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A Centennial Success

CENT_HEADERThe University’s recently-concluded, $105-million fundraising campaign ranks among the most important occurrences at MTSU in decades

from staff reports

 

Given that MTSU is now more than 100 years old, it’s appropriate that the University recently raised more than $100 million in donations to support its ever-expanding mission to serve students.

MTSU officials raised more than $105 million in the Centennial Campaign, surpassing the $80 million goal set when the effort was announced in 2012. In fact, the $105,465,308 raised during the campaign, which concluded Dec. 31, 2015, represents the largest fundraising effort in University history, far surpassing a $30 million campaign
mark set in 2001.

“We launched this campaign in the middle of one of our nation’s biggest economic downturns and set a goal that many thought we could never reach under the best of circumstances,” President Sidney A. McPhee said during an event in February 2016 at Embassy Suites Murfreesboro to unveil the campaign’s results. “The fact that we met—and exceeded—our goal speaks to the commitment of the campaign’s volunteer leadership, the passion of our alumni, and the vision we set forward for the future of our great University.”

Gov. Bill Haslam praised the University in video remarks played at the February event, noting that “the momentum from this campaign will guarantee the continued growth and success for MTSU. It will help assure that MTSU will continue to prosper as a nationally acclaimed, comprehensive university.”

Haslam also lauded “MTSU’s leadership in student success initiatives, adult degree completion, creative partnerships, and outreach to veterans and military families” for helping in the Drive to 55, the state’s initiative to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with post-secondary credentials.

 

Donors Make the Difference

The far-reaching positive impacts that the $105-million campaign are having and will continue to have on students and programs is enormous and will go on for a long time. At its core are the generous donors that provided gifts, some as large as $10 million and some as small as $100, all of which are worthy of praise and thanks from the MTSU community.

Centennial Celebration Dinner at Embassy Suites. Sidney A. McPhee, MTSU President.

Centennial Celebration Dinner at Embassy Suites. Sidney A. McPhee, MTSU President.

The Centennial Campaign actually launched in low-key fashion on Jan. 1, 2009, as MTSU began preparing to mark the 100th anniversary of its 1911 founding. More than $54 million was raised during a three-year “quiet phase” of the campaign that ensued. That amount alone set a university record.

MTSU went public with the campaign on April 13, 2012, declaring a goal of $80 million and unveiling a $10 million gift by alumnus Andrew Woodfin “Woody” Miller of Nashville. Miller’s gift allowed MTSU to purchase the property once occupied by then-Middle Tennessee Medical Center just west of the campus on Bell Street. Now renovated, that 126,839-usable-gross-square-foot facility has not only expanded MTSU’s campus footprint, but also provided a dedicated space for educational and outreach efforts to the business community and community at large.

Miller Educational Center

Miller Educational Center

Joe Bales, vice president for university advancement and MTSU’s chief development officer, said the $105 million was the result of more than 111,000 separate gifts from 23,276 different donors.

“This campaign, though, was about more than dollars and donors,” Bales said. “It was about creating a vision for our University’s second century and giving our friends and supporters opportunities to help bring that vision to life.”

McPhee said many of MTSU’s most transformational gifts came about during the campaign’s four-year public phase, including the $7 million in private-donor support necessary to augment public funds for the $147 million, state-of-the-art Science Building that opened in October 2014.

The new MTSU science building in a state of substantial completion starting the process of moving equipment and classrooms from Davis Science and Wiser-Patton.

The new MTSU science building in a state of substantial completion starting the process of moving equipment and classrooms from Davis Science and Wiser-Patton.

Other successes of the Centennial Campaign include more than $27 million in new scholarship funds; a $2.5 million gift by alumnus Joey Jacobs, matched by the state of Tennessee, creating an endowed chair of excellence in accounting—the first new chair of excellence in Tennessee in more than 15 years; and the establishment of $28 million in planned estate gifts to provide support for many years to come.

Centennial Campaign projects in Blue Raider Athletics included the Jeff Hendrix Stadium Club that opened in 2012 and the Adams Tennis Complex that MTSU opened in 2015, built in partnership with the city of Murfreesboro and the Christy Houston Foundation.

Adam's Tennis Complex dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting.

Adam’s Tennis Complex dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting.

Campaign chair and MTSU alumna Pamela Wright, founder and CEO of Nashville-based Wright Travel, said she was proud to be a part of such a transformative effort for her alma mater.

Centennial Celebration Dinner at Embassy Suites. Pamela Wright, Centennial Committee Co-Chair and Alumni.

Centennial Celebration Dinner at Embassy Suites.
Pamela Wright, Centennial Committee Co-Chair and Alumni.

“We began this campaign as an opportunity to think about— and do something about—the future of Middle Tennessee State University,” Wright said. “Those who stepped forward in this effort have set our course for MTSU’s second century.”

Other executive committee members included Nashville-based Zycron Inc. founder and chair Darrell Freeman; Nashville-based Haury & Smith Contractors, Inc. chair Stephen B. Smith; Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess; Joey Jacobs, chair and CEO of Franklin-based Acadia Healthcare; and MTSU Foundation member Don Witherspoon.

Centennial Celebration Dinner at Embassy Suites. Joe Bales, Vice President, Development and University Relations.

Joe Bales, Vice President, Development and University Relations.

Bales said the campaign exceeded its goal because of the work by Wright, her executive committee, and other MTSU advocates.

“This record-setting, history-making effort was a success because of the passion and commitment of our volunteer leadership,” Bales said.

 

 

 

Donor Spotlight: Laying a Foundation

by Patsy B. Weiler

 

Howard Wall spent his professional life building Murfreesboro; now he’s building a legacy of giving at MTSU.

Howard Wall and MTSU have a long history together—more than 70 years of memories and milestones. The successful real estate agent and developer earned his degree in 1963 from MTSU. In 1998, he was honored by the University with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Wall’s latest connection with the University is serving as a member of the Honors College Board of Visitors.

Honors board member Howard Wall in the Honors building conference room.

Honors board member Howard Wall in the Honors building conference room.

“MTSU has always been there, a part of my life,” said Wall.

The University served as the stage for many of Wall’s youthful adventures. Two indelible first experiences associated with MTSU were taking his first airplane ride and seeing his first football game.

“As a kid, I knew the location of a loose board in the fence around the football field near where a bush was growing and could squeeze through and get in to watch the game,” Wall said. “I think the coaches probably knew it was happening, but they never said anything.”

Wall has left his footprint as a developer throughout middle Tennessee on the grounds of various residential and commercial developments, including through his involvement in the early land acquisition of the Gateway area of Murfreesboro. Now in his mid-70s, Wall continues to work as a real estate agent and developer with Coldwell Banker Snow and Wall, Barnes Realty, a company he and his wife and business
partner Sally built together.

