Beyond Blue – MTSU recognizes successful alumni


James “Boots” Donnelly (’64) was among 24 inductees into the College Football Hall of Fame last year. The first ever Blue Raider to receive the honor, Donnelly joined only 934 players and 205 coaches (out of the nearly 4.92 million who have played or coached college football over the past 144 years) ever to be inducted into the hall. As a player, Donnelly led MTSU to a conference championship and a Grantland Rice Bowl win in 1964. As a coach, Donnelly led MTSU to nine top-20 regular-season finishes, seven NCAA I-AA playoff appearances, and a 31-game home winning streak from 1987 to 1993. He later served as MTSU’s athletics director, playing an integral role in moving the program to the FBS level.


 Woody Bomar (’67) is president of Green Hills Music Group, a Music Row publishing enterprise, whose songs have been recorded by George Strait, Hunter Hayes, Luke Bryan, and Jake Owen, among others. A Vietnam veteran, Bomar
began his music career as a songwriter, penning hits in the 1980s for the likes of Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams Jr., and Lee Greenwood. He later
served as general manager at Combine Music, where he promoted the music of staff writers including Kris Kristofferson, Larry Gatlin, and Dolly Parton and placed
notable hits including the Judds’ first single. He left Combine in 1987 to start Little Big Town Music, which produced fifteen number-one country singles over the next decade. In 1998, Bomar sold Little Big Town Music to Sony/ATV and was simultaneously named the company’s senior vice president and general manager. Over the course of his eight-year tenure at the helm of Sony/ATV, the company released 46 number-one singles. Bomar also signed artist/writers including Dierks Bentley, Rascal Flatts, Josh Turner, and Blake Shelton. In 2006, Bomar parted ways with Sony/ATV to return to independent publishing with the creation of Green Hills Music Group.



Longtime Nashville city employee Billy Lynch (’68, ’78) retired last year after 45 years working for Metro in various roles, including as fire chief, chief deputy sheriff, and public works director, where he oversaw the massive cleanup of the city in less than 30 days in the aftermath of the flood of 2010.



Burns Phillips (right)(’70, ’73) was named commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development last year. His previous career included serving as managing director of customer-focused government initiatives administration-wide in the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration. Phillips also founded a surgical instrument company in 1991 that conducted business in the U.S. and 30 other countries.


Debra Payne (left) (’76)  was named commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) last year. Payne previously served as deputy commissioner of DIDD, a department Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam described in a press release announcing Payne’s promotion as one that handles “some of the state’s most difficult work concerning our most vulnerable citizens.”


Blind since birth, John Harris (’79, ’89) served as MTSU’s first Disabled Student Services director. Harris retired last year after more than 27 years with the University, leaving a lasting impression for his efforts in administering the Americans with Disabilities Act and for being a strong advocate for students with disabilities.of the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) last year. Payne previously served as deputy commissioner of DIDD, a department Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam described in a press release announcing Payne’s promotion as one that handles “some of the state’s most difficult work concerning our most vulnerable citizens.”


After graduating from MTSU, Wayne White (’79) went to New York City and worked as an illustrator for several publications, including the New York Times and the Village Voice. In 1986, White became a designer and puppeteer for Pee-wee’s Playhouse, and earned three Emmy Awards. White eventually moved to California, where he worked in music videos, winning Billboard and MTV Music Video Awards as an art director for his work on the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight” and Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time.” More recently, White has earned acclaim for a documentary about his life and work, Beauty Is Embarrassing, and for word paintings, which use thrift-shop “sofa painting” landscapes as backdrops for detailed, deadpan words and phrases like “You’re Just Agreeing with Me So I’ll Shut Up,” and “Hoozy Thinky Iz?“ Among his current projects is a permanent sculpture on the Bonnaroo concert grounds—a 30-foot tree made of steel and wood that turns into a psychedelic light show at night.







One of the most recent investments made by venture capitalist Byron Smith (’84), a founder of Mountain Group Capital, is Aspire Health, a palliative-care physician network launched by former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, which aims to improve care and lower costs for patients with chronic illnesses. Other companies Smith has invested in include Streamweaver, a synchronized social video app chosen by Apple as a featured app in the iTunes store, and whose investors include one of the earliest-ever investors in Facebook; Panopto, which provides lecture-capture software used by 500 universities and over four million students around the world; Myomo, a company founded at MIT that is a computerized/motorized exoskeleton for use by people with paralysis of the arm; and SwingPal, a company for golfers that also provides the SwingFix service for the Golf Channel and powers much of the Golf Channel Academy app.







Life sciences journal PharmaVOICE recognized Ernst & Young LLP Principal and Advisory Life Sciences Lead Kim Ramkov (’90) as one of the “100 Most Inspiring People in the Life Sciences Industry” for 2013. As part of her selection, PharmaVOICE highlighted Ramko’s dedication to helping women in the industry advance into positions of leadership. Ramko has over 23 years of experience managing business strategy, process improvement, and large-scale information technology projects.












Christopher Parks (’91) is founder and chief development officer for Brentwood-based health care technology company change:healthcare Inc. The entrepreneur established the company in 2007 to help employers, employees, and consumers save money on their health care expenses by improving information flow and cost transparency. Parks is also the founder of (a targeted audience engagement firm used by the likes of country music act Lady Antebellum),, and other companies.





Missy Marshall (’92) was named executive director of Keep Tennessee Beautiful, the state resource center for litter prevention, community greening, and recycling and waste reduction education, which is funded by the Beverage Association, Malt Beverage Association, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Marshall previously served as director of communications and external affairs for the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Development Disabilities (DIDD).




Jeffrey Parker (’97) is an MTSU-trained physicist who spends his days making possible something that has eluded humankind for millennia—a close, comfortable shave. Parker is a senior scientist at Procter & Gamble’s South Boston Innovation Center, where he researches how razor blades work and how to make them better. “None of it, someone would say, is cutting-edge technology, not what someone would think science is working on,” Parker says. “But it’s the nature of the world. It’s surprising, the amount of technology in any product.” Parker’s work has been instrumental in advancing P&G’s Fusion ProGlide products, which use five blades—each thinner than a grain of sand—to ensure a smooth shave. Becoming one of P&G’s top shaving scientists, though, hasn’t led Parker to shave his beard.


Rachel Fontenot (’98) is director of marketing at Sony Music Nashville, which includes three country label operations—Arista Nashville, Columbia Nashville, and RCA Nashville—and Provident Music Group, one of the world’s leading Christian music companies. Fontenot started working at Sony as an intern and has been with the company for 12 years.

Aylton Tesch (’98), a professional sports agent and vice president at Los Angeles–based Relativity Sports, represented four of the 19 international players selected in the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft last year. Tesch played for the Blue Raider basketball squad from 1995 to 1998 before enjoying a 10-year professional basketball career playing overseas. Tesch also won a Gold Medal at the 1999 Pan American Games as a member of the Brazilian national team.





David Chadwell (left)(’00) is vice president of event operations for the Nashville Predators and Bridgestone Arena with responsibility for all guest experiences at the venue. Chadwell also oversees the box office, concessions, security, ushers, and the AT&T Fan Information desk. Before Bridgestone Arena, Chadwell worked with Starwood Amphitheatre and Creative Artist Agency and spent time on tour with legendary guitarist B. B. King.


Retta Gardner (right)(’00), formerly executive vice president at Murfreesboro-based Guaranty Trust, succeeded company founder and CEO Wendell Mandrell as president and CEO of the 27-year-old mortgage company last year. Gardner joined Guaranty in 1996. Named executive vice president in 2010, she has been responsible for the company’s day-to-day operations, including overseeing new projects and personnel at offices in Murfreesboro, Hendersonville, Mt. Juliet, and Knoxville.






Heather Webb (’00) taught high school French for nearly a decade before turning to full-time novel writing and freelance editing. Her debut novel, Becoming Josephine, released in December 2013 by Plume Book, an imprint of Penguin, tells the story of Rose Tascher, who sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris to trade her Creole black magic culture for love and adventure, including a relationship with the most powerful man of his century—Napoleon Bonaparte.





Sara Rainwater (’01) is development director for the TaxPayers’ Alliance, Britain’s independent grassroots campaign for lower taxes. Rainwater became involved in politics and campaigning at age 12 by helping her uncle (Tennessee state senator Bill Ketron) in his first local election campaign. Rainwater moved to London in 2002 and started a postgraduate degree in European studies at the London School of Economics while also working as a research assistant for a member of Parliament. She joined the TaxPayers’ Alliance in 2008 and today oversees the organization’s fundraising program and special projects, including organizing high-profile events with international dignitaries.




Julianna Bass (’02) captured top honors with her T-shirt design in last year’s Diet Coke Young Designer Challenge. Her design is now emblazoned on T-shirts being sold at all Target stores nationwide—a huge step in any designer’s career sure do wonders for the promotion of her own fashion line, which she launched in 2008. Celebrities including Paula Abdul and Eva Longoria have worn Bass’s fashions, and she has received professional accolades from publications including Vogue and Women’s Wear Daily, among others.






Herbert Winstead (’53), Walling, retired with the rank of full colonel from the Tennessee State Guard after 48 years of service in the Army, Navy, and State Guard. He received the prestigious Alvin C. York Award for outstanding service to his country and the state of Tennessee. Dr. Winstead has owned and operated Walling Dental Center since 1978.



Marvin Burton (’61), Rockvale, received the Lions International Letter of Appreciation from the Murfreesboro Lions Club.

Bob Haley (’68), Nashville, was inducted into the Wilson County Agricultural Hall of Fame in April 2013.

Mike Jones (’68, ’81), Auburntown, is the new principal at Cannon County High School.



Betty Anderson (’71), Nashville, is the new executive director of Stand for Children Tennessee.

Larry Williams (’71, ’76, ’95), Murfreesboro, published his second book, The Unruly Skies: One Man’s Journey inside the Federal Aviation Administration, describing his 34 years as an FAA safety inspector.

Wilmon Ashley Smith Jr. (’72), Cleveland, director of teacher education and field experiences at Lee University, was designated president-elect of the Association for Middle Level Education.

George Hughes (’73), Union, Ky., Gateway Community and Technical College president and CEO, was awarded the prestigious Founders Award by the Covington Business Council for his visionary leadership to establish an urban/metro campus in the northern Kentucky city.

Evelyn “Creighton” Anderson (’75), Harrison, has collaborated with Thornton Parsons on a political work titled Jack A$$ Politics and Culture.

