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New, returning MTSU student veterans treated to ‘newcomers briefing’

New and returning MTSU student veterans and their families were welcomed Jan. 19 at a “newcomers briefing” provided by the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center.

The event was held in Cantrell Hall of the Tom H. Jackson Building, 628 Alma Mater Drive.

Hilary Miller, at back standing, director of the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, listens to comments from Trey Smith during the “newcomers briefing” provided by the center Thursday, Jan. 19, in Cantrell Hall of the Tom H. Jackson Building for new and returning MTSU student veterans and their families. Seated, from left, are Aaron Greenberg and Dr. Brian Hinote, an associate professor in the anthropology and sociology department. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

Dr. Hilary Miller, standing at center left, director of the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, listens to comments from Trey Smith during the “newcomers briefing” provided by the center Thursday, Jan. 19, for new and returning MTSU student veterans and their families. Seated, from left, are Aaron Greenberg and Dr. Brian Hinote, an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology. (MTSU photos by Eric Sutton)

The briefing was to ensure veterans and their families are up to speed on campus resources, said Dr. Hilary Miller, center director.

Miller and her staff targeted new-to-MTSU student veterans and family members, but the event was open to all military-connected students, she said.

“Our goal is to make sure they have on-campus contacts for all offices that can help them be successful,” Miller said. “In addition, we want them to know the center staff, be connected to us and know other student veterans.”

The agenda included a dinner; a welcome and introduction of staff and an explanation of the center’s mission, led by Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives and retired U.S. Army lieutenant general; introductions of veterans; and a discussion of current center programs and fall semester events, led by Miller.

Dr. Derek Frisby, a veteran, MTSU alumnus and professor in the Department of Global Studies and Cultural Geography in the College of Liberal Arts, shared information on MTSU and its relationship with veterans.

Officials also discussed discovering campus resources for veterans, which include tours and information about the G.I. Bill, VetSuccess on Campus and tutoring, and Miller presented a college challenge to the newcomers by emphasizing graduation and employment expectations.

Student veterans can get more information about the center at its website, www.mtsu.edu/military.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives and retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, speaks to new and returning MTSU student veterans and their families attending a “newcomers briefing” provided by the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center Thursday, Jan. 19, in Cantrell Hall of the Tom H. Jackson Building. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives and retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, speaks to new and returning MTSU student veterans and their families attending a “newcomers briefing” provided by the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center Thursday, Jan. 19, in Cantrell Hall of the Tom H. Jackson Building.

U.S. Army Capt. Shane Smith, an assistant professor in the MTSU Department of Military Science, speaks to new and returning MTSU student veterans and their families at a “newcomers briefing” provided by the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center held Thursday, Jan. 19, in Cantrell Hall of the Tom H. Jackson Building. 

U.S. Army Capt. Shane Smith, an assistant professor in the MTSU Department of Military Science, speaks to new and returning MTSU student veterans and their families at a “newcomers briefing” provided by the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center held Thursday, Jan. 19, in the Tom H. Jackson Building.

While Military Science professor Capt. Shane Smith holds her daughter, Ava, at right, MTSU student veteran Nashelly Larmon signs in for the “newcomers briefing” provided by the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center Thursday, Jan. 19, in Cantrell Hall of the Tom H. Jackson Building. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

While Military Science professor Capt. Shane Smith holds her daughter, Ava, at right, MTSU student veteran Nashelly Larmon signs in for the “newcomers briefing” Jan. 19 in the Tom H. Jackson Building.

MTSU student veteran Timothy “TJ” Lewis, left, accepts a tote bag with information from U.S. Army Capt. Shane Smith, an assistant professor in the Department of Military Science, after signing in at the “newcomers briefing” hosted by the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center Thursday, Jan. 19, in Cantrell Hall of the Tom H. Jackson Building.

MTSU student veteran Timothy “TJ” Lewis, left, accepts a tote bag with information from U.S. Army Capt. Shane Smith, an assistant professor in the Department of Military Science, after signing in at the “newcomers briefing” hosted by the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center Jan. 19 in the Tom H. Jackson Building.

MTSU student veteran Emily Steinway speaks during the “newcomers briefing” provided by the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center held Thursday, Jan. 19, in Cantrell Hall of the Tom H. Jackson Building. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

MTSU student veteran Emily Steinway speaks during the “newcomers briefing” provided by the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center held Jan. 19 in the Tom H. Jackson Building.