Wall’s philanthropy and service to MTSU is vast. The athletic staff’s past kindness to a neighborhood youngster eventually reaped a bountiful return when, among other gifts, Wall committed $100,000 toward the completion of the baseball program’s Reese Smith Jr. Field and stadium. A tall section of the facility’s wall behind center field reads “The Howard and Sally Wall,” in a slightly tongue-in-cheek manner that captures Wall’s famous sense of humor while honoring the family’s gift.

“One of the reasons I financially support MTSU—other than thinking it is just the right thing to do to give back to my community—is that I know a lot of those kids there are having to work their way through school,” Wall said. “These students are well-rounded, work hard, and have many interests…I love going to our meetings and learning about these outstanding students. They will become the leaders of future.”

 

Inside the Numbers

A total of 23,277 alumni, friends, corporations, and foundations contributed to the success of the Centennial Campaign. In all, 364 gifts greater than $25,000 were received for a total of more than $53 million. The bulk of the gifts funded the campaign’s four priorities.

Scholarships: $27 Million
Maintaining our desired position as the institution of choice
in Tennessee requires the University to remain competitive in
recruiting future generations of student scholars.

  • 33 new endowed scholarship funds were created totaling more than $13 million.
  • 209 non-endowed scholarship funds were established totaling more than $14 million.

Faculty Enhancement and Support: $15 Million
To ensure that our students continue to have opportunities to be guided by some of the nation’s leading faculty, MTSU established a cadre of endowed chairs and professorships.

  • One new Chair of Excellence
  • Two new endowed faculty chairs
  • Numerous college and departmental faculty awards

Academic Program Enhancements: $19 Million
MTSU has remained committed to the education of our students, providing each and every student with access to the finest facilities, the most modern equipment, and the most innovative academic programs.

  • $10 million to establish the Andrew Miller
    Education Center
  • $6.75 million in support of the new Science Building
  • More than $2.5 million in new technology and equipment

Blue Raider Athletics: $25 Million
The Blue Raider Athletics program is committed to providing the highest level of performance—on the field and in the classroom—uniting our community and promoting a sense of pride. We can only compete at the highest levels athletically by matching up against top-notch competition, improving facilities, and focusing on academic success.

  • Renovated weight room and construction of the
    Shipp Women’s Basketball Office
  • New endowed scholarships for student athletes
    in football and men’s and women’s basketball

 

$105,465,308

An Active Duty

PrintVeterans face unusual and daunting challenges as they move into college life. The bureaucracy surrounding admissions and registration can vex today’s veterans, who are used to the modern military’s streamlined processes. Such bureaucratic burdens are compounded by the psychological stress of military service and sometimes even a sense of alienation on campus. Talk about some of MTSU’s top efforts to ensure the student success of this very laudable student population.

President McPhee: MTSU has been recognized year after year by national publications such as Military Times and G.I. Jobs magazine as being one of the top universities in the U.S. for veteran education. Military Times separately named the Jennings A. Jones College of Business among its 64 Best for Vets Business Schools 2014.

MTSU has a long and proud tradition of aiding veterans in their transition from the battlefield to civilian life. In 2011, MTSU became the first institution of higher education in the state—and one of the first in the country­—to partner with the Veterans Administration’s new VetSuccess on Campus program.

You recently oversaw creation of a Veterans and Military Family Center on campus, which arguably represents the next step in MTSU becoming the most military-friendly university in America. Talk about the center and your reasoning for its development.

President McPhee: The new, 2,600-square-foot center constitutes the largest and most comprehensive Veterans and Military Family Center at a university in Tennessee. The center provides one-stop service and support for the more than 1,000 student veterans and their family members at MTSU. Everything that MTSU student-veterans need to succeed is available in this single location, from scheduling courses and completing government paperwork to getting questions answered about benefits and employment opportunities.

Opening of the Veterans and Military Family Center in the KUC. Sidney A. McPhee, MTSU President, and Charlie Daniels

Sidney A. McPhee, MTSU President, and Charlie Daniels

MTSU’s new senior advisor for veterans and leadership initiatives, Keith M. Huber, now leads our ongoing push to help student veterans be successful in college. Huber joined MTSU after retiring as a lieutenant general from the U.S. Army after nearly 40 years on active duty as an infantry and Special Forces officer. In his words, this new center will encourage and facilitate the success of our veterans as they transition out of uniform into academics, and then into future employment opportunities, as they strive to become leaders in the community much like they were in uniform.

The University also named Dr. Hilary Miller, a military spouse and family member, as center director earlier this summer. She will lead an experienced staff alongside U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs employees Heather Conrad with VetSuccess on Campus and Veteran Affairs Coordinator Ray Howell. A Veterans Administration mental health counselor will also be in-house to help veteran students and their families cope with post-war traumas, such as post-traumatic stress disorders.

MTSU’s vet-friendly initiatives, as well as this new center, have received a lot of support from both the private and public sectors. Talk about some of the gifts that have been made to enhance this work.

President McPhee: Gov. Bill Haslam recently announced that MTSU would receive a $91,000 state grant to support its veteran success efforts. Also, the Journey Home Project, co-founded by country music legend Charlie Daniels, recently committed $50,000 to help equip the new center. Mr. Daniels says he is anxious to see this center in action, and referred to it as a place where the many needs of our veterans can be dealt with by capable people who care. That’s not just True Blue. That’s red, white, and True Blue!

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

 

 

 
The State’s Top Veterans Center

Opening of the Veterans and Military Family Center in the KUC.

Opening of the Veterans and Military Family Center in the KUC.

With plenty of fanfare—including a $50,000 boost for technology from legendary country music entertainer Charlie Daniels, and a visit by U.S. Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson among others—the University opened its new center on November 5, 2015, in grand style with a ribbon-cutting followed by a program in front of an overflow crowd in the KUC Theater.

 

Opening of the Veterans and Military Family Center in the KUC. Hilary Miller, XXXX, Russ Deaton, Executive Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Sidney A. McPhee, MTSU President, Charlie Daniels, and LTG (ret) Keith M. Huber.

Hilary Miller, Evan Cope, Russ Deaton, Executive Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, Sidney A. McPhee, MTSU President, Charlie Daniels, and LTG (ret) Keith M. Huber.

 

Gibson told student-veterans, “Americans support you and clearly the people of Tennessee support you. They want all veterans to be successful…Future employers, embrace veterans. It’s both the right thing and the smart thing. I salute every veteran seeking an education.”

