MTSU launches new alert-testing schedule to ensure notifications

MTSU has launched a new emergency-alert testing process for the university community to ensure that students, faculty and staff are staying safe by receiving urgent communications properly each semester.

MTSU’s Critical Notification System, provided by Rave Mobile Safety, sent a test message Feb. 25 at 1:15 p.m. to the university’s 26,300-plus registered users via email, text and automated phone calls.

emergency alert winter illus webThe university’s website, www.mtsu.edu, its MTSUNews.com news site, and all electronic signage around the Murfreesboro campus displayed the message just as they do during an actual emergency alert, along with university social media.

The university’s Twitter account, @MTSUNews, tweeted the test alert with the @MTSUAlert emergency notification account.

University officials said initial reports indicated a near-100 percent success rate with the transmissions. Digital signage in the James E. Walker Library, Student Recreation Center, College of Education Building, Keathley University Center and the new Science Building showed the message within 30 seconds of its transmission.

“When they’re set up properly, the messages will also be broadcast across our Simplex PA system in campus buildings,” said MTSU Police Lt. Broede Stucky, who handles emergency operations for the university police department.

Stucky has been working closely with University Police Chief Buddy Peaster and other MTSU staff members to organize the Critical Notification System testing schedule.

“During the test time, we will be evaluating all of the systems to make sure that they in fact are working properly in the event of an actual emergency,” Stucky added. “The Critical Notification System is one of several components that our university uses to enhance the overall safety and emergency preparedness of the MTSU community.”

This spring’s inaugural campuswide system test will be followed by a summer-semester test on Wednesday, June 24, and a fall test set for Wednesday, Oct. 28. Each test will be conducted at 1:15 p.m.

Subsequent years’ system tests will be held on the last Wednesday of February, June and October at the same time of day, officials said.

The university already conducts routine monthly tests of its tornado sirens on campus and at the Miller Coliseum Complex to ensure proper operations. Those tests don’t involve other components of the Critical Notification System, however.

All current MTSU students, faculty and staff automatically receive email alerts at their MTSU addresses from Rave about weather-related emergencies, delays and cancellations. Users also can choose to receive text and/or voice alerts by adding phone numbers to their personal Rave accounts, which are accessed with their PipelineMT usernames and passwords.

During MTSU’s recent inclement-weather closings, campus users again were encouraged to ensure proper receipt of future alerts by checking and updating their contact information at www.getrave.com/login/mtsu.

Non-MTSU students or personnel don’t have access to the system. Users are automatically deleted from the system when their status with the university changes, such as by graduating or leaving school or full-time employment permanently.

You can learn more about MTSU’s Critical Notification System at its FAQ page. Information about the alert system is also always available on the university’s weather information page, www.mtsunews.com/weather.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Math educator to be honored with 2015 MTSU John Pleas Award Feb. 26

A math master is the latest professor to be honored with MTSU’s annual John Pleas Faculty Award.

Dr. Michaele Chappell, a professor of mathematics education and program coordinator for the Masters of Science in Teaching program, will receive the award at a ceremony to begin at 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26, in the Tom Jackson Building.

This Black History Month event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Michaele Chappell

Dr. Michaele Chappell

“I am honored and appreciative to be selected,” Chappell said. “Considering I was unaware of the nomination, it came as a pleasant and delightful surprise.”

Chappell has authored or edited five manuscripts or books, authored more than two dozen academic articles and book chapters and given more than 65 presentations at conferences.

Her passion is promoting math literacy in historically disadvantaged communities. Chappell has administrated four summer institutes at MTSU that trained STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — educators who work with at-risk populations.

“The mathematics education field has been quite rewarding and has afforded me opportunities to work with stellar colleagues, staff and students,” said Chappell, who has taught at MTSU since 2001.

Dr. John Pleas

Chappell also has served in multiple positions with the Benjamin Banneker Association, enabling her to mentor STEM teachers working in African-American communities.