MTSU closes Jan. 16 for MLK holiday; spring classes begin Jan. 17

MTSU will be closed Monday, Jan. 16, in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday.

The university will reopen at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, with all business offices and departments open regular hours.

Students and faculty, who have been on winter break, return to begin spring semester classes Jan. 17.MTSU Wordmark

Monday night starting at 6 in the Student Union Ballroom, the MTSU Office of Intercultural & Diversity Affairs will hold a vigil, hosted by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, in celebration of King’s work. More details about the event are available here.

During the holiday weekend:

  • The James E. Walker Library will be closed Saturday, Jan. 14, open from 2 to 10 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15, and closed Jan. 16.
  • The Student Union will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Jan. 14, closed Jan. 15 and open from noon to 9 p.m. Jan. 16.
  • Campus Recreation Center will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 14, open from noon to 6 p.m. Jan. 15 and closed Jan. 16.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

MTSU’s Brown among ‘2017 Most Influential in Concrete Construction’

A higher education leader who has been turning out future leaders in the concrete industry for more than 15 years, MTSU’s Heather Brown has been named one of four 2017 Most Influential People in Concrete Construction by an industry publication.

Dr. Heather Brown

Dr. Heather Brown

Brown, director of the newly combined School of Concrete and Construction Management, learned recently about the Hanley Wood’s Commercial Construction Group’s “most influential” national recognition, which also included Jereme Montgomery, Steve Lloyd and Jim Cornell.

Brown told Bill Palmer, editorial director of Hanley Wood’s Commercial Construction Group, taht MTSU “is the only school at a major university with the word ‘concrete’ in our name.”

Not long after arriving at MTSU, Brown said she “found out that I love teaching and the interaction with the concrete industry.” She directs five faculty members and a marketing staff member, and the school recently hired a new event coordinator.

Concrete Industry Management is one of the university’s signature programs.

You can read the full story here.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

MTSU Honors Transfer Fellowship has Feb. 15 application deadline

A special incentive in the form of a $3,500 scholarship for up to four semesters awaits prospective MTSU transfer students who meet the eligibility criteria and apply by the Feb. 15 deadline.

The MTSU Honors College is offering 30 Honors Transfer Fellowship awards, which are patterned after the highly successful Buchanan Fellows Program.

Dr. John Vile

Dr. John Vile

To apply, visit http://mtsu.edu/honors/transfer.php.

Chosen applicants will be a part of the fifth class of transfer students. The transfer fellowships began in 2013. In the previous four years, the Honors College awarded 15 such awards.

“In talking to President Sidney A. McPhee, this is two years after implementation of the Tennessee Promise (free community college tuition),” said John Vile, Honors College dean. “We are anticipating that significantly more community college graduates will be benefiting from that this year.”

The fellowship is open to students who anticipate having completed 60 hours of college or university coursework with a 3.5 GPA or better by the fall of 2017.

Honors College logoRecipients will gain special consideration for support for study abroad and for making presentations at scholarly conferences. Students who are accepted as fellows will complete a common class together during their first semester at MTSU.

For up to six out of state transfer recipients, the award will be $7,000 per semester because they pay higher tuition and fees, Vile said.

For those who do not receive the Honors Transfer Fellowship, MTSU Financial Aid also offers a guaranteed Transfer Promise Scholarship of $1,500 a semester to students with a 3.0 GPA who complete their application by Wednesday, Feb. 15.

Applications by mail must be postmarked by Feb. 15. Applications must include official transcripts of all college and university work, two letters of recommendation from college professors and/or honors administrators and a personal essay.

For more information, call 615-898-2152.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Retirement ends Ricketts’ alternative fuels era at MTSU

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.

Recently retired professor and alternative fuels researcher Cliff Ricketts takes a break from his recent research drive using a combination of a wood gasification unit and gasoline. (Submitted photo)

Recently retired professor and alternative fuels researcher Cliff Ricketts takes a break from his recent research drive using a combination of a wood gasification unit and gasoline. (Submitted photos)

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.

“This is part of the research process and we ran out of time before we could make it (wood gasification) work,” said Ricketts, who overcame a number of failed attempts in the past. “We did our research on wood gasification. The attempt did not meet our expectations. It didn’t work as well as we had hoped. I know we could have made it work if we had had more time.”

Ricketts said his biggest accomplishment was “coming up with the process to make America energy independent in a time of a national crisis.” He added that his primary duty, teaching agriculture students to educate others, impacted “350 to 400 certified teachers, so my work will end up affecting thousands of lives.”

