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MTSU’s Scott, Young among new Grammy nominees [+VIDEOS]

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 Scott Family includes Scott’s parents, country singer Linda Davis and songwriter-musician Lang Scott, and her younger sister, Rylee.

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.

Young announced his scholarship for MTSU junior and senior students Thanksgiving weekend, while Scott established her scholarship for female recording industry students in September 2015.

“Think of You” also was a contender for a 2016 Country Music Association award for “Musical Event of the Year.” Young also was nominated for a Grammy in 2010 for best male country vocal performance for “Gettin’ You Home.”

59th Grammy Awards logo webScott and Lady Antebellum have been nominated for more than two dozen CMA and Grammy Awards. They won the 2010 Grammy for best country performance by a duo or group for “I Run to You” and swept the 2011 Grammys with awards for record of the year, song of the year, best country album, best country song and best country group performance for “Need You Now.”

The complete list of this year’s Grammy nominees is available at www.grammy.com/nominees.

MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry, for the third straight year, is part of an international list of acclaimed music schools praised by The Hollywood Reporter that includes Juilliard, Berklee and London’s Royal College of Music. The department is No. 18 on the magazine’s “Top 25 Music Schools 2016,” which was part of the Dec. 2 edition of the publication.

You can learn more about MTSU’s recording industry program, part of the College of Media and Entertainment, at www.mtsu.edu/recording-industry.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Singer Young creates scholarship for recording students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — RCA Records Nashville artist and former MTSU student Chris Young celebrated the season of giving Nov. 27 by creating an annual scholarship for recording industry students at his alma mater.

“MTSU helped to give me a foundation for the music business, and I want this scholarship to help other students who are looking to take a similar path,” said Young, a native of Murfreesboro.

Chris Young

Chris Young

Young’s gift will allow MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry to award a yearly scholarship, starting this fall, for a rising junior or senior.

“Chris has remained a loyal and connected MTSU alumnus through the years,” said Joe Bales, vice president of university advancement.

“He’s returned to perform several times in MTSU’s Murphy Center as his music career ascended and remains generous with his time and talent, even donating some of his touring audio equipment and accessories a few years ago.”

Young, who just released his first holiday-themed album, “It Must Be Christmas,” continues to give back to communities along his remaining 2016 “I’m Comin’ Over Tour” stops. Through Dec. 10, he’s encouraging fans to bring a new, unwrapped toy or book to his concerts; the gifts will then be donated to local Toys For Tots campaigns.

With five albums to his credit, Young has amassed eight No. 1 singles and 15 gold/platinum certifications. His hits include “Gettin’ You Home,” “Voices,” “Tomorrow,” the platinum-certified “I’m Comin’ Over” and “Think of You,” a duet with Cassadee Pope.

Formal RIM logoThe former MTSU student, who attended in 2005, has performed several times at the university. In 2008, Young was the special guest of MTSU’s Invention Convention — the same event he attended as a child — where he sang several songs to an excited crowd of 300 middle-school youngsters.

The Department of Recording Industry in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment has been consistently recognized by international publications and organizations as one of the top programs in the world.

Recording industry undergrad majors at MTSU can focus on audio production, commercial songwriting or music business. A Master of Fine Arts degree in recording arts and technologies prepares MTSU graduate students for advanced work in audio production, recording and integrated electronic media.

The department also collaborates with MTSU’s School of Music on a “music industry” minor concentration that allows students to minor in music-industry entrepreneurship or recording industry.

MTSU students who are interested in applying for the scholarship may contact the Department of Recording Industry office at 615-898-2578.

MTSU gives True Blue salute to veterans, military [+VIDEO]

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.

Longtime friends and MTSU alumni Bob Lamb, left, and Bud Morris share the limelight as 2016 Joe Nunley Sr. Award winners. They were recognized Saturday (Nov. 5) after the Salute to Veterans and Armed Services picnic as part of game-related activities to honor veterans. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

Longtime friends and MTSU alumni Bob Lamb, left, and Bud Morris share the limelight as 2016 Joe Nunley Sr. Award winners. They were recognized Nov. 5 after the Salute to Veterans and Armed Services picnic as part of game-related activities to honor veterans. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

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.

Since 1982, MTSU has dedicated one football game each season to thank U.S. servicemen and servicewomen in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard for their sacrifices for Americans’ freedom. This year, the Blue Raiders hosted the University of Texas-San Antonio in a Conference USA matchup.

“So many people deserve this,” said Morris, an MTSU alumnus (1968 and ’75) and insurance agent for 45 years in Murfreesboro. “We’re just representing the many people who do all the hard work. I’m humbled to just be nominated for this. I’m very honored to be part of this award.”

Lamb, a 1969 and ’77 alumnus in the real estate business 44 years, called the recognition “very humbling.”

“I was shocked when I learned from Joe Nunley Jr. they were honoring us,” Lamb said. “I am honored to share this with Bud. I just felt like there were so more deserving than I was. … I love my university and I’m very appreciative of this honor.”

