Riding a Wave

University-operated WMOT, the most powerful radio signal in Tennessee, partners with industry to broadcast burgeoning Americana music


by Skip Anderson


When MTSU’s radio station WMOT-FM first fired up its signal in April 1969, the student-centered station broadcast pop/rock music at a time when Marvin Gaye was singing about unsettling news he had heard “through the grapevine,” the Beatles were telling Jo Jo to “get back,” and the Rolling Stones were extolling the virtues of America’s “honky-tonk women.”

WMOT (89.5 on the dial) eventually switched its format to jazz music, a 100,000-watt behemoth broadcasting masterworks by Miles, Ella, Duke, and Satchmo from the Tennessee/Alabama border to Bowling Green, Kentucky, and from Waverly to Monterey. Then in 2011, MTSU’s radio station again recast its emphasis to become the region’s premier classical radio station, adding timely news updates to increase its appeal to off-campus listeners.


WMOT-FM/Roots Radio 89.5 Launch Celebration at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Middle Tennessee State University’s public radio station, is dramatically expanding its reach and range of music to launch a new format dedicated to Americana music and a new home on the dial for its current jazz format. The Roots Radio All-Star Band

WMOT-FM/Roots Radio 89.5 Launch Celebration at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Middle Tennessee State University’s public radio station, is dramatically expanding its reach and range of music to launch a new format dedicated to Americana music and a new home on the dial for its current jazz format.

What may be WMOT’s most calculated changeover in the station’s 47-year history, though, came in September 2016, when in a ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Ford Theater in downtown Nashville, MTSU announced a partnership with Music City Roots and a retooling of the station to broadcast the burgeoning, singer/songwriter-friendly Americana format. The transition makes WMOT the region’s only station devoted to the unique amalgam of bluegrass, folk, gospel, soul, country, and blues music defined in the music industry as Americana.

“Imagine, in our neck of the woods, a radio station with real people playing music they actually care about, even love,” legendary performing songwriter and producer Rodney Crowell told MTSU Magazine. “WMOT is bringing middle Tennessee real music when we need it most,” added the artist, who received the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting in 2006. “Miracles happen.”

A Win-Win

The station’s program director, Jessie Scott, is a longstanding luminary in the music industry. Scott has worked as an influential DJ for decades and founded the highly regarded Music Fog video series. Scott also has served on the board of directors for the Americana Music Association since its inception in 1999.

The reformatted station features live local DJs and unique, locally programmed playlists, attributes which Scott said provide listeners with an experience that goes beyond simply exposing the audience to music they might otherwise have trouble finding on the radio, while “mirroring the cadence of the week” in middle Tennessee.

According to Scott, the mission of the station extends beyond entertainment and academia.

“Radio still has an enormous impact on the population,” Scott said. “And much of what’s out there has become stale and redundant. WMOT is a living and breathing art form.”

Americana recording artist Bonnie Bishop applauded the format shift.

“WMOT is about to become one of the leading tastemakers in Americana radio,” Bishop said. “Hundreds of thousands of people in Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky are about to be exposed to a genre of music they may not even know exists, which could mean an increased demand for this format in other markets around the country. This is the exact kind of exposure that Americana artists desperately need. It’s very exciting!”

The timing for the format change appears ideal, too. As a genre, Americana music is on the rise. To wit, the industry bible Billboard magazine recently added an Americana section to its weekly chart listings.

Sometimes called “roots music” or “no-depression music,” Americana champions songwriters and performers in the tradition of the original country music that evolved throughout the 20th century, as well as blues, bluegrass, and alt-country.

Breakout artists such as Margo Price, Parker Millsap, and Jason Isbell have a home under the Americana umbrella. Well-established recording artists whose music can be hard to find on traditional country radio stations—Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, and John Hiatt, for instance—also have a home in Americana. Scott says WMOT seeks out music from talented “radio orphans” such as these.

Ken Paulson, dean of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, which operates the station, said WMOT offers an opportunity for middle Tennesseans to tap into the works of internationally known artists based in Music City.

“Among Nashville artists charting with Americana albums in recent months have been Sturgill Simpson, the Mavericks, Elizabeth Cook, Darrell Scott, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, and many more,” Paulson said. “Nashville is Americana’s hometown.”

Paulson emphasized that WMOT continues to be a resource for MTSU students interested in learning marketable skills, including engineering, programming, audio editing, and narration. Val Hoeppner, executive director of MTSU’s Center for Innovation in Media, said the unique partnership with Music City Roots now enables MTSU to “continue to mentor and train students at MTSU for careers in journalism, the recording industry, radio, television, and beyond.” At press time, four students had already been hired to production posts with the station.



Listening In

To help ensure WMOT is well-rooted in the on-the-rise Americana music genre, MTSU partnered with Music City Roots, the weekly radio, television, and internet broadcast that offers a Nashville-centric take on Americana music. Through this partnership, WMOT is the flagship station for Music City Roots and broadcasts the two-hour program that, according to its website, is produced in the tradition of a “historic legacy of live musical radio production in Nashville.” WMOT also broadcasts the Emmy award-winning PBS program and radio show Bluegrass Underground.

Americana-Music-Association-Logo-Crop-1480x832“It is great to have a station like this in middle Tennessee for so many artists that would otherwise never receive airplay,” said Kelsey Waldon, listed alongside the Cadillac Three and the Black Lillies in Rolling Stone’s influential “10 Artists You Need to Know” feature in 2014. “Hearing John Prine and Guy Clark on FM radio again is a beautiful thing. I think this is of valuable quality for Nashville.”

Music City Roots executive producer John Walker, who also oversees the development of new programs, hosts WMOT’s morning drive-time program. Grand Ole Opry mainstay Keith Bilbrey brings his expertise in country music to the midday broadcast, and veteran broadcaster Whit “Witness” Hubner works early afternoons. Importantly, Scott said, all shows are able to accommodate drop-in guests, including Music City artists as well as MTSU’s extensive roster of expert faculty such as Greg Reish, director of the Center for Popular Music at MTSU, widely recognized as one of the world’s deepest archives of recordings. Reish hosts a weekly show called Lost Sounds, diving into the CPM archives and extrapolating upon its historic context.

Remembering the Past

 Jessie Scott and Keith Bilbrey

Jessie Scott and Keith Bilbrey

WMOT has quickly climbed the ranks of most listened-to radio stations among the 43 operating in Nashville since the format change was made. Additionally, in the first month following the format change, WMOT and the College of Media and Entertainment raised more money to support the station’s operations than had been raised in the entirety of the previous year.

And, while WMOT has officially changed its focus, program director Scott said jazz lovers need not worry.

“Not only did we not take jazz off the air, we’re broadcasting it 24/7 on our HD2 radio channel as well via FM signals 104.9 in Brentwood and 92.3 in Murfreesboro,” she said.

WMOT will also remain the flagship
for Blue Raider Athletics and will continue to air MTSU On the Record, a 30-minute public affairs interview program highlighting the University community, as well as regular local and national news updates.