MTSU will replace Ricketts by fall of 2017, but he does not anticipate any colleague or a new hire to follow his path with alternative fuels.

“It was something I invented — a side passion,” he said. “There is little or none (alternative fuel research) in agriculture. It’s in engineering.”

Ricketts, who will oversee his 200-acre farm in Wilson County, added he anticipates being invited to speak on the subject of alternative fuels if gas prices reach $5.

In addition to Huckabee, Ricketts’ team included MTSU alumnus Terry Young of Woodbury, Tennessee, and Mike Sims of Michigan.

Ricketts earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and a doctorate from Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

He has earned numerous MTSU and other accolades including the Career Achievement Award and a Silver Column Award presented by university President Sidney A. McPhee.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Cliff Ricketts drives through Murfreesboro during his research with wood gasification. He wound up using a combination of wood and gas.

Cliff Ricketts drives through Murfreesboro during his research with wood gasification. He wound up using a combination of wood and gas.

MTSU senior Colton Huckabee, front, observes as Terry Young makes adjustments to the wood gasification unit during the 131-mile research run made by retiring professor Cliff Ricketts.

MTSU senior Colton Huckabee, front, observes as Terry Young makes adjustments to the wood gasification unit during the 131-mile research run made by retiring professor Cliff Ricketts.

Shown with the wood gasification unit used in the research project, Cliff Ricketts, left, stands with crew members Terry Young, MTSU senior Colton Huckabee and Mike Sims. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

Shown with the wood gasification unit used in the research project, Cliff Ricketts, left, stands with crew members Terry Young, MTSU senior Colton Huckabee and Mike Sims. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

 

 

 

 

MTSU closes Dec. 23-Jan. 2 for holiday break; campus reopens Jan. 3

MTSU will be closed from Friday, Dec. 23, through Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Except for Public Safety, Facilities Services and other essential personnel, all university offices and departments will be closed during this time.

Holiday-closing1-300x153Closures will include the Cope Administration Building; James E. Walker Library; Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center; Health Services and Campus Pharmacy; Student Union; Keathley University Center; MT Dining food services; James Union Building; and all academic buildings.

The university will reopen at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3. Normal business hours are 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The Campus Recreation Center reopens Jan. 3 at 6 a.m.

To schedule a daily campus tour starting Jan. 3, call 615-898-5670, email tours@mtsu.edu or visit http://www.mtsu.edu/schedule-a-visit/daily-campus-visits.php.

Murphy Center will be the site for the Lady Raiders 6 p.m. Dec. 28 basketball game against Central Michigan and the Blue Raiders 3 p.m. Jan. 1 Conference USA game against UAB. The Lady Raiders visit UAB at 2 p.m. Jan. 1.

Spring 2017 classes will resume for students and faculty Tuesday, Jan. 17.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

MTSU unveils School of Concrete and Construction [+VIDEO]

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 merger was led by a vision from Dr. Fischer to create a school that would gain attention from high school students, parents and employers that would serve as the statewide clearinghouse for concrete and construction education,” Brown said.

Fischer, who has been dean since 2012, said for years MTSU “has enjoyed peer recognition as having among the best residential and commercial construction programs in the Southeast.”

“The Concrete Industry Management department also enjoys acceptance as the best concrete program in the nation, with a model partnership involving the industry,” he added. “Bringing these two programs of this nature together in the proposed School of Concrete and Construction will create a unique organization that spans the traditional academic disciplines.”

The merger establishes “a new standard for concrete and construction education, research and outreach, confirm our reputation for innovation and creativity and make Middle Tennessee State University a destination for students interested in an applied science education with a focus on the built environment,” Fischer said.

Event attendees included dozens of alumni and industry professionals. Franklin, Tennessee-based Skanska USA sponsored the reception.

Heather Brown, MTSU director for the School of Concrete and Construction Management, discusses the merger of the Concrete Industry Management program and its construction management counterpart Dec. 8 at Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, Tenn. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

Heather Brown, MTSU director for the School of Concrete and Construction Management, discusses the merger of the Concrete Industry Management program and its construction management counterpart Dec. 8 at Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, Tenn. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

“Skanska congratulates MTSU on the merger of their concrete, commercial and residential construction programs under one school,” said Joey Hatch, executive vice president for Skanska. “This new collaboration will increase synergy between the combined advisory boards, allow MTSU to gain more recognition from the increased student population of the total program and provide companies like Skanska the opportunity to recruit from a larger pool of local graduates with a more well-rounded education.”