She is the recipient of a number of grants, including the $2.3 million National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teaching Scholarship for which she is co-principal investigator.

Chappell earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Georgia Southern University in 1981 and 1983, respectively, and her doctorate from Florida State University in 1991.

MTSU established the John Pleas Faculty Award was established in 1997 to honor Dr. John Pleas, professor emeritus of psychology and recipient of an MTSU Outstanding Teaching Award in 1999.

It is presented annually to a black faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and service.

Nominees should have completed at least five years of service at MTSU and have a record of outstanding service. Candidates must have three letters to support their nomination.

Previous winners of the Pleas Faculty Recognition Award since its inception are:

  • Dr. Robert Rucker, social work professor, 1997.
  • Dr. Bichaka Fayissa, economics professor, 1998.
  • Dr. Laura Jarmon, English professor, 1999.
  • Dr. Gloria Bonner, dean of the College of Education, 2000.
  • Dr. Sharon Shaw-McEwen, social work professor, 2001.
  • Dr. Alphonse Carter, engineering technology professor, 2002.
  • Dr. Bertha Clark, professor of communication disorders, 2003.
  • Dr. Anantha Babbili, 2004, then-dean of the College of Mass Communication.
  • Dr. Pat Patterson, professor of chemistry, 2005.
  • Dr. Rosemary Owens, dean of continuing studies and public service, 2006.
  • Dr. Connie Wade, chair of the Department of Elementary and Special Education, 2007.
  • Dr. Marva Lucas, chair of the Department of University Studies, 2008.
  • Dr. Adonijah Bakari, history professor, 2009.
  • Dr. Dwight Patterson, 2010, chemistry professor.
  • Dr. Raphael Bundage, 2011, music professor.
  • Dr. Cheryl Slaughter Ellis, professor of community and public health, 2012.
  • Dr. Newtona “Tina” Johnson, professor of English and director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, 2013.
  • Dr. Sekou Franklin, political science professor, 2014.

For more information, contact Jonell Hinsey, director of the Intercultural and Diversity Center and chair of the MTSU Black History Month Committee, at 615-898-5797 or jonell.hinsey@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Deadline extended to apply for grants for women-focused courses

Money to infuse courses with the experiences and perspectives of women is available at MTSU for university faculty with a new application deadline.

PCSW graphic webMonday, March 16, is now the deadline for faculty to apply for the Curriculum Integration Grants offered by the university’s President’s Commission on the Status of Women.

The commission will award three grants worth $1,800 each to support revising a course or a general-education course for a study-abroad program, creating a new course, reconceptualizing a current minor or creating a new minor.

Applicants are encouraged to include how women’s concerns intersect with aspects of race/ethnicity, class and sexual orientation. The 2014 grant winners came from MTSU’s human sciences, music and English departments.

Dr. Lauren Rudd

Dr. Lauren Rudd

Dr. Lauren Rudd, an assistant professor of textiles, management and design, used her funding to revise “Social Aspects of Clothing,” a course that examines the cultural, psychological, sociological and economic impacts of clothing and textiles.

“Big designers have been using cultural influences in their runway designs for several years now,” Rudd said. “The students see this, but have no concept of the traditions and importance related to those cultures.

“They also need to be able to design, style, merchandise and sell apparel-related product to a global audience.”

Dr. Deanna Little, a professor of music at MTSU, revamped the “Private Instruction in Flute” course to educate her students on the proportions of males and females in the profession.

Dr. Deanna Little

Dr. Deanna Little

“As a woman flutist, performer and teacher, I feel it is important to bring awareness of the realities of the profession to my students,” Little said. “This will prepare them better for future careers in music and hopefully empower them to succeed.”

Little said the history of both flute and music composition shows more men at the top of the profession than women, although the ratio of men to women at the top is inconsistent with the ratio of men to women in the profession as a whole.

Dr. Elyce Helford, a professor of English, created “Topics in Sexuality: Queer Studies” to “explore the history and diverse uses of the concept ‘queer’ in local and global contexts.”