Make no mistake, though: With its seamless segue from a classical rendition of Aaron Copland’s “Hoedown” to its Americana interpretation completed, a new player has definitely emerged in the Nashville radio market.


Good Partners

freedom singsWMOT’s migration to roots music isn’t the only strong connection between the College of Media and Entertainment and the burgeoning Americana music genre.

An ongoing, ambitious professional partnership between the college and the Americana Music Association, based in nearby Franklin, offers continual opportunities for MTSU music and media students to gain valuable out-of-class experience.

The annual Americana Music Festival and Conference marks just one of those unique educational partnership opportunities. Under the partnership, prominent artists participate in special lectures at the University, while students get to attend, gain work experience, and obtain networking opportunities at the conference held each year in Nashville.

Students and faculty from MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment contributed in a number of ways to the success of the most recent annual Americana Music Festival and Conference in Nashville in 2016. As just one example, students from the MTSU Seigenthaler News Service contributed five advance features that appeared both in the digital version of Nashville’s daily, The Tennessean, as well as the MTSU student news outlet Sidelines. Two of the articles also were picked up in the print version of The Tennessean.


For programming information, go to wmot.org or musiccityroots.com.

Listeners can also enjoy the living and breathing art form via webstream at rootsradio.com and the Roots Radio iPhone/Android app.

Leading Man

Richard Hansen, Theatre & Dance faculty, in the KUC Theatre for the Honors College Magazine.

Richard Hansen, Theatre & Dance faculty, in the KUC Theatre
















Theatre professor, movie expert, and study abroad chaperone Richard Hansen has spent his life studying the stage

by Allison Gorman


Every neighborhood has that one kid who regularly invites all the other kids over to watch movies. Richard Hansen was that kid in his suburban neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio. His home theatre seated 10.

Except this was the ’60s, so the movies Hansen showed every Sunday afternoon were 8mm films he’d bought from a local department store, for which he’d rigged up sound and projection himself.

“I scored musical soundtracks for silent films,” he said. “It was one way to get a neighborhood kid to watch a two-hour silent movie.”

Hansen grew up to teach theatre—he’s an associate professor and a member of the Honors faculty—but film was his first love. On the way to earning his Ph.D., he ran two cinemas, appeared in two movies, and joined the Screen Actors Guild, to which he still belongs.

And from the youngest age, he studied films with an academic fervor, memorizing movie trivia almost by osmosis, the way other kids memorized batting averages.

Hansen still fields calls from friends, and sometimes journalists, wanting to borrow from his reservoir of film facts. He knows that Orson Welles was drunk when he nailed his famous Moby Dick speech in one take; that Frankenstein 1970 was the first movie to include the sound of a toilet flushing; and that the “original” Phantom of the Opera starring Lon Chaney is actually a 1929 reediting of the silent 1925 version.

He knows things that Google doesn’t—and that’s fitting for a man who eschews technology he considers unnecessary or, worse, detrimental. He doesn’t have a cellphone, and he rues the fact that movie and theatregoers do and can’t seem to put them away. He considers digital projection one cause of the decline of film as an art form.

It’s unsurprising that Hansen doesn’t teach online. Or it might be expected of such an instructor in the small-college environment of the Honors College. Whether he’s teaching Honors Theatre Appreciation or leading a study-abroad group in London, Hansen’s job is less to lecture and more to feed his students’ intellectual curiosity.

The annual trip to what Hansen calls “the theatre capital of the world,” which he leads every other winter, alternating with Professor Scott Boyd, is “a potentially life-changing experience,” he said. In London, he likes to hold classes in unconventional places—say a pub or the lobby of Drury Lane Theatre in the heart of West End. Convinced that every college student should study abroad if possible, he’s also established a scholarship named for his parents (also educators) to help offset the cost of the trip for theatre majors.

Hansen is still an ardent student of film (he’s a longtime supporter of the Nashville Film Festival), and he uses film references to teach theatre, pointing out, for example, that the ancient Greeks invented Hollywood conventions like the sequel and the trilogy.

“Often, my students have not been to many plays, if any,” he said. “But they have seen movies. So I can use their movie reference base as a way to access theatre, and sometimes that’s a very good connection.”

That’s what good teachers do: find that connection. It’s exactly what Richard Hansen has been doing since he was a boy scoring soundtracks in Garfield Heights, Ohio.


Campus Icon

Terry Whiteside, Dean, Education and Behavioral Science

Terry Whiteside, Dean, College of Behavioral and Health Sciences



Ten things you probably don’t know about one of MTSU’s best-known educators

By Drew Ruble

Dr. Terry Whiteside, dean of the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, has been a “man about campus” for no less than 42 years.

Given his high-profile academic, administrative, and athletic roles through the years, the odds are pretty high that Whiteside has had at least some connection to the college experiences of many living alumni.

Because he’s spent more than four decades at MTSU, one would think Whiteside must be well known to everyone associated with the University.

But MTSU Magazine recently learned 10 things that readers may not know about this longtime Blue Raider.


His real name is Harold Dean, not Terry. Before Harold’s birth, there was a popular action-adventure comic strip called “Terry and the Pirates.” One of the main characters had a nickname that friends applied to Whiteside’s father, a fighter pilot. “Well, I guess my dad was a bit of a hotshot, so they called him Hot Shot Charlie,” Whiteside says. In the comic, Charlie’s best friend is a younger pilot named Terry Lee. Whiteside’s mother told him that before he was born, people would pat her on the tummy and ask, “How is Terry of the Pirates doing?” And the name stuck. When his first-grade teacher called roll the first time and told the youngster that his official name on school paperwork was Harold Dean, he had to go home and check with his mother to make sure it was true! Whiteside was seven when his father died from the aftereffects of his World War II service. The product of a single-parent home, “Terry” was only able to go to college because of his father’s G.I. Bill benefits.


In 1956, as an 11-year-old, Whiteside joined the Southwest Miami Boys Club and its under-12 Little League football team. The squad was undefeated that season and played in the Junior Orange Bowl game, and Whiteside got to check out the University of Miami locker room and meet his hero at the time, All-American fullback (and eventual pro) Don Bosseler. He also attended a banquet and sat next to movie star Gabby Hayes, John Wayne’s sidekick in many Western films. “From that Junior Orange Bowl game, my athletic career pretty much went downhill, I would say,” Whiteside says. He did go on to play high school football and tennis and was on the track team.


Whiteside’s uncle was city editor of the Fort Lauderdale Daily News and took him to space launches at Cape Canaveral. Whiteside vividly remembers the first one he saw, which left an indelible memory. “As it went up, the whole sky turned orange—you could have read a book on the beach with how bright that was,” he says. “My grandmother got up and started running because it looked like it was coming right at us even though it was going out over the ocean.”


Through media connections, the same uncle also got Whiteside in as an extra in the hit movie Where the Boys Are. He appears in a scene where a car runs a traffic light and almost hits movie star Dolores Hart. “If you know where to look, you can see me,” Whiteside says, describing his acting instructions as “just look buff.” In addition to Hart (who went on to give Elvis Presley his first on-screen kiss), Whiteside also got to meet megastars of the day George Hamilton, Connie Francis, and Paula Prentiss. “They were all extremely nice,” Whiteside says. He never appeared in a movie again. “I guess my movie career peaked at a young age, as well,” he says.


