In the News: MTSU faculty weigh in on crime, politics, farming

MTSU faculty continue to share knowledge and experience with national and international audiences, most recently on topics of crime, politics and farming.

Dr. Justin Gardner

Dr. Mary A. Evins

Chief Buddy Peaster

Buddy Peaster, director of public safety and chief of the MTSU Police Department, provided warnings about scam artists who target college students for www.moneylife.in. The article may be read here.

Dr. Mary Evins, a professor of history and director of the American Democracy Project at MTSU, weighed in on how to get teenagers interested in the democratic electoral process for www.nyparenting.com and Rochester and Genesee Parent Magazine. Evins’ views are available here.

Dr. Justin Gardner, an associate professor of agribusiness, offered his perspective on the impact of digital technology on agriculture for www.fundweb.co.uk. The story 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.

Center for Popular Music director visits ‘MTSU On the Record’

Modern preservation of vintage music is the topic of the next “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Dr. Greg Reish

Dr. Greg Reish

CPM logoHost Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. Greg Reish, director of the Center for Popular Music, will air from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 21, on WMOT-FM  (89.5 and www.wmot.org ).

Reish, who took over as center director July 1, was most recently associate professor of music history at Roosevelt University in Chicago. He is writing a book about American vernacular guitar styles from the mid-19th century through bluegrass and country music of the 1940s.

In addition, Reish is a professor of musicology in the MTSU School of Music and an accomplished singer and instrumentalist on guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, dulcimer and ukulele.

“I would like to see much more public performance programs, workshops, conferences that aren’t necessarily traditional academic conferences but that are more fan-friendly and student-friendly and that have more music-making involved in them,” Reish said of his future priorities.

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.

Professor helps shape Tenn. workplace anti-bullying law, policy

An MTSU business professor continues her push for a more civil workplace.

Dr. Jackie Gilbert, a professor of management in the MTSU Jones College of Business, joined forces with like-minded people across the state and nation to help craft legislation and guidelines that will help do just that within government agencies.

Dr. Jackie Gilbert, center in red, a professor of management in the MTSU Jones College of Business, joined other workplace civility advocates at the June 3 signing of the Healthy Workplace Act. Seated is Gov. Bill Haslam, who signed the bill into law. (Submitted photo)

Dr. Jackie Gilbert, shown at center in red, a professor of management in the MTSU Jones College of Business, joined other workplace civility advocates at the June 3 signing of the Healthy Workplace Act. Seated is Gov. Bill Haslam, who signed the bill into law. (Submitted photo)

Gilbert was part of a group of advocates who helped shape the Healthy Workplace Act, which was signed into law in June by Gov. Bill Haslam. The legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, grants legal protection to those government agencies that adopt a model policy to combat abusive behavior in the workplace or craft comparable guidelines of their own.

The law applies to any agency, county, metropolitan government, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state.

By enacting the law, Tennessee became the 26th state to introduce the Healthy Workplace Bill and the first to pass it. The national grassroots legislative movement began more than a decade ago to get workplace anti-bullying laws passed in every state.

“Respectful interaction at work is a priority,” said Gilbert, who has incorporated anti-bullying concepts into her teaching. “This law is going to set the stage for providing some guidance for what is acceptable and what is not acceptable at work.”

Dr. Jackie Gilbert

Gilbert is a member of Tennessee Healthy Workplace Advocates, which worked toward passage of the bill. She was recently appointed to serve on a workplace civility workgroup that is advising the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, or TACIR, on developing a model policy for Tennessee’s state and local governments. The legislation requires that a model be in place by March 15, 2015.

Lynnisse Roehrich-Patrick, TACIR’s executive director, is appreciative of Gilbert’s contribution to this effort.

“Dr. Gilbert brings an academic perspective that is a welcome addition to our work group and complements the expertise of the public administration, legal, and human resource professionals on the team,” Roehrich-Patrick said. “Her knowledge of effective methods to prevent abusive conduct and her commitment to workplace civility are essential to their work.”

Government employers can create their own policy if it helps employers recognize and respond to abusive conduct, and prevents retaliation against any reporting employee. Abusive conduct is defined as repeated verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, humiliation or work sabotage.

