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Laila Ali KOs MTSU with stories of losses, victories in and out of boxing ring

With a flurry of Hollywood-style lighting and audio of Muhammad Ali stating “I AM the greatest,” Laila Ali took the stage Wednesday night, March 22, as MTSU’s Black History Month and Women’s History Month keynote speaker.

Former super-middleweight boxer Laila Ali delivers the dual Black History Month and Women’s History Month keynote address at MTSU’s James Union Building March 22. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Former super-middleweight boxer Laila Ali delivers the dual Black History Month and Women’s History Month keynote address at MTSU’s James Union Building March 22. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

However, the story she told to an attentive James Union Building audience was not one of glitz and glamour but of hard lessons and harder work.

Ali, the youngest daughter of the late heavyweight boxing champion and humanitarian, spoke of the hardships created by her parents’ divorce when she was 8 years old, a stepfather she described as “mentally abusive” and hanging out with the wrong people.

She credited a three-month stint in a juvenile correctional program after a shoplifting arrest for turning her life around.

“That program really gave me the structure, the nurturing and the support that I needed and helped get me back on track,” said Ali.

Laila Ali competed as a professional boxer from 1999 to 2007, earning the female super-middleweight titles of four governing bodies of boxing and the light-heavyweight crown of the International Women’s Boxing Federation. She retired undefeated with 24 victories.

A former president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, Ali promotes equality for women in professional sports, fitness and wellness. She also is a regular panelist and contributor for “We Need to Talk,” a panel discussion program on the CBS Sports Network.

As a business entrepreneur, Ali recently debuted a signature line of hairstyling tools with Helen of Troy hair care products. Her charitable endeavors include support for Feeding America, Peace 4 Kids and the American Dental Association.

Dawn Stigall, a sophomore fashion merchandising major from Memphis, Tennessee, said she found Ali’s talk “very eye-opening.”

“I didn’t know about her going to jail … just the rough patches she went through to get to where she is today,” said Stigall. “Being a major celebrity’s daughter, I thought that she would be so privileged.”

NWHM 2017 headerAli spoke of celebrities like Michael Jackson, Prince and Stevie Wonder’s constant presence around her father, but she said he still kept his door open for visits with all kinds of people.

Married to former NFL player Curtis Conway and the mother of two children, Ali said that although she also knows celebrities, her closest girlfriends are her hair-care buddies.

“I don’t ever want to become disconnected like some people do, you know, and just be living in a bubble,” said Ali.

“Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business” is the theme of this year’s Women’s History Month observance at MTSU. In conjunction with the theme, buttons are being distributed across campus bearing the likeness of Madam C.J. Walker, the hair products magnate who was hailed as the first self-made African-American millionaire in the country in the early 20th century.

You can learn more about 2017 Women’s History Month events at MTSU here.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)


Trailblazer Laila Ali to give knockout March 22 keynote at MTSU

Trailblazing athlete and entrepreneur Laila Ali will deliver the dual keynote address for MTSU’s Women’s History Month and Black History Month celebrations.

Laila Ali

Laila Ali

Ali, a former four-time boxing world champion, will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, in the Tennessee Room of MTSU’s James Union Building in the free public event.

A printable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

Ali, a daughter of the late heavyweight icon and anti-war activist Muhammad Ali, competed from 1999 to 2007, earning the female super-middleweight titles of four governing bodies of boxing and the light-heavyweight crown of the International Women’s Boxing Federation. She retired undefeated with 24 victories.

A former president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, Ali promotes equality for women in professional sports, fitness and wellness. She also is a regular panelist and contributor for “We Need to Talk,” a panel discussion program on the CBS Sports Network.

NWHM 2017 headerAs a business entrepreneur, Ali recently debuted a signature line of hairstyling tools with Helen of Troy hair care products. Her charitable endeavors include support for Feeding America, Peace 4 Kids and the American Dental Association.

“Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business” is the theme of this year’s Women’s History Month observance. In conjunction with the theme, buttons are being distributed across campus bearing the likeness of Madam C.J. Walker, the hair products magnate who was hailed as the first self-made African-American millionaire in the country in the early 20th century.

You can learn more about 2017 Women’s History Month events at MTSU here.