Whiteside was a high school football player in Miami at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He vividly remembers the late afternoon he and his fellow classmates were gathered around their car radios listening as news broke that the Russian ships had turned around. “We all were hollering and cheering,” he says, “because we knew Castro could reach us with nuclear weapons.” The celebration didn’t last long. Whiteside says he and his fellow football players were thinking they would get the day off, but it was not to be. “The coaches came around and said, ‘You have 10 minutes to get on the field,’” Whiteside says. “South Florida football has always been serious business!”


Whiteside started his college career at the University of Florida, where his closest friends were his former high school football teammates playing on the 1963 freshman team. On that team was a quarterback named Steve Spurrier—a future Heisman Trophy winner and the now legendary football coach at the University of South Carolina. Whiteside says that after his mother’s death, he found a letter he had written to her following his first look at Spurrier on the practice field. “I don’t know who this quarterback is,” the letter reads, “but he is the best I’ve ever seen.”


Whiteside is known today as dean of one of MTSU’s colleges. But at his core, Whiteside is a professor of psychology—and a darn good one. He created the sports psychology class offered at MTSU. (When he was in grad school, sports psychology in America really didn’t exist.) Whiteside worked as a sports psychologist with elite professional athletes to sharpen their mental approach—including one of legendary boxing promoter Don King’s fighters who fought for the Junior Middleweight championship of world.


There’s very little Whiteside hasn’t done on the academic/administrative side at MTSU (including being the only two-time Faculty Senate president). The joke used to be that Whiteside was like a Kelly Services administrator—just plug him into a role when you have a short-term need. When President Sidney A. McPhee needed an interim director for the former College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Whiteside fit the bill for about two years. And when that college was split into the College of Education and a separate, new College of Behavioral and Health Sciences (with six departments), McPhee named Whiteside to be its first dean. “It was an incredible honor, really,” Whiteside says, “to start a college, well, not from scratch, but, let’s say, founded on a shoestring. And we’ve never had a hiccup.”

Terry Whiteside, Dean, Education and Behavioral Science

Terry Whiteside in his office in the Cason-Kennedy Nursing Building


As faculty-athletic representative at MTSU for the last 14 years, Whiteside has had a hand in hiring every coach at MTSU except track coach Dean Hayes (who has been here 50 years). But there’s more to it than just helping to hire coaches. The NCAA mandates faculty oversight of athletics, and that carries a three-fold responsibility: first, to maintain academic integrity (meaning not allowing things to occur like what happened at the University of North Carolina, with fake classes for athletes); second, to maintain the welfare of student-athletes (making sure they get proper nutrition and use safe equipment); and third, perhaps most intriguing, to serve as the NCAA prosecutor when there is a violation. “It goes through me,” Whiteside says. “My job is to protect the institution.” In his 14 years in the position, MTSU has been free of major violations. Coach Rick Stockstill has given Whiteside a team ring for each of the bowl games the football team has been to in recent years. (Whiteside is shown here wearing one of those rings.) Even more impressive than his role in on-field victories are Whiteside’s efforts to improve the academic achievement and progress of student-athletes. That work, accomplished with the help of others, has been recognized by the NCAA. When the NCAA’s Academic Progress Report (APR) first came out about a decade ago, MTSU was dead last on the list in terms of student-athletes staying eligible and moving toward graduation. Under President McPhee’s oversight and with Whiteside as faculty-athletic representative, MTSU climbed from worst in the nation to the model program it is now. Even the NCAA’s magazine profiled the University for its turnaround. These days, when the APR ratings come out, the top 10 programs include names like Stanford, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, and . . . MTSU. “I’m very proud about being just a part of that,” Whiteside says. Many of the methods used to turn around student-athlete academic progress at MTSU are now being used campus-wide as part of the University’s Quest for Student Success.


Each year, the highest award given to a football player at MTSU goes to someone who has shown excellence in athletics, academics, and community service leadership. It’s called the Whiteside Award, named after Terry. “It’s hard to express how humble that makes me feel,” Whiteside says. “Really, I don’t deserve that.” When organizers of a prospective annual conference for the LGBT+ community on campus began looking for an academic home (a requirement to host a conference), Whiteside agreed to let his college be the host. “It was an easy decision for me,” he says. “I’ve always been committed to diversity and believe everyone should have the right to love who they want and shouldn’t be discriminated against in any way because of anything about them except their own accomplishments and own deeds.” At the banquet for the first conference, Whiteside was awarded the Ally Diversity Award, honoring a straight ally or friend of the LGBT+ community. This year, the award was renamed the Whiteside Award. “I was really touched by that,” Whiteside says. “I’m probably the only person in the country who has two awards as diverse as these named after him—a football award and an LGBT+ award. Both of them are very humbling!”

Path to Progress

A good deed from the past continues to support MTSU’s mission

by Drew Ruble

The actions of an MTSU president in the 1930s show that being True Blue is not a newfound notion. So, too, do the recent actions of an area business leader to repay the kindness of that president. The story reaffirms MTSU’s long history as the institution of higher education in middle Tennessee, where people receive education—often as first-generation students—that raises their status to new levels of social and financial good.The phrase “I am True Blue” is more than just a marketing phrase. Each time these words are repeated, they express not only the ideals the University wishes to share with its students—that it is working to develop a community devoted to learning, growth, and service—but also the commitment to a student-centered culture that has been an ingrained part of the institution for 103 years.



A Fateful Journey

James Lafayette Hitt was born in Savannah, Tenn., on March 13, 1879. Josephine Meredith was bornin Wayne County, Tenn., on Dec. 9, 1882, but moved to Savannah at an early age. Both attended Savannah Institute (the equivalent of high school), where James graduated as valedictorian and Josephine as salutatorian. Hitt had saved money working at his father’s sawmill with the expectation of going to college. An extended bout of typhoid fever, however, erased both his money and his dream of college. He would later jokingly say, “I got married instead.” Jim and Josie Hitt were married June 11, 1903. They had eight children—four boys and four girls.

Hitt was determined that his children would attend college and that each one would earn a degree. The Hitts were able to send their first child to college for two years in the 1920s. Then came   the Great Depression, and they realized that their only hope of achieving the goal of college for the other seven was to move the family to a college town. Memphis was closer to Savannah, but Murfreesboro had Middle Tennessee State Teachers College (MTSTC) in a smaller, more suitable community. In 1930, James Hitt set out for Murfreesboro to find a new home for his family. It no doubt took a lot of courage and faith for   a 51-year-old to uproot his family during the Depression and move to a new town without a job, but that is precisely what he did. While riding the bus between Nashville and Murfreesboro, fate placed Hitt in a seat next to P. A. Lyon, president of MTSTC. The two men talked, and Lyon learned about Hitt’s story and his family’s mission. Lyon was so impressed that he immediately offered help. He told Hitt that he would personally see to it that each child would be given a job on campus, and until then they were to come to his office to have their registration cards signed. Even though the two oldest Hitt children were teachers back home in Hardin County during the school year and could only attend MTSTC during the summer, Lyon’s gesture allowed all eight to pursue B.S. degrees.

