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Alumnus with bird’s-eye view of aviation history plans April 2 lecture

An MTSU alumnus who flew into World War II and Cold War aviation history will discuss his adventures in a free public lecture on campus Thursday, April 2.

Click on the poster above to see a larger version.

Click on the poster above to see a larger version.

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. William J. “Greg” Gregory is set to speak at 5:30 p.m. April 2 on “Leading and Living in Turbulent Times: The Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, and the Development of Aviation.”

His talk is set in Room 204 of MTSU’s Todd Hall, and a free public reception will follow. A searchable campus map with parking details is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParking14-15.

Gregory flew his first airplane as an MTSU student in 1940 and went on to fly missions over North Africa and Europe in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

When the U.S. Air Force was created, he served as the commander of the high-altitude reconnaissance U-2 squadron, which first identified the Soviet arms build-up during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and the mounting tensions in Vietnam.

The experiences gave him a unique and personal perspective on leading and living in the turbulent decades of the 1960s and 1970s.

Gregory served for more than 30 years in the U.S. Air Force as a commander and pilot. He did not earn his degree from MTSU because he left school as a junior to join the military, but he’s kept close ties to the university, even creating a scholarship for students from Trousdale and Macon counties.

He retired from active duty in 1975 and worked for 15 years as assistant director of workers’ compensation in the Texas attorney general’s office. Now, at age 93, Gregory is an avid cyclist and world traveler as well as a self-described “devoted grandfather.” He’s also the guest on the next edition of “MTSU On the Record,” which will air 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, March 29, on WMOT-FM (89.5 and www.wmot.org ).

Gregory’s visit is part of the College of Liberal Arts Military Lecture Series. For more information, contact Connie Huddleston at connie.huddleston@mtsu.edu.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Aviation ace recalls WWII, Cold War service on ‘MTSU On the Record’

A sharecropper’s son who flew into the pages of history will be the guest on the next edition of the “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Host Gina Logue’s interview with retired Col. William “Greg” Gregory will air from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, March 29, on WMOT-FM (89.5 and www.wmot.org ).

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. William "Greg" Gregory, an MTSU alumnus, pauses for a photo near the university's airplane fleet at Murfreesboro Airport in this 2013 file photo. Gregory is the guest on the March 23 and 29 editions of the “MTSU On the Record” radio program. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. William “Greg” Gregory, an MTSU alumnus, pauses for a photo near the university’s airplane fleet at Murfreesboro Airport in this 2013 file photo. Gregory is the guest on the March 29 edition of the “MTSU On the Record” radio program. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

The aviation ace will speak about his extraordinary career at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 2, in Room 204 of the Todd Building on campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Gregory, who flew his first airplane as an MTSU student in 1940, went on to fly missions over North Africa and Europe in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

After the creation of the U.S. Air Force, Gregory commanded a squadron of U-2 pilots who flew reconnaissance missions over Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

The photographs these pilots took confirmed the presence of Soviet-made nuclear missiles in Cuba, only 90 miles from the American continent. The pictures and information they obtained helped inform the decisions made by President John F. Kennedy, his cabinet and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“It was really a tense time and hard to realize how close we came to going to war,” said Gregory. “Kennedy’s staff was about equally divided between the half that wanted to knock out the missiles immediately and the other half that wanted to reason with (Soviet Premier Nikita) Khrushchev.”

Though Gregory never graduated from MTSU because he joined the Army in his junior year, he has remained a solid supporter of the university, establishing a scholarship to MTSU for students from either Trousdale or Macon counties.

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

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

MTSU Alumni Association seeks nominations for awards

A year after expanding the MTSU Distinguished Alumni Awards, prominent alums praise the process that brings distinction to the honorees.

And for 2014-15 MTSU National Alumni Association President Paula Mansfield and Distinguished Alumni Awards selection committee chair Chip Walters, they want the word to spread to as many MTSU graduates as possible to obtain the best nominees for consideration.

Distinguished Alumni graphic croppedThe awards, which will include an overall Distinguished Alumni recipient, recognize those with prolonged records of achievement who have made outstanding contributions to society and who exemplify the ideals for which MTSU stands in extraordinary ways.

People are encouraged to nominate someone for an award. Criteria and nomination forms can be found at www.mtalumni.com/awards. Nominations for all awards are due Tuesday, March 31.

Paula Mansfield

Paula Mansfield

“Honoring our outstanding alumni is a high priority for the MTSU National Alumni board,” said Mansfield (Class of ’82). “We want to bring honor and distinction to those who have achieved greatness and notoriety in their respected fields.”

