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City sets comprehensive plan meeting Jan. 27 near campus

The city of Murfreesboro will conduct a third public meeting Jan. 27, this time near the MTSU campus, to gather input from the community as part of the Murfreesboro 2035 comprehensive plan.

Click the image to visit the webpage.

Click the image to visit the webpage.

Murfreesboro 2035 is a communitywide process to plan for the next 20 years of growth and development. The final results of the two-year planning process will become the city’s comprehensive plan, a guidebook that specifies policy, program, and project initiatives for the city, according to a city news release.

Consultants from Kendig Keast Collaborative will give a community presentation on “Chapter 2, Growth” at the meeting, which will be held beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27, at Central Magnet School, 701 E. Main St.

At the meeting, the Murfreesboro community is invited to participate and attend workshops with consultants Kendig Keast Collaborative, Neel Schaffer Inc. and Smith Seckman Reid Inc., according to the city news release.

Residents, business owners and community leaders can provide input into the city’s quality of life, community character and growth capacity. The community workshop is part of the ongoing process of developing a comprehensive plan.

Dr. Gloria Bonner

Dr. Gloria Bonner

Kent Syler

Kent Syler

A 20-member task force formed to help promote community engagement and serve as a sounding board includes MTSU’s Dr. Gloria Bonner, assistant to the president for the Office of Community Engagement and Support, and Kent Syler, an assistant professor of political science. That group next meets at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26, at the Rutherford Chamber of Commerce, 3050 Medical Center Parkway.

Chapter 1 of the plan was presented to the community, Dec. 9, 2014. To watch a five-minute video, visit http://youtu.be/kA3Z3mgUaXY.

Other available information:

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

If inclement weather forecasts have you wondering if MTSU events will be delayed or cancelled, bookmark this page, mtsunews.com/weather, to keep track of the latest updates!

If inclement weather arises that will affect university operations, MTSU will always inform the campus and surrounding community via:
  • 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 will be automatically notified via email alerts from Rave regarding weather-related emergencies, delays and cancellations.
If you are an MTSU student, faculty member or staff member and want to receive text and/or voice alerts too, click here and log in with your PipelineMT username and password to update your preferences.

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

If MTSU classes are cancelled or delayed, the announcement will apply to all classes, credit and noncredit. (MTSU students currently are on winter break. Classes will resume Tuesday, Jan. 20, when the spring 2015 semester begins.)

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

Students concerned about class attendance during inclement weather can refer to the university’s 2014-15 “Blue Raider Planner and Handbook ,” which 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. You can read the policy here and also check the ACE Learning Center’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ProjectHelp for its weather closing updates.

MTSU also 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.

MTSU closes for Jan. 19 MLK holiday; night celebration scheduled

MTSU will be closed Monday, Jan. 19, for the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday.

The university will reopen at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20, with all business offices open until 4:30 p.m.

MLK Celebration72Students and faculty, who have been on winter break for about six weeks, return to begin spring semester classes Tuesday.

The Student Union Building will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Monday. Saturday, it will be open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and closed Sunday. For the Student Union, James Union Building and Keathley University Center spring schedule and winter break hours of operation, visit www.mtsu.edu/mtunions/hours.php.

Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. in the KUC Theater, members of the MTSU community will hold an MLK celebration and candlelight vigil to highlight the contributions made by King and his wife, Coretta Scott King. The event is open to the public.

Pastor Jason D. Scales, who founded the Believers Faith Fellowship Church in Christiana, Tennessee, in January 2009, will be the keynote speaker. Special guests will be MTSU Generation of Praise.

The KUC, located at 1524 Military Memorial Drive, and nearby parking, are included on a printable campus map available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParking14-15.

The event is sponsored by the MTSU Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, MTSU Office of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs and the MTSU Baptist Collegiate Ministry.

The MLK Celebration and Candlelight Vigil kicks off the Connection Point spring semester program to help students become involved in other aspects of campus besides academics and be engaged in the life of the MTSU community. For all spring Connection Point events, visit www.mtsu.edu/stuaff/connect.

In addition to the holiday, the James E. Walker Library will also be closed Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 17-18, and will reopen at 7 a.m. Tuesday. For all library hours, visit http://library.mtsu.edu/hours.php.

Weekend hours of operation for the Campus Recreation Center will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday. The indoor pool hours will be 9:15 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Saturday and 2:15 to 5:45 p.m. Sunday. The center will reopen at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

ARAMARK/MT Dining facilities will reopen at their regularly scheduled times Tuesday.

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

MTSU plans routine tornado-siren test this Wednesday morning

MTSU plans to conduct a routine monthly test of its tornado sirens on campus and at the Miller Coliseum Complex this Wednesday, Jan. 14, at 11:15 a.m.

This will be another brief, routine test of the system. 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.

MTSU helps Oaklands Museum again celebrate bridal style in exhibit

The wedding ceremony’s aim remains to form a lifelong union, but one of its centerpieces — the bride’s gown — has been transformed to accommodate various styles over the years.

Oaklands wedding dress poster 2015 webMany of those styles will be on display in “Wedding Dresses through the Decades,” an exhibit from Sunday, Jan. 11, through Sunday, March 8, at Oaklands Historic House Museum, located at 900 N. Maney Ave. in Murfreesboro.

The MTSU Department of Human Sciences is a partner in the fourth annual event, contributing dress forms and sign holders for more than 50 gowns representing styles from 1860 through 2014.

This year’s exhibit includes dresses from the department’s Textiles, Merchandising and Design Historic Costume Collection.

Dr. Teresa King, a professor of textiles, merchandising and design, helped Oaklands’ educational director Mary Beth Nevills select and the provided gowns from the collection.

King’s own wedding dress, as well as the military uniform worn by her groom, were part of a window display at McWherter Learning Resources Center last year.

The 2014 wedding dresses display at Oaklands won the Award of Excellence in the temporary exhibition category from the Tennessee Association of Museums conference in Greenville.

The exhibit will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays. Special appointments also are available.

Admission is $8 per person, and group rates are available upon request.

Special Friday evening displays are slated for 4 to 8 p.m. Jan. 23, Feb. 6 and 20, and March 6.

Sponsors of “Wedding Dresses through the Decades” include Bell Jewelers, Encore Bridal & Formal Wear, Julia’s HomeStyle Bakery, Rion Flowers and Gifts, The Write Impression and Street Tuxedo.

For more information, contact Deborah Belcher, chair of the MTSU Department of Human Sciences, at 615-898-2302 or deborah.belcher@mtsu.edu, or Mary Beth Nevills, educational director for Oaklands, at 615-893-0022 or mb@oaklandsmuseum.org.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

The military tuxedo worn by retired U.S. Air Force Col. Michael King, right, and the gown worn by his bride, Teresa King, an MTSU fashion merchandising professor, are shown on either side of their wedding portrait in a 2014 university display. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

The military tuxedo worn by retired U.S. Air Force Col. Michael King, right, and the gown worn by his bride, Teresa King, an MTSU fashion merchandising professor, are shown on either side of their wedding portrait in this file photo from a 2014 university display. (MTSU file photo by News and Media Relations)

The wedding gown worn by Chloe Calhoun, an MTSU admissions coordinator, is shown in this file photo from Murfreesboro's Oaklands Historic House Museum as part of the 2014 "Wedding Dresses Through the Ages" exhibit.

The wedding gown worn by Chloe Calhoun, an MTSU admissions coordinator, is shown in this file photo from Murfreesboro’s Oaklands Historic House Museum as part of the 2014 “Wedding Dresses Through the Ages” exhibit. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU to offer courses at Blackman Collegiate Academy (+VIDEO)

MTSU will become a partner in Blackman High School’s new Collegiate Academy, offering college-level courses on the high school campus this fall and assisting in the development of its academic enrichment programs.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, Blackman High School Principal Leisa Justus, and Don Odom, director of Rutherford County Schools, sign an agreement Tuesday at Blackman for MTSU to become a partner in Blackman’s new Collegiate Academy. MTSU will offer college-level courses on the high school campus this fall and assist in the development of its academic enrichment programs. The agreement will allow Blackman juniors and seniors who meet eligibility standards to take up to six hours of university courses at no cost to students. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, Blackman High School Principal Leisa Justus, and Don Odom, director of Rutherford County Schools, sign an agreement Tuesday at Blackman for MTSU to become a partner in Blackman’s new Collegiate Academy. MTSU will offer college-level courses on the high school campus this fall and assist in the development of its academic enrichment programs. The agreement will allow Blackman juniors and seniors who meet eligibility standards to take up to six hours of university courses at no cost to students. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

The agreement signed Tuesday, Jan. 6, by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, Blackman Principal Leisa Justus and Rutherford County Director of Schools Don Odom will allow Blackman juniors and seniors who meet eligibility standards to take up to six hours of university courses at no cost to students. Credits will count on high school and college transcripts.

The partners will develop and offer select post-secondary courses at Blackman with an eye toward building curriculum options for the Collegiate Academy, a competitive college-preparatory program at the school that begins this fall.

MTSU will also make certain programs, activities and resources available to academy students, such as access to its new state-of-the-art, $147 million Science Building, education-abroad programs and participation in campus events and lectures.

“We are excited to partner with Blackman in the formation of the Collegiate Academy, which promises to be among the very best preparatory programs of its kind in the nation,” McPhee said.

“And we are eager to welcome select Blackman students to the MTSU family through our dual-enrollment program,” he said. “This will afford them a unique opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge about the advantages offered by our university.”

Justus said she welcomed MTSU’s participation in the new academy and looked forward to the university’s greater involvement at the school. Blackman is accepting applications for the academy until Jan. 19. For more information on the academy, go to http://blackmancollegiate.wix.com/collegiateacademy.

http://youtu.be/0BVn-VjDHHk

MTSU Wordmark“This partnership will help prepare our graduates to succeed in their higher educational pursuits,” Justus said. “It will help us create a rigorous academic environment in the academy where our students can be challenged.”

