Logo

The Power of Preservation

Carroll Van West guides one of MTSU’s most respected Centers of Excellence toward a self-sufficient future

by Katie Porterfield

Carroll Van West, Director of the Center for Historic Preservation and History Professor

When Carroll Van West first visited a Selma, Ala., home that served as a safe haven for Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders during the Civil Rights movement, he was just a stranger to the homeowner, Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson. West, an MTSU history professor and director of the Center for Historic Preservation (CHP), had been invited to the home to help Jackson nominate it for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. As Jackson pointed to the chair where King sat the day he learned of the assassination of NAACP leader Medgar Evers, she said, “I don’t let anyone sit in that chair.”

By the end of the visit, however, Jackson had changed her tune, telling West not only that he was welcome to sit in the chair (an offer he respectfully declined) but also that on his next visit he should come to the back door—the one used by two Nobel Peace Prize winners, King and Ralph Bunche.

“That’s how friends enter the house,” Jackson said.

Well known in a field that’s as much about gaining trust as it is about preserving structures, West excels at forging close relationships with those who have interesting stories.

  Since becoming CHP director in 1985, he’s established           a reputation that’s helped make the center and MTSU historic preservation students familiar in places well beyond Tennessee’s borders. And he’s far from finished. As he leads the center into its 30th year, he hopes to get funding to formalize the Historic Preservation major program’s hands-on approach and expand the CHP’s reach nationally and internationally.

“What does that do?” West asks. “It ends up creating more opportunities for students, and what are we about but that?”

Focusing on students has been part of the CHP’s foundation since it was established in 1984 by the Tennessee General Assembly as MTSU’s first Center of Excellence and one of nine original centers at Tennessee Board of Regents universities. The CHP became a full-time research and public service entity in 1991. Its mission is two-fold: to help Tennessee communities identify and use their heritage assets (historical sites, artifacts, and narratives that tell stories of the past) and to support and direct student research and experiential learning opportunities. Through the years, the CHP has helped communities develop historic preservation plans, historic structure reports, heritage tourism plans, National Register nominations, and more. Along the way, M.A. and Ph.D. students in Public History have worked alongside West and his staff, putting “boots on the ground,” as West calls it, and getting real-world historic preservation experience.

“There is no better way to learn history and develop a passion for it than to go put your hands on it,” West says. “It’s a great competitive advantage because when our students go on interviews they talk about their projects, and employers know from the get-go that they have real experience.”

Today, the mission of the CHP is still the same, but West and his staff have expanded its reach to include the Midsouth, which West defines as the area within about a six-hour radius from Murfreesboro.

“It makes for long days, but it really broadens the student experience,” he says. “Our students get to say they worked on something in Appalachia or in the Mississippi Delta. You can’t go other places to get that, so again, it gives them a competitive advantage.”

West and his staff began to aggressively venture into other states in 2002, when they accepted an invitation to document Civil Rights churches in Birmingham. (The invitation came after they had successfully obtained a National Register nomination in the late 1990s for the Glenview neighborhood in Memphis, one of the first parts of the city to integrate in the 1950s.) The Birmingham project led to several others in Alabama, including a recent effort to assist in marking Civil Rights sites in Selma. Shortly after crossing into Alabama, the CHP started working with the Mississippi Blues Commission on the Mississippi Blues Trail, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I saw how much the students benefited,” says West. “I thought, ‘Well, if they don’t mind the travel, I don’t.’”

Today, in addition to the Selma undertaking, the CHP is working in Kentucky, North Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma, and, of course, Tennessee.

“That’s still our core mission,” West says. “But to entice students and to get good students, you’ve got to do more than that.”

And they have done more. In the early days, the CHP tackled about four projects a year. Today, West, his staff, and students engage in fifteen to twenty projects annually, and the CHP typically provides funding for at least sixteen graduate assistants. This year, the center is supporting ten Ph.D. candidates and six master’s students.

As have many distinguished graduates before them, those students are likely go on to careers in historic preservation. They’ll find jobs in a variety of public and private settings including state historic preservation offices, military bases, national parks, federal agencies, historic sites and museums, preservation or cultural resources management consulting firms, and departments of transportation.

Several MTSU Historic Preservation alums hold high-profile positions in Washington, D.C., including David Brown (’77) at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Blythe Semmer (’98) at the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Jeff Durbin (’89) at the National Park Service.

“While none of us walked into our current positions straight out of graduate school in Murfreesboro,” says Durbin, “I do believe that our education and hands-on training at MTSU gave us a foot in the door, which undoubtedly led to where we are now.”

Durbin not only speaks highly of Dr. West and his experience at MTSU but also lauds the historic preservation program’s reputation.

“MTSU’s historic preservation program (and especially the public service work of the Center for Historic Preservation) has a strong reputation for producing well-prepared and well-rounded graduates who have a lot of practical experience as well as the intellect necessary to work in this profession,” Durbin says.

Chris Hetzel, an alumnus and historic preservation consultant working on compliance-related projects across the country, agrees with Durbin, saying MTSU’s program has long had a good reputation in the field. “MTSU’s program always has high visibility and presence at national conferences and the like, largely due to Dr. West and his many students who have moved on to jobs and positions throughout the country,” says Hetzel.

Graduates not only do work that strengthens MTSU’s reputation but also create more CHP projects and form a network for other graduates seeking jobs.

“The students who come out of this real-world environment grow over time, and when they, themselves, are in hiring mode, they want people from that same process,” West says.

West would like to safeguard that process for years to come.

“We need to make sure that the center’s vision and boots-on-the-ground approach to doing history is institutionalized and sustainable in the future,” he says.

His goals include figuring out ways to underwrite fieldwork.

“Then we can really work with communities in need and we can make sure this fieldwork-centered approach is here five years from now, ten years from now, twenty years from now,” he says.

With money for travel, the CHP could continue to spread its national and international reputation.

With no plans to slow down, West is forging ahead (including blogging to stimulate dialogue about the CHP’s work). With the help of staff members who offer fresh perspectives, he’s doing everything he can to ensure that the CHP is ready for the future.

“I’m lucky,” he says. “I have great people to work with: my colleagues work hard, the students who come to MTSU are almost invariably motivated, and then communities allow you to work on these projects.”

In other words, bring on the next 30 years.

 

 

An Honor and an Opportunity

In July 2013, Carroll Van West, CHP director, was appointed state historian by Gov. Bill Haslam.

“Gov. Haslam and his staff made it clear that one reason they asked me is that I am active in all 95 counties, and they want to be able to rely on that experience whenever necessary,” said West.

While he’s thrilled and he acknowledges that there is no greater honor for someone in his field than to serve as state historian, he also sees the appointment as a way to create more opportunities for MTSU Historic Preservation majors.