Barbara Gourley Davenport (’76), Smyrna, was recently promoted to Extension Agent II, working with the 4-H Youth Development Program in Rutherford County. She was recognized as Communicator of the Year by her professional organization, TAE4-HW, awarded the NAE4-HA Southern Region Award, and presented with Outstanding Achievement certificates at the National Extension 4-H Agents Conference last fall.

David Parker (’76), Bradyville, host of the annual Parker Brother’s Labor Day Polled Hereford sale, received the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association Cow/Calf Producer of the Year award.

Thomas Vance (’76), McMinnville, retired as CEO and vice chair of First National Bank of McMinnville.

Mark Barker (’77), Readyville, received the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association Stocker Grower Producer of the Year award.

Barbara Nichols Parker (’77, ’80, ’94), Woodbury, Cannon County director of schools, was named 2013 Upper Cumberland Director of the Year.

John Pitts (’78), Corinth, Miss., sports editor at the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo, was awarded the 2012 Better Newspaper Contest award for Best Sports Column from the Mississippi Press Association.

Sharon Payne Hamrick (’79), Signal Mountain, was appointed director of litigation support services for Decosimo Advisory Services Practice.

Sheila Johnson (’79, ’87 ’91), Joelton, retired from teaching after 30 years.



James Spurlock (’81), Murfreesboro, received the Heart of Hospice Award from Alive Hospice.

Gregory D. Smith (’85) is a Pleasant View Municipal Court Judge. He recently wrote the Tennessee Municipal Judges Benchbook, printed and published by the Tennessee Administrative Office of Courts.

Marshall Davidson III (’86), Goodlettsville, staff attorney for the Tennessee Supreme Court, was honored with the 2013 Distinguished Faculty Award from the Nashville School of Law.

Gary Smith (’87), Mt. Juliet, was promoted to assistant manager of the Hwy. 70 branch of Wilson Bank & Trust.

Kenneth Strickland (’89), Chevy Chase, Md., was named to NBC’s 2013 TheGrio List, recognizing African Americans making a difference in the lives of Americans from a variety of work fields.



Kerry Armstrong (’90), San Diego, Calif., was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the San Diego Criminal Defense Bar Association.

Timothy Fink (’90), Kingston Springs, was appointed to the advisory board of the I’ll Fly Away Foundation.

Sherri Holmes (’90), Portland, was named 2012–13 Teacher of the Year at Portland West Middle School.

Jim Summers (’90), Patuxent River, Md., recently retired from the U.S. Air Force after 21 years of service, most recently as a civil service employee (contract specialist) with the Naval Facilities Engineering Command at the Naval Air Station.

Mark K. Green (’91), Brentwood, was promoted to chief counsel, regulatory boards with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.

Martin Harris (’92), Chattanooga, was named director of nursing at Chattanooga State Community College.

Mary Esther Reed (’92, ’94, ’96), Smyrna, was sworn in as the new mayor of Smyrna.

Sherry King (’93, ’96, ’00), Murfreesboro, was appointed principal at Homer Pittard Campus School.

Matthew Wade (’93, ’07), Bell Buckle, was named director of farm laboratories at MTSU.

Carlton Clay (’94), Benton, Ark., is area supervisor for American Greetings in Little Rock, Ark.

Heather Gum (’94), Readyville, is a program assistant for the Rutherford County Extension Office, where she has been awarded the NAE4-HA Southern Region Award and recognized with Outstanding Achievement certificates at the National Extension 4-H Agents Conference.

Jason Loggins (’94), Mt. Juliet, was named a vice president at Wilson Bank & Trust.

Muffin Dixon (’95), Memphis, was named director of development operations for the Pi Kappa Alpha Foundation.

Becky Duncan (’95), Mt. Juliet, a full-time aviation mechanic instructor at Baker’s School of Aeronautics in Nashville, received the Association of Women in Aviation Maintenance Teacher of the Year award in March 2013.

Christopher Haley (’95), New York, N.Y., was appointed director of institutional advancement for the Professional Children’s School in New York City.

Heath Nokes (’95), McMinnville, transferred after 17 years working with youth in Moore and Cannon counties to a position as Extension Agent III in adult agriculture in Warren County.

Scott W. B. Kaiser (’96), Franklin, was recently elected to the board of the nonprofit A Vintage Affair, which raises funds benefiting needy women and children in Williamson County.

Connie Frey Spurlock (’96, ’98), Staunton, Ill., was named Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville’s first Sustainability Faculty Fellow. She was also recently promoted to associate professor.

Lisa McWherter (’97), Anderson, S.C., was named vice president for development at Southern Wesleyan University.

Melissa Riley (’97), Brentwood, coauthored Waves of Change, a book chronicling how Tennessee’s thousand-year flood changed the lives of a survivor, a rescuer, and a family grief counselor.

Robert Holman (’98), Lynchburg, was named publisher of the Moore County News in November 2012.



Jessica Willett Parrish (’02), Las Vegas, Nev., is the new pastoral assistant at St. Anthony of Padua Church.

Matt Palmer (’03), Bowie, Md., was a featured performer in the Norsk Gitarfestival in August 2013, in Hamar, Norway (Scandinavia’s most prestigious guitar series). Palmer teaches at Washington College in Chestertown, Md.

Meredith Kerr (’04, ’12), Murfreesboro, was named development director for the MTSU College of Liberal Arts.

Amanda Maynord (’04), Nashville, is a senior account supervisor for public relations firm Lovell Communications.

Teresa Whitton (’04), Ringgold, Ga., earned her CFP designation—the highest professional designation in the financial planning field—from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

Tyler Andal (’07), White House, won the National Old-Time Banjo Championship at Uncle Dave Macon Days in Murfreesboro.

Benjamin Barnes (’09), Opp, Ala., was promoted to head women’s golf coach at Troy University.

Amanda DeRosia (’09), Murfreesboro, was promoted to senior accountant in the tax services department of Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain PC.

Kyle Engels (’09), Mt. Juliet, was promoted to senior accountant of tax services for Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain PC.

Bryan McCoy (’09), Fargo, N.D., is transportation coordinator for the North Dakota Community Action Partnership, promoting and coordinating public transportation systems across the state.

Curtis Hall (’04, ’13), Nashville, was promoted by performing rights organization SESAC to be responsible for recruiting, training, and managing the company’s licensing representatives.

Amanda McRight Relyea (’08), Nolensville, was promoted to director of professional development of the International City/County Management Association.

Summer Harlow (’09), Nashville, was named director of West Coast promotion for Mercury Records Nashville.



Anthony L. King (’10), New Orleans, La., is dean of students and families at Sylvanie Williams College Prep Elementary School.

Michelle Ebel (’11), Murfreesboro, was promoted to senior accountant of audit services for Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain PC.

Jason Gass (’11), Portland, Maine, joined Stantec’s Scarborough office as an aviation planner.

Mara Snowman (’11), Cleveland, is a euphonium player with the U.S. Army Japan Band and has been named the U.S. Army Japan Soldier of the Year.

Abbey Espey (’12), Smyrna, was named head coach of the Smyrna High School Lady Bulldogs volleyball team.

Elliott Malone (’12), Mosheim, completed U.S. Navy basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill.

Alexis Metko (’12) was promoted to national sales assistant for Cumulus Nashville.

Jack H. Williamson (’12), Hixson, graduated from Navy Officer Candidate School and received a commission as an ensign assigned to the Officer Training Command in Newport, R.I.

Joy Bauman (’13), Pegram, was appointed principal at Kingston Springs Elementary School.





Aubrey Margaret Adams, August 21, 2013, to Jason and Angela (’08) Adams of Smyrna

Casper William Bibeau, September 21, 2013, to Chuck (’98) and Jennifer Bibeau of Franklin

Bennett Michael Booten, January 28, 2013, to Brandon (’02) and April Richardson Booten (’04) of Murfreesboro

Fletcher Reid Brandon, June 8, 2013, to Matthew (’07) and Lauren Brandon (’07) of Murfreesboro

Jordin Mackenzie Carlton, October 17, 2012, to Jay (’01) and Anna Carlton of Murfreesboro

Darien Cartwright, (left) November 14, 2012, to Charlie and Nancy Michele Cole Cartwright (’06) of Smyrna

Martin Thomas Clarke, (right) September 24, 2013, to Charlie (’01) and Megan Clarke (’01) of Murfreesboro

Caroline Elizabeth Dianna, May 21, 2013, to Chris and Jody McHugh Dianna (’99) of Murfreesboro

Carter Jedidiah Parrish, March 14, 2013, to Gary and Jessica Willett Parrish (’02) of Las Vegas, Nev.


Lily Kate Wilburn, (right) March 22, 2013, to Joey (’08) and Tracie Wilburn (’08) of Murfreesboro

Clayton Joseph Riddle, August 28, 2013, to Brad (’99) and Katy Francisco Riddle (’99,’05) of Manchester

 Vivian Eleanor Winkler, (left) October 3, 2013, to Rhett (’03), and Macy Winkler (’11) of Murfreesboro





In Memoriam

Shanda Carney Fanning (’99) was one of two pilots who died August 14, 2013, when a United Parcel Service airplane crashed in Birmingham, Ala. Described as a country girl at heart who loved to ride horses and who had wanted to fly airplanes from a very young age, Fanning was 37 at the time of her death. She is survived by her husband, Bret Fanning, who works in distribution at Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg. In the aftermath of her death, Fanning’s best friend, fellow MTSU alum Whitney Dix, also a pilot and a dispatch manager with Southwest Airlines in Texas, is spearheading a drive to establish the Shanda Carney Fanning Aviation Memorial Scholarship at MTSU. Nearly $50,000 has been raised to endow the scholarship, which will be awarded annually to aviation students studying in MTSU’s nationally known aerospace program. The goal is to begin awarding it for the 2014–15 academic year. The long-term goal is to increase the award to the University’s Centennial Scholarship level, which requires a $100,000 endowment. Anyone interested in giving to the scholarship fund can do so online at


Mary Caruthers Scales (’67), whom the Daily News Journal recently described as a trailblazer for local black and female leaders, died on October 6, 2013, following an extended battle with cancer. She was 85. The first black female on the Murfreesboro City Council, Scales was also a member of the Murfreesboro City School Board. Additionally, she holds the distinction of being the first black faculty member at MTSU to be hired in an academic unit on campus, where she taught in the department of education. Scales owned Scales & Sons Funeral Home from 2000 to 2012.