Dr. Elyce Helford

Dr. Elyce Helford

“When we study what theorists and activists call ‘queer,’ we are studying those identifications, attractions, attitudes and appearances that resist simple boundaries, such as ‘straight/gay’ or ‘masculine/feminine,’” said Helford.

“Queer studies, therefore, helps us to think outside restrictive labels for self and world,” she added.

Little’s course began this spring. Rudd’s course is scheduled for summer 2015 semester, and Helford’s class is slated to begin in 2016.

Courses developed or revised for the undergraduate curriculum, and those that can be implemented within two years, will receive priority consideration for the grants. Only faculty who have not received a Curriculum Integration Grant in the past four years are eligible to apply.

Proposals should include innovative teaching techniques. The commission is particularly encouraging proposals that engage students in a better understanding of violence against women in the wake of the recent reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Complete application guidelines are available at www.mtsu.edu/pcsw/grants.php.

Inquiries should be directed to Dr. Leah Tolbert Lyons at 615-898-2982 or leah.lyons@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

If rough weather’s in the forecast, check here for MTSU scheduling info

When inclement weather affects university operations, MTSU will always inform the campus and surrounding community via:

  • direct communication with students, faculty and staff through alerts from MTSU’s Rave Mobile Safety system;
  • local radio and television stations (see list below);
  • the “Alert Updates” web page at www.mtsu.edu/alertupdates;
  • a note on the MTSU home page at www.mtsu.edu;
  • the university’s Twitter feed, @mtsunewsand
  • the MTSU hotline (615-898-2000).


All current  MTSU students, faculty and staff automatically receive email alerts from Rave about weather-related emergencies, delays and cancellations.
MTSU students, faculty and staff who also want to receive text and/or voice alerts may add those preferences by clicking here and logging in with a PipelineMT username and password.

(Rave Alert FAQs, including adding or changing contact information, are available here .)

If MTSU classes are cancelled or delayed, the announcement applies to all classes, credit and noncredit. All university offices will be open unless the weather announcement specifically says they’ll be closed. Overnight decisions will be announced by 6 a.m. the following day.

Radio Stations
TV Stations

Student class attendance during inclement weather when the university remains open is addressed in MTSU’s 2014-15 “Blue Raider Planner and Handbook .” It explains that

… students will be allowed to use their own discretion when snow and icy conditions exist — they will be given the opportunity to make up missed classes should they decide not to attend. (page 24)

The Ann Campbell Early Learning Center, MTSU’s early intervention preschool, also has updated its inclement-weather closing policy and now follows the university’s closure decisions. You can read the policy here and also check the ACE Learning Center’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ProjectHelp for more information.

MTSU tests its tornado sirens monthly to ensure proper operation during tornado warnings and other emergency alerts. A schedule of the monthly tests is available at mtsunews.com/tornado-siren-testing. That page also includes a link to locations of the safest places on campus.

The MTSU Alert4U emergency weather information page at http://mtsu.edu/alert4u/tornado.php also includes tips on preparing for tornado weather and a “Frequently Asked Questions” link to MTSU-specific information for tornado warnings.

Feb. 24 deadline approaches to enter MTSU Business Plan Competition

MTSU students, alumni and others still have a few more days to enter this year’s Business Plan Competition.

Offered through the Wright Travel Chair in Entrepreneurship in MTSU’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business, the competition provides an opportunity to get a great business idea off the ground, providing seed money to the top two winners.

Dr. Bill McDowell

Dr. Bill McDowell

The deadline to enter the contest is 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24. Students and alumni can get more information by visiting www.mtsubusinessplan2015.istart.org.

Any enrolled MTSU students or MTSU alumni can participate. A team can consist of one or more contestants and can include nonstudents, but there must be at least one MTSU student or alumnus on each team.

That person will be responsible for making key presentations during the course of the competition and should be included in top management for the proposed business.

