Center for Popular Music’s Elliott earns employee award

Another MTSU employee has been recognized for outstanding service to her department, colleagues, students and the university.

MTSU photo by Andy Heidt

MTSU photo by Andy Heidt

Yvonne Elliott, shown at center, executive aide in MTSU’s Center for Popular Music, displays the plaque she received Aug. 15 as the university’s first Quarterly Secretarial/Clerical Award winner for the 2014-15 academic year.

Celebrating with Elliott are Dr. Greg Reish, left, the new director of the Center for Popular Music, and Dr. Zeny Panol, associate dean of the College of Mass Communication, which houses the center.

MTSU’s Employee Recognition Committee salutes employees who make outstanding contributions and demonstrate excellence in their service to the university. Winners of the Employee of the Year Awards also receive cash awards from the MTSU Foundation.

Employees can learn more about nominating a colleague for great job performance at www.mtsu.edu/hrs/relations/recog.php.

Veteran Nashville journalist leads MTSU’s Seigenthaler Chair

Longtime Midstate journalist Pat Embry has been selected as the new director of MTSU’s John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies, bringing decades of experience with Nashville newspapers to help the College of Mass Communication expand national awareness of First Amendment issues.

The Seigenthaler Chair supports a variety of activities related to free speech, free press rights and other topics of concern for contemporary journalism, including distinguished visiting professors and visiting lecturers at MTSU, research related to free expression, seminars and meetings dedicated to expressive freedom and hands-on training for student journalists through the Seigenthaler News Service.

“Pat Embry brings a wealth of experience in journalism and a strong commitment to the First Amendment as he takes on this new role,” said Ken Paulson, dean of the College of Mass Communication.

Pat Embry

“He’ll be a great mentor for our student journalists and help us build national visibility for our national First Amendment education efforts.”

 “I’ve long admired John Seigenthaler’s relentless commitment to First Amendment awareness and education, and working with college interns always has been one of my favorite roles as a newspaper editor,” said Embry, a Nashville resident and former editor at the Nashville Banner and The Tennessean.

“Directing the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies at MTSU combines the two. It’s a wonderful opportunity and a perfect fit for this stage in my career.”

Embry rose from sports writer to executive editor in a nearly 20-year career at the Nashville Banner and joined The Tennessean after the Banner closed in 1998. During his seven-year tenure with The Tennessean, Embry served as entertainment editor, oversaw editorial operations for six Middle Tennessee community newspapers and developed and launched “The Rage,” a free weekly entertainment printed guide and website.

Before coming to MTSU, Embry worked as editorial director for Magellan Press in Brentwood, leading operations and managing content for iTunes’ top paid mobile dining app, LocalEats, and its companion website since 2008. He also wrote, marketed and managed distribution for Magellan’s successful dining guidebook “Where the Locals Eat-Nashville” from 2005 to 2008.

John Seigenthaler

Embry’s extensive civic and community work includes service as deputy chair of the Freedom of Information committee of the Tennessee Press Association; membership in Leadership Nashville and Leadership Music, including a stint as Leadership Music’s board president; and participation in the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Tourism Task Force. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

MTSU established the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies in 1986 to honor the iconic journalist’s lifelong commitment to free expression.

Seigenthaler, who passed away July 11 at age 86, was a reporter, editor, publisher and CEO of The Tennessean as well as an administrative assistant for then-U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. After serving as founding editorial director for USA Today, he established the First Amendment Center in Nashville in 1991.

Mass Comm logoThe list of people who’ve served as chairholder for the Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence at MTSU reads like a Who’s Who of media and includes Wallace Westfeldt, former producer for NBC and ABC News; Bill Kovach, former editor of The New York Times and curator of the Nieman Fellowships at Harvard; Tom Wicker, former columnist for The New York Times; John Henry Faulk, humorist and popular CBS radio personality blacklisted during the Red Scare and a hero of free expression rights; Jim Squires, former editor of The Chicago Tribune; author and journalist Wallace Terry; television journalist Sander Vanocur; former U.S. News & World Report Washington bureau chief John Mashek; and Seigenthaler himself.

Embry joins three current MTSU professors who also have helmed the Seigenthaler Chair: Chris Clark, one of the longest-tenured TV anchors in American history with 41 years at WTVF-TV, whose advocacy for public information access led the Tennessee Supreme Court to allow TV cameras in the state’s courtrooms; Beverly Keel, entertainment journalist and music industry executive who now leads MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry; and Wendell “Sonny” Rawls, Pulitzer Prize winner for investigative reporting at the Philadelphia Inquirer and a former director of the Center for Public Integrity’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

“My only regret is that I arrive too late to work with John directly,” Embry said. “I can’t help but think he’ll be here in spirit, though. It’s a challenging but enviable job to spend each day helping to continue John Seigenthaler’s legacy of relentless passion for, and commitment to, our First Amendment freedoms and for journalistic fairness, justice and truth-telling.”