To craft the legislation, Parkinson convened a think tank that included Gilbert; Arlene Martin-Norman, co-coordinator, Tennessee Healthy Workplace Advocates; Dr. Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute; Dr. David Yamada, professor of law at Suffolk University and director of the New Workplace Institute; John McManus, legislative liaison and public information officer at the Tennessee Department of Human Resources; Michelle Gaskin, attorney for the Tennessee General Assembly; and Sarah Adair, governmental affairs director at the Tennessee State Employees’ Association.

Earlier this year, Gilbert was named a founding fellow to the U.S. Academy on Workplace Bullying, Mobbing, and Abuse. In June, she conducted a workshop on the Healthy Workplace Act at a Tennessee State Employees’ Association assembly in Murfreesboro.

For more information about the TACIR workgroup, visit http://bit.ly/tacir-civility.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

‘MTSU On the Record’ to air abbreviated ‘State of the University’ address

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee’s annual fall semester address to the faculty will be the focus of the next “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee addresses the crowd during his State of the University address Friday morning during the 2014 Fall Faculty Meeting inside Tucker Theatre. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee addresses the crowd during his State of the University address Aug. 22 during the 2014 Fall Faculty Meeting inside Tucker Theatre. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

An abbreviated version of the hourlong speech will air from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 14, on WMOT-FM (89.5 and www.wmot.org ).

WMOT aired McPhee’s “State of the University” address live in its entirety on Friday, Aug. 22, from MTSU’s Tucker Theatre.

The speech covers the accomplishments of the 2013-2014 academic year and the challenges that lie ahead as a change in the state’s funding formula for publicly funded institutions of higher learning necessitates an intensified approach to retention and graduation.

“The bottom line is our survival, now and in the future, will not be saying that we’re the largest undergraduate university in the state of Tennessee,” McPhee said.

“It is going to be the number of students that this university produces for the workforce in this region and the state and whether or not those students receive job offers.”

You can watch the complete speech on video hereA transcript is available here.

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 Foundation honors accounting professor, more faculty (+VIDEO)

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 Friday 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, an honor “that reflects her success in instilling knowledge and professionalism in students and preparing them for careers,” University Provost Brad Bartel said.


In accepting the award from the MTSU Foundation, the Fayetteville, Tennessee, native said her position at MTSU had “allowed me to do things I had never dreamed of … It’s provided me a career, opened doors and allowed me to pursue opportunities in the accounting profession and accounting education well beyond our campus.”

Dr. Paula Thomas was honored Friday as the 13th recipient of the Career Achievement Award during MTSU’s Fall Faculty meeting at Tucker Theatre. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Dr. Paula Thomas was honored Friday as the 13th recipient of the Career Achievement Award during MTSU’s Fall Faculty meeting at Tucker Theatre. (MTSU photos by J. Intintoli)

After starting her professional year as an accountant in Nashville, Thomas caught the teaching bug after teaching night courses in accounting at a community college and decided to pursue an academic career. Her research on cash-balance pensions was a resource for IBM employees who were concerned about their reduced pension benefits resulting from IBM’s pension plan conversions.

At MTSU, Thomas has previously served as a department chair, has worked on accounting curriculum at the national level through a variety of professional organizations, and currently serves as faculty adviser for Beta Alpha Psi, an international honors organization for financial information students and professionals. Last year, the group’s service and professional activities earned it “Superior Chapter” status, Beta Alpha Psi’s highest designation.

Thomas thanked her husband, Earl, also a member of the business faculty, and her three children for supporting her while also praising current and former colleagues, administrators and students “for allowing me to be a part of their lives and allowing me to see their successes. That’s really the most rewarding part of my job.”

Other faculty awards

Other faculty members were also honored during Friday’s meeting. Presented by alumna Kathy Jones (B.S. ’83), current president of the MTSU Foundation, the five recipients of the 2014 Outstanding Teacher Award are:

  • Dr. Heather J. Brown, Department of Concrete Industry Management.
  • Dr. Rebecca M. Fischer, speech-language pathology and audiology, Department of Health and Human Performance.MTSU Wordmark
  • Associate professor Sisavanh Houghton, Department of Art.
  • Dr. Victor J. Montemayor, Department of Physics and Astronomy.
  • Dr. Nathan C. Phillips, horticulture, School of Agribusiness and Agriscience.