Inez Jennings Harrison (’38, ’68), Lebanon, June 20, 2013

Ruby McElroy (’30), Nashville, May 19, 2013



William Davidson (’41), Shelbyville, September 12, 2013

Anna McCormick Kamack (’48), Alpharetta, Ga., June 6, 2013

Alderson Miller (’40), State College, Penn., May 14, 2013

Christine Farmer Moberly (’41), Knoxville, September 27, 2013

Mable Bowling Petty (’43), Pensacola, Fla., September 27, 2013

Carol Crouse Powell (’49), North Potomac, Md., June 10, 2013

Claudine Sproull (’47), McMinnville, April 18, 2013

Kathryn Kerby Tolle (’46), Keller, Texas, January 22, 2013

Edwin Whitlock (’48), McMinnville, March 19, 2013



Bryan Carson (’59), Shelbyville, August 30, 2013

David Cullum (’55), Nashville, May 2, 2013

Bettye Knight Gentry (’56), Goodlettsville, June 16, 2013

Jerry Gilreath (’56), Bethesda, Md., September 10, 2013

Hollis Hopkins (’59), Huntsville, Ala., July 20, 2013

Donald Jones (’59, ’66), Woodbury, August 20, 2013

Bob Keeton (’54), Las Vegas, Nev., September 9, 2013

Joe McElroy (’53), Murfreesboro, September 24, 2013

June Carter Miller (’51), Murfreesboro, January 21, 2013

Leroy Provost (’52), Holyoke, Mass., July 9, 2013

Millie Overall Rawlins (’58), Jacksonville, Fla., July 14, 2013

Clifton Ray (’54, ’55), Jacksonville, Fla., July 5, 2013

Lester Sands (’59, ’62), Mount Pleasant, July 4, 2013

Cromer Smotherman (’50), Lawrenceburg, May 3, 2013

Joe C. Tenpenny Jr. (’56), Murfreesboro, July 1, 2013

Marvin Thomas (’59), Hixson, July 29, 2013

Clyde Underwood (’51), New Port Richey, Fla., May 14, 2013

Ruth Bryant Weaver (’51), Lewisburg, July 29, 2012



James T. Brown (’62), Shelbyville, June 4, 2013

Dorothy McQuiddy Cathey (’64), Madison, June 11, 2013

Robbie Cole (’60), Gulfport, Miss., May 2, 2013

Jack Condra (’60), White, Ga., July 2, 2013

Jerry Fisher (’67, ’70), Bon Aqua, September 24, 2013

Michael Gavin (’68, ’95), Murfreesboro, January 9, 2013

Bobby Holmes (’67), Chattanooga, June 22, 2013

Robert Rader (’66), Savannah, Ga., August 8, 2013

William Richardson (’63, ’74), Murfreesboro, September 9, 2013

Mildred Martin Sargent (’65, ’67), Fort Myers Beach, Fla., April 20, 2013

Mary Caruthers Scales (’67), October 6, 2013

Dwight Smith (’61), Old Hickory, September 21, 2013

Hughie Slater (’69), Higdon, Ala., April 17, 2013

Elliott Stockard (’69), Columbia, June 1, 2013



Gary Arnold (’78), Franklin, July 1, 2013

Lillian Faulkner Baggett (’77), Dacula, Ga., June 28, 2013

Alan Chester (’75), Dickson, July 22, 2013

Lynda Combs (’75), Loogootee, Ind., August 17, 2013

Linda Ellis Day (’72), Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., September 24, 2013

Frederick Erickson (’78), Franklin, July 6, 2013

Timothy Gooden (’70), Hixson, July 15, 2013

Carey Henley (’72), Chattanooga, April 15, 2013

Marilyn Hundley (’79), Lexington, Ky., August 5, 2013

Marian Kavka (’73), Lisbon, Iowa, September 11, 2013

James Kelley (’70), Columbia, July 9, 2013

Kenneth Lavender (’72), Fitzgerald, Ga., June 23, 2013

Burley Lockridge (’71), Brentwood, June 5, 2013.

Walter Low (’75, ’76), Ann Arbor, Mich., March 3, 2013

Loyd “Tommy” Nokes Jr. (’78), Murfreesboro, June 15, 2013

Jon Scarlett (’72, ’94), Smyrna, July 2, 2013

Sam Salerno (’78), Stockbridge, Ga., September 19, 2013

Johnie Tharp Jr. (’74), Richmond, Va., March 11, 2013

Johnny Thompson Sr. (’75), Lebanon, May 25, 2013

Robert Tingle (’72), Signal Mountain, August 3, 2013

Joy Bromley Walker (’70), Chesterfield, Va., May 5, 2013

Lillian White (’79), Nashville, August 2, 2013



Walter Brown (’85), Cookeville, December 15, 2012

Joe Bryant (’81), Murfreesboro, June 12, 2013

Janice Golden (’84), Lynchburg, September 23, 2012

Betty Hare (’85), Old Hickory, June 19, 2013

Robert “Duane” Hensley (’81), Manchester, November 26, 2012

Lizabeth Jacobs (’83), Murfreesboro, September 24, 2013

John Johnson (’86), Poulsbo, Wash., June 21, 2013

Christopher Keen (’80), York, Penn., May 2, 2013

Mark Landers (’80), Winchester, September 15, 2013

Daphne Lazenby (’86), Thompson Station, August 20, 2013

Richard Linville (’87), Gainesville, Ga., September 16, 2013

Edith Powers Louisell (’86), Chattanooga, July 23, 2013

Joseph Maples (’81), Pigeon Forge, August 31, 2013

Donna McPeak (’89), Pulaski, July 2, 2013

Karen Powers (’80), McEwen, January 31, 2013

Diana Reed (’80), Brentwood, October 3, 2012

Claudia Robinson (’83), Princeton, N.J., June 30, 2013

Walter Sloan (’82), Kennesaw, Ga., March 7, 2013

Larry Trapp (’81), Seguin, Texas, May 22, 2013

Peggy Waters Vann (’87), Centerville, July 7, 2013

Sandra Barnes Walker (’82, ’86), Murfreesboro, September 22, 2013

Marshal “Owen” Warren (’83), Nashville, December 6, 2012

Lawrence Wooden (’86, ’94), Murfreesboro, October 17, 2012



Debbie Breeden (’95), Manchester, January 17, 2013

Kevin Haughney (’98), Chapel Hill, N.C., January 31, 2013

Kevin Howard (’91), White House, May 4, 2012

Betty Johnson (’92), Murfreesboro, September 21, 2013

Jennifer Messick (’98), Murfreesboro, May 26, 2013

Patsy Stuard (’93), Clarksville, April 27, 2013

Phillip Winkler (’91), Dyersburg, April 25, 2013

Jay Young (’94), Orlando, Fla., February 16, 2013



Ashley Adcock (’07), Hixson, June 15, 2013

Kyle Allen (’08), Columbia, February 17, 2013

Brice Barnes (’09), Owensboro, Ky., October 1, 2012

William Bates (’09), Tullahoma, September 7, 2013

William Boone III (’03), Westerville, Ohio, September 23, 2012

Wendi Wilson Bravo (’02), Columbia, July 10, 2013

Patti Bryant (’02), Maryville, September 23, 2012

Rhonda Burkett (’01), Murfreesboro, October 3, 2012

Whitney Fisher (’06), Hendersonville, August 23, 2013

Derek Harper (’08), Carthage, October 19, 2012

Andre Logue (’05), Lebanon, August 10, 2013

Brandi Carter Magin (’04, ’07), Mercersburg, Penn., September 18, 2012

Brooks May (’01), Lewisburg, February 7, 2013

David Moore (’05), Rockvale, Mary 25, 2013

Suzanne Moran (’04, ’10), Nashville, August 27, 2013

William Rosenbalm (’01), Los Angeles, Calif., June 11, 2013

Dawn Tittle (’03), Union City, August 27, 2013



Tanya Luffman (’11), Salisbury, Mass., April 16, 2013

Grade A Grads

Pictured (l to r): MTSU National Alumni Association vice president Paula Mansfield (‘89), 2013 Distinguished Alums Stephen B. Smith, Aaron Carlton, and Larry Cox, and President Sidney A. McPhee

Every year since 1960, MTSU’s Alumni Association has recognized accomplished alumni with the association’s highest honor—the Distinguished Alumni Award. Younger alumni who are making a positive impact in the world are eligible for the Young Alumni Achievement Award.

This year’s honorees include a nonprofit innovator, a couple of high-powered Tennessee businessmen, and a young expert in foreign service. Each is well deserving of the honor, and their personal stories don’t make for a bad read, either.


Service to the University

Stephen B. Smith (’11)

Stephen Smith has a lengthy history of involvement with MTSU. He has served on the President’s Council and the board of directors of the Blue Raider Athletic Association. A former MTSU baseball player and member of the Blue Raider Sports Hall of Fame, Smith chaired the search committee for MTSU’s athletic director and spearheaded the successful effort to raise $5 million to remodel the baseball stadium. He received the Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Citation for Excellence in Philanthropy. Professionally, Smith is chair of the board of Haury & Smith Contractors, a 59-year-old middle Tennessee development and home building company.  In political circles, he achieved Super Ranger status (one of only three in Tennessee) in President George W. Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign and served as national finance chair for Senate majority leader Bill Frist’s leadership political action committee, VOLPAC.

A nontraditional student, Smith received his degree from MTSU while in his late fifties. He attended MTSU to study finance in the 1970s but left college before completing his degree. “It’s never too late to go back to school,” he told after his graduation. “What all the Smiths have been good at is keeping up with something until it’s finished.”

Service to the Community

Larry Cox (’68)

Larry Cox is the owner of Homestead Egg Co. (a wholesale food distributorship), Chicken City (a retail food outlet) and Cox Family Leasing (a rental and leasing company). But despite his professional accomplishments as a businessman and entrepreneur, he is better known as a tireless volunteer, ferocious fundraiser, and community philanthropist in the Knoxville area. Also a 20-year elected member of the Knoxville City Council, his nonprofit involvement is extensive. As an example, Cox has been involved for more than two decades with the Emerald Youth Foundation, whose mission is to encourage urban youth to become leaders who help renew their communities. The political science major is also a field representative for Congressman John Duncan, who said of Cox, “I do not believe there is a man in Knoxville who has done more to help young people than Larry Cox has.”


