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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)

MTSU Magazine features aspiring teacher turned musician, new app

The summer 2016 edition of MTSU Magazine profiles an English major whose designs on being a classroom teacher has taken an unexpected detour after her first album lit up the indie rock world over the past year.

As an MTSU underclassman with a minor in secondary education, Julien Baker penned a batch of heartfelt songs during late-night writing sessions in the piano closets in the Saunders Fine Arts building on campus.

The subsequent album that emerged from those sessions, “Sprained Ankle,” eventually led Rolling Stone magazine to name Baker to its list of “10 new artists you need to know” in 2015.

MTSU English major turned musician Julien Baker is featured on the cover of the latest MTSU Magazine. (Courtesy of MTSU Creative and Visual Services)

MTSU English major turned musician Julien Baker is featured on the cover of the latest MTSU Magazine. (Courtesy of MTSU Creative and Visual Services)

Readers may download the latest MTSU Magazine for their iPads and Android devices through the new MTSU Mag Stand app, which replaces the previous MTSU Magazine app.

MTSU Mag Stand is available in the iTunes store and now at Google Play and includes special multimedia content built into every issue that’s not available in the print editions.

Special multimedia content is included in the digital version of the latest profile on Baker. Since the Rolling Stone magazine kudos, hundreds of media outlets have profiled her, including National Public Radio, The New Yorker and The New York Times, while scads of other music-specific outlets placed “Sprained Ankle” on their annual lists of top albums for 2015 — alongside, in some cases, names like Adele and Kendrick Lamar.

In almost overnight fashion, Baker, 20, from Memphis, achieved bona fide indie-music-darling status, a designation that has since taken her across the globe to perform her music.

What makes Baker’s story all the more remarkable is that for most of her meteoric musical rise, she remained enrolled and taking classes at MTSU; she recently announced a hiatus from her studies to concentrate on her career.

Baker’s recollections of concerts, travel agendas and promotional schedules are vividly interspersed with names of professors who saw her desire to learn amidst her rise in fame and who did everything they could to make sure her efforts to succeed weren’t in vain.

With a laser focus on student success, the university staff’s emphasis on retention and graduation is obvious in Baker’s student experience.

Baker’s ability to balance the pursuit of her degree and career opportunities offers proof that MTSU’s student success emphasis is more than just lip service.

Other articles in the new edition of the magazine include:

  • A glimpse of MTSU head football coach Rick Stockstill’s message to recruits and their families.MTSU Mag Stand button
  • The story of an MTSU student’s central role in reviving hemp production in Tennessee, which promises to yield a lucrative harvest of University research.
  • A wrap up of MTSU’s recently concluded $105-million Centennial campaign, one of the most important occurrences at MTSU in decades.
  • A look back at the MTSU men’s basketball squad’s stunning upset of the Michigan State Spartans in the 2016 NCAA tournament, and the global attention the University benefitted from as a result.
  • An interview with recording industry chair Beverly Keel, who kick-started a national public discourse about the need for greater female involvement in country music.

Printed copies of MTSU Magazine are distributed twice annually to more than 110,000 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 alumna wins first place in Pick Tennessee Products contest

An MTSU alumna can claim that her company’s product is the “Pick of Tennessee.”

Java Hemmat’s Nashville-based Hummus Chick, a firm that makes hummus for retailers, won first place at the 2016 Pick Tennessee Products Trade Show. The event took place during the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association’s Food Expo June 8 and 9 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Java Hemmat

Java Hemmat

Stacks of containers of delicious hummus, prepared by MTSU alumna Java Hemmat's "Hummus Chick" company, await distribution to local outlets. (Photo courtesy of Java Hemmat)

Stacks of containers of delicious hummus, prepared by MTSU alumna Java Hemmat’s “Hummus Chick” company, await distribution to local outlets. (Photo courtesy of Java Hemmat)

“Our customers drive our passion, and we’ve listened to so many great stories about the meals enjoyed in the Mediterranean,” said Hemmat. “Through these stories, we found that there’s a gap in the Mediterranean cuisine enjoyed in the (United) States.”

All the products judged at the trade show are produced in Tennessee and are part of the Pick Tennessee Products program, which is sponsored by the state Department of Agriculture. They were judged for originality, taste and packaging.

Hemmat, a naturalized American citizen from United Arab Emirates, moved to the United States in 1998 and relocated to Nashville in 2003 after earning her bachelor’s degree in business administration from MTSU.