McPhee said the initial classes by MTSU on Blackman’s west Murfreesboro campus will likely include courses such as freshman-level biology, chemistry, English, history and other “core curriculum” required for university students regardless of major.

MTSU is able to offer six credits at no cost to students, he said, thanks to a state Dual Enrollment Grant, funded by the Tennessee Lottery, and a new dual-enrollment rate recently approved by the Tennessee Board of Regents at goes into effect this fall. The credits can apply to MTSU or another university of the student’s choice.

Odom thanked McPhee for reaching out to him early in his tenure as director to ask how MTSU could assist the county school system.

“We have lots of bright students … and if we can get MTSU teachers into this school, we have some opportunities there, and we can retain some of the best and brightest here in Rutherford County,” he said.

Justus said the academy would require students to earn a combined total of at least 12 credits in honors, advanced placement or dual-enrollment courses.

And she said she hopes the university will be a resource for the academy’s “major focus areas” that students will select for specialization, which include:

A group of Blackman High School students joined MTSU officials, Blackman High administrators and Rutherford County Schools officials for a group photo following the signing of an agreement Tuesday at Blackman's campus for MTSU to become a partner in Blackman’s new Collegiate Academy.

A group of Blackman High School students joined MTSU officials, Blackman High administrators and Rutherford County Schools officials for a group photo following the signing of an agreement Tuesday at Blackman’s campus for MTSU to become a partner in Blackman’s new Collegiate Academy.

  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
  • Fine Arts
  • Health Science
  • Business and Economics
  • Math and Science
  • Liberal Arts
  • Information Technology
  • Political Science
  • Journalism and Communications
  • Agricultural Science
  • Culinary Science

“MTSU’s standing as a major comprehensive university will provide Blackman many opportunities for enrichment,” McPhee said. “We bring to bear a top-notch faculty, more than 140 undergraduate majors and state-of-the-art facilities.”

Justus said the academy also would require real-life experiences, school involvement and small-group and individual research projects that culminate into a senior-year project. That makes access to MTSU resources like the Science Building and the James E. Walker Library and other programs even more valuable, she said.

“There’s no doubt that our partnership with the university will give our academy students, and our entire school, some amazing opportunities,” she said.

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

MTSU and Blackman High School signed an agreement Tuesday at Blackman's campus for MTSU to become a partner in Blackman’s new Collegiate Academy. The agreement will allow Blackman juniors and seniors who meet eligibility standards to take up to six hours of university courses at no cost to students. Pictured from left to right are Ken Reed, a Blackman assistant principal and dean of the new academy; Dr. Brad Bartel, MTSU provost; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee; Blackman High School Principal Leisa Justus; Don Odom, director of Rutherford County Schools; and Christine Bryan, a Blackman counselor.

MTSU and Blackman High School signed an agreement Tuesday at Blackman’s campus for MTSU to become a partner in Blackman’s new Collegiate Academy. The agreement will allow Blackman juniors and seniors who meet eligibility standards to take up to six hours of university courses at no cost to students. Pictured from left to right are Ken Reed, a Blackman assistant principal and dean of the new academy; Dr. Brad Bartel, MTSU provost; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee; Blackman High School Principal Leisa Justus; Don Odom, director of Rutherford County Schools; and Christine Bryan, a Blackman counselor.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, and Don Odom, right, director of Rutherford County Schools, shake hands after signing an agreement Tuesday at Blackman for MTSU to become a partner in Blackman’s new Collegiate Academy. In the center is Blackman High School Principal Leisa Justus.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, and Don Odom, right, director of Rutherford County Schools, shake hands after signing an agreement Tuesday at Blackman for MTSU to become a partner in Blackman’s new Collegiate Academy. In the center is Blackman High School Principal Leisa Justus.

Exhibit on emancipation, Reconstruction expands, heads to Clarksville

The MTSU-based Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area has expanded its traveling exhibition on emancipation and Reconstruction, which will be on display in Clarksville, Tennessee, from Jan. 6 to Feb. 26.

“Free at Last!” will be on view at the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center, located at 200 S. Second St. in Clarksville, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sundays. Public admission ranges from $7 for adults to $3 for children ages six to 18.

New portions of an MTSU-based exhibit on emancipation and Reconstruction in Tennessee feature information on East and Middle Tennessee. The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area is bringing the exhibit to Clarksville's Customs House Museum and Cultural Center Jan. 6- Feb. 26. (photo courtesy of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area)

New portions of an MTSU-based exhibit on emancipation and Reconstruction in Tennessee feature information on East and Middle Tennessee. The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area is bringing the exhibit to Clarksville’s Customs House Museum and Cultural Center Jan. 6- Feb. 26. (photo courtesy of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area)

“Free at Last!” tells the momentous story of the transition from slavery to freedom and the development of citizenship among formerly enslaved African-Americans. In this final year of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the exhibit now has panels focused on each of Tennessee’s three grand divisions.

“Our goal was to provide sites with a concise, well-illustrated introduction to the significance of emancipation and the agency of slaves in bringing about their freedom,” said Antoinette van Zelm, programs manager at the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU, which administers the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

The exhibit debuted in February 2007 with two displays providing an overview of emancipation and Reconstruction in Tennessee.

At the beginning of the Civil War Sesquicentennial in 2011, the Heritage Area added two panels on West Tennessee that emphasized the connection between the Union army’s advance along the Mississippi River, the escape of thousands of slaves to Union lines, and the systematic establishment of contraband camps under Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

The West Tennessee panels were based on the master’s thesis research of Center for Historic Preservation graduate research assistant Cheri LaFlamme Szcodronski.

New panels on East Tennessee look at that region’s legacy of emancipation before the Civil War and consider how emancipation has been remembered in the region since the war. The Middle Tennessee panels highlight the development of Unionism among enslaved Tennesseans and underscore the significance of education and citizenship during Reconstruction.

Tenn Civil War Natl Heritage Area logo webMore than 40 venues across Tennessee have hosted “Free at Last!” so far. Organizers said the expanded display, now consisting of eight panels, will give sites the opportunity to share even more of the story with visitors.

Later in 2015, the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area will publish a driving tour of Reconstruction sites across the state.

“When completed, the driving tour will go hand in hand with the expanded exhibition to provide Tennessee residents and visitors with in-depth knowledge about this significant and often misunderstood period in Tennessee’s history,” said Leigh Ann Gardner, interpretive specialist for the Heritage Area.

The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area receives funding from the National Park Service and is administered by the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University. For more information about the exhibition, please contact van Zelm at 615-494-8869.

Have a business idea? MTSU contest features seed money

MTSU students, alumni and others looking to get that great business idea off the ground have an opportunity to do so through a university-sponsored business plan competition.

The competition, which includes seed money to the top two winners, is offered through the Wright Travel Chair in Entrepreneurship in MTSU’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business.

Although the deadline to submit online entries isn’t until late February, organizers are encouraging anyone interested in participating to get started on their submission now.

Click on the logo to register for the competition.

Click on the logo to register for the competition.

“The competition is really a mechanism to try to get people to start writing things down, to think through the process,” said MTSU professor Bill McDowell, who holds the Wright Travel Chair in Entrepreneurship.

Any enrolled MTSU student or MTSU alumnus 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.

“The student or alumnus must be extremely involved in the plan,” McDowell said.

Dr. Bill McDowell

Dr. Bill McDowell

An added incentive to enter the contest is the seed money awarded to the top plans.

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

Applications and submissions are due by noon Feb. 26, 2015, but McDowell encourages contestants to get started now on the online application process, which begins with submitting a “new venture profile” that summarizes the business idea.

Students and alumni can get more information by visiting http://mtsubusinessplan2015.istart.org or by visiting http://mtsu.edu/entre/wright_travel.php.

“This is an attempt to stir innovation and creativity in students and alumni to start thinking about what they might have in the backs of their minds,” McDowell said. “To try to get those from an idea that’s stuck inside to an opportunity that they may try to act upon.”

Dr. David Urban

Dr. David Urban

The competition was started in 2013 to encourage entrepreneurship in the region. It is designed to help students and alumni in launching new business ventures, including for-profits, not-for-profits, corporate entrepreneurship and social enterprise.

“The Jones College provides opportunities like this so that our students get the kind of hands-on experiences and soft skills needed to have successful careers,” said Dr. David Urban, dean of the Jones College.

McDowell, who taught entrepreneurship at East Carolina University for eight years before coming to MTSU a year ago, said potential participants should think about a need in the marketplace that they think they can fill and turn into a sustainable business.

The Midstate is a perfect area for such entrepreneurshipo, McDowell added, because of the overall positive economic climate as well as the strong support from local chambers of commerce and the availability of resources such as the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at MTSU.

“I like the progressive and entrepreneurial attitude that seems to pervade this entire Middle Tennessee area,” he said. “We live in an area here in Middle Tennessee where there’s really a lot of growth and a lot of opportunity for new startups, whether they’re in retail or manufacturing or service.”

McDowell emphasized that the competition isn’t limited to business students. Organizers expect to get multiple entries from students and alumni whose expertise and background are in other disciplines.

“I expect a huge number of submissions to come from all across campus,” he said. “There’s a lot of creative departments, majors and colleges … where there are going to be some unique ideas.”

After an initial screening round, participants will go through a sort of entrepreneurial boot camp, McDowell said, where more specifics will be shared about what’s needed in the business plan and how to put together presentations for potential stakeholders and investors.Entrepreneurship logo

Later, there will be a trade-show round, where judges will narrow down the field to the top three or four entries. Mentors will then be assigned to the teams to help them polish their presentations and business plans for final evaluation by judges.