Because of recent heart surgery, Nunley was unable to attend the event, held outside the Rose and Emmett Kennon Hall of Fame. The award is named in honor of his father, Joe Nunley Sr., a World War II veteran, former education professor and alumni relations director.

Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives at MTSU, was guest speaker for the memorial service. Huber retired as a lieutenant general after nearly 40 years in the U.S. Army.

Keith M. Huber delivers the main address to the audience attending the Veterans Memorial ceremony Nov. 5 outside the MTSU Tom H. Jackson Building. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

Keith M. Huber delivers the main address to the audience attending the Veterans Memorial ceremony Nov. 5 outside the MTSU Tom H. Jackson Building. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

“We find ourselves faced still in combat,” Huber said, referring to the Middle East and Gulf War conflict. “That is what we should remember.”

“It is through the efforts of the leadership of President (Sidney A.) McPhee and the leadership of this university and the support of the community that allows us to continue collectively to serve our veterans and their precious family members,” he added.

“And this is a clear demonstration of that commitment to serve. We who have worn a uniform, we who wear uniforms now are honored to serve our nation, and it’s our responsibility to demonstrate to those who have not served that we are worthy of their support and respect.”

MTSU Band of Blue plays each U.S. military branch’s song as veterans and active duty members walk onto the field at Floyd Stadium at halftime of the MTSU vs. University of Texas-San Antonio game Saturday, Nov. 5, as part of the MTSU Salute to Veterans and Armed Services. (MTSU photo by Kimi Conro)

MTSU Band of Blue plays each U.S. military branch’s song as veterans and active duty members walk onto the field at Floyd Stadium at halftime of the MTSU vs. University of Texas-San Antonio game Saturday, Nov. 5, as part of the MTSU Salute to Veterans and Armed Services. (MTSU photo by Kimi Conro)

The 300-plus member Band of Blue performed the theme songs for the various branches of the military, as veterans paraded across the field.

More than 600 veterans and their family members attended the picnic and game. Organizers provide about 500 hamburgers and 500 hot dogs, condiments, chips, soft drinks and water for the special guests.

State Farm sponsored the game tickets given to the veterans and their family members. U.S. Marines collected Toys for Tots at various parts of the stadium before the game.

An autographed Charlie Daniels fiddle and a Blue Raider football helmet were the primary items available during a silent auction. Daniels has donated $120,000 to what is now named the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center inside the Keathley University Center. Funds raised will go to the center.

The university and athletics marketing department coordinate game-day events and the planning and preparation leading up to the game.

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

A young Blue Raider fan waves the American flag as military veterans and active duty members take the field at halftime of the MTSU vs. University of Texas-San Antonio game Saturday, Nov. 5, as part of the MTSU Salute to Veterans and Armed Services. (MTSU photo by Kimi Conro)

A young Blue Raider fan waves the American flag as military veterans and active duty members take the field at halftime of the MTSU vs. University of Texas-San Antonio game Saturday, Nov. 5, as part of the MTSU Salute to Veterans and Armed Services. (MTSU photo by Kimi Conro)

A U.S. Air Force veteran gives a thumbs up, showing his enjoyment during picnic activities for the 35th annual MTSU Salute to Veterans and Armed Services game Nov. 5. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

A U.S. Air Force veteran gives a thumbs up showing his enjoyment during picnic activities for the 35th annual MTSU Salute to Veterans and Armed Services game Nov. 5. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

MTSU ROTC cadets enjoy their time with a veteran during the picnic that is part of Salute to Veterans and Armed Services activities Nov. 5 outside the Kennon Hall of Fame. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

MTSU ROTC cadets enjoy their time with a veteran during the Salute to Veterans and Armed Services picnic Nov. 5 outside the Kennon Hall of Fame. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

A member of the MTSU ROTC cadet corps stands at attention during the formal ceremony as part of Salute to Veterans and Armed Services events Nov. 5 outside the Tom H. Jackson Building. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

A member of the MTSU ROTC cadet corps stands at attention during the formal ceremony as part of Salute to Veterans and Armed Services events Nov. 5 outside the Tom H. Jackson Building. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

MTSU’s Jones College honors 5 local leaders with business awards

MTSU’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business again honored a group of business people with awards in recognition their contribution to business and industry.

The five honorees were formally recognized recently during the 21st Century: Leaders That Matter awards ceremony leading up to the Jones College-hosted 21st Century: Work That Matters conference at Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center.