MTSU NWHM 2017 button webMTSU’s Black History Month Committee decided to co-sponsor the university’s Women’s History Month keynote address after TV personality Terrence J. had to cancel his planned Feb. 23 Black History Month keynote talk.

Other co-sponsors of Ali’s appearance include the Distinguished Lecture Fund, the Women’s History Month Committee, the Office of Student Success, the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance, Student Programming and Raider Entertainment, the Office of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs, the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, the Women’s Health Clinic at Student Health Services, the MTSU student chapter of the NAACP, the Student Government Association, the MTSU President’s Commission on the Status of Women, the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences and the Department of Health and Human Performance.

For more information, contact Barbara Scales, co-chair of the National Women’s History Month Committee, at 615-898-2193 or barbara.scales@mtsu.edu or the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at 615-898-5910.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

‘Creating Global Change’ is focus of Gender Studies Conference March 23-25

Compelling conversations, artistic expressions and explorations of important issues are on the agenda of MTSU’s 12th biennial Women’s and Gender Studies Interdisciplinary Conference.

WGS conf 2017 header

Click on the graphic to see a PDF of the complete conference agenda.

With the theme of “Creating Global Change,” the March 23-25 conference on the second floor of the MTSU Student Union will attract scholars in women’s, gender and sexuality studies from around the world.

Academic experts hailing from Germany, Jordan, Canada, China, Bangladesh, Nigeria, India and United Arab Emirates are slated to present their research.

“The conference theme and emphasis on social movements is appropriate in these political times when many women believe that it is our season to lead and to have our voices heard as we redirect the political agenda of our country, and, indeed, of the world,” said Dr. Vicky MacLean, director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at MTSU.

A printable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap. Off-campus visitors attending the daytime events should obtain a special one-day permit from MTSU’s Office of Parking and Transportation at www.mtsu.edu/parking/visit.php.

Included on the conference agenda are the keynote address, a spoken-word art performance, an empowerment workshop and the screening of a documentary on sexual shaming.

Urvashi Vaid

Urvashi Vaid

Attorney and LGBT+ activist Urvashi Vaid will deliver the keynote address, “Irresistible Revolution: Understanding the LGBT Movement Today,” from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23, in Ballroom A, B and C.

Wagatwe Wanjuki

Wagatwe Wanjuki

Andrea Gibson

Andrea Gibson

Vaid will sign copies of her book “Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics” for an hour after her talk.

Spoken word artist Andrea Gibson will deliver a performance on Thursday at 3 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. in Ballroom A, B and C. Gibson’s poetry and her most recent book, “Pansy,” balance themes of love, gender, politics, sexuality, illness, family and forgiveness with an exploration of what it means to heal.

Feminist blogger and anti-violence advocate Wagatwe Wanjuki will facilitate a workshop, “Beyond Hashtags: Using New Media to Combat Campus Rape Culture,” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, March 24, in Ballroom C.

Wanjuki is a founding co-organizer of the “Know Your IX ED ACT NOW” campaign, which works to hold schools accountable for protecting students’ right to a violence-free education.

The documentary film “UnSlut” will be screened from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Ballroom C. The motion picture examines sexual bullying and the usage of the word “slut” as an insult, as well as the resulting ramifications. A discussion will follow the screening.

The conference is free to MTSU faculty, staff, and students. All of the featured conference events are free and open to the public.

For more information about the 2017 conference, visit www.mtsu.edu/womenstu/conference or call the Women’s and Gender Studies Program office at 615-898-5910.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Scholar discusses ‘Native Histories of Washington, D.C.’ March 21

A visiting scholar and author who studies Native American and indigenous peoples will explain how they used what’s now the nation’s capital in a free public lecture set Tuesday, March 21, at MTSU.

Dr. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa

Dr. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa

Dr. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa, an assistant professor of history at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and MTSU’s 2017 Strickland Visiting Scholar in History, will speak on “The Indians’ Capital City: Native Histories of Washington, D.C.” March 21 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 106 of MTSU’s Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building.

A campus map with parking notes is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

Genetin-Pilawa, who is the author of “Crooked Paths to Allotment: The Fight over Federal Indian Policy after the Civil War,” also will meet with Department of History students and faculty during his visit to MTSU, which is coordinated by the College of Liberal Arts.