Organizers say the process will allow students to enhance their learning experience, gain feedback on ideas, develop networks and expose their ideas to potential investors. Early-stage company investors, entrepreneurs and business leaders from the Midstate will judge presentations by the finalist teams.

“We’re seeing so many new ideas popping up. It comes down to the creativity and innovation, but also your willingness to put in the hard work,” McDowell said. “Being an entrepreneur can be very rewarding because you get to reap the rewards of your success, but at the same time you’re the one taking the risks.”

Other prizes and awards will be given during the competition. For more information, visit http://mtsu.edu/entre/wright_travel.php.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

A LOOK BACK: Top MTSUNews.com stories for 2014

The official opening of the $147 million state-of-the-art Science Building in mid-October was among the top highlights of another busy year for Middle Tennessee State University.

MTSU senior Kenneth Ball, center left, and chemistry professor Tammy Melton, center right, cut the ribbon on the university's new Science Building during the Wednesday, Oct. 15, opening ceremony for the facility. Joining in the celebration are, from left, John Hood, MTSU director of government and community affairs; Chancellor John Morgan of the Tennessee Board of Regents; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, Gov. Bill Haslam; and state Sen. Bill Ketron. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU senior Kenneth Ball, center left, and chemistry professor Tammy Melton, center right, cut the ribbon on the university’s new Science Building during the Wednesday, Oct. 15, opening ceremony for the facility. Joining in the celebration are, from left, John Hood, MTSU director of government and community affairs; Chancellor John Morgan of the Tennessee Board of Regents; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, Gov. Bill Haslam; and state Sen. Bill Ketron. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

The year started with churches in the community coming together to help provide emergency grants for MTSU students in a financial pinch. Throughout the year, a number of agreements — including several with Chinese universities — were signed and partnerships forged to provide MTSU students and prospective students a better opportunity to enhance their educations and obtain their degrees.

Now in his 14th year of leading the campus, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee held a series of town hall meetings in the spring to provide students, faculty and staff an opportunity to discuss the ongoing Quest for Student Success initiative. Launched in fall 2013, the reforms aim to help students stay on track academically, resulting in more students completing their degrees.

McPhee had a straightforward message to faculty and administration during his State of the University address at the annual Fall Faculty Meeting inside Tucker Theatre in late August.

“We must ensure that we recruit, retain and graduate students,” he said.

Here’s a month-by-month look at some of the top stories reported by MTSUNews.com in 2014.

January

* Churches from across the area gathered at World Outreach Church to help MTSU students stay on the path to getting their degrees. Coordinated by MTSU first lady Elizabeth McPhee, “Building Community: An Event for MTSU” was organized by a committee of local church leaders to assist MTSU students needing emergency financial assistance.

* Students, faculty and staff grabbed markers in support of nonviolence as the university continued its observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by tying his message of peace with the campus’ True Blue community values. Student artists painted versions of “I AM true BLUE” on several banners that hung across campus for anyone to sign with a statement of why they are True Blue.

Grammy-winning artist Bonnie Raitt (center) poses with Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee (left of Raitt) and Ken Paulson, dean of the College of Mass Communication, before the Americana Music Festival's pre-Grammy salute to Phil Everly at the Troubadour club on Saturday, Jan. 25, in West Hollywood. Also pictured is Jed Hilly, Americana's executive director (far left), singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell (second from left) and singer-songwriter Joe Henry (far right). (MTSU photos by Andrew Oppmann)

Grammy-winning artist Bonnie Raitt (center) poses with Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee (left of Raitt) and Ken Paulson, dean of the College of Mass Communication, before the Americana Music Festival’s pre-Grammy salute to Phil Everly at the Troubadour club on Saturday, Jan. 25, in West Hollywood. Also pictured is Jed Hilly, Americana’s executive director (far left), singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell (second from left) and singer-songwriter Joe Henry (far right). (MTSU photos by Andrew Oppmann)

* Friends and colleagues joined together to honor MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and his wife, Elizabeth McPhee, at The City Schools Foundation’s seventh annual Excellence in Education Celebration. The celebration was held at Stones River Country Club and featured John Pittard Elementary. Money raised benefited Murfreesboro City Schools’ pre-K through sixth grade students.

* MTSU and the College of Mass Communication partnered with the Franklin-based Americana Music Association for an event at the legendary Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood, California, to honor the late Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers, who died in 2013. Mass Comm Dean Ken Paulson, President Sidney A. McPhee and Beverly Keel, chair of the Department of Recording Industry, met with MTSU alumni and friends in Southern California.

* MTSU alumnus and multi-award-winning songwriter Luke Laird added another hyphenate to his name when the project he co-produced, Kasey Musgraves’ “Same Trailer, Different Park,” took the 2014 Grammy for Best Country Album. Laird, who earned his recording industry degree from MTSU in 2001, also co-wrote six of the album’s 12 tracks, including three with co-producer Shane McAnally.

* MT women’s basketball senior Ebony Rowe became the school’s all-time leading scorer, breaking a 27-year-old mark held by former Smyrna great Kim Webb.

* Reopening in new space on the second-floor atrium of the Bragg Mass Communication Building, the Baldwin Gallery’s inaugural exhibit by photographic artists Jerry Uelsmann and Maggie Taylor drew appreciative crowds. The exhibit kicked off the gallery’s 50th year. Professor Harold Baldwin started the photography program at MTSU in 1959 and established the photo gallery five years later.

http://youtu.be/LQManKyoXJk

February

* The 18th annual Unity Luncheon at MTSU honored three African-American residents who have contributed greatly to the community: James L. “Link” Butler Sr. of Murfreesboro, Pearlie Mae Martin of Murfreesboro, and Dr. Phyllis Hickerson-Washington of Murfreesboro.

The 18th annual Unity Luncheon honored three "unsung heroes" from the community. From L to R, the honorees included Murfreesboro residents Pearlie Mae Martin, James L. Butler Sr. and Phyllis Washington. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

The 18th annual Unity Luncheon honored three “unsung heroes” from the community. From L to R, the honorees included Murfreesboro residents Pearlie Mae Martin, James L. Butler Sr. and Phyllis Washington. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

* The MTSU Poll showed Tennesseans oppose legalizing marijuana generally but appear willing to allow medical marijuana use. The poll also found 64 percent opposed gay marriage.

* Team Music City, an interdisciplinary group from MTSU, Vanderbilt University and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville, was selected to compete in the Solar Decathlon 2015, a U.S. Department of Energy event that challenges students to design and build a functioning, energy-efficient, solar-powered house. The team’s conceptual design — Harmony House — forges a connection between Southern living and modern green technologies.

* The Rev. James McCarroll, pastor of First Baptist Church on East Castle Street, announced “Blue Pride Saturday” at a Blue Raider Athletic Association meeting. Set for March 1, the day featured Blue Raider baseball as well as men’s and women’s basketball games. The effort is part of the True Blue Community Initiative, a grass-roots effort to deepen support for MTSU academics and athletics across all segments of the community.

* The Tennessee Veteran Education Task Force met at the James Union Building. Many-Bears Grinder, commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs, serves as chair of the statewide task force. The group agreed that its mission is to help Tennessee become the No. 1 state in the country for veteran educational achievement and employment.

* MTSU’s Quest for Student Success efforts were recognized by state Rep. Dawn White before the House Education Committee at the state Capitol. White, who received three degrees from MTSU, introduced President Sidney A. McPhee and John Hood, director of government and community affairs.

MTSU graduate student Joshua Crutchfield says introducing President Barack Obama on Feb. 25 in Washington, D.C., as part of The Organizing Summit held by the nonprofit Organizing for Action was "an amazing experience." (Photo by MTSU News and Media Relations)

MTSU graduate student Joshua Crutchfield says introducing President Barack Obama on Feb. 25 in Washington, D.C., as part of The Organizing Summit held by the nonprofit Organizing for Action was “an amazing experience.” (Photo by MTSU News and Media Relations)

* MTSU and Columbia State signed a pact allowing community college students to earn a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness without ever having to leave Marshall County. The Agribusiness Program 2+2 Agreement — two years at the community college and two at a university — would begin in fall 2014. Students can move from an associate degree to an MTSU bachelor’s degree at Columbia State’s Lewisburg campus.

* Seeking his master’s degree in African-American history, MTSU graduate student Joshua Crutchfield made some personal history when he traveled to the nation’s capital to introduce President Barack Obama at a gathering of grass-roots organizations. The nonprofit Organizing for Action invited the Murfreesboro resident to introduce Obama at The National Organizing Summit on Feb. 25 in Washington, D.C. “It was a pretty amazing experience,” he said.

Dr. Reed Thomas

Dr. Reed Thomas

* MTSU’s Wind Ensemble released its second CD, “Earthrise,” a collaboration with three international composers, on one of the world’s most prestigious classical labels — Naxos of America, the Franklin, Tenn., U.S. headquarters for the Hong Kong-based Naxos classical music group. “We’re the only school in Tennessee that has one CD with Naxos, let alone two,” said Dr. Reed Thomas, director of bands and a professor of music and conducting in MTSU’s renowned School of Music.

March

* On the pristine Rutherford County Century Farm where MTSU alumnus Katherine Batey Whitt grew up in the Blackman community, she and her husband, fellow alumnus Brandon Whitt, were presented an “MTSU blue” GMC Sierra truck from Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac of Murfreesboro for being named Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award recipients by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

* More than 300 young Midstate creators attending the 22nd annual Invention Convention at MTSU earnestly explained and demonstrated their innovations to play games or “make life easier.” Fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade participants from public and private schools in Coffee, DeKalb, Franklin, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner and Wilson counties attended the event.