The MTSU Jennings A. Jones College of Business formally recognized five honorees Oct. 27 during 21st Century: Leaders That Matter awards ceremony at Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center. Pictured, from left, are Tim Downey, founder and CEO of Nashville-based Southern Land Co., recipient of the Joe M. Rodgers Spirit of America Award; David and Ann Hoke, both real estate professionals, recipients of the Jennings A. Jones Champion of Free Enterprise Award; Retta Gardner, president and CEO of Guaranty Trust Co., recipient of the Jones College Exemplar Award; Lorelei Samuelson, director of business intelligence for SME Solutions Group, recipient of the Young Professional of the Year Award; and David Urban, dean of the Jones College. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

The MTSU Jennings A. Jones College of Business formally recognized five honorees Oct. 27 during the 21st Century: Leaders That Matter awards ceremony at Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center. Pictured, from left, are Tim Downey, founder and CEO of Nashville-based Southern Land Co., recipient of the Joe M. Rodgers Spirit of America Award; David and Ann Hoke, both real estate professionals, recipients of the Jennings A. Jones Champion of Free Enterprise Award; Retta Gardner, president and CEO of Guaranty Trust Co., recipient of the Jones College Exemplar Award; Lorelei Samuelson, director of business intelligence for SME Solutions Group, recipient of the Young Professional of the Year Award; and David Urban, dean of the Jones College. (MTSU photo by Eric Sutton)

• Tim Downey, founder and CEO of Nashville-based Southern Land Co., was given the Joe M. Rodgers Spirit of America Award, which is presented to an individual who has demonstrated the highest ideals in keeping with the American spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship, and commitment to others.

Downey has a three-decade career in developing neighborhoods and vibrant commercial districts that adhere to traditional design principles and generate community interaction. Modeled
 after Walt Disney Imagineering’s desire to inspire creativity, innovation and interaction in
 the company and across projects, Downey’s business model enables direct communication between architecture, horticulture, construction and planning professionals.

• Retta Gardner, president and CEO of Guaranty Trust Co., was given the Jones College Exemplar Award, which is presented to a Jones College alumnus who has “walked in the shoes” of current students and whose personal and professional accomplishments demonstrate that future MTSU graduates can also achieve great things.21st-century-2016-logo

Gardner, who earned her MBA at MTSU, joined Guaranty Trust in 1996 as information technology manager before being promoted to senior management four years later to help establish the company’s third-party division, also serving as IT, human resources and marketing manager. She was promoted to executive vice president in 2010 and to president and CEO in 2013. During her tenure, Guaranty Trust has grown from $250 million in annual production to just over $1.3 billion. She is vice president of the Tennessee Mortgage Bankers Association, board member for Volunteer State Bank and United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, and a member of the Jones College Dean’s Advisory Council.

• David and Ann Hoke, both real estate professionals, were presented the Jennings A. Jones Champion of Free Enterprise Award, which is presented to an individual whose achievements “are in keeping with the highest traditions of the American system of free enterprise” and who are role models in business, professional and personal achievements.

David Hoke’s passion for residential real estate began over 30 years ago when he was the Nashville partner in a regional land development company. His background includes 12 years of domestic and international marketing experience with David Weekley Homes, Proctor & Gamble and AMSCO International. Associated with Ann Hoke & Associates, he is also the broker of HomeFront Properties, a firm that manages investor-owned residential properties. He is treasurer of the Nashville chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers and past chairman of the board of the American Heart Association of Rutherford County. He is a 2015 graduate of Leadership Middle Tennessee.

WordmarkJonesCollegeSince launching her real estate business with Keller Williams in 2005, Ann Hoke has become a top producer who consistently ranks among the upper 1 percent of her peers. She is listed on the REAL Trends Top 250, the industry-wide list honoring the best real estate teams from across the U.S. Hoke began her career as a retail fashion buyer and worked within the senior living and healthcare fields before professional opportunities led her to real estate. She serves on the board for the Rutherford County Area Habitat for Humanity.

• Receiving the Young Professional of the Year Award was Lorelei Samuelson, director of business intelligence for SME Solutions Group, an analytics consultancy company based in Nashville and in Tampa, Florida. This award recognizes someone who, at a relatively young age, has already been a role model whose accomplishments are outstanding and an inspiration to others — but who also has the potential to rise to even greater heights in personal and professional life.

An MTSU alumna, Samuelson was instrumental in founding and serves as an adjunct professor in the Business Intelligence and Analytics concentration at Jones College. She has worked at organizations ranging in size from publicly traded to private equity-owned to early startups. She served in analytics roles at the VA Medical Center in Murfreesboro, Sony ATV Music Publishing, and HCA. Her expertise includes project management, process improvement, executive dashboard development, data architecture, data warehousing, master data management, analytic reporting and predictive analytics. She works with the nonprofit Women in Technology of Tennessee; chaired the 2016 Nashville Technology Council Analytics Peer Group, organizing the Nashville Analytics Summit; and is developing a STEM and coding program at Bellevue Middle School.

The Jones College presented the awards in partnership with First Tennessee Bank. Jones College Dean David Urban presented the awards.

The Jones College of Business is made up of the departments of accounting, computer information systems, economics and finance, management, and marketing. For more information, visit www.mtsu.edu/business.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

MTSU, KIPP Charter Schools aim to boost college grad rates

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.