The 12 additional MTSU Foundation Award winners for 2014 are:

  • Drs. Ashley B. Morris, Department of Biology, and Ahad Nasab, Department of Engineering Technology – Special Projects Award.
  • Dr. Janis Brickey, interior design, Department of Human Sciences – Creative Activity Award.
  • Drs. Cyrille L. Magne, Department of Psychology, and Ngee Sing Chong, Department of Chemistry – Distinguished Research Award.
  • Dr. M. Dawn McCormack, Department of History – Outstanding Teaching in General Education Award.
  • Drs. Jonathan M. Bradley, Department of English; Thomas M. Brinthaupt, Department of Psychology; and Michael S. Fleming, Department of Recording Industry – Outstanding Achievement in Instructional Technology Award.
  • Dr. Wendy Beckman, Department of Aerospace; Nancy E. Stubblefield, College of Mass Communication; and Dr. Jeremy Winters, Department of Elementary and Special Education –Outstanding Public Service Award.

To view a PDF of the MTSU Foundation Awards 2014 program, visit http://ow.ly/ACj0h.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

MTSU faculty members gather for a group photo after they were recognized by the MTSU Foundation for their service at Friday’s Fall Faculty Meeting inside Tucker Theatre. Thirteen of the 18 recipients and their 2014 honors include, front row from left, Nancy E. Stubblefield, Outstanding Public Service Award; Dr. Ashley Morris, Special Projects Award; Dr. Paula Thomas, Career Achievement Award; Dr. M. Dawn McCormack, Outstanding Teaching in General Education Award; and Dr. Janis Brickey, Creative Activity Award. Second row from left are Dr. Ngee Sing Chong, Distinguished Research Award; Dr. Cyrille L. Magne, Distinguished Research Award; Michael S. Fleming, Outstanding Achievement in Instructional Technology Award; Dr. Wendy S. Beckman, Outstanding Public Service Award; and Dr. Jeremy Winters, Outstanding Public Service Award. Standing from left are Dr. Thomas M. Brinthaupt, Outstanding Achievement in Instructional Technology Award; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee; MTSU Foundation President Kathy Jones; Dr. Jonathan M. Bradley, Outstanding Achievement in Instructional Technology Award; and Dr. Rebecca M. Fischer, Outstanding Teacher Award.

Nashville Business Journal honors MTSU marketing chief

NASHVILLE — Andrew Oppmann, MTSU’s vice president for marketing and communications, was recognized by the Nashville Business Journal as one of the area’s top chief marketing officers for the second consecutive year.

Andrew Oppmann

Andrew Oppmann

Oppmann was among 13 executives in the greater Nashville area who received honors in the NBJ’s annual Chief Marketing Officer Awards. NBJ solicited nominations from the community and the final list was decided by a panel of judges who looked at each nominee’s work during the past year.

“This honor reflects the great work done by the team of professionals that tell the stories of our university on all our platforms,” Oppmann said.

He joined MTSU in 2010 after serving as president and publisher of Gannett Tennessee’s media groups in Murfreesboro and Clarksville and a vice president of The Tennessean in Nashville.

Professor to analyze Ferguson coverage on NewsChannel5+ Aug. 27

An MTSU journalism professor will assess media coverage of racial tensions in Ferguson, Missouri, on a Nashville television program.

Dr. Larry Burriss

Dr. Larry Burriss

Dr. Larry Burriss will appear on “MorningLine” from 8 to 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, on NewsChannel5+.

Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been beset by unrest since the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African-American, by a white police officer. The incident has sparked more national conversation about the treatment of young black men by law enforcement authorities.

A CBS/New York Times poll shows that 68 percent of white Americans said they did not have enough information to determine whether the shooting of Brown was justified. However, the same survey showed 57 percent of black Americans believe the shooting was unjustified.

Burriss teaches introductory and media law courses to undergraduates. At the graduate level, he teaches quantitative research methods and media law.

A veteran of print, broadcasting and public relations, Burriss is a past director of the School of Journalism and former president of the MTSU Faculty Senate.

He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from The Ohio State University, a master’s degree in human relations from the University of Oklahoma, a doctorate in journalism from Ohio University and a law degree from Concord Law School.

You can watch the program live locally on Comcast/Xfinity Channel 250 or live online at the station’s website, www.jrn.com/newschannel5/watch-live/plus.