 

 

 

Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan said the center “establishes a new standard for serving our student-veterans, a population that deserves our support and respect…By providing our student-veterans with the care and service that they require to reach their higher-education goals, we are also making strides toward the governor’s goal of 55 percent of our population having some post-secondary credential.”

 

Interior and exterior photos of the Veterans and Military Family Center in the KUC.

Interior photo of the Veterans and Military Family Center in the KUC.

In addition to state legislators, dignitaries included Many-Bears Grinder, retired U.S. Army colonel and Tennessee Department of Veterans Services commissioner; Maj. Gen. Terry “Max” Haston (‘79), adjutant general for the state of Tennessee; Evan Cope, THEC chair; Edna M. MacDonald, director of the Nashville Regional Office for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Mike Krause, executive director of the governor’s “Drive to 55” initiative; Russ Deaton, interim executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, and other THEC and Veterans Affairs officials.

 

 

Print

 

A Universal Language

A conversation with President Sidney A. McPhee

 

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, right, and Hangzhou Normal University President Du Wei pluck a few strings on a guzheng, a Chinese musical instrument, that was donated by Hangzhou Normal as the first instrument for MTSU's new Chinese Music and Cultural Center. MTSU and Chinese dignitaries announced the new center Tuesday at the MTSU Student Union. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, right, and Hangzhou Normal University President Du Wei pluck a few strings on a guzheng, a Chinese musical instrument, that was donated by Hangzhou Normal as the first instrument for MTSU’s new Chinese Music and Cultural Center. MTSU and Chinese dignitaries announced the new center Tuesday at the MTSU Student Union. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

 MTSU and China’s Hangzhou Normal University partnered in 2009 to establish MTSU’s Confucius Institute, which works to enhance understanding of Chinese language and culture. Talk about the newest development in that partnership.

President McPhee: MTSU is currently in the midst of the creation of a Chinese music and cultural center on University property. It’s the result of a $1 million grant provided by Hanban Confucius Institute in Beijing, an organization sponsored by China’s education ministry that oversees more than 440 institutes in 120 countries.

In collaboration with our sister university, Hangzhou, the new center will promote music as a vital element in education and understanding of Chinese people and culture. It will also become another component of our extremely successful international outreach, which has earned MTSU recognition as a leader in global studies.

At the ceremony to announce the grant and the creation of the center, Hangzhou President Du Wei, a violinist himself, quoted Confucius, who said, “Education primarily starts from poetry and ends with music.” I agree wholeheartedly.

This center has the potential to become the hub of local and regional outreach that will enhance the understanding, research, and teaching of Chinese language, culture, and music through public performances, events at schools, and a website with related resources.

 

What are the specifics of the project?

Sidney A. McPhee, MTSU President, university and Chinese dignitaries from Hangzhou University join for the announcement of the one million dollar Chinese Music Center to be added to the Confucius Institute and will be housed in the new Bell Street Center.

Sidney A. McPhee, MTSU President, university and Chinese dignitaries from Hangzhou University join for the announcement of the one million dollar Chinese Music Center to be added to the Confucius Institute and will be housed in the new Bell Street Center.

President McPhee: The 3,200-square-foot center, which is expected to open by fall 2016 or earlier, will be in the former Middle Tennessee Medical Center building on Bell Street. The center will showcase selected instruments from many of China’s 56 national ethnicities. For instance, at the ceremony announcing the new center, Hangzhou donated the new center’s first instrument, a guzheng, which dates back to ancient times and is a 21-stringed instrument that rests on legs much as a steel guitar does and is plucked by a seated musician.

MTSU has hired an ethnomusicologist, an educator who studies music in the context of its culture, to serve as the center’s director. Under the auspices of the College of Liberal Arts and the School of Music, the center’s leader will develop courses involving Chinese music. There will be active and visible research taking place at the center resulting in presentations and publications that will allow MTSU to develop a national and international reputation in this area.

 

Who else deserves credit for this exciting new project, which really constitutes another musical jewel in the Nashville area’s musical crown?

President McPhee: Contributions came from MTSU’s School of Music and its director Michael Parkinson, as well as the departments of Recording Industry and Electronic Media Communication. In addition, many of the underlying strategies used to develop this center were based on the activities and operational structures employed by our world-class Center for Popular Music, which is recognized as one of the finest repositories of American music and culture in existence.

 

 

Any final thoughts?

President McPhee: This new center perfectly complements our existing
treasure trove of musical assets at MTSU. It broadens our musicology efforts into the realm of ethnomusicology and grows our research footprint to include multicultural musical and cultural studies. This will be a destination not only for scholars; it will be yet another attraction that reinforces the greater Nashville area’s standing as Music City, USA.

Dr. Du Wei has also already proposed the creation of a Chinese center of American studies on the campus of Hangzhou Normal University in China and is prepared to begin discussions immediately.

Thank you, Mr. President.

The Student Success Advantage

Graduate in Four and Get More 

Five Minutes with the President, Dr. Sidney A. McPhee

 

In September 2014, during a six-city tour to convince the best and brightest students across Tennessee to attend MTSU, you unveiled a new initiative—the MTSU Student Success Advantage. You’ve described the plan as a game changer for students who want to do more than just go to college. You’re talking about students who expect to get the support they need to actually succeed and graduate. Give us the short version of what this new plan is and what it does.

The first two years are critical to a university student. A bump in the road, especially at the beginning, can derail the progress of those struggling to stay enrolled.

The MTSU Student Success Advantage plan, which has the tagline “Graduate in Four and Get More,” will supplement by $1,000 the HOPE Lottery Scholarships of incoming students who seek a four-year degree and stay on track to graduate on time. Our University will provide a $500 supplemental scholarship to students receiving the HOPE Scholarship after each of their first two years. Students must remain eligible for the HOPE Scholarship to get the award from MTSU.

Under the plan, we will provide what we call a Finish-Line Scholarship to graduating seniors that will return any tuition increases incurred during the four-year period of their studies.

We expanded the eligibility to qualify for five major scholarships guaranteed to eligible students. We changed our Transfer Academic Scholarships from being competitively based to guaranteed for students from all Tennessee community colleges. And, even in a time of reduced state budgets for higher education, we made a major investment in student success by reallocating money to hire 47 more academic advisors, who will help students maximize their investment and these incentives by providing the support, guidance, and encouragement to stay on track to graduate on time.

What is the overall goal of these new initiatives?

These changes and the overall Student Success Advantage plan are actually just part of MTSU’s overall Quest for Student Success initiative, a series of reforms launched last year to increase retention and graduation through changes such as academic course redesigns, enhanced advising, and new student data-tracking software.

