True Blue Tours end on high note for prospective MTSU students

Southwest Tennessee resident Cole Plunkett has dreamed of being a pilot since age 6 or 7.

Drawing closer to that potential career path, the homeschooled teenager said MTSU is his No. 1 choice.

MTSU enrollment counselor Jameel Braddock, left, provides information about scholarships for the 2015-16 academic year for Bobbie Spivey and her son, Bryce Oselen, a senior at Central High School in Memphis, during the Oct. 22 True Blue Tour event at the Memphis Botanic Garden. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

Plunkett, who lives in Williston, Tennessee, in Fayette County, was among more than 400 students and family members who attended the Memphis True Blue Tour event at Memphis Botanic Garden Oct. 22.

Another 160 people attended the True Blue Tour event in Jackson Oct. 23 to conclude the six-city statewide fall recruiting caravan for 2014.

At the student recruiting events, academic departments and Student Affairs personnel staffed tables with information and answer questions. The tour stops include receptions to recruit prospective students for the 2015-16 academic year and beyond, and MTSU officials court high school counselors and community college advisers with a luncheon to help encourage their outstanding students to apply to MTSU.

Homeschooled and associated with the Jackson-based HomeLife Academy, Plunkett had a keen interest in attending the Memphis event to learn more about the MTSU aerospace program.

“They’ve got a program I want, and with all the scholarships I can get — and it’s close to home — financially it makes sense to attend MTSU,” he said, noting his eligibility for the HOPE Lottery Scholarshiop and potential for a Chancellor’s or President’s scholarship.

Accompanied by his mother, Angela Plunkett, the teen visited the Murfreesboro campus and MTSU Flight Operations Center at Murfreesboro Airport in July.

In Memphis, Cole Plunkett met Terry Dorris, an associate professor and university pilot at MTSU, who provided a wealth of information about MTSU as well as exploring other career options

“This is your decision, one of the first major life decisions you’ll ever make,” Dorris told Plunkett, who also talked with senior Nathan Mooney of Chattanooga, Tennessee, who is majoring in aerospace to become a professional pilot.

MTSU Dean John Vile tells Jackson, Tennessee-area students and their families about many of the virtues the University Honors College has to offer during the Oct. 23 True Blue Tour event at the Jackson Country Club.

MTSU Dean John Vile tells Jackson, Tennessee, area students and their families about the University Honors College during the Oct. 23 True Blue Tour event at the Jackson Country Club.

At both Memphis and Jackson, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Success Vincent Windrow and College of Basic and Applied Sciences Dean Bud Fischer shared the student reception program spotlight with Dr. Deb Sells, vice president of student affairs and vice provost for enrollment and academic services.

Windrow encouraged students to explore any and all opportunities.

“Make sure your opportunities are expanding,” he said.

Windrow carefully explained the Student Success Advantage and “Graduate in Four and Get More” program for students starting in fall 2015.

The program adds $500 back each year to eligible Hope Scholarship recipients during the first two years, guarantees scholarships to eligible transfer students and returns tuition increases to eligible students who stay on track to graduate in four years.

Fischer not only raved about his academic home — the $147 million Science Building, which opened this semester — but urged students to “show up for class, be prepared and be engaged.”

MTSU senior Kai Pruitte of Jackson and junior Clinton Knox III of Memphis talked to students one-on-one, in small groups and in front of the entire audience in their respective cities. They also appeared in video productions shown at the reception and luncheons.

MTSU also visited Chattanooga, Johnson City, Knoxville and Nashville this fall.

MTSU offers a Fall Preview Day from 8 a.m. to 3 p .m. Saturday, Nov. 1, starting in the Student Union. To register, visit www.mtsu.edu/rsvp. The priority deadline to apply and receive scholarship consideration is Dec. 1.

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

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‘Determined’ scholarship recipient nearly missed True Blue Tour event

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kanashia Jenkins of Nashville almost missed the MTSU True Blue Tour event at Rocketown in Nashville Sept. 30.

She’s a regular attendee of Rocketown, an entertainment venue and teenagers’ hangout, and while she’s had her sights set on attending MTSU starting in 2015, Jenkins almost didn’t join the MTSU recruiting event, only to make a last-minute decision to go.

It may have been a life-changing decision to attend the True Blue Tour student reception.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee drew Jenkins’ name out of an MTSU bag full of other attendees’ names at the event, one of six held across the state to pitch the university to outstanding students for the 2015-16 academic year and beyond.

He presented the recipient with “an almost full scholarship,” compliments of several alumni.

“I almost didn’t come,” said Jenkins, a 2013 McGavock High School graduate. “I was already trying to get into this school. I felt maybe I should go, that this would help because I have a hard time finding transportation trying to visit Murfreesboro.”

Knowing Jenkins’ situation — a young single mother to 1-year-old daughter Kaylee Marshall with a desire to pursue higher education — Rocketown director of operations Mary Virginia Settle became emotional when discussing Jenkins’ new opportunity.

“Kanashia’s very determined,” said Settle, who has known Jenkins for nearly four years.

“This will encourage her that she’s making the right decisions without much help from family. There was a whole lot of emotion knowing she was receiving the scholarship. She’s really excited about it.”

Jenkins plans to study biology.

MTSU Provost Brad Bartel, left, discusses the variety of academic programs and options with Hannah Samples, right, and her mother, Jennifer Ritterskamp, of Thompsons Station, Tennessee, Sept. 30 during the True Blue Tour student reception at Rocketown in Nashville.

Alexis Marks, 23, a Nashville State Community College sophomore also studying biology, said she had “heard about and can’t wait to see” MTSU’s newly opened Science Building, which will have a 10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, official opening ceremony.

“I’m pretty sure I’m going to come to MTSU,” Marks said. “My mom, Shirley Marks, got her master’s degree in criminal justice there. She’s really pushing MTSU.”

