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Music-led enhanced campus tour awaits MTSU visitors [+VIDEO]

Prospective Middle Tennessee State University students and their families will enjoy an enhanced campus tour experience — featuring live acoustic music by current students — following upgrades unveiled this week for weekday campus visits.

The upgrades — live music, a walk through MTSU history, a “selfie spot,” a new video in cinemascope and surround sound featuring current students and “True Blue Bag Campaign” — are just part of the heightened tour experience that includes a recording by the Band of Blue performing the MTSU fight song.

Excluding holidays, MTSU conducts daily campus tours, at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. during the fall and spring semesters and once a day during the summer starting at the Student Services and Admissions Center, 1860 Blue Raider Drive.

For more on the guided campus tours, visit www.mtsu.edu/schedule-a-visit/daily-campus-visits.php.

University President Sidney A. McPhee said he knows prospective students feel welcome when they visit.

“In an effort to expand this sense of belonging, the admissions department launched the True Blue Bag Campaign,” said McPhee, noting that every visitor will receive a distinctive blue bag when she or he checks in for a tour. It will contain an MTSU Viewbook, Visitors Guide and information for parents.

“With these bags, our campus visitors will be very visible, not only in tour groups but also as they explore campus on their own,” he added.

As MTSU visitors await the start of the campus tour, musicians Kenny Arnold, left, and Cooper Gilliam entertain from the stage. Gilliam is a freshman from Martin, Tenn., while Arnold is a sophomore from Baltimore, Md. Both are commercial songwriting majors. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

As MTSU visitors await the start of the campus tour, musicians Kenny Arnold, left, and Cooper Gilliam entertain from the stage. Gilliam is a freshman from Martin, Tenn., while Arnold is a sophomore from Baltimore, Md. Both are commercial songwriting majors. (MTSU photos by Andy Heidt)

In anticipation of more visitors, MTSU officials put plans in motion for the additional amenities on the first floor of the admissions tour area. The second floor houses the MT One Stop, which provides an array of services in financial aid, course registration, tuition and billing and transcripts.

“This revamped tour offers prospective students an opportunity to become immersed into the environment and culture of MTSU,” said Nathan Haynes, associate director of marketing and technical support for undergraduate recruitment.

“We have taken advantage of the architectural and technological assets of the student services facility and utilized them to their fullest extent to create an innovative and unique experience that also includes a chance to see our on-campus housing,” Haynes added.

Linda Olsen, director of undergraduate recruitment, said the campus tour is “one of the key steps in the decision-making process for prospective students.”

“We have dedicated many resources to assure our tour stands out as students explore their university options,” Olsen added.

True Blue Bags will be available to all visitors on weekday campus tours.

True Blue Bags will be available to all visitors on weekday campus tours.

Rob Janson, strategic communications manager in the Office of Marketing and Communications, suggested and developed the idea to add acoustic music, featuring students from the university’s popular Commercial Songwriting program within the internationally recognized Department of Recording Industry.

Five MTSU songwriting students have been hired to perform original songs, giving them exposure and experience, 45 minutes before each tour begins.

“The revamped MTSU tour experience is really designed to be just that: an experience,” Janson said. “We’ve essentially taken what was a fairly standard presentation and infused it with MTSU-centric programming that quickly immerses prospective students and their families in the True Blue culture.

“We believe the music is the first of its kind on a college campus,” added Janson, referring to the first-floor stage in the visitor’s lobby area.

Students can meet with their admissions counselors following the tour, Haynes said.

Donna Baker, archivist with the Albert Gore Research Center, developed the plan for the history walk through and contributed Gore Center memorabilia. Copies of MTSU Magazine and MTSU Visitors Guide are available for guests.

For questions about events and tours, email tours@mtsu.edu or call 615-898-5670.

