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Summer 2017 Vol. 22 No. 1


See page 6

A closer look at the historic seating of MTSU's new independent governing board

Third time a charm? In beating fifth-seeded Minnesota 81–72 in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this past March 16, the 12th-seeded Blue Raider program advanced to the round of 32 for the second straight year. In doing so, the Blue Raiders became just the fourth team in the history of the tournament to win first-round games in back-to-back years as a 12th seed or higher. Where MTSU was a huge underdog in 2016 squaring off against second-seeded Michigan State—a game that many call the biggest upset in tournament history—this time around the Blue Raiders expected, not hoped, to win against Minnesota in the first round. That alone is a remarkable accomplishment. MTSU finished the season with a school-record 31 wins and Conference USA-record 17 league victories. The Blue Raiders also entered the Top 25 in the USA Today Coaches Poll for the first time and made the NCAA Tournament field for the third time in five seasons and second year in a row—feats never accomplished before at MTSU. The hard work 15-year head coach Kermit Davis has poured into the men’s basketball program to try and make it a national brand and household name is clearly coming to fruition.







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Summer 2017 3







Here are 10 initiatives taking shape at MTSU, resulting in a campus growing in quantity and, most importantly, in quality

Middle Tennessee State University Summer 2017 / Vol. 22, No. 1 University Editor Drew Ruble Art Director Kara Hooper Contributing Editors Darby Campbell, Carol Stuart Contributing Writers Lynn Adams, Allison Gorman, Josh Vardaman Design Assistance Karin Albrecht, Darrell Callis Burks, Brian Evans, Lauren Finney, Micah Loyed, David Lowry

LEADING BY EXAMPLE MTSU’s proud history of military friendliness has only been elevated since the arrival of Lt. Gen. Keith M. Huber to campus

University Photographers Andy Heidt, J. Intintoli, Eric Sutton

page 32

Special thanks to The Alumni Relations staff, Bené Cox, Tara Hollins, Megan Jones, Hillary Miller, MT Athletics, the staff of MTSU News and Media Relations, the staff of the MTSU Office of Development, Jack Ross, Cindy Speer University President Sidney A. McPhee

Dual-Threat QUARTERBACK page 40

Scholar-athlete Brent Stockstill (’16) has done more than simply pass his way to one of the all-time greatest football careers at Middle Tennessee

Interim University Provost Mark Byrnes Vice President for University Advancement Joe Bales Vice President for Marketing and Communications Andrew Oppmann Address changes should be sent to Advancement Services, MTSU Box 109, Murfreesboro, TN 37132; Other correspondence goes to MTSU Magazine, Drew Ruble, 1301 E. Main St., MTSU Box 49, Murfreesboro, TN 37132. For online content, visit 120,300 copies printed at Lithographics, Nashville, Tennessee. Designed by MTSU Creative and Visual Services.

Letter from the Editor............................................................... 5 Five Minutes with the President.......................................... 6 MidPoints................................................................................... 28 Class Notes............................................................................... 43 54

4 MTSU Magazine

0417-4255 / Middle Tennessee State University does not discriminate against students, employees, or applicants for admission or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, age, status as a protected veteran, genetic information, or any other legally protected class with respect to all employment, programs, and activities sponsored by MTSU. The Assistant to the President for Institutional Equity and Compliance has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies and can be reached at Cope Administration Building 116, 1301 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, TN 37132;; or 615-898-2185. The MTSU policy on non-discrimination can be found at


Getting “Off Center”

by Drew Ruble


TSU’s latest creative writing magazine has emerged from the Margaret H. Ordoubadian University Writing Center.

The cover for the inaugural issue of Off Center, fall 2016

Off Center, edited by founding editors and graduate student consultants Hillary Yeager and Amy Harris-Aber, made its debut in late 2016. Corey Cummings is currently associate editor. The magazine includes poetry, short essays, art, fiction, photography—and even video, music, and media—from artists who have benefitted from the center’s guidance. Submissions are welcomed from students, faculty, staff, and alumni, a policy which encourages reconnection with the University, as well as recognition. The publication is currently digital-only; however, there are plans for a printed piece. I reprint here in my editor’s space my favorite poem from the Fall 2016 issue. Yes, as a writer, this topic obviously resonated with me. . . . It’s a poem by Nick Bush titled “When the Typist Writes.”

When the Typist Writes Nick Bush

Oh Johnny [Carson], Norman [Mailer]’s not a good writer, but he is a good typist. —Truman Capote Face outlined in white light, the typist skips his fingers across keys, letter’d squares turn worded lines like seamstress’ lined squares. Palms flex and hover like the dancer’s foot, mid-arabesque, head nodding in syncopation, to beats through buds, plot and wordplay formed in 4/4 time. His deep exhale unsettles the quiet, startling even himself as his protagonist survives. Plot and theme intact, neat as timpani drum heads— saved then emailed to himself, one more of many infinite universes, created in secluded, quiet chaos. Through love.

The University Writing Center, located on campus in the James E. Walker Library, exists primarily to assist student writers of various experiences, backgrounds, and skill levels in developing responsible, informed writing practices. Since students’ participation in University academic programs like this aid in their retention and progression toward academic goals, the center rightfully prides itself in being part and parcel to the University’s ongoing Quest for Student Success. Dr. Bené Cox, director of the center and a professor in MTSU’s Department of English, has stated that “There’s no forced motive for making students go to the writing center. . . . They come in because they want to learn.” The University Writing Center also serves the greater middle Tennessee community through outreach programs Experience Off Center and events geared toward understanding literacy as a set of social practices. MTSU

Summer 2017 5


A CHANGING OF THE GUARD MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee talks about the historic seating of the MTSU governing board, a first for the University When I talk to alumni and MTSU constituents these days, 90% of the conversation is about the new governing board and the impact it will have on MTSU. How potentially transformative is this new board structure? It’s very important for our alumni to understand the significance of this new governance structure. Establishing this board is almost like creating a “new” university. I think it is fair to say that the creation of the new board and our newfound independence as an institution is the second most important event behind our founding in the history of the University. As this represents a true new era for the University, I also think it represents an opportunity to invigorate and inspire our alums about the impact this will have on their University. Talk about the installation of the new independent governing board, which occurred this past April. The 10-member board stems from the FOCUS Act that was championed by Gov. Bill Haslam and signed into law last year. The law established local governing boards for MTSU and the other five former Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) universities. The state’s creation of individual governing boards was the next logical step in better aligning our postsecondary education system to ensure Tennessee reaches its Drive to 55, a goal to have 55 percent of residents with a postsecondary degree or credential by 2025. Formal oversight of MTSU shifted from the TBR to the local Board of Trustees after our new governance board convened its inaugural session this past April. Joined by Gov. Haslam and witnessed by faculty, staff, and community members, it was my honor to convene the group for the first time inside the Student Union Ballroom and to call that historic first meeting of the new board to order on that day. In his remarks to our new board, Gov. Haslam reminded the trustees that MTSU remains a vital part of the larger state higher education system, yet the new local structure will allow greater latitude in setting our own strategic priorities and is a way to let each institution play to its strengths. Once the board was formally convened, members elected MTSU alumnus Stephen B. Smith as board chair. Smith is board chair of Haury and Smith Contractors and served on the Metropolitan Nashville Planning Commission. A former Blue Raider athlete, he was instrumental in the 2009 construction of MTSU’s Reese Smith Jr. Field baseball stadium, named for his father. The board voted Darrell Freeman, founder and former executive chairman of Zycron Inc. and also an MTSU alumnus, as vice chairman. The new board also adopted a code of ethics and conflict of interest policy, reaffirmed me as president, and confirmed matters related to the University’s accreditation process.

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A Historic Moment: The staff and members of the MTSU Board of Trustees on the day of their inaugural public meeting (l-r): Standing, Board of Trustees staff members Kimberly S. Edgar, chief of staff, Office of the President, and Heidi M. Zimmerman, University counsel and secretary to the board; Trustee W. Andrew Adams; Board of Trustees vice chair Darrell Freeman Sr.; Trustee Christine Karbowiak; Board of Trustees chair Stephen B. Smith; Trustee Joey A. Jacobs; Faculty Representative Tony Johnston; and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. Seated, Trustee J.B. Baker; Trustee Pete DeLay; Student Representative Lindsey Weaver; and Trustee Pamela J. Wright.

The full board convened a second time on June 5. At that meeting, I briefed the board on our commitment to recruiting high-ability students. MTSU’s Fall 2016 GPA average for incoming freshman was 3.44 (compared to 3.28 in 2011), and our Fall 2016 ACT test score average was 22.4 (up from 21.9 in 2011). In addition, I reported that the University is on track for enrollment gains this fall. Overall, for Fall 2017, freshman applications have increased 15.6 percent over the previous year, transfer applications are up 7.2 percent, and overall applications have risen 12.5 percent. Admissions based upon those applications are also up over last year, with freshman admits showing a 3.8 increase, transfer admits up 3.5 percent, and an overall admit increase of 2 percent. Gains in applications and admissions include a 21 percent increase in out-ofstate applicants and a 12 percent increase from Williamson County.

At that meeting, trustees increased tuition and mandatory fees for the 2017–18 academic year by 3.9 percent to cover rising utility, physical plant, and maintenance costs, scholarship obligations, and a state-mandated 3 percent raise for employees. Under the new rates, an in-state, full-time student taking 15 hours of courses in the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 semesters will pay $8,945 a year, an increase of $335. In other action, trustees also approved a new degree program in Interactive Media, which will begin in Fall 2017 and reside in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment. Those are good examples of the types of operational decisions the new board will be making for the University. Several alums have asked me questions about what impact the board is also going to have on the vision and direction of the University—and especially the mission. How will the board shape and drive institutional mission? Has the board started looking at priorities and needs?

During our inaugural meeting, Gov. Haslam commented that one of the most critical responsibilities for the MTSU Board was its singular focus on the University and that he was looking for men and women who got up each day thinking about ways to make MTSU better. When you are part of a diverse system like we were with the TBR, it’s simply impossible for board members to have that type of focus and commitment to the needs of a single campus. With six universities, 13 community colleges, and 27 colleges of applied technology, the TBR board had to consider a vast array of differences in needs, missions, and student demographics. Decisions were often focused on the larger general needs of the entire group. As such, the TBR board was not always capable of addressing the unique needs of our campus.

Summer 2017 7

FIVE MINUTES with the PRESIDENT In looking at our new, independent board, I find it very comforting that almost all of our members have some history and experience with our campus. We’ve got several alumni on the board, as well as representatives of some of the state’s leading corporations who have been involved with our campus for many years. They know the University and understand the important role MTSU plays in educating Tennesseans. Also, and I think this is important, they have a sense of what MTSU can become. It’s a little too early to talk about specific actions; but, as we move forward with this new form of governance, and as our board gains an even deeper understanding of our great institution, I believe you will see them begin to help shape our mission and identify new opportunities that will complement the quality programs and activities we have on our campus. Is there a new “big picture” of what the University might become? I think many of our alums want to know what our aspirations are for the future without the constraints perceived to be placed on us by TBR. While I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to see some new directions and changes over time, I’m confident that our board understands that our first and most important priority will always be our students and providing them with the support and skills they need to be successful. MTSU has been recognized as the state’s top comprehensive university, and our board is committed to maintaining that status. What changes if any will people see quickly? Without question, one of the most immediate changes our students and faculty will note will be the speed with which certain things get accomplished. Being able to address issues here on campus will allow us to be more responsive and timely in our decision-making. In addition, having our own board will help remove one layer of bureaucracy, as we’ve transferred some of the decisions formerly made at TBR to our campus. One unknown in all of this is how this change will affect higher education funding and support from the state. Gov. Haslam has been very clear

that he doesn’t expect this to become a “free-for-all” with the legislature. However, there undoubtedly will be some competition among our universities, as everyone seeks what’s best for their institution. We’re very fortunate that the Tennessee General Assembly has long recognized the important role that MTSU plays in our state’s higher education system, but we will have to expand our efforts in educating the legislature and keeping our needs in front of them. I expect our new board will play a critical role in assisting us in that area. Any final thoughts? I believe this new proposal advanced by the governor, as well as the corresponding new level of independence for the former TBR universities, is truly bold and potentially transformational for MTSU. I look forward to learning and exploring the opportunities it could provide toward our mission of ensuring student success and providing more graduates for the state’s workforce. Thank you, Mr. President. MTSU All meetings of the board are livestreamed on

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MTSU is already a great university. The largest provider of college-degreed workers in the Midstate, MTSU has experienced significant growth in recent years, including over $700 million in construction. But the University is not done building. Here are 10 initiatives taking shape at MTSU, resulting in a campus growing in quantity and, most importantly, in quality.

