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Laila Ali KOs MTSU with stories of losses, victories in and out of boxing ring

With a flurry of Hollywood-style lighting and audio of Muhammad Ali stating “I AM the greatest,” Laila Ali took the stage Wednesday night, March 22, as MTSU’s Black History Month and Women’s History Month keynote speaker.

Former super-middleweight boxer Laila Ali delivers the dual Black History Month and Women’s History Month keynote address at MTSU’s James Union Building March 22. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Former super-middleweight boxer Laila Ali delivers the dual Black History Month and Women’s History Month keynote address at MTSU’s James Union Building March 22. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

However, the story she told to an attentive James Union Building audience was not one of glitz and glamour but of hard lessons and harder work.

Ali, the youngest daughter of the late heavyweight boxing champion and humanitarian, spoke of the hardships created by her parents’ divorce when she was 8 years old, a stepfather she described as “mentally abusive” and hanging out with the wrong people.

She credited a three-month stint in a juvenile correctional program after a shoplifting arrest for turning her life around.

“That program really gave me the structure, the nurturing and the support that I needed and helped get me back on track,” said Ali.

Laila Ali competed as a professional boxer from 1999 to 2007, earning the female super-middleweight titles of four governing bodies of boxing and the light-heavyweight crown of the International Women’s Boxing Federation. She retired undefeated with 24 victories.

A former president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, Ali promotes equality for women in professional sports, fitness and wellness. She also is a regular panelist and contributor for “We Need to Talk,” a panel discussion program on the CBS Sports Network.

As a business entrepreneur, Ali recently debuted a signature line of hairstyling tools with Helen of Troy hair care products. Her charitable endeavors include support for Feeding America, Peace 4 Kids and the American Dental Association.

Dawn Stigall, a sophomore fashion merchandising major from Memphis, Tennessee, said she found Ali’s talk “very eye-opening.”

“I didn’t know about her going to jail … just the rough patches she went through to get to where she is today,” said Stigall. “Being a major celebrity’s daughter, I thought that she would be so privileged.”

NWHM 2017 headerAli spoke of celebrities like Michael Jackson, Prince and Stevie Wonder’s constant presence around her father, but she said he still kept his door open for visits with all kinds of people.

Married to former NFL player Curtis Conway and the mother of two children, Ali said that although she also knows celebrities, her closest girlfriends are her hair-care buddies.

“I don’t ever want to become disconnected like some people do, you know, and just be living in a bubble,” said Ali.

“Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business” is the theme of this year’s Women’s History Month observance at MTSU. In conjunction with the theme, buttons are being distributed across campus bearing the likeness of Madam C.J. Walker, the hair products magnate who was hailed as the first self-made African-American millionaire in the country in the early 20th century.

You can learn more about 2017 Women’s History Month events at MTSU here.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)


Trailblazer Laila Ali to give knockout March 22 keynote at MTSU

Trailblazing athlete and entrepreneur Laila Ali will deliver the dual keynote address for MTSU’s Women’s History Month and Black History Month celebrations.

Laila Ali

Laila Ali

Ali, a former four-time boxing world champion, will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, in the Tennessee Room of MTSU’s James Union Building in the free public event.

A printable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

Ali, a daughter of the late heavyweight icon and anti-war activist Muhammad Ali, competed from 1999 to 2007, earning the female super-middleweight titles of four governing bodies of boxing and the light-heavyweight crown of the International Women’s Boxing Federation. She retired undefeated with 24 victories.

A former president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, Ali promotes equality for women in professional sports, fitness and wellness. She also is a regular panelist and contributor for “We Need to Talk,” a panel discussion program on the CBS Sports Network.

NWHM 2017 headerAs a business entrepreneur, Ali recently debuted a signature line of hairstyling tools with Helen of Troy hair care products. Her charitable endeavors include support for Feeding America, Peace 4 Kids and the American Dental Association.

“Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business” is the theme of this year’s Women’s History Month observance. In conjunction with the theme, buttons are being distributed across campus bearing the likeness of Madam C.J. Walker, the hair products magnate who was hailed as the first self-made African-American millionaire in the country in the early 20th century.

You can learn more about 2017 Women’s History Month events at MTSU here.

MTSU NWHM 2017 button webMTSU’s Black History Month Committee decided to co-sponsor the university’s Women’s History Month keynote address after TV personality Terrence J. had to cancel his planned Feb. 23 Black History Month keynote talk.

