Middle Tennessee State University experienced another year of significant accomplishments and advances in 2016, highlighted by deepening ties with a country music legend, the launch of a unique continuing education program and the culmination of a record-breaking fundraising campaign.
The university’s one-stop shop to support student veterans was officially named the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, culminating with a special ceremony in August to recognize the couple and The Journey Home Project Daniels co-founded to assist veterans. The Danielses and the nonprofit have given separate $50,000 and $70,000 gifts to the center during the past two years.
“It’s an extreme honor having my wife and myself named for the veterans center,” said Daniels. “I accept the honor on behalf of The Journey Home Project. … I will carry this with me for the rest of my life.”
The university also continued its efforts to expand higher education access through a unique collaboration with leading tire and rubber company Bridgestone Americas. Coordinated through MTSU’s University College, the new Applied Leadership certificate program launched this fall, with Bridgestone employees among the inaugural group of students.
The program offers adult learners already on the job a chance to earn additional job certifications — and even a bachelor’s degree — through online courses and short, intensive on-campus instruction.
“This new program perfectly illustrates the kind of close collaborations this university embraces to fill the educational needs of a dynamic workforce environment in the 21st century,” MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee said.
Support for all university programs was boosted greatly with February’s announcement that more than $105 million was raised during MTSU’s Centennial Campaign. The final tally surpassed the $80 million goal set when the effort was announced in 2012 and represented the largest fundraising effort in university history, far surpassing a $30 million campaign mark that was set in 2001.
Gov. Bill Haslam praised the university in video remarks played at the celebration event, noting that “the momentum from this campaign will guarantee the continued growth and success for MTSU. It will help assure that MTSU will continue to prosper as a nationally acclaimed, comprehensive university.”
Haslam also lauded “MTSU’s leadership in student success initiatives, adult degree completion, creative partnerships and outreach to veterans and military families” for helping in the Drive to 55, the state’s initiative to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with post-secondary credentials.
Here’s a recap of some of MTSU’s Top News Stories of 2016 in chronological order:
• Hundreds of MTSU students and others gathered inside Keathley University Theater Monday, Jan. 18, to pay tribute to the legacy of slain civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and his late wife, Coretta Scott King. “Show love. It’s all about love, not hate,” said Melina Datta, a sophomore public relations major from Memphis. “You can’t overcome the obstacles without love.”
• To prepare its students for successful careers in an ever-changing media landscape, MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment launched a “teaching hospital” approach to journalism this month that focuses on mobile storytelling about issues facing millennials. “Studio M” was jump-started by a $50,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Studio M — which stands for media, mobile, millennials and MTSU — will allow students to be immersed in tracking millennials and issues that affect them, especially in the lead up to the 2016 election.
• MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment is once again in the national spotlight, gaining praise as one of the top 30 programs of its kind in the United States via a survey by a popular news industry trade publication. MTSU was the only Tennessee university included among the nation’s top mass communication and journalism colleges in a recent edition of Crain Communication’s NewsPro Magazine. The University of Missouri had the top-ranked program. The MTSU College of Media and Entertainment also was included in the magazine’s 2013 list.
• MTSU’s inaugural Hack-MT in late January was an instant success, drawing more than 200 software developers, visual designers, programmers and computer science students from local universities for weekend-long opportunity to invent new Web platforms, mobile apps and electronic devices.
A group of area quilters, including MTSU students, gathered at the university Saturday, Feb. 6, to do their part to add a bit of comfort to active military personnel and veterans. For National Quilts of Valor Sew Day, university employee Janice Lewis, a quilter herself, spearheaded a drive to bring 20 to 30 people to campus to complete roughly 20 quilt tops. The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing quilts as a small show of gratitude for their valor and sacrifice.
• MTSU again had a heavy presence at the 2016 Grammy Awards in February in Los Angeles, greeting Music City artists and recording executives while also hosting alumni and holding a special reception for Grammy-winner, 2016 nominee and alumnus Luke Laird. University leaders participated in three days of activities in the area led by MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment to underscore the national profile of its recording industry program.
• MTSU’s Black History Month 2016 keynote speaker encouraged his audience to build on the progress of their predecessors instead of only looking back at those accomplishments. In an address before a standing-room-only audience at MTSU’s Student Union Feb. 17, ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith said Black History Month “should be about reminding you of what your obligation is, not just reminiscing about what theirs was and how they lived up to it.”