Our goal at MTSU is to make higher education more affordable for incoming freshmen who meet our competitive admission standards and choose to start college at MTSU.

We also developed this program to complement and reinforce Gov. Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55, which seeks to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with postsecondary degrees or certificates to 55 percent.

Any last thoughts?

We know firsthand that $200 to $300 can make a difference in terms of whether a student comes to or stays at MTSU. All these incentives, plus our increased emphasis on advising and other reforms, represent our desire to address obstacles through the University’s resources.

We do hope that future tuition increases are minimal, but if that occurs, the net effect of our Finish Line Scholarship will hold students harmless from any increases—provided they stay on track to graduate in four years.

We believe the MTSU Student Success Advantage is unique among our state’s public universities.

And, at its core, the Student Success Advantage has a strong message: If you maintain a steady pace to graduation in four years, we will do all we can to help you achieve your goal.

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

For more information about the Student Success Initiative, visit www.mtsu.edu/student-success-advantage.

Editor’s Note:

It All Adds Up

 

A New York Federal Reserve study released in summer 2014 and analyzed in an article by the Wall Street Journal found that four-year degrees remain solid investments.

In the study, economists Jaison Abel and Richard Deitz calculated the annualized return on investment for the money put into a college degree over a graduate’s career, pegging it at about 15 percent for current graduates, a figure that far surpasses typical returns for stocks and bonds and one that has held largely constant for more than a decade.

The economists also found that the difference in wages between two-year and four-year degree holders has also remained relatively constant, with bachelor’s holders last year making about $65,800 and associate degree holders making about $46,300.

Separately, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education issued its first “return on investment” report in 2013 and found that Americans with four-year degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than those without a degree, up from 89 percent five years earlier, 85 percent a decade earlier, and 64 percent in the early 1980s.

The report also found that the average salary for a graduate with a four-year degree started to surpass that of an associate degree holder five years after graduation, with the gap growing to nearly $7,000 annually after 10 years.

A May 2014 New York Times article, citing an Economic Policy Institute report that used Department of Labor statistics to reach its findings, recently found that the wage premium for people who have attended college without earning a bachelor’s degree—a group that includes community college graduates—has not been rising.

“The big economic returns go to people with four-year degrees,” the article said. “Those returns underscore the importance of efforts to reduce the college dropout rate.”

“College is worth it, and it’s not even close,” the article continued. “For all the struggles that many young college graduates face, a four-year degree has probably never been more valuable.”

10 Myths about Today’s MTSU

And why you should send your child or grandchild to your alma mater

by Drew Ruble

There are many ways to give back to your alma mater. The most obvious is to write a check. The time to do just that has never been better because MTSU is pursuing the largest fundraising campaign in its history. Reaching and even exceeding financial goals will be a big step in the continued advancement of the University, academically and athletically, as one of the finest public institutions of higher education in the Southeast.

Another way to support MTSU is to make it possible for your children and grandchildren to attend your alma mater. What’s stopping you? In my time as editor of MTSU Magazine, I’ve heard a few alumni offer an occasional reason for being a little hesitant to send their children and grandchildren to MTSU. Many of those reasons were flat-out wrong. I was all too happy to set the record straight.

Here, then, is my personal list of the top 10 myths about today’s MTSU or, put another way, the top 10 reasons to send your child (or grandchild) to college here. True Blue!

 

 

1

Myth:

MTSU’s campus isn’t that pretty.

Fact:

In addition to beautifully landscaped grounds, several new buildings have significantly elevated the overall look of campus. The $65 million Student Union Building, the soon-to-open $147 million Science Building (see below), the three-year-old College of Education building, and the brand-new Student Services Building are some of the most beautiful on any campus in Tennessee—period! Add in older structures, including the four beautiful 103-year-old original buildings (still in use today), and your eyes will tell you all you need to know about MTSU’s aesthetic appeal!

 2

Myth:

Parking on campus is a nightmare.

Fact:

Last year, MTSU opened two new student parking garages. The four-level structures (valued at $23.5 million) added almost 1,000 net parking spaces near the campus core. More surface lots have also recently been opened.

 

3

Myth:

Sports at MTSU can’t be nationally prominent.

FACT:

Last year, MTSU joined Conference USA (C-USA) for inter-collegiate athletics. C-USA teams and players have made nearly 700 NCAA championship ap- pearances since the league’s inception in 1995. Sixty-seven football programs have earned bowl bids; 90 men’s basketball teams have participated in NCAA and NIT postseason play; 47 women’s basketball squads have appeared in the NCAA Tournament; and 53 baseball programs have made NCAA tournament appearances, including 12 College World Series and a national crown for Rice University in 2003. Also, 61 men’s and women’s soccer teams have participated in NCAA tournaments, and Charlotte competed for the men’s College Cup in 2011. We can do this!

 

Myth:

State tuition increases across Tennessee’s higher education system have made even schools like MTSU unaffordable for families.

FACT:

Perhaps the highly regarded Princeton Review said it best when it named MTSU one of the “Best in the Southeast” on its 2014 list of the nation’s top colleges. Editors of the list, which recognized 138 institutions in the 12-state Southeast region, called MTSU “a growing school on the rise, [where] you get a quality education and you aren’t in crippling debt afterward.” Forbes once even ranked MTSU as the 47th “best buy” among all public colleges and universities in America!

5

Myth:

MTSU doesn’t rank academically— regionally or nationally—like other name-brand schools.

FACT:

Nationally recognized programs and courses of study at MTSU include aerospace, recording industry, horse science, forensic science, concrete industry, historic preservation, agriculture and agribusiness, and accounting, just to name a few. MTSU also boasts what may be the best nursing and teacher-training programs in the state. In addition, it’s home to one of the largest business schools in America. In these areas and more you simply cannot send your child or grandchild to a college better suited to equip them with the knowledge and skills they will need to achieve their personal and professional dreams!

 

Myth:

MTSU is not interest in student success; it’s only interested in enrolling as many students as possible.

FACT:

Actually, University efforts are unilaterally geared toward retention and providing continuous support to keep students enrolled and on track to graduation. From the retooling of classes that too many students historically have failed to the recent opening of a $16 million Student Services and Admissions Center and the new MT One Stop, an all-in-one student assistance hub, examples abound of MTSU’s focus on student success. This “quest for student success,” as President Sidney A. McPhee describes it, is not code for grade inflation. It’s simply the right thing to do. And it’s also perfectly aligned with the goals of the state legislature and governor’s office. As McPhee likes to say to faculty and staff, “If students become an interruption in your day, you’re in the wrong business.”

 7

Myth:

There are few important graduate programs at MTSU, and little significant research is conducted.

