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MTSU College of Liberal Arts offers new flexible master’s degree

MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts is now offering an advanced degree that allows students to develop skills and expand knowledge in subjects they’re most passionate about pursuing.

The new Master of Arts in Liberal Arts is an innovative program allowing anyone with a bachelor’s degree to earn a graduate degree through a course of study built around subjects they find most captivating.

“The MALA program is unique in that it gives students the flexibility to create their own paths, focusing on those subjects that are most interesting and valuable in achieving their personal or professional goals,” said Dr. Dawn McCormack, program director.

Dr. Dawn McCormack

Dr. Dawn McCormack

Dr. Mark Byrnes

Dr. Mark Byrnes

Students will attend engaging courses taught by top professors and have opportunities to participate in projects in the region or even enroll in education-abroad courses around the world. University officials say the degree would be valuable to lifelong learners, professionals, students returning to school after a break, and even recent graduates.

“The idea is to personalize the experience for each student and to provide students with the content and skills they need to achieve that first job, work toward a promotion, change career directions, or look for ways to deepen their experiences as lifetime learners,” McCormack added.

The program provides students with opportunities to refine practical skills, research methods, and the ability to effectively work with people from diverse backgrounds.

MTSU Wordmark“MALA is an exciting initiative for the College of Liberal Arts,” said Dr. Mark Byrnes, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “The program is deeply rooted in the tradition of a classical liberal arts education, which exposes students to many facets of our world while helping them develop the highly practical skills of critical thinking, adaptability and effective reading, writing and speaking.”

With guidance from McCormack, students will build a personal plan of study from within liberal arts departments and programs. Among the choices: art, communications studies and organizational communication, English, foreign languages and literatures, global studies and cultural geography, history, music, philosophy, political science and international relations, sociology and anthropology, and theatre and dance.

For more information for the new liberal arts master’s degree, contact McCormack at mala@mtsu.edu, 615-898-5986 or visit www.mtsu.edu/mala.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

‘MTSU On the Record’ discusses religious plurality in curriculum

Exploring religious diversity among students who’ve not had opportunities to do so before entering college will be the topic on the next “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Dr. Mary A. Evins

Dr. Mary A. Evins

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. Mary Evins will air from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, July 5, on WMOT-FM (89.5 and www.wmot.org ).

Evins, a professor with MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation and coordinator of the American Democracy Project, is the recipient of a $119,895 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

NEH religious grant webShe will use the money to fund a 20-month program on religion and civil society for 24 faculty members from Cleveland State and Jackson State community colleges in partnership with MTSU.

The educators will meet at MTSU July 13-17 to explore ways to incorporate knowledge of religious plurality into the curricula.

NEH logo web“Faith is a very personal issue,” said Evins. “It’s very intimate and it’s very close to the hearts of all of us.

“For whatever reason, being able to fully understand and accept another person’s faith is often a challenging endeavor for most of us as human beings.”

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

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

A video clip of the interview can be seen below.

http://youtu.be/SqCRwJ5j83g

MTSU closes July 3 for Independence Day observance

MTSU will be closed Friday, July 3, in observance of Independence Day.

All business offices will be closed. No classes will be held July 3 nor on Saturday, July 4.

Offices will reopen at 8 a.m., and all summer session classes will resume at their normal times Monday, July 6.

Fourth of July weekend hours of operation for specific MTSU buildings and venues include:

  • the Student Union, which will be closed July 3-4 and open from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 5. For Student Union, Keathley University Center and James Union Building hours, visit www.mtsu.edu/mtunions/hours.php.
  • the James E. Walker Library, which will be closed July 3-4 and open from 2 to 10 p.m. Sunday, July 5. For the complete hours of operation, visit http://library.mtsu.edu/hours.php.
  • Campus Recreation, which will be closed July 3-5 and reopens at 6:30 a.m. July 6. For hours of operation, visit www.mtsu.edu/camprec/hours.php.
  • the Student Health Services in the Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center, which will be closed July 3-5.
  • the Campus Pharmacy in the Recreation Center, which will be closed July 3-5.

For ARAMARK/MT Dining options during the holiday weekend, visit http://mtsu.campusdish.com.