A local businesswoman, Mansfield said the committee has “developed six categories in which our alumni can be recognized by their university and want to encourage people to nominate someone for an award.”

Mansfield serves as senior vice president/ community banking relationship manager with First Tennessee Bank in Murfreesboro.

Walters (Class of ’85), voice of the Blue Raiders in football and men’s basketball, said the committee “is very happy with how the new format was embraced and the excitement level over the new True Blue Citations of Distinctions.”

Chip Walters

Chip Walters

“We hope more and more of our alums learn about this awards program and take a few moments to get involved and nominate those deserving individuals who are True Blue and heart,” added Walters, who works with Blue Raider Sports Properties.

Honorees selected in late summer will have a celebration in their honor during Homecoming Week, as well as be recognized at the Homecoming Parade and football game.

The dates for Homecoming Week and the Homecoming Game have yet to be determined.

The True Blue Citations of Distinction will include awards for the following categories:

  • Young Alumni Achievement;
  • Achievement in Education — MTSU Faculty;
  • Achievement in Education — Non-MTSU Faculty;
  • Service to Community; and
  • The David Cullum Award for Service to the University, named in memory of the former president of the National Alumni Association, Blue Raider Athletic Association and MTSU Foundation, who died May 2, 2013. He was a member of the Class of ’55.

For more information or if you have questions regarding the nomination process, call 615-898-2922.

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

Grammy-winning MTSU alumnus offers advice, scholarship (+VIDEO)

Grammy-winning co-writer and MTSU alumnus Torrance Esmond had a few words of advice for students crowding into a mass communications classroom March 3.

“You will save a WHOLE lot of money if you really pay attention at MTSU,” the 2003 music business graduate said during a daylong visit to campus spent mostly with College of Mass Communication and Department of Recording Industry students and faculty. You can watch an excerpt from the conversation in the video below.

“I know,” Esmond continued. “I sat in class sometimes like you and thought, ‘I ain’t gonna use any of this stuff!’ But all of my peers, I’m light years ahead of them in setting up music publishing, administrative work, things like that. Picking out a good attorney and a good manager? How will you know what’s good or not if you didn’t listen?”

MTSU alumnus Torrance Esmond, left, and Beverly Keel, chair of the Department of Recording Industry, react to a student's question during Esmond's return visit to campus March 3. Esmond, who’s known professionally as “Street Symphony,” and fellow former MTSU student Lecrae Moore co-wrote "Messengers,” winner of the Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song during last month’s 57th annual ceremonies in Los Angeles, for Moore’s newest release, “Anomaly.” (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

MTSU alumnus Torrance Esmond, left, and Beverly Keel, chair of the Department of Recording Industry, react to a student’s question during Esmond’s return visit to campus March 3. Esmond, who’s known professionally as “Street Symphony,” and fellow former MTSU student Lecrae Moore co-wrote “Messengers,” winner of the Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song during last month’s 57th annual ceremonies in Los Angeles, for Moore’s newest release, “Anomaly.” (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Esmond and fellow former MTSU student Lecrae Moore co-wrote “Messengers,” winner of the Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song during last month’s 57th annual ceremonies in Los Angeles, for Moore’s newest release, “Anomaly.”

Esmond, who’s known professionally as “Street Symphony,” also was a co-writer on a second album cut on “Anomaly” and co-wrote nearly half the songs on “Gravity,” Moore’s Best Gospel Album winner at the 2013 Grammys.

Esmond also served as executive producer on Moore’s 2013 “Church Clothes, Vol. 2″ release, was a co-writer on albums by Andy Mineo and Derek Minor and contributed to Keyshia Cole’s 2008 Best Contemporary R&B Album Grammy nominee, “Just Like You.”

Lecrae Moore

Lecrae Moore

Formerly vice president of A&R for Moore’s Reach Records label, Esmond started his own production company, Track or Die, in 2014.

He has been working with fellow Memphis natives Yo Gotti and Don Trip as well as producing a track with Grammy-nominated rapper 2 Chainz.

After providing a brief history of his work from MTSU to the present —including the revelation that he bought some of his first production equipment on credit cards he was pitched outside the university’s Keathley University Center — Esmond also explained to the student audience how he’s learned to listen to artists, recalling an encounter in which he and an artist had a brief studio standoff as each claimed they knew better than the other what the recording needed.

“I was saying, ‘Well, I’VE got a Grammy nomination, so I know what I’M doing,’” he recalled with a laugh. “You shouldn’t get so caught up in your production that you don’t listen to the artist. You should allow the artist to be creative, too.”