• Connie J. Smith, director of AdvancED Tennessee, presented MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee with the organization’s 2016 Leadership in Education Award on Tuesday, March 1, for his efforts to support STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — learning in primary, secondary and higher education. McPhee received the honor as AdvancED Tennessee, a nonprofit accrediting organization, wrapped up a two-day conference on the MTSU campus Tuesday that attracted hundreds of public, private and parochial educators, school board members, superintendents and principals to learn and reflect on ways to best extend STEM education.
• A $714,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to MTSU for collaborative research with two Texas universities will support a partnership to discover novel ways of land management and solve important ecological problems in changing climates and agricultural management. The three-year joint venture between MTSU, Texas A&M and Sam Houston State University is the largest USDA grant the MTSU School of Agribusiness and Agriscience has ever received and the largest of 12 national competitive awards totaling $4 million granted by the USDA in February. The award is for precision agriculture, agroecological education and research.
• MTSU publicly unveiled the ‘transformative’ Andrew Woodfin Miller Sr. Education Center on Bell Street in March. The building is named in honor of Andrew Woodfin “Woody” Miller Sr., an MTSU alumnus (Class of 1966) and Nashville businessman whose record $10 million individual donation in 2012 made the subsequent purchase of the former hospital building possible. Among new occupants in the renovated campus space are the Jennings A. Jones College of Business Center for Executive Education and University College.
• NASHVILLE — MTSU recording industry alumnus and country music hit-maker Eric Paslay took a pause from his Tuesday night, March 15, performance at the Grand Ole Opry to belatedly accept one of the top recognitions given by his alma mater. MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee presented the Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter with the university’s 2015-16 Young Alumni Achievement Award, announced last fall along with other alumni awards in advance of the annual homecoming celebration. Paslay (Class of 2005), who was on tour last fall and unable to attend the awards presentation on campus, was all smiles as McPhee presented the award to him on the Opry stage.
• In perhaps the biggest win in Middle Tennessee history, head coach Kermit Davis and the Blue Raiders showed the nation just what they were capable of by defeating No. 2 seeded Michigan State, 90-81.
• Celebration at the Miller Education Center continued in March with the unveiling of Center for Chinese Music and Culture on the first floor. Visitors to the 3,200-square-foot center will see a library, archive, classrooms and musical instrument gallery. An initial $1 million grant from Hanban Confucius Institute in Beijing made the center possible.
• MTSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy has become a member of an exclusive club. MTSU is one of 12 universities named to The 5+ Club by the Physics Teacher Education Coalition, or PhysTEC, a joint project of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers. The inaugural PhysTEC designation recognizes a group of institutions that have graduated five or more physics teachers in a given year. MTSU was in a group of six schools that graduated five students. Brigham Young University topped the list with 17 graduating physics teachers. Illinois State University followed with 10.
• The Jennings A. Jones College of Business at MTSU is partnering with Rutherford Cable women’s professional leadership organization to help groom the next generation of female leaders. About 35 of the Jones College’s best female students — graduate and undergraduate — attended the inaugural Rutherford ATHENA Leadership Forum held earlier this month at the MT Center inside the Ingram Building on Middle Tennessee Boulevard. The forum’s objectives were to identify emerging women leaders among the best students in the Jones College; keep these talented emerging leaders in Rutherford County; and connect these students with established women leaders in Rutherford Cable through networking, roundtable discussions and professional development opportunities.
• Sharnail Jones and her family are happy they are in their new home and thankful for the MTSU and community support that made it all possible. The Jones’ home, the fifth constructed via an MTSU Habitat Blitz Build, was dedicated April 7 on South Highland Avenue near downtown Murfreesboro. About 30 MTSU students and administrators — a small portion of all the organizations and individuals involved with the build — turned out for the dedication. “Approximately 200 volunteers assisted with the home,” said Jackie Victory, director of the Office of Student Organizations and Service in the Division of Student Affairs.