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

Get discount tickets for 'True Blue Night' at Nashville Sounds July 1

Nashville Sounds WordmarkStart your Fourth of July celebrating early by coming to “True Blue Night” at the Nashville Sounds!

Middle Tennessee State University invites the community to bring family and friends to see the Nashville Sounds play the Colorado Springs Sky Sox on Wednesday, July 1, at First Tennessee Park in downtown Nashville.

The game starts at 7:05 p.m. and the doors open at 6:05 that evening.

MTSU WordmarkThe first 1,000 fans to visit the MTSU tables, located near the guitar scoreboard, will receive a free MTSU #TRUE T-shirt brought to you by the university and MTSU Athletics.

Special discount ticket pricing is available at http://ra.ide.rs/sounds using the promo code TRUEBLUE.

The first pitch of the game will be thrown by retired Lt. Gen. Keith Huber, the MTSU senior adviser for veteran and leadership initiatives.

MTSU’s mascot, Lightning, will also be on hand for this family-friendly evening.

Spend an evening with your MTSU family and friends enjoying America’s favorite pastime.

The first 1,000 fans through the gates for the July 1 Nashville Sounds game will receive one of these MTSU #TRUE T-shirt.

The first 1,000 fans through the gates for the July 1 Nashville Sounds game will receive one of these MTSU #TRUE T-shirts.

McPhee: University community will 'revisit' Forrest Hall name

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, in a statement released June 24, said it was “right and appropriate” to engage the university community on the name of Forrest Hall, the campus building that houses the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

Dr. Sidney A. McPhee

Dr. Sidney A. McPhee

Debate about the name of Forrest Hall has surfaced periodically through the years,” McPhee said. “In light of the horrific killings in Charleston, and the national discussion that has ensued in the aftermath, it is right and appropriate to revisit this matter with the university community, our alumni and supporters, and state officials, who by law must approve any change.”

Forrest Hall was built in 1954 to house the ROTC program, but wasn’t dedicated until 1958, when the building was officially named for Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. It was chosen because of Forrest’s notoriety as a military tactical genius for the Confederate Army during the Civil War and because of his ties to Middle Tennessee, including being born in nearby Chapel Hill, Tennessee.

Debate about the university’s ties to Forrest rose periodically through the civil rights era and beyond; the university removed a 600-pound bronze medallion of Forrest from the Keathley University Center in 1989.

Opposition to the name of Forrest Hall didn’t reach its height, however, until 2006-07, when a number of students petitioned to have the name removed because of Forrest’s ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Others supported keeping the name.

MTSU conducted a series of public forums to discuss the issue. The university ultimately decided to keep the building’s name after the Student Government Association rescinded an earlier request to consider a name change and African-American student groups informed university leaders that the name change was not a priority for them at that time.

Built in 1954, Forrest Hall houses MTSU's Army ROTC program. (MTSU photo by Jimmy Hart)

Built in 1954, Forrest Hall houses MTSU’s Army ROTC program. (MTSU photo by Jimmy Hart)

 

MTSU plans June 24 emergency test to ensure alerts for students, staff

MTSU is continuing its new emergency-alert testing process for the university community Wednesday, June 24, with a special test message to ensure that students, faculty and staff properly receive urgent communications.

Beginning at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, MTSU’s Critical Notification System, provided by Rave Mobile Safety, will send a test message to the university’s 25,700-plus registered users via email, text and automated phone calls.

Prospective students and their families learn more about MTSU as a summer campus tour passes by the Student Union. MTSU will test its Critical Notification System, provided by Rave Mobile Safety, at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, June 24, to ensure that students, faculty and staff are properly receiving urgent alerts. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

Prospective students and their families learn more about MTSU as a summer campus tour passes by the Student Union. MTSU will test its Critical Notification System, provided by Rave Mobile Safety, at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, June 24, to ensure that students, faculty and staff are properly receiving urgent alerts. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

The university’s website, www.mtsu.edu, its MTSUNews.com news site, and all digital signage around the Murfreesboro campus will display the message just as they do during an actual emergency alert, along with university social media.

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

MTSU Police Lt. Broede Stucky, who handles emergency operations for the university police department, said the process will mirror a similar test conducted Feb. 25. The university will evaluate its systems during and after the test to help pinpoint and fix any potential problems.