Summer 2017 9


NEW FOUNDATION MTSU’s distinguished Board of Trustees, now steering the University as an independent governing body, is comprised of accomplished alumni and other prominent business leaders. This new structure promises a more entrepreneurial approach to guiding the University.

J.B. Baker CEO/Owner Sprint Logistics

W. Andrew Adams Chair National Health Investors Inc.

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Darrell Freeman Sr., vice chair Founder Zycron Inc.

Sidney A. McPhee President MTSU

Christine Karbowiak Executive VP Bridgestone Americas Inc.

Joey. A. Jacobs Stephen B. Smith, chair

Chair/CEO Acadia Healthcare

Pete DeLay

Chair Haury and Smith Contractors Inc.

Executive Forterra Building Products

Tony Johnston

Lindsey Weaver Master’s Candidate Student Representative

Pamela J. Wright Founder Wright Travel

Professor Faculty Representative


Summer 2017 11

2REPUTATION BUILDING OUR MTSU’s newest degree programs and majors match curricula with real-world preparedness, as well as student interest with industry needs.

Tennessee public university, rigorously trains the body and engages the mind. Students can focus on either performance/ choreography or a teaching track.

The Fermentation Science degree program, the first of its type in Tennessee and rare in the Southeast region, was created to meet the demands of the booming world population—as well as the flavor, textural, and cultural tastes of consumers.

MTSU is just one of two universities in the state offering a major in Japanese. Japanese companies such as Nissan and Bridgestone account for 62 percent of direct foreign investment in Tennessee, while globally Japan is the world’s thirdlargest economy.

Our Religious Studies major helps prepare students to succeed in an increasingly diverse and multicultural society and workforce, from jobs as wide-ranging as international business leader to elementary school teacher. The program is the first for a public university in middle Tennessee. MTSU’s new Dance degree, the only Bachelor of Science in Dance at a

The recently renamed Media Arts Department recently elevated its Animation, Interactive Media, and Video and Film Production programs from concentration to degree status. MTSU now provides the first Africana Studies major in the middle Tennessee region. Roughly 20 percent of MTSU’s student population identify as AfricanAmerican, yet there has been no degree program that studies people of the African diaspora. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Operations major launched at MTSU is one of only five such degree programs in the nation. Expected to contribute $13.6 billion to the U.S. economy by 2018–20, the rising business sector is projected to create 70,000 new jobs with starting salaries of $50,000 or higher. MTSU also offers now a Master of Library Science, training librarians to work in any setting in an age of information overflow.

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Walker Library underwent a major upgrade this year. Creation of the Makerspace—equipped with creative technology previously only available on campus to Art or Engineering Technology students—has granted access to any MTSU student, staff, or faculty member who goes through free training to operate the machinery. “The addition of fabrication technologies in Makerspace extends our ability to support research and learning,” Walker Library Dean Bonnie Allen said. “Students now have the opportunity to experiment and incorporate the use of technology and design to solve problems.”

Location: 2nd floor, inside the Digital Media Studio Equipment and supplies include

• Laser etcher • Vinyl cutter • Filament 3D printers • Resin 3D printer • CNC machine • Electronics parts and test equipment • Raspberry Pi3 and Pi touchscreen • OSVR headsets • Makeblock parts • Soldering station • Oculus Rift virtual reality kit • Vive virtual reality kit • Arduino kits • Odroid C2


Summer 2017 13


INNOVATION $121M Science Building









MTSU celebrated the opening of the

Science Corridor of Innovation (SCI) in Spring 2017.


in new and renovated science facilities

$25.5M in renovations to pre-existing science facilities

RESULTS • Already helping MTSU prepare more teachers for math and science in K–12 schools • Creating additional science graduates to fill high-technology jobs • Enhancing the economy of the region and state • Making MTSU more competitive for research projects, science scholarship, and entrepreneurial efforts


Summer 2017 15

EVERY PLANNED GIFT STARTS BY REMEMBERING YOUR ROOTS . . . “Well, you have to remember your roots, and your educational roots are some of the most important.” –Charlotte Gardner, on why she chose to give to MTSU

MTSU President Dr. Sidney A McPhee, Charlotte Gardner, and Interim Dean Karen Peterson, College of Liberal Arts) at the 1911 Society Luncheon honoring Planned Giving Donors in 2017.

Charlotte Gardner probably would tell us that as a theater-loving English major at MTSC a few decades ago, she never could have imagined the life she has enjoyed. In fact, her life path took a decided turn when she met future husband, George Gardner, backstage during the MTSU student theater production of Romeo and Juliet. As Charlotte tells the story, they had lots of time to talk since she was playing Juliet’s mother, and George had been cast as Romeo’s father. George and Charlotte used their talents and resources to enable many community organizations over the years to make life better for others. Both Charlotte and George have made impactful gifts to support future students at MTSU—some to be funded with a planned gift when Charlotte leaves us. Charlotte says her giving isn’t finished. She has plans for more scholarships in honor of her sons, but she just has to sort through her resources and make those plans at the right time.

Leaving A Legacy You can include MTSU in your estate planning through a: • will • trust • insurance policy • retirement plan It’s amazing how remembering our roots and helping future students can be achieved when proud graduates make a plan! Information on how to establish your legacy carries no obligation at all. Just contact:

Pat Branam Director of Development 615-904-8409

Building a


MTSU is a thriving, innovative research community composed of undergraduate and graduate experts in a variety of disciplines.

g orkin re w ce a s dent rman y stu d perfo g o l o MTSU has distinguished n n s for Tech design a charger t. g n i r itself among Tennessee e n y e r h e e t n te pm Engi prove duty bat tion equi m i colleges and universities o t c avystru for the high-level research of he road con opportunities offered to undergraduate students in particular.

The qualification is based on the number of Ph.D. degrees conferred during the previous two years—an important indicator of the growth in our graduate education and sponsored programs.

As of July 2016, we are no longer considered a PUI (Predominantly Undergraduate Institution) by the National Science Foundation. The College of Education launched a first-of-its-kind doctoral degree—the Ed.D. in Assessment, Learning, and School Improvement— and graduated its first 10 doctoral students in August 2016.

e and griscienc a U S T M experts aircraft d e n n a mpbell unm New discoveries have Doug Ca d n a i u 00 Song C ,0 been made in fields from 14 7 ed a $ have land botanical medicine to of artment forensics and historic U.S. Dep nd e grant a r u lt u ic r preservation to exercise Ag with borating science and beyond. s a are colla ies universit s a x e T two rowing TSU’s g part of M ion in precis research t 100 re. Abou olved. agricultu will be inv s t n e d u t MTSU s


scholars supported by faculty

An analysis of 52 plant extracts used in traditional Chinese medicine identified 29 with promising results for drug development including anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

MTS U just becam e the 10th u nivers ity affiliat e with t h Gramm e y Mus eum in Los Angele s

Summer 2017 17


MTSU launched a new degree program in leadership, developed in concert with global tire and rubber company Bridgestone Americas.

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The College of Education positively impacts communities and economies across Tennessee through its professional development partnerships with school systems.

Metro-Nashville Police joined hands with MTSU’s criminal justice and adult learner programs to give officers greater incentive to get their college degrees.

The College of Media and Entertainment partners with the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Music City Roots for WMOT 89.5FM Roots Radio, the Americana Music Association, and The Tennessean.

MTSU’s new Fermentation Science program boasts a corporate partner in Steel Barrel Brewery, an 82-acre agribusiness enterprise with cutting-edge facilities including fermentation and sensory labs.


PARTNERS The examples go on and on of partnerships being forged between MTSU and industry that are beneficial for everyone involved.

The University formally established a corporate partnerships program recently. Potential new corporate sponsors can make a connection with MTSU to get involved through Paula Mansfield, director of strategic partnerships in the Office of University Advancement.

Employers have a pipeline to workers trained with the latest advances in their field. Students get real-world work experience and job connections. The University expands the classroom into the business world and gains sponsors.

Summer 2017 19












From: Bolognese Castel, Italy

From: Manchester, Tennessee

From: Palma de Mallorca, Spain

From: Chattanooga, Tennessee

From: Rockledge, Florida

Major: Marketing

Major: Economics

Major: Mechatronics Engineering

Major: Leisure, Sport and Tourism

Major: Business Administration

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Blue Raider studentathletes are putting MTSU on the map and excelling in academic and athletic arenas. • MTSU Athletics continues to experience unprecedented success academically with an all-time high for the 2015­–16 school year with a score of 988 out of 1,000 on the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR). • Men’s basketball recently ranked in the Top 25 and enjoyed another fantastic March run, winning an NCAA Tournament first-round game for the second straight year and elevating MTSU to the level of a national brand. The Blue Raiders joined elite programs Butler, Duke, Kansas, Notre Dame, and Villanova as the only teams with a 100 percent graduation rate to win a tourney game. • Football teams have been bowl-eligible eight out of the last 11 years.







Track and Field


From: Murfreesboro, Tennessee

From: Roswell, Georgia

From: Memphis, Tennessee

From: Cleveland, Tennessee

Graduate Major: Leisure and Sport Management

Major: Exercise Science

Major: Physical Education

Major: Fashion Merchandising

• Sophomore golfer Jenna Burris just won the Conference USA individual championship, and women’s golf captured the two previous C-USA team titles.

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United Kingdom



MTSU has strengthened its international initiatives both on campus and around the world. Those efforts boost student success through creating opportunities for travel, exposure to culture, and research opportunities. From an institutional perspective in recent years, our international presence has been nothing short of amazing. Our faculty led a record number 24 MTSU signature programs in taking students abroad for classes during the 2015–16 academic year including many new, first-year programs—even one in Africa and one in the Middle East. Those inaugural MTSU-led study abroad programs for our students include History in Senegal Concrete Industry Management (United Arab Emirates) MTSU in Japan Fashion in Italy Tropical Biology in Costa Rica Archaeological Field School in the Brazilian Amazon MTSU in Scotland International Management in China Advertising, Public Relations, and Tourism in Mexico Cuba in the 21st Century These were offered in addition to longstanding MTSU signature programs in countries including Argentina, Belize, Canada, the Dominican Republic, England, Finland, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam. MTSU and its United Kingdom partner institution, the University of Salford, participated in a scholar-in-residency exchange program in Fall 2016 with the School of Music and the College of Media and Entertainment. In addition to an active student exchange, the two universities also co-sponsored a Mad Men conference at MTSU in 2016 and a Prince conference at Salford this May. Efforts related to China alone included several trips abroad and new partnerships. One highlight was MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee keynoting the 16th International Congress on Ethnopharmacology in Yulin, China, in May 2016, where MTSU’s research into using traditional Chinese herbal remedies in modern medicine took center stage before academicians from 35 countries.

