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MTSU’s Brown among ‘2017 Most Influential in Concrete Construction’

A higher education leader who has been turning out future leaders in the concrete industry for more than 15 years, MTSU’s Heather Brown has been named one of four 2017 Most Influential People in Concrete Construction by an industry publication.

Dr. Heather Brown

Dr. Heather Brown

Brown, director of the newly combined School of Concrete and Construction Management, learned recently about the Hanley Wood’s Commercial Construction Group’s “most influential” national recognition, which also included Jereme Montgomery, Steve Lloyd and Jim Cornell.

Brown told Bill Palmer, editorial director of Hanley Wood’s Commercial Construction Group, taht MTSU “is the only school at a major university with the word ‘concrete’ in our name.”

Not long after arriving at MTSU, Brown said she “found out that I love teaching and the interaction with the concrete industry.” She directs five faculty members and a marketing staff member, and the school recently hired a new event coordinator.

Concrete Industry Management is one of the university’s signature programs.

You can read the full story here.

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

Immigration’s role in American history is focus of ‘MTSU On the Record’

The impact of immigration in shaping the American experience is the topic of the next “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Dr. John Vile

Dr. John Vile

Vile immigration book cover webHost Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. John Vile, dean of the University Honors College and a political scientist, will air from 8 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, and from 6 to 6:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 15, on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and www.wmot.org.

Vile is the editor of “American Immigration and Citizenship: A Documentary History.” In this book, using a mixture of statutes, constitutional provisions, speeches, judicial decisions and interpretive essays, Vile traces changes in immigration policy over the years.

WMOT-new web logoIn the interview, Vile also comments on contemporary attitudes toward immigration stemming from current political controversies such as “sanctuary cities,” where mayors have refused to prosecute undocumented immigrants solely for violating federal immigration laws.

“For all practical purposes, the national government does set immigration policy,” said Vile, “but once they’re here, that does present a little bit different issue, and I think it will be sort of one of the flashpoints that we’ll just have to watch for and see how it’s resolved.”

The fall 2016 Honors College Lecture Series, which focused on “Citizenship, Refugees and Immigration,” featured Vile as one of the presenting scholars.

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.

This circa 1905 photo of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, created by the Detroit Photographic Co. and the focus of countless immigrants’ hopes since it opened in October 1886, is part of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division and is featured on the cover of MTSU political scientist John Vile’s book “American Immigration and Citizenship: A Documentary History.” (photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

This circa 1905 photo of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, created by the Detroit Photographic Co. and the focus of countless immigrants’ hopes since it opened in October 1886, is part of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division and is featured on the cover of MTSU political scientist John Vile’s book “American Immigration and Citizenship: A Documentary History.” (photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Secret Service agent, child care expert on ‘MTSU On the Record’

The “MTSU On the Record” radio program will ring in the new year with an examination of a major federal agency.

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Lynda Williams, deputy assistant director for the Office of Human Resources of the United States Secret Service, will air from 8 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 2, and from 6 to 6:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 8, on WMOT-FM/Roots Radio 89.5 and www.wmot.org.

Lynda Williams

Lynda Williams

Nancy James

Nancy James

Williams, an MTSU alumna who has served all over the world, is the highest-ranking African-American woman in the history of the Secret Service, which is charged both with protecting the president of the United States and protecting the nation’s monetary supply.

WMOT-new web logo“Even when I was in South Africa, most of my investigations were over counterfeit currency,” said Williams.

“Peru is one of our highest yielding countries for U.S. counterfeit currency. So it’s still very much a hot market for us, and it keeps us going amidst all the other investigations that we have.”

On Dec. 26, Logue’s interview with Nancy James, director of the MTSU Child Care Lab, first aired.

James, who is beginning her 29th year as director, is in charge of tending to youngsters ages 3 through 5 whose parents are either MTSU students or employees. The Child Care Lab also develops the talents of future professionals by guiding student workers in the skills needed to develop children’s minds and bodies.

“They work there anywhere from five hours to 15 hours a week, and they’re counted in the (pupil-teacher) ratio because they go through the same training as anyone would to be in a classroom with preschoolers,” said James. “We will generally keep anywhere from three to five adults in the room through the bulk of the day.”

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.

Retirement ends Ricketts’ alternative fuels era at MTSU

The Cliff Ricketts era of alternative fuels research at MTSU ended recently with one final attempt to successfully drive U.S. 231 in Tennessee between the Kentucky and Alabama state lines using a wood gasification process.