MTSU Student Government Association President Andrew George of Nashville told the prospective students and their parents that university faculty “develop you as both campus and future leaders. MTSU is here to help you out, not only in the classroom, but in the future, too.”

Young alumnus Michael Burrows of Murfreesboro, one of about 10 alumni attending the function, said his current impression of MTSU is that it is “the best public university in Tennessee.”

“I’m proud to be here as an alumnus, and answering students’ questions,” said Burrows, who opened H3O Aquatics, an exercise therapy underwater treadmill with many features, this summer in Murfreesboro.

“I’m impressed with the high caliber of men and women who make up the faculty.”

Other alumni who met briefly with McPhee included Murfreesboro businesswoman Paula Mansfield, 2014-15 Alumni Board president; Ashley Elizabeth Graham, 2014-15 Young Alumni Achievement Award winner; alumni board members Jill Napier and Latreace Sankey-Wells; and Richard Stone. Alumni Paul Ladd and Woody Bomar and alumni board member Neil Lambert also attended the reception.

Prospective students have multiple opportunities for a firsthand look at campus.

The final Fall Preview Day will be held Saturday, Nov. 1.

Other upcoming on-campus recruiting events include:

  • Friday, Oct. 17 — “True Blue Experience Day” for students who will be part of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.
  • Friday, Jan. 23 — “True Blue Experience Day” for prospective students in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts.
  • Friday, Jan. 30 — “True Blue Experience Day” for prospective students in the College of Mass Communication, the Jones College of Business and the College of Education.

Also, the Office of Admissions has special Saturday tours planned for Oct. 11, Nov. 15 and Dec. 6, with all starting at 10 a.m. in the Student Services and Admissions Center. To register, visit www.mtsu.edu/rsvp.

The priority deadline to apply and receive scholarship consideration is Dec. 1.

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

Bridgette Hurte, left, and Denise Holman of Columbia State Community College talk to MTSU adviser Brad Baumgardner about the variety of offerings in the College of Liberal Arts. Hurte and Holman attended a high school counselors and community college advisers’ luncheon at Rocketown Sept. 30 in Nashville.

MTSU True Blue Tour touches 700 people in Knoxville, Johnson City

It is a tale of two Tennessee cities — Johnson City and Knoxville — visited recently by the MTSU administrative caravan on the True Blue Tour.

Elyssa Hurley, left, and her mother, Estelle, both from Lenoir City, Tennessee, discuss the technical qualities and capabilities of the Department of Electronic Media Communication mobile production truck during the Knoxville True Blue Tour visit Sept. 23. Elyssa Hurley is a sophomore at the Lenoir City campus of Roane State Community College and plans to study history and film. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

The 600-mile-plus round trip visit to East and upper East Tennessee to recruit outstanding students for the 2015-16 academic year and beyond proved fruitful. More than 700 people, including 76 students in Johnson City and 160 in Knoxville, were greeted by MTSU admissions, academic personnel and university administrators led by President Sidney A. McPhee.

Prospective students, their parents or other guests heard presentations from McPhee, Student Affairs’ Vice President Deb Sells and current students Zach Hutcherson of Greeneville and Felicia Adkins of Kingston. They also viewed videos, obtained various printed materials and met and posed questions to MTSU officials.

At The Millennium Centre in Johnson City, Sullivan Central High School senior Mariana Valdez of Kingsport said MTSU “is probably my first choice” for college.

“I want to go into recording technology, and I heard it is a really good school. I’m looking forward to going there,” Valdez said. MTSU’s Department of Recording Industry is one of the university’s signature programs.

MTSU College of Mass Communication Dean Ken Paulson, right, shares information about the Department of Electronic Media Communication with Carl Markland of Roan Mountain, Tennessee, during the Sept. 22 True Blue Tour student reception in Johnson City. Markland is a senior at Cloudland High School. Also pictured is his mother, Samantha Johnson.

Carl Markland, a senior at Cloudland High School in Roan Mountain, attended with his mother and stepfather, Sandra and Adam Johnson. Markland is interested in agriculture.

Donna Brabson of Friendsville was invited to the high school counselors and community college advisers luncheon at The Foundry in Knoxville Sept. 23. Jamie Brabson, her daughter, is a senior education major.

“I spread the word (about MTSU),” Donna Brabson said. “Jamie has had a very good experience there. She has been in BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministry). She’s very blessed.”

Roane State Community College sophomore Elyssa Hurley and her mother, Estelle, live in Lenoir City. They toured the Department of Electronic Media Communications $1.8 million mobile production truck outside The Foundry.

Elyssa Hurley, who wants to study history and film, found MTSU “more impressive than other schools” she is considering.

Thomas Gunter, a video journalist with the Knoxville NBC affiliate WBIR-TV, said the EMC truck “is an impressive vehicle.”

“The response we’ve gotten (in Chattanooga, Johnson City and Knoxville) has been tremendous,” said Mike Forbes, an EMC assistant director.

“We’re glad to showcase this to students who want to come to MTSU, and we always showcase our students’ work.”

Equally impressive were Hutcherson and Adkins, current students who shared about their MTSU experience and life on the Murfreesboro campus.

Hutcherson, an aerospace major in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, serves as a flight instructor, is a member of Blue Elite and entered MTSU as a Buchanan Fellow in the Honors College.

“My MTSU experience has been great,” said Hutcherson, 20. “They’ve got me involved in my industry and created an environment that connects you with your university. The technology and connections in the industry give me prospects for a good job.”

Felicia Adkins

Adkins, 19, a sophomore physical education major minoring in dance, has aspirations of being a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. She calls her MTSU experience “wonderful.” She is a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and the dance team and works on campus, teaching hip-hop classes at the Campus Rec Center.

“Everything I have been involved with so far has been a positive experience,” said Adkins, whose backup plan if the Dallas dream job falls through is to be an elementary school teacher “because I love working with children, being a role model to help children better themselves.”