College of Liberal Arts logo webThe professor co-edited “Beyond Two Worlds: Critical Conversations on Language and Power in Native North America” and has held fellowships at the Smithsonian Institution, working at the National Museum of the American Indian, and at the Library of Congress’ Kluge Center. His current research examines the visual, symbolic and lived indigenous landscapes of Washington, D.C., focusing on ways native visitors and residents claimed and reclaimed spaces in the city.

The Strickland Visiting Scholar program allows students to meet with renowned scholars whose expertise spans a variety of historical issues. The Strickland family established the program in memory of Dr. Roscoe Lee Strickland Jr., a longtime professor of European history at MTSU and the first president of the university’s Faculty Senate.

For more information about this Strickland Visiting Scholar Lecture, please contact MTSU’s Department of History at 615-898-5798.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Native delegations meet with President Andrew Johnson, center, in this lithograph from the March 16, 1867, edition of Harper’s Weekly, created from a photograph by Alexander Gardner and included in the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division. The print shows members of the Yankton, Santee Sioux (Dakota) and Upper Missouri Sioux tribes at a reception in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 23, 1867, and is part of MTSU's Strickland Visiting Scholar Joseph Genetin-Pilawa's research on indigenous peoples in the Washington area. (photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Native delegations meet with President Andrew Johnson, center, in this lithograph from the March 16, 1867, edition of Harper’s Weekly, created from a photograph by Alexander Gardner and included in the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division. The print shows members of the Yankton, Santee Sioux (Dakota) and Upper Missouri Sioux tribes at a reception in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 23, 1867, and is part of MTSU’s Strickland Visiting Scholar Joseph Genetin-Pilawa’s research on indigenous peoples in the Washington area. (photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Noted immigration attorney to give March 15 guest lecture at MTSU

Noted Nashville immigration law specialist Elliott Ozment will speak on the “History of Xenophobia in America” at MTSU.

Ozment’s talk will start at 2:20 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, in the Simmons Amphitheatre (Room 106) of the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building. The talk is open to the public.

Elliott Ozment

Elliott Ozment

All visitors are requested to use parking meters or obtain a permit from the Parking and Transportation Services office at 1403 E. Main St. or purchase and print a visitor pass at https://mtsu.t2hosted.com.

Ozment’s visit is presented by the MTSU Department of Political Science and University Honors College, which often invites guest speakers to share expertise — often about timely topics.

Xenophobia, Ozment’s topic, relates to the fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners.

An alumnus of MTSU for his undergraduate degree in political science and Vanderbilt University for his law degree, Ozment has focused his practice in immigration law since 1998.

Ozment has provided initial consultations to more than 1,000 individuals and families and represented hundreds of clients in Immigration and Naturalization Services cases in Tennessee and around the country.

He has earned a number of awards and is a former member of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

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

Honors flyer72

 

Ford brings ‘Solar Science’ talk to March 3 MTSU Star Party in Wiser-Patten

MTSU assistant professor JanaRuth Ford will discuss “Solar Science” during the 6:30 p.m. March 3 “First Friday Star Party,” presented by the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Janaruth Ford

JanaRuth Ford

The star party will begin in Room 102 of Wiser-Patten Science Hall. A telescope viewing will follow the 45- to 60-minute lecture.

The star parties are free and open to the public. To find Wiser-Patten Science Hall and nearby parking, visit http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

Other star parties this semester include:

  • April 14 — “The 2017 Great American Eclipse at MTSU,” led by Dr. Chuck Higgins.
  • May 5 — “Funky Fizix in Film,” led by Dr. Eric Klumpe.

For more information, call 615-898-2483, 615-898-5946 or visit www.mtsu.edu/programs/astronomy and www.mtsu.edu/programs/physics.

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

Former reps bring bipartisan ‘Congress to Campus’ Feb. 27-28

As conflicts in Congress mirror divisions in the country at large, two former members of the U.S. House of Representatives will share their perspectives on the inner workings of Washington with MTSU students Feb. 27 and 28.

Republican Ronald A. Sarasin, a former congressman from Connecticut, and Democrat Glenn Nye, a former congressman from Virginia, will bring “Congress to Campus” Monday, Feb. 27, and Tuesday, March 28.