“People are always asking me, ‘Do you have someone who can do this, do you have someone who can do that?’” West says. “Sometimes there isn’t a match, but there often is, and a student gets an internship or an entry-level job. In today’s job market, just being able to open doors can matter.”

 

 

UNLEASHING THE POWER TO PRESERVE

MTSU has produced a True Blue army of preservationists whose effect on communities large and small is unmistakable. One of MTSU’s most celebrated historic preservation graduates is David J. Brown, chief preservation officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Brown is one of the key figures working to protect America’s national treasures.

The program is equally proud of graduates like Jessica White,who recently took a position with the Huntsville Historic Preservation Commission in Alabama. Since then, she’s worked as fieldwork preservationist for the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, among other activities.

 

 

 

 

 

A CENTURY MARK

In 1985, the Center for Historic Preservation began administering the Tennessee Century Farms program to identify, document, and recognize farms that have been in the same family continuously for at least 100 years.

There are Century Farms in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties, and the program has certified more than 1,500 farms. Of that number, 157 are at least 200 years old and 634 are at least 150 years old.

In addition to honoring these farms and families, the program allows the CHP to collect information necessary to interpret the agrarian history and culture of the state and provides learning opportunities for MTSU student research assistants.

(Editor’s Note: Nothing written about the Tennessee Century Farms initiative would be complete without the name Caneta Hankins, who was indispensable to the program’s success since it was transferred from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to the CHP in 1984. She was director of the program for 12 years before her retirement in 2013.)

 

 

A Source of Praise

In 2013, when the Library of Congress released the first issue of Teaching with Primary Sources Journal, it was all about the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation’s work in Tennessee teaching the Civil War era in a multidisciplinary context. Thousands of teachers across the nation have read the edition and many use the materials in their classrooms.

“Teaching about the Civil War with primary sources—original documents and objects that were created at the time under study—provides opportunities for expanding this familiar topic in history into subject areas as varied as geography, language arts, and science,” the Journal said, “giving students unique opportunities to discover how this epic struggle bled into nearly every aspect of American life.”

 

 

Ninety-Five Pieces of heritage

The sesquicentennial of the Civil War has been widely commemorated in recent years. Dr. Carroll Van West, director of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, cochaired the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, which was created to highlight the state’s Civil War history and to encourage tourism. Because each of Tennessee’s 95 counties was touched by the war, the heritage area directed by West is the nation’s only one to cover an entire state.

 

Back in the Groove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vinyl is back. According to Nielson SoundScan retail figures, album sales leapt 33 percent in 2013. While the total number of units sold (six million) isn’t going to save the recorded music industry, it’s not insignificant, either—particularly for middle Tennessee, where the economy is in part dependent on strong sales. So what exactly is fueling the vinyl revival?

In the world of Recording Industry professor Paul “Doc Rock” Fischer, vinyl has never fallen out of style. A vinyl collector since age twelve, Fischer started working in record stores as a teenager in the 1970s for $2.10 an hour. Like all music lovers since then, Fischer adapted to format changes through the years, from records to tapes to CDs to digital downloads; but unlike most, Fischer never chucked his vinyl while buying everything all over again on CDs.

About 15 years ago, Fischer began accumulating vinyl again in earnest, mainly by going to estate sales in and around Nashville.  The fact that his hobby evolved into his becoming a secondhand vinyl dealer, frequently traveling to record shows in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Louisville, Huntsville, Indianapolis, and Dayton, is evidence that the world has caught up with his obsession. But so, too, has the industry.

“All of the major record labels are doing it now,” Fischer says, citing the proliferation of vinyl recordings by modern day acts like Nashville-based pop star Jack White. “It is one of the few categories of physical media . . . growing in sales of new music.” Fischer, who has been cited in publications nationwide regarding the uptick in vinyl sales, points to several reasons for the trend. First and foremost is the important distinction that purchasing vinyl nowadays is smartly paired with a modern method of consuming music.

“If you buy new vinyl—the record companies are very smart—you also get the download code for all of the songs,” Fischer says. “So at no additional cost, you can get the digital version of it for your iPod or other mobile digital music player and you can listen to that wherever you go, but you can listen to the vinyl when you get home.”

Next, he says, is the younger generation’s growing appreciation for packaging and album art—an integral part of the music-buying experience that older generations were accustomed to (and now wax nostalgic about) but one that younger music fans never experienced.

“I know that when I was a kid, that was part of the thrill—digging into the liner notes and the additional art,” Fischer says. “Whole generations of kids who grew up with digital downloads and access to all of the music that they want, either free or streamed or downloaded, didn’t even know what that experience was like until now. An LP with a big picture and maybe a gatefold and a booklet in the center—that adds a lot to the sitting and listening experience at home.”

Also key to the vinyl revival among younger listeners, according to Fischer, is that most of their parents tossed out their old record collections.

“So this is also a cultural, generational kind of thing,” he explains. “Most moms and dads did not hang on to their vinyl.  So it can be cool all over again. For the younger generation, it’s like they discovered it for themselves. It is of their generation.”

Fischer also believes the tactile nature of retrieving music from a vinyl record and a turntable with a needle is key to the medium’s revival, especially in a time where a few taps on a smartphone can play music.

 

“When you push the button to start your CD player, you are not manipulating the laser. You are telling the machine to go to work,” Fischer says. “However, when you have that tone arm in your hand and you poise it over the entrance groove to the record and you let it drop, that’s a different kind of relationship with what you are listening to.”

When explaining vinyl’s revival, many experts are quick to cite the opinion of many that music played on vinyl with a needle—despite the hisses and pops that accompany it—sounds better, or “warmer” than today’s compressed digital files. Martin Fisher, curator of recorded media collections for the internationally recognized Center for Popular Music at MTSU, believes nostalgia, not sound quality, has more to do with the opinion that vinyl offers a superior listening experience.  “I don’t think the sound is better. In fact, in many instances it’s a lot worse,” he says. “Some people might call it warmth; I call it noise, which is basically what it is . . . but it gives some people something to plant their ears on. With CDs, by comparison, there is no room noise there so the bottom falls out, and from a listener’s perspective you are kind of left hanging there in dead space.”

In essence, according to Fisher, it’s not the sound the vinyl is making but rather what listeners are hearing.  “Does it sound better? Not really. It’s all subjective,” he says.

“I think a lot of it is nostalgia, while the sonic explanation of it is probably because there is a security in having some sort of a noise floor to hold on to.”

Are nostalgia-less younger listeners perhaps better judges of what does or does not sound good when it comes to recorded music? Fisher argues they are not.

“They are running around with earbuds or listening to a system that has digital artifacts introduced through MP3 coding,” he says. “They don’t know what sounds good. I’m not demeaning them. They simply haven’t been exposed.” In addition, most of the new vinyl being pressed by younger musicians (which is accounting for most or all of the increase in vinyl sales) is actually cut from digital masters.  “So it’s like taking a CD and putting it on plastic, which is going to have a relatively high noise floor with distortion,” Fisher says. “A music collector would say, ‘What’s the big deal?’”