Nashville KIPP Academy Middle School Principal and MTSU alumna Laura Miguez Howarth, left, and MTSU freshman and KIPP Academy graduate Deyauna Cook watch as KIPP Executive Director Randy Dowell, second from left, and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee sign the memorandum of understanding Nov. 1 in Nashville. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

Nashville KIPP Academy Middle School Principal and MTSU alumna Laura Miguez Howarth, left, and MTSU freshman and KIPP Academy graduate Deyauna Cook watch as KIPP Executive Director Randy Dowell, second from left, and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee sign the memorandum of understanding Nov. 1 in Nashville. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

“We are thrilled to be entering into this partnership with MTSU,” said Emily Blatter, director of KIPP Through College at KIPP Nashville. “The reality is that less than 10 percent of students from low-income communities earn college degrees. The KTC program is designed to support our students as they make the journey to and through college, but we can’t do it alone. That’s why partnerships, like the one we’re celebrating with MTSU, are so important.”

“We are proud to become the only public university in the state to partner with this nationally recognized network of college-preparatory schools,” MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee said. “We see this as an extension of our commitment to student success, as well as the many programs we have in place to help support traditionally underserved populations reach their educational goals.

“With more than 90 KIPP Nashville applicants for our Fall 2017 class, we are the number one school choice for students in the region, so I’m pleased to learn KIPP counselors are encouraging students to seek out schools like MTSU that have support service similar to those offered by the preparatory school.”

McPhee offered a bit of a surprise after the signing, telling the gathering — including 30 students in the “MTSU Class” — that he will become a mentor to them and keep up with their progress, plus invite them to campus and his home.

Established in 2005, KIPP Nashville currently educates more than 1,300 students at the elementary, middle, and high school level. KIPP Nashville’s college prep public schools are tuition-free and open to all. Currently, 76 percent of students are African American and 85 percent are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. KIPP Nashville currently has 81 students enrolled in college, including 10 at MTSU.

With their Finish Line Scholarship initiative — a universitywide commitment to helping students graduate in four years — and Scholars Academy, MTSU already has a proven track record of providing support for its students and is a natural fit for this ongoing partnership.

“MTSU has done an outstanding job supporting KIPP Nashville alumni over the years, and we are excited for more KIPP students to join their community and become Blue Raiders,” Randy Dowell, KIPP Nashville executive director, said. “We have a shared vision of seeing more students excel in college and beyond, and will work with MTSU to ensure that KIPP students have the support that they need to succeed.”

“I am excited to hear about the partnership, because not only are we spreading the team and family motto, but we are also creating bigger and better opportunities for future scholars,” KIPP Academy Nashville alumna and MTSU freshman Deyauna Cook, said.

As youngsters in the “MTSU Class” pose with them, KIPP Academy Middle School Principal Laura Miguez Howarth, left, Executive Director Randy Dowell, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and MTSU freshman and KIPP alumna Deyauna Cook are shown following a memorandum of understanding signing between the two institutions Nov. 1 at the Nashville charter school. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

As youngsters in the “MTSU Class” pose with them, KIPP Academy Middle School Principal Laura Miguez Howarth, left, Executive Director Randy Dowell, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and MTSU freshman and KIPP alumna Deyauna Cook are shown following a memorandum of understanding signing between the two institutions Nov. 1 at the Nashville charter school. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

KIPP is a national network of 200 schools in 20 states and Washington, D.C. educating 80,000 students in pre-K through 12th grade. KIPP has college partnerships with more than 80 colleges and universities and 2,400 KIPP students are attending a KIPP college partner school this year. MTSU and Vanderbilt University are the two institutions in Tennessee currently involved in the KIPP College Partnership program. You can view a complete list of KIPP’s college partners here.

KIPP students nationwide have a track record of completing college at higher rates than national averages. According to 2010 U.S. Census data, 31 percent of Americans ages 25-29 have earned a college degree. For students in the bottom economic quartile, only 10 percent complete college by their mid-20s.

As of fall 2015, 44 percent of KIPP students have earned a four-year college degree after finishing eighth grade at a KIPP middle school 10 or more years ago. Nationally, KIPP students complete college at a rate that is above the national average for all students and more than four times the rate than that of students from similar economic backgrounds.

About KIPP Nashville

KIPP Nashville, part of a national network of college-preparatory public charter schools, educates students from Kindergarten through college graduation. KIPP Nashville has four schools across three campuses in East and North Nashville: KIPP Academy Nashville (MS); KIPP Nashville Collegiate High School; KIPP Nashville College Prep (MS); and KIPP Kirkpatrick Elementary. KIPP schools educate more than 1,300 students. To learn more about the KIPP Foundation, visit http://www.kipp.org/.

 

— Erin Holt (holt@kippnashville.org)

mtsu-kipp3-72

Commentary: True Blue Tour stop yields amazing MTSU reconnection

This is a story about the past and the present; it’s about words, constructive criticism, business cards and about a former MTSU student and a retired faculty member whose advice steered the pupil to an award-winning, 36-year (and counting) career in broadcasting.