Her hummus also has been honored as a past nominee for the Martha Stewart American Made Awards. Hummus is a Middle Eastern dip made from chickpeas, olive oil and other ingredients.

hummus chick logo web

Hemmat sells regular hummus, hummus with roasted garlic and cilantro and spicy hummus with pesto at 24 locations around the state. In August, Hemmat intends to launch a line of three new spice blends named after Mediterranean cities — Marrakech, Provence and Shiraz.

“The best part of our vision is that we’ve partnered with Heifer International to donate proceeds to 120 countries around the world to help families thrive in their communities,” said Hemmat.

To learn more about Hummus Chick, go to www.ilovehummuschick.com or www.facebook.com/Hummuschick/.

— Gina Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

MTSU’s Keel among 2016 YWCA Women of Achievement honorees

NASHVILLE — MTSU alumna and recording industry department chair Beverly Keel was recently named among the eight 2016 honorees for the YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee’s Academy for Women of Achievement.

This is the 25th anniversary for the academy, which honors women who, through excellence and leadership in their chosen fields, serve as role models for other women, according to a YWCA news release.

Beverly Keel

Beverly Keel

This year’s honorees will be recognized at a special induction ceremony to be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, at the Omni Nashville Hotel, 250 5th Ave S. Proceeds will help fund YWCA programs and services.

YWCA Nashville logo“This year’s honorees have made and are continuing to make significant contributions to their community,” said AWA co-chairwoman Mary Winn Pilkington in a YWCA news release. “Middle Tennessee is a better place because of their inspiring work, and we are excited to honor them in October.”

A national advocate for women in music, Keel runs one of the oldest and most prestigious recording industry programs as the chairwoman of the Department of Recording Industry in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment.

She is also the co-founder of Change the Conversation, a coalition designed to fight inequality for women in country music.

Keel sits on the boards of The Women’s Fund, Music Makes Us and the Recording Academy. She serves as a writer for Parade magazine and a columnist for The Tennessean and has served as the Nashville correspondent for People magazine.

In 2015, Keel was inducted into the Metro Nashville Public Schools Hall of Fame, and she was recently named one of the Nashville Business Journals’ Women in Music City Award winners for the third consecutive year.

“This is one of the biggest honors of my career and I am thrilled to be included in such a prestigious and inspiring group of women,” Keel said of the YWCA award. “It is also special to be honored by the YWCA because this organization does such important work on behalf of women and families.”

Other 2016 AWA honorees are:

  • Megan Barry, mayor of Nashville.
  • Katherine Brown,president and founder, Learn CPR America.
  • Marilyn Dubree, executive chief nursing officer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and senior associate dean for clinical practice at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.
  • Claire Gulmi, executive vice president and CFO, AmSurg.
  • Cordia Harrington, founder and CEO, The Bakery Cos.
  • Sharon Hurt, Metro Nashville councilwoman at-large and founder and CEO, Jefferson St. United Merchants Partnership.
  • Aleta Trauger,U.S. District Court judge for the Middle District of Tennessee.
The 2016 YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee’s Academy for Women of Achievement honorees are, from left to right, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry; Claire Gulmi, CFO, AmSurg; Katherine Brown, Learn CPR America; U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger; Beverly Keel, MTSU; Marilyn Dubree, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Cordia Harrington, The Bakery Cos.; and Sharon Hurt, Metro Nashville councilwoman at-large. (Photo courtesy of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee)

The 2016 YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee’s Academy for Women of Achievement honorees are, from left to right, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry; Claire Gulmi, AmSurg; Katherine Brown, Learn CPR America; U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger; Beverly Keel, MTSU; Marilyn Dubree, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Cordia Harrington, The Bakery Cos.; and Sharon Hurt, Metro Nashville councilwoman at-large. (Photo courtesy of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee)

YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee launched the academy launched in 1992 and is being presented for the 11th year by First Tennessee, the release states. This year’s recipients join 143 other women who hold this honor.

The judging committee, composed of business and community leaders, chose the honorees from an exceptional list of nominees.

YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. For more information about the YWCA or the event, including ticket details, visit http://bit.ly/1AG2tQc or call 615-983-5146.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

Alumnus tells Vietnam story in new book on ‘MTSU On the Record’

The story of a Vietnam War veteran who was thrust into some of the bloodiest battles of the conflict was the subject of a recent “MTSU On the Record.”