The creation of new vinyl product from digitally compressed files etched in plastic would seem to offer proof that the medium’s revival is more tied to packaging or cultural resurgence, not sound quality.

Jennings A. Jones College of Business professor Melodie Phillips, who specializes in entertainment marketing, says business and social factors are indeed part of the revival. Not unlike sweeping support for local farmers, local mom-andpop shops, and local artisans, people today—especially 15- to 30-year-olds—are turning to local sources for music. That’s helped the revival of record shops, where older generations were accustomed to shopping for music.  From a retail perspective, according to Phillips, society is collectively reprogramming its patterns and priorities.  “We think locally as opposed to supporting big corporations.  We’re thinking local groceries and organic foods. We support local farmers and farmers’ markets and businesses and entrepreneurs,” she says. “And the push to local businesses, local artists, and local farmers that has in large part grown out of social marketing has also really been the genesis for some of the success experienced in efforts like Record Store Day, where people are encouraging and promoting and reconnecting at college age with the idea of getting their music from an actual local record store as opposed to a Best Buy or Target or virtually through iTunes.” (Record Store Day was conceived in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly 1,000 independently owned record stores in the United States.)

Phillips points to the success of the grassroots push “Local Saturday” as an answer to “Black Friday,” which has successfully persuaded Americans to intentionally shop locally one Saturday each year.

“The idea is the same,” she says. “Don’t just run to Best Buy for price; instead, come to your local community shops and support them, because these are the people who live and work in your community.  Plus, you can find unique items there, not the mass-produced, generic big corporation items.”

Phillips also emphasizes that the return of the desire for a personalized point of sale for recorded music—not an electronic transaction—is partly driving vinyl’s resurgence.  “It’s like the old days,” Phillips says. “There’s a person there to talk with who knows music, perhaps alerts you to an upcoming concert, even lets you try an album out first before you buy it.”

A recent Tennessean business article offered more hard proof of vinyl’s revival. The newspaper reported in May that Nashvillebased United Record Pressing, one of the nation’s leading vinyl record makers, announced plans to open a second location to try to meet demand. According to the report, United recently paid $5.5 million for a warehouse where it plans to add 16 presses and storage space. The article added that several existing independent record stores around the city are expanding and that new retail stores are opening.

Got an old turntable gathering dust in the attic? It might be time to dig it out. Though still modest, the trend in recorded music in America today appears clear: what’s old is new again.

[Editor’s Note: Most of the business reporting on vinyl sales focuses exclusively on new vinyl being sold by record companies for the first time. But there’s an untracked secondary market of vinyl sales taking place at flea markets, record shows in hotel conference rooms, and second-hand music stores that never went away. Arguably, such sales are not important to the industry. They don’t make a dime on it. These are the places where people like “Doc Rock” Fischer, who are passionate about vinyl and looking for collector’s items, can be found. Though invisible on most business reports, that scene is a large part of the vinyl resurgence.]

 

 

 

Making It Better

From Home Ec to Human Sciences: The lessons to be learned remain the same

By Candace Moonshower

 

While “home economics” has long been synonymous with cooking and sewing and considered solely the province of girls and women, the history of home economics—and the current flourishing state of the department that houses it at MTSU—tells a completely different story.

 

Born at MTSU in 1916 as the Department of Home Economics, the Department of Human Sciences encompasses Family and Consumer Studies; Interior Design; Nutrition and Food Science; and Textiles, Merchandising, and Design. Bachelor of science degrees are offered in six different programs of study.

What we now know as Human Sciences developed not out of the realm of domestic duties, but out of scientific inquiry. Ellen Swallow Richards, after graduating from Vassar, was the first woman in America to be accepted at a scientific school, and she graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a B.S. After working without pay at the Women’s Laboratory she established at MIT, Richards was appointed as an instructor at the nation’s first laboratory of sanitary chemistry at MIT in 1884. In 1887, at the request of the state of Massachusetts, Richards and her assistants at the lab began to survey the condition of the inland waters in Massachusetts, leading to the first state water quality standards in the nation. Richards went on to apply her knowledge of scientific principles to domestic topics and endeavors, and the field of home economics took shape as a science that studies humans and their needs in the areas of food, shelter, clothing, and relationships.

 

One of the pioneers of home economics and human sciences at MTSU was Lyndall “Lyn” McMillian, who attended MTSU and received her degree in home economics. A native of New York, as a teacher McMillian worked with students at Castle Heights Military Academy, military wives, Wilson County school system students, and finally in the Home Economics Department at MTSU. Retired Health and Human Sciences professor Sondra Wilcox first heard of Lyn McMillian while sitting at a lunch counter in a drugstore in Jackson Heights shopping center.

 

“Two young women were talking, and one commented that they might as well stay—they were already late and would not be able to get into their class because Mrs. McMillian locked the door when class began,” says Wilcox. Wilcox was later invited to a dinner by a student in a nutrition class of McMillian’s. “It was a formal dinner with students serving as hostesses, and formal etiquette was required. While it may seem outdated now, students were learning things— including manners—that would help them professionally,” Wilcox says.

 

As fellow faculty members at MTSU, the two were soon acquainted. “I took home economics in high school and college, but it didn’t really ‘take,’” Wilcox says. “But opposites attract, and we became good friends.” McMillian passed away at age 101 on August 1, 2013. “Lyn McMillian was so professional—an alumna and a faculty member to be proud of,” Wilcox says.

 

Hilary Turner Walker, a 2010 graduate of the department with a B.S. in interior design,represents the new face of home economics and human sciences. “I had always been interested in home decor, design, and interiors,” she says. “I loved doll houses as a child and was constantly decorating, redecorating, and changing the furniture around in the houses.”

Walker was minoring in dance but was unsure of her major until she heard that there was an interior design program at MTSU that offered a degree. She researched the program and, while intimidated, she thought it would be fun. “And it was fun,” she says, “but rigorous. People do not realize what a serious degree program it is—one that combines technical, conceptual, and theoretical skills and knowledge and all within a wide range of industries.” Walker explains that what used to be considered just sewing, cooking, and childcare is so much more. “It is fashion and fashion merchandising, interior design, nutrition, and early childhood development,” she says. “What used to be done primarily in the home has been ‘outsourced’ to meet the needs of this new world we’re living in.”

Walker’s career trajectory illustrates the wide variety of paths a B.S. from the department might encompass—from an early job in furniture sales, Walker transitioned into managing social media for a company that produces high-end lighting and accessories. After making connections, she went into freelancing and assisting other interior designers with their projects, which gave her a broad perspective on how different designers work. She began working exclusively for Pulp Design Studios in Dallas and became interested in publishing in the design industry. Now she blogs and writes for D Home magazine and is a freelance writer for other companies.