How’s that for an introduction to an amazing (at least for me and several others) story that began at the MTSU True Blue Tour in Huntsville, Alabama, and ended with lunch with a friend and a friend of a friend the next day at the Raider Zone in the James Union Building.

For starters, the True Blue Tour is an event where we take MTSU on the road to seven major cities in Tennessee and also to Huntsville, Atlanta and Bowling Green and Louisville, Kentucky. MTSU administrators, admissions recruiters and staff, academic advisers and others recruit top students across the South at the student receptions.

MTSU College of Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson, left, chats with WHNT-TV anchor and MTSU alumnus Jerry Hayes Oct. 11 during the True Blue Tour visit to Huntsville, Ala. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

MTSU College of Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson, left, chats with WHNT-TV anchor and MTSU alumnus Jerry Hayes Oct. 11 during the True Blue Tour visit to Huntsville, Ala. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

I am there in a reporter/photo journalist/media relations capacity to invite local newspapers and television stations to cover our event and then to document it for www.mtsunews.com.

Working in the quiet confines of an office provided to me on the first floor of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center around 7:30 p.m., I hurriedly was wrapping up the prepping of digital photos and captions to send them out to media outlets in Alabama.

My cellphone rings. Andrew Oppmann, vice president of marketing and communications at MTSU, informs me that “a local news anchor” was asking for me. I knew three broadcasting alumni from our College of Media and Entertainment had paid a visit either at lunch or earlier that evening.

Once I reached the second-floor stage area, Andrew stood with a man I did not recognize. But when I was introduced to Jerry Hayes of WHNT-TV — News 19, the CBS affiliate in Huntsville — I recalled 2015 alumnus Chris Davis mentioning Mr. Hayes following lunch. Chris talked about how Jerry had been there 36 years and is an institution in North Alabama.

Andrew wanted to make sure our guest would spend time with MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee.

randy-weiler-column-sigThe combination of Andrew, Alumni Relations’ Paul Wydra and myself waited patiently 30 minutes as four or five small groups of people spent time with the president.

While waiting, Jerry reflected on his years at MTSU, mentioning legendary track and field coach Dean Hayes, Chris Clark (41-year veteran WTVF NewsChannel5 news anchor who now teaches at MTSU), the dorm he once lived in while a student that was leveled to help make way for a new Science Building in 2014), former university photographer Jack Ross, some “God moments” that involved his immediate family and Dr. Ralph Hillman, a professor and longtime (1974-2002) faculty member.

“Dr. Hillman told me I was never going to make it in broadcasting,” Jerry Hayes recalled. “I told him that I didn’t understand because I was making B’s in his class.

“Knowing I wanted to be a broadcaster and anchor, he told me I needed to change the way I talked,” said Hayes, who had but one business card that I snapped up before Paul could take it.

“I was also working at (radio station) WMOT on campus and I don’t know if he had ever listened to me on air, but one day after class, he pulled me aside,” Hayes added. “He smiled and said, “You’re not going to make it in broadcasting unless you lose that southern accent and change the way you sound. He said I sounded like I had fallen off a hay wagon.”

Andrew, Paul or maybe Jerry said they wondered whatever happened to Hillman and if he was still around.

Once on the bus ride back to Murfreesboro, my mind diverted to photos and captions and away from Jerry Hayes.

Sixteen hours later, I join friend Charlie Gregory, the Campus Recreation Center director, for lunch. Having paid and then selected my food, I made my way toward Charlie, who says, “Ralph and I are sitting over there,” as he points to a table.

true blue tour square signI began eating. I knew I had eaten one other time with Charlie and his friend, but I did not recall his name. I told them about a joyful blessing from earlier that day, then began talking about the True Blue Tour trip to Huntsville.

Charlie Gregory

Charlie Gregory

For whatever reason, my story started focusing on the gentleman wearing the suit and tie and 36-year broadcasting veteran in Huntsville who talked about his days as an MTSU student. They heard my version of the faculty member who was going to fail his student.

The man to my left started talking about a student he had 36 years ago who wanted to break into broadcasting. The more he talked, the more I thought he was talking about Hayes.

I turned and said, “Ralph, what is your last name?

He said Hillman.

Charlie said I nearly fell out of the chair in disbelief.

I pulled out Jerry Hayes’ business card. Ralph Hillman gave me his. I immediately called the number to reach Jerry at his desk and left a voice mail. Then I called the station’s news desk and left my name and number.

About 10 minutes later, my phone rang. It was Jerry. After exchanging greetings, I said, “I want to hand the phone to someone who wants to talk to you.” They immediately reconnected and spent about 10 minutes or so on the phone.

“You made my year,” Hayes said to Hillman near the end of their conversation.

In an email response, Hayes said, “I believe it was one of those God moments. My intention that night was to stop by and say hello to President McPhee and congratulate him on what he has been able to do with his team at the university.”

