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Ribbon-cutting opens new education building

MTSU alumnus Andy Womack speaks at the Sept. 10 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new College of Education Building. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Middle Tennessee State University officials cut the ribbon Saturday, Sept. 10, to celebrate the formal opening of the new College of Education Building.

(Watch video of the event here.)

“From our humble origins as Middle Tennessee Normal School, dedicated to the development of our state’s primary and secondary school educators, the University has grown into a major comprehensive institution,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. “This building serves as proof of the University’s and the state’s commitment to teacher education.”

MTSU opened its doors in 1911 with an enrollment of 125 students. Today, in its 100th year, enrollment exceeds 26,000 students.

The University is one of the top producers of teachers in Tennessee. In fall 2010, there were 1,427 undergraduates majoring in education and 194 graduate students seeking education-specialist degrees, according to MTSU’s Records Office.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee speaks to the crowd gathered for the official ribbon-cutting of the University's new College of Education building. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

“You have never forgotten your roots as a school dedicated to the preparation of today’s teachers,” said Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan, “and I have every confidence you will continue your ‘Traditions of Excellence’ as the University embarks upon its second century of scholarship and service.”

Andy Womack, former chairman of the State Education Committee during his service in the Tennessee Senate, told the audience how much he missed his mother and father, adding that “today I miss them even more.”

His father, Dr. Bob Womack, passed away in April 2010 after teaching at MTSU for 53 years in a department now named the Womack Family Educational Leadership Department. “Dr. Bob” met his wife, Elizabeth, at the University. Multiple generations of the Womacks, including Andy Womack, are MTSU alumni, and several members of the family were present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“MTSU is the only university in the state whose department of education trains teachers for all 95 counties in the state,” Womack said. “Most other departments only train teachers for a 90-mile radius within their campus.

Dr. Lana Seivers, dean of the College of Education at MTSU, addresses the crowd at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the college's new building on the east side of campus. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

“This University is the leading producer of teachers throughout our state. We also are the leading producer of teachers in Alabama, Kentucky and Georgia.”

Guests also toured the three-floor $30 million facility, which comprises 87,000 square feet of offices, collaborative classrooms, computer labs and a 150-seat auditorium.

“This building is equipped with state-of-the-art instructional technology and an environment that lends itself to learning, collaboration and professionalism,” said Dr. Lana Seivers, dean of the college and former state education commissioner as well as an MTSU alumna.

“It is a visible symbol that teaching is important—and those who choose to teach make the biggest difference.”

Earl Swensson Associates and Centric Architecture designed the building, and Brasfield & Gorrie was general contractor.

The ceremony was part of a busy weekend celebrating the University’s Centennial year. Students, alumni, staff, friends and supporters launched the weekend in style the night before at a Centennial Blue Tie Gala at the Embassy Suites Murfreesboro Hotel and Conference Center.

– Tom Tozer (thomas.tozer@mtsu.edu)

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