 

“These days, we aren’t able to be home 24/7,” Walker says. “A lot of younger women aren’t learning the same skills as a generation ago.”

 

She is happy that there is a revival of sorts going on in the field of human sciences as illustrated by TV shows about design and food; fashion, home design, and cooking blogs; and the use of social media such as Facebook and Pinterest to share ideas about subjects previously considered as “home economics” and the province of mostly women.

 

From its early years as the Department of Home Economics, the goals of the department have always reflected its roots in the physical, biological, behavioral, and social sciences. In 1990, in order to more clearly represent the breadth of the programs in the department and improve the marketing of the programs to recruit quality faculty and students, the faculty passed a motion to change the name to the Department of Human Sciences. In January 1991, the name change was formally adopted, and Ernestine Reeder, department chair, reminded the community in a press release that Ellen Swallow Richards, the founder of home economics, had described the field “as the application of sciences to the betterment of the human condition.”

 

Current department chair Deborah Belcher wholeheartedly agrees.

 

“Human sciences is about basic survival,” she says. “It is a science that studies humans, and all our professional degrees deal with the human condition from early childhood through adolescence and adulthood and into old age.”

 

Each year, the department offers its approximately 700 students opportunities such as internships and experiential learning and programs such as “Farm to Fork” and composting. It also supports community initiatives including the War on Hunger and Bras for a Cause. And Lyn McMillian would be proud to know that there is still an etiquette seminar available. (Ellen Swallow Richard’s alma mater, MIT, also offers courses and workshops in etiquette.)

 

After all, social graces can play an important role in improving the human condition.

 

 

For more information about the Human Sciences, check out the videos below:

An Urban Development

MTSU Magazine editor Drew Ruble recently sat down with new Jennings A. Jones College of Business Dean David Urban to discuss the future for MTSU’s business program, which boasts more than 125 full-time faculty, more than 3,000 undergraduate majors, and more than 500 graduate students.

 

When David Urban started his undergraduate education at the University of Virginia, he was convinced he would major in history or government and go to law school. He had never taken a business class. In his sophomore year, however, he enrolled in a microeconomics class taught by a legendary professor at Virginia, Dr. Ken Elzinga. The professor’s passion for the subject and his effectiveness as an instructor got Urban interested in business and led him to enter the McIntire School of Commerce at Virginia, where he concentrated on marketing.

Before joining MTSU in summer 2013, Urban was executive associate dean and marketing professor at the School of Business at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where he also served stints as interim business dean and chair of the Department of Marketing. Urban believes the similarities between VCU and MTSU—both large, public universities with diverse student bodies in growing regions—will make his transition smoother.

New Dean of College of Business David Urban (Photo by J. Intintoli)

What do you bring to the position of dean of the college of business at MTSU?

I entered academia not intending to become an administrator but to teach and do research, which I did for 19 years. I was involved in faculty governance at the department, school, and university levels at Georgia State University and VCU. Colleagues often encouraged me to move into administration. Once I had achieved my goal of promotion to full professor, I moved into administration as a research center director and then department chair, interim dean, and executive associate dean. I did not seek those roles but was asked to take them. I enjoyed administration. Even in academia, the right person in the right leadership position at the right time can have tremendous positive impact. Having served as interim dean, I began selectively applying for positions as dean of a major business school. A search firm contacted me about Jones College. The more I learned about it, the more I felt my background and experience would fit well.

The key things I bring to the position include a full range of experience with excellent results as a faculty member and an academic administrator. I am always learning, but there is little in academia I have not done. I am a marketing professional and hold the American Marketing Association’s Professional Certified Marketer designation. I have worked with scores of businesses over the years in research, training, and consulting projects. Much of the success of a major business school depends on the interaction between the school and the business community. I can speak the language of people in business. Perhaps most important, I have strong communication skills and have been told I have the ability to inspire people. I believe this will be beneficial in working with faculty, staff, students, and colleagues as well as the college’s external constituents.

What is your vision for Jones College’s future?

Much of my time will be spent listening and learning. I must understand our situation. Then priorities will be clear. I will focus on collaboration and input from internal and external supporters so everyone understands where we are headed, why, and how they will play a part. In five years, we can examine several indicators to measure our progress. At any university, the business school should be the shining example of excellent leadership and management; effective organizational structure and processes; fiscal administration, human resource management, student services, and marketing and branding strategy; and a great place to work. I want to say we practice what we ‘teach.’ Retention and graduation rates and placement statistics are revealing, and we can benchmark our progress compared to our competitive, peer, and aspirant business schools. We should see significant positive movement in all of those statistics.

Leaders at major state universities in the past few years have had to deal with a reduction in state government financial support. I will focus with my development professionals on increased external support in the form of scholarships, professorships, research funding, and endowment. The amount we raise will be a tangible indicator of success in building our programs. It’s important to build the MTSU and Jones College brands. Investment in communication and marketing will be vital as we position Jones College as a superior business school regionally, nationally, and internationally. We will see improvement in our program and school rankings and broaden the recognition and prestige of Jones College.

What role do you see for Jones College within the regional business community, which is considered one of the hottest business and entrepreneurial markets in America right now?

A large proportion of our students are from the Nashville area. Many of our faculty work with businesses in the region, independently or in real-world class projects. Many of our alumni are prominent business and community leaders. Fundraising benefits from such connections, but it is difficult to expect people to support their alma mater financially if they haven’t heard from it since they graduated. It is critical to maintain lines of communication with alumni and to build the quality of our programs and reputation so our alumni’s degrees will increase in value. Aside from fundraising, we should be engaging our friends in the business community to help us evaluate our curricula, to employ our students in internships and full-time jobs, and to seek us out for continuing education and professional development. Universities can also advise. We can provide insights that can help businesses to improve, and I want to encourage that type of activity. I intend to reach out to the business community.

The VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation is a collaboration at VCU— involving the Schools of the Arts, Business, and Engineering and the College of Humanities and Sciences—intended to advance innovation and entrepreneurship through interdisciplinary collaboration. Are there similar, untapped partnerships at MTSU?

I worked closely with the da Vinci Center and on sponsored projects with researchers in medicine, education, political science, life sciences, and other fields. Working with people in other disciplines reveals commonalities. Centers like da Vinci can be catalysts for innovation and entrepreneurship. A program might be housed in one school, but a team orientation of cooperation among cross-disciplinary participants is essential. I see potential partnerships between Jones College and all other MTSU schools and will explore these options with their deans.

What should business schools be doing to help America better compete in the years ahead?