* MTSU embarked on another phase of its emphasis on student success with the opening of the $16 million Student Services and Admissions Center and MT One Stop. Nearly 100 MTSU employees from five offices and three buildings entered their new quarters and workspace. What this means for current and prospective students and visitors is student-centeredness and a convenience of key offices being centrally located under one roof.

http://youtu.be/WD06812apVc

* Increasing from five to 300 members in 2013 alone, the MTSU student organization known as BRAVO experienced tremendous growth. The progression was acknowledged when the Student Veterans of America national organization selected BRAVO — Blue Raider American Veteran Organization — as Chapter of the Month for March 2014. SVA is a coalition of student veterans groups on more than 950 college campuses worldwide.

* No. 20/22 Middle Tennessee Women’s Basketball learned that they would be headed west to Seattle, Washington, for the program’s 17th NCAA Tournament appearance. The Blue Raiders (29-4) put together the second most wins in program history. The Raiders won the Conference USA regular season and tournament title in the school’s first year in the league.

In their first year in Conference USA, the MT women's basketball team won the regular season and tournament titles, as well as its 17th bid to the NCAA tournament. (MTSU photo)

In their first year in Conference USA, the MT women’s basketball team won the regular season and tournament titles, as well as its 17th bid to the NCAA tournament. (MTSU photo)

* MT women’s basketball senior Ebony Rowe is named Conference USA Player of the Year, while teammate Olivia Jones is named Freshman of the Year. A few days later, MT men’s basketball senior forward Shawn Jones is named CUSA Player of the Year.

* In the inaugural season competing in Conference USA, the MT men’s basketball team won a share of the regular season title, before falling in the semifinals of the CUSA tournament to end their season.

* MTSU’s Forensic Institute for Research and Education, known as FIRE, used a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to partner with WillowTree Apps, an award-winning mobile application development company headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia, to create CASE, a crime scene checklist app for law enforcement agencies.

* Military Times named the MTSU Jennings A. Jones College of Business in the publication’s “Best for Vets: Business Schools 2014” rankings. The Jones College is one of 64 schools in the country to have made this list.

* MTSU students, faculty and staff now have convenient access to a host of top quality printing services with the opening of BLUE print Solutions on the first floor of the Student Union. The university’s first retail printing center held a grand opening celebration to officially introduce the state-of-the-art printing capabilities now available to the campus community.

* Recalling colorful anecdotes from her life and career, journalist Soledad O’Brien charmed and enlightened her audience at MTSU. The award-winning broadcaster, best known for her documentary work with CNN, delivered the keynote address for MTSU’s National Women’s History Month celebration at the Student Union Ballroom.

April

* MTSU’s College of Mass Communication and the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival entered a partnership that will help students better understand the dynamics of one of the world’s most successful entertainment events. Bonnaroo officials will visit campus for a question-and-answer session with students, while some students will participate in behind-the-scenes activities at the festival as part of their education.

* MTSU alumnus Phil Williams and the “NewsChannel5 Investigates” team win another George Foster Peabody Award, this time for their ongoing investigative report “NewsChannel 5 Investigates: Questions of Influence.” One of broadcast journalism’s highest honors, this coveted award marks the third such career honor for Williams, who graduated from MTSU in 1985 and joined WTVF-TV in Nashville in 1998.

* MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee holds four town hall meetings on campus to provide students, faculty and staff an opportunity to discuss the ongoing Quest for Student Success initiative. The meetings are held in the Parliamentary Room of the Student Union. Launched in fall 2013, the Quest for Student Success aims to help students stay on track academically, resulting in more students completing their degrees.

http://youtu.be/b400TiVyh84

* The first statewide collegiate conference of its kind in Tennessee was the standout feature of this year’s SpringOut! Pride Week at MTSU. Student organizations from more than 30 colleges and universities along with corporate and community leaders attended the inaugural LGBT+ College Conference on campus.

* The MTSU Blue Raider Debate team hosted the International Public Debate Association’s National Championship Tournament and Convention for colleges and universities.

* MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee was recognized by the Tennessee State Senate for his efforts to expand and strengthen the university’s international partnerships and educational outreach. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey welcomed McPhee and his wife, Elizabeth McPhee, into the Senate chambers for the reading of a resolution, authored by state Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro.

* Nearly 800 youngsters, ages 5 to 8, from schools in Rutherford and Cannon counties and the Murfreesboro City Schools attended the first Agricultural Education Spring Fling at the Tennessee Livestock Center in Murfreesboro.

* The 14-member MTSU moon buggy team captured the Neil Armstrong Best Design Award at the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge, previously known as the Great Moonbuggy Race, held in Huntsville, Ala. The award went to the MTSU Team 2 entry nicknamed “The Beast.”

MTSU junior Josh Calvin and graduate student Dianna Prince take the moon buggy nicknamed "The Beast" on a ride through campus before the team left the recent NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge in Huntsville, Ala. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

MTSU junior Josh Calvin and graduate student Dianna Prince take the moon buggy nicknamed “The Beast” on a ride through campus before the team left the recent NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge in Huntsville, Ala. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

* After more than 30 years with a name that announced its goals, MTSU’s Project Help took the name of its founder and its expanded services. MTSU unveiled a new sign at the North Baird Lane headquarters that reads “The Ann Campbell Early Learning Center at Middle Tennessee State University.”

Dr. Cedric Dent

Dr. Cedric Dent

* Author and MTSU alumnus Keel Hunt brought the story of Tennessee’s unprecedented bipartisan ouster of corrupt governor Ray Blanton to the Windham Lecture Series. Hunt was joined in MTSU’s Tucker Theatre by former governor Lamar Alexander, now Tennessee’s senior U.S. senator; John Seigenthaler, Tennessean editor emeritus; and former U.S. Attorney Hal Hardin for an in-depth discussion of the 1979 political scandal.

* MTSU School of Music professor Cedric Dent and his longtime colleagues in the multi-award-winning group Take 6 added another line to their resumes: members of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

May

* MTSU and the Civil Air Patrol’s Tennessee Wing agreed to partner in aerospace education for state high school students in the U.S. Air Force auxiliary’s cadet program. MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Tennessee Wing Commander Col. Bill Lane sign a Memorandum of Agreement that puts into play the educational resources of the university’s Department of Aerospace and the College of Basic and Applied Sciences to engage cadets in science and technology pursuits.

* Noting its special role in educating students and preparing future teachers for the classroom, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee makes a special presentation to the students, faculty and staff of Homer Pittard Campus School in recognition of its 85th anniversary at its Lytle Street location.

* MTSU alumnus Lt. Gen. William Phillips and Madam Xu Lin of China, a vice minister of education and director-general of the worldwide network of Confucius Institutes, were both presented honorary degrees and served as guest speakers for the spring commencement ceremonies. During the ceremonies, 2,303 students earned their degrees — 1,904 undergraduates and 397 graduate students.

http://youtu.be/ZYBiglicW9Q

* Middle Tennessee Blue Raider defensive tackle Jimmy Staten became the first MTSU player to be drafted since 2011, as he was selected 172nd overall in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. Staten learned of the Seahawks’ decision in the midst of his graduation ceremony.

* Middle Tennessee State University partnered with two Turkish universities to pursue groundbreaking automotive research and development surrounding the plug-in hybrid technology developed by MTSU professor Charles Perry. MTSU signed a letter of intent with Meliksah University and Firat University in Turkey to pursue an academic and industrial partnership to further develop Perry’s retrofit wheel-hub motor.

Mahmut Mat, rector of Meliksah University in Turkey, and Dr. Charles Perry of MTSU look on as Dr. Andrienne Friedli of MTSU signs the letter of intent between the universities to pursue an academic and industrial partnership to further develop Perry’s retrofit wheel-hub motor technology. (Submitted photo)

Mahmut Mat, rector of Meliksah University in Turkey, and Dr. Charles Perry of MTSU look on as Dr. Andrienne Friedli of MTSU signs the letter of intent between the universities to pursue an academic and industrial partnership to further develop Perry’s retrofit wheel-hub motor technology. (Submitted photo)

* Double-amputee MTSU student Jared Brentz successfully defended his 2013 Mesquite NV ParaLong Drive National Championship, blasting a 409-yard drive off the tee in the final round.

MTSU student Jared Brentz won the super division of the 2014 Mesquite NV ParaLong Drive National Championship May 9 in Mesquite, Nevada, with a record-breaking 409-yard drive. (Photo courtesy of the ParaLong Drive National Championship)

MTSU student Jared Brentz  (Photo courtesy of the ParaLong Drive National Championship)

* University Honors College’s held its Inaugural Presentation of the Buchanan Medallions. The bronze medallions were presented to spring 2014 graduating Buchanan Fellows and those from previous classes. The event also featured the unveiling of a clay bust of Dr. James M. Buchanan (1919-2013), whose donations led to the start of the Buchanan Fellows program in the Honors College.

With son Philip assisting, sculptor Tracy Sugg of Bell Buckle, Tennessee, unveils the clay bust of Dr. James M. Buchanan (1919-2013), whose donations led to the start of the Buchanan Fellows program in the University Honors College. Philip Sugg is a transfer in the Honors College program. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

With son Philip assisting, sculptor Tracy Sugg of Bell Buckle, Tennessee, unveils the clay bust of Dr. James M. Buchanan (1919-2013), whose donations led to the start of the Buchanan Fellows program in the University Honors College. Philip Sugg is a transfer in the Honors College program. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

* MTSU chemistry professor Judith Iriarte-Gross was announced as the inaugural recipient of the ATHENA International Leadership Award. The award was presented by RutherfordCABLE, a women-in-business networking organization.

* Officials from Middle Tennessee State University and Southwest Georgia’s Albany Technical College signed an agreement allowing students who graduate with an associate degree from Albany Tech to transfer to MTSU to earn their bachelor’s degree in electromechanical engineering technology. It marks the first time MTSU has gone beyond the state’s borders to forge such a partnership.