Adkins enjoyed a family reunion: Her parents, Bob and Tracy Adkins; sister, Aslyn, 10; and grandparents, M.L. and Norma Faye Atkins — all from Kingston — attended.

Family ties also prevailed for MTSU alumna and College of Education Dean Lana Seivers, a Clinton native, whose mother, Frankie Seivers, attended the event, as did Rebekah Johnson, daughter of Honors College Dean John Vile, who enjoyed introducing 5-week-old grandson Christopher Johnson to his MTSU colleagues. In Johnson City, Honors staff member Laura Clippard and her mother and stepfather, Shirley and Charles Dean Von Cannon, enjoyed a brief reunion.

McPhee met with alumni at both venues. They included Clint and Missy Bond Davis, and Greg and Melanie McDavid Lamb in Johnson City, and Ben Landers, Patrick Morrison, Stephanie Workman and Larry Cox in Knoxville.

MTSU travels to Nashville Tuesday, Sept. 30, for an 11:30 a.m. luncheon for high school counselors and community college advisers and a 6 to 8 p.m. student reception.  The tour visits Memphis and Jackson Oct. 22-23, respectively.

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

Zach Hutcherson, foreground, tells people attending the MTSU True Blue Tour event in Johnson City, Tennessee, about his experiences as an undergraduate student. He is a sophomore aerospace major from Greeneville, Tennessee.


Chattanooga senior sold on MTSU long before True Blue Tour event

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — High school senior Deasia Reynolds of Chattanooga never visited the Middle Tennessee State University campus in Murfreesboro until 2013.

Tyner Academy senior Deasia Reynolds of Chattanooga, Tennessee, talks to MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee regarding the academic possibilities in pursuit of a nursing degree. They visited Sept. 17 during the annual True Blue Tour student reception at the Chattanooga Convention Center. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

But the Tyner Academy student knew as a 10-year-old fifth-grader in 2007 that she wanted to go to MTSU.

“I’d love to go to school at MT,” Reynolds said with excitement. “It’s my favorite school in the whole world. I hope to get accepted.”

Along with nearly 200 Chattanooga-area students and more than 200 additional guests, Reynolds attended the annual MTSU True Blue Tour, held Sept. 17 at the Chattanooga Convention Center.

Chattanooga was the first leg in the statewide tour, which includes visits to Johnson City, Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis and Jackson.

Reynolds said she makes all A’s, carries a 3.7 GPA and ranks 10th in her class. She said she plans to pursue nursing and hopes it will be with the MTSU School of Nursing, one of the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences departments.

Current MTSU junior Agnes Porter of Chattanooga spoke to her peers during the reception.

Porter, who graduated several years ahead of Reynolds at East Hamilton, said she “loves the diversity of the campus, not just in race, but age also has an impact on the diversity that the campus offers.

Patty Bumpass, left, a senior at East Hamilton High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, makes a concrete coast with the guidance of MTSU Concrete Industry Management faculty member Jon Huddleston Sept. 17 during the True Blue Tour event at the Chattanooga Convention Center. An overflow crowd attended on the first stop of the six-city tour.

“It is interesting to listen to how life experiences shape our views and how that is expressed through our use of class discussions, especially in the political science department,” added Porter, who was joined at the event by her entire immediate family.

At MTSU, Porter majors in public administration in the College of Liberal Arts and multimedia journalism in the College of Mass Communication. The HOPE Lottery Scholarship recipient works in the Career Development Center and served as a peer mentor for the Scholars Academy Summer Institute for incoming freshmen this year.

The 3.88 GPA student anticipates graduating in December 2016 and has lofty career ambitions.

“I would like to either become a news correspondent for CNN from the White House or the Capitol while also hosting my own political segment for the network, be an image consultant for political figures, or become a congresswoman,” she said.

The “great staff at MTSU are fully dedicated to their students’ success,” Porter added, noting that being a student “has opened so many doors for me in terms of receiving hands-on experience to help me determine the career path that is best for me.”

The Chattanooga resident said being accepted into the Scholars Academy Summer Institute of 2013 “was confirmation that MTSU was the right school for me.” Becoming a Scholars Academy peer mentor “gave me an opportunity to play a valuable role in the lives of many students who were leaving home for the first time to start a new chapter in their books called life.”

Students from all across the region, including Etowah and Athens, Tennessee, and a large contingent from Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, attended the reception. About 40 high school counselors and community college representatives attended a luncheon earlier in the day.

MTSU takes the True Blue Tour to Johnson City Monday, Sept. 22, and Knoxville Tuesday, Sept. 23.

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

MTSU junior Agnes Porter, left, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, tells high school students about university life as they arrive for the Sept. 17 True Blue Tour at the Chattanooga Convention Center. The articipants include Emily Fields, second from left, of Athens, Tennessee, and Blake Butler and John Bell of Etowah, Tennessee. All are seniors at McMinn Central High School.

MTSU symposium tackles higher ed debt, more social science topics

MTSU student, faculty and visiting scholars will discuss whether the opportunities that higher education provides are worth the debt it often requires at the 23nd annual Tennessee Undergraduate Social Science Symposium Oct. 29-30.

Click on the poster above to see the schedule for the 23nd annual Tennessee Undergraduate Social Science Symposium at MTSU Oct. 29-30.

With a theme of “Worth Every Penny?: Debt, Education and Opportunity,” the two-day research symposium inside MTSU’s James Union Building is free and open to the public.

A searchable campus map with parking notes is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParking14-15.

This year’s symposium features a Thursday, Oct. 30, keynote address from Dr. Joel Best, co-author of “The Student Loan Mess: How Good Intentions Created a Trillion-Dollar Problem,” at 9:40 a.m. in the JUB’s Tennessee Room.