The Feb. 25 test showed a near-100 percent success rate with the transmissions. Digital signage in the James E. Walker Library, Student Recreation Center, College of Education Building, Keathley University Center and the new Science Building showed the test alert message within 30 seconds of its transmission.

Stucky said that MTSU’s Critical Notification System is one of several components the university uses to “enhance the overall safety and emergency preparedness of the campus community.”

This summer’s test will be followed by another set for Wednesday, Oct. 28, also at 1:15 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

TBR sets new 2015-16 tuition rates for colleges, universities

COLUMBIA, Tenn. — The Tennessee Board of Regents has approved increases in tuition and fees that are among the lowest on average since 1996, including a $204 increase for full-time students at MTSU.

The June 19 action raises hourly maintenance fees/tuition an average of 3.3 percent across the six TBR universities, 13 community colleges and 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, according to a TBR news release.

Last fall, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission recommended tuition increases between 0 and 4 percent if this year’s state budget included dollars for the higher education funding formula that allocates funds based on a variety of metrics to encourage student success through outcomes like graduation and retention. The outcomes in the formula were funded.

As a result, students at Austin Peay State University will see a 2.4 percent maintenance fee/tuition increase. East Tennessee State University will see a 3 percent increase; Middle Tennessee State University, 3.1 percent; Tennessee State University, 2.8 percent; Tennessee Tech University, 10.9 percent; and the University of Memphis, 3.7 percent.

Tennessee Tech also is reducing its mandatory fees this year, so its changes will actually result in a 3.9 percent total revenue increase.

Students at community colleges will pay 3.4 percent more for maintenance fees, and TCAT students will see a 4 percent increase.

MTSU students saw a 5.3 percent hike for their 2014-15 academic year.

In addition to maintenance fees/tuition, which are charged by the credit hour, all students pay a set of mandatory fees that are unique to each campus, like athletics fees, student activities fees, health services fees, etc.

Mandatory fees were approved in March, but one additional change at ETSU was approved June 19 as well: ETSU will add a $290 student-approved mandatory fee to fund renovations to its Culp University Center.

The MTSU seal is shown on the east side of campus on the Student Services and Admissions Center building. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

The MTSU seal is shown on the east side of campus on the Student Services and Admissions Center building. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

When the increased maintenance fees/tuition are combined with the already approved mandatory fees, the total proposed price increases for in-state students taking a full-time course load of 12 credit hours would amount to the following per year:

  • APSU — $333.
  • ETSU — $486.
  • MTSU — $204.
  • TSU — $181.
  • TTU — $332.
  • UOM — $284.
  • Community Colleges — $120.
  • TCATs — $129 per trimester.

“We are pleased that the tuition levels are the lowest they have been in decades, but we do understand that every time fees are raised, someone may be priced out of an opportunity to attend one of our institutions,” TBR Chancellor John Morgan said.

Chancellor John Morgan

Chancellor John Morgan

“Tennessee is fortunate to have state leaders who recognize the integral connection between an educated workforce with affordable access to post-secondary education and the economic growth of our state. Our Hope lottery scholarship, the Tennessee Promise last-dollar scholarship and the Tennessee Reconnect grant, along with other state and federal aid programs, make higher education a more realistic option for more people today than ever before, but for those who must cover the full cost of attendance, any increase is unfortunate.

“Our institutions are more efficient now than ever, and they continue to focus their resources on ways that support student success to help more complete their credentials faster and more effectively,” Morgan continued. “We hope that in the coming years our state leaders will continue to find a way to make higher education a funding priority.”TBR seal web

Maintenance fees, often referred to as “tuition,” are the charges based on credit hours for in-state students.

For example, a student pays a flat rate for the first 12 hours of class credits and a discounted rate for any additional hours. Only out-of-state students are required to pay tuition in addition to maintenance fees.

Mandatory fees vary by institution, fund specified programs, and are paid by all students regardless of the number of hours they take.

A list of increases for 2015-16 and historical tuition data is available here.

The Tennessee Board of Regents is the governing body for the State University and Community College System of Tennessee and is among the nation’s largest higher education systems, governing 46 post-secondary educational institutions. The TBR system includes six universities, 13 two-year colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology, providing programs to more than 200,000 students across the state.