22 MTSU Magazine


Russia Finland



Study abroad in Japan Taiwan Vietnam

65 countries Mexico

New Zealand


MTSU hosts the most foreign students of any other university in Tennessee: Costa MTSU 1,545 Vanderbilt 1,543 Tenn. Tech 1,428 Guatemala UTK 1,370 ETSU 537



Dominican Republic Argentina Brazil 38 university partnerships in 17 countries

United Kingdom




Israel Japan





New Zealand Mexico Belize

Costa Rica


Cuba Dominican Republic















Come Home to the Center of it All! Friday, October 6 10:00 a.m.

Class of 1967 Golden Raiders Reunion and Induction Ceremony

4:00 p.m.

Alumni Awards Reception (RSVP required; see below)

(RSVP required; see below)

Saturday, October 7 9:00 a.m.

Mixer on Main Parade Watching Party (President’s Lawn)

10:00 a.m.

Homecoming Parade

11:30 a.m.

Tailgate Lunch at Mixer on Main (RSVP required; see below)

2:00 p.m.

Middle Tennessee vs. Florida International (

RSVP, parade route, and updated information can be found at, or call 1-800-533-6878. Times and locations are subject to change.

24 MTSU Magazine



Several new centers on campus are broadening MTSU’s areas of expertise. Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center

Center for Student Coaching and Success

The creation and ongoing expansion of this student-veterans hub on campus assists in every step of the journey from uniform to campus to the workforce. The mission focuses on five areas: to enroll student veterans and family members; encourage them while in college; help them find employment; educate the MTSU community; and expand the student veteran-education knowledge base. The Daniels Center is just the latest development in MTSU’s long history as the most militaryfriendly college in Tennessee.

This center promises to boost the professional prospects of soon-to-be graduates by coaching them on how to systematically bridge the gap from graduation to gainful employment. A seven-figure financial gift from real estate developer John Floyd helped launch the center as part of the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences. Director Colby Jubenville coaches students to make the leap from college to career by focusing on “The Five to Arrive”: academic skills and critical thinking, emotional intelligence, personal branding, persuasion, and career development.

Jennings A. Jones College of Business Center for Executive Education

Center for Chinese Music and Culture

The University’s executive education programs have a new home in the beautiful Miller Education Center on Bell Street just off campus. Through the center, the Jennings A. Jones College of Business provides continuing professional development to meet the needs of the business community. Workshops range from areas like project management, analytics, marketing and sales, leadership, and finance to topical subjects such as workplace violence.

The only one of its kind in North America, the center works to enhance understanding of Chinese culture in Tennessee, as well as promote language, business, and trade. Hanban Confucius Institute provided a $1 million donation to create the center at MTSU. The Chinese center offers outreach to schools and the community including concerts; houses indigenous instruments; and collaborates with liberal arts and recording industry programs at MTSU.

Established centers at MTSU Albert Gore Research Center Business and Economic Research Center Center for Economic Education Center for Energy Efficiency Center for Environmental Education Center for Health and Human Services Center for Historic Preservation Center for Organizational and HR Effectiveness

Center for Popular Music Confucius Institute Forensic Institute for Research and Education Interdisciplinary Microanalysis and Imaging Center Middle East Center Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia Tennessee Small Business Development Center


Summer 2017 25



Launched by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee a few years ago, our Quest for Student Success plan is designed to ensure that MTSU excels in keeping students in school and earning their degrees. The Quest has won numerous national awards for its outof-the box nature and effectiveness, has drawn major media attention, and has been studied and copied by several universities nationwide.

80.6% 76.1%

73.8% 3.1

Based on available data, the freshman retention

in MTSU history.

26 MTSU Magazine

7.4 4.7 transfers

fastest rate of increase


rate is the highest and

More freshmen are on track to finish their degrees in 4 years. We’ve seen a 9.4% increase (in 2 years) of those completing 30 hours in their first 2 semesters (2015–16):



Top 10

Numbers calculated since Fall 2013




drew ome 6 s , s nt ay eM pare s or ed at th r o s g es prof owled es to e ackn g a s es wer ou m and nk Y right) a h ow te T wro n (bel w me o o s g nd on n, a uati atio ir grad u d a e gr th d at r on laye to wea p s i d in ards el p on c ue lap s e q i am a un eir n d e. te th receive McPhe o r w . g t f A n i i G at ey don nior Sidn e Se ! Those sident h t o t U Pre ated MTS SU don anked by MT o h h w ny tt ents a lo emo Stud is, and ent cer j emo encem m com

We challenged seniors to give $20.17 in honor of your class year, and hundreds of you have already!

MTSU’s graduating seniors have been giving back to the University for 12 years through the Senior Gift program. Considered the legacy gift of the graduating class, it supports future students through giving all over campus. Nearly $5,000 was given to units campus-wide this year during Senior Day and when grads picked up caps and gowns for commencement. They gave: • to their departments—who they said “had given them so much” • to valued student organizations—“where they met their lifelong friends” • to scholarships—"to give back to the students coming after them"

“I would not be here if I had not received scholarships.” —2017 graduating donor

The main goal of Senior Gift is participation—and to show these seniors what a bunch of small gifts can do.


A look at recent awards, events, and accomplishments at MTSU

compiled by Gina E. Fann, Jimmy Hart, Gina K. Logue, Paula Morton, Drew Ruble, and Randy Weiler

Meharry Medical College President James Hildreth, seated left, and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee sign the partnership Thursday, June 22, at a State Capitol ceremony. Standing, from left, are state lawmakers Rep. Johnnie Turner, Rep. Dawn White, House Speaker Beth Harwell, Sen. Bill Ketron, Rep. Tim Rudd, Rep. Brenda Gilmore, Rep. Harold Love, and Sen. Thelma Harper.

Partners in Health Leaders from Meharry Medical College and MTSU an agreement Thursday, June 22 to develop an accelerated pathway for talented students to graduate as physicians to serve in rural areas of the state. Meharry President James Hildreth and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee launched the partnership at a State Capitol signing ceremony that highlighted the unique collaboration between the private and public institutions that was brokered by state officials.

Hildreth said the health status of Tennessee is among the worst in the country, with the state ranked in the bottom five for many important health metrics. One reason, he said, is the fact that there aren’t enough doctors to care for those who are sick.

Students selected for the program would be eligible for financial aid from a $750,000 commitment put forward by the state — if they commit to working in underserved areas of Tennessee for a specific duration to be determined.

The agreement, McPhee said, will help accelerate the production of physicians by creating a six-year pathway for selected high-ability students to attain a bachelor’s degree at MTSU and a medical degree at Meharry.

Ketron said the arrangement may be the first partnership of its kind between a private college and a public university.

State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, a graduate of MTSU, and Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, helped bring MTSU to the table after Hildreth first proposed the accelerated bachelors-to-doctoral degree program.

MTSU and Meharry will develop a threeplus-three-year program that will allow students to enter MTSU as undergraduates, then matriculate at Meharry for a medical education, earning degrees from both entities.

“It is imperative to increase the number of primary care physicians in the state and to incentivize them to practice in underserved areas if Tennessee is to improve the overall health of its citizens,” said Hildreth, a medical doctor.

28 MTSU Magazine

McPhee and Hildreth said officials from both entities are already working to develop a joint admissions process and criteria for selection into the program. They hope the program will be able to accept students at MTSU by the Fall 2018 semester.

“To my knowledge, this is the only partnership of this magnitude anywhere in the country,” he said. “When I mention this partnership to people, it becomes a ‘wow’ moment, because it is such a game changer.” Located in Nashville, Meharry is one of the nation's oldest and largest historically black academic health science centers dedicated to educating physicians, dentists, researchers, and health policy experts. Founded in 1876 as the Medical Department of Central Tennessee College, Meharry was the first medical school in the South for African-Americans. It was chartered separately in 1915.

A Class Act Always a teacher at heart, MTSU’s Gloria Bonner officially retired from her alma mater in March, departing as assistant to the president in the Office of University Community Relations. With 44 years in education, 32 of which were spent in academic and administrative roles at MTSU, Bonner wrapped up an extraordinary career by leaving a legacy of leadership, mentorship, passion, and service that few can match.

has devoted more than four decades to classroom teaching, research, community service, and administration at our University, most notably as dean of our former College of Education and Behavioral Science and as my assistant for community relations.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, with whom Bonner worked closely the last few years strengthening University outreach to and collaboration with the wider community to advance the University’s missions, praised her work.

Photo: Andy Heidt

Bonner was the first African-American dean of an academic unit at MTSU. She was recognized throughout her career as a strong advocate for high academic standards at the University, state, regional, and national levels.

“As a teacher, fundamentally, once a teacher always a teacher,” Bonner said, “whether you’re educating people in the classroom or whether you’re educating them from an administrative position or whether you’re educating them in the community.”

“Dr. Bonner’s service to her alma mater . . . and our entire community has been extraordinary,” McPhee said. “She MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee congratulates Gloria Bonner for her more than four decades of service.

The Sky Is the Limit MTSU renewed its partnership with the Tennessee Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, a relationship launched more than three years ago to benefit aerospace education for state high school students. Interim Provost Mark Byrnes, the University’s chief academic officer, met in March 2017 with commanders of the U.S. Air Force’s volunteer civilian auxiliary, then signed a threeyear extension of the pact that links CAP with MTSU’s Department of Aerospace in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences. Mark Byrnes, Col. Barry Melton, and Col. Arlinda Bailey

Col. Barry Melton, commander of CAP’s Southeast Region, and Col. Arlinda Bailey, commander of the 1,000-member Tennessee Wing, signed the pact along with Byrnes. The signing ceremony marked the opening of the Tennessee Wing’s annual conference, which MTSU hosted on campus. Melton, an MTSU graduate who oversees CAP wings in five states including Tennessee, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, described the relationship CAP forged with MTSU as “a model for other wings throughout the nation hoping to connect with major universities in their states.” Additional examples of that relationship include that, for the second consecutive summer, MTSU hosted the Tennessee Wing’s weeklong cadet encampment in 2017—attracting about 100 youth between the ages of 12 to 21—and provided leadership training, orientation in MTSU’s Aerospace Department, and other campus activities. Also new this year, MTSU’s Aerospace and Engineering Technology departments hosted the 2017 CAP National Engineering Technology Academy, which drew cadets from across the nation to campus. Aerospace Department Chair Wendy Beckman singled out several CAP cadets who have enrolled at MTSU as reinforcement to the value of the partnership. “We’re proud to affiliate with an organization that allows us to reach students of this caliber, and we’re happy when they decide to attend our University,” Beckman said.

Wendy Be ck


MTSU Aerospace, one of the nation’s largest collegiate aviation programs, has 14 full-time faculty members, 35 flight instructors, and an enrollment of about 750 students. Civil Air Patrol, founded just days before the start of World War II in 1941, has more than 60,000 volunteer members. The organization was chartered by Congress to support the Air Force and is best known for its aerial search-and-rescue missions, cadet program, and commitment to aerospace education. Summer 2017 29


Transitioning Home

True Blue Skydivers MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and retired Lt. Gen. Keith M. Huber, senior advisor for veterans and leadership initiatives, tandem-jumped with members of the U.S. Army Golden Knights precision parachute team at the ClarksvilleMontgomery County Regional Airport this past April. Along with MTSU sophomore and Sidelines student journalist Andrew Wigdor, McPhee and Huber were invited to participate because of MTSU’s commitment to student veterans, the opening of the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, and a recent expansion into career placement (see related MidPoint titled “Transitioning Home”). “I can’t describe the feeling,” McPhee told after the jump, still sensing the adrenaline rush of freefalling from 13,000 to 4,500 feet before the parachute opened. “There was nothing like it that I have ever experienced in my life.” Huber, a Special Forces veteran as an infantryman and Green Beret, said the tandem jump “was incredible. . . . I miss being a soldier.” Wigdor described his jump as “the craziest experience I’ve ever had.” Col. Wayne Hertel, commander of the 3rd Recruiting Brigade at Fort Knox, Kentucky, told the group “you are the spokesmen for the Army. You help us tell the Army story.”