With that grand offer in hand, the Hitt family moved to Murfreesboro, where James’s first job was at a sawmill making $1 per day. There were many lean, hard years, but conditions improved as, one by one, all eight children enrolled in college and helped others in the family.

All eight received degrees from what is today MTSU. Three went on to receive master’s degrees and one earned a Ph.D. Five of the eight children became teachers, and two of those spent more than 35 years in the Tennessee public school system. Another became a high school principal. One became a published author and chair of the English Department at a private prep school in Tennessee. One became chair   of the English Department at a public university in Mississippi.




Paying It Forward

One of those eight children was Virginia Hitt. After graduating with a certificate to teach English, Latin, science, math, and home economics, she started her working career as a home demonstration agent (now called county extension agent) in Carthage, Erin, and finally, Lewisburg, where she met and married James R. Patterson in 1947. She stayed home to raise three sons. When the youngest was in first grade, she began teaching seventh-grade math and continued doing so for most of her 25 years as a Marshall County schoolteacher. She endeared herself to students across three decades with a reputation of being both strict and fair. Her life’s greatest sorrows were the drowning death of her youngest son, Ralph Wallace Patterson, at age 14 in 1967 and her husband’s death in 1976. Her greatest joys in 30 years of retirement were honing her intellect with reading, doing crosswords, watching Jeopardy, and indulging her passions for cooking, vegetable gardening, and traveling the country with longtime friends.

Her son, James K. Patterson, a Nashville businessman and a 1972 graduate of MTSU, has established two scholarships at MTSU: the Hitt Family Scholarship in honor of his grandparents, which supports students minoring in education and planning to be secondary school teachers, and, with one of his brothers, the P. A. Lyon Faculty Award, which supports faculty excellence in the College of Education.

In the past year, Patterson increased his family’s donation to the University by adding to the amount of the annual Hitt Scholarship. Patterson says his mother never forgot the kindness of Dr. Lyon or the effect he had on her family’s future. She considered it a privilege and duty to honor him in some way and make a contribution, as he did, to advancing the teaching careers of others.

The Hitt/Patterson story shows how something as simple as a conversation on a bus can lead to a legacy of good works and an ongoing testament to the meaning of True Blue!

The Stone Pride

The Honors College is home to some nonliving embodiments of its nobler aspirations

By Drew Ruble


MTSU has a beautiful campus. There are many beautiful buildings (both new and old) and several important landmarks that include the enduring columns of Kirksey Old Main, the obelisk at the Main Street entrance, the horseshoe in Walnut Grove, the columns in the roundabout from the Old Capitol Building, and the new veterans memorial near the University’s four original buildings.


Enter the lions.


Those who know John Vile, dean of the Honors College, know that, next to writing, he loves to collect. Vile and his wife spend many Saturday mornings going to estate sales and flea markets, and the dean has a special fancy for old books, political collectibles, and art.


The hobbyist/collector just happened to spend two summers studying at Princeton University, where he was especially impressed by the statues of tigers spread throughout the campus.


“It was almost as though they were breeding,” Vile says. “One could practically direct a visitor through the campus by directing them from one such statue to another.”


Imagine Vile’s delight, then, when he was at a favorite consignment shop in Nashville a few years ago and saw two gray granite lions.


Though he says he was tempted to carry them to his own front porch, both had been brought from China, with which MTSU has many connections, and both were stately symbols that in Vile’s mind seemed to epitomize the strength of mind, will, and character that the Honors College seeks to imbue. Vile placed the lions outside the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building, facing visitors approaching from the College of Mass Communication or the College of Education to the west.


“I thought perhaps they would also inspire courage,” Vile says. “After all, the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz is so memorable because it so contradicts the stereotype.”


To be precise, the lions are actually Fu dogs. In feng shui, the Chinese art of placement, a Fu Dog is a door guardian. The lion-like statues usually appear in pairs (a male and a female) and have muscular bodies, fearsome faces, and curly hair. Fu dogs are sometimes referred to as lion dogs, temple lions, or Chinese guardian lions.


Fu dogs guard and bring energy blessings to the places they “protect.” They are traditionally displayed in front of a door or a hallway near a door to prevent bad spirits and harmful energy from entering a home or business.


Vile says he only purchased the lions because of the University’s China connection and because he liked them—not because he is a follower of feng shui (or was even fully aware of the connection at the time). “I think they add a bit of personality to the entrances,” Vile says. “The Chinese consider them to bring good luck. And if they do so, then that’s just an added bonus!”


The deal was done after some negotiation. Luckily for Vile’s pocketbook, the owner had an MTSU connection and was proud to have the statues ending up on campus. Vile soon discov­ered that each lion seemed to weigh about a ton! He recruited one of his strongest students, who helped lift them into the dean’s Honda Odyssey and eventually onto the back steps of the Honors Building, where they now regally reside.


Smitten with his first pair of guardians, the search was on for Vile.


He found four other lions later at the same Nashville shop. They are now found on the other side of the Honors Building, facing the Rec Center and the new student services building. They are white rather than gray, smaller, look more distinctly Chinese than the first two, and are perhaps more whimsical than imposing. Two have marbles in their mouths.


Lions are often associated with strength, but Vile says he thinks the six now perched outside the Honors Building also look just a bit wise.


“The statues help remind me that the Honors College values not only the retention of facts but also strength of character and wisdom,” Vile says. “That, at least, is what I think of when I look at them. It seems fitting that statutes from one of the world’s most ancient civilizations, which values wisdom, have found a home at the Honors College.”


In many ways, the lions dotting the perimeter of the building also provide a new, signature, artistic marker for the campus.


Hear them roar.




Check out the Honors College in the video below:

MTSU’s "first-gen” deans

Roughly 30 percent of entering first year students in the United States are first-generation college students,

meaning that they are the first members of their families to enroll in any educational institution after high



To be the first in a family to receive a college degree is a big accomplishment and a deserved point of

pride. MTSU has long been a top choice of such “first-gens” who enroll in college in a deliberate attempt to

improve their social,economic, and occupational standing.


It is perhaps appropriate, then, that at MTSU, six of the nine academic deans leading the various colleges

and academic units that comprise MTSU are themselves first-generation college students. Pictured here are

the six MTSU deans and below they are listed with the colleges they helm and the institutions from which

they received their bachelor’s degrees.

(left to right) David Urban (Business) University of Virginia, B.S., commerce, 1977,  Ken Paulson (Mass Communication) University of Missouri, B.J., journalism, 1975, Bonnie Allen (Walker Library) Indiana University–Bloomington, B.A., fine arts (art history), 1972, Lana Seivers (Education) MTSU, B.S., speech and hearing therapy, 1972, Bud Fischer (Basic and Applied Sciences) Herkimer County Community College, A.S., liberal arts: science, 1980 SUNY College, B.S., forest biology, 1982, Terry Whiteside (Behavioral and Health Sciences) University of Miami, B.A., psychology, 1967

True Blue!