“It (MTSU) is so much bigger and better than when I was there and as an alumni, I’m extremely proud of the direction the university is heading,” he added. “When I left, I thought to myself, I hope I didn’t talk too much about myself. But I realize now that if I hadn’t, you would have not known about Dr. Hillman and the influence he had on my life and career. So, yes, I think there may have been a little divine intervention there.”

“Had Ralph Hillman never taken the time to have that conversation with me, as I’m sure he has done with other students, my career wouldn’t have lasted as long as it has,” Hayes added. “That little bit of caring advice changed my life.”

It was both humbling and gratifying to be in the right place at the right time, to listen and make mental notes, to go to lunch the next day and not pass on the opportunity because I was too busy.

I suspect there are many Ralph Hillman stories to be told. And not just him, but other MTSU faculty and administrators who impacted students’ lives for the better.

Randy Weiler is a content specialist in the MTSU Office of News and Media Relations. He is traveling with MTSU staff on this year’s True Blue Tour. Reach him at Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu.

 

Olivia M. Woods, MTSU’s first African-American undergrad, dead at 96

The MTSU community is mourning the passing of its first African-American undergraduate student.

Olivia Murray Woods died Oct. 2 at the Bridge at Hickory Woods, an assisted living center, in La Vergne, Tennessee. She was 96 years old.

Olivia M. Woods

Olivia M. Woods, 2012

Visitation with her family is set from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 224 S. Maney Ave. in Murfreesboro. A celebration of her life will begin at noon at Allen Chapel AME, and burial will follow at Evergreen Cemetery.

Scales and Sons Funeral Home of Murfreesboro is handling arrangements.

A native of Murfreesboro, Olivia Murray was born April 15, 1920. She attended both Bradley Elementary School and Holloway High School, where her love of education survived both segregation and the Great Depression.

“Her teachers really stressed it, even back in those times,” said her younger son, George Woods.

She attended Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College, now Tennessee State University, before marrying Collier Woods Sr., who also was an educator, starting a family and teaching part-time.

George Woods said his mother enrolled at then-Middle Tennessee State Teachers’ College in fall 1962 as a transfer student after her husband told her that his salary alone would not be enough to put their three children through college.

“All she wanted to do was to get her degree so she could go back to work,” said George Woods, who also is an MTSU alumnus.

Mr. Woods said his mother told him about only one racially tinged incident that occurred during an orientation session: she said a white man said, “It’s getting awfully dark in here” while walking past her on campus.

Dr. Quill E. Cope, then president of MTSU, heard the comment and told the assembly he wanted to talk to whoever made that remark at the conclusion of orientation. From that point on, Woods experienced no difficulties, according to her son.

Olivia M. Woods, circa 1965

Olivia M. Woods, circa 1965

Olivia M. Woods, circa 1975

Olivia M. Woods, circa 1975

“In passing, some (students) might kind of shun me, you know,” Woods said in a June 19, 2001, oral history interview for MTSU’s Albert Gore Research Center. “But that didn’t matter, because I was there to get an education, to get a job, so we could educate my children.”

Olivia Woods graduated in May 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a minor in humanities. She obtained her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction in 1974. By then, Woods said, blacks were more readily accepted on campus.

“But most of the people who were going nights and doing intersession (early summer courses), they were like me,” Woods said in the 2001 oral history interview.

“They were more interested in getting that degree to help them further their education and increase their pay than they were in trying to prove something.”

Woods taught second- and third-graders full-time in Murfreesboro City schools, retiring in 1986 after 21 years as a teacher.

She was a member of Mount Zion Baptist Church as a child and joined Allen Chapel AME Church after marrying her husband.

MTSU honored her as one of the community’s “unsung heroes” at the February 2012 Unity Luncheon celebrating Black History Month.

In addition to George Woods, survivors include another son, Collier Jr.; a daughter, Debi Woods Harris; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

You can listen to Olivia Murray Woods’ 2001 oral history interview here. A 2011 MTSU Centennial Celebration Countdown video interview that includes footage of Woods is below.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

MTSU names 2016-17 Distinguished, Young Alumni honorees

Middle Tennessee State University is again recognizing outstanding alumni who represent excellence and distinction through their professional careers, loyal support and service to the broader community.

From 1960 to the present, the MTSU Alumni Association has recognized accomplished alumni with the association’s highest honor: the Distinguished Alumni Award. This year’s winner is Jeff Creek, a highly acclaimed petroleum chemistry expert.

Distinguished Alumni graphic croppedThis year’s Young Alumnus Award, given to a younger graduate making a positive impact in the world, goes to Bobbie Jo Meredith. She has become a key figure with Schneider Electric and recruiting girls and young women to the STEM, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics, fields.