Reminding the students about the importance of community ties, Esmond also announced that he has established the “Street Symphony Scholarship” for MTSU recording industry students. The $750-per-semester award “hopefully should cover your books,” he said.

“I want y’all to make me one promise, though. Y’all stay away from those credit cards over at the KUC,” he added to laughter and applause from the students.

Almost 20 MTSU alumni or former students and faculty from around the university have been nominated for Grammy Awards in the last five years. Nine have won Grammys so far, including some repeat recipients, in categories from classical to gospel to bluegrass.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

MTSU alumni Lecrae Moore and Torrance Esmond, left and second from left, accept the Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song Grammy for "Messengers" Feb. 9 in Los Angeles with co-writers Ran Jackson of The Daylights, Joseph Prielozny, Kenneth Chris Mackey and Ricky Jackson of The Daylights and presenter Gloria Gaynor. (photo courtesy of Grammy.com)

MTSU alumni Lecrae Moore and Torrance Esmond, left and second from left, accept the Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song Grammy for “Messengers” Feb. 8 in Los Angeles with co-writers Ran Jackson of The Daylights, Joseph Prielozny, Kenneth Chris Mackey and Ricky Jackson of The Daylights and presenter Gloria Gaynor. (photo courtesy of Grammy.com)

http://youtu.be/41uNS4tT6pk

MTSU alumnus Reid tells aspiring journalists ‘diversity is key’

After spending years behind the camera crafting news stories as a top decision-maker, MTSU alumnus Jeffery Reid (B.S. ’81) returned to campus Monday, Feb. 23, to tell aspiring minority journalists that opportunities await if they’re prepared to seize them.

MTSU College of Mass Communication alumnus Jeffery Reid ('81), now an executive producer at WXIA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Atlanta, talks about the popular series he produced while at CNN entitled "Black in America." Reid spoke about journalism and media diversity on Monday, Feb. 23, at the College of Education Building as part of MTSU's Black History Month celebration. (MTSU photo by Jimmy Hart)

MTSU College of Mass Communication alumnus Jeffery Reid (B.S. ’81), now an executive producer at WXIA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Atlanta, talks about the popular series he produced while at CNN, “Black in America.” Reid spoke about journalism and media diversity Monday, Feb. 23, at the College of Education Building as part of MTSU’s Black History Month celebration. (MTSU photos by Jimmy Hart)

CNN’s first black executive producer now works as manager of enterprise content at WXIA-TV 11Alive, the NBC affiliate in Atlanta, and still pursues stories that matter.

Reid returned to campus to give a guest lecture entitled “From the Front Lines of Media: Media Diversity” inside the College of Education Building as part of MTSU’s ongoing Black History Month celebration.

Jeffery Reid

Jeffery Reid

A native of the rural town of Whitwell, Tennessee, Reid said he came to MTSU as a criminal justice major and switched to recording industry management before eventually settling on broadcast journalism after hearing an inspiring talk from Chris Clark, the longtime award-winning anchor for WTVF-TV NewsChannel5 in Nashville and now an instructor at MTSU.

“For the last 34 years I’ve been documenting history. That’s what we do as journalists, we document history,” Reid told his audience. “… No matter what degree you’re pursuing, be passionate about it.”

Reid paused throughout his presentation to show the audience examples of some of his most favorite work related to black history, from a documentary revisiting the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four little girls to the award-winning “Black in America” series with Soledad O’Brien he produced while at CNN.

Throughout his 30-year-plus career, Reid has overseen coverage of a variety of historic events: the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, six presidential elections, the killing of Osama Bin Laden. “You name it, I’ve covered it,” he said.

Mass Comm logoBut Reid said he considers the “Black in America” series he began in 2007 as the “defining moment” of his career thus far. The series of documentaries, one of CNN’s most successful franchises, were made to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by examining the state of black America today.

MTSU alumnus Jeffery Reid, center, chats with College of Mass Communication Dean Ken Paulson, right, following his lecture Monday, Feb. 23. At left is Reid's son, Jeffery Reid Jr., a sophomore mass comm major, and in the background is Dr. Dwight Brooks, director of the School of Journalism.

MTSU alumnus Jeffery Reid, center, chats with College of Mass Communication Dean Ken Paulson, right, following his lecture Monday, Feb. 23. At left is Reid’s son, Jeffery Reid Jr., a sophomore mass comm major.  Dr. Dwight Brooks, director of the School of Journalism, is at the computer in the background.