Host Gina Logue’s interview with MTSU alumnus J.L. “Bud” Alley first aired June 20 on WMOT-FM (89.5 and www.wmot.org ). You can listen to their conversation below.

J.L. Alley

J.L. Alley

Alley book cover web Alley, who earned a master’s degree in history from MTSU in 2011, is author of “The Ghosts of the Green Grass,” a chronicle of his experience as communication officer for the 2nd Battalion of the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry Division during the Vietnam War.

He graduated from Furman University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and was commissioned into the Army in 1964 as a second lieutenant.

Among his honors are the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Air Medal, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and the Presidential Unit Citation.

Alley said the “ghosts of the green grass” are the psychological aftereffects of the fierce fighting he experienced in the jungles of Vietnam.

“For 25 years, I slept with the light on,” Alley said. “I was afraid of the dark.

“I was very fortunate. I had a very perceptive doctor who recognized I might be having some issues other than generally described medical conditions.”

You can learn more about the book at Alley’s website, www.theghostsofthegreengrass.com.

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.

https://youtu.be/MBUMtk5ZBRo

Summer activities heat up across Tennessee for MTSU alumni

The MTSU Alumni Association is planning a summer of fun for alumni and friends of the university.

MTSU alumnus and Memphis native Justin Nelson plays the Mayor of Munchkin City in the musical theatre production of "The Wizard of Oz" June 16 in Memphis. (Photo from www.justingnelson.com)

MTSU alumnus and Memphis native Justin Nelson plays the Mayor of Munchkin City in the musical theater production of “The Wizard of Oz” June 16 in Memphis. (Photo from www.justingnelson.com)

Events will include:

  • Alumni Night in Memphis, Tennessee, starting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 16, for the musical theater performance of “The Wizard of Oz” featuring alumnus Justin Nelson (Class of 2011). Nelson, a Memphis native, plays the role of the Mayor of Munchkin City.
  • An alumni mixer at Silky O’Sullivan’s from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 17, at 183 Beale St. in Memphis.
  • Special alumni nights at baseball games being played in Nashville — the Sounds versus the Omaha Storm Chasers — at 6:05 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at First Tennessee Park, 19 Junior Gilliam Way, and in Chattanooga at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 16, at AT&T Field, 201 Power Alley, as the Lookouts play the Mobile Bay Bears.
  • Outings at Nashville Shores at 10 a.m. Friday, July 8, and Dollywood/Splash Country in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, are scheduled. Discounted tickets for Dollywood/Splash Park can be used any day in July, but must be purchased by Saturday, June 25.
  • The annual Pigskin Pre-Game from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, at The Grove at Williamson Place, 3250 Williamson Pike, Murfreesboro.

Dollywood-graphic72Reservation details, including ticket prices for the various events, can be found at www.mtalumni.com.

“We love to organize events that are family-friendly and fun for our alumni, friends and families,” said Paul Wydra, MTSU alumni relations assistant director

“We have had great past success with these events, and this year we were able to add Dollywood/Splash Country as well, and the savings from a buying-at-the-door ticket is great,” he added.

“Last year we had 175 people at our Nashville Sounds event and more than 50 at Nashville Shores, so we are happy that people love to take advantage of these great opportunities.”

For more information, call 615-898-2922.

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

MTSU alumni and friends can catch the Chattanooga Lookouts playing the Mobile Bay Bears Saturday, July 16, at AT&T Field. (File photo from www.lookouts.com)

MTSU alumni and friends can catch the Chattanooga Lookouts playing the Mobile Bay Bears Saturday, July 16, at AT&T Field. (File photo from www.lookouts.com)

Alumna lands role as MTSU undergraduate recruiting director

It did not take long for Florida transplant Linda Olsen to make a major impact as a new leader in the MTSU Office of Admissions.

Just weeks after starting her job as director of undergraduate recruitment, Olsen attended a local community function. Murfreesboro resident and MTSU alumnus Don Witherspoon (Class of 1964) also was in attendance.

Friends Fady Abdelnour, left, 18, and Mary Sadek, right, 19, both of Nashville and Glencliff High School graduates, visit with Linda Olsen, the new director of undergraduate recruitment at MTSU during CUSTOMS freshman orientation June 1 in Tucker Theatre. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

Friends Fady Abdelnour, left, 18, and Mary Sadek, right, 19, both of Nashville and Glencliff High School graduates, visit with Linda Olsen, the new director of undergraduate recruitment at MTSU during CUSTOMS freshman orientation June 1 in Tucker Theatre. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

Witherspoon, the National Alumni Association vice president, introduced a graduating high school student planning to attend another university to Olsen, who then invited the student to visit MTSU the following week.