MTSU professor Bill McDowell, chair holder of the Wright Travel Chair in Entrepreneurship reminds entrants that the MTSU student or alumnus “must be extremely involved in the plan.”

The first place prize is $7,500, and the runner-up will receive $5,000. The multistage competition also includes training on writing business plans and mentoring. The top winners will be selected in spring 2015.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

Click on the logo to register for the competition.

Click on the logo to register for the competition.

MTSU signs partnership with Florida’s Montverde Academy (+VIDEO)

MONTVERDE, Florida — MTSU has signed a first-of-its-kind partnership with Florida’s Montverde Academy, a premier private boarding school known for its strong international enrollment and 100 percent college placement rate.

Montverde Headmaster Kasey Kesselring (left) and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee shake hands Friday after signing a pact that will allow for dual enrollment of Montverde students, most likely through online classes by the university. (MTSU photos by Andrew Oppmann)

Montverde Headmaster Kasey Kesselring (left) and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee shake hands Friday after signing a pact that will allow for dual enrollment of Montverde students, most likely through online classes by the university. (MTSU photos by Andrew Oppmann)

The pact, signed Friday (Feb. 13) by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Montverde Headmaster Kasey Kesselring, will allow for dual enrollment of Montverde students, most likely through online classes by the university.

It will allow the academy’s guidance counselors and MTSU’s undergraduate and international studies recruiters to work collaboratively in placing best-fit students from Montverde on the Murfreesboro campus.

“We are thrilled to be able to sign this agreement and partnership between our schools today,” said Kesselring, who received his master’s degree from MTSU and is a former headmaster of The Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee.

“We look forward to a long and productive relationship and we are super excited about the opportunity this is going to give our students,” he said.

The Academy educates nearly 1,100 students from pre-K through 12th grade. It serves more than 350 boarding students between grades 7 through 12, who hail from across the U.S. and 60 countries worldwide. It also has made recruitment in China a top priority, opening an educational center in Shanghai.

Seventy-three percent of its students pass the Advanced Placement exams. In addition to its 100 percent college acceptance rate, the academy says 85 percent of its students are accepted into their first-choice school.


McPhee said the academy “produces some of the best and brightest young minds from across the nation and around the world.”

“I know that (Montverde) students and their parents will come to love and appreciate MTSU as they do this very fine academic institution,” he said.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee signs copies of his book of photographs of China after a lecture Friday at Montverde Academy in Florida.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee signs copies of his book of photographs of China after a lecture Friday at Montverde Academy in Florida.

McPhee met with juniors and seniors, including several students from China, before the signing ceremony. The president talked about programs and facilities at MTSU, including the recently opened, state-of-the-art, $147-million Science Building.

Thirty Montverde students have been accepted for admission to MTSU’s incoming fall class, including nine who were enrolled during Friday’s visit, said Deb Sells, vice president for student affairs and vice provost for enrollment services.

Two of those future MTSU students, seniors Gloria Katuka and Manuel Lopez, met with McPhee, Sells and Melinda Thomas, the university’s director of admissions, and asked them for insights about the Murfreesboro campus.

“We are looking forward to seeing both of you on campus this fall,” McPhee told the students.

Under McPhee’s watch, MTSU’s international student enrollment has increased from 396 to 789 in five years, and the university had 335 students in its education abroad programs this summer. It has more than 40 exchange agreements with institutions around the world.

— Andrew Oppmann (andrew.oppmann)



MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee (left) meets with Montverde seniors Gloria Katuka and Manuel Lopez, who have been admitted into the universityÕs incoming class this fall. At right is Montverde Headmaster Kasey Kesselring.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee (left) meets with Montverde seniors Gloria Katuka and Manuel Lopez, who have been admitted into the universityÕs incoming class this fall. At right is Montverde Headmaster Kasey Kesselring.

19th annual Unity Luncheon honors five community leaders (+VIDEO)

For Murfreesboro City Councilwoman and MTSU alumna Madelyn Scales Harris, being among the five honorees at Tuesday’s Unity Luncheon at MTSU represented the legacy of a father and mother who instilled in her the desire to serve her community.