“It’s projects like that where being a journalist and being a manager at a network … where you can explore issues, sometimes hard issues, in a way where you can look for answers,” he said, pointing to issues such as the aftermath of the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York.

In the wake of those incidents, Reid, in his current role at Gannett-owned WXIA-TV, recently produced a series of town hall meetings to discuss ways of fostering better relationships and greater trust between police and the communities they serve.

Reid’s son, Jeffery Reid Jr., introduced Reid to the audience. The younger Reid, who is following in his father’s footsteps at MTSU, is currently a sophomore mass communication major and president of the university’s chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Reid Jr. said his father is “an avid believer in the saying ‘If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,’ and he has instilled that belief in his three children.”

Fielding questions from students as well as others in attendance, such as Mass Communication Dean Ken Paulson, the elder Reid told the roomful of young faces that:

  • Solid internships are critical to getting noticed by prospective media employers.
  • Networking is essential.
  • Being well read and having a versatile skill set is a must.
A student asks a question as others listen following MTSU alumnus Jeffery Reid's lecture Monday, Feb. 23.

A student asks a question as others listen following MTSU alumnus Jeffery Reid’s lecture Monday, Feb. 23.

“If you can write, produce and tell a good story, you’ll always have a job,” Reid said.

He encouraged aspiring journalists of color to seek decision-making positions such as executive producer, news director and editor that shape the way news is covered.

“You’re going to determine what stories (are told), you’re going to determine what reporters are covering,” he said. “That’s why diversity is key.”

Dr. Dwight Brooks

Dr. Dwight Brooks

Dr. Dwight Brooks, director of MTSU’s School of Journalism, applauded Reid’s commitment to his alma mater and the MTSU College of Mass Communication as one of nine “cornerstone donors” who contributed at least $10,000 for the college’s Center for Innovation in Media.

Located in the Bragg Mass Communication Building, the center houses all of the student-run media, plus the university’s National Public Radio affiliate, WMOT 89.5 FM, under one roof to facilitate cross-training and collaboration.

Brooks emphasized Reid’s efforts to come back to campus numerous times to engage students personally and to take a genuine interest in helping them jumpstart their careers. Reid also spoke to journalism classes earlier in the day.

“As they say, Jeffery Reid has talked the talk and walked the walk,” Brooks said. “We appreciate everything he has done for our university and our college.”

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

MTSU alumnus Jeffery Reid, third from right, takes a photo with members of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity following his lecture Monday at the College of Education Building.

MTSU alumnus Jeffery Reid, third from right, takes a photo with members of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity following his lecture Monday at the College of Education Building.

Alumni are ‘Messengers’ with Grammy songwriting win (+VIDEO)

One song carried the message of Grammy gold for a pair of former MTSU students Sunday night, Feb. 8.

MTSU alumni Lecrae Moore and Torrance Esmond, left and second from left, accept the Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song Grammy for "Messengers" Sunday night in Los Angeles with co-writers Ran Jackson of The Daylights, Joseph Prielozny, Kenneth Chris Mackey and Ricky Jackson of The Daylights and presenter Gloria Gaynor. (photo courtesy of Grammy.com)

MTSU alumni Lecrae Moore and Torrance Esmond, left and second from left, accept the Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song Grammy for “Messengers” Sunday night in Los Angeles with co-writers Ran Jackson of The Daylights, Joseph Prielozny, Kenneth Chris Mackey and Ricky Jackson of The Daylights. Presenter Gloria Gaynor is at far right; co-writers Joel and Luke Smallbone are not shown. (photo courtesy of Grammy.com)

“Messengers,” co-written by 2003 music business graduate Torrance Esmond and former student Lecrae Moore for Moore’s latest album, won the award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song during the 57th annual Grammy Award ceremonies at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The win was the second career Grammy for Moore, who’s known professionally by his first name. “Messengers,” which featured fellow Christian artists For God & Country, is part of Moore’s album “Anomaly.”

He won the Best Gospel Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards for his 2012 release “Gravity” and also was a co-writer of another of this year’s Best Gospel Performance/Song nominees, “Help” by Erica Campbell, on which he was a featured artist.

Moore also was nominated for a Best Rap Performance Grammy this year for “All I Need is You,” another cut from the “Anomaly” CD.

“Love and respect to everybody out here because this a celebration of gifts, and … you can’t celebrate gifts without celebrating the giver of all gifts,” Moore said Sunday night while accepting the award. “I want to celebrate Jesus for gifting us all with the gift of love and sacrifice.”