For the third consecutive year, the True Blue Citations of Distinction are being awarded. Categories and this year’s winners include:

  • Achievement in Education for current or retired MTSU faculty — Dan Pfeifer, who has spent 25 years sharing his craft with MTSU recording industry students.
  • Achievement in Education outside MTSU — Helen Campbell, an innovative Rutherford County Schools educator.
  • Service to the University — Cynthia Chappell, who is a driving force for the MTSU alumni chapter in Houston, Texas.
  • Service to the Community — Elizabeth “Libby” Green, a lifelong Murfreesboro volunteer and member of the MTSU Signal Society who has been giving financially for 25 years or more.

All recipients will receive their awards during Homecoming Week at the Distinguished Alumni Awards Reception, which will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, in the Sam H. Ingram Building, 2269 Middle Tennessee Blvd.

The public is invited. It is a complimentary event, but organizers request RSVPs to plan for food and space. To register, visit http://www.mtalumni.com and click on “Distinguished Alumni Awards Reception” under events.

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

In addition to the awards ceremony, all will be recognized during the MTSU Homecoming Parade and during the Blue Raiders homecoming game against rival Western Kentucky.

Here are more details about the 2016-17 honorees.

Distinguished Alumnus
Jeff Creek

Jeff Creek

Jeff Creek (Class of 1967), Chemistry and Mathematics

Considered a petroleum chemistry global expert, Creek retired in January 2016 after 38 years with Chevron Energy Technology Company. The Katy, Texas, resident joined Chevron in 1977 and has been the leader in the company’s phase behavior and thermodynamics of hydrocarbon systems for more than 20 years. In 2013, he was named “Chevron Fellow,” the company’s highest honor. Creek continues collaborations with Rice University as an adjunct professor there in the Department of Chemical and Biomechanical Engineering and affiliate professor with the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Colorado School of Mines.

In late September, Creek is scheduled to receive the Projects, Facilities and Construction Award at the Society of Petroleum Engineers Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai World Trade Center. In August and in February/March, he co-chaired sessions at major conferences in his field of expertise. An internationally sought speaker, he has a lengthy list of publications to his credit.

Young Alumnus
Bobbie Jo Meredith

Bobbie Jo Meredith

Bobbie Jo Meredith (Class of 2005), Computer Engineering Technology

While an MTSU student, Meredith was heavily involved in the Experimental Vehicles Program and participated two years in the NASA lunar rover competition. The Murfreesboro resident started her professional career as a test engineer for Schneider Electric and now manages a global product portfolio between the United States, India, Canada and France. Her list of volunteer involvements with women and girls in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — is lengthy.

She is an MTSU WISTEM (Women in STEM) and Engineering Technology board member, and volunteered at Expanding Your Horizons in Math and Science, Girl Day, DigiGirlz and other events, and brought Schneider Electric as a sponsor in several of these. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Middle Tennessee named Meredith one of Nashville’s Top 30 Under 30 in 2014.

 

True Blue Citations of Distinction

Achievement in Education (MTSU faculty)

Dan Pfeifer

Dan Pfeifer

Dan Pfeifer (Class of 1983), Music

Pfeifer, who is from Readyville, Tennessee, recently completed his 25th year as an MTSU faculty member in the Department of Recording Industry. He witnessed the creation of the department and has taught 11 different undergraduate courses and eight graduate courses, with a new master’s of fine arts course scheduled for spring 2017. He received the MTSU Outstanding Teacher Award in 1997 and served as Faculty Senate president in 2003. Before coming to MTSU, he worked in the industry serving as audio engineer and producer for some of those top names in music, including B.B. King, ZZ Top, Al Green and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Pfeifer brings an incredible level of real-world experience to MTSU and freely shares that knowledge and connections with MTSU students. He is an audio engineering expert who is sought after to train employees at companies that have included National Public Radio in Washington, D.C., NHK Broadcasting in Japan and Turner Studios in Atlanta.

Achievement in Education (non-MTSU)

Helen Campbell

Helen Campbell

Helen Campbell (Classes of ’01, ’08, ’14)

History, Secondary Education, K-12 Administration and Supervision, Curriculum and Instruction

By age 35, Campbell had already served four years as an assistant principal and two years as a principal. At Walter Hill Elementary, she created an innovative way to learn at school with her “House” program, which she has presented many times at conferences since its inception. The “House” plan has a Harry Potter-type theme with a twist and is receiving media coverage for its creativity.

Campbell’s House program promotes healthy competition and rewards positive behavior. Don Odom, director of Rutherford County Schools, said the results show it’s working. School morale is on the rise, teachers are more actively engaging with students and test scores are increasing.

 

Service to the University

Cynthia Chappell

Cynthia Chappell

Cynthia Chappell (Classes of 1971 and ’76), English and Biology

Chappell founded the MTSU Houston Alumni Chapter. She has taken it upon herself to write bylaws, establish a leadership team, develop goals and initiatives and lead the university alumni efforts in Houston, the nation’s fourth most-populated city.