Other co-sponsors of Ali’s appearance include the Distinguished Lecture Fund, the Women’s History Month Committee, the Office of Student Success, the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance, Student Programming and Raider Entertainment, the Office of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs, the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, the Women’s Health Clinic at Student Health Services, the MTSU student chapter of the NAACP, the Student Government Association, the MTSU President’s Commission on the Status of Women, the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences and the Department of Health and Human Performance.

For more information, contact Barbara Scales, co-chair of the National Women’s History Month Committee, at 615-898-2193 or barbara.scales@mtsu.edu or the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at 615-898-5910.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Make reservations by March 24 for MTSU scholarship ‘Equali-TEA’

The American Association of University Women is inviting the community to raise a cup of tea in tribute to equality at a special “Equali-TEA” Tuesday, April 11, at MTSU’s Andrew Woodfin Miller Sr. Education Center.

Click on the image to reserve a place before March 24 at the Equali-TEA event.

Click on the image to reserve a place before March 24 at the Equali-TEA event.

The AAUW’s Murfreesboro chapter is celebrating the economic contributions of women in the workforce at the “Equali-TEA,” set for 4:30 p.m. April 11. The Miller Education Center is located at 503 E. Bell St. in Murfreesboro.

Reservations are required and must be made by Friday, March 24, at this website.

Hats are optional at this high tea to raise money for scholarships for MTSU women students who are returning to college to complete degrees. Attendees can make donations to the scholarship fund at the free public event.

The keynote speaker will be Rebecca Price, president and chief executive officer of the Nashville-based nonprofit organization Chick History.

Rebecca Price

Rebecca Price

MTSU first lady Elizabeth McPhee will deliver the official welcome. The organization also will present former Murfreesboro Mayor Tommy Bragg with its Tempest Award for his work to promote women’s equality during his tenure.

The 2017-2018 recipients of the Ruth Houston Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship and the Butler-Fouts Memorial Graduate Scholarship also will receive their awards at the event.

“The Ruth Houston Memorial Scholarship has provided some financial relief for my family so I can work less,” said Bethany Jackson, a prior recipient.

“It is motivating to see how AAUW lifts others up in their community, and it inspires me to do something great after I graduate.”

Eligible applicants for the Houston scholarship are nontraditional female undergraduate students, age 24 and older, who demonstrate academic promise and financial need and who have successfully completed their freshman year at MTSU.

The Butler-Fouts scholarship is available to female graduate students from underrepresented ethnic or racial groups who demonstrate academic promise and financial needs.

AAUW Mboro logo webButler-Fouts applicants must currently be enrolled in or accepted into an MTSU graduate program. Preference will be given to applicants who are close to completing their degrees.

Co-sponsors include the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students and Timmons Properties Inc.

For more information, contact Dia Cirillo, president of AAUW-Murfreesboro, at 773-677-4238 or President@AAUW-Murfreesboro.org.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

‘Help for STEM Majors’: Listen to March 14 ‘MTSU On the Record’

Producer/Host: Gina Logue
Guest: Dr. Ginger Holmes Rowell

Synopsis: The mathematical sciences professor explains how college faculty can prevent freshman STEM majors from floundering or dropping out when they encounter challenging material.

MTSU historians help bring ‘Tullahoma Campaign’ to life in special symposium

Two members of the MTSU community will lend their expertise to a daylong examination of one of the Civil War’s most heralded strategic maneuvers.

The Tullahoma Campaign Civil War Symposium is slated for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 25, in the Bell Buckle Banquet Hall, located at 29 Railroad Square in Bell Buckle, Tennessee.

Shirley Farris Jones

Shirley Farris Jones

Dr. Vince Armstrong

Dr. Vince Armstrong

Among the speakers will be Dr. Vince Armstrong, an adjunct history professor at MTSU, and Shirley Farris Jones, a Civil War historian and retired MTSU employee.

The “Tullahoma Campaign” was a Union endeavor between June 24 and July 3, 1863, that resulted in the removal of the Confederate Army from Middle Tennessee. Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans maneuvered his Union troops around the Rebel forces of Gen. Braxton Bragg to cut them off from supply reinforcements.

You can learn more about the strategy of the Civil War's "Tullahoma Campaign" at the MTSU Public History Program's special "Backroads Heritage" website. Click on the campaign map above to visit.