People around the world want to harness the spirit of American business. In the last recession, American businesses became more reflective, concerned with building and maintaining relationships with customers, willing to innovate, and efficient. Similarly, the best business schools have revised classical curricula like the traditional M.B.A.s, created specialized business education programs, become less theoretical and more concerned with improving business practice, and focused on providing better value for the tuition dollar. The keys for major business schools are market focus, balance, and complementarity. We must be constantly aware of current and emerging business trends and willing to change the way we teach in order to respond to the needs of business. Cross-disciplinary programs and new teaching methods are ways we can be more market driven. Faculty must balance research and teaching pursuits, and administrators must support their professional development in both areas. We need to stress the ways these two activities complement each other, for example, by engaging students in faculty research projects.

Peter Drucker, a pioneer in the field of management, said about business that “Culture eats strategy over breakfast.”

David Urban speaking at the 2013-2014 Fall Faculty Meeting (Photo by Andy Heidt)

Are business schools doing enough to teach leadership?

No strategy can cover every possible operational contingency. A strong culture can provide guidance when people wonder what they should do. In the Navy Supply Corps, our motto was “Service to the fleet.” As an officer, I wanted people working for me to pursue the path that provided maximum service to the crew. That’s where leadership comes in—the ability to inspire and reinforce core values. One can learn about leadership much as one can learn music appreciation, but there is a big difference between appreciating music and knowing how to play an instrument. Business schools can’t teach leadership exclusively in classrooms. We need a full range of opportunities for students to lead—in team projects, internships, student organizations, and community engagement—and practice what they learn in class.

A recent Forbes article wondered aloud if business school curricula adequately prepare today’s students to face the ethical questions related to the business practices that brought America to the economic brink in recent years. What is your response?

No business school can teach students everything about ethical conduct. Such lessons are learned from families, teachers, faith leaders, coworkers, and others. Business professors have a responsibility to engage students in discussions, case studies, and exercises about ethical dilemmas and to explore solutions. We can teach basic rules of ethical conduct. As a Rotarian for 19 years, I have shared with students the Rotary 4-Way Test, four questions about the things we think, say, and do: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? If leaders had asked these questions, some high-profile business catastrophes may not have happened.

 

 

Thanks, Dean Urban. Good luck.

 

 

[Editor’s Note: Business school marketing specialist Sally Govan contributed heavily to this report.]

 

A Fourth “R”

Those who think they know reggae music are likely in for an education when they read The Encyclopedia of Reggae: The Golden Age of Roots Reggae. 

by Gina K. Logue

Those who think they know reggae music are likely in for an education when they read The Encyclopedia of Reggae: The Golden Age of Roots Reggae. Written by MTSU professor Dr. Mike Alleyne, the encyclopedia provides a colorful, 352-page study of the reggae genre, covering it from A to Z and from the late 1960s up to the mid-1980s.

Alleyne’s book is one of the most recent contributions from a department that is constantly working to further explore and expand its field. Beverly Keel, newly appointed chair of the Department of Recording Industry, is not bashful about the quality and reputation of the recording program. The former senior vice president of media and artist relations with Universal Music Group–Nashville, who graduated from MTSU herself in 1988, says while other institutions have emulated the University’s recording industry program, “We did it first, and we did it best.”

“It has been the nation’s leading recording industry program,” Keel says. “And we are poised now to take it to the next level. We have some amazing faculty. We have book authors. We have Grammy winners. We have professors who write the manuals for hardware and software. As the music industry changes, we are eager to lead the way.”

As one of those authors/professors, Alleyne, who was born in London to parents who were natives of Barbados, says he wanted his book to be authoritative enough to satisfy knowledgeable lovers of the genre but accessible enough to entice casual fans to want to know more.

“It’s very difficult to get most audiences to look beyond Bob Marley,” Alleyne says. His compilation, though, is designed to help readers do just that. The work includes a timeline, best-of lists, and essays on artists, labels, and producers, along with other aspects of the genre’s influence, including Rastafarianism and marijuana. It’s not a coffee-table book in the traditional sense, but how can it be when the subject—a style of music that incorporates politics and spirituality in every beat—can hardly be called traditional.

Asked to define reggae, Alleyne says, “It has many different facets, but it’s something that is spiritual in many ways, very rhythmically motivating, and very ideologically powerful as well.”

Reggae, Alleyne says, is the first music from people considered “Third World” to penetrate major Western commercial markets. The 1970s seemed to be a halcyon era for reggae influence on Western pop hits, including Paul Simon’s “Mother and Child Reunion,” Johnny Nash’s “Stir It Up,” and Eric Clapton’s cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff.” Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue” from 1982 is something of an anomaly because, while the hit is more of a rock track with a reggae beat, Grant had established his reggae credibility with straight reggae hits in Europe, Alleyne says.

According to Alleyne, reggae’s influence in American music is as strong now as it was then, but its visibility is not as great. He says the musical influence actually works both ways, with American music sometimes influencing reggae style, but the profitability of the music is a little more one-sided. “It’s interesting to see how a rock group can integrate reggae elements and achieve this incredible commercial success, but reggae groups who will integrate rock are never able to do that,” he says.

A case in point is a series of tribute albums to the Police’s 1997–2008 catalog that features notable reggae performers. “The artists were willing to participate in that because they welcomed the opportunity to reinterpret the interpretation of reggae that the Police had come up with,” Alleyne says.

While insisting he is not a reggae purist (he also teaches an occasional course on Jimi Hendrix), Alleyne says he would like to see more reggae artists become as well known and widely respected as the rock artists who appreciate reggae enough to appropriate it for their own music. The ethnocentrism behind that lack of renown is irksome but not surprising to Alleyne. After all, reggae is an art form firmly planted in the anticolonial politics that led to Jamaica’s independence from Britain in 1962.

Alleyne points out that many musicians had been harassed for their Rastafarian religion and were not part of the political or economic establishment anyway. They understood the average Jamaican. Men were chased down in the street and tackled, and their dreadlocks were cut off, as much a sign of racist intimidation as cutting a Chinese man’s queue, thus putting him in bad stead with the ancestors he worships. Reggae has always been political, he explains, but the industrialized nations to which the music is exported don’t necessarily absorb its political import.

“Reggae has this aura of exoticism that isn’t always clearly connected by sectors of the audience to a harsh political and economic reality,” Alleyne says.

And yet, musicians in Jamaica seem to find a way around their economic circumstances to produce the music they love. Some of Alleyne’s encyclopedia’s most compelling photographs are of Ampex reel-to-reel machines under spartan, tin-roofed buildings.

“It’s actually quite remarkable that the music has had such great historical resonance, because it was done with the bare minimum of equipment,” Alleyne says, noting that some of reggae’s best music was made with two-track or four-track machines while recordings in wealthier nations were made with 16-track or 24-track machines.

With department experts like Alleyne, who can reveal the history, politics, religion, and circumstances behind the music, it’s no wonder Keel calls recording industry “the greatest major on campus.”

“You get this great rock-and-roll degree, if you will,” she says, “but you also get a great basic college education with English, history, science, and all the things to make you a well-rounded person.”