Learn more about MTSU’s John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies at www.mtsu.edu/masscomm/chair_mc.php.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

New course provides food for thought on ‘MTSU On the Record’

A new MTSU course that takes a wide-ranging look at the production and processing of food will be the topic of the next edition of the “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Dr. Tony Johnston

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. Tony Johnston will air from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 24, on WMOT-FM (89.5 and www.wmot.org ).

Johnston, a professor of food science and agribusiness in MTSU’s School of Agribusiness and Agriscience, will explain “World Food and Society,” a new University Honors College course he created and will begin teaching this fall.

Students will explore economic, political, social and cultural issues related to food and hunger in the world, including malnutrition, food production, biotechnology, ecological destruction and food aid.

“We, as a society, really don’t have any idea of where our food comes from, how much it really costs to produce it, how much area it takes to produce food to make it so inexpensive in the United States versus the cost of production in any other country,” Johnston said.

To listen to previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, go to the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at www.mtsunews.com/ontherecord/.

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

MTSU’s Keel among ‘Women in Music City’ honorees

MTSU professor Beverly Keel, chair of the university’s highly touted Department of Recording Industry, has been named among the winners of The Nashville Business Journal’s inaugural Women in Music City Awards.

Professor Beverly Keel

Professor Beverly Keel

The Business Journal solicited nominations of women working in the music business “who are making a creative and economic impact on the industry.” A judging committee of women music professionals from Los Angeles and New York City reviewed and scored the nominees, and an NBJ committee chose the 26 winners, according to an online story by NBJ Associate Editor Alison Nash.

Click to see full list of winners.

Click to see full list of winners.

Formerly an award-winning music journalist and recording industry executive, Keel took the helm of the recording industry department a year ago. Among the projects the MTSU alumna has worked on since then include fundraising efforts to establish a scholarship fund at MTSU in memory of country music legend George Jones; and creation of the Chair’s Lecture Series to bring industry leaders such as Gary Overton, Sarah Trahern, Joe Galante and others to speak to students.

Keel is a graduate of Leadership Music, Leadership Nashville and Leadership Middle Tennessee and serves on the boards of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and The Women’s Fund. She also writes a column for The Tennessean.

NBJ Publisher Kate Herman announced the new awards program in June. All honorees will be recognized at a red carpet event at the Omni Nashville Hotel Sept. 15 and in a printed program on Sept. 19.

Read the full list of winners at http://bit.ly/1kz9P5x.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

Eller named interim vice provost, dean of graduate studies

Longtime MTSU sociology professor Dr. Jackie Eller is expanding her “interim” role to become interim vice provost for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies, university officials announced Friday.

Graduate Studies-logoEller had been serving as interim associate dean for the College of Graduate Studies since August. Before that, she chaired the Department of Sociology and Anthropology for almost three decades.

Dr. Brad Bartel

Dr. Brad Bartel

Dr. Jackie Eller

Dr. Jackie Eller

“Dr. Eller brings her wealth of administrative and graduate education experience to this position, and I know the entire MTSU community will support her,” University Provost Brad Bartel said.

“We will conduct a national search for the vice provost for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies this academic year.”

Eller assumes the role held previously by Dr. Michael Allen, who will be assuming a faculty position in the Department of Engineering Technology.

In addition to her teaching duties, Eller directed graduate studies for her department for five years and has served as the department chair since 2008. Her course topics have included deviant behavior, social disorganization, sex and gender, and emotions, and she is a former director of women’s studies at MTSU.

Eller is also a past president of the Mid-South Sociological Association and member of the MTSU President’s Administrative Council.

For more information about the MTSU College of Graduate Studies, call 615-898-2840, email graduate@mtsu.edu or visit www.mtsu.edu/graduate.

Learn about patrolling the cyberspace beat on ‘MTSU On the Record’

The ways law enforcement agencies are using social media is the focus of the next edition of the “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. Lee Wade, an assistant professor of criminal justice, will air from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, on WMOT-FM (89.5 and www.wmot.org ).

Professor Lee Wade

Professor Lee Wade

With an MTSU colleague, Dr. Joshua Harris, Wade conducted a study and presented it at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences’ annual meeting in Philadelphia in February of this year.

The study examined two city police departments in Georgia, a special police unit in a Tennessee municipality and a county sheriff’s department in Tennessee.

The number of posts, likes, shares and comments on each agency’s Facebook page and the types of information posted were documented.

“They use it for information, mainly for public information, warning people,” Wade explained. “They use it for promotion of their own department, and also they use it for what we call ‘shaming’ in criminology, meaning … the number of arrests, the person who was arrested, the name, the charge.”

Wade and Harris also looked at how one particular agency used surveillance videos posted on Facebook to help investigations.