You can learn more about the strategy of the Civil War’s “Tullahoma Campaign” at the MTSU Public History Program’s special “Backroads Heritage” website. Click on the campaign map above to visit.

Rebel units made their stand at Shelbyville and Bell Buckle, while the Union forces camped at Hoover’s Gap between Manchester and Murfreesboro. Bragg and his soldiers retreated first to Tullahoma, then to Decherd and Cowan and finally to Chattanooga.

Armstrong helped develop maps for a book about the Tullahoma Campaign published by Tennessee’s Backroads Heritage. He has written several articles about the Tullahoma Campaign.

Jones has been active with the Rutherford County Historical Society, the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities, Friends of Stones River National Battlefield and the Martha Ready Morgan Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She is the author of six books.

Other speakers include Nashville-Davidson County Historian Carole Bucy and historian and author Thomas Cartwright. Historian and documentarian David Currey will serve as moderator.

Topics to be discussed include “The Tullahoma Campaign and its Significance,” “Migration of Troops from Stones River to Chickamauga,” “Martha Ready Morgan: From Wife to Widow in 630 Days” and “Women and Spies in the Civil War.”

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and Tennessee’s Backroads Heritage, a nonprofit organization, are sponsoring the symposium. The registration fee is $95, which includes breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack and a registration packet.

For more information, call 615-613-5627 or send an email to tnbackroads@bellsouth.net.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

‘MTSU On the Record’ examines Scholars Week dedication to learning

The next “MTSU On the Record” radio program will preview Scholars Week, the university’s annual tribute to academic rigor and critical thinking skills.

Nick Carr

Nick Carr

Dr. Susan Myers-Shirk

Dr. Susan Myers-Shirk

Scholars Week web bannerHost Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. Susan Myers-Shirk, interim chair of the Department of History and member of the Scholars Week Committee, will air from 6 to 6:30 a.m. Sunday, March 26, on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and www.wmot.org.

Scheduled for March 27-31, Scholars Week enables both undergraduate and graduate students to display their research at various locations around campus with one day set aside for each university college.

Nick Carr, author of “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” will deliver the Scholars Week keynote address at 7 p.m. Monday, March 27, in the Student Union Ballroom, followed by a book-signing opportunity. The event is free and open to the public.

“He looks at the way the technologies of reading and writing have changed over time, and then he links that to ideas about neuroplasticity,” Myers-Shirk said of Carr. “He describes the way in which our thinking and reading changed as our tools changed.”

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at www.mtsunews.com.

For more information about “MTSU On the Record,” contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.

‘Creating Global Change’ is focus of Gender Studies Conference March 23-25

Compelling conversations, artistic expressions and explorations of important issues are on the agenda of MTSU’s 12th biennial Women’s and Gender Studies Interdisciplinary Conference.

WGS conf 2017 header

Click on the graphic to see a PDF of the complete conference agenda.

With the theme of “Creating Global Change,” the March 23-25 conference on the second floor of the MTSU Student Union will attract scholars in women’s, gender and sexuality studies from around the world.

Academic experts hailing from Germany, Jordan, Canada, China, Bangladesh, Nigeria, India and United Arab Emirates are slated to present their research.

“The conference theme and emphasis on social movements is appropriate in these political times when many women believe that it is our season to lead and to have our voices heard as we redirect the political agenda of our country, and, indeed, of the world,” said Dr. Vicky MacLean, director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at MTSU.

A printable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap. Off-campus visitors attending the daytime events should obtain a special one-day permit from MTSU’s Office of Parking and Transportation at www.mtsu.edu/parking/visit.php.

Included on the conference agenda are the keynote address, a spoken-word art performance, an empowerment workshop and the screening of a documentary on sexual shaming.

Urvashi Vaid

Urvashi Vaid

Attorney and LGBT+ activist Urvashi Vaid will deliver the keynote address, “Irresistible Revolution: Understanding the LGBT Movement Today,” from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23, in Ballroom A, B and C.

Wagatwe Wanjuki

Wagatwe Wanjuki

Andrea Gibson

Andrea Gibson

Vaid will sign copies of her book “Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics” for an hour after her talk.

Spoken word artist Andrea Gibson will deliver a performance on Thursday at 3 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. in Ballroom A, B and C. Gibson’s poetry and her most recent book, “Pansy,” balance themes of love, gender, politics, sexuality, illness, family and forgiveness with an exploration of what it means to heal.