Recent expansion of the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center will further help veterans—on campus and in the community—in the transition from the military to civilian life. MTSU held a ribbon-cutting for the Daniels Center’s Veterans Transitioning Home Feb. 14 in Keathley University Center, thanks Mike Krause to repurposed office space donated by MTSU’s Division of Student Affairs. The additional space will allow the center to match veterans with prospective employers. Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and a veteran himself as a member of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne, called the development “another tangible step by MTSU to support our veterans and militaryconnected students. . . . MTSU’s efforts are an example to the rest of the nation.” The Daniels Center is a one-stop shop for MTSU’s approximately 1,000 student veterans and family members. It is the largest dedicated space for veterans on a Tennessee campus. Staff members assist student veterans with the transition into college, academic plans, career goals, GI Bill benefits, counseling needs, and now, transitioning to the workforce.

Online Excellence OnlineU ranked MTSU among the Top 25 universities nationally for offering great value with its online master’s degrees in human resources. MTSU was ranked No. 20 for its Master of Professional Studies—Human Resources Leadership degree. The degree is administered through MTSU’s University College, which offers online and flexible course offerings for working adults and is home to the largest adult degree completion program in the state. MTSU continues to develop online opportunities to ensure students have a variety of options to meet their educational needs. MTSU and Austin Peay, at No. 25, were the only Tennessee public universities on the list. 30 MTSU Magazine

A Golden Anniversary The Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology major and the Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, both housed in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, provide a true training ground for students. Before graduating, majors have worked in the clinic or an offcampus clinic for three semesters. This year, the MTSU clinic is celebrating 50 years of serving the community. The oncampus clinic serves approximately 25 families consisting of 28 clients each fall and spring semester and approximately 10 clients in the summer. Clients pay on a sliding scale based on income. The clinic also will soon be moving from the second floor of the Boutwell Dramatic Arts building to newly renovated space on the bottom floor of Alumni Memorial Gym. The new clinic space has been made possible by a $279,067 grant from the Christy-Houston Foundation.

Honoring a Trailblazer With a flurry of Hollywood-style lighting and audio of Muhammad Ali stating “I AM the greatest,” Laila Ali took the stage March 22 on campus as MTSU’s Black History Month and Women’s History Month keynote speaker. Ali, the youngest daughter of the late heavyweight boxing champion Laila Ali and humanitarian, competed as a professional boxer from 1999 to 2007, earning the female super-middleweight titles of four governing bodies of boxing and the lightheavyweight crown of the International Women’s Boxing Federation. She retired undefeated with 24 victories. A former president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, Ali today promotes equality for women in professional sports, fitness, and wellness. As a business entrepreneur, Ali recently debuted a signature line of hair-styling tools with Helen of Troy hair care products. Her charitable endeavors include support for Feeding America, Peace 4 Kids, and the American Dental Association.

Renewing the Rite of Spring

“Home Grown to Nationally Known” Rutherford County’s contribution to musical culture continues on display in an exhibit at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County downtown. “Home Grown to Nationally Known: The Artistic Legacies of Murfreesboro” was constructed by MTSU graduate students majoring in History. The exhibit covers artists from

country legend Uncle Dave Macon to indie music sensation and former MTSU student Julien Baker. It includes objects and photos from famous artists who have performed or recorded in Murfreesboro over the years, as well as artifacts from the Young’Un Sound Studio that operated near Rockvale in the 1970s.

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) extended the contract with the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce to host the annual Spring Fling through the next classification cycle (2017–21). As such, MTSU will continue its long-running role of hosting state championships for select high school sports at its facilities. Spring Fling is the series of championship competitions featuring the five TSSAA spring sports: track and field, baseball, boys soccer, softball, and tennis. MidPoints continued on pae 36

Summer 2017 31

MTSU’s proud history of military friendliness has only been elevated since the arrival of Lt. Gen. Keith M. Huber to campus by Allison Gorman


o understand how difficult the journey transitioning from military to civilian life can be, consider Lt. Gen. Keith M. Huber, who spent 38 years in the U.S. Army, 14 of them as a general officer. When he retired from the military in 2013, his résumé had no corporate equivalent: His workdays sometimes involved combat, his business trips were tours of duty, his operating budget was $960 million, and his meetings were often with heads of state or the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A civilian for the first time in his adult life, Huber pondered the path before him. To his mind, true retirement was out of the question, but so were many of the careers available to someone with his rarified skill set and political leverage. “I consciously decided not to work for a defense contractor or be a news commentator or criticize other people or allow politicians to use my words and my experience to bludgeon other people,” he said. Service is built into a soldier’s DNA, he added. He wanted to serve. So, from his home in Franklin, he contacted academic institutions throughout Tennessee that had ROTC programs and offered to speak at commissionings, awards ceremonies, or anywhere else he could provide education or inspiration. When he spoke at MTSU, President Sidney A. McPhee was among the inspired.

LEADING BY EXAMPLE With waves of newly discharged soldiers entering college on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, McPhee had been looking for a way to build on the University’s long track record of partnering with the military and educating veterans. MTSU had been recognized by G.I. Jobs magazine as a “military-friendly” campus, and it had a small but passionate group of faculty, one of whom was Hilary Miller, who worked tirelessly on student-veteran issues. The University also had been selected to participate in the Veteran Affairs’ new VetSuccess on Campus program, one of only 12 universities with a full-time VA benefits counselor.

32 MTSU Magazine

Lt. Gen.Keith M. Huber speaking at the Salute to Armed Services Veterans Memorial Service

Summer 2017 33

VETERANS AND FAMILY CENTER TIMELINE MTSU becomes the first university in Tennessee and one of only 12 nationwide to join the VetSuccess project


MTSU joins the Tennessee Veteran Education Task Force

2013 2012

Adds Veterans Transitioning Home


2015 2014

MTSU conducts first veterans job fair

2017 Opening of the MTSU Veterans and Military Family Center

Rank: Retired 3-star general Years of service: 38 years, U.S. Army; 14 years as a general officer; always commanded at a joint task force Current: Senior advisor for veterans and leadership initiatives, MTSU, since February 2015 Degrees: U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, bachelor’s, 1975; Golden Gate University, Master of Public Administration, 1984

McPhee invited Huber back to campus for a meeting with him and then-Provost Brad Bartel. There, he asked Huber to take MTSU’s support for veterans to the next level.

to give me a room with a pool table and a popcorn machine. You need to give me a location where veterans can go to see other veterans and ask any bloody question they have about their transition.”

Huber’s initial response was no—not because he wasn’t humbled, he said, but because he needed to understand the mission.

McPhee offered him 2,600 square feet of space and $329,000 to design, build, and equip a veterans center on the first floor of Keathley University Center. And he asked Huber to stay on at MTSU as senior advisor for veterans and leadership initiatives.

“Give me 60 days,” he said to McPhee. “Let me find out who our student veterans are, what they need, and what other universities are doing for their veterans. Then I’ll give you my recommendations.”

MAN ON A MISSION Huber and Miller spent the next two months talking to MTSU’s veterans—stopping them between buildings, visiting their classrooms, inviting them to talk over pizza, handing out surveys. “When he first started, it was January,” Miller said. “It was super cold. And we would walk all over campus looking for veterans.” They also visited Arizona State University’s Pat Tillman Center, a 3,000-square-foot space, considered the gold standard among veterans centers. Huber returned to McPhee with numbers. “When I presented my assessment to him in March 2015, there were 1,066 student veterans on campus, average age 28.6 years, and 95 percent of that population had had at least one tour in Iraq or one tour in Afghanistan in combat, but normally multiple tours,” Huber said. He also returned with an understanding of what these men and women needed. Many of them had families; all of them had the singular sense of purpose that comes from military training. “Student veterans aren’t at universities for the college campus experience,” he said. “They’re there because this is their next mission.” These nontraditional students needed a “one-stop shop” where they could ask questions not just about academics or education benefits, but also about finances, housing, health care, and jobs—what Huber calls “the complete life cycle” of transitioning from soldier to civilian. That required a dedicated physical location, and not just a place to tell war stories. “It’s so much larger than that,” Huber told McPhee. “We don’t need another USO. We don’t need another American Legion. You don’t need 34 MTSU Magazine

The retired general replied, “I’d be honored to, as long as I can make a contribution to serving our student veterans.” He’s been a man on a mission ever since.

TAKING COMMAND Miller, who works closely with Huber and is herself a force of nature, admits she can hardly keep up with him. Asked whether there’s symbolic value to having a general on campus advocating for veterans, she mulls it over for a moment. “Perhaps he could be symbolic, potentially,” she said, “but he’d have to slow down for somebody to make a symbol of him.” Eight months after Huber delivered his recommendations to McPhee, the new veterans center was complete—to the apparent surprise of everybody but Huber. “After the opening ceremony,” he recalled, “I had several professors come up to me and say, ‘Do you know what you’ve done?’ I said, ‘I think we dedicated a veterans center.’ And they said, ‘No, what you’ve done is remind all of us what can be accomplished when you have focus and persistence.’ ” Focus and persistence: That sums up Huber’s approach for the past two years as he’s worked to build a collaboration of outside resources— individuals, nonprofits, businesses, and government agencies—to support the center’s goals and expand its reach far beyond MTSU. Over the past two years, musician Charlie Daniels and his wife, on behalf of the Journey Home Project, have donated $120,000 to the center, which was named in their honor August 2016. Meanwhile Miller, who agreed to leave the College of Liberal Arts to direct the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, secured $276,000 in grants through Tennessee’s Veterans Reconnect program.

Those funds helped her and Huber establish complementary staff positions designed to complete the soldier-to-civilian life cycle by conveying education into meaningful employment. An employer search agent, who will match student veterans with job opportunities, will work alongside a transition manager in the newly opened Veterans Transitioning Home space just above the Daniels Center. Huber predicts that by the time finite funding for the two new positions runs out, they will have proven measurably worthy of becoming permanent or even being replicated elsewhere in the University.

“Student veterans aren’t at universities for the college campus experience . . . this is their next mission.”

The Daniels Center already had four full-time University employees, as well as other staff paid by the VA: student veterans who are peer advisors, the VetSuccess counselor, and the only full-time VA clinical social worker located on a college campus.

RANK NEVER RETIRES That last fact reflects Huber’s willingness to leverage his name to benefit student veterans. Determined that they shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get mental health counseling, Huber called two of his former West Point classmates—the secretary and deputy secretary of the VA—who agreed to supply a full-time social worker at the MTSU veterans center. “Most people within government at the state or federal level either know me or they will listen to me, just out of courtesy for someone with my seniority,” he said. “And as long as I don’t use that for my own ego or self-promotion, it really helps me to help people.” Case in point: When one academic department had trouble lining up VA internships for its students, Huber called a meeting with the VA’s regional director and the departmental faculty at MTSU.

Huber walks with Justin McIntosh and Amanda Hallam.

“We sat down and figured out what we needed to do to get the internships going, and it was done,” Miller said. “Perhaps he just extends an invitation where people never thought to do it before.”