Young Alumni Achievement

Aaron Carlton (’05)

After serving in the U.S. Army from 2000 to 2003, during which time he was deployed to Iraq with the 4th Infantry Division, Aaron Carlton attended MTSU and graduated magna cum laude with a double major in International Relations and Spanish. He eventually joined the U.S. Department of State as a foreign service officer. While serving in Uganda, he drafted the Department of State’s annual reports on human rights, human trafficking, child labor, and religious freedom. He also assisted the Ugandan government in establishing a prevention of trafficking office and task force. Carlton was awarded the State Department’s Meritorious Honor Award for his work combating human trafficking in Uganda. Carlton moved on to serve as a reporting officer and advisor at the United Nations in New York City. He recently became a consular officer in Venezuela.



Professional Achievement

Keith Taylor (’89, ’91)

While a faculty member at MTSU, Keith Taylor began using 10 percent (or $350) of his monthly gross income from his job as an English professor to give small grants to low-income families to see them through unexpected financial crises. He transformed this hobby into a nationally acclaimed online nonprofit, Strangers visit the website, choose a grant recipient they would like to help, and donate online. The enterprise is supported primarily by $5, $10, and $25 gifts made by legions of unassuming philanthropists around the world. His organization, where his employees refer to him as “Dr. Keith,” has been called the “future of philanthropy” and has been covered in many press outlets such as Forbes, People, USA Today, the Today show, and the CBS Morning Show, among others.






The Middle Tennessee State University Alumni Association annually seeks and accepts nominations for the Distinguished Alumni Awards.

These awards honor those with sustained records of achievement who have made outstanding contributions to society and who exemplify the ideals for which MTSU stands in extraordinary ways.

This year, in addition to the Distinguished Alumni awards, the MTSU Alumni Association is proud to introduce the True Blue Citations of Distinction:

Young Alumni Achievement

Achievement in Education—MTSU Faculty

Achievement in Education—Non-MTSU Faculty

Service to Community

The David Cullum Award for Service to the University

We encourage you to recognize the achievements of an alum by nominating someone for an award.

Award criteria and nomination forms may be found at

Nominations for all awards are due March 29, 2014.


In Memoriam and Baby Raiders

In Memoriam



James Buchanan (’40), Blacksburg, Va., January 9, 2013

Eva Wilburn Fielder (’42), Waynesboro, November 29, 2012

Dalton Stroop (’42), Murfreesboro, October 1, 2012

Sandell Dalton McCrary (’45), Murfreesboro, November 2, 2012

William Shacklett (’45), Murfreesboro, October 19, 2012

Briley Adcock (’46), Florence, Ala., November 28, 2012

Joe McCrary (’46), Murfreesboro, January 11, 2013

Kathryn Kerby Tolle (’46), Keller, Texas, January 22, 2013

Beatrice Pittard White (’48), Sandy, Utah, January 22, 2013

Norman Weems (’49), Glen Cove, New York, September 8, 2012

Arsey Womack (’49), McMinnville, June 23, 2012


James Dillingham (’50), Shelbyville, October 10, 2012

Martha Powell Haun (’50), Trinidad, Colo., November 6, 2012

Solan Wheeler (’50, ’52), Signal Mountain, October 2, 2012

Delmas Grammer (’51), Madison, January 8, 2013

Horace Reed (’52), Bradyville, September 5, 2012

John Adkerson (’54), Smyrna, November 12, 2012

Ervin Manning (’54), La Vergne, October 17, 2012

Thomas Cheney (’56, ’58), Hermitage, February 23, 2013

Joe Hardy (’56), Winchester, November 13, 2012

Allan Welch (’56), Old Hickory, January 13, 2013

J. T. West (’56), Bethpage, September 30, 2012

Robert David (’57), Chattanooga, April 12, 2013

Ramon Nelms (’57), Nashville, September 25, 2012

Donald Clark (’58), Huntsville, Ala., June 4, 2012

Former MTSU athlete and head coacKen Trickey (’56, ’62) died last December at age 79. Trickey played basketball and baseball at MTSU from 1952 to 1955 and was MTSU’s head basketball coach from 1965 to 1969.


George Duncan (’58, ’70), Nashville, January 26, 2013

Marjorie Fyke (’59, ’62), Springfield, March 20, 2013

Joe Hollis (’59), Murfreesboro, March 31, 2013


Robert Clark (’60), Campbellsville, Ky., April 5, 2013

George Lanning (’60), Lawrenceburg, January 17, 2012

Reba Hill Newby (’60, ’63), McMinnville, July 13, 2012

William Youree (’60), Readyville, February 3, 2013

Marjorie Doubleday (’61), Hermitage, September 7, 2012

Oma Griffith (’62), Whitwell, December 7, 2011

R. Shelton Hatcher (’62), Hendersonville, October 10, 2012

Charlene Bentley Key (’62, ’67, ’92), Lebanon, February 1, 2013

Richard Brodhead (’62), Lebanon, July 26, 2012

James Preston (’62), Memphis, August 7, 2012

Geddes Noble Boone (’63), Dearborn, Mich., October 5, 2012

Edward Kelly (’63), New Fairfield, Conn., November 17, 2012

Jacqueline McClain Sherrill (’64, ’89, ’94), Mt. Pleasant, November 5, 2012

Richard Short (’64, ’78), Fayetteville, December 3, 2012

Albert Jones (’66), Franklin, April 4, 2013

David Stacey Jr. (’66), Lewisburg, October 28, 2012

Mary Chamberlain Allen (’67), Nashville, October 29, 2012

Kathleen Bryson (’67, ’75), Murfreesboro, October 18, 2012

Robert Hlodan (’67, ’69), Gardena, Calif., October 9, 2012

Talmadge Overton (’67), Lafayette, February 15, 2013

Betty Campbell Smith (’67), Murfreesboro, January 21, 2013

Joseph Grandstaff (’69), Old Hickory, November 16, 2012

James Hooker (’69), Shelbyville, December 27, 2012

Burl Kell (’69), Ringgold, Ga., November 19, 2012

John Stanford (’62, ’64), a Blue Raider baseball player from 1960 to 1963, died on July 1, 2013, at the age of 77.Stanford, whopitched two seasons in the major leagues for the Washington Senators, served as baseball manager forMTSU from 1974 to 1987 and as athletic director of MTSUfrom 1987 until 1994.




Russell Jarrell (’70), Hixson, November 2, 2012

Robert Lavender (’70), Memphis, March 31, 2013

Ben Perkins (’70), Bowdon, Ga.,October 24, 2012

Curtis Grubbs (’71), Fort Worth, Texas, November 30, 2012

Linda O’Rear (’71), Columbia, September 29, 2012

Kenneth Williams (’71, ’72), Lawrenceburg, June 29, 2012

Dorris Dennis Jr. (’72), College Park, Md., December 12, 2012

Jarrett Greene (’72, ’73), Sewanee, October 27, 2012

Leonard Harris (’72), Lebanon, September 23, 2012

Ronald Potts (’72), Tullahoma, July 9, 2012

Ivan E. Shewmake (’72, ’74), died in March 2013 at age 70. A U.S. Army vet who served in Vietnam, Shewmake was MTSU’s associate dean of students for men, assistant director of University Housing, student ombudsman, and director of University Housing. He retired from MTSU in 1997.

Frances Bass Cox (’73), McMinnville, January 29, 2013

James Mullinix (’73), Livingston, April 4, 2013

Earline Thigpin (’73), Murfreesboro, January 17, 2013

Grace Clore Camp (’74, ’79), Tullahoma, February 28, 2013

Sandra Rubens Gardner (’74), Rockwood, October 25, 2012

Allie Malone (’74), Watertown, December 9, 2012

Homer Huffman Jr. (’75), Murfreesboro, February 6, 2013

Gary Miller (’75), Chattanooga, October 2, 2012

Barbara Shahrokhi Crowell (’76), Jackson, October 22, 2012

Nick Dudiak (’76), Murfreesboro, January 23, 2013

Willetta McClain (’76), Nashville, November 3, 2012

James Pope (’76), Murfreesboro, December 11, 2012

Martin Rooker (’76), Murfreesboro, April 14, 2012

Randall Vanatta (’76), Lebanon, March 30, 2013

Robert Duncan (’77), Gallatin, April 30, 2012

Donna Edwards (’77), Belfast, August 8, 2012

Willard Wallace Jr. (’77), Goodlettsville, October 3, 2012

Teresa Gearlds Burnside (’78), Cincinnati, Ohio, January 23, 2013

Richard Collins (’78), Tupelo, Miss., November 4, 2012

Martha E. Fries (’78), Ooltewah, February 14, 2013

John Taylor (’78), McMinnville, July 6, 2012

Greg Bettis (’79, ’91), Tullahoma, February 3, 2013

Sheikh Faye (’79), Bakau, Gambia, February 11, 2013

Phillip Johnson (’79), Lewisburg, February 6, 2013

Claudetta Walls Rudolph (’79), Goodlettsville, February 6, 2013

Thomas Ware (’79), Goodlettsville, November 14, 2012

Baby Raiders

Jaxton Edward Graham, January 15, 2013, to Jade Edward (’94) and Anjie Graham of Gladeville.

Emma Nicole Tolson, October 16, 2011, to John Tolson (’96) and Amanda Rhodes of Chesapeake, Va.

Lucas E. Nokes, November 2, 2011, to Nicholas (’98) and Susan Spingler Nokes (’98) of Liberty.


Parker Ray Boutté, June 22, 2012, to Scott and Rae Clarke Boutté (’03), of Ringgold, Ga.



William Owen Dean, February 8, 2013, to William and Colleen McEachen Dean (’04), of Hendersonville.


Avery Grace Smith, June 4, 2012, to Josh (’06) and Katie Peek Smith (’05) of Tullahoma. Keely Rayann Thomas, October 12, 2011, to Keosha Thomas (’06) of Antioch.


Macon Chandler Reed, March 19, 2013, to Tyler (’10) and Alisha King Reed (’10) of Readyville.



Laken Christopher Wade, November 16, 2012, to Chris (’10) and Holly Wade of Tullahoma.




Connor Ryan Speck, July 19, 2012, to Ryan (’11) and Jenna Speck of Fayetteville.

Class Notes

Beyond Blue – MTSU recognizes successful alumni

Charlie Hughes (’71), executive director of the Chattanooga Community Kitchen and a former football coach, has been described by Chattanooga’s Times Free Press as “Knute Rockne for Team Homeless,” who inspires those he serves to get “back onto life’s gridiron—even when they’ve given up hope of completing their much needed, miraculous Hail Mary.” Hughes began working for the kitchen in 1989 as a case manager and became director in 2000.