Raiders of Industry

A Roundup of Former MTSU Athletes Plying their Wares in the Big Leagues

by Drew Ruble

MT athletics boasts an impressive roster of former student-athletes now playing professionally. Here is the cream of the crop—the most recognizable former Blue Raiders now making a living as professional athletes.

Michael McKenry Pittsburgh Pirates Major League Baseball fans will remember the night of July 26, 2011, when a game between the Atlanta Braves and the Pittsburgh Pirates lasted 19 innings (6 hours and 39 minutes) and ended at 1:50 a.m. ET with what some sportswriters described as the worst officiating call ever in baseball. How does this apply to MTSU? When Braves runner Julio Lugo scored from third base on the contested play at the plate that ended the game with a Braves victory, replays clearly showed that former MTSU baseball standout Michael McKenry—the Pirate catcher— made the tag for the out. The home plate umpire saw it differently. The loss sent the Pirates, who were in the thick of a playoff hunt for the first time in decades, into a spiral. After that loss, the Pirates lost 21 of their next 29 games and fell out of contention in the National League Central. McKenry started the 2013 season in a catching rotation with former Dodger and Yankee Russell Martin. Other former Blue Raider pro baseball players playing in the minor league system include Hunter Adkins, Bryce Brentz, Brett Carroll, Alex McClure, Justin Miller, Daniel Palo, Kenneth Roberts, Will Skinner, and Coty Woods.


Alysha Clark (’09) Seattle Storm A. S. Ramat Hasharon Electra Clark, who led the NCAA in scoring and set a school record with 27.5 points per game while a senior at MTSU, got her pro career back on track last year with the Seattle Storm in the WNBA. (Clark has also played in Israel.) Clark was recently named an assistant coach for the Lady Raiders. She will remain with Seattle until their season is complete this fall.





Chas Narramore, Rick Cochran (’09), Kent Bulle (’11) (Right), Jason Millard (’11), and Hunter Green could soon crack a PGA tour event. A recent list of 10 “golfers to watch” on the 2013 National Golf Association tour (widely regarded as the numberthree men’s professional golf tour in the U.S.) spotlighted Narramore, Cochran, Bulle, and Millard in particular as players who could move up to the Web.com tour or even the PGA Tour “sooner than later.” Narramore finished top-5 in NGA earnings in 2012 with four top-10 finishes. Cochran had six top-10s.




Tom Gunn Kis-Raba menti Takarek Soproni KC (Hungary) Gunn has been playing pro basketball in Europe since 2004.

Chrissy Givens (’06) BC ICIM Arad Givens lit up the Romanian National League earlier this year, leading in scoring at over 19 points per game and taking ICIM Arad to first place in her first season with the team.

Amber Holt (’11) Tulsa Shock Uniwa Euroleasing Sopron Last season, her fifth in the WNBA, Holt started 18 games for the Tulsa Shock. (She has also played in Hungary.)

Laron Dendy (’12) Kolossos Rodou B.C. Dendy plays in the Greek Basketball League, averaging nearly 15 points and six rebounds per game. Currently, Dendy is a member of the world champion Miami Heat’s summer league squad.

James Washington (’11) Nassjo, Sweden Washington averaged 20 points per game for Leitershofen, Germany, last season.

Tim Blue (’07) Antibes, France Blue was recently named finals MVP in the French league.


Kendall Newson MTSU’s all-time leading receiver (1998–2001), who played receiver professionally for the Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins, is today a member of the American Bass Anglers Bassmaster Weekend Series circuit.


Lisa-Marie Woods Boston Breakers Fortuna Hjørring A pro player in Denmark and a member of the Norwegian Women’s National Team system since 2003, Woods recently signed a contract with the Boston Breakers of the newly christened National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

Katie Daley Sherwood Chelsea Ladies Football Club Sherwood is in her second season playing in England in the Football Association’s Women’s Super League (FAWSL).

Shan Jones (’12) Jones was selected to the Wales Women’s National Team for the 2013 Algarve Cup, a prestigious global competition between 12 national teams held in Algarve, Portugal.


Eric Walden (’07) Indianapolis Colts Though he had just three sacks last season, Walden ranked second among Green Bay Packers defenders in quarterback hits with 24. During the off-season, the Indianapolis Colts signed Walden to a four-year, $16 million free-agent contract.

Phillip Tanner (’10) Dallas Cowboys Tanner will enter the 2013 NFL season as one of the backups to starter DeMarco Murray in the backfield for the Cowboys.

Degrees of Recognition

The granting of an honorary degree, a tradition of universities dating back to the Middle Ages, is higher education’s most significant accolade. Such degrees honor those with sustained records of achievement who have made outstanding contributions and who exemplify the ideals for which a university stands. They are not lightly given. It is a university’s ultimate sign of respect.

On May 11, 2013, during the University’s commencement ceremonies, MTSU granted the first two honorary degrees in its 102-year history. Receiving them were two MTSU graduates: former U.S. congressman Bart Gordon and (posthumously) Nobel Prize winner James Buchanan.

Serving the People 

Bart Gordon is a third-generation Blue Raider. At MTSU, he was elected president of the Associated Student Body. He graduated with honors in 1971 and served in the Army Reserves from 1971 to 1972. He graduated from the College of Law at UT–Knoxville in 1973. From 1974 to 1983, he practiced law in Murfreesboro and worked for the Tennessee Democratic Party. In 1984, Gordon was elected to Congress as representative of Tennessee’s sixth district.

Bart Gordon and Sidney McPhee

During his 26-year congressional career, he developed a reputation as the undisputed bipartisan leader in innovation policy. As chair of the House Science and Technology Committee, Gordon helped pass 151 bills and resolutions, all bipartisan.

He led the effort to enact the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which increased mileage standards, improved vehicle technology, promoted alternative energy research, and improved energy efficiency in a variety of ways. He was a leading proponent of America’s space program and championed the America COMPETES Act promoting federal investments in innovation to make the U.S. more competitive.

He counts the Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act, the 911 Improvement Act, and the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (aimed at curbing youth suicide) among his legislative achievements. Gordon cowrote the Family Medical Leave Act in 1990, which was signed into law in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. Gordon also wrote the Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act, which protects amateur athletes from abusive contract practices, and helped pass laws regulating 1-800 and 1-900 numbers for the first time.

Gordon has been a champion of expansion and improvement at Stones River National Battlefield, and he wrote legislation creating the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area. He also helped make possible the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, Murfreesboro’s greenways and improvements to Oaklands Historic House Museum.

For 20 years running, Gordon was known as “the fastest member of Congress” by virtue of his victories in the Capital Challenge, an annual three-mile race for charity.

When he retired from Congress in 2011, Gordon joined the law firm of K&L Gates as a partner. In 2012, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. Later that year, the government of France awarded him the Legion of Honor with an added promotion by the president to the rank of Officier.

