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Leadership principles strike right chords with MTSU students

A native of Brazil, where the official language is Portuguese, MTSU freshman transfer Barbara Popwell speaks English fluently.

MTSU alumna and guest speaker Paula Mansfield truly was speaking Popwell’s “language” when it comes to women in the business world April 10 during the Omicron Delta Kappa True Blue Leadership Day in the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building.

The ODK True Blue Leadership Day highlights the core values of the “True Blue Pledge” by educating participants about multiple aspects of leadership.

The University Honors College invites noted representatives from a variety of professions to share their leadership experiences with more than 100 MTSU students.

MTSU alumna and Murfreesboro businesswoman Paula Mansfield shares about successful strategies for women in the workforce April 10 during the annual Omicron Delta Kappa True Blue Leadership Day in the Simmons Amphitheatre of the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building. Mansfield is a senior vice president with First Tennessee Bank. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

MTSU alumna and Murfreesboro businesswoman Paula Mansfield shares about successful strategies for women in the workforce April 10 during the annual Omicron Delta Kappa True Blue Leadership Day in the Simmons Amphitheatre of the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building. Mansfield is a senior vice president with First Tennessee Bank. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

In addition to Mansfield, other speakers included Keith M. Huber, MTSU’s new senior adviser for Veterans and Leadership Initiatives; Tara S. Singer, executive director of the Lexington, Virginia-based Omicron Delta Kappa Society Inc.; John H. Henderson, an attorney with the firm Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC in Evansville, Indiana; and Metrick M. Houser, supply chain manager for International Paper.

ODK logo cropped“I have a passion about women speaking,” Popwell, 22, told Mansfield, a Murfreesboro resident and senior vice president in community banking with First Tennessee Bank.

Mansfield had just shared successful strategies for women in the workforce and was about to return to her job when she passed by Popwell in a hallway.

“She talked about career goal-setting,” added Popwell, a management major in the Jones College of Business. “It was very inspirational. Women want to get things done, and the number of things she’s involved in on campus is really amazing. That makes me want to help others.”

Mansfield, the 2014-15 MTSU National Alumni Association president, also advised her audience to develop a network and understand their strengths.

Lihe Jiang, a visiting scholar from China in the MTSU Department of Biology and one of only a handful of men taking in Mansfield’s talk, said he found it “very interesting, instructive and beneficial for my career.”

Hoping to embark on her own military career, Tiffany Graziano, 26, an MTSU graduate student in management from Nashville, totally was taken in during the “Leadership from a Military Foxhole” talk by Huber, a retired U.S. Army three-star general who spent 38 years in service to his country.

Keith M. Huber, a retired U.S. Army three-star general, visits with a married couple who heard him speak at the ODK True Blue Experience Day April 10 in the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building’s Simmons Amphitheatre.

Keith M. Huber, a retired U.S. Army three-star general, visits with a married couple who heard him speak at the ODK True Blue Experience Day April 10 in the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building’s Simmons Amphitheatre.

“It was very moving and inspirational,” Graziano said. “It inspired me to realize communication is the key and to come at people at the human-interpersonal level, rather than a computer or text message.”

Graziano hopes to become an Army dietician.

A food science major that plans to study pre-med, Nausheen Qureshi, 19, of Murfreesboro, said Huber “gave a very unique perspective of how the military changed his life, both as a civilian and being in the military. Leadership is part of your daily activity.”

“What touched me is that in being a leader, everything comes down to face-to-face human contact,” Qureshi added.

Using movie clips and costumes, Singer provided a special perspective for leadership with “Starships, Ball Gowns and Hangovers: Leadership Lessons from Movies.” She incorporated famous lines from “Star Trek,” “Apollo 13,” “Gone With the Wind,” “Flight” and “The Hangover” into her presentation.

Henderson discussed “Using Passion and Civility to Make a Difference in Your Community.” Houser, a member of the Honors College Board of Visitors, closed the event, discussing “Building True Blue Leadership — A Reflection on Opportunities.”

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

Alumni Spring Weekend is topic of recent ‘MTSU On the Record’ (+VIDEO)

As Middle Tennessee State University’s alumni prepared to renew their relationship with their alma mater, the “MTSU On the Record” radio program outlined the agenda for Alumni Spring Weekend.