In 2011, O’Dwyer’s  ranked Nashville based health care public affairs firm Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock the 14th-fastest-growing independent public affairs firm in the nation and the fastest-growing in Tennessee for the second year running. President and CEO David Jarrard (’85)  has led communications campaigns for hospitals and health care companies throughout the country over the last 16 years. Before starting his own firm, Jarrard was president of the Ingram Group, vice president of communications for Whittle Communications Inc., and a partner at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations. He began his career as a reporter for The Tennessean.


Keel Hunt (’71) has written a new book, Coup (Vanderbilt University Press), a behind-the-scenes story of the downfall of former Tennessee governor Ray Blanton. A former city editor at The Tennessean, Hunt was a key member of then-gubernatorial candidate Lamar Alexander’s campaign staff and later was Alexander’s special assistant. Hunt, who has a master’s from Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and also attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, later became a strategy consultant for businesses including HCA and Pilot Oil Corp. He later served as staff director of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, leading the planning for the Partnership 2000 economic development initiative. In 1993, Hunt established his own public affairs consulting business (The Strategy Group) and has since worked for institutions including Ingram Industries, the Frist Foundation, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.


Gale Prince (’57), Murfreesboro, was inducted into the Tennessee Lions Club Hall of Fame.


The Nashville Pro Bono Program, a joint venture of the Legal Aid Society and Nashville Bar Association, honored Perry Happell (’65) with the Volunteer of the Year Award for 2012, a year in which Happell represented 19 clients referred to him by the Nashville Pro Bono Program. A founding partner in the Nashville law firm of Blackburn, McCune, Happell & Zenner, he practices law in the areas of bankruptcy and Social Security disability.

Anthony Dudley (’11) is one of the latest success stories to emerge from MTSU’s graduate sports management program, directed by Dr. Colby Jubenville. Dudley earned a degree from Florida State University, but two years after graduation, he felt he was at a standstill in his professional career and enrolled at MTSU. In 2011, upon graduation with a master’s, Dudley was hired by the Nashville Sports Council as marketing and development manager of the council and the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.

Catrice James (’11), Nashville, has joined the Brentwood office of Lattimore, Black, Morgan & Cain.

Phonethida “Tiffany” Sirikoun (’11), Smyrna, was promoted to operations project manager for the concrete manufacturer and aggregate supplier Chaney Enterprises.

November “Nova” Ford (’12), Nashville, is co-owner of Creative Capers, a copyediting/proofreading service. Ford also cowrote the award-winning short story One Afternoon in the House of Numb, which originally appeared in Collage and is included in the recently published Attachment: Four Stories of Love and Loss (Spearhead Press). She designed the cover for that book and also for Ice on the Wing: Essays on Life and Other Difficult Situations.

Elliot C. Malone (’12), Mosheim, completed U.S. Navy basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill.



Hershel “Pat” Wall (’57)  Chancellor Emeritus at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Medicine in Memphis. Wall has been special assistant to the UTHSC chancellor and special assistant to the university’s president, focusing on fundraising, capital development, and alumni relations. A longtime UTHSC faculty member and administrator, Wall has also served as UTHSC chancellor, interim dean for the UT College of Medicine, associate dean for admissions and student affairs, and division chief of General Pediatrics. An endowed student scholarship fund has recently been created at the school in his honor.


Ronald Roberts (’84, ’91) has been promoted to president and CEO of DVL Public Relations & Advertising, one of the largest and best-known public relations and advertising agencies in the Southeast. Roberts joined DVL in 1992 following stints at the Nashville Network and MTSU. He is on the boards of Citizens Bank & Trust, the Nashville Sports Council, Second Harvest Food Bank, Nashville Downtown Rotary Club, Nashville Downtown Partnership, and 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee.


A former producer at NewsChannel 5 who spent 14 years in the news business, Jamie Berry (’98)  found her dream job last year as the new public relations and communications manager for Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee.


Rodney Bennett Rodney Bennett (’90, ’92, ’93) has become the 10th president of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. The appointment makes Bennett the first African American to lead the university or any of the state’s historically white institutions of higher learning. Bennett most recently served as vice president of student affairs at the University of Georgia.






Steve Graham (’92) was an all-conference athlete on the MTSU golf team.

From 1994 into 1997, Graham played professional golf on several of the smaller U.S. tours. These days, he’s general manager and director of golf (and one of the owners, including Champions Tour player Kirk Triplett) of Champions Run golf course in Rockvale, Tenn., which has a state-of-the-art practice and training center that MTSU golfers use to keep their skills sharp during the winter months.


Jennifer Stone Shaw (’01), a textiles, merchandising, and design major is an assistant draper in the costume shop of the Los Angeles Opera, working with general director Placido Domingo. The company hires top-notch designers from around the world, and Shaw’s job is to help turn their designs into garments in which artists can perform. Shaw is shown here in one of the dresses she helped create.


A. J. Busé (’85, ’97) has been named to the slate of officers for the American Advertising Federation Council of Governors, a national-level leadership position with the AAF. Busé previously served as governor of the AAF’s District 7, comprising 23 local advertising clubs across the South. He started his own advertising and public relations business, Brand New Day, in 1997.



Meagan Flippin (’07, ’09) was promoted from senior director to president and CEO of the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties following a nationwide search. Past president of Murfreesboro Young Professionals and past chair of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce’s Diplomat Program, Flippin is also active with the Junior League of Murfreesboro and the Blue Raider Athletic Association. She earned her bachelor’s with a concentration in advertising and public relations and her master’s in professional studies in strategic leadership from MTSU. Before joining United Way in 2009, she worked for the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville and for MTSU.


Nashville singer-songwriter Jessica Campbell (’03, ’05 ) released her second album, The Anchor & The Sail , in April. Fellow MTSU alum Dave Barnes (Grammy-nominated for “God Gave Me You”) contributed vocals to the album. Last year, Campbell signed a worldwide copublishing agreement with Franklin-based MWS Group, owned by artist Michael W. Smith.




You might say Skye Medley (’06, ’09)  travels with a fast crowd. Medley is a production manager assistant for ESPN’s NASCAR coverage team who travels from race to race doing logistical planning, coordinating interview times with other networks, and seeing that producers and announcers have what they need for the broadcasts. A Mass Communications major who concentrated in electronic media journalism, Medley has also worked the Liberty Bowl, the Music City Bowl, the Winter X Games, and NFL Monday Night Football.


Jason Brooks (’06) was recently hired as defensive secondary coach for the Florida International University Panthers after spending the previous four seasons with the Super Bowl XLVII champion Baltimore Ravens, most recently as offensive quality control assistant.





Evyn Mustoe (’07) is creative manager at ASCAP Nashville. The nonprofit American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers is one of three performance rights organizations that work to protect the songwriter copyrights of its members by monitoring public performances of music (broadcast or live) and compensating them accordingly. Mustoe’s focus at ASCAP is on the growing pop/rock scene in Nashville and the Southeast.



Two former Blue Raider football players are coaches for the University of North Carolina football team. Walt Bell (’05, ’06)  is tight ends coach, and his brother, Luke Paschall (’06, ’07), is assistant coach for special teams. MTSU plays at UNC on Sept. 7, 2013.




Among the latest major guitar competitions won by Romanian guitarist Silviu Ciulei (’08)  was the open division of the third annual Indiana International Guitar Festival and Competition, held by the prestigious Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in 2012. Ciulei, who studied guitar at MTSU with William Yelverton, has since graduated with a master’s in guitar performance from Florida State University, where he is now teaching and working on a doctoral degree.



Chet Overall (’09) leads the Lagniappe Brass Band, based in New Orleans, which was chosen to be on the king float in the 2012 Endymion Mardi Gras parade, ferrying music superstar Kelly Clarkson (pictured here with Chet playing saxophone).







Pettus Read (’70), Rockvale, received the Outstanding Commitment to Tennessee Agriculture Award by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee  He was also recognized with a joint House resolution for his many years of covering and promoting rural life in Tennessee.

Gary (’72) and Terry Moore Davenport (’72), Sacramento, Calif., are now with Beijing Church of Christ in Beijing, China.

Kenneth Honeycutt (’76), Murfreesboro, is retiring after 34 years with the Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department.

Elizabeth Farrar Hord (’76, ’82), Murfreesboro, was the honoree at the MTMC Foundation Power of Pink’s inaugural Wine Around the Square event on Sept. 21, 2012.

Wayne Shanks (’76), Cookeville, is retiring after 36 years of teaching administration to spend more time with his other passion: his family.

Russell Neal Sr., (’77), Mt. Juliet, was promoted to assurance senior manager for the Nashville firm of Decosimo Certified Public Accountants in October 2012.

Guy Wilson (’77), Greenville, N.C., is chief financial officer for Shalag US, a wholly owned subsidiary of Shalag Industries, a publicly traded Israeli corporation.

Edward Arning (’78), Murfreesboro, is the new director of Printing Services at MTSU. He will be responsible for expanding Printing Services’ offerings, which will include a new retail site in the Student Union Building.

Denice Rucker (’78), Murfreesboro, retired from State Farm after 27 years.

Penny Baker (’79), Clinton, retired from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department after 32 years.

Kimberly Shadwick Savona (’79) is general manager of the Mall at Green Hills, Nashville’s premier upscale retail destination. Savona has spent the past 24 years with Michigan-based Taubman Centers, which owns and/or operates 27 premium shopping centers nationwide.


Don Embry (’80, ’88), Shelbyville, was named superintendent of schools for the Bedford County School District.

Kina (Steed) Mallard (’81) was promoted from vice president of academic affairs to executive vice president at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, where she also serves as provost.

Rob Mitchell (’82), Murfreesboro, was elected property assessor of Rutherford County in August 2012.

Phil Williams (’85), Nashville, an investigative reporter for WTVF-TV, was among 20 recent initiates inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society.

Tonya Cherry (’87), senior manager in the Nashville office of accounting firm Rodefer Moss, is a Court Appointed Special Advocate in Wilson County. Volunteer advocates are assigned to juvenile abuse cases and work to expedite them through the judicial system while providing continuity and support for children. So far, Cherry has helped seven children from five families.

Molly Glover (’88), Memphis, joined the law firm of Burch, Porter & Johnson in Memphis. She was recently listed by the Tennessee Supreme Court as a Rule 31 mediator and was selected by her peers as a Mid-South Super Lawyer in 2012.