Paying it Forward

Dr. James M. Buchanan, grandson of a Tennessee governor, was a 1940 graduate of Middle Tennessee State Teachers College. A Rutherford County native, Buchanan received the 1986 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

Buchanan, who died earlier this year at age 93, is the only MTSU alumnus so far to win the honor. A stridently independent thinker, Buchanan earned the Nobel for “his development of the contractual and constitutional bases for the theory of economic and political decision making.” Within the economics discipline, his contribution is known as the field of public choice, which brings the tools of economic analysis to the study of public decision making. Buchanan once wrote, “If Jim Buchanan can get a Nobel Prize, anyone can.”

Buchanan also completed a graduate fellowship at UT–Knoxville and an economics fellowship at Columbia University. Following naval service in the Pacific, he earned his doctorate from the University of

James Buchanan

Chicago. Dr. Buchanan wrote and lectured around the world into his 90s. He spent much of his academic career in Virginia, first at the University of Virginia, then at Virginia Tech, where he established the Center for the Study of Public Choice. Buchanan and the Center moved to George Mason University in 1983. He retired in 2007.

While visiting MTSU in 1997 to address students, Buchanan said, “Economics . . . requires expository writing skills, logical structures of analysis, and a grounding in ultimate reality. And political economy, the branch of moral philosophy from which economics springs, requires philosophical coherence. I came away from Middle Tennessee with all of these.”

Speaking at MTSU’s commencement in May 2000, Buchanan challenged graduates to question the day’s political leadership.

“An open politics makes no distinction between the Ivy Leagues and the bush leagues when it comes to telling us what we want our government to do. The people, yes, but all the people, treated as equals, and not some more equal than others.”

In 2006, President Sidney A. McPhee established the Buchanan Fellowship program in the University Honors College to attract top scholars from across the state and country. Only a limited number of applicants are selected each year as Buchanan Fellows, the highest academic award given to an entering MTSU student.

SIDEBAR: Eyes on the Prize

Just prior to the commencement ceremony in which Buchanan was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from MTSU, Buchanan’s family gave his Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences to MTSU on a perpetual loan basis.

In addition, a $2.5 million bequest from Buchanan’s estate was announced. The gift is earmarked for MTSU’s Honors College. It is the largest donation to the Honors College. In 2002, brothers Lee and Paul Martin Jr. gave $2 million to the university to help construct the building that bears their late father’s name.

Until his death, Buchanan had been a significant financial supporter of the Honors College for many years. His funding provided the Buchanan Fellows program, the highest scholarship offered by the university.

Stemming from the gift, MTSU and George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., will explore a potential partnership” being called The Buchanan Papers Project, a Collection of the Papers of James M. Buchanan, that McPhee said will “create an exceptionally accessible and complete record of Dr. Buchanan’s work.”

A portion of the bequest will also be used to establish the James M. Buchanan Lecture Series: Applying the Ideas of James Buchanan in Today’s World, McPhee said.

Vietnam Revisited

Vietnam Revisited

by Gina K. Logue

Nearly 40 years after the last American troops left Vietnam, MTSU students who were born about 20 years after the end of the war went to Southeast Asia to discover a piece of the past and a glimpse of the future.

Public Memory and the Vietnam War is the name of the class, and it challenged students to compare what they had come to believe about the conflict from American books, movies, music, and TV shows with what they discovered after being in the country for two weeks.

From March 10 to 24, students trekked through fields and jungles; scaled the heights of Hill 119, former home of the U.S. Marines’ First Reconnaissance Battalion; crawled through a tunnel dug to hide civilians from
American troops; and boated across the Mekong River. They witnessed Vietnamese making rice paper, coconut candy, honey, and silk; sampled cuisine ranging from elephant fish to dragonfruit; inspected the ancient ruins of the Cham Kingdom; entered a cave that was once a Viet Cong hospital but now is a room of worship inside Marble Mountain; and viewed a pagoda that is reputed to enhance fertility.

Wandering through official tourist attractions such as the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) provoked a great deal of thought about the nature and language of propaganda. Yet, unexpected moments that were off the itinerary reminded students that the need for human connection trumps both warfare and time. While preparing to leave the site of the 1968 77-day siege at Khe Sanh, a bus of North Vietnamese army veterans pulled up. The NVA vets, clad in green uniforms and wearing medals, immediately were greeted with smiles and handshakes from Vietnam Battlefield Tours guides, American veterans all.

By far the most poignant moment was when MTSU alumnus William “Bud” Morris (’68, ’75) returned to within 1,000 yards of Quang Tri, one of the bases where he was stationed while in the Army during the war.
The Murfreesboro native calls his sojourn with the University’s Vietnam study-abroad class “the greatest experience of my life.” Morris, now an insurance agent who bleeds State Farm red and MTSU blue, returned to the area where he served with the First Brigade, Fifth Infantry Mechanized Division of the U.S. Army during the Vietnam war. “I don’t know that I came for closure or anything like that,” Morris said. “I came to see it. I came to experience it again.”

Dr. Derek Frisby, associate professor of history, who led the trip, said Morris provided his class with an “invaluable” opportunity “to connect the environment and the terrain with an actual human story.”

“Imagine what it would have been like 50 years after the Civil War to go back to the Battle of Stones River and have veterans guide you around the battlefield,” Frisby said. “This is what this experience is like for our students, and it’s one we can’t afford to pass up.”

The complicated relationship between the United States and Vietnam is as tangled as the vegetation that covers the southern hillsides of both countries. It practically cries out for a study-abroad experience of this nature: a chance to see, smell, taste, touch, and hear history and to get a sense of what life is like after the 1995 normalization of relations. MTSU can be proud to have provided that opportunity.

Talkin’ Baseball

Jim Bouton, former Major League pitcher and author of the widely discussed and debated baseball diary Ball Four , was the guest luncheon speaker at the 18th Annual Conference on Baseball in Literature and Culture in April.



Chaz Bono

Chaz Bono, LGBT rights advocate, author, and musician, was the keynote speaker in April for MT Lambda’s SpringOut! 2013 celebration, a weeklong campus pride event for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, friends, and supporters.




Kung Fu Fighting

The Capital University of Physical Education and Sports of Beijing, China, demonstrated Chinese kung fu at Murphy Center in April. The event was presented by MTSU’s Confucius Institute. Among the performers was Fengmei Li, a stuntwoman who was the choreographer for Zhang Ziyi, who starred in the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.





Lady of Firsts

As part of MTSU’s observance of National Women’s History Month in April, Rep. Beth Harwell of Nashville, speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives and the first female House speaker in Tennessee and in the Southeast, was honored as the second Distinguished Friend of the University Honors College.


Woman of Note

Lilly Ledbetter, whose judicial battle with the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. led to the passage of federal legislation in a historic gender discrimination case, was the keynote speaker for MTSU’s biennial Women’s and Gender Studies Conference in April, a major part of the University’s National Women’s History Month celebration.




On the Pulse

Ken Paulson, a nationally recognized advocate for the First Amendment, is the new dean of the College of Mass Communication. Paulson, president and CEO of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University and at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., replaces Roy Moore, who had been dean since 2008. Paulson was on the team of journalists that founded USA Today  in 1982, and he was editor-in-chief from 2004 to 2009. He is now a columnist on USA Today ’s board of contributors. Paulson is active in the Nashville music community, including as vice chair of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is also the author of Freedom Sings , a multimedia stage show celebrating the First Amendment that tours the nation’s campuses.