Fact:

Many are surprised to learn that one out of five degrees awarded at MTSU is a graduate degree. In fact, the College of Graduate Studies offers more than 100 programs. The reality is that MTSU is aggressively transitioning from a primarily undergraduate institution to a doctoral research university with high research activity. New interdisciplinary doctoral programs ranging from educational assessment (the only such program in the state) to molecular biosciences are driving that shift. For example, in partnership with the Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants in Nanning, China, MTSU has the opportunity to develop new Western medicines based on plant extracts used in the healing art of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Several recent pharmaceutical successes stemming from the use of active chemical ingredients in Chinese herbal medicines to develop conventional Western drugs reveal just how big a deal MTSU’s new partnership may be. The partnership has already yielded about 40 results that show promise in treating cancer, viral infections, and other ailments.

 

8

Myth:

MTSU is exclusively a commuter college.

Fact:

A college education is more than an accumulation of course credits. Students don’t spend all their time in class. College life is also about expanding your worldview through exposure to cultures, perspectives, and lives different than your own. With a new $65 million, 211,000-square-foot Student Union Building, highly active service and special-interest clubs, and a wealth of extracurricular activities, students at today’s MTSU enjoy the full college experience and never have to leave campus to keep busy and have a great time—even during nights and weekends! (The proliferation of affordable off-campus housing has also played a big role.) MTSU’s new student involvement program, aimed at connecting students to the University through extracurricular activities, attracted more than 2,700 first-time students last year, and more than 1,100 of them attended four or more events during fall 2013.

 

 9

Myth:

MTSU is exclusively a regional school.

Fact:

MTSU was recognized last year by the Chronicle of Higher Education as a top producer of Fulbright award winners. The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, is the government’s flagship international exchange program. MTSU was the only Tennessee college or university to earn the Chronicle’s distinction. Today’s students simply must communicate across cultures effectively if they are to participate in the international workplace. At MTSU, internationalization of the student body is a priority. International student enrollment has increased from 396 to 789 in five years, and the University has 335 students in its study-abroad programs this summer. It has more than 40 exchange agreements with institutions around the world. Finally, MTSU’s strong connections with China in terms of academic partnerships and research/industry collaborations rival any university in America.

 

10

Myth:

Only average students attend MTSU.

Fact:

The ACT average for the fall 2013 freshman class (22.0) continued to be above the national average (20.9) and above the Tennessee average (19.5). The average high school GPA for the fall 2013 freshman class was 3.35. Buchanan Fellowship recipients in fall 2014 comprised the strongest entering class since the University’s premier academic scholarship began in 2006. Limited to around 20 students, the fellowship had 166 applications from ten different states, and the average ACT score of the applicants was 30.75. Also, enrollment in doctoral programs at MTSU increased by nearly nine percent last year.

 

 

So c’mon—send your kids to MTSU! Make it a family affair. It’s a great place to get an education. Plus, how special would it be to share the same alma mater with your children? You can all be

True Blue!

MTSU

Five Minutes with President Sidney A. McPhee

The buzz phrase around MTSU these days is “student success.” I know that means a lot of things to you. Could you spotlight, though, one specific program or initiative that you think speaks to what MTSU means by ensuring student success?


Many MTSU students are first-generation college students who are juggling academic and work demands in pursuit of a degree. For many, a relatively small financial barrier—say, an emergency room visit or unexpected car repair— can cause a delay in their studies and progress toward a college degree.

Students who find themselves in a financial pinch can now apply for one-time emergency microgrants aimed at keeping them in school and on track to earning a degree.

Through a wave of local support and the existing Lewis Hazelwood Student Emergency Fund, MTSU can help students with emergency needs.The microgrants are designed to help with verified needs associated with the student’s education such as tuition, fees, books, housing, and transportation.

Grants up to $250 are available to qualified undergraduate, graduate, and international students. Interested students should contact their college advisors or their dean’s office. The grants do not have to be repaid; however, students may receive such grants only once during their time at MTSU. To be eligible, students must be in academic good standing with a minimum 2.0 GPA at the time of the request.

I applaud the community’s support for students, many of whom remain in the midstate area following their graduation and invest back into the campus and the surrounding community. Creation of the funding source followed an effort spearheaded by my wife, Elizabeth, who called on area churches and local citizens to consider financial support for needy students. She pointed to the assistance that she and I received years ago as graduate students that helped us continue our own educations.

I believe this effort serves as a perfect example of our collective focus on the success of our students, which is the top priority of this University.These funds are a concrete expression of local commitment to helping us fulfill that mission. We are truly grateful for the support.

Let me also mention two other helpful student assistance programs: the MTSU Food Pantry and Raiders Closet. The pantry, stocked entirely by donations, has distributed more than 3,700 pounds of food in the last two years to students in need. Raiders Closet, an outreach of Jones College of Business,helps students acquire donated professional attire for internships and job interviews.

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

 

Case in Point

Senior education major Jordan Raines-Ownby and her husband have four children. Jordan’s niece and nephew live with the couple as well. Last semester, Jordan strongly considered dropping out of school and delaying her graduation in order to get a full-time job to help with the costs of raising six children. The staff of the College of Education helped Jordan acquire a microgrant that kept her on track to becoming a school teacher. “It got me through the semester,” Jordan states. “It really did help. And they also put me in touch with a number of other local programs that help students.”

True Blue!

 

 

Anyone wishing to contribute to the microgrant fund can do so at www.mtsu.edu/StudentFund or mail donations to the Office of Development, MTSU Box 109, Murfreesboro, TN 37132. Make checks payable to the MTSU Foundation, and designate the gift to the MTSU Student Assistance Fund on the memo line. Other information about microgrants can be found at www.mtsu.edu/studentsuccess/crisis-aid.php.

The Quest for Student Success

Five Minutes with the President

The Quest for Student Success

 

A recent issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education stated there is a growing call for innovation that supports greater student success at our institutions. What is MTSU doing to ensure that students who enroll here succeed and graduate?

Nothing is more important than ensuring our students’ academic success. MTSU faculty and administration have come together to respond to these challenges by putting ourselves under a microscope as we attempt to better understand why our successful students succeed and what barriers to success get in the way of those who struggle.

Even with statewide and national accolades for its efficiency in creating college graduates, MTSU’s continued success depends on its ability to help our students earn college degrees. These students are our responsibility, and we must discover and develop new and innovative ways to help them be successful, instead of whining about who they are. At MTSU, from a staff and faculty perspective, we simply must maintain and grow our student-centered culture. If students become an interruption in your day, you’re in the wrong business.