If you miss the live broadcast, NewsChannel5+ also archives “MorningLine” programs at www.jrn.com/newschannel5/plus/morningline.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

McPhee emphasizes retention, graduation in fall address (+VIDEOS)

After acknowledging the many accomplishments the university has made during the past year, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee had a straightforward message to faculty and leaders during the Aug. 22 Fall Faculty Meeting inside Tucker Theatre: “We must ensure that we recruit, retain and graduate students.”

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee addresses the crowd during his State of the University address Friday morning during the 2014 Fall Faculty Meeting inside Tucker Theatre. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Now in his 14th year of leading the Blue Raider campus, McPhee gave his traditional State of the University address before the hundreds of faculty and staff who have returned to campus to start the fall semester next week. (Read the full text of the speech here.)

McPhee touted the ongoing improvements to campus infrastructure and facilities, including the opening of the new Science Building this fall ahead of schedule. A ribbon-cutting is set for Oct. 15. Renovations of the Davis Science and Wiser-Patten buildings begin in early spring 2015.

The president also pointed to academic improvements such as the launch of the mechatronics engineering program and increases in research funding in graduate studies. And he praised the athletics department for its successful transition to Conference USA and the continued success of student athletes in the classroom.

But the key portion of his address dealt with the changes within higher education.

McPhee reminded faculty of the State of Tennessee’s emphasis on degree completion as a primary metric for institution funding rather than student enrollment. That’s why the university launched its Quest for Student Success initiative last fall, with a goal of raising the graduation rate from 52 percent to at least 62 percent by 2020.

“We have accepted and embraced this new state emphasis on student success and institutional performance,” McPhee said. “Our future success and survival as an institution depends on our ability to graduate students and prepare them for gainful employment. These are the metrics that matter.”

To help improve such measurements, the university has hired 50 more advisers and employed new software to better monitor student progress and assist at-risk students earlier in their academic careers. The university has also hired a new vice provost for student success to manage this effort.


In conjunction with the initiative, the Mathematical Sciences Department received the 2014 President’s Student Success Award for Innovation in Academics for revamping its courses to improve student outcomes in courses that had high failure rates. The recognition brings with it $25,000 in additional funding for the department to continue its effort.

Such innovation must continue, McPhee said, pointing out that of the 21,000-plus undergraduates enrolled last fall at MTSU, only 37 percent were 20 years old or younger. The average age of MTSU students is 26, and the median family income is approximately $70,000, compared to $120,000 at the University of Tennessee.

“These statistics speak to the fact that we have reached far beyond the typical, so-called ‘traditional’ freshmen — newly graduated high school seniors — and serve a much broader and diverse audience.”

Students must do their part, McPhee noted, and those that don’t will be “shown the door.” But, he added, faculty engagement is just as critical.

“If you don’t start thinking about student success …  you’re not going to have a job,” McPhee told the audience. “You’re not going to be able to feed your family.”

The university has to find a way to retain its current students while recruiting high-ability students that come to campus ready to succeed, he said.

“Any of the ideas advanced through our Quest for Student Success do not include watering down academic programs or reducing rigor. We have a moral imperative to not only enhance the present academic experience but also to continue to add value to the degrees already obtained by our alumni,” McPhee said.

“Thus, we are not lowering the bar; we are, in many instances, raising the standard for all of us, including the students.”

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

An extended, 30-minute excerpt from President McPhee’s address can be watched below:


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.

Provost, staff prepare new MTSU faculty for success

New faculty members are now more familiar with the MTSU experience following an orientation session Tuesday at the Student Union.

Diane Turnham, MTSU associate athletic director and senior women’s administrator, addresses some 70 new faculty members Tuesday, Aug. 20, inside the Student Union during new faculty orientation. Looking on at far left is University Provost Brad Bartel. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

More than 70 educators representing 36 disciplines filed past tables staffed with MTSU personnel, who acquainted them with the James E. Walker Library, the Campus Pharmacy, BluePrint and other on-campus services.

While many were still learning their new professional contact information, they were eager to become more fully connected with the staffers who will enhance their working lives.

Dr. Brad Bartel

“We want to make sure you’re successful — in the classroom and out of the classroom,” said Dr. Brad Bartel, university provost, in his introductory remarks. “We want you to get off to a good start.”