Nissan employees donate vanload of supplies to ACE Learning Center

Robyn Ridgley’s smile beamed as bright as the hot June sun above her as the dark brown Nissan cargo van backed up to the storage building outside the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center on North Baird Lane.

As interim director of the early childhood education facility on MTSU’s campus, Ridgley was thrilled to see the excited group of employees from Nissan’s Smyrna plant unload three skids of needed supplies June 18— napkins, paper towels, wet wipes, paper cups, cleaning supplies and other similar items.

The donations will allow Ridley and her staff to properly take care of the precious little ones being taught there.

A group of employees from Nissan's Smyrna plant dropped off a vanload of supplies Thursday, June 18, at the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center on North Baird Lane. Pictured, from left, are Jennifer Hill, JaMichael Smith, Tim Mrozinski and Magen Clayton. (MTSU photo by Jimmy Hart)

A group of employees from Nissan’s Smyrna plant dropped off a vanload of supplies Thursday, June 18, at the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center on North Baird Lane. Pictured are, from left, Jennifer Hill, JaMichael Smith, Tim Mrozinski and Magen Clayton. (MTSU photos by Jimmy Hart)

Like last year, Nissan held a supply drive at its plant where employees could drop off the needed items.

“Nissan has sponsored us through our Wishing Tree program to provide consumable products that we use in our program each day,” Ridgley said.

“They’ve been collecting for two weeks and this will really help us in terms of not having to spend the limited funds we have on things that we use a lot of, so we’re really happy about the partnership.”

Formerly known as Project Help, the ACE Learning Center is an inclusive early childhood program serving young children ages 15 months to kindergarten. The center provides a developmentally appropriate learning environment where children who are typically developing and children with developmental delays play together and learn from each other.

The program also provides hands-on learning experiences for many MTSU students. These students support the program by working in the classrooms and interacting with, playing alongside, and supporting the children. The program is funded through family tuition, MTSU, the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties and private donations.

For more information about the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center at MTSU, visit www.mtsu.edu/acelearningcenter or call 615-898-2458.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

Employees with Nissan's Smyrna facility dropped off a vanload of supplies Thursday, June 18, to the staff and students at Ann Campbell Early Learning Center at MTSU on North Baird Lane. The center is Rutherford CountyÕs only community- and center-based program serving very young children, including those with special needs. (MTSU photo by Jimmy Hart)

Employees with Nissan’s Smyrna facility dropped off a vanload of supplies Thursday, June 18, to the staff and students at Ann Campbell Early Learning Center at MTSU on North Baird Lane. The center is Rutherford County’s only community- and center-based program serving very young children, including those with special needs.

Nissan employee Chris Hobdy joins fellow workers in unloading a skid of supplies Thursday outside the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center at MTSU. Employees at Nissan's Smyrna plant held a supply drive in support of the center. (MTSU photo by Jimmy Hart)

Nissan employee Chris Hobdy joins fellow workers in unloading a skid of supplies Thursday outside the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center at MTSU. Employees at Nissan’s Smyrna plant held a supply drive in support of the center.

A group of employees from Nissan's Smyrna plant dropped off a vanload of supplies Thursday, June 18, to the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center at MTSU on North Baird Lane. Pictured, from left to right, are Nissan employees Tim Mrozinski, JaMichael Smith, Jennifer Hill and Magen Clayton; Robyn Ridgley, interim director of the ACE Learning Center; and Nissan employees Chris Hobdy and Michael White. (MTSU photo by Jimmy Hart)

A group of employees from Nissan’s Smyrna plant dropped off a vanload of supplies Thursday, June 18, for the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center at MTSU on North Baird Lane. Pictured from left to right are Nissan employees Tim Mrozinski, JaMichael Smith, Jennifer Hill and Magen Clayton; Robyn Ridgley, interim director of the ACE Learning Center; and Nissan employees Chris Hobdy and Michael White.

Camp PRiSM boosts MTSU, City Schools partnership [+VIDEO]

Take a bunch of boys and girls from Mitchell-Neilson Elementary School in Murfreesboro.

Add Caleb Hough, an MTSU senior biology major, supplying ingredients to make something ooey and gooey June 11 in Cantrell Hall of MTSU’s Tom H. Jackson Building.

