Blue” brand.
* Rutherford County schoolchildren, parents and teachers travel to six cities in China as part of an ongoing cultural and educational exchange between the two countries organized by MTSU. The trip was the third consecutive exchange between the Dongcheng Educational Group of Hangzhou Normal University and MTSU. Local students began the back-and-forth with a 2012 trip to China, then Dongcheng students visited MTSU last summer.
* Journalism icon John Seigenthaler, a First Amendment champion, civil rights advocate and devoted friend of Middle Tennessee State University, died July 11 at the age of 86. Seigenthaler lent his name and his prodigious talents to the Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies at MTSU. In 1986, MTSU established the chair to honor Seigenthaler’s lifelong commitment to free expression.
* MTSU announces the hiring of a new vice provost with a singular focus: ensuring the academic success of the university’s students. Dr. Richard “Rick” Sluder will join MTSU’s family Sept. 15 as vice provost for student success.
* Girls ages 10-17 attended the 12th annual Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp on the MTSU campus. Most of the day camp’s activities took place in the Wright Music Building on campus with musical performances inside Wright’s Hinton Hall.
* Middle Tennessee State University signed an agreement to extend its research partnership with the world’s largest medicinal herb garden in Nanning, China, through 2021. The pact, signed by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Miao Jianhua, director of the Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants, also secures MTSU’s worldwide rights, excluding China, to patent and market products developed in the partnership. The partners agreed to a 50-50 split of any profits from the collaboration.
* The Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University acquired the renowned Spring Fed Records from the Arts Center of Cannon County. The Arts Center donated the Grammy-winning label’s name and rights and sold its existing inventory to MTSU. Founded in 2002, Spring Fed Records is devoted to issuing unique and historically significant recordings of traditional Southern music, including old-time country, blues and gospel. Among its featured titles are music by Uncle Dave Macon, Sam and Kirk McGee, The Fairfield Four, Frazier Moss and Mississippi John Hurt.
* The year-old partnership between Middle Tennessee State University and Guangxi University will enable 140 students from the south China institution to eventually come to the Murfreesboro campus. MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee learned the news at a meeting on the Nanning, China, campus with Guangxi administrators as well as deans and professors in its colleges of business, foreign language and mathematics and information science.
* A longtime visual journalist who expanded her focus to train others to use mobile media is hired to lead MTSU’s nationally recognized Center for Innovation in Media. Val Hoeppner, who’s served since last fall as journalist in residence in the School of Journalism in the College of Mass Communication, took the reins July 1 at the student-focused center, which houses all student media plus the university’s National Public Radio station, WMOT 89.5 FM, under one roof.
* The National Institutes of Health awarded a $388,894 grant to MTSU that will allow Drs. Don Morgan and Sandy Stevens to conduct a comprehensive study beginning in fall 2014 by recruiting, testing and following up with clients suitable for walking in MTSU’s underwater treadmill laboratory. The exercise science experts have worked wonders with people who suffer from incomplete spinal cord injuries.
* Professor Scott Boyd, the outgoing president of the MTSU Faculty Senate, was the speaker at summer commencement, where 872 graduates received their degrees.
* Six veteran journalists were inducted into the second class of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame at Murfreesboro’s Embassy Suites. Inducted were Chattanooga WDEF radio journalist Luther Masingill; Bob Johnson of WTVC-TV in Chattanooga; Otis Stanford, former Memphis Commercial Appeal managing editor; Sam Venable, columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel; Pulitzer Prize winner Alex Jones, whose family owns The Greeneville Sun; and Joe Birch of WMC-TV in Memphis. The Hall is housed at MTSU.
* Longtime Midstate journalist Pat Embry is selected as the new director of MTSU’s John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies. The Seigenthaler Chair supports a variety of activities related to free speech, free press rights and other topics of concern for contemporary journalism.
* MTSU changes scholarship eligibility requirements to help more students ease the burden of rising tuition. The change scales back minimum ACT scores required to qualify for five major scholarships guaranteed to eligible students. Also, the Transfer Academic Scholarships also will switch from being competitive-based to guaranteed for students from Tennessee’s 14 community colleges.
* “We-Haul,” a New Student and Family Programs Week of Welcome event, helps students move into 10 campus residence halls, Scarlett Commons and Womack Lane Apartments.
* MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee gave his State of the University speech at the Fall Faculty Meeting inside Tucker Theatre. Now in his 14th year of leading the Blue Raider campus, McPhee gave the address before the hundreds of faculty and staff who have returned to campus to start the fall semester next week.
* With more than 30 years of service molding future accountants as a member of the Jones College of Business faculty, Dr. Paula Thomas was honored as the 13th recipient of the Career Achievement Award during MTSU’s Fall Faculty Meeting at Tucker Theatre. Thomas holds the Deloitte Foundation Professorship in Accounting.
* MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee is doused with a cooler of ice water for his ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by MTSU Student Body President Andrew George during the home football opener against Savannah State.
* Middle Tennessee State University provided its expertise and resources to aid the creation of an emergency communications center that the state of Tennessee could use to inform the public and media during a state or local disaster or crisis. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency unveiled the Multi-Agency Joint Information Center, or MAJIC, during a news conference at the Tennessee Department of Military-TEMA headquarters in Nashville.
* MTSU professor Beverly Keel, chair of the Department of Recording Industry, and former MTSU student Hillary Scott of Grammy-winning music group Lady Antebellum were among honorees at The Nashville Business Journal’s inaugural Women in Music City Awards. Scott was honored as Artist of the Year and Keel was among the 26 other women recognized for their contributions to Nashville’s thriving music industry. Also honored was MTSU alumna Jill Napier (’99), director of copyright management at Music Services Inc. in Brentwood, Tennessee. Napier currently serves on MTSU National Alumni Association Board of Directors.
* Middle Tennessee State University remained the largest institution in the Tennessee Board of Regents system, despite a decline in enrollment from last year. MTSU also welcomed TBR’s largest class of freshmen and transfer students for the 2014 fall semester and set a new record for international enrollment. In addition, the class of 2018 had an average ACT of 22.3, a slight increase over the record mark of 22 put forward by last year’s freshmen.
* MTSU alumna Freneka Minter was keynote speaker for the 18th annual Expanding Your Horizons in Math and Science Conference at MTSU. Curiosity reigned supreme as many of the nearly 325 middle school and high school girls posed questions to Minter, high school keynote speaker Katrina Smith and 54 leaders of workshops with cool names like “Open Up and Say Woof,” “Those Menacing Microbes,” “Concrete is Lean, Green and Mean.”
* The Jennings A. Jones College of Business entered an exclusive partnership with Dale Carnegie Training, the internationally recognized professional development training organization, to embed “soft skills” training within the university’s curriculum. The result: All Jones College graduate and undergraduate students will have taken such a course for credit before obtaining their degree. The partnership to provide for-credit training courses will not be duplicated at any other university in Tennessee and in fact will be unique across the entire country.
* Middle Tennessee State University will supplement by $1,000 the HOPE Lottery Scholarships of incoming students who stay on track to graduate in four years — and pay a Finish Line Scholarship to graduating seniors that will return any tuition increases over that span. Both initiatives, which apply to students entering the university in fall 2015, are part of the MTSU Student Success Advantage, which President Sidney A. McPhee announced in Chattanooga on the first leg of the six-city True Blue Tour to recruit top students.
* Middle Tennessee State University and Northeast State Community College signed agreements to ease the transition for students seeking to transfer from the community college to the university. The three agreements create dual admissions and reverse transfer options between the community college, which has a main campus in Blountville, Tennessee, and is about to open a fourth satellite campus, and MTSU, located in Murfreesboro.
* Grammy-nominated folk scholar Stephen Wade gave a mini-concert at MTSU’s James Walker Library, a preview of his full-scale “concert and conversation” event planned for later in the month on campus. Wade’s visit was part of the university’s Tom T. Hall Writers Series.
* Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee joined three other higher education leaders during the Nashville Business Journal’s panel entitled “Nashville Ahead: A discussion on higher education and workforce readiness.” Joining McPhee on the panel was Joe DiPietro, president of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville; Kimberly Estep, chancellor of Western Governors University Tennessee; and Jerry L. Faulkner, president of Volunteer State Community College.
* Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales talked politics and breaking news, reminisced about his days in the West Wing and encouraged MTSU students to include community service as part of their career paths. Gonzales, the dean of Belmont University’s College of Law, was invited to give a guest lecture by MTSU’s Department of Political Science and the University Honors College.
* A special monthlong photo exhibit, “China: Through the Eyes of an American University President,” opened at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, as part of a joint MTSU and community salute to China. With more than 300 digital images and 30 large prints in 14 different categories, the exhibit chronicled MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee’s travels to more than 100 Chinese municipalities and provinces during his tenure at the university.