Feminist blogger and anti-violence advocate Wagatwe Wanjuki will facilitate a workshop, “Beyond Hashtags: Using New Media to Combat Campus Rape Culture,” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, March 24, in Ballroom C.

Wanjuki is a founding co-organizer of the “Know Your IX ED ACT NOW” campaign, which works to hold schools accountable for protecting students’ right to a violence-free education.

The documentary film “UnSlut” will be screened from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Ballroom C. The motion picture examines sexual bullying and the usage of the word “slut” as an insult, as well as the resulting ramifications. A discussion will follow the screening.

The conference is free to MTSU faculty, staff, and students. All of the featured conference events are free and open to the public.

For more information about the 2017 conference, visit www.mtsu.edu/womenstu/conference or call the Women’s and Gender Studies Program office at 615-898-5910.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

MTSU Women’s History Month celebrates trailblazers [+VIDEO]

Science, entrepreneurship, academia and gender identity are among the topics to be explored in MTSU’s 2017 celebration of National Women’s History Month.

“Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business” is the theme of this year’s observance. In conjunction with the theme, buttons will be distributed across campus bearing the likeness of Madam C.J. Walker, the hair products magnate who was hailed as the first self-made African-American millionaire in the country in the early 20th century.

Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, author and journalist A’Lelia Bundles, delivered an address at the official opening ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 15, in the Keathley University Center Theater.

Bundles, who has written biographies of Madam C.J. Walker, is a former producer for NBC News and a former producer and executive for ABC News. She maintains the Madam Walker Family Archives and serves as a consultant and historical adviser for Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture, a line of hair care products developed by Sunline Brands.

During the March 15 ceremony, six women received awards from the MTSU National Women’s History Month Committee for their trailblazing work. They were:

  • Dr. Gloria Bonner, recently retired assistant to the president in MTSU’s Office of University Community Relations and a former dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Science.
  • Dr. Heather Brown, director of MTSU’s Concrete Industry Management Program.
  • Nancy James, director of MTSU’s Child Care Lab.
  • Dr. Karen Petersen, interim dean of the MTSU College of Liberal Arts.
  • Mary Esther Reed, mayor of Smyrna and an MTSU alumna.
  • MTSU alumna Agnes Porter, who was honored as a Future Trailblazer.

Porter’s mother, Ikeko Bass, accepted the award on her behalf. Porter is a government affairs specialist with Chambliss, Bahner and Stophel P.C. in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She graduated from MTSU in 2016 with bachelor’s degrees in political science and mass communication.

Another pioneering woman, chemist Dorothy Phillips, shared her story in a question-and-answer session with students and in a public address March 1 in the Tom H. Jackson Building.

Phillips, the first African-American woman to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Vanderbilt University, was reelected to the board of the American Chemical Society in 2016.

Dr. Dorothy Phillips

Dr. Dorothy Phillips

Women interested in science will be able to quiz professionals in various technology fields at the “Women-Powered Tech Roundtable Discussion” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, March 17, in the Tom H. Jackson Building. The event is hosted by Nashville Geek Girl Dinners, a group that encourages women in the information technology industry.

The biennial Women and Gender Studies Conference, with the theme of “Creating Global Change,” will unite scholars from around the world on the second floor of the Student Union Wednesday, March 22, through Saturday, March 25.

Through workshops, art, poetry, dance, film, invited speakers, panel discussions and the presentation of academic research, the interdisciplinary gathering will shed light on numerous issues. For more information or to register, visit www.mtsu.edu/womenstu/conference.

MTSU NWHM 2017 button webThe Academy Award-nominated film “Hidden Figures” was shown March 13-15 in the Keathley University Center Theater.

The movie is based on the true story of three African-American women mathematicians whose work made astronaut John Glenn’s 1962 history-making orbit of the earth possible. Check for show times at www.mtsu.edu/events/films.php.

All events, including the Women and Gender Studies Conference, are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Barbara Scales, co-chair of the National Women’s History Month Committee, at 615-898-2193 or barbara.scales@mtsu.edu or the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at 615-898-5910.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu

Click on the poster to see a larger PDF version.

Click on the poster to see a larger PDF version.