It has all the earmarks for a slimy good time — just one of many fun learning activities experienced by the youngsters during this year’s Camp PRiSM.

https://youtu.be/9CnuxjkzqdI

Camp PRiSM — Practices in Science and Mathematics — is a collaboration between MTSU and Murfreesboro City Schools. The camp makes use of faculty expertise from the College of Basic and Applied Sciences to increase participants’ knowledge in the areas of mathematics, science and technology.

The Murfreesboro City Schools students interact with MTSU students and faculty in inquiry-based learning and independent exploration. The camp, which operates out of Mitchell-Neilson School, meets for two weeks during the summer.

A number of planned activities occur on the MTSU campus.

For more information, contact Mimi Thomas, coordinator of the Camp PRiSM program for MTSU, by calling 615-898-5311 or email Mimi.Thomas@mtsu.edu.

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

Ciera Thorpe, 10, a rising fifth-grader at Mitchell-Neilson Elementary School, waits while teacher Tammy Cage adds a mixture that will be part of the slime-making process June 11 in the Tom H. Jackson Building. It was just one of many activities Camp PRiSM (practices in science and math) participants enjoyed. Cage will be switching from Mitchell-Neilson to Northfield Elementary this coming school year. (MTSU photos by Randy Weiler)

Ciera Thorpe, 10, a rising fifth-grader at Mitchell-Neilson Elementary School, waits while teacher Tammy Cage adds a mixture that will be part of the slime-making process June 11 in MTSU’s Tom H. Jackson Building. It was just one of many activities Camp PRiSM participants enjoyed. Cage will be switching from Mitchell-Neilson to Northfield Elementary this coming school year. (MTSU photos by Randy Weiler)

Activity leader Caleb Hough, left, and MTSU senior biology major, adds the color blue to the mixture that Makara Mason, 10, will turn into slime June 11 in Cantrell Hall of the Tom H. Jackson Building at MTSU. Mason is a rising fifth-grader at Mitchell-Nelson Elementary School.

Activity leader Caleb Hough, left, an MTSU senior biology major, adds the color blue to the mixture that Makara Mason, 10, will turn into slime June 11 in Cantrell Hall of the Tom H. Jackson Building at MTSU. Mason is a rising fifth-grader at Mitchell-Nelson Elementary School.

With an assist from the MTSU Concrete Industry Management program, Camp PRiSM participants exhibit the concrete coasters they made during the first week of camp. (Submitted photo)

With an assist from the MTSU Concrete Industry Management program, Camp PRiSM participants exhibit the concrete coasters they made during the first week of camp. (Submitted photo)

MTSU guides international project showcasing artists with disabilities

An MTSU-coordinated labor of love, pieced together by a group of international artists and friends to celebrate the arts, education and cultural exchanges, is now being spotlighted in Washington, D.C.

The beautiful handcrafted quilt, comprising 81 specially designed squares contributed by 38 countries and 36 states, combines talents from Tunisia to Texas into a massive piece of fiber art recognizing the abilities and friendships of artists around the world.

The VSA International Quilt showcases ideas and artwork from artists from around the world as part of a "40 Days Around the World" Digital Arts Festival, which begins Tuesday, June 16, at http://40days.vsatn.org. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. State Department's "Art in Embassies" program)

The VSA International Quilt showcases ideas and artwork from artists from around the world as part of a “40 Days Around the World” Digital Arts Festival, which begins Tuesday, June 16, at http://40days.vsatn.org. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. State Department’s “Art in Embassies” program)

It’s currently on display in the main gallery of the U.S. Department of State’s Harry S. Truman Building in Washington, D.C., through late July.

Organizers will formally present the quilt to Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith July 24 at the U.S. Capitol. It then will become a permanent part of the State Department’s Arts in Embassies traveling worldwide exhibit.

VSA Tennessee logo webThe quilt is the crown jewel of VSA’s “40 Days Around the World” Digital Arts Festival, an online celebration of international arts exchanges involving artists with disabilities in 60 countries and 37 states.

Organizers developed the digital “festival,” which is live now at http://40days.vsatn.org with a new project each day and concludes July 26, to commemorate VSA’s 40th anniversary as well as the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

VSA Tennessee is a statewide nonprofit organization that provides resources, tools and opportunities for arts programming for people with disabilities. It’s an affiliate of VSA, the international organization on arts and disabilities founded by Smith in 1974 and formerly known as Very Special Arts, which merged with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2011 to expand its services.