Grammy 2015 logo webHe also joked about the number of people on stage to accept the Grammy as he and Esmond stood with four of their other six co-writers. “It’s a basketball team!” Moore said.

Moore attended MTSU in 2000 and 2001, majoring in electronic media communication. A rapper, songwriter, record producer and actor, he also is the president, co-owner and co-founder of the independent record label Reach Records and co-founder and president of the nonprofit ReachLife Ministries.

He’s so far released seven solo studio albums, including “Anomaly,” which was the first to chart simultaneously atop Billboard’s Top 200 and gospel listings. Moore has been nominated multiple times as Artist of the Year at the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards.

Moore’s 2012 album, “Gravity,” debuted at No. 1 on iTunes. His 2013 Grammy win was the first in that category for a Christian hip-hop artist.

Esmond also was a co-writer on a second album cut on “Anomaly” and co-wrote nearly half the songs on “Gravity.” He served as executive producer on Moore’s 2013 “Church Clothes, Vol. 2″ release, was a co-writer on albums by Andy Mineo and Derek Minor and contributed to Keyshia Cole’s 2008 Best Contemporary R&B Album Grammy nominee, “Just Like You.”

Torrance "Street Symphony" Esmond

Torrance Esmond

Lecrae Moore

Lecrae Moore

Esmond, who’s known professionally as “Street Symphony,” was succinct in his celebration, tweeting “Thankful” with a photo of himself and his colleagues backstage after accepting the award.

“I have to thank Lecrae for the opportunity to work on the album,” Esmond said in a brief post-award interview. “Thank you to Reach Records for allowing us to have the opportunity, and thanks to the original ‘Messenger’ as well.”

The other songwriters included Ran and Ricky Jackson of The Daylights, Kenneth Chris Mackey, Joseph Prielozny and For King & Country’s Joel and Luke Smallbone.

Gloria Gaynor, beloved disco diva and a 1979 Grammy winner for the classic “I Will Survive,” presented the Grammy to the men in the pre-televised ceremony. Gaynor also was a nominee this year for Best Spoken Word Album for the audio version of her book “We Will Survive: True Stories of Encouragement, Inspiration and the Power of Song.”

You can watch their acceptance appearance in the video below.

http://youtu.be/ektwGF68eFY

MTSU alumnus Luke Laird and former student Jaren Johnston were nominated for Grammys in the Best Country Song category — Laird for co-writing both Kenny Chesney’s “American Kids” and Eric Church’s “Give Me Back My Hometown” and Johnston as a co-writer on “Meanwhile, Back at Mama’s,” a cut by Tim McGraw that features Faith Hill.

Luke Laird

Luke Laird

Jaren Johnston

Jaren Johnston

Music icon Glen Campbell won the Best Country Song Grammy — the sixth of his more than six-decade career — as co-writer of “I’m Not Gonna Miss You.”

The chart-topping Laird, who won the Grammy for Best Country Album in January 2014 for co-producing Kasey Musgraves’ “Same Trailer, Different Park,” also co-wrote a second song on Church’s Best Country Album Grammy nominee “The Outsiders” and an album cut on Miranda Lambert’s Grammy-winning “Platinum.”

Laird earned his MTSU music business degree in 2001 and has had more than 14 No. 1 singles since he signed his first publishing deal in 2002.

Johnston attended MTSU in 2000 and studied percussion. A singer and guitarist for The Cadillac Three and former front man for American Bang, Johnston also played, sang and co-wrote two songs on Dierks Bentley’s Best Country Album nominee “Riser.”

His “You Gonna Fly” was a No. 1 hit for Keith Urban. He’s also written for Chesney, McGraw, Meatloaf and Sara Evans.

Almost 20 MTSU alumni or former students and faculty from around the university have been nominated for Grammy Awards in the last five years. Seven have won Grammys so far, including some repeat recipients, in categories from classical to gospel to bluegrass.

You can read about more MTSU adventures during Grammy week here and here.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

MTSU honors alumna, Nashville Grammy chief Warwick, at L.A. event

LOS ANGELES — MTSU honored Alicia Warwick, executive director of The Recording Academy’s Nashville chapter, at a Feb. 7 event in downtown Los Angeles as part of the university’s second annual outreach during the Grammy Awards.