Professor has advice to help STEM majors succeed on ‘MTSU On the Record’

Helping majors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics was the focus of a recent “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Dr. Ginger Holmes Rowell

Dr. Ginger H. Rowell

WMOT-new web logoHost Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. Ginger Holmes Rowell, a professor of mathematical sciences, first aired March 14 on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and www.wmot.org. You can listen to their conversation below.

Rowell and mathematical sciences lecturer Ameneh Mahrou Kassaee administered questionnaires to MTSU freshman STEM majors to determine their motivation for pursuing an education in those disciplines.

They discovered that, while the students had high grade and career motivation, they might not have enough intrinsic motivation, self-efficacy and self-determination to ensure their success.

“Perhaps they don’t know as much about the field as they might think,” said Rowell. “Once they get to college, they may find that it’s different than it was in high school.

Ameneh Mahrou Kassaee

Ameneh M. Kassaee

OTR Rowell STEM cover web“For example, in mathematics, sometimes they think it’s just solving problems. But once you start to do mathematics research, it’s at a whole different level of involvement and engagement.”

Rowell and Kassaee’s research paper, “Motivationally-Informed Interventions for At-Risk STEM Students,” was published in the July-September 2016 edition of the “Journal of STEM Education.” You can read the PDF here.

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at www.mtsunews.com.

For more information about “MTSU On the Record,” contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.

Murfreesboro music legacy display opens at Heritage Center March 21

Rutherford County’s contribution to musical culture will be on display in a new exhibit at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.

Panels displaying information about Rutherford County’s musical heritage adorn a new display at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County. (Photos submitted)

Panels displaying information about Rutherford County’s musical heritage adorn a new display at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County. (Photos submitted)

The public opening of “Home Grown to Nationally Known: The Artistic Legacies of Murfreesboro” is scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, at the center, located at 225 West College St.

MTSU graduate students majoring in history researched and constructed the exhibit under the guidance of Dr. Carroll Van West, who serves as director of MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation as well as Tennessee state historian.

The exhibit covers artists from country legend Uncle Dave Macon to MTSU student Julien Baker, an indie music sensation. It includes objects and photos from famous artists who have performed or recorded in Murfreesboro over the years, as well as artifacts from the Young’Un Sound Studio that operated near Rockvale in the 1970s.

“With Nashville being so close, it’s kind of eclipsed by the big Nashville country sound,” Lane Tillner, a doctoral student from Collierville, Tennessee, said of Rutherford County’s musical heritage, “but Murfreesboro really has a lot of interesting music.”

Tillner’s primary focus was on Spongebath Records, an independent record label based in Murfreesboro during the 1990s. She said one of her sources was a Facebook group called “Murfreesboro Music Documentary.”

CHP logo web“There were a lot of images there, and I was able to get more background information about Spongebath and the bands that were under that label,” said Tillner.

Sherry Teal, a master’s degree candidate from Murfreesboro, focused on early music and gospel acts. Fellow graduate student Annabeth Hayes of Jackson, Tennessee, investigated Young’Un Sound Studio, which session guitarist Chip Young founded by on his farm in 1969.

Heritage Center logo webAlso featured in the exhibit are acts that played Murphy Center and the Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp, a weeklong day camp that allows girls to express themselves musically. It was founded in July 2003 by MTSU alumna Kelley Anderson and takes place on the university campus during the summer.

Tillner said West, who is quite a music aficionado, indicated that he wants the display to remain active for at least a few years. She said the experience of working on the display has been beneficial for the student team that created it.

“It’s very hands-on practical experience,” Tillner said. “It shows that we can take just one little aspect and design this whole exhibit.”

For more information, contact the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County at 615-217-8013 or Tillner at olt2c@mtmail.mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Murfreesboro and MTSU are on the front cover of music industry magazine Billboard in an article written by Nashville Bureau Chief Chet Flippo in 1997. The artifact is part of a new exhibit chronicling Rutherford County’s musical history at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.

Murfreesboro and MTSU are on the front cover of music industry magazine Billboard in an article written by Nashville Bureau Chief Chet Flippo in 1997. The artifact is part of a new exhibit chronicling Rutherford County’s musical history at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.

‘Educational Energy’: Listen to March 7 ‘MTSU On the Record’

Producer/Host: Gina Logue
Guest: Holly Huddleston

Synopsis: An MTSU graduate student explains her research on the amount of energy second-, third- and fourth-graders put into their academic classwork.

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