* Middle Tennessee State University signed an agreement to allow select juniors from China’s top communication university to complete their bachelor’s in Murfreesboro — and then earn a master’s degree from MTSU in one additional year. The agreement, known as a “3+1+1 accelerated graduate program,” was signed by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Su Zhiwu, president of Communication University of China, during brief ceremonies at the Beijing campus.

* Middle Tennessee State University and Hangzhou Normal University extended its Confucius Institute partnership — and discussed an idea to expand it with the creation of a Chinese music and cultural center at MTSU. Signed in Hangzhou, China, the second five-year pact will bring at least $500,000 in grant funding to the Murfreesboro campus.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee (seated, left) and Du Wei, president of Hangzhou Normal University (seated, right), sign the formal agreement Monday extending the partnership for the Confucius Institute on the Murfreesboro campus. The signing followed a meeting of the institute's advisory board on HNU's Cangqian campus. Also pictured from MTSU is Institute Director Guanping Zheng (left); Paul Martin, a member of the CIMTSU Advisory Board; Vice President Andrew Oppmann; Wu Xiaowei, HNU's director of the Department of International Cooperation and Exchange; Yiping Cui, associate director of the Institute; and Tang Shiming, vice director of HNU's Department of International Cooperation and Exchange. (MTSU photos)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee (seated, left) and Du Wei, president of Hangzhou Normal University (seated, right), sign the formal agreement Monday extending the partnership for the Confucius Institute on the Murfreesboro campus. The signing followed a meeting of the institute’s advisory board on HNU’s Cangqian campus. Also pictured from MTSU is Institute Director Guanping Zheng (left); Paul Martin, a member of the CIMTSU Advisory Board; Vice President Andrew Oppmann; Wu Xiaowei, HNU’s director of the Department of International Cooperation and Exchange; Yiping Cui, associate director of the Institute; and Tang Shiming, vice director of HNU’s Department of International Cooperation and Exchange. (MTSU photos)

* Middle Tennessee State University gained an international partner with expertise in mechatronics engineering through a pact signed in China with Shanghai Second Polytechnic University. MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and SSPU President Yu Tao signed a memorandum of understanding that will allow the universities to exchange students and faculty and develop joint research projects.

* MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee was among 28 recipients of the Nashville Business Journal’s Rutherford County Impact Awards, presented during an awards luncheon hosted by the publication at Embassy Suites Hotel. McPhee’s wife, Elizabeth, accepted the award on his behalf.

* Middle Tennessee State University’s delegation to China headed home after gaining a fifth new academic partner and setting plans for a group of Rutherford County schoolchildren and parents to visit Xi’an, China, cultural sites in July. MTSU signed a pact with Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an that will allow the two universities to set up student exchanges and develop faculty collaboration.

* MTSU’s student production team took a top national award for their live broadcast coverage of a January men’s basketball matchup inside Murphy Center. Members of EMC Productions, all top students in the university’s Department of Electronic Media Communication, won the “Outstanding Live Game and Event Production” collegiate category at the 2014 College Sports Media Awards.

Three members of MTSU's EMC Productions student TV production team accept the top national collegiate honor Wednesday for “Outstanding Live Game and Event Production” at the 2014 College Sports Media Awards in Atlanta. From left are senior Chris Robertson of La Vergne, Tennessee, director of EMC Productions; ESPN's Rece Davis, who served as host for the awards event; senior Justin Beasley of Humboldt, Tennessee; and junior Joshua Cragg of Murfreesboro. (Photo courtesy of Mike Forbes)

Three members of MTSU’s EMC Productions student TV production team accept the top national collegiate honor Wednesday for “Outstanding Live Game and Event Production” at the 2014 College Sports Media Awards in Atlanta. From left are senior Chris Robertson of La Vergne, Tennessee, director of EMC Productions; ESPN’s Rece Davis, who served as host for the awards event; senior Justin Beasley of Humboldt, Tennessee; and junior Joshua Cragg of Murfreesboro. (Photo courtesy of Mike Forbes)

* In a mere three weeks, some MTSU students transformed a national historic site. Their three-week field school took place on Georgia’s Jekyll Island, where the multimillionaire magnates of America’s Gilded Age created a retreat fit for royalty. The 13 graduate students of MTSU’s Current Issues of Public Policy Practice class set up exhibits, conducted oral history interviews and set up a multimedia website, among other work.

June

* The Governor’s School for the Arts kicked off its 30th anniversary at Middle Tennessee State University. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who as governor founded the statewide summer programs for gifted high schoolers, spoke at a welcome ceremony for 305 new participants and their families at Tucker Theater.

Google Inc has hired Matt Houglum, who earned his master’s degree from MTSU in May. He will begin his new job at the Seattle, Washington, operations center in June.

Google Inc has hired Matt Houglum, who earned his master’s degree from MTSU in May. He will begin his new job at the Seattle, Washington, operations center in June.

Google Inc. hired MTSU computer science alumnus Nathan Reale, who will begin working at the Mountain View, California, headquarters in June. Reale is from Franklin, Tennessee. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

Google Inc. hired MTSU computer science alumnus Nathan Reale, who will begin working at the Mountain View, California, headquarters in June. Reale is from Franklin, Tennessee. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

* Nathan Reale and Matt Houglum are the latest alumni from MTSU and its computer science program to tap the career pipeline to Web service giant Google. In April and May, respectively, the students-turned-alumni learned they had landed full-time positions with Google Inc., the American multinational corporation specializing in Internet-related services and products. They began their careers at Google locations in California and Washington state in June.

* Students from Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Mass Communication provided multimedia coverage of the 13th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, under a unique partnership between the university, the festival and The Tennessean.

* The Department of Aerospace at Middle Tennessee State University was out in full force at the Great Tennessee Air Show in Smyrna, Tennessee. MTSU was the presenting sponsor for the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels precision flight team. About 25 faculty and students worked a display tent about the aerospace department that featured two training aircraft.

* MT Athletics unveiled #TRUE as its marketing theme for the coming season, a more consistent and distinctive advertising concept that will be used by all 17 teams and also connects to the University’s ongoing “I am True Blue” brand.

http://youtu.be/hnvEABLmJKs

July

* Rutherford County schoolchildren, parents and teachers travel to six cities in China as part of an ongoing cultural and educational exchange between the two countries organized by MTSU. The trip was the third consecutive exchange between the Dongcheng Educational Group of Hangzhou Normal University and MTSU. Local students began the back-and-forth with a 2012 trip to China, then Dongcheng students visited MTSU last summer.

John Seigenthaler

John Seigenthaler

* Journalism icon John Seigenthaler, a First Amendment champion, civil rights advocate and devoted friend of Middle Tennessee State University, died July 11 at the age of 86. Seigenthaler lent his name and his prodigious talents to the Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies at MTSU. In 1986, MTSU established the chair to honor Seigenthaler’s lifelong commitment to free expression.

Dr. Rick Sluder

Dr. Rick Sluder

* MTSU announces the hiring of a new vice provost with a singular focus: ensuring the academic success of the university’s students. Dr. Richard “Rick” Sluder will join MTSU’s family Sept. 15 as vice provost for student success.

* Girls ages 10-17 attended the 12th annual Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp on the MTSU campus. Most of the day camp’s activities took place in the Wright Music Building on campus with musical performances inside Wright’s Hinton Hall.

* Middle Tennessee State University signed an agreement to extend its research partnership with the world’s largest medicinal herb garden in Nanning, China, through 2021. The pact, signed by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Miao Jianhua, director of the Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants, also secures MTSU’s worldwide rights, excluding China, to patent and market products developed in the partnership. The partners agreed to a 50-50 split of any profits from the collaboration.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee (center) presents a banner from the university to Miao Jianhua (second from right), director of the Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants in Nanning, China, after signing an agreement Monday to extend a research pact between the entities until 2021. Assistant professor Iris Gao (far left), state Sen. Bill Ketron (next to Gao) and professor Elliot Altman (far right) accompanied McPhee to the ceremony. (MTSU photo)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee (center) presents a banner from the university to Miao Jianhua (second from right), director of the Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants in Nanning, China, after signing an agreement Monday to extend a research pact between the entities until 2021. Assistant professor Iris Gao (far left), state Sen. Bill Ketron (next to Gao) and professor Elliot Altman (far right) accompanied McPhee to the ceremony. (MTSU photo)

* The Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University acquired the renowned Spring Fed Records from the Arts Center of Cannon County. The Arts Center donated the Grammy-winning label’s name and rights and sold its existing inventory to MTSU. Founded in 2002, Spring Fed Records is devoted to issuing unique and historically significant recordings of traditional Southern music, including old-time country, blues and gospel. Among its featured titles are music by Uncle Dave Macon, Sam and Kirk McGee, The Fairfield Four, Frazier Moss and Mississippi John Hurt.

Val Hoeppner

Val Hoeppner

* The year-old partnership between Middle Tennessee State University and Guangxi University will enable 140 students from the south China institution to eventually come to the Murfreesboro campus. MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee learned the news at a meeting on the Nanning, China, campus with Guangxi administrators as well as deans and professors in its colleges of business, foreign language and mathematics and information science.

* A longtime visual journalist who expanded her focus to train others to use mobile media is hired to lead MTSU’s nationally recognized Center for Innovation in Media. Val Hoeppner, who’s served since last fall as journalist in residence in the School of Journalism in the College of Mass Communication, took the reins July 1 at the student-focused center, which houses all student media plus the university’s National Public Radio station, WMOT 89.5 FM, under one roof.