“I’m standing on the shoulders of my parents, and I’m trying to continue the legacy,” she said following MTSU’s 19th annual gathering, which was held in the Student Union Ballroom. “I got a good start because I was born and raised in a home where … not only did they teach, but they showed by example that we serve God by serving our fellow man.”

Scales Harris and the other honorees — Clifford Allison, Dr. Barbara Canada, Percy Ford and Karl Thomas — were all smiles upon receiving their engraved crystal awards before an admiring crowd who came to show their support. A hallmark of MTSU’s Black History Month observances since 1996, the luncheon highlights the achievements of citizens whose guiding principle is service to others.


Nominees for the award must be age 60 or older, have resided in the Middle Tennessee area for 25 years or more and who have made outstanding contributions to their community.

Inspired by the theme in the famous poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, Jonell Hinsey, director of MTSU’s Intercultural and Diversity Center and chair of the Black History Month Committee, applauded the honorees for taking the road less traveled, one filled with selflessness and sacrifice for the benefit of others.

Jonell Hinsey

Jonell Hinsey

“You stopped and you recognized where there needed to be help … what needed to be done,” Hinsey said. “And for that, we celebrate you. We celebrate you while you are here.”

In his remarks, keynote speaker Bishop Joseph W. Walker III, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, used the biblical story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead — rolling the stone away from his grave — to illustrate the point that we shouldn’t give up on people or prematurely label them as “dead and powerless and hopeless.”

“Today we honor people who dared to roll the stones away. People who were not satisfied with being apathetic or casual regarding the various concerns of our community, but are true heroes and she-roes in our community,” he said. “And we honor you today because your light literally symbolizes that you would do what nobody else was willing to do. …To tell somebody that the people you gave up on have value.”

Clifford Allison: A veteran of World War II, Allison was drafted at age 18 and served in the European Theater of Operations. In peacetime, Allison ran a well-respected mortuary business. The 91-year-old Allison is an active member of the American Legion.

Bishop Joseph W. Walker III, senior pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, was keynote speaker Tuesday, Feb. 10, at the 19th annual Unity Luncheon inside the Student Union ballroom.

Bishop Joseph W. Walker III, senior pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, was keynote speaker Tuesday, Feb. 10, at the 19th annual Unity Luncheon inside the Student Union ballroom.

Dr. Barbara Canada: A retired Tennessee State University assistant professor and cooperative extension specialist, Canada is the founder and chief executive officer of Aspire to Educate-Empower-Encourage. Known as “AE3,” the nonprofit organization was founded to help people and groups achieve business, health and community-building goals.

Percy Ford: A nationally certified drug and alcohol counselor, Ford is a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Key United Methodist Church and the Murfreesboro chapter of the NAACP.

Karl Thomas: A poet and oral historian known as K.H.A.O.S., Thomas worked for 10 years at The Village Cultural Arts Center, which provided programs designed to deter teen pregnancy, juvenile delinquency and high-school dropout rates. Previously, Thomas founded and managed the Outreach Program from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s to help the underprivileged access disability benefits or drug and alcohol rehabilitation services.

Scales Harris, the only woman on the Murfreesboro City Council, is retired from State Farm Insurance Company as a business account underwriter. She is the owner of New Beginnings, a youth motivational speaking company. Her community service legacy includes activism with the League of Women Voters, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Fund of Rutherford County and First Baptist Church, among other groups.

Her late father, Robert “Tee-Niny” Scales, was the city’s first black councilman when he was elected in the early 1960s. Her late mother, Mary Scales, followed in his footsteps more than two decades later, becoming the first black woman elected to the City Council.

Scales Harris continued the family legacy by being elected to the council in 2010. With Tuesday’s honor, she follows in the footsteps of her mother, who was honored at the 2012 Unity Luncheon before succumbing to cancer in 2013.