MTSU already has changed some administrative processes and policies that created roadblocks for students. One of these changes allows students to register or reenroll with an account balance of $200 or less. Previously, there was an across-the-board ban on registration for students owing as little as $5 to the University! Additionally, a campus-wide task force’s discovery of an almost 40 percent failure or withdrawal rate in some general education courses—despite students’ solid high school GPAs and ACT scores—has led to faculty redesigning seven courses in the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.

We’ve also reviewed our recruitment and enrollment strategies, resulting in a two percent increase in this year’s freshman class. This 2013–14 freshman class also showed an increase in composite ACT scores and high school GPAs over the previous year. We’ve expanded scholarship funds for groups that have traditionally been undersupported, and we’ve gone to the Tennessee Board of Regents to request policy changes to allow more flexibility in registration and payment policies.

Additionally, we’ve surveyed students who failed to reenroll and analyzed their responses regarding factors that prevented their persistence. We’ve significantly expanded our Institutional Effectiveness, Planning, and Research group to provide better data regarding student retention, graduation, and success. Every academic college and every administrative division has conducted an internal review and participated in a series of hearings to outline new plans to help more students achieve success in the classroom and to graduate. We’ve begun to review grade distribution reports to better understand those courses that seem to have exceptionally large numbers of students not achieving the grade of C or better, so that we can consider curricular innovations to improve learning. We’ve also analyzed the first data sets coming out of the new funding formula under the Complete College Tennessee Act to see where our strengths lie and where we have opportunities to make improvements that may enhance our funding as an institution.

Last, we will be opening a one-stop shop for student enrollment services this spring. We have begun posting midterm grades for the first time in many years, giving students additional feedback to help them improve where their performance is lacking. A consolidated tutoring center is also being developed to provide learning support for students in all majors.

In your most recent state-of-the-University speech, you said that higher education is just the latest arena facing a series of disruptive forces that could, on the one hand, lead to great innovation and transformation or, on the other, lead to significant losses in enrollment, funding, and cultural influence. What is your plan to address this?

I recently announced a major initiative—The MTSU Quest for Student Success—that will integrate these efforts into a single coherent approach for the future. The plan is designed to make sure that every student who comes to MTSU with the drive to achieve will be met with the best instruction from excellent professors who care about their success. The MTSU Quest lays out our ambitious vision to innovate for increased student success in three key areas:

  • Recruiting students who value academic success
  • Enhancing the academic experience for students by implementing innovation in curriculum across all disciplines and underscoring the role of quality advising in student success
  • Championing enhancements in administrative processes and eliminating barriers to student success

MTSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy is a great example of the work we are already doing to promote and improve student success and retention and graduation. The department has implemented more student-friendly teaching practices for introductory courses and is using high-achieving undergrads to serve as learning assistants for classmates in those courses. The department’s reward—in addition to fewer failing grades, more physics and astronomy majors, and more graduates—was a $20,000 check as the first recipient of the President’s Award for Exceptional Departmental Initiatives for Student Academic Success, given last fall.

This is our time for transformation—our time to seize the opportunity to innovate, transform, and lead the way in creating a new model for higher education. Instead of spinning our wheels focusing on the many external factors affecting higher education that are beyond our capacity to control, MTSU is turning its energies and talents toward tackling the internal factors over which we have direct influence and which we know can positively affect student learning.

 

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

[Editor’s Note: You can read more about the plan here: http://mtsunews.com/mtsu-student-success-reforms.]

 

Editor’s Letter: Branding by Gridiron

This month MTSU joins conference USA. The long-awaited move to an established, nationally recognized Football Bowl Subdivision conference clearly elevates the standing, competitiveness, and stature of MTSU’s athletics program.

by Drew Ruble

The long-awaited move to an established, nationally recognized Football Bowl Subdivision conference clearly elevates the standing, competitiveness, and stature of MTSU’s athletics program. Concurrently, support for MT athletics is one of four main goals of the University’s ongoing $80 million Centennial Campaign. Success in raising new dollars for athletics will be crucial to the program’s ability to attract the best student-athletes and provide adequate facilities as a member of the highly competitive C-USA.

MTSU’s emphasis on growing its athletic programs is clear. Interestingly, one professor’s recently published book chronicles how universities placed similar emphasis on growing their own brands through sports—particularly football—over a century ago. In The Rise of Gridiron University, history professor Brian M. Ingrassia explores how university presidents—including those from the Ivy League—hastened the rise of college football in America. According to Ingrassia, these academic leaders saw football as a “spectacle” useful in helping their universities “reach out to the public.” He explains that it was a way to “help show taxpayers and nonacademics” what they were doing, as well as “get their name out there” so they could “keep getting funding and the publicity needed to turn into larger institutions doing useful things for society, like research and education.”

“The late 1800s and early 1900s was a time when university scholars began to see athletics as almost like the department of public engagement,” Ingrassia concludes. (Little did they know at the time, he writes, how such athletic programs would become the fixtures on college campuses that they are today.)

The alignment of universities into athletic conferences also has historical roots. The first conference, the Big 10, formed around the turn of the last century, Ingrassia says, to “pool competitive resources” and “control and maximize revenues from the sport”—all of which is still its function today. More than a century later, MTSU’s own brand potential and financial prospects are boosted by smartly tapping into C-USA—specifically the conference’s significant national and regional television exposure and revenue sharing through partnerships with CBS Sports, Fox Sports, and ESPN.

The positives for students, alumni, and the community alike are clear, Ingrassia says. “Elevating sports conferences maintains good relations with alumni. Plus, students want to attend universities with big-time football and athletics, and it’s also a way for the public to connect.” And even though he stresses that academic programs are a central component of a university like MTSU, Ingrassia concedes that other campus entities are unable to create a sense of community the way intercollegiate athletics do.

Blueprint for Success

With an ambitious campaign more than three-fourths complete, the University’s colleges and athletics program make plans to make the most of it

by Drew Ruble

The most ambitious quest for philanthropy in MTSU history will further raise its visibility nationally and internationally and maintain its legacy as a center of higher education excellence.

More than $67 million has already been committed toward the campaign’s $80 million goal. But how will the money be used?

Each of the six core academic colleges at MTSU and the Blue Raider athletics program has created a blueprint outlining priorities for campaign funds. The following is a look at just one priority from each.

Reaffirming Its Roots

College of Education

Priority: Teacher Preparation

Ask someone to name the five people who had the most influence on his or her life and chances are good that a teacher will be on the list. Perhaps no profession has a more direct impact on personal and professional development than the teaching profession. From a community perspective, the same might be said for business and economic development.