Recently retired after a 40-year career as an MTSU School of Agribusiness and Agriscience professor and agriculture education teacher, Ricketts completed the approximately 131-mile trip Dec. 13 from near Scottsville, Kentucky, to near Hazel Green, Alabama.

Recently retired professor and alternative fuels researcher Cliff Ricketts takes a break from his recent research drive using a combination of a wood gasification unit and gasoline. (Submitted photo)

Recently retired professor and alternative fuels researcher Cliff Ricketts takes a break from his recent research drive using a combination of a wood gasification unit and gasoline. (Submitted photos)

However, he and his team — which included MTSU senior Colton Huckabee of Columbia, Tennessee — needed to use part wood and part gasoline to make it work.

Ricketts, 68, has crisscrossed the U.S. for five decades, researching ways to use fuel other than gas to make vehicles go. His alternative methods have included waste animal (chicken) fat or “southern fried fuel” as it was called; hydrogen from water separated by the sun (solar); corn, methane from cow manure, soybean oil and others.

“This is part of the research process and we ran out of time before we could make it (wood gasification) work,” said Ricketts, who overcame a number of failed attempts in the past. “We did our research on wood gasification. The attempt did not meet our expectations. It didn’t work as well as we had hoped. I know we could have made it work if we had had more time.”

Ricketts said his biggest accomplishment was “coming up with the process to make America energy independent in a time of a national crisis.” He added that his primary duty, teaching agriculture students to educate others, impacted “350 to 400 certified teachers, so my work will end up affecting thousands of lives.”

MTSU will replace Ricketts by fall of 2017, but he does not anticipate any colleague or a new hire to follow his path with alternative fuels.

“It was something I invented — a side passion,” he said. “There is little or none (alternative fuel research) in agriculture. It’s in engineering.”

Ricketts, who will oversee his 200-acre farm in Wilson County, added he anticipates being invited to speak on the subject of alternative fuels if gas prices reach $5.

In addition to Huckabee, Ricketts’ team included MTSU alumnus Terry Young of Woodbury, Tennessee, and Mike Sims of Michigan.

Ricketts earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and a doctorate from Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

He has earned numerous MTSU and other accolades including the Career Achievement Award and a Silver Column Award presented by university President Sidney A. McPhee.

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

Cliff Ricketts drives through Murfreesboro during his research with wood gasification. He wound up using a combination of wood and gas.

Cliff Ricketts drives through Murfreesboro during his research with wood gasification. He wound up using a combination of wood and gas.

MTSU senior Colton Huckabee, front, observes as Terry Young makes adjustments to the wood gasification unit during the 131-mile research run made by retiring professor Cliff Ricketts.

MTSU senior Colton Huckabee, front, observes as Terry Young makes adjustments to the wood gasification unit during the 131-mile research run made by retiring professor Cliff Ricketts.

Shown with the wood gasification unit used in the research project, Cliff Ricketts, left, stands with crew members Terry Young, MTSU senior Colton Huckabee and Mike Sims. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

Shown with the wood gasification unit used in the research project, Cliff Ricketts, left, stands with crew members Terry Young, MTSU senior Colton Huckabee and Mike Sims. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

 

 

 

 

BERC Q3 report: Tennessee housing market remains strong

Tennessee’s housing market continued to perform well in the third quarter of 2016, according to the latest statewide quarterly report from the MTSU Business and Economic Research Center.

BERC Director Murat Arik pointed to historically low unemployment claims and mortgage delinquency rates at some of the lowest levels in over a decade as key factors.

“Overall, indicators depict a strong financial foundation in the state,” Arik noted. “The housing market is performing considerably well.”

Dr. Murat Arik

Dr. Murat Arik

Other good signs were low rental vacancy rates and increased multi-family construction permits during the quarter. Meanwhile, housing prices increased by half a percentage point more for the state than for the nation.

Additionally, Nashville MSA housing prices increased by 9 percent over the year — nearly 3 percentage points higher than the state and 3.5 percentage points higher than the country.

Other report highlights include:

  • Over the year, Tennessee housing permits outperformed the South and the U.S.
  • The Memphis area’s housing inventory decreased by 18 percent over the year.
  • Mortgage delinquency rates are down overall for Tennessee.

MTSU BERC logoBERC’s report is funded by Tennessee Housing Development Agency to provide regular metrics on the state’s housing market. See the full report with detailed breakdowns and summaries at http://mtsu.edu/berc/housing.php.