* The National Institutes of Health awarded a $388,894 grant to MTSU that will allow Drs. Don Morgan and Sandy Stevens to conduct a comprehensive study beginning in fall 2014 by recruiting, testing and following up with clients suitable for walking in MTSU’s underwater treadmill laboratory. The exercise science experts have worked wonders with people who suffer from incomplete spinal cord injuries.

Carmen Thompson of Nashville works out on an underwater treadmill in MTSU’s Alumni Memorial Gym while Dr. Sandy Stevens, left, watches. Thompson was paralyzed when a two-ton A-frame structure fell on top of her in 2007 accident. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

Carmen Thompson of Nashville works out on an underwater treadmill in MTSU’s Alumni Memorial Gym while Dr. Sandy Stevens, left, watches. Thompson was paralyzed when a two-ton A-frame structure fell on top of her in 2007 accident. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

August

* Professor Scott Boyd, the outgoing president of the MTSU Faculty Senate, was the speaker at summer commencement, where 872 graduates received their degrees.

* Six veteran journalists were inducted into the second class of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame at Murfreesboro’s Embassy Suites. Inducted were Chattanooga WDEF radio journalist Luther Masingill; Bob Johnson of WTVC-TV in Chattanooga; Otis Stanford, former Memphis Commercial Appeal managing editor; Sam Venable, columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel; Pulitzer Prize winner Alex Jones, whose family owns The Greeneville Sun; and Joe Birch of WMC-TV in Memphis. The Hall is housed at MTSU.

Six journalists were recognized Tuesday for lifetime achievement during ceremonies in Murfreesboro for the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame, located at Middle Tennessee State University. From left to right: Phil Cox, general manager, WDEF-TV in Chattanooga and chairman of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters, who represented Chattanooga WDEF radio journalist Luther Masingill; Bob Johnson of WTVC-TV in Chattanooga; Otis Stanford, former Memphis Commercial Appeal managing editor; WSMV anchor Demetria Kalodimos, who served as the event's emcee; Sam Venable, columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel; Pulitzer Prize winner Alex Jones, whose family owns The Greeneville Sun; Joe Birch of WMC-TV in Memphis; and Hooper Penuel of Murfreesboro, the hall's co-founder. (MTSU photo)

Six journalists were recognized Tuesday for lifetime achievement during ceremonies in Murfreesboro for the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame, located at Middle Tennessee State University. From left to right: Phil Cox, general manager, WDEF-TV in Chattanooga and chairman of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters, who represented Chattanooga WDEF radio journalist Luther Masingill; Bob Johnson of WTVC-TV in Chattanooga; Otis Stanford, former Memphis Commercial Appeal managing editor; WSMV anchor Demetria Kalodimos, who served as the event’s emcee; Sam Venable, columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel; Pulitzer Prize winner Alex Jones, whose family owns The Greeneville Sun; Joe Birch of WMC-TV in Memphis; and Hooper Penuel of Murfreesboro, the hall’s co-founder. (MTSU photo)

* Longtime Midstate journalist Pat Embry is selected as the new director of MTSU’s John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies. The Seigenthaler Chair supports a variety of activities related to free speech, free press rights and other topics of concern for contemporary journalism.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, shakes hands with freshman Briana Clark of Knoxville, Tennessee, who was moving into Corlew Hall with other new and returning students Friday, Aug. 22.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, shakes hands with freshman Briana Clark of Knoxville, Tennessee, who was moving into Corlew Hall with other new and returning students Friday, Aug. 22.

* MTSU changes scholarship eligibility requirements to help more students ease the burden of rising tuition. The change scales back minimum ACT scores required to qualify for five major scholarships guaranteed to eligible students. Also, the Transfer Academic Scholarships also will switch from being competitive-based to guaranteed for students from Tennessee’s 14 community colleges.

* “We-Haul,” a New Student and Family Programs Week of Welcome event, helps students move into 10 campus residence halls, Scarlett Commons and Womack Lane Apartments.

* MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee gave his State of the University speech at the Fall Faculty Meeting inside Tucker Theatre. Now in his 14th year of leading the Blue Raider campus, McPhee gave the address before the hundreds of faculty and staff who have returned to campus to start the fall semester next week.

* With more than 30 years of service molding future accountants as a member of the Jones College of Business faculty, Dr. Paula Thomas was honored as the 13th recipient of the Career Achievement Award during MTSU’s Fall Faculty Meeting at Tucker Theatre. Thomas holds the Deloitte Foundation Professorship in Accounting.

http://youtu.be/P_fPYqrh4Q4

* MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee is doused with a cooler of ice water for his ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by MTSU Student Body President Andrew George during the home football opener against Savannah State.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee is doused with a cooler of ice water for his ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by MTSU Student Body President Andrew George, left, during the home football opener against Savannah State. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee is doused with a cooler of ice water for his ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by MTSU Student Body President Andrew George, left, during the home football opener against Savannah State. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

September

* Middle Tennessee State University provided its expertise and resources to aid the creation of an emergency communications center that the state of Tennessee could use to inform the public and media during a state or local disaster or crisis. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency unveiled the Multi-Agency Joint Information Center, or MAJIC, during a news conference at the Tennessee Department of Military-TEMA headquarters in Nashville.

Maj. Gen. Max Haston, Tennessee’s adjutant general and an MTSU alumnus, talks about the importance of emergency preparedness and communication during a news conference Monday, Sept. 8, to kickoff National Preparedness Month. At far right is Andrew Oppmann, MTSU vice president for marketing and communications. Beside him is MTSU alumnus Elliott Webb of Walgreen's. The event was held at the Tennessee Department of Military-TEMA headquarters on Sidco Drive in Nashville. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Maj. Gen. Max Haston, Tennessee’s adjutant general and an MTSU alumnus, talks about the importance of emergency preparedness and communication during a news conference Monday, Sept. 8, to kickoff National Preparedness Month. At far right is Andrew Oppmann, MTSU vice president for marketing and communications. Beside him is MTSU alumnus Elliott Webb of Walgreen’s. The event was held at the Tennessee Department of Military-TEMA headquarters on Sidco Drive in Nashville. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

* MTSU professor Beverly Keel, chair of the Department of Recording Industry, and former MTSU student Hillary Scott of Grammy-winning music group Lady Antebellum were among honorees at The Nashville Business Journal’s inaugural Women in Music City Awards. Scott was honored as Artist of the Year and Keel was among the 26 other women recognized for their contributions to Nashville’s thriving music industry. Also honored was MTSU alumna Jill Napier (’99), director of copyright management at Music Services Inc. in Brentwood, Tennessee. Napier currently serves on MTSU National Alumni Association Board of Directors.

* Middle Tennessee State University remained the largest institution in the Tennessee Board of Regents system, despite a decline in enrollment from last year. MTSU also welcomed TBR’s largest class of freshmen and transfer students for the 2014 fall semester and set a new record for international enrollment. In addition, the class of 2018 had an average ACT of 22.3, a slight increase over the record mark of 22 put forward by last year’s freshmen.

* MTSU alumna Freneka Minter was keynote speaker for the 18th annual Expanding Your Horizons in Math and Science Conference at MTSU. Curiosity reigned supreme as many of the nearly 325 middle school and high school girls posed questions to Minter, high school keynote speaker Katrina Smith and 54 leaders of workshops with cool names like “Open Up and Say Woof,” “Those Menacing Microbes,” “Concrete is Lean, Green and Mean.”

* The Jennings A. Jones College of Business entered an exclusive partnership with Dale Carnegie Training, the internationally recognized professional development training organization, to embed “soft skills” training within the university’s curriculum. The result: All Jones College graduate and undergraduate students will have taken such a course for credit before obtaining their degree. The partnership to provide for-credit training courses will not be duplicated at any other university in Tennessee and in fact will be unique across the entire country.

* Middle Tennessee State University will supplement by $1,000 the HOPE Lottery Scholarships of incoming students who stay on track to graduate in four years — and pay a Finish Line Scholarship to graduating seniors that will return any tuition increases over that span. Both initiatives, which apply to students entering the university in fall 2015, are part of the MTSU Student Success Advantage, which President Sidney A. McPhee announced in Chattanooga on the first leg of the six-city True Blue Tour to recruit top students.

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* Middle Tennessee State University and Northeast State Community College signed agreements to ease the transition for students seeking to transfer from the community college to the university. The three agreements create dual admissions and reverse transfer options between the community college, which has a main campus in Blountville, Tennessee, and is about to open a fourth satellite campus, and MTSU, located in Murfreesboro.

* Grammy-nominated folk scholar Stephen Wade gave a mini-concert at MTSU’s James Walker Library, a preview of his full-scale “concert and conversation” event planned for later in the month on campus. Wade’s visit was part of the university’s Tom T. Hall Writers Series.

* Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee joined three other higher education leaders during the Nashville Business Journal’s panel entitled “Nashville Ahead: A discussion on higher education and workforce readiness.” Joining McPhee on the panel was Joe DiPietro, president of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville; Kimberly Estep, chancellor of Western Governors University Tennessee; and Jerry L. Faulkner, president of Volunteer State Community College.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee discusses the photographs on displa in Todd Art Gallery with attendees of a Sept. 11 reception and auction there. The photos, which McPhee took while on trips to China during his presidential tenure, will be on display at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce Sept. 22-Oct. 22. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee discusses the photographs on displa in Todd Art Gallery with attendees of a Sept. 11 reception and auction there. The photos, which McPhee took while on trips to China during his presidential tenure, will be on display at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce Sept. 22-Oct. 22. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

* Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales talked politics and breaking news, reminisced about his days in the West Wing and encouraged MTSU students to include community service as part of their career paths. Gonzales, the dean of Belmont University’s College of Law, was invited to give a guest lecture by MTSU’s Department of Political Science and the University Honors College.