* Eleven MTSU College of Mass Communication students screened their cinematic work from their summer travels to Paris during a special event at Nashville’s Belcourt Theatre. The students traveled to France in May as part of the MTSU Signature Documentary Program Abroad to create stories about artists who live and work in Paris.
* Leaders of the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring and MTSU signed a pact that they hope will lead to future cultural collaborations. The agreement inked by University Provost Brad Bartel and Discovery Center CEO Tara McDougall will allow MTSU’s Confucius Institute to develop activities and displays about Chinese culture at the children’s museum. Chinese Culture Celebration Day at the center was a free event that marked MTSU’s observance of the 10th anniversary of the global Confucius Institutes.
* A new partnership between Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville and MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry will allow students to submit two of their songs directly to Sony/ATV’s creative team. Sony/ATV will then select a number of students to perform two more songs at a live showcase. After the live performances, the Sony/ATV team may extend an invitation to a limited number of students to experience a day in the publishers’ Music Row studios.
* “Breaking Bad” star RJ Mitte, who portrayed Walter “Flynn” White Jr. on the Emmy-winning AMC cable network drama, discussed his battle with cerebral palsy and his acting career at Tucker Theatre. The event was sponsored by MTSU’s Diversity and Access Center as part of a weeklong observance of National Disability Awareness Month.
* Networking, brainstorming and presenting awards were only a few of the facets of this year’s Women in Higher Education in Tennessee conference at MTSU. “College Completion: Women in Higher Education Moving the Needle” was the theme of the 34th annual gathering, held in the Student Union.
* A daylong seminar sponsored by MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, “Bonnaroo: The Making of a Music Festival,” drew standing-room-only crowds. Staffers from every facet of the event joined Bonnaroo co-founders Ashley Capps, Jonathan Mayers and Rick Farman to explain how they create, promote, maintain and safely operate a city of 80,000-plus people that emerges for four days every year near Manchester, Tennessee. The seminar is part of a unique partnership forged between MTSU and the festival.
* From the war-torn streets of Berlin to the monument-lined streets of Washington, D.C., Harry Rosenfeld has been an eyewitness to history. The survivor of Nazi Germany and former managing editor of The Washington Post’s metro desk during the Watergate scandal recalled anecdotes from his fascinating life in “From Kristallnacht to Watergate,” a free public event in the State Farm Lecture Hall of MTSU’s Business and Aerospace Building.
* Inside the newly named Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium, a large crowd celebrated Middle Tennessee State University’s crown jewel — the new Science Building, considered the catalyst for a future in scientific endeavors. Several hundred people joined Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and university President Sidney A. McPhee to christen the 257,000-square-foot facility on the south side of campus. The building opened on the first day of fall 2014 classes in August, more than five months ahead of schedule.
* MTSU paid tribute to six alumni who have brought their alma mater prestige and distinction through their exceptional professional careers and loyal support. The MTSU Alumni Association’s 2014-15 honorees include Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, Distinguished Alumna recipient; Ashley Elizabeth Graham, Young Alumni Achievement Award honoree; and four recipients of the first-time True Blue Citations of Distinction: Dr. E. Ray Phillips, Achievement in Education by a current or retired MTSU faculty member; Dr. Linda Gilbert, Achievement in Education by an alumnus outside of MTSU; Donald McDonald, Service to the University; and Matthew Little, Service to the Community.
* MTSU students, staff, alumni and supporters got into the groove for the Homecoming 2014 celebration, including the traditional parade and culminating in a riveting 34-22 win over the University of Alabama-Birmingham at Floyd Stadium. The “Raiderstock” homecoming theme brought out the best in the Blue Raiders’ artistic talents, too, as parade floats featured 1960s psychedelic designs — all making use of the “True Blue” motto — and the award-winning Band of Blue incorporated Motown, movies and more from the era.
* Nobel laureate Harry Kroto is the first featured guest lecturer in MTSU’s new Science Building. At the invitation of MTSU chemistry professor Preston MacDougall, Kroto spoke to a near-capacity crowd in the Science Building amphitheater.
* More than 100 people, including 64 prospective students, attended the True Blue Experience Day that emphasized the 11 departments in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences. Students from as far away as Memphis and Bowling Green, Kentucky, spent the day touring campus and talking to university personnel.