Photo: Shealah Craighead, The White House

Huber has incorporated that straightforward approach into new campus traditions, such as an annual 9/11 observance and a stole ceremony for graduating veterans, that both honor student veterans’ service while also raising their visibility among potential employers. As chair of the Nashville Serving Veterans Community Board and the Fort Campbell Retiree Council, he works regularly with middle Tennessee’s political and business leaders and includes them in these MTSU events. Miller notes that Huber simultaneously works on the macro and micro levels. He uses his vast network and professional gravitas to advocate for MTSU’s student veterans as a whole, but he also will work one-on-one with any veteran in transition. “He is very much a soldier’s soldier,” she said. “He protects his soldiers, the same way he’s always done.” Huber considers the Daniels Center a national resource, not just a campus resource, she added. “We will assist anybody that needs help,” Miller said. “We have no recruitment mission. No one is going to be hired, fired, or promoted based on how many veterans come to MTSU.” But they are coming. Huber regularly fields calls from newly discharged soldiers who tell him they served with him in Afghanistan or Iraq or Kosovo. Some want his help, but others just want reassurance that he’s going to stay at MTSU. Because if he is, they’re coming too.


Two generals with MTSU ties participated in the wreath-laying ceremony conducted by President Donald Trump at the tomb of President Andrew Jackson during the President’s visit to Nashville in March 2017. Pictured in this photo provided by the White House are (l–r) Tennessee Adjutant General Max Haston, a distinguished graduate of MTSU; President Trump; and retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Huber, MTSU’s senior advisor for veteran and leadership initiatives.

Summer 2017 35


continued from pae 31

Law and Music

Stevie Ray Vaughan's 1983 album Texas Flood

Two MTSU seniors, Peyton Robinette and Robert Williford, were the dual recipients of MTSU’s 2016 Chitwood Award for Excellence for their plans to help three bestselling songwriters reclaim ownership of two of their popular compositions. Their honors recognize the best Recapture Projects of 2015–16 proposed by a Department of Recording Industry student

in MTSU associate professor Deborah Wagnon’s Copyright Law class. The projects affect “Dirty Pool,” created by the late musicians Stevie Ray Vaughan and Doyle Bramhall, and singer/songwriter Mike Reid’s classic “Stranger in My House,” performed by Ronnie Milsap. “The power of each of these 1983 songs made this a particularly exciting opportunity to shine the light on both blues and country works that have stood the test of time,” Wagnon said. The Recapture Project is tied to the U.S. Copyright Act (Section 203), which lets copyright creators terminate their publishers’ rights and reclaim ownership of their songs or books after a 35-year moratorium. Each student studying copyright law with Wagnon is required to participate in the project. Wagnon, who also is an entertainment business attorney, contacted the Vaughan and Bramhall estates and Reid’s representatives to present the students’ proposal.

Robinette specifically sought out works by some of his favorite artists and realized the timeframe would fit songs from Vaughan’s debut album,Texas Flood. The Commercial Songwriting major from Rockwood recognized Bramhall’s name thanks to seeing the late musician’s son, Doyle Bramhall II, on stage with Eric Clapton. “This recapture project . . . blended legal process with art, allowing me to fully dive into my efforts,” Robinette said. Williford, a Recording Industry major from Nashville who also is a songwriter and musician, described his project on Reid’s 1984 Grammy winner for best country song as an “opportunity to gain real-world experience in the publishing world.” The Chitwood Award honors Recording Industry major David “Ritt” Chitwood, who was killed in a January 2014 traffic accident near campus.

A Ripple Effect MTSU’s Business and Economic Research Center (BERC) recently released its latest Economic Impact study of MTSU. Highlights of the University’s economic impact include: •

MTSU is the overwhelming education choice of Rutherford County and the Nashville MSA;

8,400 jobs across Tennessee;

More than $1.1 billion in total economic activity;

More than $800 million in local, state and federal taxes;

More than $408 million in wages and salaries;

More than $300 million in student spending, along with more than 1,800 jobs tied to student spending.

36 MTSU Magazine

A Real Fine Place to Start Up MTSU was recognized among the nation’s top 50 schools for its support of aspiring entrepreneurs, according to a report released by LendEDU, an online marketplace for student loans and student loan refinance. MTSU ranked No. 17 in the “Top Colleges for Aspiring Entrepreneurs Report” by LendEDU. com, which crafted its rankings by looking at more than 100 colleges offering entrepreneurship courses and programs to undergraduates. MTSU was the top Tennessee university on the list (Belmont was No. 30) and outranked schools such as Penn State, Duke, USC, Ohio State, and Johns Hopkins.

Crystal Clear A novel partnership between MTSU and the Centre of Molecular and Macromolecular Studies at the Polish Academy of Sciences is allowing MTSU undergraduate students to interact daily with European scientists as the students conduct National Science Foundationfunded research on liquid crystals.

laboratory such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In the program’s first year, five MTSU undergraduate Chemistry and Biochemistry students, including several associated with the Honors College, worked on group research projects.

Research performed by MTSU undergraduates benefits from constant technical help from established scientists. Several scientists are currently visiting from the Polish Academy of Sciences, which is similar to an American national

MTSU recently graduated from the NSF’s Primarily Undergraduate Institution status and must now compete for funding with universities having the highest research activity.

The international component works both ways. Each summer, an MTSU Liquid crystals are fluids that are the basis undergraduate researcher now has of modern display technology, commonly the opportunity to travel to Lodz, known as LCD technology, which is found Poland, to work with Polish Academy of Science scholars. in many flat screen TVs. This research addresses the chemistry of boron clusters There are four active NSF-Research while contributing to the understanding in Undergraduate Institutions projects in of the physics of liquid crystal phases. the MTSU Department of Chemistry, a It also produces materials of interest for record level of research project support LCD applications. for the University.

So You Think You Can Dance? For the first time in more than a decade, the MTSU Dance Team was invited to compete in the National College Cheerleading and Dance Team Championship in Orlando in January 2017. The 18-member squad competed in the Division IA Pom category against programs that included Ohio State and the University of Alabama. The dance team is part of the MTSU Band of Blue and performs with the band during halftime of Blue Raider football games while also doing pre-game and in-game routines. The squad performs during halftime of some home basketball games as well.

A Coaching Legend For more than 40 years, Rick Insell has been on a sideline, from grammar schools to high schools and, for the past 12 years, at MTSU. Along the way he has collected more than 1,000 wins, 10 state championships, and nine trips to the NCAA Tournament. Now he’s reached the pinnacle of Rick Insell the profession with his recent induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, one of six members of the class of 2017. Insell was inducted in June alongside women’s stars like Sheryl Swoopes and Kara Wolters at the Hall of Fame in Knoxville. A high school coaching legend at Shelbyville, where he won 775 games and a record 10 state titles, Insell is one of just five college coaches to win more than 25 games per season, guiding MTSU to 15 regular-season or conference tournament championships.

Great Tennessee Eclipse Event On Monday, Aug. 21, middle Tennessee will be in the direct path of a solar eclipse. Around 1:30 p.m., Murfreesboro will be darkened for nearly two minutes as the moon passes in front of the sun. With a gift from presenting sponsor Turner Construction, MTSU and the Department of Physics and Astronomy will host the Great Tennessee Eclipse Event to mark the occasion. Safety glasses will be given to students in Rutherford and surrounding counties. The rare solar eclipse will offer a nearly 100 percent view in Murfreesboro. Summer 2017 37


Music U.

Scott and Craig joined another former MTSU student and two Recording Industry alumni in being nominated for their work at the 59th Grammy Awards: Chris Young, Brad King (’15), and Pete Fisher (’87). Young’s No. 1 single, “Think of You,” which he co-wrote and which features singer Casadee Pope, was a nominee in the best country duo/group performance category. King was assistant engineer on the team that recorded Poets & Saints by the group All Sons & Daughters. The album competed with Scott in the best contemporary Christian album category. Fisher, the Grand Ole Opry’s former longtime vice president and CEO who was recently named CEO of the Academy of Country Music, was an executive producer on a team that created American Saturday Night: Live from the Grand Ole Opry, a concert film released in theaters in 2015 and a nominee in the best music film category. MTSU was represented at several pre-Grammy events. For the fourth consecutive year, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and College of Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson brought a delegation to the Grammys to underscore MTSU’s industry ties and celebrate its alumni receiving award nominations. MTSU sends delegati

• a gathering for Southern California MTSU alumni followed by a special concert at the L.A. music venue The Hotel Café, presented by MTSU’s Americana public radio station, WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5, and The Bluegrass Situation in a first-time partnership. • a reception honoring Scott at L.A.’s Standard Rooftop Lounge, followed by a return to the historic Troubadour club in West Hollywood for an evening concert co-sponsored by the Franklin, Tennessee-based Americana Music Association. Both Young and Scott, who attended MTSU in the 2000s, have previously established scholarships in the University’s Department of Recording Industry to help students working toward careers in the music industry. “MTSU helped to give me a foundation for the music business, and I want this scholarship to help other students who are looking to take a similar path,” said Young, a Murfreesboro native. Young’s gift allows the Department of Recording Industry to award a yearly scholarship, starting this fall, for a rising junior or senior. “Chris has remained a loyal and connected MTSU alumnus through the years,” said Joe Bales, vice president of university Chris Young advancement. “He’s returned to perform several times in MTSU’s Murphy Center as his music career ascended and remains generous with his time and talent, even donating some of his touring audio equipment and accessories a few years ago.” MTSU wrapped up its 2017 Grammy trip by announcing an educational partnership with the Grammy Museum, one of the nation’s top educational venues devoted to the music industry. MTSU became just the 10th university in the nation to become a Grammy Museum affiliate. The partnership will allow MTSU to collaborate on research and use the museum as a teaching tool for students. MTSU is the only university affiliate in Tennessee. The museum in downtown Los Angeles occupies four floors of cutting-edge exhibits, interactive experiences, and films to provide a one-of-akind visitor experience—engaging, educational, celebratory, and inspirational. MTSU

on to 2017 Grammy

38 MTSU Magazine



Department of Recording Industry alumnus Josh Craig (’15), an Audio Production cum laude graduate, also was part of a Grammy-winning project: Hymns by the duo Joey & Rory, which won this year’s Grammy for best roots gospel album.

Events included:

photo: David McCliste

Former MTSU student Hillary Scott branched out into contemporary Christian music last year and brought home two Grammy Awards in February 2017, in her inaugural venture with her group The Scott Family. Scott, also a member of country super group Lady Antebellum, won both her nominations in her new field: best contemporary Christian album Hillary Scott for Love Remains, released in July 2016, and best contemporary Christian music performance/song for “Thy Will,” which she co-wrote, off that album. The Scott Family includes Scott’s parents— country singer Linda Davis and songwriter-musician Lang Scott—and her younger sister Rylee.


Help Us Help You Our Alumni Association is working to more effectively and efficiently deliver programs, services, and communication to MTSU alumni. Your ideas and input are critical to our efforts to develop and provide programs that meet your needs. We hope you’ll participate in our survey to measure alumni viewpoints and how they impact your engagement with the University. For your convenience this survey is conducted online only, with the link coming in an August email. You won’t receive any related mail or phone calls.

UPDATE YOUR INFO! To stay informed about our programs, services, and events and to receive the survey, please update your information at

Scholar-athlete Brent Stockstill (’16) has done more than simply pass his way to one of the all-time greatest football careers at Middle Tennessee

by Josh Vardaman


lthough Brent Stockstill has just two seasons under his belt as starting quarterback of the Blue Raiders, the redshirt sophomore’s awards and achievements on the field are nothing short of staggering.

He’s already the school’s all-time leader in touchdown passes (61), 300-yard passing games (14), and passing yards per game (303.3) and will no doubt break most every other school passing record next season. A former Freshman All-American, he currently ranks fourth 40 MTSU Magazine

“You have the people here to put you in the right place; you just have to do the work,” he said. nationally among active players in career passing yards per game and sixth in total passing yards. But to focus solely on Stockstill’s accolades and accomplishments on the field would be to miss a big part of his story at MTSU. With an academic work ethic that equals his fierce competitive streak on the football field, Stockstill has already graduated with a bachelor’s degree in just over three years and has even started work in a master’s program.