Raymond Pryor (’88), Wartrace, was recognized by the Webb School Parents Association with the 2012 WSPA Faculty Enrichment Award. He is director of technology and a computer teacher at the Webb School.


Jonathan Cooke (’90), Brentwood, is a certified public accountant and a partner in tax services with Lattimore, Black Morgan & Cain.

Shalynn G. Ford Womack (’90), Nashville, had two books published recently—Ice on the Wing: Essays on Life and Other Difficult Situations (nonfiction) and Attachment: Four Stories of Love and Loss (fiction).

Brian Byrd (’91, ’96), Murfreesboro, is the new chief financial officer for Roscoe Brown Inc., a 73-year-old HVAC company with operations throughout middle Tennessee.

Christopher Whaley (’91), Harriman, is president of Roane State Community College.

Lynn Baxter (’92), Ooltewah, was named 2012 Elementary School Teacher of the Year by the Tennessee Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.

Melanie Hamilton Baldwin (’93), Memphis, was part of a collectively written book (along with a group of 22 other parents) called The Thinking Mom’s Revolution— Autism Beyond the Spectrum: Inspiring True Stories from Parents Fighting to Rescue Their Children.

Paul Burris (’93), Franklin, is a certified public accountant and a partner in LBMC Outsourcing Services Division/Tax Services.

Mary Rickman Dayton (’93, ’06), Smyrna, has been named head coach of the volleyball team at Stewarts Creek High School. She will also teach physical education.

Kelly Rollins (’93), Murfreesboro, was awarded the National Medallion of Honor by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for his support and devoted service.

Tim Henderson (’95) is the new executive director for Humanities Tennessee, the state-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities that operates the Southern Festival of Books. Henderson, who earned master’s degrees in English and information science from MTSU, previously served as director of operations.

Gregory Milnar (’95), Franklin, has been promoted to chief financial officer at Milnar Organ Company. Greg is an affiliate broker with Forest Hills Realtors in Nashville.

Virginia K. “Ginger” Johnson (’96), Nashville, was named a partner with Seigenthaler Public Relations Inc., an award-winning communications firm with offices in Nashville, New York, and Chicago.

Donovan Sargent (’96), College Grove, has joined LBMC Technologies as a network system engineer in its Brentwood office.

Bobby Bosko Grubic (’99), Marina del Rey, Calif., produced and directed a short film, Change to Spare, written by Michael Dorazio. The film was selected from among 300 entries as one of the 10 best at the 2nd Annual Debra Hill/2012 Producers Guild of America Weekend Shorts Awards held in association with New Filmmakers in Los Angeles.


Barret Albritton (’00), Signal Mountain, attorney for Leitner, Williams, Dooley and Napolitan was named Young Attorney of the Year by the Chattanooga Bar Association.

Angie Teaque Grissom (’00), Franklin, has been promoted to president of the Rainmaker Companies. She will oversee the firm’s alliances, consulting, and training services.

Helen Blankenship (’01, ’04), Murfreesboro, was elected to the Rutherford County School Board.

Torian Hodges-Finch (’01), Antioch, a sixth-grade teacher at Smyrna Middle School, is president of the Rutherford Education Association.

Delvecchio Rankins (’03), Hartsville, has joined First Freedom Bank as a customer service representative in the Lebanon office.

Stewart Aaron Carlton (’05), Eagleville, worked as a political/economic officer at the U.S. embassy in Kampala, Uganda, from August 2010 until August 2012 and as a reporting officer and advisor at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York City until December 2012. He is now training at the George P. Schultz Foreign Affairs Institute in Arlington, Va., preparing for his next assignment as a consular officer in Caracas, Venezuela.

Keosha Thomas (’06), Antioch, is a celebrity/entertainer journalist for the online publication She is a publicist for Grammy Award–winning Torrance Esmond (’03).

Mark Bell (’08), Talbott, a professional journalist, won his second Malcolm Law Investigative Reporting Award from the Associated Press.

Matthew Swafford (’08, ’10), Nashville, was promoted to audit senior in the audit practice at Deloitte & Touche.

Kevin Kanaskie (’09), Boalsburg, Penn., is the new head coach of boys basketball at Ottumwa High School in Ottumwa, Ill.

Kyle Mahoney (’10), Clarksville, graduated from the Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Program, Vance AFB, on June 29, 2012. He is continuing on to pilot B-52s at Barksdale AFB in Barksdale, La.

Michael Bolton (’11), Smyrna, is now a tax department staff member in the Brentwood office of Lattimore, Black, Morgan & Cain.

The Label Maker

Kelli Cooper’s fashion sense finds purchase in the South and beyond

by Allison Gorman

Kelli Cooper spent her childhood cutting pictures out of fashion magazines and plastering them all over her bedroom walls. But she had never cut out a pattern, or really sewn at all, when she enrolled in MTSU’s fashion design program. “I just looked through the catalog and thought,

‘Ohhh . . . I want to do that!’ And that was it,” she says.

Sometimes audacity can propel you when statistics would stop you in your tracks. In speaking with Cooper, one gets the sense that it never occurred to her not to pursue a career as a fashion designer—even though she admits that the uncertainty that comes with the job can be “terrifying.” With the exploding interest in fashion, fueled by countless reality shows like Project Runway, the market has become saturated and the odds of succeeding in the industry are long. “It’s just so hard,” Cooper says. “There are so many designers, and boutiques are swamped with lookbooks and line sheets and phone calls and emails. And they ignore them.”

She’s already beaten the odds by launching a successful clothing label, Loretta Jane. And now that she’s catching the attention of national media, it’s clear she’s made the cut in a notoriously tough industry.

Cooper’s career path hasn’t been seamless, or even straight. In fact, it parallels her description of sewing: “You always have to be thinking a step ahead, and it’s a constant learning process. It’s more complicated than you’d think.”

That path took her from MTSU, where she graduated in 2002; to Nashville, where she worked for a bridal and formal-wear designer; to Atlanta, where her mother lives; and back to Nashville, where she eventually started working at Hemline, a boutique in Green Hills. There, Cooper got invaluable lessons from the buyer’s perspective: she met small designers, saw new clothing lines scrutinized, learned about price points, and began to understand what stores and their customers want. In 2008, she put together a collection of nine pieces reflecting what would become her signature style: lightweight retro fabrics, short skirts, and feminine silhouettes evocative of mid-20th-century couture. The owner of Hemline in Nashville bought the collection, as did franchise owner Brigette Holthausen, who placed Loretta Jane pieces in several Hemline stores, including its flagship location in New Orleans.

And that’s where Cooper relocated in 2010, after traveling to the Crescent City to meet with Holthausen. “As soon as I got out of the cab in the French Quarter, I was completely in love with it,” she says.

Cooper found limited success sending her portfolio to stores—a shotgun strategy all aspiring designers use. “I sent out maybe 15 look-books and got a call back from one,” she recalls. More often, Loretta Jane sold itself. Buyers saw the line in other boutiques and began calling Cooper, who went from sewing all her own clothes to outsourcing piecework to factories in New Orleans and Atlanta. Loretta Jane now has a presence in six states, including New York, and Cooper hopes to hire her own production staff as she expands to boutiques across the country.

She explains that succeeding in the fashion industry is all about strategy—and staving off self-doubt. “You’ve got to think so far in advance; you’ve got to have your style, your aesthetic, your samples ready six to nine months before your collection actually comes out. And every season you think, ‘What if nobody buys my stuff this season? What if nobody buys it next season?’”

Those questions were running through her mind last November, when she packed up her spring 2013 samples and drove to her first trade show (in Atlanta). Like dozens of other designers, she spent the first excruciating hours sitting in a booth on a nearly empty floor. Unnerved by the quiet, she finally took a break to visit the market showroom upstairs. Within minutes she got a text: “Southern Living just came by your booth. They love it. Get down here now.” By the time Cooper got back to her booth, the writer was gone.

In life, as in fashion, timing is everything.

Despite the slow start, Cooper made good sales in Atlanta, and the praise for Loretta Jane started coming in—first on industry blogs and then, in January, on Southern Living’s website, The Daily South, which named Kelli Cooper one of Five Southern Designers to Know in 2013.

By then, of course, she was already a step ahead, creating her fall collection and preparing for the New York trade show. And her plans extend far beyond that: “I want to go all the way,” she says. Odds are, she will.

The Meat of the Matter

Donna Jo Curtis bridges the gap between agricultural producer and consumer

by Candace Moonshower

John and Donna Jo Curtis

John Curtis ('78) and Donna Jo Curtis ('80)

Farmers aren’t always found on the farm, according to Donna Jo Curtis (’80), president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association (ACA). These days, future farmers are found in colleges studying such diverse disciplines as plant science, biotechnology, animal science, horticulture, and forestry, to name a few.

“Agriculture is the basis of everything and the sustainability of this nation,” Curtis says. “It’s said that we’ll be feeding nine billion people in a decade. The technology it’s going to take for those of us in the world of agriculture to meet that need is unbelievable.”

Farm life has changed. Statistically, there are far fewer “family” farms now, but the ones that are left are working more acres. Technology is absolutely necessary to even plant, according to Curtis, which leads to all sorts of job possibilities—and this is why agribusiness and agriscience departments are thriving components of many universities.

“You don’t have to be raised on a family farm to work in some aspect of the agriculture business,” Curtis says. “If a student has an interest in any aspect of agriculture—farm animals, becoming a veterinarian, studying horse science, or studying soil science—there is a broad spectrum of jobs out there.”

Curtis, only the second woman to lead the ACA, lives and works on her 300-acre farm in Thatch, Ala., where she manages a cow-calf program running 120 cows. She has a B.S. in animal science and a minor in secondary education, and while her plans were not to teach in school settings, she finds herself educating consumers in her high-profile position.

“One of my primary responsibilities is to keep the presidents of all the county associations up to date about what is going on at the national level. I also work on member recruitment—especially getting young people involved in the beef industry,” she says.

According to Curtis, surveys of consumers have shown that most people are disconnected from farm life, yet they are the buyers of the industry’s end product. Beef cattle production ranks second behind broiler chickens in cash receipts among Alabama farm commodities. Alabama cattle producers sold $395.8 million worth of cattle and calves in 2011. Cattle are produced in every county, and cattle production represents a $2.5 billion industry in Alabama. The state’s climate and land are ideally suited for growing forage and raising cattle, and as of January 2012 there were 1.2 million head of cattle and calves on Alabama farms.