Best’s topic is “The Student Loan Mess: How It Got Here and Why It’s Not Going Away.”

Other key events include a Wednesday, Oct. 29, workshop and panel featuring Best and including:

  • Dr. Maria Edlin, assistant director of MTSU’s Center for Economic Education.
  • Jackie Morgan, senior economic and education financial specialist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Nashville office.
  • Trina Wilson, assistant director of the Office of Financial Aid at MTSU.
  • Mallory Melton, academic adviser in MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts and an MTSU alumna.
Joel Best

Dr. Joel Best

Best book cover webStudent research presentations are scheduled throughout both days of the symposium, and their topics range from parking-lot littering to Native American language in historical writings to media coverage of same-sex couple violence. The top three undergrad papers will be announced and prizes awarded at 9:30 Thursday morning.

Conducted at MTSU since 1993, the event is modeled after a typical professional conference and was designed to prompt students’ scientific study of human interaction and encourage their professional growth as well as provide opportunities for scholars to exchange ideas.

The symposium is sponsored by MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Office of Research, the University Honors College, the MTSU Sociology Club, the MTSU Distinguished Lecture Series and the Office of the University Provost.

For more details and a complete schedule, visit the symposium’s home page at www.mtsu.edu/soc/socsymp. You also can contact Dr. Meredith Dye at 615-898-2690 or meredith.dye@mtsu.edu.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Oct. 28 registration deadline for MTSU ‘millennials’ conference

Area business and community leaders, as well as students, faculty and campus stakeholders, don’t want to miss MTSU’s half-day conference focused on the impact the Millennial Generation is having and will have on our economy.

The conference — titled “2020 Millennial Game Plan: Maximizing Millennial Entrepreneurship and Innovation” — will be held from 8:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31, at Embassy Suites Murfreesboro, 1200 Conference Center Blvd.

Click the image to register.

Click the image to register.

Hosted by the Jennings A. Jones Chair of Excellence in Private Enterprise as well as the Jennings A. Jones College of Business, the conference is free to MTSU students, faculty and staff and will cost $30 for others. To register online, go to http://bit.ly/mtsu-millennial. Deadline to register is Tuesday, Oct. 28.

Featured speakers include Matt Thornhill and John Martin of Virginia-based marketing research company GenerationsMatter and John Boyens of The Boyens Group, a Nashville-based sales, management and training firm.

John Boyens

John Boyens

John Martin

John Martin

John Thornhill

Matt Thornhill

Organizers say the conference will provide valuable insights for corporate leaders, marketing executives, human resource managers, nonprofit leaders, economic development and community leaders, and anyone else interested in learning about the impact Millennials will have on the future economy.

Among questions to be addressed during the conference include: What makes millennials special? How are they shaping companies inside and out? How and why are millennials driving innovation and entrepreneurism?

“Understanding what’s coming is easier if we understand who will be leading the changes,” said Dr. David Urban, dean of the Jones College.

For more information about the conference, including the agenda and speaker biographies, visit http://bit.ly/mtsu-millennial. For more information about the MTSU Jones College of Business, go to www.mtsu.edu/business.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

MTSU celebrates Homecoming 2014 with fun, football win (+VIDEO)

MTSU students, staff, alumni and supporters got into the groove Saturday, Oct. 18, for the Homecoming 2014 celebration, culminating in a riveting 34-22 win over the University of Alabama-Birmingham at Floyd Stadium.

The “Raiderstock” homecoming theme brought out the best in the Blue Raiders’ artistic talents, too, as floats featured 1960s psychedelic designs — all making use of the “True Blue” motto — and the award-winning Band of Blue incorporated Motown, movies and more from the era.

Here’s a video from Saturday’s parade:


The party began at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 18 at MTSU’s Alumni House on Middle Tennessee Boulevard, one of the prime spots to view the Homecoming Parade, with the “Mixer on Middle.”

The parade, which began on Maney Avenue and headed down East Main Street to Middle Tennessee Boulevard to end at Greenland Drive, included a large contingent of “Baby Raiders” along with dozens of campus organizations — their members clad in ’60s-era costumes — and the 2014 parade grand marshal, alumnus Joey Jacobs (Class of ’75).

Alumni  Chip Walters (Class of ’85), “the voice of the Blue Raiders,” and Heather Jensen (Class of ’99), a community relations officer for the Tennessee Department of Transportation, served as enthusiastic announcers for the parade.

Mixer on Middle also served as a prelude to the homecoming tailgate lunch in Walnut Grove, which drew hundreds to the central area for food, fun and celebrating before the 2:30 p.m. game kickoff.

Playing before a crowd of 18,717, the Blue Raiders’ success over UAB put their record to 4-0 at home this season. They’re now within one more win of becoming bowl-eligible for the sixth time in nine seasons under head coach Rick Stockstill.

At halftime, MTSU recognized the “Golden Raiders” Class of 1964 as well as the MTSU Alumni Association’s 2014-15 honorees, which include Vernice Armour, Ashley Elizabeth Graham Dr. E. Ray Philips, Dr. Linda Gilbert, Donald McDonald and Matthew Little. You can read more about the alumni honorees here.

Officials also announced the 2014 Homecoming Queen and King at halftime: Murfreesboro natives Kelley Benson, a senior organizational communication major, and Jonathan Gandy, a junior majoring in management and marketing. Previous homecoming queens and kings aided in the coronation of the two new honorees, who were chosen during the Student Government Association elections Sept. 29-Oct. 2.