Under contract with THDA, BERC releases the “Tennessee Housing Market” report each quarter. The report offers an overview of the state’s economy as it relates to the housing market and includes data on employment, housing construction, rental vacancy rates, real estate transactions and mortgages, home sales and prices, delinquencies and foreclosures.THDA logo-horiz_web

The Business and Economic Research Center operates under the Jennings A. Jones College of Business at MTSU. For more information, visit http://mtsu.edu/berc/.

THDA publishes research on affordable housing, its programs and beneficiaries. THDA also coordinates state planning for housing through the Consolidated Planning process, annual Action Plans, and annual Performance Reports.  See http://thda.org/research-planning/research-planning for more information.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

In the News: MTSU experts weigh in on election, Obama legacy

MTSU faculty experts recently expressed themselves for national media outlets on several hot button topics, including various election-related issues and Russian perspectives on American politics.

• Kent Syler, assistant professor of political science, commented on the lack of yard signs by political candidates for www.expresstelegraph.com Oct. 13. His views may be read here.

Kent Syler

Kent Syler

Dr. Andrei Korobkov

Dr. Andrei Korobkov

Dr. Andrei Korobkov, professor of political science, wrote an article titled “2016 Presidential Race Reveals the Systemic Crisis in American Society” for www.rethinkingrussia.ru. It was posted on Nov. 14 and is available here.

Korobkov also was interviewed about whether Americans are happy with Donald Trump on the program “Morning Ireland” on Ireland’s RTE Radio 1 on Nov. 11. The podcast can be heard here.

Russia Direct published Korobkov’s comments on President Barack Obama’s legacy in an article titled “Obama’s legacy: Not that bad after all?” on Nov. 24. It may be read here. Russia Direct also published Korobkov’s editorial titled “What Obama’s foreign policy legacy means for Trump” Nov. 25. It is available here.

Dr. John Vile

Dr. John Vile

Dr. John Vile, professor of political science and dean of the University Honors College, appeared on “Inside Politics,” a program on WTVF-TV’s sister channel NewsChannel5+ Nov. 14 to discuss the American presidential election. His analysis may be viewed here.

Vile also provided information Nov. 11 on the transition of power between U.S. presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson for the British Broadcasting Corp. The article is available here.

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’ looks at thoughtful problem-solving

A step-by-step guide to both problem-solving and a deeper thought process is the subject of the next “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Dr. Colby Jubenville

Dr. Colby Jubenville

WMOT-new web logoHost Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. Colby Jubenville, a professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance, will air from 8 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19, and from 6 to 6:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 25, on WMOT-FM/Roots Radio 89.5 and www.wmot.org.

Jubenville has devised a rubric called a “Self-Directed, Self-Selected Coaching Model,” which he implemented in his fall 2016 classes. It’s a three-phase structure that helps students investigate issues in an organized way.

“I will say, ‘Tell me a typical problem in the industry,’” Jubenville explained, “and the question was, ‘Should high-school athletic directors be able to actively pursue corporate sponsorships in order to build quality athletic programs?’”

The students will attack the problem individually within Jubenville’s template. They’ll research concepts and theories, explore real-world results and analyze the audience, statistics and motivations that factor into the issue.

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.

Investigate campaign news coverage on next ‘MTSU On the Record’

An examination of journalists’ performance during the presidential campaign and a preview of media relations with the incoming administration were the topics of a recent “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Dr. Larry Burriss

Dr. Larry Burriss

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. Larry Burriss, a professor in MTSU’s School of Journalism, first aired Dec. 5 on WMOT-FM/Roots Radio 89.5 and www.wmot.org. You can listen to their conversation below.

WMOT-new web logoBurriss asserts that, with charges and countercharges flying virtually every day during the 2016 presidential campaign and the impact of social media and “fake news” websites, it was easy for the U.S. electorate to become confused.

“There was a lot of what I call first-level investigation, but going beyond that, there just wasn’t very much digging,” said Burriss. “There just wasn’t very much getting into the minutiae.

“The details are what count. The reporters should have gone after those details. I don’t know if they had enough time to do that, though.”

Burriss has served as director of the School of Journalism, dean of the College of Mass Communication (now the College of Media and Entertainment), president of the MTSU Faculty Senate and as a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents. As a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, he served on active duty in Somalia, Bosnia, Central America, Europe and at the Pentagon.