Thanks to Alleyne, majors in the University’s Recording Industry program can now add a fourth “R” to their college education—reggae.

Completing the Circuit

Every year, more than 800 technology related jobs go unfilled in the Nashville area, putting an unwelcome brake on the region’s economy. Now the tech sector is looking to MTSU for a solution.

by Bill Lewis

Every year, more than 800 technology related jobs go unfilled in the Nashville area, putting an unwelcome brake on the region’s economy. Earlier this year, as reported by The Tennessean, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce went so far as to launch a recruiting campaign aimed at solving “the nagging and persistent shortage of IT workers.”

Now the tech sector is looking to MTSU (and other schools) for a solution.

Even with more than 1,300 undergraduate and graduate students in the departments of Computer Science, Engineering Technology, and Computer Information Systems, MTSU can’t meet the need. To fill the gap, the University is moving to add new curricula and attract more women to the traditionally male-dominated field.

“We’ve got this issue of needed tech workers, and it is not just Nashville or Tennessee or the United States,” says Liza Lowery Massey, former president and CEO of the Nashville Technology Council, an affiliate of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s global and it is not going away. If we want our economy to be vibrant and grow, we need to train our workforce.”

“Anything academia can do to tie its efforts, spending, and investments to workforce, and especially workforce in science, technology, engineering, and math, is a positive and should be met with a positive response,” she says. “The jobs of tomorrow—actually the jobs of today.” already—are in that area.”

That task might be easier if the region were home to a high-profile tech giant such as Facebook or Yahoo. But the jobs, many starting at $60,000 or better, are waiting to be taken.

“We have a number of big-name companies. We don’t have Google or Microsoft, but we have people go to HCA—the world’s largest hospital company—and startups down the street and find good opportunities,” says Chrisila Pettey, chair of the Department of Computer Science.

Knowing that the demand for computer science personnel is great not only in Tennessee but also in the U.S. and worldwide, Pettey’s vision is to have MTSU supply more talented graduates to the workforce. The MTSU alumna (’81) says her goal “is to do my best to facilitate continually moving the department forward. Our discipline is a rapidly changing one, and the faculty has to work hard to stay current and keep the curriculum current.”

Many of us might imagine that tech professionals spend their days designing the latest smart phone app, but old-school industries like automobile manufacturing and tire production are snapping up all the skilled graduates they can find.

“Companies like Nissan and Bridgestone are desperately seeking people and can’t find people with the skills they need in automation and robotics,” says Walter Boles, chair of the Department of Engineering Technology.

“The old kind of manufacturing jobs— grease under your fingernails and your back hurts—these aren’t those kinds of jobs,” he says. “People don’t go to work in their hard hat and safety shoes.”

To ensure that graduates have the well rounded skills in demand by advanced manufacturing companies like Siemens and others, the department has launched a new program in mechatronics, a growing field that blends mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering. The curriculum builds on existing courses and adds classes heavy in math and physics.

“Industry wants it now. They are really concerned,” Boles says.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook reports a 22 percent projected growth in computer and information systems jobs between now and 2020. It’s no wonder then that when students graduate from MTSU’s technology programs, they are quickly absorbed by companies hungry for fresh talent. The Department of Computer Information Systems graduates 30 to 40 new professionals every semester, and more than 90 percent take jobs in middle Tennessee, says the department’s chair, Stan Gambill.

Large companies aren’t the only ones looking to MTSU for a workforce solution. Alumnus Tim Choate moved his software company, Bondware, to Murfreesboro a few years after startup to be closer to the talent pool on campus.

“We moved our business here specifically with the idea of partnering with MTSU, to have students as interns and turn them into full-time employees,” he says.

Today, about a half-dozen MTSU graduates work at Bondware, which has 15 employees in Murfreesboro and more than 30 contractors around the world. The company employs experts in online publishing, website construction, and email marketing.

Choate, who is on the University’s Computer Science Advisory Board, is also a member of the board of Mind2Marketplace, a group of people in higher education, business, K–12 education, chambers of commerce, and government. The Murfreesboro- based consortium’s mission is to strategically link people and organizations to bring innovation and technology to the marketplace. The topic of a recent forum was 3D printing, the process of making an object from a digital model.

Before the tech workforce can expand, certain stereotypes on campus have to be overcome, Choate says.

“In the past 10 years, a mindset developed among many students that technologists were a bunch of nerds sitting around doing math and playing with Rubik’s Cubes.”

Uprooting that stereotype, especially among young women, is high on Dr. Pettey’s to-do list. “They think only people like Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory  like technology,” she says. “You have to be a nerd and spend all your time on a computer. You can’t go our and do things.”

If women entered the technology workforce in numbers equal to their presence on campuses, it’s conceivable that there would be no worker shortage. But while women are the majority at MTSU and many other universities, nationally they earn just over 18 percent of undergraduate degrees in engineering and just slightly over 25 percent in math and computer science.

They are missing opportunities to have rewarding careers, says Judith Iriarte-Gross, director of WISTEM (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) at MTSU.

“In STEM, they can command a higher income, and that means a better economic future,” Iriarte-Gross says.

WISTEM offers programs to capture the imaginations of women and girls, including the GRITS (Girls Raised in Tennessee Science) initiative to encourage them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, or math. GRITS works with PTAs, the Girls Scouts, and other organizations to interest girls in STEM at an early age.

Young women are often steered into more traditional, “feminine” careers, says Mary

Thomas, an executive with the Rutherford County operation of Schneider Electric, a global energy management company. She is chair of the WISTEM board.

Thomas recalls counting engineers in one of the company’s departments. Of 150 engineers, four were women.

“As for software, I know of one female software engineer,” she says.

Numbers like those certainly don’t add up to filling available tech jobs in middle Tennessee. Nashville’s tech sector is counting on MTSU to help attract the workforce it needs— both men and women—to be successful.

 

Rebuilding the Privacy Fence

Calling on corporations to do the right thing (and not just the legal thing)

by Gina K. Logue

Dr. Leigh Anne ClarkIn the classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller Rear Window, Jimmy Stewart peers at his neighbors from his apartment window through the lens of an analog camera.

Can you imagine what he could have learned about his neighbors in the age of Google? If Stewart were operating in the digital era, would he trade his own privacy rights for the convenience that Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other digital companies afford?

American private businesses have an “innovation policy vacuum” in dealing with the new technology, assert Dr. Leigh Anne Clark, assistant professor of management, and her father-in-law and research partner, Dr. W. Jeff Clark, professor of information systems. The Clarks, along with Auburn University doctoral student Daniel Jones, compared privacy laws in the United States and the European Union, particularly Germany. They found that the few restrictions on the books in the U.S. are very lenient, while Germany has perhaps the toughest privacy laws in the EU.

“They look at personal data as belonging to the person, and a person has to consent to the use of that data,” says Leigh Anne, who also is an attorney.