Raiderstock graphic web

MTSU’s Band of Blue peps up the crowd watching the 2014 Homecoming Parade along Middle Tennessee Boulevard Oct. 18. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

One of the littlest Blue Raiders, almost 1-year-old Amarie Carbine, rides in style as her mom and dad, MTSU alumni Ashley Ramsay and Chris Carbine, do the driving in the “Baby Raiders” contingent of MTSU’s 2014 Homecoming Parade Oct. 18. (MTSU photo by Darby Campbell)

The MTSU Band of Blue’s drum line gets happy during the 2014 Homecoming Parade Oct. 18. Facing the lens from left to right are Andrew Chunn, Tyelen Gibbs and Sam Brown, while John Mullins and Nathan Harris can be seen over Brown’s shoulder. (MTSU photo by Darby Campbell)

The Sigma Nu, Zeta Tau Alpha and Sigma Pi Greek organizations team up for a colorful “Raiderstock” float in MTSU’s 2014 Homecoming Parade Oct. 18. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU supporters relax and visit during the 2014 homecoming tailgate lunch in Walnut Grove Oct. 18 before the football game against the University of Alabama-Birmingham. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli) Oct. 18

Blue Raider offensive linemen Josh Chester, center left, and Daniel Stephens, push back against a pair of University of Alabama-Birmingham players during MTSU’s 34-22 homecoming win over the Blazers Oct. 18. (MTSU photo courtesy of GoBlueRaiders.com)

The Homecoming 2014 crowd at Floyd Stadium watches with concern as MTSU’s Blue Raiders work to regain their footing against the University of Alabama-Birmingham in the Oct. 18 homecoming game. MTSU was reinvigorated during the fourth quarter and came from behind to defeat UAB 34-22. (MTSU photo courtesy of GoBlueRaiders.com)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, right, and first lady Liz McPhee, center right, congratulate MTSU’s new homecoming king and queen, Jonathan Gandy and Kelley Benson, during halftime at the Oct. 18 game in Floyd Stadium. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

You can see more photos from MTSU’s Homecoming 2014 festivities here.

MTSU opens new Science Building in grand style (+VIDEO)

Inside the newly named Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium, a large crowd celebrated Middle Tennessee State University’s crown jewel — the new Science Building, considered the catalyst for a future in scientific endeavors.

Several hundred people joined Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and university President Sidney A. McPhee Wednesday, Oct. 15, to christen the 257,000-square-foot facility on the south side of campus.

As what may be one of the greatest game-changers in MTSU’s history, the $147 million structure will push the university’s scientific community into fast-forward in terms of research, collaboration and individual exploration.

Six teaching lecture halls, 13 research laboratories and 36 teaching laboratories are just the start of the features for the building, which opened Aug. 25 on the first day of fall 2014 classes, more than five months ahead of schedule.


Haslam, who attended the facility’s May 2012 groundbreaking ceremony, led the collection of speakers, which also included Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan, state Sen. Bill Ketron, and Tammy Melton and Kenneth Ball, representing MTSU faculty and students, respectively.

“By 2025, at least 55 percent of Tennesseans will need a certificate or degree beyond high school to find a job,” Haslam said. “Attracting and growing jobs in Tennessee is directly tied to education, and if we are not prepared to fill those jobs of the future, they will go somewhere else.

“Graduates with STEM degrees are important to our state’s ability to thrive, and the additional space to train these students — provided by this building — will help us compete in today’s global economy,” he added.

Haslam challenged MTSU to produce highly educated, STEM-trained graduates to continue to attract high-tech jobs for the Midstate workforce.

After thanking many supporters, including those in both the public and private sector, McPhee told the audience that the building was just an abstract concept, or better yet, a hope and a dream, especially after an economic jolt in the form of a recession delayed the state’s No. 1 capital project in higher education for nearly five years.

“This magnificent building would have never materialized if not for the leadership of Gov. Bill Haslam, who determined early in his tenure we needed to stop talking and start constructing,” McPhee said, “as well as the support of key legislative leaders, including Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, House Speaker Beth Harwell and Reps. Harry Brooks and Charles Sargent, and the persistence of the Rutherford County legislative delegation and our county and city mayors, who advocated our need in every corner of the capitol until they were heard.”

McPhee told the audience the Science Building “is critical to our continuing efforts to provide Tennessee with workers equipped for the challenges of the 21st century workforce, particularly in the science, technology, engineering and math areas.”

Eighty percent of the MTSU student population will take classes in the building.

“Our new Science Building provides a place of inspiration,” McPhee said. “When you walk the halls of this building, you will note the glass walls in each of the laboratories, where you can see for yourself the students and faculty collaborating on projects and conducting cutting-edge research.”

Faculty member Tammy Melton praised her predecessors and current colleagues for their roles in landing the facility.

“Drs. (Bud) Fischer, (Greg) Van Patten, and (Lynn) Boyd deserve the highest praise for being thrust into the midst of the process, getting up to speed, and showing great patience and leadership along the way,” said Melton, referring to the respective College of Basic and Applied Sciences dean and chemistry and biology department chairs.

Donors provide critical support

McPhee emphasized the critical support secured from donors to produce the matching funds required as part of state funding of the project.

Dr. Liz Rhea was among the major private donors who attended the ceremony. She and her late husband, who died in 2004, have been longtime university donors. She gave “a generous bequest” early in the private funding process, McPhee said.

Dr. Liz Rhea

Dr. Liz Rhea

“I can’t believe it. This is just awesome,” said Rhea, an alumna of MTSU’s Class of ’55, as she visited the building for the first time. “This is more awesome and grandiose than I could imagine. Even pictures don’t do it justice.”

Students in pre-med, pre-dental or nursing — and future MTSU students — will have vast opportunities because of the technology in the facility, said Rhea, a native of Eagleville, Tennessee, where seeds were planted in elementary school to encourage her to become a physician.

“I feel so strongly,” Rhea added. “It’s got to start here in the Science Building. Here is where you’ve got to start studying and learn how to study.

“There is nothing like this to inspire you or fulfill your dream. … This will help with recruiting of better qualified students.”

Along with the Rhea Atrium, one other area of the building funded by donors includes an analytical chemistry lab named in honor of Dr. Gale Clark, who died in 2008. A gift from his estate will fund the lab he helped plan.

