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President appoints liberal arts dean Byrnes as interim provost

Dr. Mark Byrnes, dean of MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts since June 2010, will become the university’s interim provost on May 9, President Sidney A. McPhee announced Friday.

Dr. Mark Byrnes

Dr. Mark Byrnes

Byrnes will replace Dr. Brad Bartel, who is stepping down as chief academic officer after spring commencement ceremonies conclude on May 7.

“I wish to express my deep appreciation and thanks for Brad’s many contributions to our university,” McPhee said. “Our Quest for Student Success was developed under his watch as provost, which has garnered national praise and recognition.”

Bartel, who has served as provost since July 2010, will continue at MTSU as a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

In a note to the university’s faculty, Bartel said it was “an honor and a privilege” to serve as provost.

“I am truly thankful for the opportunity I have had to work with such a great group of dedicated administrators, educators and staff,” he wrote.

An archaeologist specializing in studies of colonialism, mortuary practice and early human symbolism, Bartel has conducted field research in Yugoslavia, Turkey, Ireland and the United States. His research has appeared in numerous anthropological journals.

College of Liberal Arts logo webByrnes, a nationally recognized expert on the American presidency and Tennessee politics, has taught political science at MTSU since 1991 and was associate dean of liberal arts from 2006 to 2009.

“I am grateful to President McPhee for this opportunity,” Byrnes said. “I see being interim provost as another way to serve the university I love. My job will be to support the faculty and staff in the outstanding work they do with our students.”

Dr. Karen Petersen

Dr. Karen Petersen

A 1983 graduate of MTSU who earned his master’s and doctoral degrees at Vanderbilt University, Byrnes also was the recipient of one of the MTSU Foundation’s 2010 Public Service Awards.

Byrnes, a native of Murfreesboro and a graduate of Riverdale High School, also has served as chairman and vice chairman of the Rutherford County School Board.

McPhee said he also accepted Byrnes’ recommendation to appoint Dr. Karen Petersen as interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

Petersen, a professor of political science specializing in international relations, served as the college’s assistant dean from 2010 to 2013 and has been associate dean since January 2014.

— Andrew Oppmann (andrew.oppmann@mtsu.edu)