VSA Tennessee Executive Director Lori Kissinger, an instructor in MTSU’s Department of Organizational Communication, spearheaded the entire project with the help of several of her students and volunteers.

They developed the website, worked with artists, coordinated special events for participants and handled publicity for the international effort. One exchange, for example, saw young artists with autism in East Tennessee and Vietnam share photos, drawings and poetry about the mountain ranges that each group calls home. You can learn more about the “40 Days” project in the video below.

http://youtu.be/4WiHP6DXpGY

Once the squares for the quilt began arriving, MTSU professor Lauren Rudd of the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Design gathered student volunteers to help put the quilt together with the aid of hardworking local artists.

“What became immediately apparent was that these were not ordinary quilt squares,” Kissinger recalled. “Some were woven on a loom, some were intricately embroidered, some were batik, some were a silk screen; the list goes on. Each quilt square was a unique piece of art.

“Then came the stories. There is the story of the teenager who learned through working on this quilt that college was an option for her future. There was the young girl who demonstrated such immediate passion and aptitude for sewing that it is believed she may have found her life’s vocation. There was the country whose children got so immersed in expressing what makes their country unique that they created an entire packet of squares. The (VSA) affiliate couldn’t select just one, so they sent them all to us and said that we would have to make that decision.

This view of the VSA International Quilt provides a closer look at quilt squares created by artists in the Philippines, shown beginning clockwise at top left, Egypt, California, Louisiana, Colombia, Montana, Texas and the Netherlands. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. State Department's "Art in Embassies" program)

This view of the VSA International Quilt provides a closer look at quilt squares created by artists in the Philippines, shown beginning clockwise at top left, Egypt, California, Louisiana, Colombia, Montana, Texas and the Netherlands. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. State Department’s “Art in Embassies” program)

“It was the stories that breathed life into the quilt. … They spoke of how the arts can open doors in education, how the arts can lay out a path to careers and how the arts can break down barriers in communication.”

Kissinger was part of a May 29 event when the quilt went on display at the U.S. State Department headquarters. At that event, she learned that the U.S. Department of Civil Rights is interested in creating a book about the quilt and its stories to accompany it around the world.

“There are several popular metaphors for our diverse, pluralistic American society, but the quilt may be the best of the lot,” a State Department official said at the May event.

“This quilt illustrates America’s fundamental belief that our strength comes from unity. Globally, this quilt reflects the strength of U.S. diplomacy as we stitch together international relations to foster global peace and security.”

The MTSU wordmark on a Raider blue and white eight-point star is the first quilt block. Its center block depicts a bright pink-and-purple plush applique hand in the universal sign-language gesture for “I love you.”

“Two young girls suggested that the quilt should have one square that did not represent any one state or country or organization … [but] should represent love because that is the universal language,” Kissinger explained. “They believed that love was the driving force behind the entire project and what had kept this project together.”

Kissinger’s students regularly help with VSA events at MTSU as part of her experiential learning classes, coordinating events like each autumn’s National Christmas Tree decorating party and the “Golden Ratio Project,” an international arts education exchange performance.

For more information about VSA Tennessee, visit www.vsatn.org or contact Kissinger at userk7706@comcast.net or 615-210-8819.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

MTSU instructor Lori Kissinger, second from left, poses for photos with U.S. Department of State leaders in Washington, D.C., May 29, after the VSA International Quilt went on display in the main lobby of the State Department's Harry S. Truman Building headquarters. From left are Steve Ramirez, chairperson of the State Department's Disability Action Group; Kissinger; John Robinson, director of the State Department's Office of Civil Rights; and Sarah Tanguy, curator of the Arts in Embassies program. (Photo courtesy of Lori Kissinger)

MTSU instructor Lori Kissinger, second from left, poses for photos with U.S. Department of State leaders in Washington, D.C., May 29, after the VSA International Quilt went on display in the main lobby of the State Department’s Harry S. Truman Building headquarters. From left are Steve Ramirez, chairperson of the State Department’s Disability Action Group; Kissinger; John Robinson, director of the State Department’s Office of Civil Rights; and Sarah Tanguy, curator of the Arts in Embassies program. (Photo courtesy of Lori Kissinger)