An Urban Development

David J. Urban is the new dean of the Jennings A. Jones College of Business. Formerly executive associate dean and marketing professor in the School of Business at Virginia Commonwealth University, he replaces Jim Burton, who was dean for 13 years. Urban will guide a business program that boasts more than 125 full-time faculty members, more than 3,000 undergraduate majors, and more than 500 graduate students.




Off the Row

MTSU graduate Beverly Keel (’88), an award-winning music journalist and former recording industry executive, is now chair of the Department of Recording Industry. A longtime MTSU professor, Keel returned to the University after serving as senior vice president of media and artist relations for Universal Music Group Nashville, where she developed extensive media campaigns for a charttopping roster including Lionel Richie, Scotty McCreery, Sugarland, Jamey Johnson, Josh Turner, Kip Moore, and many more.



Not Fiddlin’ Around

(L. to R.) Pam Matthews, executive director of the International Entertainment Buyers Association, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, country music star Charlie Daniels, and MTSU recording industry student Jordan Todd.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee surprised country music legend Charlie Daniels on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in May when he helped announce that the International Entertainment Buyers Association had established a scholarship in honor of Daniels with a $25,000 endowment. The IEBA is a Nashville-based, nonprofit trade organization for live entertainment industry professionals. Starting in the fall of 2014, a $1,000 scholarship will be awarded each year. Students majoring in recording industry, songwriting, audio engineering, and music business are eligible recipients.



Fourth Estate Fame

In April, six journalists made up the inaugural induction class of the new Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame housed at MTSU. Heading the group was John Seigenthaler, chair emeritus of The Tennessean , founding editorial director of USA Today , and founder of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt. Also honored were Dan Miller (posthumously), the longtime chief news anchor at Nashville’s WSMV-TV Channel 4; William Bryant (Bill) Williams Jr., a third-generation community newspaper publisher and publisher emeritus of the Paris (Tenn.) Post-Intelligencer ; Anne Holt, a 30- year veteran and three-time Emmy Award winner at WKRN-TV News 2 in Nashville; Chris Clark, retired chief news anchor for WTVF-TV NewsChannel 5 in Nashville (and current instructor at MTSU); and Dean Stone, editor of the Daily Times  in Maryville.


Campus Growth

(From left) Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess; Lee Moss, chair of Medical Board of Trustees; Gordan Ferguson, MTMC president and CEO; Sidney A. McPhee, MTSU president; Murfreesboro Mayor Tommy Bragg

In April, MTSU officially acquired the Middle Tennessee Medical Center property near campus. The 17.4-acre property includes the 115,000-square-foot Bell Street Building, a 143,000-square-foot parking garage, and a large green-space area that was the site of the old main hospital building. President Sidney A. McPhee has said that the University will use the Bell Street Building for academic purposes.




The Firing Lane

MTSU ROTC cadets now have more opportunities to sharpen their shooting and tactical skills following an upgrade at the Military Science Department’s indoor rifle range simulator. MTSU provided funding for an additional five-lane, $116,000 trainer unit, bringing to 10 the number of lanes available at the Engagement Skills Trainer. The simulator uses computers, lasers, projectors, and pneumatic weapons to provide a realistic experience of firing a weapon, including recoil and sound.




The Middle Kingdom

MTSU’s delegation to China in May yielded several new agreements with strong potential to produce tech transfer opportunities for the University’s science-related endeavors. First, MTSU’s partnership in China studying modern uses of ancient herbal remedies has produced almost 40 results showing promise in the treatment of cancer, viral infections, and other ailments. Those findings were released during a visit to the Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants, named in2011 as the world’s largest medicinal herb garden by Guinness World Records. Located in Nanning in southern China, the garden features more than 7,400 medicinal plants.

President Sidney A. McPhee and Miao Jianhua, vice president of the Guangxi Academic Science Institute and garden director, celebrated the partnership’s progress with the christening of an MTSU-branded Joint Research Center at the garden’s new research laboratory and headquarters. The Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research, based at MTSU, and the

Xu Xuyan, deputy director of the Education Bureau of Shunde District, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, Senator Bill Ketron.

Guangxi garden are partners in an exclusive collaborative agreement that seeks to accelerate the development of Western medicines from plant extracts.

MTSU’s delegation was headed by McPhee and included state senate majority caucus chair Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, a 1976 graduate of the University.

MTSU established formal ties with a university known as “China’s MIT” for its strong science, engineering, and biomedical programs. The agreement between MTSU and Shanghai Jiao Tong University will allow the exchange of faculty and students and allow professors to collaborate and share research. Shanghai Jiao Tong University, founded in 1896, offers three disciplines—naval architecture and ocean engineering, mechanical engineering, and clinical medicine—that are ranked first in China.

Additionally, MTSU signed a pact to become the first American university to establish formal ties with an institute in China’s leading design center for  household appliances and technology—the Research Institute of Industrial Design in the Shunde district.

MTSU also opened a student recruitment office at Guangxi University— the University’s first overseas representative office—as part of its efforts to bolster international enrollment in master’s and doctoral study. The delegation also made stops at Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications (one of the country’s top universities for information science and technology), Communication University of China in Beijing (the country’s foremost media education university), and the Confucius Institute’s global headquarters, which oversees more than 350 institutes worldwide (including at MTSU).


With a Song

Josh Kear

MTSU alumnus Josh Kear (’96) brought home his third Country Song of the Year honor at

Torrance Esmond

the 55th annual Grammy Awards in 2013, winning recognition for Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” to join his earlier wins for Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” and Underwood’s “Before He Cheats.” Kear competed against fellow MTSU alumnus Eric Paslay’s (’05) “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” performed by the Eli Young Band, in the Song of the Year category. Alumnus Torrance Esmond (’03), a.k.a. “Street Symphony,” who is vice president of A&R at Reach Records and a songwriter and record producer, produced Gravity with gospel rapper Lecrae, which won the Grammy for Best Gospel Album. MTSU faculty and alumni have appeared regularly on Grammy nominee and winner lists in recent years.



A Look at Recent Awards, Events, and Accomplishments Involving the MTSU Community

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

Lights, Camera…Action!

Some of MTSU’s finest student filmmakers showcased their work at the 13th Annual MTSU Student Film Festival in April. David Perauldt won first prize for Do It All Call. The audience favorite went to Ryan Rhenbourg for Hobo Wicked Fix. Nashville-area filmmaker Christopher Roberts screened his documentary Street Paper, which is about Nashville’s successful newspaper sold by homeless citizens, the Contributor.

A Future So Fulbright

When MTSU was recently named by the Chronicle of Higher Education as a top producer of Fulbright scholars for 2012–13, it joined academic powerhouses like Duke, Stanford, and Princeton. Just 108 colleges were recognized, and no other college or university in Tennessee was listed. MTSU students have received Fulbright funding to teach or do research in a variety of fields—from philosophy to biology to international relations—in countries as diverse as Portugal, Russia, Tanzania, and Laos. MTSU has produced nine Fulbright winners since 2001. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright is one of the nation’s most prestigious scholarships and its flagship international educational exchange program. Recent grad, Kaitlen Howell (on left), recently spent 18 months in Germany conducting epidemiological research as a Fulbright scholar.