“Even a photograph taken on a public street is my image that you’re using. . . . In Germany, the norm is I should consent to . . . the taking of the picture and the use of that data before it’s ever even used.”

According to Leigh Anne, a recent attempt to conduct a census in Germany came under fire as an invasion of privacy partly because the country’s agonizing Nazi past still looms over today’s public policy decisions.

“They are very, very sensitive to data being collected and to being surveilled,” she says.

Contrast that with the American model, which can be diametrically different.

“There’s an argument that says an organization, a company, ought to do whatever it can do in order to maximize shareholder wealth,” Jeff says. “There’s even a prevailing sentiment in some sectors in the United States that says that if you can violate the law and increase shareholder wealth—so long as the penalty is not criminal, just civil—then go for it.”

Prying Eyes

Leigh Anne says Germany’s personal privacy statutes date back to around 1970. In 1995, the European Union passed a law requiring foreign companies working with EU companies to adhere to EU privacy standards. There are court precedents that use privacy as a touchstone. The 1973 Roe v. Wade case asserted a woman’s right to privacy. But can a case about abortion be pertinent in other areas of life?

“The spirit of that . . . is that there are things within us that are within our own control and body, and they’re not for someone else to use,” Leigh Anne says.

“So I think you can pull from what is out there to help provide guidance.”

The research the Clarks are doing is scholarly, not judgmental. But they do suggest that businesses should take social norms and “hypernorms”—not just the law—into consideration when establishing their policies.

They describe a norm as a principle that defines the right thing to do whether it becomes policy or not. A hypernorm is a cultural expectation that is so strong that virtually everyone in society accepts it as the way things ought to be.

“Maybe you don’t have to go to jail, or maybe you don’t have to pay a fine,” Jeff says. “But there are people saying, ‘Whoa! That’s not okay.’ So you may suffer some public relations consequences, which may cost you, in the long run, even more than a civil fine.”

More and more of us are sacrificing privacy rights for personal convenience. For example, all Twitter transmissions are being archived by the Library of Congress. Another example is Google’s method of obtaining photo information for its maps, capturing digital images of private property from public streets. Let’s say someone drives down your street in a van with a camera on a pole on top of the van. The pole is tall enough to enable the camera to take photos of you sunbathing in the nude behind a 10-foot-tall fence in your own backyard. The van never trespasses on your property. Do you have recourse?

“I’m not sure that the average U.S. citizen realizes how far we have already compromised our privacy rights compared to the rest of the world,” Jeff says.

The Clarks believe that society has been caught somewhat flatfooted as technology has evolved.

After all, Alexander Graham Bell hardly could have anticipated that his revolutionary invention could have led to the obscene phone call.

“There’s no way that we can keep passing laws that will stay ahead of where we’re headed,” says Leigh Anne. “That’s why we strongly said to companies, ‘You’ve got to look at the cultural norms, because they are there. They don’t change very quickly.’”

Editor’s Note: Leigh Anne Clark (Ph.D., business administration, Southern Illinois University), professor of Management and Marketing at MTSU, has been cited by media outlets for her recent research and commentary on privacy concerns related to Google. The former Georgia attorney (J.D., Emory School of Law), who also focuses on disability and aging issues, previously worked for the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, the AARP, the Georgia Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, and for her own consulting practice.

Battle of the Bulge

Eat, drink, and be healthy—even on a student’s budget and schedule

We asked Lauren Petr-Cromer, an MTSU instructor of nutrition and food sciences, a few questions about the college lifestyle that might help MTSU students make better decisions about what they put into their bodies. Petr-Cromer was recently named Young Dietitian of the Year by the Tennessee Dietetic Association.

What is the typical college student ingesting (food or drink) that is the most damaging as it relates to his or her health?

Super-sized anything! Aside from lack of exercise, portion distortion is the biggest contributor to obesity. We all need to relearn how to eat or drink the correct portion sizes of food and beverages. A half-cup serving of full-fat ice cream occasionally is not going to pack on the pounds, but a 2- or 3-scoop ice cream cone eventually will. Peanut butter is an excellent topping with whole grain toast, but two tablespoons contain almost 190 calories; those peanut butter to-go cups contain four tablespoons, or about 400 calories! I challenge students to start ordering the tall latte at Starbucks rather than the venti—12 ounces is a much more appropriate beverage serving than 20 ounces, especially for a beverage that contains caffeine.

What are some semi-painless things that a college student could do from an eating perspective that would rapidly improve his or her health?

Eat more vegetables, and drink plain water! Most people don’t mind eating their fruits, but getting in 2½ to 3 cups a day of a variety of vegetables can be a challenge for many college students. Yet vegetables, depending on how they are cooked, are relatively low in calories, contain lots of fiber to make you feel full, and can provide loads of phyto-nutrients that may prevent disease. We still don’t know with 100 percent certainty that eating enough fruits and vegetables will help prevent chronic diseases; however, with the research that is available, I’m definitely eating my daily servings. As for the water, plain tap water is what I recommend. It’s regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency for safety and is calorie-free, super-inexpensive, better for the environment when compared to bottled, and doesn’t contain anything artificial. Being well hydrated is not only good for the kidneys and other bodily functions; it also helps control hunger and fatigue. Sugar-free flavored waters, to me, are just a slightly healthier substitute for a soft drink—they still train us to desire sweet-tasting beverages.

Given that college students are constantly on the go, don’t have time for a sit-down breakfast, and often don’t have a lot of money for food, what is a reasonable breakfast for a college student to eat?

My favorite breakfast, and I think the healthiest, is cooked oatmeal and fruit. A large container of off-brand, quick-cooking or regular rolled oats is less than $3 and contains enough oatmeal to last at least two weeks. Fix ½ cup of dry oats based on the package instructions and mix with banana slices, raisins, diced apples, or whatever fruit is on sale or available, and you have an excellent breakfast for probably less than a dollar. Plus it is microwavable!

Take it with you to class by packing it in a to-go container and don’t forget a spoon. I avoid purchasing the individual flavored packages or cups of oatmeal, as those are more expensive per ounce, pack in less fiber, and provide more calories from sugars.

College students often rely on coffee and energy drinks to keep them going through the day and night. What are some healthier alternatives to give them the energy they need?

Sleep, regular exercise, and, as I mentioned earlier, adequate hydration are my recommendations. I remember thinking that sleep was overrated when I was in college, but studies show again and again that your performance is negatively impacted when you don’t get enough sleep. I tell my students an extra hour of sleep might do them better than an extra hour of cramming for a test. Exercise is also important to fight fatigue. A study released in 2006 supported findings that sedentary people had improved energy levels when they started a regular exercise routine. So instead of reaching for a Red Bull or coffee to boost you awake, maybe take a walk.

Is late-night eating really that bad for college students?