His wife, Alee, gave the university their first house in Murfreesboro. Proceeds from the sale of that home help fund a chemistry scholarship.

Among the donors McPhee recognized during the opening ceremony were:

  • Bev and the late Doug Kanitz. Years before the state approved funding for the Science Building, Bev Kanitz, wife of the late engineering technology professor Doug Kanitz, made a pledge. She gave MTSU their Murfreesboro home when she decided to move to Cincinnati to be near her adult children.
  • The Christy-Houston Foundation, a Murfreesboro organization led by Bob Mifflin. A $1.5 million Christy-Houston gift provided a significant boost during a six-month period when the university needed to raise $20 million. The foundation has contributed $8 million to fund MTSU’s Cason-Kennedy Nursing Building, the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia, Student Health Services, the Ann Campbell Early Learning Center (formerly known as Project Help), and School of Nursing scholarships.
  • Gayle Duke, a member of the Class of 1965, and her husband, Dwayne, who are including MTSU in their estate to help future MTSU attendees study science in the new building. After graduating from the university, Gayle Duke went to work for NASA and had a hand in the U.S. landing on the moon.
  • Charlotte and the late George Gardner, Clara Todd, Dr. Dan and Margaret Scott, the city of Murfreesboro, Rutherford County and the Rutherford County Industrial Board, all of whom have provided major commitments to MTSU.

MTSU President Emeritus Sam Ingram also was among those who attended the Oct. 15 ceremony.

Wiser-Patten Science Hall, which opened in 1932, and Davis Science Building, which opened in ’67, will remain open and undergo approximately $20 million in renovation and upgrades.

Meanwhile, the university learned recently that the Science Building is a LEED-certified project, achieving Silver-level certification.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of green buildings, homes and neighborhoods. The MTSU Science Building is the 254th LEED-certified project in Tennessee and the largest core-learning higher-education facility in the state.

Along with the grand opening and the LEED recognition, the Department of Physics and Astronomy recently received recognition from the American Physical Society for improving undergraduate physics education.

Deanna Ratnikova of the American Physical Society said the MTSU department has “consciously adopted a mission to provide exceptional classroom
 experiences, career-focused courses and pathways and intensive research 
opportunities to prepare students for targeted careers.”

You can find more details about MTSU’s new Science Building at the following links:

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


MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, left, talks with Gov. Bill Haslam en route to the Wednesday, Oct. 15, opening ceremony for the university’s new $147 million Science Building. Haslam, who attended the facility’s May 2012 groundbreaking, spoke on the building’s importance to education in Tennessee during the morning ceremony. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU senior Kenneth Ball, center left, and chemistry professor Tammy Melton, center right, cut the ribbon on the university’s new Science Building during the Wednesday, Oct. 15, opening ceremony for the facility. Joining in the celebration are, from left, John Hood, MTSU director of government and community affairs; Chancellor John Morgan of the Tennessee Board of Regents; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, Gov. Bill Haslam; and state Sen. Bill Ketron. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU senior Kenneth Ball makes a point during his remarks at the Wednesday, Oct. 15, opening ceremony for the university’s new $147 million Science Building. The Savannah, Tennessee, native is majoring in general science and plans a career as a secondary school teacher. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU graduate students Dianna Prince, in foreground, and Mahsa Majedi work in one of the new Science Building’s labs early Wednesday, Oct. 15, before the late-morning opening ceremony for the $147 million facility. Both women are working toward their Master’s of Science in Professional Science degrees. (MTSU photo by Darby Campbell)

Dr. Bud Fischer, second from right, dean of MTSU’s College of Basic and Applied Sciences, shows a group of visitors one of the labs in the university’s new Science Building during the Wednesday, Oct. 15, opening ceremony for the facility. Students and faculty can write on the labs’ glass walls to work out chemical equations and make notes for research and lab projects. (MTSU photo by Darby Campbell)

Ascendo3 brings free public concert, student master classes to MTSU

Ascendo3, an internationally recognized trio who create unique collaborations of classical and contemporary music, are coming to MTSU Wednesday, Oct. 22, for a free public concert and master classes for students.

The concert is set to begin at 8 p.m. Oct. 22 in Hinton Hall inside MTSU’s Wright Music Building. You can find a printable campus map at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParking14-15.

Ascendo3 will conduct their master classes for MTSU students before their concert at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the Saunders Fine Arts Building on campus.

Ascendo3, an internationally recognized trio who create unique collaborations of classical and contemporary music, will present a free concert at MTSU Wednesday, Oct. 22. The members of Ascendo3 are, clockwise from upper left, Cameron Hofmann, piano; Anna Marie Wytko; saxophone; and Joseph Wytko, saxophone.

Saxophonists Anna Marie Wytko and Joseph Wytko and pianist Cameron Hofmann are known for their international collaborations with contemporary composers, along with programming of new acoustic and electroacoustic works and fresh, bold presentations of works by Bach, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Poulenc, Rachmaninoff, Gershwin and others.

During their MTSU concert, Ascendo3 will perform two Tennessee premieres: “Krypton” by Philippe Gantchoula and “The Subconscious Imagery of Joan Miró” by Dr. Paul Osterfield, MTSU composer and professor of theory/composition.

The trio also will perform Beethoven’s “Trio (Opus 11),” Erik Satie’s “Gnossienne No. 3” and “Gnossienne No. 4” and Astor Piazzolla’s “Le Grand Tango.”

Dr. Paul Osterfield

Dr. Paul Osterfield

“I am very pleased to have Ascendo3 on campus working with our students,” said Osterfield. “All three members of the trio are top-flight performers and pedagogues. Their performance and master classes promise to be a great experience for all involved.”

Anna Marie Wytko is an assistant professor of music at Kansas State University and an artist-clinician for the Yamaha Corp. She has performed as a soloist throughout the United States and around the world.