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

Pieces of history from the Gore Research Center greet visitors as they walk through to enter the 75-seat tour room in the Student Services and Admissions Center. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

Pieces of history from the Gore Research Center greet visitors as they walk through to enter the 75-seat tour room in the Student Services and Admissions Center. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

Nearly 40 MTSU visitors watch a new 20-minute video featuring a number of university students sharing the campus story for prospective students and their families Feb. 24 in the Student Services and Admissions Center.

Nearly 40 MTSU visitors watch a new 20-minute video featuring a number of university students sharing the campus story for prospective students and their families Feb. 24 in the Student Services and Admissions Center.

MTSU wins 28 awards for its marketing, communications efforts

GATLINBURG — MTSU received 28 awards in the Tennessee College Public Relations Association’s annual competition recognizing excellence in marketing and communications among the state’s public and private higher education entities.

The association, at its annual conference in Gatlinburg on May 29, presented MTSU with eight Gold, 11 Silver and nine Bronze awards in 24 different categories. It was the fifth consecutive year that MTSU was tops in total awards.

In this 2014 file photo, Chris Massaro, director of athletics for MTSU, stands inside Floyd Stadium with the new #TRUE Athletic Marketing campaign posters for the upcoming 2014-2015 Athletics schedule. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

In this 2014 file photo, Chris Massaro, director of athletics for MTSU, stands inside Floyd Stadium with the new #TRUE Athletic Marketing campaign posters for the upcoming 2014-2015 Athletics schedule. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

“These honors, and the work behind them, spotlight the tremendous quality and diversity of MTSU’s programs, as well as the excellence of our faculty,” said Andrew Oppmann, vice president for marketing and communications.

MTSU’s #TRUE advertising and branding campaign for athletics received four honors, including a Gold for best print advertising series, a Silver for best video advertisement and two Bronze Awards for best billboard and posters.

TCPRA logoThe university swept all three awards for best feature photography — Gold, Silver and Bronze — and received two additional Silver Awards for best spot news photography and best sports photography.

Two stories that yielded national attention for MTSU — the cross-country trip by professor Cliff Ricketts on alternative fuels and the launch of a new unmanned aerial systems degree — were honored with Gold and Silver awards, respectively, for best media relations campaigns.

Efforts with last October’s opening of the $147-million Science Building received a Gold Award for a special magazine and a Silver Award for best special event.

Other Gold Awards for MTSU included best radio advertising (“Middle in a Minute: The Writer’s Loft”); best news writing (MTSU’s obituary on legendary journalist John Seigenthaler); best electronic magazine for MTSU Magazine; and best low-budget publication (on adult degree-completion efforts).

A large crowd of supporters turned out Oct. 15, 2014, for the grand opening ceremony for the new MTSU Science Building. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

A large crowd of supporters turned out Oct. 15, 2014, for the grand opening ceremony for the new MTSU Science Building. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

The honors follow MTSU’s six regional awards earlier this year from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. Those awards recognized the #TRUE campaign; articles in MTSU Magazine; the True Blue Tour for prospective students; True Blue Preview videos; and MTSU’s outreach at the Grammy Awards.

Here is a complete list of MTSU’s 28 awards in the Tennessee College Public Relations Association’s contest:

Gold (eight awards)

Silver (11 awards)

In this December 2014 file photo, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee is doused with a cooler of ice water for his ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by MTSU Student Body President Andrew George, left, during the home football opener against Savannah State. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

In this December 2014 file photo, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee is doused with a cooler of ice water for his ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by MTSU Student Body President Andrew George, left, during the home football opener against Savannah State. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

Bronze (nine awards)

MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts, left, and "Southern Fried Fuel" team members Terry Young, Mike Sims, MTSU student Ben Black and Paul Ricketts celebrate the 3,500-mile completion of the journey in mid-March. (MTSU file photo by News and Media Relations)

MTSU professor Cliff Ricketts, left, and “Southern Fried Fuel” team members Terry Young, Mike Sims, MTSU student Ben Black and Paul Ricketts celebrate the 3,500-mile completion of the journey in mid-March. (MTSU file photo by News and Media Relations)

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