Paul Wydra

Paul Wydra

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Paul Wydra, assistant director of alumni relations, first aired April 13 on WMOT-FM (89.5 and www.wmot.org ). You can listen to their conversation here.

The annual Alumni Spring Weekend, slated for April 16-19, includes numerous activities designed to help MTSU graduates familiarize themselves with the changes on campus and reacquaint themselves with former classmates and professors.

“We want them to be proud of their university and all of the great new buildings and programs on campus,” Wydra said. “I think all that can do is build that relationship back up.”

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.

A video clip of the interview is available below.

http://youtu.be/popiOx4nPw8

Event-filled MTSU Alumni Spring Weekend includes variety

Alumni and friends of MTSU have many event options for the fourth annual Alumni Spring Weekend Friday through Sunday, April 17-19, across campus and several off-campus venues.

Now in its fourth year, Alumni Spring Weekend is held to let alumni, their families and MTSU friends return for a weekend of campus activities and discover the university’s growth.

There will be tours and open houses, lectures, reunions, food, meet-and-greets, celebrations and more — plus some football and soccer action added for good measure. Phillips Bookstore’s 20 percent off coupon and the Campus Recreation Center’s one-day pass are available through the alumni office.

In this 2014 photo, MTSU student ambassadors register Don and Hanna Witherspoon for last April’s Alumni Spring Weekend in the lobby of the Student Union Building. (Alumni Relations submitted photo)

In this 2014 photo, MTSU student ambassadors register Don and Hanna Witherspoon for last April’s Alumni Spring Weekend in the lobby of the Student Union Building. (Alumni Relations submitted photo)

For more information and the full schedule of events, visit http://www.mtalumni.com.

It will be a family-friendly atmosphere for all who attend.

“We want alumni and friends of the university to bring their families,” said Paul Wydra, MTSU Office of Alumni Relations assistant director. “It will be a time when they can show off their campus and see new buildings and the exciting things taking place on campus.”

Children will enjoy a special treat as families can attend an after-hours visit to the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, 502 SE Broad St., in Murfreesboro, from 6 to 8 p.m. April 17. This requires an RSVP by calling 615-898-2922 or email alumni@mtsu.edu.

A trip to Murfreesboro Airport, 1930 Memorial Blvd., and the MTSU Flight Operations Center and aerospace technology in the Business and Aerospace Building will be another tour children will be find interesting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 18.

With some exceptions, most events lead to the Blue Raider’ Blue and White spring game at 1 p.m. April 18 in Floyd Stadium. Fans will observe coach Rick Stockstill’s 2015 team for the first time.

In addition to aerospace, tours will include Campus Recreation, the College of Graduate Studies in the Ingram Building, Alumni House, Albert Gore Research Center, the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience milk processing plant, Science Building, Centers for Innovation in Media and Popular Music in Mass Communication, the Baldwin Photographic Gallery and a campus bus tour.

MT alumni logo webEvents will be held to celebrate pending retirements for Ron Ferrara, longtime aerospace faculty member and department chair; and professors Deborah Anderson and Crosby Hunt, veteran faculty members in the Department of Speech and Theatre.

An aerospace alumni cookout to celebrate Ferrara’s retirement will be held starting at 4:30 p.m. April 17 in the Donald McDonald Hangar at the airport. RSVP by April 15 to mtalumni.com/aerospacereunion or call 800-533-6878.

An event to celebrate the retirements of Anderson and Hunt will start at 1 p.m. April 18 in the studio theater (BDA Room 101) in the Boutwell Dramatic Arts Building.

April 18 food options include the Land of Milk and Honey Alumni Breakfast for all alumni and guests from 8 a.m. to noon behind the Stark Agriculture Building (call Debbie Strobel at 615-898-2523 or email Debbie.Strobel@mtsu.edu to register) and the Alumni Spring Weekend Lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Student Union Building’s Blue Raider Grill (call 615-898-2922 or email alumni@mtsu.edu to register).

The seventh annual Alpha Delta Pi-Athlon — a 300-meter swim, 10-mile bike ride and 3.14-mile run, all on the MTSU campus — and two free School of Music events at 3 and 7 p.m., respectively, conclude the weekend’s activities.