Ronald A. Sarasin

Ronald A. Sarasin

Glenn Nye

Glenn Nye

The “Congress to Campus” program, a creation of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress, enlists ex-congress members to donate their time to help improve civic literacy and participation via candid conversations with college students.

“The Congress to Campus program’s message of bipartisanship has never been more important,” said Kent Syler, an assistant professor of political science at MTSU.

“At a time when American politics is so polarized, it’s good to be able to show students that Democrats and Republicans can work together.”

While at MTSU, Sarasin and Nye will address students in classes such as “American Public Policy,” “American Government and Politics,” “Public History,” “Tennessee History,” and “United States History.”

Sarasin is president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational resource chartered by Congress. He served voters in Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District from 1973 to 1979.

“It’s a lot more partisan and divided than when I served there,” Sarasin said of the current Congress, adding that strong conservative Democrats from the South and moderate-to-liberal Republicans from the Northeast balanced each other out and often found common ground during his tenure in the House.

Nye is a director at Datacoup, a personal data marketplace company, and an adviser at FiscalNote, a technology company that builds government relations management software. He served Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District from 2009 to 2011.

Gore Center logo“Part of our goal is to dispel misconceptions and clarify for the audience how things work in real practice,” said Nye.

He said the two key drivers of the sharp partisanship in American politics are gerrymandering, which he said enables politicians to pick the voters instead of voters selecting politicians, and changes in the way the public obtains news.

The “Congress to Campus” activities are sponsored by MTSU’s Albert Gore Research Center, the Department of Political Science and International Relations, the American Democracy Project for Civic Learning and the College of Liberal Arts.

For more information, contact Syler at 615-898-5708 or kent.syler@mtsu.edu or Louis Kyriakoudes, director of the Albert Gore Research Center, at 615-898-2632 or louis.kyriakoudes@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Johns Hopkins research, project manager discusses gender equity at MTSU

Dontarie Stallings, Johns Hopkins University OXIDE research and project manager, will speak on “Advancing Inclusive Excellence Through Gender Equity” at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, in Room 1006 of the Science Building on the Middle Tennessee State University campus.

Dontarie Stallings

Dontarie Stallings

The MTSU community and general public are welcome to attend the free event, which is part of the MTSU ADVANCE project. MTSU ADVANCE is a self-assessment study by the university to review the status of women faculty in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines on campus.

To find parking, visit http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.

Stallings works with OXIDE — Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equality — to generate policy solutions that increase diversity inclusion within the chemistry field.

In his role with OXIDE at Johns Hopkins, Stallings collaborates with research, social and industrial scientists to bridge the field’s availability gap with respect to hiring, retention and progression of underrepresented scientists. To learn more, visit http://oxide.jhu.edu/2/stallings.

To learn more about MTSU ADVANCE, visit http://www.mtsu.edu/advance/.

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

Terrence J. cancels Feb. 23 Black History Month appearance at MTSU

Terrence J., set as the featured speaker for MTSU’s 2017 Black History Month celebration, will not be able to visit the campus as planned.

Terrence J.

Terrence J.

The Black History Month Committee said the television personality, whose real name is Terrence Jenkins, is canceling his scheduled 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, address in the Student Union because of “an unavoidable scheduling conflict with a movie project that is currently filming on location.”

MTSU’s Office of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs is working with the MTSU Women’s History Month Committee to book a high-profile replacement speaker for Women’s History Month in March. More details are expected soon.

For more information, contact the Office of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs at 615-898-5812 or ida@mtsu.edu. You can find information on the remaining Black History Month activities at MTSU, along with an events calendar, at www.mtsunews.com/black-history-month-2017.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Learn about eclipses as MTSU continues ‘Friday Star Parties’ Feb. 3

The MTSU Department of Physics and Astronomy resumes First Friday Star Parties for the spring 2017 semester this Friday, Feb. 3.

Dr. John Wallin

Dr. John Wallin

Dr. John Wallin kicks things off with “Darkness Fell Over the Land: Eclipses in Religion and History” at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Room 102 of the newly remodeled Wiser-Patten Science Hall.

The star parties are free and open to the public.  A searchable, printable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap, and parking will be free behind the Wiser-Patten Science building.