* A special monthlong photo exhibit, “China: Through the Eyes of an American University President,” opened at the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, as part of a joint MTSU and community salute to China. With more than 300 digital images and 30 large prints in 14 different categories, the exhibit chronicled MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee’s travels to more than 100 Chinese municipalities and provinces during his tenure at the university.

* Eleven MTSU College of Mass Communication students screened their cinematic work from their summer travels to Paris during a special event at Nashville’s Belcourt Theatre. The students traveled to France in May as part of the MTSU Signature Documentary Program Abroad to create stories about artists who live and work in Paris.

* Leaders of the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring and MTSU signed a pact that they hope will lead to future cultural collaborations. The agreement inked by University Provost Brad Bartel and Discovery Center CEO Tara McDougall will allow MTSU’s Confucius Institute to develop activities and displays about Chinese culture at the children’s museum. Chinese Culture Celebration Day at the center was a free event that marked MTSU’s observance of the 10th anniversary of the global Confucius Institutes.

 

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October

* A new partnership between Sony/ATV Music Publishing Nashville and MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry will allow students to submit two of their songs directly to Sony/ATV’s creative team. Sony/ATV will then select a number of students to perform two more songs at a live showcase. After the live performances, the Sony/ATV team may extend an invitation to a limited number of students to experience a day in the publishers’ Music Row studios.

* “Breaking Bad” star RJ Mitte, who portrayed Walter “Flynn” White Jr. on the Emmy-winning AMC cable network drama, discussed his battle with cerebral palsy and his acting career at Tucker Theatre. The event was sponsored by MTSU’s Diversity and Access Center as part of a weeklong observance of National Disability Awareness Month.

MTSU students listen to Bonnaroo organizers discuss the festival's music and programming at a special Oct. 8 business seminar at the university. Facing the crowd are, from left, panel moderator Pat Embry, director of MTSU’s John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studiesl Bonnaroo co-founders Ashley Capps, Rick Furman and Jonathan Mayers; Charlie Jennings, Bonnaroo director of operations; Bryan Benson, vice president for Bonnaroo co-producer AC Entertainment; and Russ Bennett, Bonnaroo's head of visual design. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU students listen to Bonnaroo organizers discuss the festival’s music and programming at a special Oct. 8 business seminar at the university. Facing the crowd are, from left, panel moderator Pat Embry, director of MTSU’s John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studiesl Bonnaroo co-founders Ashley Capps, Rick Furman and Jonathan Mayers; Charlie Jennings, Bonnaroo director of operations; Bryan Benson, vice president for Bonnaroo co-producer AC Entertainment; and Russ Bennett, Bonnaroo’s head of visual design. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

* Networking, brainstorming and presenting awards were only a few of the facets of this year’s Women in Higher Education in Tennessee conference at MTSU. “College Completion: Women in Higher Education Moving the Needle” was the theme of the 34th annual gathering, held in the Student Union.

* A daylong seminar sponsored by MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, “Bonnaroo: The Making of a Music Festival,” drew standing-room-only crowds. Staffers from every facet of the event joined Bonnaroo co-founders Ashley Capps, Jonathan Mayers and Rick Farman to explain how they create, promote, maintain and safely operate a city of 80,000-plus people that emerges for four days every year near Manchester, Tennessee. The seminar is part of a unique partnership forged between MTSU and the festival.

* From the war-torn streets of Berlin to the monument-lined streets of Washington, D.C., Harry Rosenfeld has been an eyewitness to history. The survivor of Nazi Germany and former managing editor of The Washington Post’s metro desk during the Watergate scandal recalled anecdotes from his fascinating life in “From Kristallnacht to Watergate,” a free public event in the State Farm Lecture Hall of MTSU’s Business and Aerospace Building.

* Inside the newly named Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium, a large crowd celebrated Middle Tennessee State University’s crown jewel — the new Science Building, considered the catalyst for a future in scientific endeavors. Several hundred people joined Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and university President Sidney A. McPhee to christen the 257,000-square-foot facility on the south side of campus. The building opened on the first day of fall 2014 classes in August, more than five months ahead of schedule.

* MTSU paid tribute to six alumni who have brought their alma mater prestige and distinction through their exceptional professional careers and loyal support. The MTSU Alumni Association’s 2014-15 honorees include Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, Distinguished Alumna recipient; Ashley Elizabeth Graham, Young Alumni Achievement Award honoree; and four recipients of the first-time True Blue Citations of Distinction: Dr. E. Ray Phillips, Achievement in Education by a current or retired MTSU faculty member; Dr. Linda Gilbert, Achievement in Education by an alumnus outside of MTSU; Donald McDonald, Service to the University; and Matthew Little, Service to the Community.

The 2014-15 MTSU Distinguished Alumni recipients include (from left) Linda Gilbert, Achievement in Education by a non-MTSU alumnus; Ashley Elizabeth Graham, Young Alumni Achievement Award, Matthew Little, True Blue Citation of Distinction for Service to the Community; Donald McDonald, True Blue Citation of Distinction for Service to the University; Dr. Ray Phillips, True Blue Citation of Distinction for Achievement in Education by a current or retired MTSU faculty member; and Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour, Distinguished Alumnus. (MTSU photo by Darby Campbell)

The 2014-15 MTSU Distinguished Alumni recipients include (from left) Linda Gilbert, Achievement in Education by a non-MTSU alumnus; Ashley Elizabeth Graham, Young Alumni Achievement Award, Matthew Little, True Blue Citation of Distinction for Service to the Community; Donald McDonald, True Blue Citation of Distinction for Service to the University; Dr. Ray Phillips, True Blue Citation of Distinction for Achievement in Education by a current or retired MTSU faculty member; and Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, Distinguished Alumnus. (MTSU photo by Darby Campbell)

* MTSU students, staff, alumni and supporters got into the groove for the Homecoming 2014 celebration, including the traditional parade and culminating in a riveting 34-22 win over the University of Alabama-Birmingham at Floyd Stadium. The “Raiderstock” homecoming theme brought out the best in the Blue Raiders’ artistic talents, too, as parade floats featured 1960s psychedelic designs — all making use of the “True Blue” motto — and the award-winning Band of Blue incorporated Motown, movies and more from the era.

* Nobel laureate Harry Kroto is the first featured guest lecturer in MTSU’s new Science Building. At the invitation of MTSU chemistry professor Preston MacDougall, Kroto spoke to a near-capacity crowd in the Science Building amphitheater.

Anti-domestic violence activist Tony Porter makes his points during “A Call to Men: The Next Generation of Manhood” in an Oct. 21 presentation at MTSU. (Photo by MTSU News and Media Relations)

Anti-domestic violence activist Tony Porter makes his points during “A Call to Men: The Next Generation of Manhood” in an Oct. 21 presentation at MTSU. (Photo by MTSU News and Media Relations)

* More than 100 people, including 64 prospective students, attended the True Blue Experience Day that emphasized the 11 departments in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences. Students from as far away as Memphis and Bowling Green, Kentucky, spent the day touring campus and talking to university personnel.

* Anti-domestic violence activist Tony Porter issued “A Call to Men: The Next Generation of Manhood” during a presentation at the James Union Building. The event, sponsored by the Distinguished Lecture Fund and the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, was part of MTSU’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness about domestic and sexual violence and create a safer environment for all members of the campus and surrounding communities.

* The 32nd annual MTSU Fall Career Fair attracted several hundred current MTSU students and alumni to the Student Union. Hosted by the MTSU Career Development Center, the event is the university’s largest on-campus fair of the year. A waiting list includes about 30 employers hoping to make next year’s fair.

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* More than 400 students and family members attended the Memphis True Blue Tour event at Memphis Botanic Garden. Another 160 people attended the Jackson, Tennessee, stop to conclude the six-city statewide fall recruiting caravan for 2014. The tour also stopped in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Johnson City and Nashville.

MTSU Dean John Vile tells Jackson, Tennessee-area students and their families about many of the virtues the University Honors College has to offer during the Oct. 23 True Blue Tour event at the Jackson Country Club.

MTSU Dean John Vile tells Jackson, Tennessee-area students and their families about many of the virtues the University Honors College has to offer during the Oct. 23 True Blue Tour event at the Jackson Country Club.

* In a pledge drive at the Student Union, the Interfraternity Council collected promises from 136 people to get off the sidelines and get involved when they see sexual assault happening or about to happen. Members of fraternities and sororities encouraged students to sign an online personal promise at www.itsonus.org to refuse to be bystanders when they see situations that are or have the potential to become sexual assaults.

* The fall MTSU Poll results showed a potentially close vote for Tennessee’s proposed constitutional amendment on abortion. The poll also sampled opinions on an amendment to ban a state income tax as well as high profile political races on the November ballot.

* Blue Raider sports fans were wowed at the grand re-opening of the new look Murphy Center as work wrapped up on $12.64 million in renovations and needed upgrades as part of the University’s Master Plan. The Middle Tennessee men’s and women’s basketball teams held “Murphy Madness” to showcase the new lighting, concessions, restrooms and improved climate control inside Monte Hale Arena.

* MTSU announced a two-year, $195,000 National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant to further the advancement of women in STEM education — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — and potentially all female students and staff at MTSU. The study, titled “A Catalyst to ADVANCE the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academics, STEM Careers at Middle Tennessee State University,” will focus on identifying barriers that affect recruitment, retention, participation and promotion of female STEM faculty at MTSU.

* “Freedom Sings” celebrated its 16th anniversary at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville with songs of “truth, justice and equality” in honor of legendary journalist John Seigenthaler, who devoted his entire career to protecting the First Amendment. Seigenthaler, a leading advocate of free speech and long-time editor of The Tennessean, died July 11, after a successful career defending social justice, human rights and racial equality. All of the songs performed at the world-famous nightclub reflected both his life and his values.