For more information, call 615-898-2922 or visit the alumni website.

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

 

Former student recalls missions during Cuban Missile Crisis (+VIDEO)

The leader of the aviation squadron whose surveillance flights over Cuba helped avert nuclear war told an MTSU audience the previously untold story behind the missions.

With a map showing Cuba’s proximity to the United States in the background, retired U.S. Air Force Col. William “Greg” Gregory explains the mission of his reconnaissance pilots during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis to an audience at MTSU April 2. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

With a map showing Cuba’s proximity to the United States in the background, retired U.S. Air Force Col. William “Greg” Gregory explains the mission of his reconnaissance pilots during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis to an audience at MTSU April 2. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. William J. “Greg” Gregory, a veteran of more than 30 years of military service, spoke April 2 to a packed room at MTSU’s Todd Building.

The 93-year-old Gregory flew his first airplane as an MTSU student in 1940, but World War II interrupted his academic career when he was a junior.

After volunteering for the U.S. Army Air Corps, Gregory flew missions over North Africa and Europe.

Following the postwar creation of the U.S. Air Force, Gregory served as commander of a squadron of U-2 pilots who identified the buildup of Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962. He said the makeup of the squadron was “one of a kind.”

“I had more civilians than I did military, although I did have Air Force officers and NCOs (noncommissioned officers) and enlisted personnel,” Gregory said. “I had a lot of CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) civilians that were in charge of security and communications.”

The rest of the squadron included civilian pilots and Lockheed mechanics, four British officers, a flight planner, a physician and a Navy lieutenant commander.

That “one-of-a-kind” squadron took the photographs that confirmed the presence of Soviet missiles only 90 miles from American soil, prompting an international diplomatic showdown that tested President John F. Kennedy’s leadership.

“President Kennedy deserves a lot of credit for avoiding this war, because we really could have had a terrible situation if we had knocked out those missiles,” said Gregory.

“I think they (the Soviets) certainly would have fired back.”

Gregory served for more than three decades in the U.S. Air Force as a commander and pilot. Even though he did not graduate, he maintains close ties to MTSU, 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.

Gregory’s visit was 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)

http://youtu.be/2AWZ9qqEvzg

Attorney alumnus Dagley to answer questions at MTSU roundtable April 9

MTSU alumnus Michael Dagley will discuss his legal career and answer questions from students and the public Thursday, April 9, at the annual Dr. Frank Essex Practitioners Roundtable.

Set from 1 to 2 p.m. April 9 in Room 106, the Simmons Amphitheatre, of the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building, the yearly event brings MTSU alumni and other members of the legal community to campus to speak on pre-law career opportunities as well as their own education and experience in the field.

Michael Dagley

Michael Dagley

The roundtable discussion is presented by the MTSU Department of Political Science and is open to students in all majors as well as the rest of the campus community. A searchable campus map with parking details is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParking14-15.

Dagley, who is a partner in the Nashville law firm of Bass, Berry & Sims, graduated magna cum laude from MTSU in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts in history and earned his law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1981. During his time at MTSU, he was president of the university Honors Council as well as a member of the MTSU Debate Hall of Fame.

During his 33-year legal career, Dagley has specialized in representing clients in securities litigation, class actions, shareholder derivative actions and merger and acquisitions. He’s most recently worked on behalf of hospital and healthcare systems with software failures and has defended numerous Nashville healthcare companies on contractual disputes as well as advising on healthcare fraud, False Claims Act matters and government investigations.

Dagley has been included in the Nashville Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar” list and has been named among the “Best Lawyers in America” and “Best Lawyers in Tennessee” by the Best Lawyers peer-review publication. In the last five years alone, he’s won eight multimillion-dollar contingency cases, including one of more than $100 million.

The Frank Essex Practitioners Roundtable honors Dr. Frank W. Essex, professor emeritus in political science at the university. He taught at MTSU for 27 years and retired in 1993, serving during his career and continuing to serve as a mentor to many in political office as well as attorneys and judges in Tennessee and elsewhere.

For more information about the annual Frank Essex Practitioners Roundtable, contact the MTSU Department of Political Science at 615-898-2708.

— 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)