• Beverly Keel wants to change the conversation about women in country music, and her recent public sit-down with country music powerhouse Reba McEntire is evidence that she is helping to do just that. A music business veteran and currently chair of MTSU’s highly respected Department of Recording Industry, Keel co-founded the Change the Conversation advocacy group in 2014 with Leslie Fram, CMT senior vice president, and Tracy Gershon, Rounder Records Group’s vice president of A&R. On Tuesday, the group launched “Change the Conversation Presents: Rising Young Artists Mentoring Sessions,” with Keel doing a Q&A with special guest mentor and music legend Reba McEntire at the famous Bluebird Café in Nashville.
• Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department and Middle Tennessee State University unveiled the city’s newest fire engine, complete with the university’s logos and colors, at a brief ceremony April 16 before the Blue-White spring football game. The new truck will become MFRD’s Engine 3. The company, located on Mercury Boulevard, is the unit closest to the university’s campus.
• MTSU students made sure a heavily used local green space was covered in blue over the weekend as dozens volunteered to do their part for this year’s BIG Event at Old Fort Park. One of the nation’s largest one-day community service projects involving college students, this year’s BIG Event was held Saturday, April 16, in conjunction with the National Park Day centennial, with volunteers helping to cut down invading flora, plant new trees and remove trash from the area around Old Fort Park. The MTSU Student Government Association, Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, MTSU Stormwater Program and the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties were among key partners for the event, as well as the city of Murfreesboro and the Stones River National Battlefield.
• For MTSU senior Michelle Kelley of Murfreesboro, receiving the university’s prestigious Buchanan Fellowship opened up the world to her by providing opportunities to travel abroad. The Siegel High School graduate credits the Buchanan, which is the university’s highest award, and other available scholarships with giving her the freedom to concentrate on academics. That’s important for a physics major who’s also juggling minors in mathematics and aerospace. Kelley joined other high-achieving scholars from across the university along with development officers, several MTSU deans and other top administrators in thanking the newest members of the 1911 Society, which celebrates individuals and families who have created gifts to the university through their estate plans.
• MTSU aerospace dedicated a new $700,000 Department of Aerospace Flight Simulator Building in early May at Murfreesboro Airport. The 3,600-gross-square-foot facility houses four flight simulators at MTSU’s Flight Operations Center and features a classroom, six briefing rooms, bathrooms and infrastructure to support spaces. The design of the building lends itself to future expansion in three directions.
• With Tennessee Board of Regents and Tennessee Higher Education approval, MTSU’s Department of Engineering Technology began a mechatronics engineering program nearly three years ago. In August 2013, Michigan native and Michigan State transfer Dallas Trahan became the program’s first student. Others followed, and the trickle ballooned to a fast-growing 250 majors as the spring semester wound down. During the university’s May 7 morning commencement ceremony, 13 seniors became the first MTSU mechatronics graduating class. Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field of engineering that includes a combination of systems, mechanical, electrical, telecommunications, control and computer engineering.
• For the May graduation, MTSU held its first separate ceremony for graduate students. Noting that MTSU has been conferring master’s degrees since 1952 and doctorates since 1970, President Sidney McPhee said this first-time ceremony for graduate students, independent of MTSU’s undergrad event, reinforces the importance of the university’s mission.
• President McPhee led another delegation of university leaders to China during the spring, leading to discussions with Zhejiang University of Science & Tech about exchange and research partnerships, doubling a transfer student goal with Guangxi University and strengthening a previous exchange agreement with Hangzhou Normal University.
• Almost 100 cadets from the Tennessee Wing Civil Air Patrol are spending the week on the MTSU campus for the U.S. Air Force auxiliary’s weeklong annual training encampment. The cadets, ranging in age from 12 to 21, are living in campus residence halls, attending special presentations by the university on aerospace and leadership and learning military drill and customs during the encampment. It is the first time the Tennessee Wing has held its annual training for cadets on a university campus. The Department of Aerospace is the host of the encampment, and its faculty will train cadets on MTSU’s 360-degree air traffic control simulator as well as equipment at the aerospace campus at the Murfreesboro Airport.
• MANCHESTER, Tenn. — MTSU electronic media communications professor Robert Gordon is a key member among a group of MTSU faculty and staff supporting about 40 College of Media and Entertainment students working at the 2016 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. The team is in its third year of a unique partnership between the university and festival organizers Superfly Presents and AC Entertainment.