Hatch added that MTSU’s brand will be “more prominent than it’s ever been by creating our region’s only program that houses a unique blend of construction disciplines.”

As of August, department data showed 8.4 jobs per each graduating MTSU concrete major and average salaries from 2012-16 included nearly $43,000 in Tennessee and nearly $51,000 out of state.

The residential/land development construction major is also special and has been at MTSU since 1991, Brown said. Commercial construction has been very successful at placing graduates since 2010 with nearly 100 percent job placement.

The land development/residential building construction management student team twice won the National Association of Homebuilders Student Chapters residential construction management competition and placed in the top five seven times from 2003-12.

Electrical construction management is the only bachelor’s degree in the country that allows electrical apprentices to complete a college degree while gaining experience in electrical construction, Brown added.

Prominent concrete and construction alumni include:

  • Chad Hustedde (Class of 2000), a concrete graduate, who is vice president and general manager of Cemex in Tampa, Florida.
  • Drew Cox (’03), a concrete graduate, who is vice president/construction with TDK Construction in Murfreesboro.
  • Brian Chastain (’01), a construction management graduate, who is president of Parkside Builders in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Matt Fugate (’05), a construction management graduate, who is vice president of construction for EMJ Corporation in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

For more information, call 615-494-7658 or visit http://www.mtsu.edu/programs/concrete-industry/ and http://www.mtsu.edu/programs/construction/.

Stacks of concrete coasters for the new School of Concrete and Construction Management rest on a table as event attendees mingle before the announcement of the merged programs Dec. 8 at Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, Tenn.

Stacks of concrete coasters for the new School of Concrete and Construction Management rest on a table as event attendees mingle before the announcement of the merged programs Dec. 8 at Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, Tenn.

City Schools students experience MTSU via Education Day [+VIDEO]

Scales Elementary School classmates and friends Alaynna Edging and Jenna Woods knew there was some educational value to attending the fifth annual MTSU Education Day game for 12 Murfreesboro City Schools.

When asked, Edging said she “learned to have fun. This has been fun and entertaining.” Woods, also 11, “learned that the Blue Raider girls can make a lot of their shots.” Secretly, what they loved was the front-row view — “VIP seats,” as Edging called them.

Many of the 7,100 youngsters answered MTSU MTeach math questions. But in addition to the game, it was a whole lot more fun as they watched fellow students build a snowman, wrapping toilet paper around their teachers; see their classmates shake, jump and more as they participated in “Jingle in the Trunk;” and play other holiday-themed activities on the court.

While Ohio (4-0) emerged a 73-52 winner in front of 11,222 fans, Education Day has become an event — “an all-day recess” as John Pittard Elementary School teacher Carla Calvin put it — that may have far-reaching implications as the first- through eighth-graders spent time on a university campus attending a women’s basketball game.

Discovery School students and teachers, part of the total crowd of 11,222 fans, cheer on the Lady Raiders Nov. 30 in Murphy Center. MTSU fell 73-52 to the Ohio Bobcats. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

Discovery School students and teachers, part of the total crowd of 11,222 fans, cheer on the Lady Raiders Nov. 30 in Murphy Center. MTSU fell 73-52 to the Ohio Bobcats. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

“Forty or 50 years ago, I saw a game and it wasn’t called Education Day back then, but I developed a passion for the sport and now I am the coach at MTSU,” Rick Insell said. “Maybe somebody sitting in the stands will become the next Pat Summitt (the late hall of fame University of Tennessee coach).”

“Some child, probably sitting in those seats, who’s got a big dream, may become a basketball player, a coach or something affiliated with MTSU,” added Insell, who said he arrived at Murphy Center at 4 a.m. and marveled that city and campus police already were setting up for the 11 a.m. game.

Calvin, who teaches fourth-graders at a school that brought 800 students to the game, said it gives the youngsters the experience of visiting campus and socializing.

“Some of them may live around the corner (from MTSU), but have never entered this building,” Calvin said. “It is a day away from school. They get to learn how to be social with friends.”

Linda Gilbert, Murfreesboro City Schools director and an MTSU alumna with three degrees, praised her teachers, staff, bus drivers and others, “welcoming them with their smiles, providing safety, guiding them to participatory spots, ensuring a healthy environment, encouraging them to have fun … and helping them see opportunities for their future.”