The reason late-night eating is so bad is because it usually consists of greasy fast food or sweet indulgences. If you still have calories to spare at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter when you eat. You won’t gain weight just because it is after nine before you eat. However, if you have already consumed enough calories for the day, then the 800 calories from a 10-piece chicken nugget meal with medium fries is just extra calories. If you did this four times in a month, you would gain about a pound that month. If you did this all school year, then you would be about 10 pounds heavier than when you started in August.

Petr-Cromer has worked as a dietitian manager with a skilled nursing facility and as a clinical dietitian at a diabetes weight management clinic. Her résumé also includes experience as a dietary and kitchen manager who developed meal plans and assessed nutritional needs of patients. She is also a preceptor/mentor with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Dietetic Internship Program.

(Re)Vamping the myth

Immortal, seductive, bloodthirsty—and sometimes just plain sparkly—the vampire is here to stay

by Kayla Bates

“If he were alive today, Bram Stoker would be horrified”

Whether people are drawn to vampires because they are mysterious or symbolize power and sexuality or even because they represent an escape from mortality, the popularity of vampire stories doesn’t seem to be slowing down. With movies and TV series like True Blood, Twilight, and Vampire Diaries, as well as novel after novel about these undead creatures in bookstores, vampires are unlikely to fade as a source of public fascination anytime soon.

Stories of vampires reach back before written language. Jimmie Cain, MTSU professor, Bram Stoker scholar, and author of Bram Stoker and Russophobia, suggests the archetype of a creature that dies and comes back to life stems from people falling into cataleptic states—a condition characterized by a trance or seizure with a loss of sensation and consciousness accompanied by rigidity of the body. Today, we call these states comas.

“In the past, people didn’t know,” Cain says. “They thought when you fell into a coma that you were dead. Vampire stories likely come from stories of people that were dead, were buried, and then found around town in their burial gowns, covered in blood because they had to dig their way out of a grave.”

The modern-day vampire story was born toward the end of the 19th century with Stoker’s publication of Dracula. Dr. Cain suspects the grandfather of fang lit would be rolling over in his own grave about what has happened to the vampire tale in modern culture.

“If he were alive today, Bram Stoker would be horrified by True Blood, a show that valorizes vampires, and Twilight, where we have a vampire hero,” Cain says. “For Stoker, the vampire was a distillation of every conceivable form of evil imaginable: religious, spiritual, domestic, sexual, and I’d argue political evil, as well.”

By comparison, the character of Edward Cullen from Twilight is more inclined toward true love than true blood. Modern interpretations clearly highlight more humanistic qualities in vampires than do the older tales.

Cain says this trend toward warmer, fuzzier vampires actually has its roots in the 1970s and movies featuring actors such as George Hamilton (Love at First Bite) playing a debonair, sophisticated vampire.

That trend itself can be attributed to Anne Rice’s influential 1974 book, Interview with the Vampire, whose central character, Lestat, while still quite monstrous, was nonetheless the protagonist (and one with whom readers could sympathize, at that).

Another theme recurrent in vampire stories that has morphed over time is the liberation of women. In the Dracula story, the women who are turned to vampires immediately become sexual.

“These turned women lose all the demeanor and probity of a proper Victorian woman and suddenly become sexually rapacious,” Cain says.

While we don’t see Bella Swan instantly changed into a woman hunting for sexual experiences, Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight saga, does portray the newly vamped Bella as a wickedly beautiful, almost eerily perfect physical manifestation of a woman. The concept of beauty and eternal youth clearly resonates in a modern society seemingly obsessed with staying young.

Cain speculates that in addition to our desire to remain young and beautiful forever, the rise in popularity in vampire stories could be linked to the increasing number of people who have lost their belief in an afterlife.

“If there’s no heaven, maybe the next best thing is to live forever,” Cain says.

One thing hasn’t changed, regardless of era: though the vampire craze is a little long in the fang when it comes to its role in popular culture, the public’s appetite for a good vampire tale seems unabated. And even as undead creatures such as zombies have shambled into the spotlight, vampires are here to stay.

All aTwitter

MTSU’s “tweet-pert” weighs in on the interaction of social media and business

by Amanda Haggard

The buzz around social media and its many uses has businesses and professionals thinking about how they can make the most of Twitter and other online information networks like it. A professor of marketing in the Jennings A. Jones College of Business at MTSU, Dr. Don Roy, has been recognized for his insight into the emerging social media trend.

This past spring, Roy received an award from MBAPrograms.org, which named his Twitter account among the top 50 for business-school professors. He is also ranked 65 out of 100 on Social Media Marketing magazine’s top marketing professors roster, which includes academics who offer awareness in advances that affect business professionals.

Roy says he became curious about the phenomenon of Twitter soon after it hatched in 2007, before smartphones were everywhere and when it was text-driven with 140-character limits.

“It just intrigued me—why are people doing this?” Roy says. “So I thought, ‘Let me join and watch and kind of see what’s going on.’”

Roy soon set up his Twitter account to act as a portal to his blog, Marketing Dr: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly of Marketing (marketingdr.blogspot.com), which encompasses review and critique of business practices and marketing techniques and includes advice for burgeoning business professionals.

What Roy has learned is that businesses have an advantage through social media that they have not had in the past: virtually free marketing research.

“People are talking, not only about your products, but about what they like, what they don’t like, and what’s important to them—this treasure trove of information that you really don’t have to pay for,” Roy says. “It’s just out there for the taking. It does take some investment in time or software.”

Roy says that consumers are also benefiting from an influx of information about products and services.

“Social media is important because it gives all of us a voice as opposed to traditional mass media,” Roy says. “Communication has largely been one way; it’s been the business talking to the consumer. The business had the information advantage because they possessed more information than the customer did.”

Creating a clear and consistent social media brand for a business can be difficult, Roy says, but there are measures that a company can take to ensure that its online voice reflects the values of the business.

“Generally, the way to deal with that is to have specific people who are trusted with social media,” Roy says. “They’re trained. They get it.”

This principle is also the key, Roy says, to avoid situations in which an employee might say something inconsistent with the overall brand. According to Roy, whether you have one person or half a dozen working your social media, it is very important that they “understand the strategy behind it—and that there is a strategy behind it.”

Roy stresses that social media has become an asset and necessity to career-minded persons in virtually all professions.

“Information equals power, and I think social media is important no matter whether you are a young professional or someone older,” Roy says. “Personally, I look for professional development. To me, one of the most valuable forms of sharing on social media is if you have something you can give to other people.”

Roy is named by MBAPrograms.org as one of the top 50 business school professors to follow on Twitter www.mbaprograms.org/news/top-business-professors-twitter

Roy’s blog, “Marketing Dr: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly of Marketing” marketingdr.blogspot.com

Roy is listed as one of Social Media Marketing magazine’s top marketing professors www.smmmagazine.com/exclusives/top-marketingprofessors-on-twitter/