“After coming to campus and meeting with faculty and administrators, the young lady has decided MTSU is the best place for her,” Olsen said. “She is now committed to her hometown university.”

For Witherspoon, who will replace 2015-16 National Alumni Association President Tony Beard July 1, “it was one of the more gratifying things I’ve seen in my years as an MTSU alumnus,” he said.

“It was tremendous they (MTSU) were willing to do that and provide an opportunity for somebody who is very deserving,” Witherspoon added.

“Don is an alumnus and community member, and it was his guidance along with everyone working together to bring a student to the university,” Olsen said.

Dr. Laurie Witherow

Dr. Laurie Witherow

Dr. Laurie Witherow, associate vice provost for undergraduate recruitment, said MTSU “is delighted to welcome home one of our alumni to lead our efforts in recruiting outstanding students to our university.”

“Linda brings a love and appreciation for MTSU and for the students we serve,” Witherow added. “We are as excited to have her as she is to be with us. Linda is a great example of what it means to be True Blue.”

A 1998 graduate with a master’s degree in school counseling, Olsen said MTSU “has a sense of a small school with a feel of family.”

“Under President (Sidney A.) McPhee’s leadership, there’s an overall culture of caring for each student that includes every member of the community, both on and off campus, supporting students toward success,” she said.

Olsen comes to MTSU from Melbourne, Florida, where she was collegewide director of admissions and advising for Eastern Florida State College.

The first major event under Olsen’s leadership will be the Saturday, June 4, MTSU Preview Day on the MTSU campus. Admissions, housing, academic departments and more will be on hand to provide information, answer questions and host hundreds of prospective students and their families.

“I’m excited about the potential for building an outstanding future class of outstanding students,” Olsen said. “We have an enthusiastic team of energetic admissions professionals who are ready for the upcoming fall, and the opportunity to show students what a great place MTSU can be for them.”

Olsen is completing her doctorate in higher education leadership and policy studies with the University of Central Florida. Her children include a son Randy, who lives in Portland, Oregon; and a son, Robert, and daughter, Rachel, have also moved to Murfreesboro and plan to eventually enroll at MTSU.

Linda Olsen is the daughter of Dr. Jim Calder, a professor emeritus in elementary and special education in the MTSU College of Education, and Beverly Calder, an adjunct supervising MTSU student teachers.

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

Alumna shares gender identity transition story on ‘MTSU On the Record’

The timely topic of transgender rights was the focus of a recent “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Morgan Hunlen

Morgan Hunlen

Host Gina Logue’s interview with MTSU alumna Morgan Hunlen first aired May 30 on WMOT-FM (89.5 and www.wmot.org ). You can listen to their conversation below.

Hunlen, who graduated May 7 with a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace and with honors from MTSU’s University Honors College, majored in the professional pilot program and minored in Japanese. She was born male and began her transition to becoming a woman while still an MTSU student.

This sign marks one of MTSU's all-gender/family restrooms on campus, available for students, faculty, staff and guests. In 2001, MTSU became the first public college or university in Tennessee to include sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination policy. MTSU added gender identity to that policy in 2009.

This sign marks one of MTSU’s all-gender/family restrooms on campus, available for students, faculty, staff and guests. In 2001, MTSU became the first public college or university in Tennessee to include sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination policy. MTSU added gender identity to that policy in 2009.

In the interview, Hunlen offers her reaction to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s May 9 announcement to challenge a North Carolina law that requires people to use public restrooms according to their sex at birth.

“This is a case that is now going to have national implications for all the bathroom laws … across the nation,” said Hunlen.

“I feel like a victory, at this stage, could pave the way for more trans-inclusive policies to come down the pipeline, either from Congress or from our courts.”

On the upcoming radio show, Hunlen also discusses the impact of the gay rights movement on transgender rights and her personal gender identity journey.

Another member of the MTSU community, history professor Dr. Marisa Richmond, was confirmed as a member of the Metro Human Rights Commission by a unanimous voice vote May 19.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry appointed Richmond, making her the first transgender person in the state named to a local government board or commission, according to the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition.

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.

https://youtu.be/JaK0eMsXTFo