True Blue Student-Athlete Given the remarkable nature of his athletic achievements, it would be easy to imagine Stockstill spending all of his time sitting in a film room or tossing balls on the practice field. But he knows when it’s time to put football to the side and focus on excelling in the other field of play for student-athletes: the classroom. “I’m extremely proud to complete it that quickly,” Stockstill said of his undergraduate degree. “It’s pretty cool that I still have two years of football left to go ahead and work on a master’s. I really couldn’t ask for much more.” Given how fast Stockstill earned his degree, one would assume he followed a hurdle-less path to graduation. However, the road hasn’t always been a straight and easy one for the quarterback. He originally signed with the University of Cincinnati out of Murfreesboro’s Siegel High School in 2013, but decided before the fall semester started to transfer to MTSU and play for the hometown team coached by his father, Rick Stockstill. Cincinnati granted his release from his scholarship, but Stockstill took a grayshirt for his first season on the MTSU campus.

That meant he had to pay his own way through the first semester before a scholarship opened up in January 2014. Stockstill then took a redshirt one game into the 2014 season, again delaying the start to his collegiate career on the field. He was eventually named the starter out of camp in 2015 as a redshirt freshman. While he waited to get on the field, Stockstill’s focus in the classroom was laser-sharp, to say the least. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Leisure, Sport, and Tourism Studies in 3½ years, graduating in December 2016 with Cum Laude honors. Thanks to the department’s Accelerated Bachelor’s-to-Master’s (ABM) program, he also started on a master’s degree in Leisure and Sport Management in the spring with 12 credits already under his belt. In order for students to be accepted into the ABM and the master’s programs, they have to maintain at least a cumulative 3.25 GPA in their undergraduate courses. “When I was starting out, I didn’t know that’s how it was going to work, but as I got through my first and second year, I saw where if I could do what I was supposed to do on the path I was on, I could complete my master’s even before my senior year of football,” Stockstill said. “That’s pretty exciting.” Even with some of the distractions that go hand-in-hand with being a college quarterback and with football preparations taking up a lot of his time, Stockstill believes that reaching his academic goals wasn’t as difficult as it might have been at another university. He credits both the “great academic guidance” he’s gotten at MTSU and the work ethic instilled in him

by his parents both on and off the field for his performance in the classroom. “You have the people here to put you in the right place; you just have to do the work,” he said. “It’s hard to be a student-athlete. You have to be very mature and balance both the ball and the work. When you have the people around you constantly pushing you and trying to keep you on track, all you have to do is focus on doing the work.”

First-and-Ten Stockstill doesn’t plan on slowing down academically. He’s on track to graduate in just one year with a master’s degree, an academic achievement he hopes will help him transition to a coaching role after his playing days are over. “Having that master’s in hand is going to be huge for me,” he said. “I think having both my quarterback play and my degree is going to be a huge help in the future when I get into the coaching profession.” With so much academic success (and so many football records) already under his belt, what does Stockstill say could be the cherry on top of his already storied career at MTSU? “To be able to do everything here in Murfreesboro is special,” he said. “Now we just have to go get the fans a championship.” MTSU

Summer 2017 41


1960s Michael Fitzhugh (’67), Murfreesboro, who has spent nearly two decades with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department, was appointed to serve as interim sheriff of Rutherford County. Fitzhugh also spent 25 years in management with Bell South.

1970s Tony Kessinger (’71), Melbourne, Florida, released his latest book, Where the

Four Roads Merge: A Chronological Narrative of the Four Gospels.

Jerry Hayes Jerry Hayes (’77), broadcaster and anchor at WHNT-TV, the CBS affiliate in Huntsville, is nothing short of an institution in north Alabama. He’s worked at the station for 38 years. Hayes recently attended an MTSU True Blue Tour stop in Huntsville, where MTSU administrators, admissions recruiters and staff, academic advisors, and others recruit top students across the South. Hayes is pictured above (right) at the True Blue event speaking with College of Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson (left). While at the event, Hayes reflected on his years at MTSU, and on Dr. Ralph Hillman, a longtime faculty member. “Dr. Hillman told me I was never going to make it in broadcasting,” Hayes said. “He told me I needed to change the way I talked. . . . He said I sounded like I had fallen off a hay wagon. . . . That little bit of caring advice changed my life.” Hayes went on to become a seven-time Emmy nominee and a two-time winner. As a result of his visit with University representatives in Huntsville, MTSU News and Media Relations reporter Randy Weiler got Hillman on the phone with Hayes just days after the event. Hayes said talking to Hillman again “made” his year.

Teresa Gilbreath (’74, ’87), Culleoka, a Maury County school teacher, was recognized as the December 2016 “Amazing Teacher of the Month” by Family Advantage Federal Credit Union and the Daily Herald. Retired Col. Sam Whitson (’76), Franklin, was elected as a representative to the 110th Tennessee General Assembly representing Williamson County’s 65th House District. Commissioned through the MTSU Army ROTC program, he served 26 years in the Army.

Pete Fisher In January, Pete Fisher (’87) announced that he was leaving his position after 17 years as vice president and CEO with the Grand Ole Opry to become CEO of the Academy of Country Music in California. Fisher was recognized as a distinguished MTSU alumnus in 2004. He also serves on the MTSU College of Media and Entertainment’s board of trustees. At the Opry, Fisher managed the daily operations of the 4,400-seat Grand Ole Opry House and produced its weekly Opry shows along with numerous audio projects and television specials. He becomes only the second CEO in the ACM’s 53-year-history.

Summer 2017 43

Teresa Johnson Teresa Johnson (’94) is an owner and the COO of Winchester-based Phoenix Boats, which has risen to become one of the premier bass boat manufacturers in the nation. A sponsor of the Bassmaster tournament circuits, Phoenix has a pro staff that includes some of the nation’s top anglers in professional fishing. Prior to joining the bass boat business in 2001, Johnson enjoyed a successful career in the legal profession, in human resources, and in manufacturing operations. In addition to her stake in and role with Phoenix, Johnson owns eight other businesses, including Painting with a Twist of Murfreesboro and Nashville.

Cindi Wales (’85), Columbia, an elementary teacher at Highland Park School for 29 years, was named February 2017’s “Amazing Teacher of the Month” by Family Advantage Federal Credit Union and the Daily Herald. Russell A. Brashear (’87), Mount Juliet, was appointed assistant transportation director by the City of Murfreesboro.

1970s, cont. Barbara Parker (’77), Woodbury, the director of Cannon County Schools, was awarded the 2017 Financial Literacy Leadership award for her work in advancing financial literacy initiatives in Tennessee. Kim Hutto (’78), Staunton, Virginia, was named director of alumni affairs at Shepherd University. Brad Rogers (’78), La Grange, Kentucky, band director at Oldham County High School, was honored as Kentucky Music Educators Association 2017 High School Teacher of the Year.

Col. Rickey Smith (’78), Springfield, Virginia, deputy chief of staff for U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, was awarded a 2016 Presidential Rank Award.

1980s Diana Hunter (’84), Lawrenceville, Georgia, who is creative services manager with WestRock Co. Corrugated Container Division, received the 10th Annual All Stars Award from Exhibitor Magazine. Andrew (’84) and Janet Marshall (’84), Franklin, opened Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant in the old Woolworth’s building on the square in Murfreesboro.

Col. Brock Harris (’87), Dayton, retired from the Army following a 29-year active duty career. He was commissioned through the MTSU Army Reserve Officer Training Program in May 1987 and entered the Army in February 1988. Brock is currently a financial advisor with Money Concepts. Jeannie Harrington (’88), Murfreesboro, was named chair of the Department of Accounting in the Jennings A. Jones College of Business at MTSU. Raymond Pryor (’88), Wartrace, director of technology at The Webb School, was appointed to the W. Bryant Woolsey Sr. Chair of Technology.

James “Rhett” Rankin (’89), Rockvale, was promoted to patrol captain at the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department.

1990s Michael Young (’91), Murfreesboro, joined Pinnacle Financial Partners as a senior vice president and credit advisor at the downtown Nashville office. Young previously served as a senior credit underwriter at CapStar Bank. Stan Curtis (’92, ’98), Spring Hill, was named the new principal of Woodard Elementary School. Clark Oakley (’92), Liberty, was promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer of Wilson Bank and Trust. Prior to his promotion, he served for eight years as president of the bank’s eastern region, overseeing all banking functions in DeKalb, Putnam, Smith, and Trousdale counties, as well as Watertown. Amy “Beth” Hale (’93), Lebanon, was hired as new member services director for the International Bluegrass Music Association.

To submit class notes and pictures, go, or email 44 MTSU Magazine


1990s, cont. John Maxwell (’95), Hermitage, was named manager of the new Nashville office of the Allen Lund Co. Joseph Legge (’96), Ooltewah, became the new public relations director for Walker County, Georgia, tasked with improving citizen awareness of county government activities. He recently served as WDEF-TV’s morning anchor in Chattanooga. Mitzi Michaelson (’96), Murfreesboro, a Nashville Merrill Lynch financial advisor, was recognized recently by Forbes as one of the Top Female Wealth Advisors. She began her career at Merrill Lynch in 2000. Before joining the firm, she worked as an investment advisor and sales coordinator for JC Bradford in its Defined Asset Trust division.

Chad Carter (’97, ’11), Lynchburg, was named the new principal of Lincoln County’s Ninth Grade Academy. Breckon Pennell (’97, ’05), Franklin, was appointed principal at McDowell Elementary School in Maury County. Robert Holman (‘98), Lynchburg, was named weekend editor at, a website devoted to Dirt Late Model Racing. A seven-time Tennessee Press Association winner, he was previously publisher of the Moore County News in Lynchburg. Holly Murrell (’98), Thompsons Station, joined Pinnacle Financial Partners’ trust team as a trust portfolio advisor. Erin Schlapkoh Colvin (’99), Anacortes, Washington, recently became a professor in the Computer Science Department at Western

Washington University in Bellingham. Colvin researches fuzzy information retrieval, a look at how “fuzzy logic” is used to search for information in different data sets. Daphne M. Davis (’99), Nashville, was named general counsel for the Tennessee State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police. She will continue her private practice concentrating on police defense and other types of administrative law. Andrea Rizk (’99), Alpharetta, Georgia, was hired as director of communications by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Jason Ross (’99, ’05), Murfreesboro, was named supply chain operations director for Saint Thomas Rutherford and Saint Thomas regional hospitals.

2000s Matthew Hargis (’00), Nashville, was promoted by BMLG Records to senior

vice president of promotion. He joined the label in 2011 and has worked with the musical act Florida Georgia Line, among other artists. Kelley Arnold Watts (’00), Murfreesboro, joined Civil Site Design Group as office manager. She previously worked as an event coordinator and sales administrator at SiteHawk. She also serves on the Church Relations Advisory Board for Habitat for Humanity. Megan Clarke (’01), Murfreesboro, received the top Nextgear Sales Executive in the country award for 2016. Nextgear, part of the Cox Automotive Family that employs more than 30,000 people worldwide, encompasses business units like Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, and Manheim Auto Auctions. Tammy Schmidt (’01), Albuquerque, New Mexico, was named assistant director at Nibali Zoo in Illinois by the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission.

Quincy Byrdsong Quincy J. Byrdsong (’95), of Augusta, Georgia, was named the vice president for academic planning and strategic initiatives for Augusta University. Byrdsong assumes this role after serving as vice president for clinical research administration and compliance for the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System the past six years. Byrdsong also recently was appointed to the national board of directors for the Society of Clinical Research Associates. Byrdsong said he hopes his professional path can serve as a bit of an inspiration to AfricanAmerican males currently attending MTSU. “It was always encouraging for me as a student at MTSU to learn of the success stories of previous graduates of color,” he said.

Summer 2017 45

Ashley Gomez

High School Counselor of the Year by the Tennessee School Counseling Association.