Joseph Wytko is a professor emeritus at Arizona State University and an artist-clinician with Selmer Paris and Conn-Selmer USA. He has performed as a soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and with orchestras in Europe and Mexico and has served as orchestral saxophonist with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra since 1976.

Hofmann is a collaborative pianist, organist and vocal coach who has performed throughout the United States and around the world. Currently a lecturer in collaborative piano at Baylor University, Hofmann also has taught at the University of Minnesota and at Yuba College.

For more information on this and other concerts in the MTSU School of Music, call 615-898-2493 or visit www.mtsumusic.com and click on the “Concert Calendar” link.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Science Building ceremony available live Wednesday on web, radio, TV

Residents unable to attend the Wednesday, Oct. 15, ribbon-cutting celebration for the new MTSU Science Building have options to listen to or view live broadcasts of the ceremony.

CGI science building video featured graphic

The grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Science Building will be held Wednesday, Oct. 15.

Gov. Bill Haslam, university President Sidney A. McPhee and other state and local dignitaries will give remarks at the public ceremony, set for 10 a.m. Wednesday inside the state-of-the-art facility located at 440 Friendship St., just off Alumni Drive on the south side of campus. (Read the full story here.)

MTSU provided live video streaming of the event for desktop, laptop and tablet users. The live feed ended with the event, however, and is no longer available for viewing.

Other media options include:

Radio: WMOT-FM, the university’s public radio station, will broadcast the event live on 89.5 and also through its website, www.wmot.org.

TV: MTSU’s Educational Resource Channel @ Middle Tennessee, also known as ERC@MT, and the student-run station MT10 will be televising the occasion.

ERC@MT airs locally on Comcast Channel 9 in Rutherford County while MT10 can be seen on Comcast Channel 10 in Rutherford County. The event will also air on AT&T U-verse Channel 99 across Middle Tennessee.

MT10 also will offer live video streaming at www.mt10news.com/live.

The 257,000-square-foot, $147 million Science Building opened this fall, a full semester ahead of schedule. It represents the largest single capital investment ever in Tennessee higher education.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

MTSU brings Civil War history to community with Oct. 18 speakers

MTSU is helping to bring history to the community during Rutherford County Heritage Month with a special public event, “The Legacy of Stones River,” set Saturday, Oct. 18, at Murfreesboro’s First Presbyterian Church.

Click on this event poster to see a larger version.

With the help of MTSU’s Department of History and the Public History Program, two speakers will address the impact of the Civil War from 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 18 at First Presbyterian, located at 210 N. Spring St. just off East Main Street near Murfreesboro’s Public Square.

Erskine Clarke, whose most recent book is “By the Rivers of Water,” will speak on “American Missionaries in West Africa, Slavery and the Civil War” at 9:45 a.m.

Beginning at 10:30 a.m., environmental historian Megan Kate Wilson, author of “Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War,” will speak on “Among the Ruins: Charles F. Morse and Civil War Destruction.”

A discussion and book signings with both speakers are scheduled from 11 a.m. to noon.

“These will be engaging talks about topics that have not been broadly addressed in the past, and they illustrate some of the new directions Civil War studies are taking,” said Dr. Rebecca Conard, a history professor at MTSU and director of the university’s Public History Program.

Cost for the event is $10 per person, which also includes a continental breakfast at 9 a.m. and a 1 p.m. lecture by a park ranger and guided tour at Stones River National Battlefield.

The registration deadline is Thursday, Oct. 16, for this event. You can register online at www.nps.gov/stri/planyourvisit/legacycurrent.htm or in person at the battlefield’s visitor center bookstore, located at 3501 Old Nashville Highway north of Murfreesboro.

In addition to MTSU’s Department of History and the National Park Service, “The Legacy of Stones River” is co-sponsored by the Friends of Stones River National Battlefield, the Tennessee National Civil War Heritage Area and the Rutherford County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

For more information on this public history event, visit www.nps.gov/stri/planyourvisit/legacycurrent.htm or email rebecca.conard@mtsu.edu.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

This photo from MTSU's Albert Gore Reserach Center shows a portion of Murfreesboro's Public Square circa 1864, when the Union Army used the Rutherford County Courthouse as a headquarters after the Battle of Stones River.

This photo from MTSU’s Albert Gore Reserach Center shows a portion of Murfreesboro’s Public Square circa 1864, when the Union Army used the Rutherford County Courthouse as a headquarters after the Battle of Stones River.

MTSU studies business of Bonnaroo with help from organizers (+VIDEO)

Bonnaroo began as a way to reinvigorate outdoor music festivals, its organizers said Wednesday, Oct. 8, at MTSU, and over the last 13 years has used its business model to embrace and expand on the same peaceful, inclusive culture of the events that inspired it.

The daylong seminar sponsored by MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, “Bonnaroo: The Making of a Music Festival,” drew standing-room-only crowds in a parliamentary room normally used by the Student Government Association.


MTSU students listen to Bonnaroo organizers discuss the festival’s music and programming at a special Oct. 8 business seminar at the university. Facing the crowd are, from left, panel moderator Pat Embry, director of MTSU’s John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies; Bonnaroo co-founders Ashley Capps, Rick Farman and Jonathan Mayers; Charlie Jennings, Bonnaroo director of operations; Bryan Benson, vice president for Bonnaroo co-producer AC Entertainment; and Russ Bennett, Bonnaroo’s head of visual design. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Staffers from every facet of the event joined Bonnaroo co-founders Ashley Capps, Jonathan Mayers and Rick Farman to explain how they create, promote, maintain and safely operate a city of 80,000-plus people that emerges for four days every year near Manchester, Tennessee.