In welcoming attendees to the luncheon, Dr. John Omachonu, vice provost for academic affairs, stressed the importance of events such as this to celebrate the diversity within the community.

“The more inclusive we are as a university, the stronger we are, not weaker,” he said. “The more unified we are, the stronger we are as an institution.”

For more information about MTSU’s Black History Month events, contact Hinsey at 615-898-5797 or jonell.hinsey@mtsu.edu. Find a calendar of events at http://tinyurl.com/mtsubhm2015.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

From left to right, Dr. Barbara Canada, Clifford Allison, Percy Ford, Madelyn Scales Harris and Karl Thomas were the honorees at MTSU's 19th annual Unity Luncheon held Tuesday, Feb. 10, inside the Student Union ballroom. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

From left to right, Dr. Barbara Canada, Clifford Allison, Percy Ford, Madelyn Scales Harris and Karl Thomas were the honorees at MTSU’s 19th annual Unity Luncheon held Tuesday, Feb. 10, inside the Student Union ballroom. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

Click on the poster to see a larger, printable version.

Click on the poster to see a larger, printable version.

MTSU Survey: Midstate consumer outlook dips a tad, but still positive

Midstate consumers’ outlook on the economy — while still optimistic — has dipped slightly since the holidays following a significant upturn at the end of 2014.

The overall Middle Tennessee Consumer Outlook Index stands at 322 this month, down from 329 in early December, according to the latest economic survey by Middle Tennessee State University.

Dr. Tim Graeff

Dr. Tim Graeff

“The decline in overall outlook should not be taken as an immediate call for concern among business leaders and managers,” said Tim Graeff, director of the Office of Consumer Research in the MTSU Jennings A. Jones College of Business, which conducted the survey.

The current telephone poll of 317 randomly selected adult residents of Davidson, Rutherford and Williamson counties was conducted Feb. 3 and Feb. 5. The index score is computed by adding the percentage of favorable responses to each survey question and subtracting the percentage of negative responses.

Click the image for a printable .pdf version of the full report.

Click the image for a printable .pdf version of the full report.

“An overall index score above 300 indicates a positive view of economic conditions,” Graeff added. “Before this past December, the Middle Tennessee Consumer Outlook Index had not been above 300 since February 2007. And, compared to consumers across the rest of the country, consumers in this local area continue to hold more positive views of the economy.”

The survey’s Current Situation Index, which among other things asks consumers about their personal financial situation, continued its rise — from 77 in December to 91 this month. The percentage of consumers who said they are “better off financially” compared to a year ago jumped from 30 to 37 percent, while the percentage who said they are “worse off” dropped from 19 to 16 percent.

However, concerns about the future of the overall American economy and the job market contributed to declines in the indices on future expectations and purchasing situation. Fewer consumers feel the economy will be better in six months and fewer said now was a good time to buy large items for the home.

Click for a .pdf version of the full report.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

Do a little waltz with MTSU Opera’s ‘The Merry Widow’ Feb. 19-20

MTSU Opera Workshop will turn Hinton Hall into a Parisian embassy ballroom full of romantic and political intrigue Feb. 19-20 when the company recreates Franz Lehár’s beloved 1905 operetta “The Merry Widow.”

MTSU junior Beth Ann Stripling, left, ponders the proposal that senior William Taylor Duke has made as they portray Hanna Glawari and Count Danilo in the classic operetta "The Merry Widow" in MTSU's Hinton Music Hall Feb. 19-20. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

MTSU junior Beth Ann Stripling, left, ponders the proposal that senior William Taylor Duke has made as they portray Hanna Glawari and Count Danilo in the classic operetta “The Merry Widow” in MTSU’s Hinton Music Hall Feb. 19-20. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

Presented by MTSU Arts, the 7:30 p.m. performances inside the university’s Wright Music Building are being directed by Amy Tate Williams, chorus master and accompanist for Nashville Opera as well as the longtime opera director for the MTSU-based Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts.