At times, the noise inside Murphy Center was deafening. Especially when an Ohio Bobcat stepped to the free-throw line. Then it became a really loud crowd.

Other schools attending the game included Black Fox, Bradley Academy, Cason Lane, Discovery School, Erma Siegel, Hobgood Elementary, Mitchell-Neilson, Northfield, Overall Creek and Reeves Rogers.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Students from seven Murfreesboro City Schools "build a snowman," wrapping their teachers in toilet paper during a first-half break in the action during the MTSU-Ohio women's college basketball game Nov. 30 in Murphy Center.

Students from seven Murfreesboro City Schools “build a snowman,” wrapping their teachers in toilet paper during a first-half break in the action during the MTSU-Ohio women’s college basketball game Nov. 30 in Murphy Center.

Bradley Academy's girls' basketball players and coaches welcome the Lady Raiders onto the court with high fives.

Bradley Academy’s girls’ basketball players and coaches welcome the Lady Raiders onto the court with high fives.

Murfreesboro City Schools' teachers sing the national anthem before the start of the MTSU Lady Raiders-Ohio Bobcats women's game Nov. 30 in Murphy Center. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Murfreesboro City Schools’ teachers sing the national anthem before the start of the MTSU Lady Raiders-Ohio Bobcats women’s game Nov. 30 in Murphy Center.

MTSU student veterans go extra mile to graduate [+VIDEO]

Like many of her younger MTSU student veteran peers, Jemekia Young-Weeden has gone the extra mile to graduate.

Not only have Young-Weeden and her fellow veterans served their country during military conflict in the Middle East, they’ve worked to earn college degrees while holding down jobs and caring for their families since their active duty ended.

The university recognized nearly 25 of the 90 student veterans planning to graduate Saturday, Dec. 10, during the sixth Graduating Veterans Stole Ceremony, held Monday, Nov. 28, in the Tom H. Jackson Building’s Cantrell Hall.

Since May 2015, MTSU has honored its graduating student veterans with a formal ceremony with family, friends and university administrators. Each graduating veteran receives a special red stole to wear with his or her gown at the commencement ceremony to recognize academic achievement.

Graduating MTSU student veteran Melissa Kelley, left, registers for the university's sixth Stole Ceremony and visits with Jennifer Brown of the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center Nov. 28 in the Tom H. Jackson Building. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

Graduating MTSU student veteran Melissa Kelley, left, registers for the university’s sixth Stole Ceremony and visits with Jennifer Brown of the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center Nov. 28 in the Tom H. Jackson Building. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

Young-Weeden, 44, a criminal justice major, is married to U.S. Army Afghanistan War veteran Marquis Weeden and is the mother of three children between 5 months and 11 years old. Baby Aneika was born June 23, altering her mother’s summer class schedule and leading to a 20-hour fall 2016 class load for Young-Weeden in order to graduate.

“This means everything today,” Young-Weeden said, holding up the red stole with both hands. “It is a part of me that has been missing for a while.

“When digging in and studying — and all the craziness building up to graduation — sometimes you forget about yourself. You think back to basic training and all those things you remember doing that they taught you in the military. The representation of them is here today.”

During her military service, Young-Weeden was a petroleum supply specialist and was cross-trained in logistics and environmental protection. She left the U.S. Army as an E3, or private first class, disabled veteran with post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives at MTSU and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, and Dr. Mark Byrnes, MTSU interim provost, spoke during the ceremony.

Among those attending one of the largest stole ceremonies to date were Jeff Davidson, deputy mayor for Rutherford County; retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. David Ogg, an MTSU alumnus; Brian James and James Ervin of Barrett Firearms; Chinh Brown, Steve Clayton, Todd Thiel and Fran Jones of Bridgestone; and Tomeka Cain of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Nashville Regional Office.

MTSU student veterans and their families are served by the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center on campus. For more about the center’s services, call 615-904-8347 or visit http://mtsu.edu/military.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

MTSU interim Provost Mark Byrnes, left, graduating student veteran Scott DeNicholas and Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives, are shown after DeNicholas was one of nearly 25 student vets recognized Nov. 28.

MTSU interim Provost Mark Byrnes, left, graduating student veteran Scott DeNicholas and Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives, pose for a commemorative photo after DeNicholas and nearly 25 of his fellow student vets were recognized Nov. 28 in a special university Stole Ceremony.