Ashley Gomez (’99), a 17-year veteran of Indianapolis-based Republic Airline, has been named the company’s chief pilot. Since joining Republic in 2000, she has logged more than 8,500 hours as a captain. She worked as a flight instructor/check instructor at MTSU before joining the company, which offers about 900 flights daily to 105 cities.

Daniel Clark (’10), Goodlettsville, was hired as the membership and special events manager for the International Bluegrass Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky. Marie Jolly Carter (’11), Shelbyville, joined the practice of Dr. Frank Jayakody as a family nurse practitioner.

2000s, cont. Nathan Browning (’02), Fayetteville, was appointed assistant principal of South Lincoln School. Sonya Sanderson (’02), Lake Park, Georgia, was the recipient of the Georgia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance’s 2016 College/University Education Teacher of the Year award. She serves as interim head of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education at Valdosta State University. Amanda Virgillito (’02), Nashville, is the sole proprietor and lead publicist for Squeaky Wheel Public Relations. The firm focuses on a variety of Nashville-owned food and beverage brands.

relationship manager of the Franklin location of First Advantage Bank. Stephanie Russell (’05), Olathe, Kansas, was named account lead for Sage Communications, overseeing marketing communications plans for a roster of clients including John Deere and NovaSource. Nicole Zeller (’05), Nashville, recently opened her own public relations/marketing firm in Nashville, called Brickshore Media. She previously worked at another PR firm on Music Row as the senior publicist for 10 years. Spring Brindley (’06), Flintville, was selected as the new supervisor of career technology education for the Lincoln County School System.

Lucie Burchfield (’03, ’15), Murfreesboro, joined Alive Hospice in Murfreesboro as major gifts officer.

Cory Turner (’06), Gallatin, was named vice president and business development officer for Crestmark in the Transportation Division.

Margaret Campbell (’04, ’13), Fayetteville, was named the new supervisor of federal programs for the Lincoln County School System.

Whitney Crear Altman (’07), Hendersonville, joined Barge, Waggoner, Sumner, and Cannon as human resources generalist.

Charles “Tony” Graves (’05), Franklin, was appointed senior vice president / business

Stuart Rhinehart (’08), Murfreesboro, was promoted to the rank of district chief

46 MTSU Magazine

for the EMS division of the Nashville Fire Department. He had served the department as a paramedic since 2001. Stephen Trageser (’08), Murfreesboro, was named music editor for the Nashville Scene. Nathaniel Williams (’08), Murfreesboro, was selected as assistant director of the Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department. He previously served as recreation superintendent since 2011. Lacey Buchanan (’09), Woodbury, published Through the Eyes of Hope (Charisma House, 2017) detailing the story of her son, Christian, born with a medical condition that is so incredibly rare that it is one of only 50 known cases in the world. Brad Lamb (’09), Murfreesboro, joined Regions Mortgage as an assistant vice president/ mortgage loan officer. He previously worked with First Tennessee Bank.

2010s Angela Cahill (’10), Tullahoma, a counselor at Community High School, was named state

Allyson Gelnett (’11), Downingtown, Pennsylvania, was hired by BBR Music Group as director of Northwest regional promotion for label imprint Stoney Creek Records. M. Ryan Rippy (’12), Branson, Mississippi, was promoted to organizational development officer at the corporate headquarters of Trustmark National Bank in Jackson, Mississippi. Thomasena Garner (’13), Madison, Alabama, a seventh-grade life science teacher at Liberty Middle School, was honored as Secondary Teacher of the Year for the Madison City Schools District. Austin Heithcock (’13), Franklin, joined Churchill Mortgage as a licensed loan partner. Debra Carpenter (’14), Liberty, was recently promoted to marketing director at Conversational Receptionists. She previously worked as the company’s content marketing manager. Lindsey Mapes (’14), Murfreesboro, is the new education director for The Arts Center of Cannon County.


Dan Hodges Dan Hodges (’95), publisher and owner of Dan Hodges Music, discovered and signed many writers in his career, including three who went on to have country music songs of the year—MTSU grad Josh Kear, Chris Tompkins, and Rachel Thibodeau. He also has placed songs on albums that have sold nearly 10 million units combined. Since branching out on his own nearly 10 years ago by starting DHM with his wife Susan, his successes have continued to stack up—2008 ASCAP Song of the Year, two No. 1 songs, and cuts by artists like Brad Paisley and Rascal Flatts, to name a few. In an era when music publishing companies are moving away from Music Row, whether due to rent increases or developers looking to reinvent the real estate where legendary publishing companies once existed, the notion of moving to Music Row is unusual. But that’s exactly what Hodges, his company, and his family did in the summer of 2016. “We felt like we needed to be in the heart of it all. There’s a reason it’s called Music Row,” said Hodges, “so we moved it all—the business, the family, everything—here to make a statement . . . to keep the ‘music’ in Music Row.” Writers come and write, but they can also stay at the house (the writing rooms all have beds). The family resides on the second floor. For Hodges, a more personal need is being met. “One of my goals in life is spending as much time with [Susan] as possible,” he said. For the Hodges and DHM, life is good . . . on Music Row. Summer 2017 47

Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick (’00), assistant professor at the University of San Diego, recently completed a new book, What Slaveholders Think (Columbia University Press, March 2017), which draws on unprecedented interviews with perpetrators of human trafficking and modern slavery. The book provides new perspective into what many see as the defining human rights violation of our time.

2010s, cont. Christopher Davis (’15), Clarksville, is a reporter/ multimedia journalist at WNHT-TV after working more than a year as a producer and assignment editor at WTVF-TV, the CBS affiliate in Nashville. Kristen Riggs (’15), Murfreesboro, participated in Miami University’s Earth Expeditions global field course in Baja studying the diverse desert and marine landscapes of two richly diverse biosphere reserves. Dr. Jerry Wooten (’15), Nashville, was named park manager of Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Previously, he was park manager at Johnsonville State Historic Park in Humphreys County and a park ranger at the mall. Maxwell Smith (’16), Knoxville, was named editor of the Ashland City Times. MTSU

48 MTSU Magazine

Chet Roberts Chet Roberts (’04), guitarist for the rock band 3 Doors Down since 2010, played in President Donald J. Trump’s inaugural concert in January in Washington.


Victoria Marie Regan

Ava Charlotte Gardner

BABY RAIDERS Sebastian Luke Ashford born November 3, 2016, to Shane and Kiera Ashford (’05) of Smyrna. Madilyn Reece Davis born November 1, 2016, to Brent (’13) and Brook Davis (’12) of Murfreesboro.

Sebastian Luke Ashford

Ava Charlotte Gardner born February 12, 2017, to Michelle and Nathan Gardner (’05) of Cumming, Georgia. Victoria Marie Regan born January 25, 2016, to Jeremy M. Regan (’09) and Paraskevi Gargalianou-Regan (’05, ’09) of Murfreesboro. Brady Alexander Youell born December 17, 2016, to Carrie (’04, ’07) and David Youell Jr. (’02, ’04) of Murfreesboro.

Brady Alexander Youell Madilyn Reece Davis

Summer 2017 49

Daniel Lewis Daniel Lewis (’08, ’09), photographed here at a prep course in March 2015 on Mount Rainier, climbed Aconcagua in Argentina—the highest summit in South America and the Western Hemisphere and the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas—earlier this year. He later climbed Denali, the highest summit in North America. In time, he is planning to climb the Seven Summits—the tallest mountain peaks on each of the seven continents. What makes his goal all the more interesting is that he is doing it in an effort to inspire others not to feel constrained by physical injuries or disabilities. Lewis experienced a devastating spinal injury in high school when he was 50 MTSU Magazine

involved in a serious auto accident. He sustained three cervical spine burst fractures—severely deformed fractures that compromise the spinal column—and two burst discs. The injury came within a couple millimeters of paralyzing him and required bi-level fusion and the implantation of two rods, a plate, and 13 screws, leaving three of his neck joints in a permanently fixed position. Although he has no long-term motor function deficits, he no longer has feeling in the top half of his back, part of his hip, and part of his neck. He also suffers from Raynaud’s disease, a disorder of the nervous system compounded by the extreme cold weather and stress of mountaineering.


Kenny Torrella Kenny Torrella (’10), public policy outreach manager of farm animal protection at The Humane Society of the United States, played a major role in a historic political campaign in the November 2016 election to advance animal protection. While many election events were overshadowed by the presidential contest, Torrella helped lead a ballot measure initiative in Massachusetts that will phase out the production and sale of eggs, veal, and pork from animals confined in cages. The initiative won by a greater margin than any animal protection measure in American history. Torrella was the head of Raiders Against Animal Cruelty at MTSU, a campus student group active during 2008–10.

John Peers Former MTSU men’s tennis star John Peers (alum, non-degreed) rose to a No. 6 ranking worldwide earlier in 2017 after teaming with Henri Kontinen to win the Australian Open Men’s Doubles title.

Summer 2017 51

In Memoriam 1930s

Sarah Woodward Whitten (’36), Nashville, March 1, 2017


Minnie Lee Dye (’49), Five Points, Feb. 12, 2017 Ann Young Florida (’41), Murfreesboro, Nov. 19, 2016 Anne Moran (’40), Franklin, March 2, 2017 Rose Danley Smallwood Russ (’47), Loretto, Jan. 16, 2017


Vernon Baird (’58), Trussville, Alabama, Nov. 25, 2016 Huey Brown (’58, ’71), Anniston, Alabama, Jan. 11, 2017 Mazle Duggin Campbell (’51, ’58), Shelbyville, April 1, 2017 Cecil Cantrell (’53), Asheville, North Carolina, Feb. 21, 2017 Evelyn Haley Casey (’54), McMinnville, April 11, 2017 Clyde Douglas “Doug” Cluck (’59, ’63), Dickson, Jan. 2, 2017 Aubrey Cook (’58, ’85), McAllen, Texas, Dec. 24, 2016 Gerald Delucca (’58), Peabody, Massachusetts, Jan. 8, 2017 Joe Dyer Jr. (’52), Chattanooga, Nov. 10, 2016

Jerry F. Gaither (’51, ’62), Murfreesboro, Dec. 28, 2016

T. Charles Chitwood (’69), Atlanta, Nov. 1, 2016

Billie Pyrdam (’60), Hernando, Mississippi, Nov. 17, 2016

Mary Lynn Wilks Gambill (’58), Murfreesboro, Dec. 18, 2016

Luster Coffee (’68), Crystal River, Florida, Nov. 19, 2016

Robert Rice (’65), Nashville, Dec. 7, 2016

Sarita Lawrence Coopwood (’65), Red Oak, Texas, Feb. 20, 2017

Kenneth Russell (’64), Paris, Nov. 24, 2016

French Gothard (’56), Nashville, Oct. 11, 2016 Bobby Jones (’52), Springfield, Oct. 9, 2016 Ella Major Reed (’56), Lebanon, Oct. 14, 2016 Emily Muse Ruckart (’51), Oak Ridge, March 27, 2017 George Scott (’56), Berlin, Maryland, Feb. 9, 2017 Robert A. Sharber (’58, ’60), Nashville, May 12, 2016 Rayford Thompson (’56), Jefferson City, Missouri, Dec. 24, 2016 Barbara Walker Underwood (’58), Brentwood, Nov. 28, 2015 Ann Love Whittemore (’50), Fayetteville, Feb. 19, 2017


Jerry Atkins (’68), Somerville, Alabama, Feb. 1, 2017 Wyona “Kippy” Benedict (’60), Manchester, March 21, 2017 Clarence Blevins (’69), Trion, Georgia, March 12, 2017 Althea Warren Bonner (’64), Knoxville, Nov. 7, 2016

Brian Oldfield Brian Oldfield (’71), Elgin, Illinois, considered one of the greatest athletes ever to compete for MTSU, died March 26, 2017. He was 71. Oldfield popularized the spin technique in the discus throw, a staple of the sport today. Using his technique, he set the unofficial world shot put record (75 feet) in 1975. Legendary MTSU track coach Dean Hayes describes Oldfield as the single greatest athlete ever to attend MTSU. Oldfield, who competed for the Blue Raiders in 1964–68, placed sixth in shot put on the 1972 U.S. Olympic team. He also once appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine.