“We’re there and see the site transform from a farm into a city,” said Russ Bennett, Bonnaroo’s head of visual design, “and the culture, the impact and power of all those humans living together, with every kind of viewpoint, political view, musical taste, is still incredible to me.”

The festival launched in 2002 with little traditional advertising and sold out its 70,000 tickets in 11 days. Since then, organizers have continued to expand both its entertainment offerings and its 700-acre site to grow into an event that Rolling Stone magazine has called one of the “50 moments that changed the history of rock ‘n’ roll.”

After explaining to the MTSU audience how planning each Bonnaroo is now a year-round effort and fitting the artists for each year’s event into the site’s multiple venues is “like a big puzzle,” co-founder Mayers noted that we “started with a business plan, and … a lot of adjustments have had to be made.

“As each year goes by, we want to keep improving the experience, which means that we have to keep looking at the business model and the ticket price,” he continued. “We don’t make decisions within silos; we have to look at the whole complete picture.”

“We’re building a city for the weekend,” Capps added, “and it really has to have all the core ingredients that a city needs, from medical assistance to security to access to food and water, and that can get expensive for 80,000 people.”

That figure for ticketholders doesn’t include the full event staff that ranges from 8,000 to 10,000 workers when Bonnaroo is at full steam.

Jonathan Meyers

Jonathan Mayers

Ashley Capps

Rick Farman

The daylong MTSU seminar discussed all aspects of the internationally acclaimed festival from its business model, planning, marketing and media to its community spirit, volunteerism, music and programming.

Its revenue streams have expanded from the traditional concert ticket sales, concessions and merchandise to encompass VIP event packages, corporate sponsorships, live streaming audio and video and licensing of audio and video content.

“It’s an extraordinary opportunity for a college of media and music to host a group of professionals so adept at both,” said Ken Paulson, dean of MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, who introduced several of the day’s panels.

“It’s simply unprecedented for the full management team of a world-class music festival to take a full day to engage and educate the next generation of music and media professionals.”

MTSU’s College of Mass Communication teamed up with Bonnaroo leaders earlier this year in an ongoing partnership that brought the festival officials to campus in April for question-and-answer sessions with students and then put MTSU students behind the scenes at Bonnaroo in June for multimedia news coverage.

The Oct. 8 public symposium also is part of that partnership, Paulson said. The event was streamed to classrooms on campus and was recorded to create a “video textbook” and possibly a video course for MTSU’s music business curriculum.

As for what’s next for Bonnaroo, organizers were circumspect about the future.

“We think about how it can be more than just those four days, and what’s the spirit of it, and how our community can take that back to their everyday lives,” Mayers said. “What started as ‘Let’s put on an amazing festival’ has become ‘How can this be a platform for inspiration and to improve everyone’s day-to-day lives?'”

Capps added that organizers are “definitely exploring opportunities to expand the infrastructure on the site so we can accommodate other events. That’s been in discussion for a number of years, and pretty soon we’ll probably see another event or two emerge, but it depends on a lot of circumstances.”

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

MTSU to host Women in Higher Education in Tennessee conference

Networking, brainstorming and presenting awards will be only a few of the facets of this year’s Women in Higher Education in Tennessee conference at MTSU.

“College Completion: Women in Higher Education Moving the Needle” is the theme of the 34th annual gathering, which is slated for Oct. 9-10 in the Student Union.

Dr. Idahlynne Karre

Dr. Idahlynne Karre

Dr. MaryLou Apple

Dr. MaryLou Apple

Dr. MaryLou Apple, president of Motlow State Community College and presidential adviser to the organization also known as WHET, will lead a panel discussion on “Leadership and College Completion” from 3 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9.

Dr. Idahlynn Karre, a consultant with a distinguished career of 42 years as a professor and administrator, will deliver the keynote address, “Leading through Strengths,” at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 10.

Karre is a member of the facilitation team for the Mesa, Arizona-based Chair Academy, an organization that provides talent management and leadership development programs for post-secondary educational institutions. She was a faculty member at the University of Northern Colorado for 32 years.

Karre will lead the closing conversation — “A Unique Opportunity: The Best of You!” — from 3 to 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10.

During the conference, WHET will present its Woman of Achievement Awards to leaders in higher education.

Any female student, faculty, staff or alumna of an institution of higher education in Tennessee may nominate women for the honor in two categories: Student and Faculty/Administrative and Community or Business Leader.

In addition, the organization will present the June Anderson Award to a woman who has:

  • demonstrated leadership in WHET;
  • developed curricula that enhance understanding of the role women play in various disciplines;
  • mentored other women;
  • demonstrated leadership on campus that directly brought more women into leadership positions;
  • demonstrated advocacy for women in the community;
  • supported women in becoming better qualified to advance in higher education professions; and
  • demonstrated influence that has an impact on opportunities for women beyond the bounds of Tennessee.

A native of Tennessee’s Tipton County, Anderson joined the MTSU chemistry faculty in 1958 and taught for 25 years. She founded an academic support service for women at MTSU and championed pay equity, child care centers and proper campus lighting. The university’s Center for Women and Nontraditional Students bears Anderson’s name.

Each conference participant will receive an access code and instructions on taking the StrengthsFinder assessment from Gallup Inc. online.

Click on the logo to visit the Women in Higher Education in Tennessee website.

The assessment will help participants to learn more about their strengths and how to utilize this information to achieve personal and professional growth and inspire the same in others.

Conference fees are $80 for current WHET members, $100 for nonmembers and $20 for full-time graduate students. Membership dues are $50 per year for professionals and $20 per year for full-time students.

Register online at http://whettn.org or by mailing a copy of the registration form with payment to La Kiesha Armstrong, WHET Treasurer, Belmont University, Office of the Registrar, 1900 Belmont Blvd., Nashville, TN 37212.

For more information, contact Connie Huddleston, coordinator for the MTSU College of Liberal Arts, at 615-494-7628 or connie.huddleston@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)