To listen to previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, go to the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at www.mtsunews.com/ontherecord/.

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

MTSU experts weigh in on Africa, bacteria, applying for college

From African politics to bacteria that aid digestion, MTSU faculty and staff experts are sharing their knowledge through the national media.

Dr. Janet Colson

Dr. Janet Colson

Dr. Janet Colson, a professor in the Department of Human Sciences and a registered dietitian, provided comments for two articles in Today’s Dietician.

Colson’s remarks on proposed changes in nutrition labels may be read at http://tiny.cc/eap2jx. Her perspective on the probiotic power of dairy products is under the “yogurt” subheading in the article posted at http://tinyurl.com/kdk5gr5.

Dr. Moses Tesi

Dr. Moses Tesi, a professor of political science, provided his views on doing volunteer work in a developing country for www.takepart.com. That article may be read at http://tiny.cc/cfp2jx.

Tesi also addressed U.S. ties with African nations in the Obama administration for www.theroot.com. That article, which was reprinted by The Peninsula Qatar and The Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is available at http://tiny.cc/pip2jx.

Mary Winsett, assistant manager of undergraduate recruitment, offered comments for a story about mistakes to avoid on college applications at www.nerdwallet.com. The article is at http://tiny.cc/4kp2jx, and Winsett’s remarks are in the last of six recommendations.

Reporters seeking expertise from MTSU personnel, as well as members of the campus community with expertise for media, may contact Gina Logue in the Office of News and Media Relations at 615-898-5081 or via email at gina.logue@mtsu.edu.

‘MTSU On the Record’ takes a peek at a Civil War diary

A rare chronicle of life as a Rebel soldier is the focus of the next edition of the “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Shirley Farris Jones

Shirley Farris Jones

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Shirley Farris Jones, editor of “Letters to Mary: The Civil War Diary of Dr. John Kennerly Farris,” will air from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 10, on WMOT-FM (89.5 and www.wmot.org).Letters to Mary cover web

Dr. Farris, a Hillsboro, Tennessee, native, was a hospital steward and assistant surgeon in Company I of the 41st Tennessee infantry.

He wrote letters to his wife, Mary, and saved them as small diaries until he could find a way to mail them or send them home to Coffee County by messenger.

The letters were full of tales of battles, medical treatments, camp food and other aspects of fighting for the Confederacy.

Shirley Farris Jones published the book 20 years ago, but the second printing includes additional material, including photos and illustrations.

“I came to know this man and to appreciate the quality of his character, the type of man he was, his dedication, his love for his family, his wife, his little boy,” said Jones, who is retired from MTSU’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures after working for the university more than 30 years.

“He was a very honorable man.”

To listen to previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, go to www.mtsunews.com/ontherecord/.

For more information, contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.

A video clip of the interview may be seen below.

Veteran visual journalist leads MTSU’s Center for Innovation in Media

A longtime visual journalist who expanded her focus to train others to use mobile media will lead MTSU’s nationally recognized Center for Innovation in Media, university officials have announced.

Val Hoeppner, who’s served since last fall as journalist in residence in the School of Journalism in MTSU’s 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.

Val Hoeppner

“Val Hoeppner brings a special combination of journalistic experience, digital expertise and impressive teaching skills to her new role at MTSU,” said Ken Paulson, dean of the College of Mass Communication.

“She’ll build on the foundation of innovation established by our former director, Stephan Foust, and give our students the kind of skills and experience that will best prepare them for opportunities in a digital era.”

Foust worked closely with college administrators to open the almost-$700,000 facility inside the Bragg Mass Communication Building in January 2012 and had directed its operations since. A veteran broadcast journalist and corporate communications consultant, Foust is retiring from the university.

“The CIM job is a dream job, really,” Hoeppner explained, “as I get to spend my days helping student journalists find their voice and pursue a career as a storyteller. Our students’ stories may be written, photographed, voiced, filmed or sung.

“That’s the most unique thing about our College of Mass Communication and the center itself. We have a traditional newspaper that is going digital, a radio station that is both on-air and streamed, a television station using digital technology to broadcast and a record label using social media to bring attention to its artists.”

Click on the logo to visit the Center for Innovation in Media website.

Click on the logo to visit the Center for Innovation in Media website.

The Associated Press Media Editors lauded the Center for Innovation in Media soon after it opened 2½ years ago for its efforts in “reforming and reshaping its student media.” The center received an honorable mention in the “Innovator of the Year for College Students” category in the 2012 APME Journalism Excellence Awards.

The Center for Innovation in Media combines the newsrooms for Sidelines, the student newspaper; WMTS-FM, the student-run radio station; Match Records, the student-run record label; MT10, the student-operated cable television station; and WMOT-FM, the 100,000-watt public radio station, in a single location.