“I am the face of the producer,” Curtis says. “I help consumers understand what we do and help them to see the beef industry in a positive way.”

Curtis grew up on her family’s cattle farm and always intended to raise cattle after college. Her husband, John Curtis (’78), graduated from MTSU with a degree in animal science.

The two were high school sweethearts, which helped push Donna Jo to MTSU, a decision she has never regretted.

She recently returned to MTSU on Field Day and saw the University’s new $4.3 million, 435-acre dairy located six miles east of campus. The new dairy opened in September 2012. One-third of all the milk produced by a herd of 70 cows is consumed by students on campus, and the rest is sold to Virginia and Maryland Milk Producers. The dairy is only one thriving aspect of the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience: the school has increased its number of undergraduate majors by 14 percent since 2010.

“I am so impressed,” Curtis says.

Curtis’s children are also in the family business. Daughter Lauren Graham, also an MTSU graduate (’10), is teaching agriscience in Limestone County, Ala. Son Landon graduated from Auburn University in May with a degree in business and agricultural economics, and his twin sister, Landria, is set to graduate from Auburn in December with a degree in animal science. Agriculture in the Curtis family, it appears, is a family affair.

Grade A Grads

Introducing the 2012–2013 class of Distinguished Alumni

Many MTSU alumni bring the University recognition and prestige through their innovative work and loyal support. Each year since 1960, MTSU’s Alumni Association has recognized accomplished alumni with the association’s highest honor—the Distinguished Alumni Award. Younger alumni who are making a positive impact in the world are eligible for the Young Alumni Achievement Award.

This year’s honorees include a product safety innovator, a former Lady Raider turned high-powered Nashville attorney, and a children’s education researcher. Each is well deserving of the honor, and their personal stories don’t make for a bad read, either.

Distinguished Alumni, Service to the Community

Maria Salas ’85 (B.S. Mass Communication)

Maria Salas is a former Lady Raiders basketball player who now, along with owning her own bankruptcy law firm in Nashville, devotes a large part of her time to community service. She has served or is currently serving on the boards of Nashville Cares, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Nashville Bar Association. She is a founding member of the Stonewall Bar Association and is a member of the Mid-South Commercial Law Institute and the Tennessee Lawyer’s Association for Women. She has received many volunteer awards, has been named “Best of the Bar” by the Nashville Business Journal, and is an alumna of Leadership Nashville.

Distinguished Alumni, Professional Achievement

Larry Needham ’68 (B.S. Chemistry)

For over 34 years, Larry Needham was employed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, where he served as chief of the organic analytical toxicology branch. He devoted much of his time to the development of methods for assessing human exposure to a variety of environmental toxicants and was considered to be one of the preeminent human exposure assessment experts in the field. His two most prominent works were (1) demonstrating that leaded gasoline was a major contributor to blood lead, which prompted the EPA to remove lead from gasoline, and (2) producing data that prompted the FDA to remove the reproductive toxicant BPA from food packaging containers, baby pacifiers, and bottles. He produced over 350 peer-reviewed publications and gave over 200 presentations internationally. Needham passed away in October 2010.

Young Alumni Achievement Award

Deanna Meador ’04 (B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies)

Deanna Meador is a research coordinator at Vanderbilt’s Peabody Research Institute. She is coordinating two multimillion dollar, grant-funded research projects focusing on self-regulation in children. One of her most recent accomplishments was developing a paperless data collection system that has saved over 68,000 pieces of paper, months of data entry, and thousands of dollars on one research project alone. The system is being piloted by PRI, and she is presenting it to representatives of the Institute of Education Services.

Hail to the Chief!

by Drew Ruble

When Don Keaton (’61) was in grade school, he got tangled up in a stirrup and was dragged by a horse for about a mile. It nearly killed him. As a result of the lingering effects of that injury, he spent six months during high school bedridden, unable even to sit up.

Maybe that explains why Keaton, now 71 years old, is one of the most active people you’ll ever meet. In fact, he says he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t holding down two to three jobs at once while simultaneously engaging in side projects.

Keaton’s primary job these days is one of the more peculiar but necessary jobs in all of Tennessee. As chief sergeant of arms for the Tennessee State Senate, Keaton is the key man in charge of carving order out of chaos on Capitol Hill.

Working at the will of Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey—who appointed him to the position—Keaton and staff are often asked to find a lawmaker in the halls of legislative plaza and bring him or her to the committee room for a vote or to constitute a quorum. (Back in the old days, the sergeant of arms and his staff were often dispatched to the Tennessee countryside to pull elected lawmakers off their farms and up to the Capitol for votes.)

Keaton and staff would describe themselves more as servants than enforcers, though.

“One of biggest problems is lawmakers will leave their offices, head for legislative hearing rooms, and get stopped by lobbyists or some special interest group,” Keaton says. “And they feel like they are obligated to talk to their constituents. So we help to get them where they need to go.”

Keaton has, in all, spent 11 years on the Hill. He doesn’t do the job for the money. A savvy private investor, Keaton was among the earliest investors in Cracker Barrel and Wilson County Bank (among other smart investments). His long professional career included stints as city hall finance commissioner for the City of Lebanon and economic opportunity commission executive director for Lebanon/Wilson County. (Keaton was also the primary provider of photographic services to Cracker Barrel for many years.)

No, not money, but activity—Keaton’s lifeblood—is the draw to the Senate job. “I enjoy work,” he says. “It’s not really work because I enjoy what I’m doing.”

What else does Keaton do to keep himself busy? One of his primary entrepreneurial hobbies is firearms design. Keaton holds a patent on the use of embedded magnets to quickly change the length of gunstocks in the manufacturing process. He also now holds a provisional patent on the use of the same principle of magnets (reverse polarity) to create an invisible spring or cushion on the butt of a gun to reduce recoil.

“Even Bubba can understand that,” he says.

For pure enjoyment, Keaton also works part-time at Bass Pro Shops in Opry Mills, helping customers select gun sights. But taking care of senators remains Keaton’s primary passion.

Sen. Kerry Roberts, who replaced Congresswoman Diane Black in the Tennessee State Senate last March, and who had never served in an elected position in his life, called Keaton and his staff “life-savers” when he arrived on Capitol Hill the morning after his special election.

“What surprised me was that Don and his staff immediately knew who I was,” the freshman lawmaker Roberts says. “Don has a heart of service. He takes care of everything, and he does it with joy. He and his staff, they are true public servants.”

Spend a little time on the floor of the state Senate and one fact quickly becomes obvious. Every senator there deeply appreciates the attitude that Don Keaton and his staff come to work with.

And Keaton? He just appreciates the opportunity to go to work.

Raiders of Industry

by Mike Browning

Some of us live life day-to-day, month-to-month, or year-to-year. The MTSU alumni featured on this page live by seconds. Engaged daily in gathering and disseminating television news and weather for middle Tennessee, these MTSU alumni work fast, constantly conscious of time to ensure that their television content is ready to broadcast at the designated hour. Whether producers, directors, audio engineers, reporters, anchors, or meteorologists, they are willing slaves to the almighty clock. Missing a deadline is considered a mortal sin, but then again these professionals prefer the adrenaline of their fast-paced careers over the everyday nine-to-five. After all, they chose the “seconds-to-air” lifestyle when they graduated from MTSU’s highly respected programs in electronic media communication or recording industry. They are highly visible examples of MTSU’s significant role as a supplier of Nashville’s workforce.

WSMV Channel 4

Middle Tennessee has been waking up in the morning to a cup of coffee and Emmy Award–winning journalist Holly Thompson, co-anchor for Channel 4 News Today, since 2000.

Regina Raccuglia earned Reporter of the Year honors from the Associated Press while working in Huntsville, Alabama.

Left to right: Michael Lester (’96), director, Channel 4 News Today, morning show and  midday; Alicia Collins (’09), editor; Holly Thompson (’94), anchor, Channel 4 News Today, morning show and midday; Regina Raccuglia (’05), reporter; Mary Katherine Rooker (’98), producer, 5 p.m.

Not pictured: Forrest Sanders (’07), reporter/photographer; Nancy Van Camp (’95), meteorologist; Elizabeth Emmons (’97) producer; Corinne Gould Jasso (’04), producer; Chuck Morris (’90), digital content manager; Matthew Parriott (’05), morning show producer; David Weathersby (’98), investigative producer; Craig Landschoot (’07), photographer; Tiffany Sawyer (’08), producer;  Jessica Turri (’06), producer

NewsChannel 5 and 5+

Phil Williams, WTVF NewsChannel 5 chief investigative reporter, has won multiple Emmy, DuPont, and Peabody Awards for being the reporter no one wants to see coming. Williams graduated with honors from MTSU in 1985. His investigations of corrupt court systems, insider contracts, government waste, and sex offenders have earned national respect for his career and NewsChannel 5.

Kelly Cox, a familiar face to those who watch early morning weather, helped start MTSU’s first morning news show. She attended MTSU on a Presidential Scholarship and graduated summa cum laude in 2001.

Left to right back: Brian Bates (’94), executive director, NewsChannel 5+; Lucas Wyatt (’06), technical operator, NewsChannel 5; Phil Williams (’85), chief investigative reporter, NewsChannel 5; Dwayne Stewart (’07), traffic coordinator, NewsChannel 5; Mark Martin (’79), news operations manager, NewsChannel 5; Kevin Sherrill (’99), director, NewsChannel 5; Andrew Diemer (’08), producer/director, NewsChannel 5+

Left to right front: Jamie Berry (’98), news producer, NewsChannel 5; Rachel Ward (’07), assignment desk, NewsChannel 5; Lacey Strader-Devlin (’06), web producer, NewsChannel 5; Kelly Cox (’01), weekend meteorologist, NewsChannel 5; Mareliena Ramos (’06), producer/director NewsChannel 5+; Samantha Smith (’08), producer, NewsChannel 5

Not pictured: Danielle Allen (’06), associate producer, NewsChannel 5; Mitzi Gargus (’06), director, NewsChannel 5; Takahiro Hamada (’08) graphic artist, NewsChannel 5; Sarah Moore (’00) news producer, NewsChannel 5; Rob Harrison (’06) audio engineer, NewsChannel 5; Clifton Hunt (’79), promotions producer; Debbie Hunt (’81), account representative, News Channel 5


FOX 17

FOX 17 morning co-anchor Nick Paranjape is proud to say he grew up in Murfreesboro and earned his degree from MTSU.  Before coming to Nashville, Paranjape sharpened his news skills in Knoxville and Memphis. After 30 years of forecasting weather in Tennessee and

Kentucky, FOX 17’s morning meteorologist, Craig Edwards, is one of Tennessee’s most trusted.