(UPDATE: The MTSU Arts Patrons Reception scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, has been canceled due to inclement weather. The reception will be rescheduled at a later date.)

The student cast says they’re up to the challenge of telling Lehár’s tale: the musical story of what appears to be half a country’s determination to marry off a rich young widow to a local fellow to keep her 20 million francs at home and their national economy stable.

“We hope people come to see it and laugh along with the characters,” said junior Garrett Doo, a baritone from Munford, Tennessee, who portrays the busybody ambassador Baron Zeta.

“It’s a lot of fun. It gives me the opportunity to get experience doing a full opera and working with someone of Amy’s caliber.”

“We always have a good time because many of us have been working together since our freshman year,” added Beth Ann Stripling, the Knoxville junior whose soprano voice is getting a merry workout in the lead role of Hanna Glawari.

“This is a wonderful resume builder, but we really enjoy performing it, too. This is a great environment for us to learn and work in.”

The cast of the MTSU Opera production of "The Merry Widow" rehearse in Hinton Hall inside MTSU's Wright Music Building to prepare for the Feb. 19-20 performances.

The cast of the MTSU Opera production of “The Merry Widow” rehearses in Hinton Hall inside MTSU’s Wright Music Building to prepare for the Feb. 19-20 performances.

MTSU Opera, directed by School of Music professor Dr. Raphael Bundage, regularly presents fully staged, professional-caliber productions for the campus community, offering in-depth experience for undergraduate and graduate students in performances including “Sweeney Todd,” “Ragtime: The Musical” and “The Marriage of Figaro.”

Many of the students, who are vocal performance majors, also work with MTSU Theatre musical productions and have been part of recent sold-out presentations of Handel’s “Messiah” and “Les Misérables.”

“I auditioned for this show because I’m seeking a career in opera as well as planning for graduate school,” explained Murfreesboro senior William Taylor Duke, who’s portraying the ambassador’s intended new husband for Hanna, Count Danilo. “It’s a fine opportunity for each of us to build up our professional experience.”

The operetta, first performed in Vienna in 1905, became a fast hit, leading to international tours, revivals, cast recordings and two film versions in the century since. Its settings range from the Parisian embassy headquarters of the fictional nation of Pontevedro to the widow’s posh garden to an evening at the famous Maxim’s cabaret as the characters pursue, ignore, entice and infuriate each other.

The Metropolitan Opera recently opened a new production of “The Merry Widow” featuring soprano Renee Fleming that will resume in April and be screened later in theaters worldwide. You can prepare for the MTSU production by listening to a 1907 recording of “The Merry Widow Waltz,” the most well-known tune in the operetta’s score, below.

General-admission tickets for the Feb. 19-20 performances are $10 for adults and $5 for all non-MTSU students and will be available at the door. MTSU students, faculty and staff will be admitted free with a valid ID. For more ticket information, call 615-898-2849.

For information on becoming a member of the MTSU Arts Patrons Society and supporting fine arts at MTSU, visit www.mtsu.edu/mtsuarts/patronssociety.php.

Tuesday’s planned tornado siren test aims to keep MTSU safer

MTSU plans to conduct a routine monthly test of its tornado sirens on campus Tuesday, Feb. 10, at 12:20 p.m.

This is a brief, routine test of the system, and no safety actions will be required.

The university notifies the campus and surrounding neighborhoods before these tests each month. Tests are conducted on alternating Tuesdays and Wednesdays to minimize distractions for classes and neighbors.

Members of the campus community can prepare for emergency weather situations anytime by checking MTSU’s list of “safe places” at http://bit.ly/MTSUSafePlaces. You also can make note of the siren-testing schedule by visiting http://mtsunews.com/tornado-siren-testing. Bookmark both sites!

Remember that, in the event of a weather emergency, all students, faculty and staff automatically receive a Rave alert at their MTSU email addresses. If you’re not already receiving text and/or voice alerts too, visit http://mtsunews.com/weather and use the “click here and log in” link to make those notification changes.