MTSU’s center enables students from all media disciplines to hone their real-world skills by writing stories for print and the Web, creating audio versions of the same stories for broadcast on radio stations and providing video versions of those stories for use on MT10 and on the station and center websites.

Before joining the MTSU staff, Hoeppner served as director of education for the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute for five years and spent 20 years in newsrooms as a photojournalist, newsroom leader and multimedia director at The Indianapolis Star.

“I got into journalism to make a difference in people’s lives. I was lucky enough to do just that in a variety of newsroom roles,” Hoeppner said.

“The CIM is a great sandbox to play in, and every day I find new ways to stretch our storytelling skills.”

Learn more about the Center for Innovation in Media at MTSU at its website, www.mtsu.edu/innovationinmedia.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)


Then-senior Jeff Cyrus prepares for a live broadcast from the Center for Innovation in Media's newsroom soon after the facility opened in 2012 inside the Bragg Mass Communication Building at MTSU. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

Then-senior Jeff Cyrus prepares for a live broadcast from the Center for Innovation in Media’s newsroom soon after the facility opened in 2012 inside the Bragg Mass Communication Building at MTSU. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

NIH gives MTSU nearly $400K for more treadmill research (+VIDEO)

For three years, Middle Tennessee State University’s exercise science experts have worked wonders with people who suffer from incomplete spinal cord injuries.

Now the National Institutes of Health is giving them an opportunity that could change the way health professionals treat these patients, who retain some preservation of sensation or motor function at the lowest segment of the spinal cord.

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)

With a $388,894 grant from the federal agency, Drs. Don Morgan and Sandy Stevens will 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.

Thirty participants, including part of a control group, will help the university scientists determine the impact of underwater treadmill training on partially paralyzed individuals’ mobility, health and quality of life.

“We can improve their leg strength,” said Morgan, a professor of exercise science in the university’s Department of Health and Human Performance.

“We can improve their balance. We can reduce the need for external help when they walk.”

The primary goals are to improve the participants’ mobility, reduce physical inactivity, increase their participation in life activities and improve aerobic fitness.

Over a 16-week period, the participants’ gait patterns will be tracked.  They’ll be videotaped and will have electrodes attached to their bodies. These electrodes will enable researchers to determine if the activity and coordination of their leg muscles change after the aquatic walking program.

Dr. Don Morgan

Dr. Brian Hinote

Dr. Brian Hinote, an associate professor of sociology, will evaluate the participants’ lifestyles before and after the treadmill trials.

“We want to assess the degree to which the people are able to carry on the activities of their daily lives, both at home and in their communities,” Hinote said.

Morgan’s earlier research with the underwater treadmill focused on children with cerebral palsy. The results were promising enough to lead him to believe it could work for other populations, including diabetics and stroke survivors.

“It could certainly be a complementary therapeutic technique that, for some, could really spell the difference between being able to be mobile on land instead of being relegated primarily to a wheelchair or a walker,” Morgan said.

Stevens, an assistant professor of exercise science, works most directly with the clients, transferring them safely into the treadmill, adjusting the water temperature and adjusting the height of the tank for the armrests.

She knows that while restoring their full mobility might not be possible, their mobility can be increased.

“It really is possible to restore that level of independent functioning, and a lot of it can be done through fairly low-tech interventions that could potentially be done within a community,” Stevens said.

You can watch an archived video about the underwater treadmill research program below.



Part of the NIH funding will pay undergraduate and graduate students to assist with the study. It’s a move that will better prepare MTSU graduates for jobs in the health professions and improve the university’s research profile, the professors said.

Morgan and Stevens will speak directly to students during fall classes to help choose the lucky few assistants. They said they expect the humanitarian aspect of the work to be a major selling point.

“You have a chance to impact the lives of people in a positive way, and that is incredibly fulfilling,” Morgan said.

The NIH-funded study is noteworthy for a university not connected to a college of medicine or a teaching hospital, and Morgan is encouraged by the agency’s approval of MTSU’s proposal.

“We’re doing work here at MTSU that, as far as I know, is not being done anywhere else in the world at this level,” said Morgan.

For more information about the program, contact Morgan at 615-898-5549 or don.morgan@mtsu.edu or Stevens at 615-494-7905 or sandra.stevens@mtsu.edu.

You also can read the personal stories of clients who’ve used the underwater treadmill project to help increase their mobility in this story published in the April 2014 edition of “MTSU Magazine.”

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Richard Locke of Murfreesboro works out on an underwater treadmill in MTSU’s Alumni Memorial Gym. Locke, who suffered a stroke that affected muscle ability on the left side of his body, is one of several clients who have benefitted from research conducted by MTSU’s exercise science professionals. (Photos by MTSU Office of News and Media Relations)

Richard Locke works to improve his gait while walking on an underwater treadmill in MTSU’s Alumni Memorial Gym.