MTSU turns to Butler for research, College of Graduate Studies leadership

Middle Tennessee State University’s future academic growth and challenges in its College of Graduate Studies and research efforts will rest in the hands of Dr. David Butler.

Dr. David Butler

Dr. David Butler

Following a national search, Butler, 46, was named vice provost for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies, said Dr. Mark Byrnes, interim provost.

Butler, who officially begins at MTSU, Jan. 1, 2017, comes from the University of Southern Mississippi, where he has served as chair in the Department of Political Science and director of the doctoral program in international development.

A native of Houston, Texas, Butler will fill the dual position previously held by Dr. Jackie Eller, who served in an interim capacity for more than two years. Eller will return to the Department of Sociology as a professor in January.

College of Graduate Studies logo web“Dr. Butler has a wide range of experience in research, grant work, teaching and service,” said Byrnes, who recently announced the appointment to faculty and the rest of the university community.

“He will bring great enthusiasm and energy to his new role. I have no doubt he will help make our graduate and research efforts even more successful.”

The MTSU College of Graduate Studies, considered a leader in graduate education in Tennessee, provides academic, financial and other support services for graduate students while upholding academic standards. More than 100 programs of study are offered to students.

Dr. Mark Byrnes

Dr. Mark Byrnes

Butler will provide visionary leadership to advance MTSU’s research and graduate education mission, develop and implement strategies for achieving the university’s research goals, and formulate and promote scholarship and creative work at the highest levels.

His responsibilities also include developing recruitment, strategy and marketing of the graduate programs; providing quality graduate programs and develop policies and procedures governing the recruitment, admission, support and education of graduate students; working with the other colleges to increase external research funding; and providing oversight for the Office of Research Services.

Butler said he’s “excited about joining the MTSU family” as vice provost for research and dean of graduate studies.

“MTSU has succeeded very well in undergraduate student enrollment and retention,” he added. “I hope to help the university achieve similar success in grant funding and graduate student enrollment.”

Despite the political science career background, Butler’s three degrees have a heavy concentration in geography.

Butler earned his bachelor’s (1994) and master’s (’96) degrees from Texas A&M University. He majored in history and minored in geography for his undergraduate degree, then majored in geography and minored in history for his graduate degree. His doctorate, in 2001, came from the University of Cincinnati, where he majored in geography and minored in political science and economics.

Butler’s research interests include disaster recovery, call centers, heritage and tourism development, nature-technology relationships and issues of national sovereignty.

Butler has led or been involved in 14 projects since 2002 that received nearly $2.8 million in funding. He has authored and co-authored numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and reports.

“My success in grant writing is because I failed over and over again and did not give up until I learned how to succeed,” Butler said. “I bring that experience to help other MTSU faculty succeed in obtaining grant dollars to fund their exciting research whether that is in the sciences, social science, humanities, business or art.”

“I am excited that I have been able to obtain research grant funding from two of the three leading federal granting agencies: the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. I hope one day to also obtain grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.”

Butler said his career goal was to become a successful researcher with grant funding supporting his efforts.

“I have met and exceeded that goal, and now I am interested in helping others achieve the same success, or ideally more success, than I have to date,” he said. “Equally, I enjoy building graduate programs and seeing students succeed, so I am thrilled to be able to work with faculty and directors of graduate programs and department chairs to help them succeed to their fullest potential.”

Butler emphasized that he will “have a team of folks in both the graduate college, and also the Office of Research, who will assist me in making the vision a reality. I am looking forward to leading the people on my team to assist university faculty to succeed.”

Soon after Butler starts in January, MTSU will reopen the renovated Wiser-Patten Science Hall and Davis Science Building to join the $147 million Science Building, which opened in 2014. The reopenings will further enhance student and faculty research capabilities on campus.

Butler has an MTSU-Southern Mississippi connection in USM President Rodney D. Bennett. Bennett is an MTSU alumnus who earned three degrees — education specialist, master’s in educational administration and bachelor’s in mass communication — from the university.

An avid college football fan, Butler said he will be a part of Blue Raider games in the fall. He also has become a runner and plans to compete in his first marathon in 2017.

An 18-member search committee, chaired by Dr. Carroll Van West, director of MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation, chose Butler ahead of two other finalists.

Byrnes thanked Eller “for her commitment to MTSU and her dedicated work as interim vice provost for research and dean.”

— Randy Weiler (randy.weiler@mtsu.edu)

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