Jewell Patterson Dale (’62), Tunnel Hill, Georgia, Jan. 15, 2017 James F. Sharber Jr, (’66, ’73), Fairview, Dec. 10, 2016 James Gilbert (’68), Shelbyville, Oct. 1, 2016 Betty Ann Barnes Gilding (’69), Apopka, Florida, Dec. 6, 2016 Haskell Greer (’67, ’70, ’77), McMinnville, Feb. 6, 2017 Judith Gillespie Howell (’64, ’68), Columbia, March 5, 2017 Edward Jarmakowicz (’68), West Palm Beach, Florida, Dec. 1, 2016 Roy Lynch (’60), Murfreesboro, March 24, 2017 John McClendon (’66), Nashville, Feb. 22, 2017 Lonzo C. Mayfield (’64, ’68), Nashville, Nov. 25, 2016 Ardie Moore (’67), Rossville, Georgia, Oct. 22, 2016 Stephen Norris (’68), Fayetteville, Georgia, Oct. 2, 2016 Glenn “Steve” Pitts (’63), Franklin, Dec. 12, 2016

Paul Shields (’67), Nashville, Dec. 28, 2016 Diane McCuiston Smith (’68), Dawsonville, Georgia, Nov. 16, 2016 Lucy Hall Spencer (’67), Nashville, Dec. 4, 2016 Anne Daly Stevenson (’64), St. Louis, Missouri, Feb. 24, 2017 Willie Windrow Sudberry (’68, ’94), Rockvale, Dec. 14, 2016 Col. Chester Waggoner (’67), Goodlettsville, Dec. 30, 2016 Carolyn Potter Yarbrough (’69), Brentwood, Sept. 25, 2016 Jerry York (’69), New Orleans, March 10, 2017


Charles Alexander (’73), Nashville, March 1, 2016 Mary Kinnard Alexander (’73), Columbia, Nov. 28, 2016 James Beckman Jr. (’74), Waynesboro, Oct. 5, 2016 Thomas Bender (’75), Hartwell, Georgia, Dec. 26, 2016

Danny Brazier (’74), Winchester, Dec. 22, 2016

William Fisher

Patricia Cathey (’76), Lewisburg, Jan. 2, 2017

William Robert “Billy” Fisher (‘80) of Readyville, passed away on December 9, 2016, at the age of 61. For more than a decade, Fisher was senior editor/writer in the Creative and Visual Services division of Marketing and Communications at MTSU. He also served as contributing editor for more than a dozen annual University magazines, including MTSU Magazine. Fisher loved to sing, play guitar, and listen to music. His voice was strong and beautiful and his performances unforgettable. He cherished the love of his life, Susan Bryan Fisher.

Linda Coles (’71), Manchester, March 15, 2016 Jeffrey Corley Sr. (’72), Murfreesboro, Feb. 22, 2017 Stephen Douglas (’71), Tullahoma, Oct. 2, 2016 David Dowell (’73), Long Beach, California, Oct. 25, 2016 Sue Eaton (’71), Hendersonville, Feb. 7, 2017 James Farley (’70), Lenoir City, Jan. 8, 2017 Ewing Frakes (’73), Columbia, Nov. 18, 2016 Louise Lynch Gaddy (’70), Murfreesboro, Jan. 3, 2017

Jane Oxley Poole (’72, ’79), Murfreesboro, Jan. 21, 2017 Andy Rose (’78), Hendersonville, Jan. 14, 2017 Mary Rice Silvers (’70), Rockwood, Sept. 23, 2016 Scott Sloan (’72), Sewanee, Jan. 12, 2017

Sybil Fuller Hall (’82), West Columbia, South Carolina, Nov. 12, 2016 Carl Gardner (’83), Memphis, March 10, 2017 James Helton (’88), Smyrna, Jan. 28, 2017 Alan Kendrick (’85), Murfreesboro, Jan. 7, 2017

Jack Gordon (’72), Talbotton, Georgia, Oct. 15, 2016

Margaret Louise Westbrook Stewart (’71), Summerville, Georgia, Feb. 24, 2017

Douglas Geren (’72), Selma, Alabama, Oct. 29, 2016

Melinda Adams Vance (’79), Murfreesboro, Dec. 27, 2016

Paul McMillan (’83), Chattanooga, March 18, 2017

James Grainger (’70), Sparta, Nov. 19, 2016

Sabin Thompson (’73), Kingston Springs, Feb. 20, 2017

Mark Mullins (’85), Louisville, Kentucky, Oct. 19 2016

William C. Hayes (’78), Columbia, Aug. 2, 2016

Ray “Tony” Taylor (’77), Murfreesboro, Dec. 2, 2016

Steve Trentham (’83), Pigeon Forge, Feb. 21, 2017

Kathlyn Grisham Heffington (’71), Lawrenceburg, Jan. 8, 2017

William Waite (’71), Murfreesboro, Nov. 19, 2016

Carole Parsley Vagott (’89, ’91), Lenore, West Virginia, Oct. 22, 2016

Steven Henry (’79), Winthrop, Maine, Jan. 3, 2017 William Igou (’72), Dandridge, Oct. 5, 2016 Patricia Jaros (’71, ’74), Murfreesboro, Jan. 5, 2017 Raymond Johnson (’71, ’72), Jackson, Mississippi, Oct. 18, 2016

Martin “Gene” Wilhite (’77), Cookeville, March 9, 2017 James William (’73), Watertown, Nov. 14, 2016 Dorothy Wilson (’72), Murfreesboro, Jan. 27, 2017 Lester Wright (’72), Pompano Beach, Florida, Feb. 7, 2017


Mary Neal Kennedy (’73), Nashville, Feb. 19, 2017

Lea Billingsley Dalton (’88), Murfreesboro, Jan. 16, 2017

Joseph McCrary (’73), Murfreesboro, Nov. 4, 2016

Gloria Daniel (’80), Murfreesboro, Feb. 25, 2017

Virginia Opatrny Meece (’79), Columbia, Jan. 13, 2017

Kurt Dietz (’80), Murfreesboro, Oct. 21, 2016

Glen Pinkston Sr. (’77), Grayson, Kentucky, Jan. 19, 2016

Kevin Fell (’85), Uniontown, Ohio, Jan. 9, 2017

John Luttrell Jr. (’85), Columbia, Oct. 1, 2016


Samuel Oliva (’94), Lebanon, Sept. 14, 2016 William Parker (’97), Hendersonville, March 12, 2017 James Smith (’90), Grayson, Georgia, Dec. 21, 2016


Mallory Gabard Cruz (’09), Atlanta, Feb. 23, 2017 Roy T. Delk (’03), Shelbyville, Dec. 16, 2016 Jeffrey Kenney (’05), Gallatin, Dec. 20, 2016 Matthew Nigro (’07), Nashville, March 13, 2017 Kristopher Peggs (’02), Memphis, March 4, 2017 Bethany Smith (’03), Selmer, Nov. 20, 2016

Susan Toller Wilson (’87), Burns, Oct. 12, 2016

Thomas Sterritt III (’06), Nashville, Feb. 24, 2017


Stephen Thate (’00), Orange Park, Florida, Feb. 20, 2017

Karen Akins Montes (’99), Murfreesboro, Jan. 7, 2017 Jon Burks (’90), Franklin, Oct. 3, 2016 John Drury (’94), Orlando, Florida, Oct. 6, 2017 Stacey Henegar (’95), Cedar Hill, March 5, 2017 Amanda Ramsay McGraw (’91), Hobbs, New Mexico, Feb. 5, 2017 John McGraw (’97), Hobbs, New Mexico, Feb. 5, 2017

Frank Walkup III (’05), Woodbury, Nov. 2, 2015 Erica Wilson (’01), Memphis, March 26, 2016


William Boyd (’10), Tullahoma, Feb. 21, 2017 Christopher Magee (’11), Nashville, Jan. 14, 2016 Rebecca Sanders (’12), Mount Juliet, Feb. 23, 2017 MTSU

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Young Einsteins

All for the Hall

More than 600 grade-schoolers from across middle Tennessee crammed into MTSU’s Student Union Feb. 23 for the 25th annual Invention Convention. Asked to invent games and items to “make life easier,” the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders responded with more than 340 unique gadgets, contraptions, and devices for this year’s event. Elementary Education professor Tracey Huddleston established MTSU’s Invention Convention in 1993 in tribute to her mother, True Radcliff, a longtime fifth-grade teacher who conducted Invention Convention-type events at her school. The Invention Convention participants are students from public and private schools in Coffee, Davidson, DeKalb, Franklin, Grundy, Rutherford, Sumner, Warren, Wilson, and Williamson counties. State Farm Insurance is the longtime local sponsor of MTSU’s annual Invention Convention.

The Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame, a nonprofit organization centered at MTSU, inducted five broadcast journalists, including some with strong MTSU ties, in December 2016. Inductees included former state representative, MTSU alumnus, and current University administrator John Hood, who began his journalism career on local radio. Honored posthumously was sports director and announcer Monte Hale Sr., “the voice of the MTSU Blue Raiders” from 1961–80 and whose name graces Murphy Center’s Hale Arena. Other members of the 2016 class were Tom Britt of Jackson, Tennessee, a news producer, anchor, and reporter for WBBJ-TV; Hudley Crockett of Nashville, a former news director, anchor, and producer for WSIX-TV (now WKRN) and former press secretary for Tennessee Gov. Buford Ellington; and Darrell Patterson of Chattanooga, retired sports director and anchor for WTVC-TV.

A Safe Haven

Survey Says . . .

The latest campus crime statistics from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation show drops in most major categories at MTSU. According to the annual TBI report, the number of sexual offenses reported dropped from seven in 2015 to two in 2016; weapon law violations remained the same, with four reported in both years; theft/larceny was down 18 percent; assaults decreased 20 percent; DUI incidents fell 50 percent; burglary dropped 47 percent; and trespass incidents were down 77 percent. The MTSU University Police currently employs 44 full-time police officers, five full-time dispatchers, and about 20 part-time student workers. Recent preventive actions aimed at reducing crime includes increased installation of security cameras, improved campus lighting, additional foot patrols, and community policing, as well as public awareness campaigns through Student Health Services and MTSU Housing and Residential Life.

Not every state is fortunate enough to have a mirror in the form of a university-led, independent statewide poll that can reliably inform the population—especially on a regular basis. Starting in fall 1998, MTSU’s Journalism Department has collected public opinion data each spring and fall on major social, political, and ethical issues affecting Tennessee. Recent poll findings include: only a narrow majority of the state’s voters said they approved of the job President Donald Trump had done as president since taking office; Tennessee voters dislike Obamacare and want it repealed, but not until they’ve seen details of a replacement plan; and Tennesseans support banning immigration from “terror-prone regions,” but think illegal immigrants already here should be able to stay and apply for citizenship.

Highlights from the 2017-2018 Fall Season Todd Art Gallery presents

Alums 2017: A Celebration August 31–September 20, 2017 Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band Concert

October 12, 2017 A MidSummer Night’s Dream

November 8–12, 2017 Joys of the Season

December 3, 2017 College of Liberal Arts

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MTSU Magazine Summer 2017  

MTSU's new board, TOP 10 ways we're building MTSU, Lt. Gen. Keith Huber speaks about leading by example