MTSU alum Pete Fisher (left), general manager of the Grand Old Opry, joins Erika Nichols, general manager of Nashville's Bluebird CafŽ (second from left) and Ken Paulson, dean of the College of Mass Communication (right), in congratulating MTSU alumna Alicia Warwick, executive director of The Recording Academy's Nashville chapter (second from right), at a Saturday, Feb. 7, brunch in Warwick's honor sponsored by MTSU in downtown Los Angeles before the Grammy awards. (MTSU photos by Andrew Oppmann)

MTSU alumnus Pete Fisher, left, general manager of the Grand Old Opry, joins Erika Nichols, general manager of Nashville’s Bluebird CafeŽ, second from left, and Ken Paulson, dean of the College of Mass Communication to congratulate MTSU alumna Alicia Warwick, executive director of The Recording Academy’s Nashville chapter, at a Feb. 7 brunch in Warwick’s honor. The event was sponsored by MTSU in downtown Los Angeles before the Grammy awards. (MTSU photos by Andrew Oppmann)

About 50 recording industry executives, artists and university alumni, students and supporters attended a brunch on the rooftop of The Standard hotel to recognize Warwick, a 1999 graduate of MTSU’s Recording Industry program. She was named to the chapter’s top job last year.

Among those in attendance were MTSU alumni Pete Fisher, general manager of the Grand Old Opry, and Torrance “Street Symphony” Esmond, who won a Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song Grammy as a co-writer of “Messengers” by popular Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae Moore, who also attended MTSU.

Ken Paulson, dean of the College of Mass Communication, said Warwick’s colleagues from The Recording Academy who attended the brunch all sang her praises.

“I’ve talked to her colleagues here and they all said from the moment that they met her, they all recognized her leadership, her passion and commitment,” Paulson said.

“We (at MTSU) have loved watching her career blossom. We are so proud, and we are delighted to honor her today.”

Warwick said she was moved by the tribute from her alma mater on the eve of the industry’s biggest night, the 57th annual Grammy Awards.

“I transferred to MTSU my junior year and it changed my life,” she said. “The friendships I made, the relationships and internships. Some of my favorite mentors are here today.

“(MTSU) is such a blessing and such an amazing university. It’s so exciting (that) I kind of have to pinch myself.”

The Warwick brunch was among several activities that MTSU put forward as part of the Grammy week of festivities.

On Feb. 5 and 6, six students from the Department of Recording Industry volunteered in various capacities during the 17th annual Grammy Foundation Legacy Concert.

Grammy 2015 logo webLater in the evening Feb. 7, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee held a meet-and-greet session with Southern California alumni. On Sunday, MTSU co-sponsored a pre-Grammys event with Leadership Music, a training program for industry executives.

The students in Los Angeles for the Grammys — seniors James Belt, Eryn Green, Quentin Lee, April Manuel, Taylor Thompson and Keagan Scribner — were under the direction of assistant professor Stacy Merida. They attended the Feb. 7 brunch and mixed and mingled with industry pros.

Belt called the week “a monumental revelation,” adding it was an “honor to meet and work with individuals in the industry.”

Warwick said the hands-on experiences offered through the leadership of recording industry chairwoman Beverly Keel underscores the relevance of MTSU’s program.

“I’m so excited for you guys,” Warwick told the students. “You are in good hands.”

You can read about MTSU’s Grammy winners and nominees here and about more special Grammy events here.

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

MTSU alum Torrance "Street Symphony" Esmond (left), nominated for a Grammy this year for Best Contemporary Christian Music Song/Performance, with MTSU alumna Alicia Warwick, executive director of The Recording Academy's Nashville chapter, at a Saturday, Feb. 7, brunch in Warwick's honor sponsored by MTSU in downtown Los Angeles before Sunday's Grammy awards.

MTSU alumnus Torrance “Street Symphony” Esmond, left, co-winner of the Best Contemporary Christian Music Song/Performance Grammy, poses with MTSU alumna Alicia Warwick, executive director of The Recording Academy’s Nashville chapter, at a Feb. 7 brunch in Warwick’s honor sponsored by MTSU.

Latest MTSU Magazine spotlights innovation in College of Mass Comm

The winter 2015 edition of MTSU Magazine profiles, arguably, MTSU’s most recognizable college — the College of Mass Communication — at a time when its multifaceted and innovative media offerings are coming of age.

Mass Comm comprises a Department of Recording Industry that’s one of the best in the country, a Department of Electronic Media Communication whose students and state-of-the-art facilities have attracted national recognition, and a tradition-rich School of Journalism that houses the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies.