Through Chappell’s leadership, the group is helping with recruiting new students to MTSU, helping students relocate to Houston after graduation, linking alumni and new graduates for mentoring and has created a social group for those interested in meeting other MTSU alumni.

Service to the Community

Elizabeth "Libby" Green

Elizabeth “Libby” Green

Elizabeth “Libby” Green (Class of 1978), History

Green, who has made a career of volunteering, retired from human resources at Pinnacle Bank and was the past interim director of Main Street Murfreesboro. Her volunteer career includes serving many years on the Oaklands Association board of trustees and also planning several events for their benefit.

Green, who lives in Murfreesboro, has built three homes for Habitat for Humanity and served on many Rutherford County Heart Ball committees. At MTSU, she is currently a member of the Friends of Liberal Arts Board and a former adjunct history professor for several years. She frequently is a history department guest speaker. The Signal Society member has served on MTSU search committees.

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

Pigskin Pre-Game event kicks off MTSU football season in a big way

The annual Pigskin Pre-Game once again kicked off the MTSU Blue Raiders football season for alumni and friends of the university.

The event, a fundraiser for the Alumni Legacy Scholarship, was held Aug. 27 at The Grove at Williamson Place near Interstate 24.

MTSU football coach Rick Stockstill, right, and Melinda Samuels share a light moment during the annual Pigskin Pre-Game Aug. 27 at The Grove at Williamson Place. (MTSU photo by Kimi Conro)

MTSU football coach Rick Stockstill, right, and Melinda Samuels share a light moment during the annual Pigskin Pre-Game Aug. 27 at The Grove at Williamson Place. (MTSU photos by Kimi Conro)

“Pigskin Pre-Game is a great fundraising event for a great cause, the Alumni Legacy Scholarship awarded to children or grandchildren of MTSU alumni,” said Paul Wydra, an MTSU alumni relations assistant director.

“We have awarded almost $50,000 in scholarships during the last five years, largely because of the support we receive from the community, our terrific sponsors and the MTSU faculty and staff for events like Pigskin Pre-Game every year,” Wydra added.

The increasingly popular craft beer breweries added to the evening’s festivities, Wydra said.

Guests enjoyed food from the Tennessee Pork Producers Association and The Blue Porch, adult beverages and soft drinks, live entertainment, door prizes and more.

Coach Rick Stockstill and members of his staff and other coaches in the athletics department attended.

Sponsors included Stones River Total Beverages, Mayday Brewery, Bad Idea Brewing Company, Tennessee Craft Distributors LLC, MTSU Vending Services and Pepsi.

For information about the 2017 event, sponsorship opportunities or to reserve tickets, call 615-898-2922 or visit www.mtalumni.com.

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

People attending the annual Pigskin Pre-Game to raise funds for the Rutherford County Scholarship wait their turn in line for food Aug. 27. The MTSU Alumni Association event took place at The Grove at Williamson Place for the second straight year. (MTSU photo by Kimi Conro)

People attending the annual Pigskin Pre-Game to raise funds for the Rutherford County Alumni Legacy Scholarship wait their turn in line for food Aug. 27. The MTSU Alumni Association event took place at The Grove at Williamson Place for the second straight year.

‘Dog days’ equal cool cash for young inventor on ‘MTSU On the Record’

A former MTSU student who used his education to turn a dog’s playtime into a lucrative career was the guest on a recent “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Adam Harrington

Adam Harrington

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Adam Harrington first aired Aug. 29 on WMOT-FM (89.5 and www.wmot.org ). You can listen to their conversation below.

Harrington, who majored in entrepreneurship, is the inventor of the Tuggo Water-Weighted Dog Toy.

The hard plastic ball, which has a sturdy rope running through it, comes in two sizes: 7 inches around for small dogs and 10 inches for larger dogs.

After a human fills the ball with water or sand, the dog can grasp the rope in its teeth and drag the toy around the yard for play. If other dogs — or playful humans — get involved, a lively game of tug-of-war ensues and everybody gets some fun-filled exercise.Tuggo toy logo web

Harrington acquired venture capital for his invention via a recent Kickstarter campaign, exceeding his goal of $163,212.

The durable Tuggo toy is available at pet stores and online at www.tuggodogtoy.com. Harrington continues to promote his product at trade shows, and it’s also been displayed on NBC’s “Today” and reviewed in The New York Times.

“A lot of my background is marketing,” said Harrington. “I think that’s where MTSU really helped a lot. It showed the importance of graphics design, fliers … brand colors, etc.”

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.

Ginger, Maximus and Willow play with their Tuggo dog toy, invented by former MTSU entrepreneurship major Adam Harrington. The toy's been featured on NBC's "Today Show' and in The New York Times. (photo submitted)

Doggy pals Ginger, Maximus and Willow play with their Tuggo dog toy, invented by former MTSU entrepreneurship major Adam Harrington. The toy’s been featured on NBC’s “Today Show’ and in The New York Times, and its website includes more photos and videos of the toy in use, including some unexpected users. (photo submitted)

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