• He has flown a family-owned, four-seat airplane 6,600 miles. He has touched and been touched by the past, present and future of aviation. MTSU senior Collin McDonald flew to Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, where Orville and Wilbur Wright’s plane took flight in 1903. He toured aviation museums around the country. He spent time at the Grand Canyon and other U.S. landmarks. He wrote a blog, conducted research for an Honors College thesis and promoted aviation to young people and adults. His nearly monthlong voyage retraced the flight path of aviation pioneer Cal Rodgers in flying from Long Island, New York, to Long Beach, California.
• MTSU and Tennessee Technological University student and faculty researchers discovered two new species of bacteria found in a cooling tower and hot tub in Putnam County, Tennessee. The discovery may provide clues to new pathways of disease and treatment, said the lead scientists.” Including nearly $1 million in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant funding, MTSU and Tennessee Tech researchers and students used a variety of microscopic and genomic techniques to describe these organisms, which have been named “Candidatus Berkiella aquae” and “Candidatus Berkiella cookevillensis.”
• It only took a moment for Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross to open the envelope that arrived in the mail at her Murfreesboro home. For the MTSU faculty member, the contents divulged wonderful news that took decades of striving to achieve success in the chemical world and the chemistry classroom for the dividend to be realized. Neil D. Jespersen, chair of the ACS Fellows Oversight Committee, wrote to inform Iriarte-Gross that she had been selected as a member of the 2016 class of American Chemical Society Fellows. The ACS Fellows Program honors its members for outstanding achievements in and contributions to the science, profession and the society, Jespersen said in the three-paragraph formal letter.
• Officials with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Tennessee Valley Healthcare System in Murfreesboro have presented MTSU representatives with a special commendation certificate to celebrate a national honor announced in May. Suzanne Jené, deputy health system director, delivered a framed certificate Friday, July 8, of the Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Health Commendation presented to the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System. One of three national winners of the 2016 Veterans Health Administration Community Partnership Challenge, TVHS earned the award for its partnership with MTSU’s Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center. The joint effort provides on-campus assistance to the university’s estimated 1,000 student veterans and family members.
• The Jennings A. Jones College of Business has maintained its business and accounting accreditations by AACSB International—The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Founded in 1916, AACSB International is the longest-serving global accrediting body for business schools that offer undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees in business and accounting. The five-year extension of accreditation means that the Jones College will be reviewed again in early 2021. AACSB Accreditation is the hallmark of excellence in business education and has been earned by less than 5 percent of the world’s business programs.
• Over the summer, MTSU continued boosting retention and graduation efforts through the Scholars Academy. Part of the ongoing Quest for Student Success initiative, the bridge program started in 2006 to serve first-generation, minority and Pell Grant-eligible incoming freshmen who are typically considered at-risk academically. The one-year retention rate of academy students is 84.9 percent, exceeding the 73.8 percent rate for all other freshmen.
• Maybe the third time will be the national championship charm for MTSU at the 2017 Solar Splash World Championship. For the second straight year, MTSU finished No. 2 and earned a number of awards in the 23rd Solar Splash World Championship of Intercollegiate Solar Boating at Eastwood Park in Dayton, Ohio, earlier this summer. Solar Splash is an intercollegiate solar and electric competition dedicated to showing the feasibility of solar energy. Teams come from across the country to compete.
• Dr. Michael Hein, a professor of psychology at MTSU since 1990 and the director of MTSU’s Center for Organizational and Human Resource Effectiveness, is this year’s recipient of the MTSU Foundation’s Career Achievement Award. Considered the pinnacle of recognition for stellar MTSU professors, the Career Achievement Award was presented Thursday, Aug. 18, as part of a welcomed tradition at the MTSU Fall Faculty Meeting inside Tucker Theatre to kick off the 2016-17 academic year. The annual presentation of the Foundation Awards recognizes, celebrates and rewards university faculty members for their accomplishments inside and outside the classroom. The presentation followed MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee’s 16th State of the University address.
In early September, WMOT-FM 89.5, MTSU’s 100,000-watt radio station, officially changed formats from a mix of classical, jazz and news-talk to Americana music in a ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. The transition makes WMOT-FM the region’s only station devoted to the unique amalgam of bluegrass, folk, gospel, soul, country and blues music defined in the music industry as Americana. http://www.mtsunews.com/wmot-switches-to-americana/
• Diane Nash is using her history-changing work for civil rights to advise and encourage those today who want to help America ensure freedom and justice for all. “It was an interesting time and I’m glad I got to see it,” the trailblazer for equality said Wednesday, Sept. 14, at MTSU’s Constitution Day celebration while discussing those frightening but uplifting days. “I wish young people today could see their grandparents involved in that movement, with its discipline and strategy and courage. We were brilliant.” Nash, who helped integrate Nashville lunch counters with peaceful sit-ins in 1960 and desegregate bus travel with the Freedom Riders and ultimately aided passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, recalled the segregated Nashville of the 1950s and ’60s, when she was a student at Fisk University.
• DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. — With dignity and precision befitting the honors due fallen American soldiers, skeletal remains unearthed from what was a Mexican-American War battlefield were welcomed home Wednesday, Sept. 28, after 170 years. The solemn movement of the two flag-draped transfer cases, believed to contain as many as 13 members of the Tennessee militia who died in the Battle of Monterrey in 1846, was the culmination of more than five years of diplomatic negotiation, sparked by the urging of MTSU anthropology professor Dr. Hugh Berryman, director of MTSU’s Forensic Institute for Research and Education. He will lead a team of MTSU professors, along with colleagues from other academic institutions, who have volunteered to assist the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System in the historical, bio-archaeological and forensic analysis of the remains.
MTSU’s aerospace maintenance program received a turbofan airplane engine donation from Southwest Airlines in October. The 4,300-pound CFM56 engine, which was used on flying aircraft, is now used to teach the students about modern, high-bypass turbofan engines.
• To hear the talk around MTSU, you might think there is a new teacher on campus named Lynda whose class everyone wants to take. And you wouldn’t be far off — the university’s new contract with online training website Lynda.com is creating a lot of buzz this fall. Billy Pittard, chairman of MTSU’s Department of Electronic Media Communication, knows the company’s namesake, Lynda Weinman, and in fact worked for her three years before joining the MTSU faculty in 2011. Frustrated over the complex, hard-to-follow technical manuals available at the time, Weinman launched Lynda.com in 1995 as a site where students could get free training. Such resources are common today, thanks in large part to her work. With thousands of training videos, Lynda.com is designed to help anyone learn business, software, technology, and creative skills to achieve personal and professional goals.
• NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Thursday, Oct. 12, the eight appointees to the newly created Middle Tennessee State University local governing board, giving the university increased autonomy to support student success as the state continues its Drive to 55 initiative. Middle Tennessee State University’s governing board is one of six to be appointed by the governor, a result of the governor’s FOCUS Act passed by the General Assembly earlier this year. The appointees to the MTSU board are:
- Andrew Adams, former chairman and CEO of National Healthcare Corporation.
- J.B. Baker, owner and CEO of Sprint Logistics.
- Pete Delay, executive in Forterra Building Products’ Nashville office.
- Darrell Freeman Sr., executive chairman of Zycron Inc.
- Joey Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Acadia Healthcare Company.
- Chris Karbowiak, executive vice president, chief administrative officer and chief risk officer of Bridgestone Americas Inc.
- Stephen Smith, board chairman of Haury & Smith Contractors Inc.
- Pamela Wright, founder, owner and CEO of Wright Travel.
• Middle Tennessee State University and Tecport Optics of Orlando, Florida, have entered into a licensing agreement to commercialize the university’s biosensor technology as a medical diagnostic tool for research labs and point-of-care health professionals. “The biosensor technology, which can be applied in the development of a variety of new and innovative sensing equipment, has the capability of revolutionizing medical diagnostics,” said MTSU professor Bill Robertson, the inventor and a member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy faculty. An interdisciplinary team from MTSU including Drs. Robertson, Steve Wright of the Department of Biology and Andrienne Friedli of the Department of Chemistry developed the new technology with support from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security.
• MTSU’S Department of Recording Industry has once again earned national acclaim for its music business education program with its inclusion in a Billboard.com article listing the dozen U.S. schools making the greatest impact on the recording industry. In the article, “12 Elite Music Business Schools Shaping the Industry’s Future,” the authors include MTSU in an alphabetical list that also features two programs at New York University and three at different University of California sites. The complete list is available here.