Bartel informed the new faculty of professional development workshops available to them this academic year. Topics include legal issues, international opportunities and equity and inclusion.

The provost also emphasized the need to improve student retention and graduation rates, pointing to some of the unique characteristics of the multitasking, totally digital millennial scholar.

“You’ve got to align the way you work with the way they learn,” Bartel said.

Dr. Adam Clark, a new associate professor in the MTSU School of Music, joins the campus community from San Luis Obispo, California.

“I’ve been in my office for about a week now,” Clark said. “I’ve had a good time just wandering around, getting to know the campus, getting to know my colleagues.”

New MTSU faculty members joining the university for the 2014-15 academic year, listed by college and their schools or departments, include:

College of Basic and Applied Sciences

  • Durant Bridges, aerospace.
  • Donald Crews, aerospace.
  • Sarah Newton-Crowell, School of Agribusiness/Agriscience.
  • Dr. Alicja Lanfear, biology.
  • Dr. Joshua Phillips, computer information systems.
  • Jonathan Huddleston, concrete industry management.
  • Yating Hu, engineering technology.
  • Dr. Xizhen Du, geosciences.
  • Amy Chen, geosciences.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Preski, military science.
  • Capt. Shane Smith, military science.
  • Dr. Robert Mahurin, physics and astronomy.

College of Behavioral and Health Sciences

  • Dr. Ronald Craig, criminal justice
  • Dr. Kathryn Blankenship, health and human performance.
  • Dr. Kathryn Guillot, health and human performance.
  • Dr. Linda Oakleaf, health and human performance.
  • Dr. Brian Ragan, health and human performance.
  • Dr. Bethany Wrye, health and human performance.
  • Cynthia Ayers, human sciences.
  • LaJuana Gill, human sciences.
  • Cindy Aragam, School of Nursing.
  • Lisa Cejka, School of Nursing.
  • Yvonne Creighton, School of Nursing.
  • Joyce Finch, School of Nursing.
  • Leigh Ann Krabousanos, School of Nursing.
  • Mary Wetsell, School of Nursing.
  • William Todd Vickrey, School of Nursing.
  • Dr. Loraine Fernandez, psychology.
  • Dr. Jon Frederick, psychology.
  • Angela Walker, psychology.
  • Dr. Justin Bucchio, social work.

Jones College of Business

  • Sid Bundy, accounting.
  • Kelly Williams, accounting.
  • Dr. William McDowell, business communication and entrepreneurship.
  • Dr. Stoney Brooks, computer information systems.
  • Dr. Philip Seagraves, economic and finance.
  • Dr. Joshua Aaron, management and marketing.

College of Education

  • Dr. Amy Childre, elementary and special education.
  • Dr. Shannon Harmon, elementary and special education.
  • Dr. Eric Oslund, elementary and special education.

College of Liberal Arts

  • Dawn Dickins, art.
  • Nicholas Satinover, art.
  • Kyle Stoneman, art.
  • Gloria Wilson, art.
  • Dr. Maria Bachman, English.
  • Keri Carter, English.
  • Jamie Trusty, English.
  • Dr. Jesse Williams, English.
  • Dr. James Chaney, global studies.
  • Dr. Andrew Baker, history.
  • Dr. Thomas Cooper, history.
  • Dr. Andrew Polk, history.
  • Dr. Benjamin Sawyer, history.
  • Sabrina Thomas, history.
  • Dr. Patrick Casey, School of Music.
  • Dr. Adam Clark, School of Music.
  • Charles Kennedy, School of Music.
  • Dr. Joseph Morgan, School of Music.
  • Jean Paul Crissien, political science.
  • Margaret Brooker, speech and theatre.
  • Katie Green-Gruber, speech and theatre.
  • Kevin Guy, speech and theatre.
  • Kelly Lynch, speech and theatre.

College of Mass Communication

  • Dr. Gregory Reish, Center for Popular Music.
  • Alison Sultan, electronic media communication.
  • Carla Swank, electronic media communication.
  • Andrea Phillips, School of Journalism.
  • Charles Blackmon, recording industry.
  • Gloria Green, recording industry.
  • Stacy Merida, recording industry.

University College

  • Antonia Garcia.
  • Joycelyn Gray, university studies.

Walker Library

  • Ashley Shealy.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)