The professor also has a law degree from Concord Law School. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Ohio State University, another master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma and a doctorate from Ohio University.

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.

‘MTSU On the Record’ visits Center for Chinese Music and Culture

MTSU has one of the area’s most unique cultural attractions, and it’s the topic of a recent “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Dr. Mei Han

Dr. Mei Han

WMOT-new web logoHost Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. Mei Han, director of the MTSU Center for Chinese Music and Culture, first aired Nov. 28 on WMOT-FM/Roots Radio 89.5 and www.wmot.org. You can listen to their conversation below.

Han, who also is an associate professor of music at MTSU, explained some of the various Chinese musical instruments on display at the center and what makes Chinese music so fascinating.

“In olden times, Chinese music notations only notated the main notes,” said Han, “so basically, it’s a framework. The musicians, through oral tradition, carried the nuance of each individual piece.”

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.

MTSU names student-success leader Sluder as University College dean

The administrator leading MTSU’s Quest for Student Success will now also serve as dean of the University College and will oversee work with students undecided on majors, as well as adult degree completion, online learning and academic outreach to high school students.

Dr. Richard Sluder

Dr. Richard Sluder

Dr. Richard “Rick” Sluder, who joined MTSU as vice provost for student success in September 2014, succeeds Dr. David Gotcher. Gotcher returns to his role as associate dean of the college after serving as interim dean since August 2015.

Interim Provost Mark Byrnes, who announced the appointment to campus Nov. 23, said the University College’s work with undecided students, as well as its efforts to support and attract older students through flexible courses, online offerings and customized degree programs, complements the work by Sluder and his Office of Student Success.

“Rick Sluder has emerged as a national leader in the area of student success,” Byrnes said. “I look forward to his continued work in that area and to the strong leadership he will undoubtedly provide to our University College.”

The University College is home to some of MTSU’s most successful outreach efforts, including new academic programs tailored to the needs of business and industry, a substantial increase in dual-enrollment college courses taught at area high schools and the Adult Degree Completion Program, which leads the state in enrollment and degree production.

Sluder said he’s excited to serve the university in an expanded role.

University College logo web“I look forward to an incredible opportunity to build upon the great work that is already occurring across campus,” Sluder said. “MTSU is an exceptional institution, and the alignment of these two units will allow us to better serve even more of the university’s constituents.”

Dr. Mark Byrnes

Dr. Mark Byrnes

MTSU launched its Quest for Student Success initiative in October 2013, creating extensive reforms aimed at helping its students stay on track academically and complete their degrees.

The MTSU effort works in conjunction with Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Drive to 55” goal to extend the reach of higher education in the state.

Under Sluder’s leadership, MTSU saw record increases this fall in its retention rates and other key student success measures. Freshman retention has increased almost 12 percent since the success program launch, going from 68 percent in 2013 to about 76 percent this fall.

“This means that the MTSU freshman retention rate is at the highest level and increased at the fastest rate in the history of the institution, based on an analysis of available data,” Byrnes said.

Sluder said the university also attained strong increases in retention for transfer and sophomore students. A significantly larger proportion of freshmen — up more than 12 percent from last year — are completing at least 30 hours in their first year of classes, he added.

“More students are on track to finish their degrees in four years, an accomplishment in sync with both national and state initiatives,” Sluder said.

Byrnes said MTSU’s Quest for Student Success received several national higher-education awards this year and will be featured in a forthcoming training course and a national case study.

“All of this is the product of the hard work of our faculty and campus to facilitate the success of our students,” Sluder said, “and these are important milestones as we work to continue to improve every aspect of the learning experience at MTSU.”

Sluder, who served as vice provost for recruitment and outreach at the University of Central Missouri before joining MTSU, earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in criminal justice from Truman State University and Sam Houston State University, respectively, and a master’s degree in human resources management from Truman State.

At Central Missouri, Sluder also was part of a campus effort to establish the Office of Military and Veterans Services to accommodate student veterans and worked to strengthen its partnerships with community colleges. He also served as dean of UCM’s College of Health and Human Services as well as a professor of criminal justice.

Before moving into academia, Sluder worked his way through the ranks of the Adams County, Colorado, Sheriff’s Department, rising to captain and administrator of the adult detention facility there.

For more information about MTSU’S University College, visit its website at www.mtsu.edu/university-college. The Office of Student Success at MTSU also has more information at its website, http://mtsu.edu/studentsuccess.

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

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