Left to right: Toni Taylor Fitzgerald (’97), account executive; Dennis Breckey (’96), chief operator, sister-station WNAB; Amanda Ward (’07), morning editor; Craig Edwards (’78), morning meteorologist; Greg Pollard (’91), local sales manager; Nick Paranjape (’91), morning co-anchor

Not pitctured: Michelle Heron (’10), associate producer; Orlando Rodriguez (’02), commercial producer; Brittany Thomas (’05), producer assistant; Randy Keys (’80), program coordinator; Sarah Shiverdecker (’04), morning producer; Marty Spears (’02), traffic dept./copy coordinator; Kim Watson (’93), commercial producer



Karen Higbee and Heather Jensen began work as associate producers for News 2 while attending classes at MTSU.  These days Higbee also hones her craft as a video journalist.

Jensen, likewise, isn’t afraid to do what needs to be done to tell the story, working as a photographer, editor, producer, reporter, and anchor to bring viewers the news.

Left to right: Rebecca McGrath (’10), sales associate; Nick Oliver (’09), account executive; Laura Schrader Crenshaw (’83), account executive; Joe Gregory (’79), chief video journalist; Lisa Denny Hustedt (’81), account executive; Bart Baird (’94), assignment editor; Heather Jensen (’99), video journalist; Beau Fleenor (’01), video journalist; Joe Dubin (’97), sports anchor/reporter (recently departed WKRN)

Not pictured: Karen Higbee (’07), video journalist; Alison Coe (’02), assistant news director; Glenn Proffitt (’78), account executive

Midpoints – Winter 2012

A look at recent awards, events, and accomplishments involving the MTSU community

The Century Marked

Amid a sea of sparkling décor and commemorative backdrops, 1,200 blue-clad attendees shared in the once-in-a-lifetime Blue Tie Gala honoring MTSU’s Centennial Celebration. The much-anticipated event was held Sept. 9 at Embassy Suites Murfreesboro Hotel and Conference Center. In a prerecorded video statement, Gov. Bill Haslam told gala attendees that “tonight, we are all true blue.”

Resident Expert

Film composer George S. Clinton (’69), the man behind the music of Mortal Kombat, The Santa Clause 2 and the Austin Powers film series, shared his expertise with MTSU students this past fall as the 2011 Department of Recording Industry Artist-in-Residence. During his visit, the Grammy- and Emmy-nominated Clinton presented two free public events and several master classes for MTSU recording industry students.

We Salute You

Military personnel past and present joined activities surrounding the 30th annual Salute to Armed Services/Veterans Day ceremonies at the MTSU-Arkansas State football game in Floyd Stadium on Nov. 19. About 700 retired and active-duty personnel and their families attended. Prior to the game, the Joe Nunley Sr. Award was given to former State Sen. Doug Henry of Nashville, a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War II. At halftime, the MTSU Band of Blue performed official fight songs as the veterans and active-duty personnel and their families walked across Jones Field.

Street Performers

MTSU, home of North America’s largest collegiate recording industry program, was a prime sponsor of the fourth annual Capitol Records Street Party in Nashville. One hundred undergraduate and graduate students in the Electronic Media Communication and Recording Industry departments, along with faculty and alumni, also helped produce the free public event, held on Demonbreun Street near the Music Row roundabout. Students worked with Music Row professionals to produce the show in MTSU’s new $1.4 million mobile production lab, handling HD cameras, boom mikes, street interviews, and other duties. More than 10,000 people attended.

Economic Indicators

Mark A. Emkes, retired CEO and president of Bridgestone Americas Inc. and currently the commissioner of finance and administration for the state of Tennessee, was the keynote speaker at MTSU’s much-anticipated annual Economic Outlook Conference. Jim Burton, dean of the Jennings A. Jones College of Business, said that with the University’s increasing emphasis on international education and affairs, it was “appropriate to have a conference headliner who has the business breadth and depth that Mark possesses” at the 19th annual event.

Strong as Silk

Last fall, MTSU’s Confucius Institute and the School of Music hosted “Song of Silk,” a free concert of songs, instruments, dance, and Beijing opera. A production of the Confucius Institute of Chinese Opera at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York, the concert included faculty from Binghamton University and the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts, as well as the Melody of Dragon Chinese Ensemble and the Amber Dance Troupe. The Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China and the West and Middle East, is a metaphor for efforts to create a bridge between Chinese and Western cultures.


Partners in Progress

MTSU and Motlow State Community College signed a memorandum of understanding to help students who earn a two-year associate’s degree to apply those credits toward earning a four-year bachelor’s degree. MTSU’s Dr. Sidney A. McPhee and Motlow’s Dr. Mary Lou Apple officially authorized the Dual Admission Program to ease the transfer process between the two Tennessee Board of Regents institutions and encourage students’ academic success. MTSU and Dyersburg State Community College also recently signed an agreement that provides a framework for programs to enhance the educational experience of students attending both schools. The agreement, signed by McPhee and Dyersburg State President Karen A. Bowyer, includes dual admissions, concurrent enrollment, reverse transfer, consortium agreements and cooperative advising for students. MTSU has already established dual-admission programs with Chattanooga State and Nashville State Community Colleges. “In light of the recent Complete College Tennessee Act, which was historic legislation passed and approved by the General Assembly about a year and a half ago, universities and community colleges have made additional efforts to provide what we call ‘hassle-free pathways’ for our community-college students to move on to the university and pursue their undergraduate degrees and other professional training,” McPhee said.

Welcome to the Club

MTSU athletics booster Jeff Hendrix posthumously donated $1 million for the construction of a football stadium club at Floyd Stadium. Hendrix died in May 2011 at age 53 after a 13-month battle with cancer. His final gift stands as the largest unrestricted donation in the history of MTSU athletics. The project, which involves renovating and glassing in the club level of Floyd Stadium, should be finished before next football season.


An MTSU team was crowned the Mid-South Mock Trial Invitational Tournament champion, defeating such programs along the way as UT-Knoxville, the University of Georgia and Rhodes College. The tournament, which has been held annually at MTSU for 20 years, is among the largest and most prestigious in the nation. This year’s tournament featured 48 teams from 24 colleges and universities in 11 states. MTSU’s winning team, led by senior Rachel Harmon, also included Zac Barker and Constance Grieves, who also played attorney roles, and Chris Hardman, James Johnson, Curtis Strode and Chanekka Pullens, who played the roles of witnesses. Dr. John R. Vile, dean of the University Honors College, and local attorneys Brandi Snow and Shiva Bozarth, coach the MTSU teams.

Journalism Giants

The news industry’s finest father-son team came to MTSU last fall to discuss how they’ve been “Living the First Amendment.” John Seigenthaler, founder of the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies, and John Seigenthaler Jr., former NBC News journalist and CEO of Seigenthaler Public Relations—New York, drew on their decades of print, broadcast, and online journalism experience at the free public event, which launched the 2011 Seigenthaler Speaker Series.

A Distinguished Guest

MTSU celebrated the U.S. Constitution and civility in September with help from a very special guest: James A. Leach, chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. A 15-term member of the U.S. Congress from Iowa, Leach delivered the Centennial Constitution Day Distinguished Lecture, sponsored by the American Democracy Project and the Distinguished Lecture Committee. The address, “Constitutional Responsibility and Civil Society,” was the highlight of Centennial Constitution Week.

Street Cred

On September 11, 1911, the State Normal School for the Middle Division of Tennessee opened for business on a 100-acre site described by The Tennessean in a February 1910 article as “a beautiful 100-acre plot located on East Main Street about a mile from the public square and just outside of the corporate city limits.” Joe Black and Tom Harrison generously donated 80 acres of the land for the project and sold the remaining 20 acres for $5,000. The original campus property featured the first four buildings constructed on what is today Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). The gift from Black and Harrison also encompassed the original campus core, now known as Walnut Grove. The University recently renamed the street that surrounds Walnut Grove and links many of the original campus structures in honor of this important contribution to MTSU’s history.

There’s an App for That

MTSU Mobile, an Android app developed by five MTSU computer science students, helps students look up class and schedule information, map classrooms and offices, get times and dates of sporting events, and check dining specials. The app also provides maps to classrooms, offices and other points of interest on campus. Students can also access academic information through their pipeline account, calendar information, and email and phone contact information of their professors. The app started as a class project, with Dr. Sung Kun Yoo as the project advisor.  Yoo later received a grant that provided funding for the project. The team also received support from the Information Technology Division at MTSU. The app can be downloaded at:

Wild Horses

This past fall, MTSU hosted an event that both glorified the underdog and revealed a transformation like no other: Extreme Mustang Makeover. The event was the culmination of a 100-day period during which trainers worked with previously wild horses to develop them into trained mounts. Participating horses were made available for adoption by competitive bid after the event. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages these feral animals on nearly 27 million acres of Western rangeland. With over 50 percent of the BLM’s wild horse program budget accounting for holding costs, adoption of these animals is crucial—not only for their well-being but also for the American taxpayer. It costs the BLM roughly $12,000 per horse over the lifetime of the animal to maintain it in BLM pastures and corrals. Taxpayers spend more than $36 million dollars a year maintaining these animals in holding facilities.

Bold Step

MTSU took top honors in the Bold Warrior Challenge regional competition in Fort Knox, Ky., out of a field of 44 teams from a five-state area. The first-place finish earned the team a berth in the international Sandhurst Competition next April at West Point, N.Y. All cadets on the winning MTSU team hail from Tennessee. The Bold Warrior event tests a team’s endurance, strength and leadership abilities while negotiating a 16-mile course that includes challenges ranging from land navigation to weapons assembly and disassembly, marksmanship, one-rope bridge, hand grenades, obstacle course, combat lifesaving and water-borne operations.

Spotlight on the Arts

MTSU announced plans to better promote its arts programs, including dance, music, theatre and visual arts, and increase public awareness and participation in its varied offerings. A new brand for the combined marketing effort, MTSU Arts, will be used in marketing of events by schools and departments within the College of Liberal Arts. The University values community interaction and participation and sees stronger promotion of the arts as an opportunity to bring more people to campus. Visit, a new calendar and reference tool for the MTSU Arts efforts.