Suzi Ragsdale joins her father Ray Stevens in singing his hit "Everything is Beautiful" at The Bluebird Cafe Tuesday night (Oct. 28) as part of Freedom Sings. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Suzi Ragsdale joins her father Ray Stevens in singing his hit “Everything is Beautiful” at The Bluebird Cafe Tuesday night (Oct. 28) as part of Freedom Sings. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

November

* Students from Lori Kissinger’s EXL Organizational Communications in Communities class served as artists’ assistants to nearly two dozen young men and women who attend the Transition Academy of Rutherford County Schools and the Tennessee School for the Blind. The artists used paint, glue, holiday decorations and plenty of laughter during a recent workshop to create unique ornaments for Tennessee’s 2014 national Christmas tree in Washington, D.C.

Kelsey Blackwell, a junior theatre major from Memphis, left, shushes Dominic Gillette, a junior theatre major from Chattanooga, as the pair rehearse a scene from the MTSU Theatre production of "A Doll's House." Blackwell portrays Nora and Gillette is her husband, Thorvald, in the Henrik Ibsen play scheduled Nov. 5-9 in Tucker Theatre. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Kelsey Blackwell, a junior theatre major from Memphis, left, shushes Dominic Gillette, a junior theatre major from Chattanooga, as the pair rehearse a scene from the MTSU Theatre production of “A Doll’s House.” (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

* MTSU Theatre presented Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” at Tucker Theatre. The eight-member cast was directed by theatre professor Kyle Kennedy, who said they’re fully aware of the challenges of bringing the originally controversial classic to the stage.

* Middle Tennessee State University launched a new curriculum initiative that will emphasize “active learning and critical reflection” as a part of students’ learning from the moment they arrive on campus. Called MT Engage, the curriculum improvement effort encourages students to “engage academically, learn exponentially (and) showcase yourself.”

* Nine-year-old Luke Denson became the youngest player ever to sign with Middle Tennessee’s baseball team when he inked a national letter of intent during a press conference at the Kennon Hall of Fame Building. Denson was united with MT baseball through Team Impact, a Boston-based nonprofit organization. He lives with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, a rare congenital disorder characterized by exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, bone marrow dysfunction, skeletal abnormalities and short stature.

MTSU junior Abby Barlow, left, and alternative fuels researcher Cliff Ricketts check for leaks in the plastic reservoir holding the coolant used in the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit pickup truck being used during the Nov. 8-13 "Southern Fried Fuel" expedition from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington. The vehicle wanted to overheat numerous times Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 9-10). (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

MTSU junior Abby Barlow, left, and alternative fuels researcher Cliff Ricketts check for leaks in the plastic reservoir holding the coolant used in the 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit pickup truck being used during the Nov. 8-13 “Southern Fried Fuel” expedition from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington. The vehicle wanted to overheat numerous times Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 9-10). (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

* Plagued by a major mechanical problem and greatly concerned about arctic weather in his path, MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts postponed his “Southern-Fried Fuel” quest until spring 2015. Ricketts had planned to drive 3,550 miles from Key West, Florida, to Seattle, Washington, on pure biodiesel from waste chicken fat as part of his ongoing efforts to wean the nation from dependency on foreign oil. This year’s quest ended in Kansas City, Missouri.2015_Best for Vets_COLLEGES-web

* Middle Tennessee State University was named in the Best for Vets: Colleges 2015 rankings by the Military Times. In their fifth year, the rankings factor in a comprehensive school-by-school assessment of veteran and military students’ success rates. Of the top 100 schools ranked, MTSU was the only Tennessee four-year college to make this year’s list and was also named to the 2014 list.

* MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry made an international list of acclaimed schools touted by The Hollywood Reporter that includes Juilliard, Berklee, Yale and even London’s Royal College of Music. The department’s music business program is part of the magazine’s “Top 25 Music Schools 2014,” which was published online and in the Nov. 14 edition of The Hollywood Reporter.

* Middle Tennessee State University’s strong influence within country music was on display as five former MTSU students claimed spots on national Top 40 country music radio charts in mid-November. Former students Sam Hunt, Brett Eldredge, Chris Young and Eric Paslay can be found as solo artists on the Billboard and Mediabase Top 40 country airplay charts, while Hillary Scott continues to enjoy chart recognition as a member of Grammy-winning group Lady Antebellum.

* The annual MTSU Veterans Memorial Service outside the Tom H. Jackson Building was one of a number of activities for veterans and men and women currently serving in the military as part of the 33rd annual Salute to Armed Services Veterans Day events sponsored by MTSU Athletics and the Department of Military Science.

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December

* The December performance of Handel’s “Messiah” by the MTSU Concert Chorale and Middle Tennessee Choral Society marked the 30th anniversary for the group’s presentation of the beloved holiday oratorio. “Messiah” was presented at First United Methodist Church on West Thompson Lane, featuring a professional orchestra and MTSU student and faculty soloists performing the Christmas portion of the work, which includes some of its most popular recitatives, arias and choruses.

(From left) Reeves-Rogers student O'Mutwali Rulikira; event emcee Nick Montgomery, an MTSU MTeach participant and senior physics major; Reeves-Rogers students Jaxyn Luscinski and Jaylen Moore; MTSU senior biology major and MTeach student Roseanna McCall; and Reeves-Rogers' Savanna Syharath celebrate their team's victory Dec. 3 in the hula hoop math-science contest during Education Day pregame activities. (MTSU photos by Darby Campbell)

(From left) Reeves-Rogers student O’Mutwali Rulikira; event emcee Nick Montgomery, an MTSU MTeach participant and senior physics major; Reeves-Rogers students Jaxyn Luscinski and Jaylen Moore; MTSU senior biology major and MTeach student Roseanna McCall; and Reeves-Rogers’ Savanna Syharath celebrate their team’s victory Dec. 3 in the hula hoop math-science contest during Education Day pregame activities. (MTSU photos by Darby Campbell)

* Nearly 7,000 students from 12 Murfreesboro City Schools and the Homer Pittard Campus School kept the Monte Hale Arena’s noise level at the max during the third Education Day field trip, this time for the Blue Raiders-Clemson Tigers women’s basketball game. Education Day III marked the continuing partnership between MTSU, which jointly operates Campus School with the Rutherford County school system, and the city’s schools. The alliance exposes students — some for the first time — to a college campus.

* An expected spring 2015 start to the long-awaited Middle Tennessee Boulevard improvement project will impact traffic flow and parking on the west side of campus during construction, the university announced. The city project includes the .8-mile section from Greenland Drive to Main Street. The $11 million project will reconstruct the existing four- and five-lane roadway to a consistent four-lane divided street with a median. It will include bike lanes, improved sidewalks and lighting, new traffic signals, decorative crosswalks, landscaping and underground utilities. MTSU officials expect the project to last roughly two and a half years.

* The MTSU Department of Aerospace’s air traffic control program was featured on both CNBC and PBS in early December. MTSU and Dowling College in Shirley, New York, were highlighted in the CNBC piece reported by Mary Thompson. The story also was part of the “Nightly Business Report,” which airs locally on Nashville Public Television’s second digital channel, NPT2. The CNBC story was part of the network’s “Where the Jobs Are” series.

* The economic outlook of consumers in three Midstate counties continued to rise heading into holiday season. The overall Middle Tennessee Consumer Outlook Index rose to 329 this month, up from 226 in September, according to the latest economic survey by Middle Tennessee State University’s Office of Consumer Research. The poll surveyed adult residents of Davidson, Rutherford and Williamson counties.

Computer Science-BestOnlineCSDegrees-big copy* ComputerScienceOnline.org listed MTSU University College’s online degree offerings among the “Best Online Computer Science Degrees” for 2015. Computer Science Online, a resource for online learning in computer science and related fields, says it analyzed data from hundreds of colleges offering computer science degrees online. The company developed a scoring system to see which schools ranked highest across a dozen central computer science and tech-related disciplines.

* MTSU’s Little Raiders gift-giving campaign wrapped up a successful 2014 effort with a lively party at the University Police Department for some of the Blue Raider community’s needy youngsters. The annual effort targets the children of low-income MTSU students as well as the children of parents receiving assistance from the local Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program. This year’s effort gave 27 Little Raiders a brighter Christmas.

* Two MTSU alumni — Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland and NBC News executive Ken Strickland — were guest speakers at the morning and afternoon ceremonies for fall commencement. An estimated 1,803 students received their degrees in two fall 2014 commencement ceremonies inside Murphy Center.

* The Movement, a group of MTSU students who make up the college ministry at First Baptist Church on East Castle Street in Murfreesboro, dropped off more than $2,000 in canned food and other food items to the MTSU Student Food Pantry. The donation was the result of their efforts in recent weeks to conduct a canned food drive — entitled “Can the Hunger” — and raise funds to buy food in support of the university’s efforts to assist students in need with a good meal.

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MTSU closes Dec. 24-Jan. 1 for winter break; offices reopen Jan. 2

MTSU will be closed Wednesday, Dec. 24, through Thursday, Jan. 1, for the university’s annual winter break.

The winter break closure is effective for all offices, buildings and facilities, including student unions, food venues, the James E. Walker Library and Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center.

MTSU offices and most facilities will reopen at 8 a.m. Friday, Jan. 2.

Facilities at the Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center will remain closed through Jan. 11, although the Campus Recreation offices inside that building will reopen Jan. 2 with other campus offices.

The Walker Library also will reopen at 8 a.m. Jan. 2 and will operate weekdays only from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Friday, Jan. 16.

MTSU offices will be closed Monday, Jan. 19, in observance of the federal and state holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Students will return to campus for spring 2015 classes on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

For more information on MTSU scheduling, visit the university’s academic calendar. The MTSU Student Unions information page, the Walker Library home page and the Campus Recreation page also have links to facility operating hours.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)