A View from the Hill

Eight MTSU undergraduate student researchers participated in the seventh annual Posters at the Capitol in February in Nashville. They included Goldwater Scholar Award recipient Jordan Dodson. Created in 2007, this year’s Posters at the Capitol brought 64 undergraduate researchers from six Tennessee Board of Regents and three University of Tennessee universities to the state capitol to meet and discuss their research with state senators and representatives. Other MTSU students who participated included Adam Banach, Jacob Basham, Matt Harris, Josh Horvath, Joseph Keasler, Kevin McDaniel, and Paige Stubbs.

Jonathan W. Herlan

Going for the Gold(water)

MTSU students Robert Daniel Murphy (winner) and Jonathan W. Herlan (honorable mention) received recognition in the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. Murphy’s goal is to get his Ph.D. in atomic physics and research exotic states of matter such as Bose-Einstein condensates and degenerate Fermi gases. Herlan seeks a Ph.D. in physical acoustics and wants to conduct acoustic research and teach at the university level.


Distinguished Fellows

Gov. Bill Haslam

At a time when lawmakers are stressing retention and graduation in higher education in Tennessee, MTSU’s May commencement ceremonies witnessed the largest graduating class ever. The ceremonies were highlighted by speeches from Gov. Bill Haslam and alumnus Pete Fisher (’87), general manager of the Grand Ole Opry.

Constructing a Dynasty

An MTSU construction management team had another top-10 finish at this year’s national competition in Las Vegas. Led by Jason Harrison, the six-member MTSU Land Development/Residential Building Construction Management team placed eighth out of 31 teams at the International Builders Show. MTSU, which won in 2007 and 2012, has nine top-10 and seven top-5 finishes. In this year’s competition, students were given 118 acres, including an existing rock quarry, to develop on the banks of Utah Lake in Saratoga Springs, Utah.

For Art’s Sake

Collage: A Journal of Creative Expression  earned a Collegiate Gold Crown Award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association for the second straight year. It was the journal’s third major award in the past three years. Senior Courtney Hunter and alumna Jennifer Johnson served respectively as editor-in-chief and designer of the award-winning issues. In the recent contest, 1,344 digital, print, and hybrid magazines, newspapers, and yearbooks published during the 2011–12 academic year were eligible. Only three college print magazines received Gold Crown Awards.


On the Runway

The organization called Fashion and Design Students of MTSU, known as FaDs, displayed their talents at several places on campus during MTSU’s second annual Fashion Week in April. American costumer Manuel, often called the “Rhinestone Rembrandt,” whose original designs have been worn by Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, the Rolling Stones, and the Grateful Dead, was a featured speaker.


Coming Into Focus

It could be said that a new photo gallery soon to open at MTSU has been more than a half-century in the making

by Drew Ruble

A few years after arriving from Colorado in 1959 to teach industrial arts at MTSU, now-retired photography professor and Murfreesboro resident Harold L. Baldwin launched the University’s photography program. He soon realized the need for gallery space to augment the instruction he was providing in the rapidly expanding program.

“We needed to bring in popular photographers to enhance the student experience,” Baldwin said. “That was the one thing that was lacking. Students couldn’t get exposed to the work of top professional photographers like all the big schools on the East and West Coasts.”

Baldwin began working with the Eastman Kodak Company to bring exhibits to campus, but the Kodak shows did not match his vision.

“They were the traditional pretty prints; they didn’t have any real meaning to them,” he explained. “I knew I needed to get some true artists to campus.”

Baldwin started contacting well-known photographers. One of the first was American photographer Ansel Adams.

“This was before big PR agencies handled big photographers. They handled their own shows,” Baldwin recalled. “So I wrote him a letter asking him to come, and he sent me a postcard, saying, ‘I’m going to send you one of the best little shows you have ever seen.’ And I thought, ‘Well, my God!’”

That exhibition, as well as others Baldwin arranged, hung in what is now the Tom H. Jackson Building. At each exhibit, the professor found a way to cobble together funds to purchase a print; some of the artists donated prints to the University.

As a result, Baldwin said, “I just kind of accumulated a permanent collection here.”

While a full appraisal has never been conducted on the collection, which was formally established in 1961, Baldwin recently funded an independent assessment that values it “easily in excess of a million dollars.” In fact, the value could be quite a bit more. One piece of the collection alone—a print of one of Adams’s most famous photos, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico—is considered quite valuable.

In addition to Adams, other photographers who have exhibited their work at MTSU through the years include Richard Avedon, Sally Mann, André Kertész, Henry Horenstein, and Arthur Fellig (who was better known by his pseudonym, Weegee). Photographers whose work is part of the Baldwin collection though they never exhibited on campus include Edward Weston, Minor White, Paul Strand, and Jerry Uelsmann.

Slowly developing

For many years, works from the collection were shown in a hallway of the McWherter Learning Resources Center, a space that was renamed to honor Baldwin in 2009.

Now a $100,000 donation by Baldwin will support plans to develop a new photography gallery in the John Bragg Mass Communication Building.

The renovated space, to be dedicated in 2013, will become the new permanent home of MTSU’s photography archive—the million-dollar-plus collection that Baldwin pieced together during his decades of service to the University.

In its new home on the second floor of the Bragg Building, the Baldwin Gallery will feature movable walls and contemporary lighting and will also showcase traveling exhibits and student work.

The gallery will be the third specialized media area in the building, which is already home to the Center for Popular Music and the Center for Innovation in Media.

Baldwin’s gift is part of MTSU’s Centennial Campaign. With his commitment, the campaign has surpassed $60 million in gifts and pledges toward its $80 million goal.

“Harold’s gift truly embodies the spirit of the Centennial Campaign,” said Nick Perlick, director of development. “He has been part of this campus family for decades, and now he has chosen to make an investment to enhance the particular aspect of the University that means so much to him. We are extremely grateful for his generosity.”

Worth a Thousand Words

The expanded new gallery will no doubt become a significant cultural asset for MTSU and Murfreesboro.

“It’s an opportunity to display what we are doing here, what’s happening, and get the word out. It is a good advertisement for the photography program itself,” said Baldwin, who shifted to teaching photography full-time in 1968 and taught thousands of photographers until his retirement in 1991.

Baldwin said that he hopes his gift will inspire others to donate to the gallery. “Recent cutbacks mean we have only been able to host a limited number of shows in recent years,” he said. “More gifts would help keep that gallery rolling.”

Now 85, Baldwin is busy working with the University to reestablish the gallery. He’s also excited about a trip he has planned in February 2014 to the Galapagos Islands. He and his daughter are two of 30 photographers included in a 10-day trip guided by a National Geographic photographer.

When asked if photos from that trip might be shown in the new campus gallery, Baldwin laughed and said, “I haven’t even thought of that!”

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