• With almost 1,900 students enrolled this fall in MT Engage courses, the university’s latest Quality Enhancement Plan, or QEP, is off to a strong start, officials said. Members of the campus community gathered inside the Student Union Ballroom recently to celebrate the successful launch of MT Engage, an academic improvement initiative that will have an impact on curricula across campus for at least the next five years. “I’m working with a group of folks who are committed to thinking about learning and instruction so that we can really address the goals that we have at this university, not only the goals that we have for our Quality Enhancement Plan,” Dr. Mary Hoffschwelle, a professor of history and faculty fellow director of MT Engage, told the crowd gathered inside the ballroom Oct. 25.
• The family-friendly classic “Peter Pan” flew into Tucker Theatre in early November for a series of sold-out shows. Featuring a talented cast of MTSU students, the production was led by director and theatre professor Kristi Shamburger, who again teamed with musical director Raphael Bundage, a professor of vocal performance in MTSU’s School of Music.
• The day could’ve been another workday for seven Nashville songwriters and another co-writing assignment in an MTSU experiential learning course for seven advanced commercial songwriting students. By teaming up with seven Midstate veterans, Oct. 28 instead became an opportunity for healing. The daylong “Operation Song” songwriting session at MTSU culminated in new friendships, seven unique songs and a mini-concert filled with cheers, tears and standing ovations. Operation Song, established in 2012 by Nashville songwriters, helps retired and active-duty veterans and their families sort out their experiences and emotions by sitting down and telling their stories, which are then turned into song.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — KIPP Nashville and KIPP Memphis are partnering with Middle Tennessee State University to increase the number of students from underrepresented communities that earn a college degree. In partnering with KIPP, MTSU hopes to recruit and enroll 10 qualified KIPP alumni each year. Through the partnership, MTSU will provide KIPP students with assistance navigating financial aid, work to build a peer support network and offer opportunities for early exposure to the university.
• The 2016 MTSU Employee Charitable Giving Campaign was a resounding success, with university personnel pledging more than $121,000 to support area nonprofits over the next year. With a theme of “Shine the Light on Giving,” the University launched the annual campaign in October, with the ultimate goal of raising at least $120,000 to help a host of area nonprofits provide a variety of services to those in need.
This year’s campaign yielded $121,342 from 665 donors. Last year’s campaign raised $118,000. Employees could designate gifts to any charitable organization from a list of 13 independent charities and three federated charitable organizations including Community Health Charities, Community Shares, and local United Ways.
• Lifelong friends Bob Lamb and Bud Morris were shocked and humbled when they learned they would be the 2016 co-recipients of the Joe Nunley Award presented at the conclusion of the 35th annual Salute to Veterans and Armed Services picnic Saturday, Nov. 5. While Gulf War veterans were the featured honorees during the annual MTSU Veterans Memorial outside the Tom H. Jackson Building, Lamb and Morris — who both retired with the rank of captain from the U.S. Army — were from the Vietnam War era. Lamb later retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel from the U.S. Army Reserves. The Salute to Veterans and Armed Services game activities included the memorial service, picnic, Vets Village, Joe Nunley Award, children’s toy collection and halftime parade across Horace Jones Field as a way to pay tribute to U.S. veterans and current active-duty personnel.
• LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville marked the 11th and final True Blue Tour stop for MTSU and its admissions staff this fall. Representatives from the Murfreesboro university have traveled from Johnson City to Memphis in Tennessee and to Atlanta and Huntsville, Alabama, before wrapping up with a two-day swing to Bowling Green and Louisville. Click here for a recap of the tour stops.
• Richard “Rick” Sluder, who joined MTSU as vice provost for student success in fall 2014, was recently named to also serve as dean of the University College. Meanwhile, David Butler has been named the new dean of the College of Graduate Studies and vice provost for research. Butler, who will begin his duties Jan. 1, comes to MTSU from the University of Southern Mississippi.
• A pair of former MTSU students are among the nominees for the 59th Grammy Awards, announced early Tuesday, Dec. 6. Chris Young’s No. 1 single, “Think of You,” which he co-wrote and which features singer Casadee Pope, is a nominee in the best country duo/group performance category. It was released this past January. Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, who recently branched out into contemporary Christian music with her group The Scott Family, was nominated for a pair of Grammys in her new field: best contemporary Christian album for “Love Reigns,” which was released in July, and best contemporary Christian music performance/song for “Thy Will,” which she co-wrote, off that album. The Grammy ceremony will be held Sunday, Feb. 12, at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. These awards recognize music released between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2016. Both Young and Scott, who attended MTSU in the 2000s, have established scholarships in the university’s Department of Recording Industry to help students working toward careers in the music industry.
• NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The vision of Middle Tennessee State University College of Basic and Applied Sciences Dean Bud Fischer led to the merging of its signature concrete program with its construction counterpart to form the MTSU School of Concrete and Construction Management. Accompanied by Fischer, Provost Mark Byrnes and other university officials, School Director Heather Brown formally announced the merger and name change to industry representatives Thursday, Dec. 8, at Ascend Amphitheater’s indoor venue. MTSU has had the nationally recognized Concrete Industry Management program — the first of its kind in the country — and the highly successful residential/development and commercial construction program for more than 20 years. There are 310 majors combined in the two concentrations.
• The Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame honored six broadcast journalists, including some with strong MTSU ties, during a banquet and awards ceremony Thursday, Dec. 8, at the Murfreesboro Association of Realtors Training Center at 311 Butler Drive. The 2016 class of inductees includes former state representative, MTSU alumnus and current university administrator John Hood, who began his journalism career on local radio. Also being honored posthumously is sports director and announcer Monte Hale Sr., who was “the voice of the MTSU Blue Raiders” from 1961 to 1980 and whose name graces Murphy Center’s Hale Arena.
• Dreams came true for at least 1,892 people at MTSU Saturday, Dec. 10, as they accepted their hard-earned graduate and undergraduate degrees inside Murphy Center at the university’s fall 2016 commencement ceremonies. U.S. Rep. Diane Black was the morning commencement ceremony, followed by afternoon commencement speaker Jeff Davidson, an MTSU alumnus and Rutherford County deputy mayor.
Here’s a video recap of the morning ceremony:
Here’s a video recap of the afternoon event:
• Middle Tennessee State University is ranked among the nation’s top 50 schools for its support of aspiring entrepreneurs, according to a new report released by LendEDU, an online marketplace for student loans and student loan refinance. MTSU is ranked No. 17 in the “Top Colleges for Aspiring Entrepreneurs Report” by LendEDU.com, which crafted its rankings by looking at more than 100 colleges offering entrepreneurship courses and programs to undergraduates.Joined by Belmont University (No. 30) as the only Tennessee universities on the list, MTSU also outranked schools such as Penn State, Duke, USC, Ohio State and Johns Hopkins.
• Middle Tennessee State University has created and distributed an active shooter guide as well as increasing video surveillance and planning to reintroduce emergency call stations to the campus. MTSU’s Division of Student Affairs and University Police Department have been working throughout the semester to update emergency response information located on the university’s “Alert4U” page at http://mtsu.edu/alert4u and share more specific guidelines for active shooter responses.
Recently ranked among the Top 50 safest large universities in the nation by the website collegechoice.net, MTSU has developed pocket-sized active shooter cards that summarize the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “Run-Hide-Fight” guidelines that have been increasingly embraced by universities around the country, including Ohio State. The active shooter cards provide brief summaries of basic steps to take under each phase of the “Run-Hide-Fight” protocol, such as having an escape route in mind when preparing to “run,” blocking entry and locking doors when you “hide” and only “fight” as a last resort and when your life is imminent danger.
• The Cliff Ricketts era of alternative fuels research at MTSU ended recently with one final attempt to successfully drive U.S. 231 in Tennessee between the Kentucky and Alabama state lines using a wood gasification process. Recently retired after a 40-year career as an MTSU School of Agribusiness and Agriscience professor and agriculture education teacher, Ricketts completed the approximately 131-mile trip Dec. 13 from near Scottsville, Kentucky, to near Hazel Green, Alabama.
However, he and his team — which included MTSU senior Colton Huckabee of Columbia, Tennessee — needed to use part wood and part gasoline to make it work. Ricketts, 68, has crisscrossed the U.S. for five decades, researching ways to use fuel other than gas to make vehicles go. His alternative methods have included waste animal (chicken) fat or “southern fried fuel” as it was called; hydrogen from water separated by the sun (solar); corn, methane from cow manure, soybean oil and others.
• The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders go to their sixth bowl game in the Rick Stockstill era and third in the last four years. Middle Tennessee represented Conference USA in the 15th annual Hawai’i Bowl on Dec. 24, falling to hometown Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors 35-52. It marked the 10th bowl game in school history.