* Anti-domestic violence activist Tony Porter issued “A Call to Men: The Next Generation of Manhood” during a presentation at the James Union Building. The event, sponsored by the Distinguished Lecture Fund and the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, was part of MTSU’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness about domestic and sexual violence and create a safer environment for all members of the campus and surrounding communities.
* The 32nd annual MTSU Fall Career Fair attracted several hundred current MTSU students and alumni to the Student Union. Hosted by the MTSU Career Development Center, the event is the university’s largest on-campus fair of the year. A waiting list includes about 30 employers hoping to make next year’s fair.
* More than 400 students and family members attended the Memphis True Blue Tour event at Memphis Botanic Garden. Another 160 people attended the Jackson, Tennessee, stop to conclude the six-city statewide fall recruiting caravan for 2014. The tour also stopped in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Johnson City and Nashville.
* In a pledge drive at the Student Union, the Interfraternity Council collected promises from 136 people to get off the sidelines and get involved when they see sexual assault happening or about to happen. Members of fraternities and sororities encouraged students to sign an online personal promise at www.itsonus.org to refuse to be bystanders when they see situations that are or have the potential to become sexual assaults.
* The fall MTSU Poll results showed a potentially close vote for Tennessee’s proposed constitutional amendment on abortion. The poll also sampled opinions on an amendment to ban a state income tax as well as high profile political races on the November ballot.
* Blue Raider sports fans were wowed at the grand re-opening of the new look Murphy Center as work wrapped up on $12.64 million in renovations and needed upgrades as part of the University’s Master Plan. The Middle Tennessee men’s and women’s basketball teams held “Murphy Madness” to showcase the new lighting, concessions, restrooms and improved climate control inside Monte Hale Arena.
* MTSU announced a two-year, $195,000 National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant to further the advancement of women in STEM education — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — and potentially all female students and staff at MTSU. The study, titled “A Catalyst to ADVANCE the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academics, STEM Careers at Middle Tennessee State University,” will focus on identifying barriers that affect recruitment, retention, participation and promotion of female STEM faculty at MTSU.
* “Freedom Sings” celebrated its 16th anniversary at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville with songs of “truth, justice and equality” in honor of legendary journalist John Seigenthaler, who devoted his entire career to protecting the First Amendment. Seigenthaler, a leading advocate of free speech and long-time editor of The Tennessean, died July 11, after a successful career defending social justice, human rights and racial equality. All of the songs performed at the world-famous nightclub reflected both his life and his values.
* Students from Lori Kissinger’s EXL Organizational Communications in Communities class served as artists’ assistants to nearly two dozen young men and women who attend the Transition Academy of Rutherford County Schools and the Tennessee School for the Blind. The artists used paint, glue, holiday decorations and plenty of laughter during a recent workshop to create unique ornaments for Tennessee’s 2014 national Christmas tree in Washington, D.C.
* MTSU Theatre presented Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” at Tucker Theatre. The eight-member cast was directed by theatre professor Kyle Kennedy, who said they’re fully aware of the challenges of bringing the originally controversial classic to the stage.
* Middle Tennessee State University launched a new curriculum initiative that will emphasize “active learning and critical reflection” as a part of students’ learning from the moment they arrive on campus. Called MT Engage, the curriculum improvement effort encourages students to “engage academically, learn exponentially (and) showcase yourself.”
* Nine-year-old Luke Denson became the youngest player ever to sign with Middle Tennessee’s baseball team when he inked a national letter of intent during a press conference at the Kennon Hall of Fame Building. Denson was united with MT baseball through Team Impact, a Boston-based nonprofit organization. He lives with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, a rare congenital disorder characterized by exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, bone marrow dysfunction, skeletal abnormalities and short stature.
* Plagued by a major mechanical problem and greatly concerned about arctic weather in his path, MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts postponed his “Southern-Fried Fuel” quest until spring 2015. Ricketts had planned to drive 3,550 miles from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington, on pure biodiesel from waste chicken fat as part of his ongoing efforts to wean the nation from dependency on foreign oil. This year’s quest ended in Kansas City, Missouri.
* Middle Tennessee State University was named in the Best for Vets: Colleges 2015 rankings by the Military Times. In their fifth year, the rankings factor in a comprehensive school-by-school assessment of veteran and military students’ success rates. Of the top 100 schools ranked, MTSU was the only Tennessee four-year college to make this year’s list and was also named to the 2014 list.
* MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry made an international list of acclaimed schools touted by The Hollywood Reporter that includes Juilliard, Berklee, Yale and even London’s Royal College of Music. The department’s music business program is part of the magazine’s “Top 25 Music Schools 2014,” which was published online and in the Nov. 14 edition of The Hollywood Reporter.
* Middle Tennessee State University’s strong influence within country music was on display as five former MTSU students claimed spots on national Top 40 country music radio charts in mid-November. Former students Sam Hunt, Brett Eldredge, Chris Young and Eric Paslay can be found as solo artists on the Billboard and Mediabase Top 40 country airplay charts, while Hillary Scott continues to enjoy chart recognition as a member of Grammy-winning group Lady Antebellum.
* The annual MTSU Veterans Memorial Service outside the Tom H. Jackson Building was one of a number of activities for veterans and men and women currently serving in the military as part of the 33rd annual Salute to Armed Services Veterans Day events sponsored by MTSU Athletics and the Department of Military Science.
* The December performance of Handel’s “Messiah” by the MTSU Concert Chorale and Middle Tennessee Choral Society marked the 30th anniversary for the group’s presentation of the beloved holiday oratorio. “Messiah” was presented at First United Methodist Church on West Thompson Lane, featuring a professional orchestra and MTSU student and faculty soloists performing the Christmas portion of the work, which includes some of its most popular recitatives, arias and choruses.
* Nearly 7,000 students from 12 Murfreesboro City Schools and the Homer Pittard Campus School kept the Monte Hale Arena’s noise level at the max during the third Education Day field trip, this time for the Blue Raiders-Clemson Tigers women’s basketball game. Education Day III marked the continuing partnership between MTSU, which jointly operates Campus School with the Rutherford County school system, and the city’s schools. The alliance exposes students — some for the first time — to a college campus.
* An expected spring 2015 start to the long-awaited Middle Tennessee Boulevard improvement project will impact traffic flow and parking on the west side of campus during construction, the university announced. The city project includes the .8-mile section from Greenland Drive to Main Street. The $11 million project will reconstruct the existing four- and five-lane roadway to a consistent four-lane divided street with a median. It will include bike lanes, improved sidewalks and lighting, new traffic signals, decorative crosswalks, landscaping and underground utilities. MTSU officials expect the project to last roughly two and a half years.
* The MTSU Department of Aerospace’s air traffic control program was featured on both CNBC and PBS in early December. MTSU and Dowling College in Shirley, New York, were highlighted in the CNBC piece reported by Mary Thompson. The story also was part of the “Nightly Business Report,” which airs locally on Nashville Public Television’s second digital channel, NPT2. The CNBC story was part of the network’s “Where the Jobs Are” series.
* The economic outlook of consumers in three Midstate counties continued to rise heading into holiday season. The overall Middle Tennessee Consumer Outlook Index rose to 329 this month, up from 226 in September, according to the latest economic survey by Middle Tennessee State University’s Office of Consumer Research. The poll surveyed adult residents of Davidson, Rutherford and Williamson counties.
* ComputerScienceOnline.org listed MTSU University College’s online degree offerings among the “Best Online Computer Science Degrees” for 2015. Computer Science Online, a resource for online learning in computer science and related fields, says it analyzed data from hundreds of colleges offering computer science degrees online. The company developed a scoring system to see which schools ranked highest across a dozen central computer science and tech-related disciplines.
* MTSU’s Little Raiders gift-giving campaign wrapped up a successful 2014 effort with a lively party at the University Police Department for some of the Blue Raider community’s needy youngsters. The annual effort targets the children of low-income MTSU students as well as the children of parents receiving assistance from the local Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program. This year’s effort gave 27 Little Raiders a brighter Christmas.
* Two MTSU alumni — Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland and NBC News executive Ken Strickland — were guest speakers at the morning and afternoon ceremonies for fall commencement. An estimated 1,803 students received their degrees in two fall 2014 commencement ceremonies inside Murphy Center.
* The Movement, a group of MTSU students who make up the college ministry at First Baptist Church on East Castle Street in Murfreesboro, dropped off more than $2,000 in canned food and other food items to the MTSU Student Food Pantry. The donation was the result of their efforts in recent weeks to conduct a canned food drive — entitled “Can the Hunger” — and raise funds to buy food in support of the university’s efforts to assist students in need with a good meal.