At MTSU, teaching future teachers is at the very core of the institution’s history. The state of Tennessee established what is today MTSU in 1911 as a Normal School, specifically to train educators. From those humble beginnings, MTSU has grown to become the largest undergraduate institution in Tennessee. Even though the University now offers dozens of fields of study, MTSU remains a primary producer of teachers and an institution on the leading edge of teacher training.

The University recently moved its College of Education into a brand-new $30 million state-of-the-art building equipped with the newest technology and most advanced training environments. It also launched a new doctoral program in educational assessment—a first of its kind in Tennessee—aimed at improving teacher education. Perhaps most importantly, MTSU’s College of Education has taken the clear lead among TBR institutions in implementing a complete overhaul of the way Tennessee universities prepare future teachers to be truly effective in the classroom.

Ready2Teach is a rigorous new teacher preparation program in Tennessee that focuses on research and best practices, strong content knowledge, and practical experiences in the field of teaching. As part of the new program, beginning in the fall of 2013, MTSU students who wish to be schoolteachers will, not unlike medical students, spend a residency year working inschools alongside highly effective teachers who have partnered with University faculty (many of whom are considered national experts) to design this course of study.

Ready2Teach merges theory and practice so that students are better prepared to student teach and are more effective when they actually begin their teaching careers. Lana Seivers, dean of the College of Education, says Centennial Campaign funds promise to strengthen this program by funding scholarships for MTSU students plus stipends, professional development, and research opportunities for K–12 teachers and MTSU faculty.

Research for Answers

College of Basic and Applied Sciences

Priority: Research Funding

The pace of scientific discovery is constantly accelerating. New products and processes that will change the world for the better are always being invented—often in academic settings.

Historically, research has not been a significant component of MTSU’s mission, but that’s changing rapidly. The University’s new $147 million science building, currently under construction, is a game changer for MTSU research and the College of Basic and Applied Sciences (CBAS). So too, are recent additions to the administration and staff in CBAS, including new dean Bud Fischer and new department chairs Greg Van Patten (Chemistry) and Lynn Boyd (Biology). Each has a strong research background and has received the external funding to prove it. Their presence signals a clear shift in direction toward more robust research output in the college.

But new funds will be needed to accelerate activities that promote research and push the boundaries of science. MTSU already has some very promising new centers for research. The University’s latest collaboration with China has great potential to yield significant dividends for Tennessee’s economy—and cure some of the world’s worst illnesses. In concert with the Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants in Nanning, China, MTSU now has exclusive access to a library of traditional Chinese medicinal (TCM) extracts, creating the opportunity to develop new Western medicines based on TCM’s proven healing powers.

Paying Dividends

Jennings A. Jones College of Business

Priority: Endowed Faculty Positions

One high-quality leader or faculty member can make a difference to hundreds, if not thousands, of students. Getting financial assistance to hire and retain top-tier academic leaders and faculty members is a critical component of MTSU’s formula for excellence and a top priority of the Jennings A. Jones College of Business.

To ensure that students have the opportunity to interact with and be guided by the nation’s leading educators and practitioners, the University wishes to establish a cadre of endowed chairs and professorships to attract prestigious teachers and research scholars. MTSU hopes to gain national attention through groundbreaking scholarship and research. The presence of these scholars will be a conspicuous example of MTSU’s commitment to academic excellence and to a curriculum that actively addresses and promotes an understanding of the economic, social, and educational issues of our country.

Attracting such talent will be no easy task. Competition for high-quality faculty and academic leaders is intense. In business disciplines, particularly accounting and finance, the annual demand for new Ph.D.s exceeds the supply.

One sterling example of the effect an endowed chair can have at MTSU is the Wright Travel Chair of Entrepreneurship, made possible by a $1.25 million commitment from alumna Pamela Wright (‘73), founder and CEO of Nashville-based Wright Travel, Tennessee’s largest travel agency. Establishing an endowed chair in entrepreneurship enabled the University to bring a nationally recognized expert to campus. He is not only in the classroom with students but also out in the Nashville area business community providing a valuable link to MTSU.

Wright, who also cochairs the Centennial Campaign, says she endowed the chair in an effort to help America compete with the developing world. “The experience they bring—the real workplace knowledge that person brings, as well as the potential for research and for community outreach in terms of enhancing the reputation of the University—it can have a transformational impact,” says Wright.

The University also seeks to expand annual funds available to reward faculty for exceptional performance in their service to students, the University, and the community, providing tangible proof of the importance MTSU places on all facets of faculty responsibility.

Not So Run of the Mill

College of Behavioral and Health Sciences

Priority: Underwater Treadmill Program

Students, faculty, and graduates of the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences (CBHS) are, essentially, community servants. That’s because CBHS—the University’s newest college—produces nurses, social workers, criminal justice and corrections workers, psychological counselors, and human service and health-related professionals. By preparing skilled professionals, CBHS produces a healthy return on investments made by individuals, corporations, and agencies.

The college is focused on research and evidence-based models to address community problems. One nationally recognized example is research being conducted at the MTSU Exercise Science laboratory by Sandy Stevens, a postdoctoral researcher who is helping people with paralysis walk again. Under her care, those with spinal cord injuries can train on an underwater treadmill and are able to stand and support themselves.

Stevens’s participants have shown a 57 percent increase in leg strength, 39 percent improvement in balance, 34 percent improvement in preferred walking speed, 61 percent improvement in rapid-walking speed, 82 percent improvement in six-minute walking distance, and a 121 percent increase in the number of steps they took in their own environments. Almost all participants report greater independence, better general health, and improved mental well-being. “If one thing has consistently changed throughout the course of treatment it is that hope has been restored,” Stevens says. “When the participants see their legs moving, they believe that anything is possible.”

Terry Whiteside, dean of the college, believes that with proper support MTSU’s reputation as a leader in underwater treadmill research could lead to an aquatic research facility, which could expand spinal cord therapy research and allow the University to become a leading voice for using aquatic exercise to reduce the national cost of conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

Converging Worlds

College of Mass Communication

Priority: Center for Innovation in Media

It wasn’t so long ago that mainstream media—print, television, and radio—were separated. It was also true that universities reflected the divisions between journalism and radio-television schools in their academic departments. But technology has changed all that, blurring those divisions and changing the way journalists and students across the disciplines conduct business. In this new world, content is converging into one electronic location— the Internet—where news consumers demand both visual and in-depth content from one location.

As media converges, professionals in the field are forced to adjust to a new business model. They must be as comfortable writing a breaking news story or Sunday feature article as they are shooting video, producing a podcast, or going on the radio. In other words, they must be comfortable creating content on multiple platforms. MTSU’s College of Mass Communication reflects this new world with its brand-new Center for Innovation in Media, where students and professionals from all media disciplines hone their skills while working under one roof with state-of-the-art equipment.