Ken Paulson, dean of the College of Mass Communication, is shown on the cover of the January 2015 edition of MTSU Magazine. (Courtesy of MTSU Creative and Visual Services)

Ken Paulson, dean of the College of Mass Communication, is shown on the cover of the January 2015 edition of MTSU Magazine. (Courtesy of MTSU Creative and Visual Services)

For Mass Comm to fulfill its potential, though, new dean Ken Paulson, who was hired in 2013, and who was on the team of young editors that launched USA Today in the 1980s, knew the College also needed retooling.

“All traditional media have been buffeted by digital technology, and that in turn has led to cutbacks and job losses,” Paulson says in the article. “But there will always be news. There will always be music. And film. And commercial art. And communication. Our challenge is to prepare our students for the new era of opportunities.”

Preparing students to succeed despite those realities isn’t just about having tech-savvy faculty and cutting-edge tools, Paulson says. It’s about reinforcing traditional communication skills (research, writing, ethics and critical thinking) while breaking down traditional academic barriers, thinking beyond traditional media platforms, and finding nontraditional ways to communicate.

“It’s not enough for us to just teach journalism, media, and production skills,” Paulson says. “We need to anticipate the future and help reinvent these industries.”

The article details efforts underway to make the college as contemporary, innovative and prominent as possible. That includes a strategic shift that will meld the college’s two aforementioned journalism programs — the School of Journalism’s traditional program, for print, and the Department of Electronic Media Communication’s multimedia program for practically everything else — into a single, vibrant, multiplatform program poised for roll out in the fall of 2015.

From a curriculum perspective, it’s a savvy shift in approach by the college that better reflects the media industry students will enter after graduation.

Dr. Dwight Brooks

Dr. Dwight Brooks

Dwight Brooks, director of the School of Journalism, says in the article that there will always be a need for trained journalists in a democracy.

“But we’ve got to prepare our students for the careers that are out there,” he says. “And they all involve being able to shoot video and write for the Internet, in addition to the traditional skills of reporting and writing. That’s the tricky thing: balancing.”

In addition, Paulson plans to expand the role of the Mass Comm’s nationally recognized Center for Innovation in Media as “a laboratory for change, anticipating where the media are going and how we can ensure that our students get there ahead of it.”

Other articles in the new edition of the magazine include:

  • a photo essay of MTSU’s new, $147 million Science Building, which opened for instruction late last year;
  • the story of how biology professor Dr. Ryan Otter found truth in the ashes of Tennessee’s worst environmental disaster;
  • a profile of MTSU professor and folklorist Patricia Gaitely, who studies the widely misunderstood Appalachian tradition of snake handling in churches;
  • a look at two Honors student-athletes who excel on the field and in the classroom; and
  • an alphabetical list of 26 ways MTSU proves it is committed to student success.

Readers may also download MTSU Magazine free for their iPads and Android devices. The MTSU Mag app, available in the iTunes store and now at Google Play, includes special multimedia content built into every issue that’s not available in the print editions.

Printed copies of MTSU Magazine are distributed twice annually to more than 105,000 alumni readers. The publication also is distributed to interested community members, including state lawmakers and members of the Tennessee Board of Regents.

MTSU Magazine also is available online at www.mtsumagazine.com.

— Drew Ruble (drew.ruble@mtsu.edu)

MTSU design alumni come home for new Todd Art Gallery exhibit

MTSU’s Todd Art Gallery is celebrating 40 years of educating professional designers with its new exhibit, “Tracking Characters: Connecting 40 Years of Design Grads,” open through Thursday, Feb. 12.

This charcoal and oil on canvas by MTSU design alumnus Michelle Fizer, "Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Optimism," is part of a new exhibit, "Tracking Characters: Connecting 40 Years of Design Grads," at the Todd Art Gallery Jan. 22- Feb. 12.

This charcoal and oil on canvas by MTSU design alumnus Michelle Fizer, “Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Optimism,” is part of a new exhibit, “Tracking Characters: Connecting 40 Years of Design Grads,” at the Todd Art Gallery through Feb. 12.

The exhibit is sponsored by MTSU Arts and features works by 32 MTSU art alumni now living from Connecticut to California.

Todd Art Gallery Director Eric Snyder said the exhibit is, “in a sense, a homecoming, as well as a first of its kind, acknowledging the important contribution of the study of graphic design and its alumni to the art program at MTSU.”

MTSU arts logoAlumni were asked to submit work showcasing their current endeavors rather than produce something especially for ”Tracking Characters.”

If they considered submitting work outside graphic design, Snyder said, all the better, because that would “highlight the fact that many work across media and are artists in more than just one sense.”