Wallin is a professor and director of the MTSU computational science doctoral program. To learn more about the program, visit www.mtsu.edu/programs/computational-science-phd.

Other star parties this semester include:

  • March 3 — “Solar Science,” led by professor JanaRuth Ford.
  • April 14 — “The 2017 Great American Eclipse at MTSU,” led by Dr. Chuck Higgins.
  • May 5 — “Funky Fizix in Film,” led by Dr. Eric Klumpe.

For more information, call 615-898-2130 or visit www.mtsu.edu/programs/astronomy and www.mtsu.edu/programs/physics.

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

MTSU astrophysicist John Wallin, shown here inside the university's observatory, will lead a discussion on “Darkness Fell Over the Land: Eclipses in Religion and History” starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, when MTSU launches the spring 2017 series of "First Friday Star Parties." (MTSU file photo)

MTSU astrophysicist John Wallin, shown here inside the university’s observatory, will lead a discussion on “Darkness Fell Over the Land: Eclipses in Religion and History” starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, when MTSU launches the spring 2017 series of “First Friday Star Parties.” (MTSU file photo)

Click on the poster to see a larger PDF version.

Click on the poster to see a larger PDF version.

Politifact chief to share ‘Pants on Fire’ election stories at free Feb. 2 talk

There are facts, and there apparently are “alternative facts,” and the founder of the Pulitzer Prize-winning informational website Politifact has plenty of both to share from the 2016 election during a free public event set Thursday, Feb. 2, at MTSU.

Click on the poster to see a larger PDF version.

Click on the poster to see a larger PDF version.

Bill Adair will discuss the future and relevance of fact-checking in “Pants on Fire: A Fact-Checker’s Tales from the 2016 Election” at 11:20 a.m. Feb. 2 in the Parliamentary Room, Room 201, of MTSU’s Student Union.

A searchable, printable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap. Off-campus visitors attending the lecture can obtain a special one-day permit at www.mtsu.edu/parking/visit.php.

The event is part of the Pulitzer Prize Series sponsored by the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies and the College of Media and Entertainment at MTSU.

Adair started Politifact.com, a project operated by the Tampa Bay Times in conjunction with the Congressional Quarterly, in 2007 when he was Washington bureau chief for the Times. Since then, Politifact has expanded to state-focused projects with the Austin-American Statesman in Texas, Florida’s Miami Herald, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Providence (Rhode Island) Journal, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Richmond (Virginia) Times-Dispatch and The Oregonian.

The site investigates and rates the accuracy of claims of elected officials, political candidates “and others who speak up in American politics.” Politifact won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for its coverage of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign.

In determining the award, the Pulitzer committee praised Politifact for “its fact-checking initiative during the 2008 presidential campaign that used probing reporters and the power of the World Wide Web to examine more than 750 political claims, separating rhetoric from truth to enlighten voters.”

Adair recently said that fact-checking organizations like Politifact and FactCheck.org still have record traffic and reached new levels of prominence during the 2016 presidential campaign. Unfortunately, he said, fact-checkers were slow to recognize the “onslaught of fake news,” and he predicts that 2017 will be “the year of the fact-checking bot.”

Adair, who also serves at Duke University as Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy and the director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy, plans a similar talk in Nashville at 6 p.m. Feb. 2 at the John Seigenthaler Center, located at 1207 18th Ave. S. on the Vanderbilt University campus. His appearance there will launch the Seigenthaler Series, programs presented by the First Amendment Center of the Newseum Institute to explore emerging issues involving the media and America’s fundamental freedoms.Seigenthaler Chair new logo web

A reception will follow Adair’s Nashville talk at 7 p.m. Organizers of that event are encouraging visitors to RSVP at www.newseum.org/events-programs/rsvp3 because space is limited.

MTSU established the Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies in 1986 to honor the iconic journalist’s lifelong commitment to free expression. The Seigenthaler Chair supports a variety of activities related to topics of concern for contemporary journalism, including distinguished visiting professors and visiting lecturers at MTSU, research, seminars, and hands-on training for student journalists.

You can learn more about MTSU’s John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies at http://mtpress.mtsu.edu/firstamendment.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

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