On the first floor of the John Bragg Mass Communication Building, the center combines the newsrooms for Sidelines, the student newspaper; WMTS-FM, the student-run radio station; MATCH Records, the student-run record label; MTTV, the student-operated cable television station; and WMOT-FM, the college’s 100,000- watt public radio station. The center reaffirms the University’s commitment to maintaining its reputation for having a top national school of journalism. In 2012, the Associated Press Managing Editors (APME) awarded the new center an honorable mention in the category “Innovator of the Year for College Students” for its merging of student media and fostering of collaboration across communication platforms.

Stephan Foust, director of the center, says continued investment will be essential to ongoing operations and the best preparation of students. “With the ability to update hardware and software when needed, our students will remain knowledgeable, skilled, and in demand by mass communication industries,” Foust says.

Podium Power

College of Liberal Arts

Priority: Speaker Series

Student Mary Choate recalls the effect that Sandra Day O’Connor, retired associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court had on her. The first female to serve on the nation’s highest court came to MTSU and gave a presentation as part of the College of Liberal Arts annual Speaker Series.

“Seeing the first woman Supreme Court justice renewed my passion for the law,” Choate says. “My main goal is to become a lawyer, and hopefully one day I will be in her shoes.”

It is exactly this type of inspiration that Dean Mark Byrnes sees as the reason to make the speaker series a high priority at MTSU. Byrnes believes in the power of the spoken word and is passionate about building an endowment to enable the College of Liberal Arts to bring more national and world figures to speak at the University.

“We have been very fortunate in recent years to have found funding to host speakers such as O’Connor, author David McCullough, and musician Béla Fleck, to name a few,” Byrnes says. “These are people who have helped shape their respective fields and our world. And we want to be able to continue this tradition for our students and the larger community.”

According to Byrnes, a lecture series of this nature “really embodies the value of a liberal arts education—helping people become more reflective about their beliefs and choices, more creative in their problem solving, more perceptive of the world around them, and better able to inform themselves about the issues that arise in their lives.”

State funding for such endeavors is increasingly hard to come by, so in order to meet Byrnes’s goal, MTSU will need to find donors willing to help support an endowment.

Getting in the Game

MT Athletics

Priority: Year-Round Training Facilities

Blue Raider athletics provides a strong link between the University, its alumni, and the community at large and increases alumni and public support for the University. But to maintain its status as an athletic powerhouse and ensure continued success in the future—especially now that MTSU has elevated its profile by joining Conference USA—student-athletes and coaches must have high-quality facilities that allow year-round training and participation regardless of weather.

The centerpiece of the athletic master plan is a comprehensive indoor practice and track competition building that will support football, soccer, baseball, and softball and provide a competition area for indoor track and field. Success in funding the project could have a domino effect, leading to improvements such as spectator suites in Murphy Center, MTSU’s now 40-year-old multipurpose arena. Providing new opportunities for coaches to better interact with staff and players in a more supportive environment is another significant need. Thus, the University is seeking to build a new athletics administrative and educational center, which would house key offices and provide academic and resource space for student-athletes.

“The most gifted student-athletes are sought by universities around the world,” says athletics director Chris Massaro. “If MTSU is to successfully attract the next generation of Blue Raider and Lady Raider players, it must have financial support to offer competitive student-aid packages to attract and support exceptional scholar-athletes, and, like other leading intercollegiate athletics programs, provide its student-athletes with great facilities.”

A Final Note: Scholarships

For MTSU to continue as the institution of choice for Tennessee’s best and brightest, it must offer competitive financial aid packages to attract and support exceptional student-scholars and make college affordable for all deserving students.

Scholarship support is the top overall priority in the Centennial Campaign. Central to this effort is the establishment of the MTSU Centennial Scholars, a distinguished scholarship program that will help the University recruit the most outstanding students in the region. In addition, increased support for merit- and need-based awards will help the University meet the financial needs of all entering students and expand educational opportunities available to citizens.

Finally, as the role of research and graduate education has become a vibrant element of our enterprise, an increased emphasis has been placed on supporting graduate students. Securing endowed and recurring stipends increases graduate opportunities for students and assures the University’s continued contributions to the sciences, education, and the economic development of the region.

Conclusion

Realizing this vision will require support of the entire MTSU family. With this campaign, MTSU is poised to accomplish over the next decade as much or more for the good of the state of Tennessee as it has done in its first 100 years. The goals of this campaign clearly reflect MTSU’s priorities and vision for the future. As a valued MTSU stakeholder, thank you for considering the accomplishments of the past and the promise of the future at MTSU. True Blue!

For more information, or to get involved in the Centennial Campaign, call the Office of Development at (615) 898-2502 or email development@mtsu.edu.

Five Minutes with the President: Setting the Pace

Setting the Pace

In your recently released Biennial Report (available online at www.mtsu.edu), in “The President’s Post” section, you reported that based on information supplied by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, MTSU was the top and most efficient producer of graduates among Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) universities in 2011–12. Can you elaborate on those findings?

The 3,911 bachelor’s degrees awarded by MTSU in 2011–12 were the most granted by any TBR institution.

MTSU also graduated more for less state money per graduate than any TBR university. In dividing MTSU’s 2011–12 total state funding by the number of graduates that year, the state spent $18,773 per MTSU graduate.

 

MTSU had the second-highest graduation rate among TBR universities based on a six-year cohort with 51.6 percent in 2011–12.

MTSU led all state universities in the production of adult graduates—defined as age 25 and older—with 1,488 degrees granted in 2011–12.

*Source: Tennessee Higher Education Commission

The Complete College Tennessee Act calls for colleges and universities to focus on student retention, degree completion, improvement in the areas of transfer and articulation, and institutional mission distinctiveness. These goals have long been strategic priorities for MTSU, helping us become the number-one producer of graduates for the middle Tennessee region and number two among all state schools.

Photo: J. Intintoli (Sidney A. McPhee on right)

Gov. Bill Haslam recently identified the state’s need for more college graduates in his “Drive to 55” initiative, which calls for 55 percent of Tennessee’s workforce to earn a degree. As our biennial report reflects, we are proud of the role we already play in supplying these qualified workers to our economy. Our graduation rate percentage of approximately 52 percent—a very good rate of graduation for an institution our size—is very close to the 55 percent goal set by Gov. Haslam and higher than the national and state averages for institutions our size and type.

MTSU entered its second century with a clear mission: to increase its already considerable commitment to provide quality education and, in doing so, provide even more college graduates for Tennessee’s workforce.

When we say “I am True Blue,” we are also reaffirming our devotion to student success.