Cathy J. Cobb-Walgren, MTSU’s first commercial art graduate, was one of the first to respond to the Department of Art’s call for submissions. Now a teacher at Georgia State University, the May 1975 alumna’s first job out of school was for Gresham and Smith Architects.

The exhibit includes works from art alumni Aaron Rayburn, Abigail Atkins, Austin Hale, Ben Stewart, Brennan Scott, Cal Morton, Chip Payne, Chuck Stephens, Daniel Brown, Danielle Smith, Davion Baxter, Debra Naeve, Deena Cruz, Devin Warren, Ethan Farmer, Grant Cooley, Jenna Russell, Katie Clagg, Kelsey Greer, Kevin Tucker, Kyle Jones, Kyle Scudder, Lauren Wood, Louis LaPrad, Melissa Grabiel, Micah Loyed, Michelle Fizer, Neal Miles, Sean Hood, Shaun MacDavid, Stephanie Cobb and Suze Morton.

All Todd Art Gallery exhibits and receptions are free and open to the public. The Todd Gallery is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and is closed on weekends and state and university holidays.

For more information about MTSU Arts, which presents a full slate of art, theatre and music offerings at the university each year, visit www.mtsuarts.com.

For more information, including parking and directions, contact Snyder at 615-898-5653 or eric.snyder@mtsu.edu or visit www.mtsu.edu/art. You also can find a campus parking map at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParking14-15.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

MTSU design alumnus Kyle Jones, "Space Cadet" is part of the "Tracking Characters: Connecting 40 Years of Design Grads" exhibit at the Todd Art Gallery Jan. 22- Feb. 12.

MTSU design alumnus Kyle Jones’ “Space Cadet” is part of the “Tracking Characters: Connecting 40 Years of Design Grads” exhibit at the Todd Art Gallery through Feb. 12.

This image by MTSU design alumnus Kevin Tucker for the pilot episode of a TV show, "How Come," is part of a new exhibit, "Tracking Characters: Connecting 40 Years of Design Grads," at the Todd Art Gallery Jan. 22- Feb. 12.

This image by MTSU design alumnus Kevin Tucker for the pilot episode of a TV show, “How Come,” is part of “Tracking Characters: Connecting 40 Years of Design Grads” at the Todd Art Gallery through Feb. 12.

MTSU design alumnus and Creative and Visual Services employee Micah Loyed's portion of the university's "#TRUE" athletics campaign is part of a new exhibit, "Tracking Characters: Connecting 40 Years of Design Grads," at the Todd Art Gallery Jan. 22- Feb. 12.

MTSU design alumnus and Creative and Visual Services employee Micah Loyed’s poster for the university’s “#TRUE” athletics campaign is part of a new exhibit, “Tracking Characters: Connecting 40 Years of Design Grads,” at the Todd Art Gallery through Feb. 12.

 

Nashville entrepreneur hall of fame inducts pair of MTSU alumni

The Nashville Entrepreneur Center has honored two Middle Tennessee State University alumni with induction into its hall of fame.

Joey Jacobs

Joey Jacobs

Darrell Freeman

Darrell Freeman

Darrell Freeman (’87) and Joey Jacobs (’75) made up two of the three recent inductees, as reported by The Nashville Post in December. The publication published profiles of the latest class that can be found here.

In its online story, The Post applauded the Entrepreneur Center, saying it “has quickly established itself as a place for visionary businesspeople and companies — and for its hall of fame recognizing local entrepreneurs.”

Freeman is founder and executive chairman of Zycron Inc., a Nashville-based company that helps hospitals manage information technology. It began in an MTSU dormitory room. Freeman is also a co-founder of Williamson County-based Reliant Bank as well as co-founder and chairman of Pinnacle Construction Partners.

MT alumni logo webFreeman has a bachelor’s degree in computer technology and master’s degree in industrial sciences from MTSU. He was the 2002 MTSU Young Alumni Achievement Award recipient and in 2012 was named by Gov. Bill Haslam to represent the 7th Congressional District on the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Jacobs is chairman and CEO of Acadia Healthcare, a rapidly growing behavioral health company based in Franklin, Tenn. Jacobs, who received his B.S. in accounting from MTSU, was awarded the Jennings A. Jones Champion of Free Enterprise Award in 2013.

Before joining Acadia, Jacobs cofounded Psychiatric Solutions Inc. and served as its chairman, president and CEO from April 1997 until November 2010. Before that, Jacobs served for 21 years in various roles with Hospital Corporation of America in Nashville, most recently as president of the Tennessee Division.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)