MTSU leads state in service to at-risk students

You may have heard or read that the University of Tennessee System announced Thursday that students eligible for Pell Grant aid (family income of $50,000 or less), and who qualify for the HOPE Lottery Scholarship, can attend one of their institutions without paying tuition or mandatory fees.

I’m proud to say that MTSU students in this category have attended our institution for years without paying tuition or mandatory fees. Our Admissions and Financial Aid teams are among the best at helping our at-risk students qualify for the full range of federal and state scholarships and assistance. About 50 percent of our students receive Pell aid (in contrast, about 30 percent of UT-Knoxville’s population receive Pell aid).

That’s why we are a destination of choice for first-generation college students. And we’ve done all of this while raising our admissions standards and setting records on average ACT scores of our incoming freshmen.

It is interesting to note that according to a recent New York Times database, the median family income of a student from Middle Tennessee State is $71,700, and 25% come from the top 20 percent of income strata. According to the same database, the median family income of a student from UT-Knoxville is $96,900, and 42% come from the top 20 percent.

It’s also important to remember that MTSU’s full-time undergraduate tuition and fees of $9,206 for the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters remains the lowest of the state’s three largest universities. University of Tennessee-Knoxville charges $13,006, while the University of Memphis charges $9,701. Our affordability makes MTSU more accessible to students from all income levels seeking a top-tier educational experience.

And, this year, we substantially increased the value and broadened eligibility of our Presidential Scholarship, which more than doubled the amount we awarded to some high-ability freshmen who will enroll this fall.

USA Today Network-Tennessee interviewed me in a story on the reaction of other university presidents to the announcement. In short, I said we at MTSU are pleased that UT has joined our university in expressing its commitment to serving the higher education needs of the state’s at-risk students. You can read it here: https://www.dnj.com/story/news/2019/03/15/ut-promise-mtsu-austin-peay-university-memphis-college-scholarships/3161338002/#_=_

Analysis of the Governor’s Budget

As you are aware, on Monday evening Governor Lee presented his 2019‐20 budget to the Tennessee General Assembly. We have conducted a preliminary analysis of the details of the Governor’s Budget and I wanted to outline how his proposed budget could affect our University, if approved by the Legislature.

Highlights of the budget as they relate to MTSU’s institutional needs and priorities are as follows:

• Net operating appropriations, which includes adjustments made through the funding formula, will increase by $3.8 million.

• Even though this year’s budget does not include a separate funding allocation for higher education salary increases, it does provide that additional funds can be used for salaries and/or operational expenditures at the discretion of the University. Increases over the past few years have been minimal but improving employee salaries remains my number one priority in establishing the University 2019-20 budget. I continue to make the case to our state legislative leaders and the executive branch, and more recently to our own Board of Trustees, regarding the importance of improving salaries for our employees. The Governor’s Budget included funding equivalent to a 2 percent salary pool for state agencies.

• A new 54,000 square foot academic facility to house the School of Concrete and Construction Management, ranked No. 3 on the higher education priority list by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, is among $133.1 million in capital outlay projects that Lee recommended for the state’s universities, community colleges and technical colleges. The recommendation would provide $34.1 million in state funding and require the university to raise $6.0 million through other sources, representing a total project cost of $40.1 million.

• The Governor recommended $73.4 million in capital maintenance funding for all of higher education, which includes funding for two (2) of MTSU’s six (6) recommended capital projects and additional funding for ADA projects, totaling $6.4 million.

• Establishes $3 million of recurring funding to the Bureau of TennCare for the Graduate Medical Education (GME) program—financial assistance for medical students—to increase the number of primary care providers in underserved rural areas of Tennessee. This funding could assist with a partnership we have with Meharry Medical College for a fast‐track program for select, qualified students to receive both an undergraduate degree from MTSU and a medical degree from Meharry in six years.

• In 2016, THEC recommended funding for the Tennessee Board of Regents’ (TBR) strategic initiative involving campus safety. This initiative involved requested funding of $8.9 million to implement the recommendations of the Safety and Security Task Force. Phase III funding for this initiative is included in the Governor’s Budget at $2 million for TBR and the Locally Governed Institutions (LGI’s). MTSU’s share of this funding will be $213,900.

With the limited operating appropriations provided in the budget to cover our fixed costs increases (i.e. faculty promotion increases, utilities, software maintenance, etc.) and increases in funding scholarships, we will once again be operating on a very tight budget. The FOCUS Act, if you will remember, also gives THEC the authority to issue a binding tuition and mandatory fees range that the University must stay within when raising tuition and fees. While the preliminary recommendation is for a tuition increase in the range of 0‐2.5%, the final range will not be issued until early May by THEC.

As the Legislature debates the final budget, we will continue to review additional information as it becomes available and incorporate the impact into the University’s budgeting process for the upcoming year. As future developments are known, I will continue to communicate with the campus through our campus website and with email messages to keep you abreast of the Legislature’s actions.

Sidney A. McPhee

Spring 2019 Student Success Update

Our ambitious Quest for Student Success has provided an effective roadmap to guide our efforts to improve retention and graduation. The Quest has helped redefine and refocus our efforts and investments in recruitment, advising, and classroom teaching to better meet the needs of our students.

Driving those increases are a number of new initiatives created over the past few years. One of those is the Office of Student Success. While MTSU has always targeted at-risk populations for support, the Office of Student Success now is boosting every student’s chance to succeed. Working collaboratively, the University has overhauled student advising, developed fresh options for academic help, and redesigned courses that are traditional stumbling blocks to graduation.

At the same time, it’s using predictive analytics—an approach more commonly associated with health care than higher ed—to fight attrition in a highly surgical way. Predictive data can help identify students who are at statistical risk of attrition even if they don’t fit any traditionally “at-risk” population. Armed with this knowledge, faculty and advisors can watch these students to spot any problems early and get them back on track.

Here are some updates from that office:

  • MTSU is one of 130 institutions that have joined together to increase student success as part of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) “Powered by Publics” Initiative. This is the largest collaboration in history designed to increase access and degree completion. The initiative includes the creation of 16 “transformation clusters” of change-ready universities. Our participation in this initiative complements student success work already underway at MTSU.
  • Under the leadership of Provost Mark Byrnes, work continues to revise and update MTSU’s Quest for Student Success 2013–2016. Input is being solicited from across the University for the revised Quest for Student Success: with Distinction 2018–2025. Current members serving on the Quest committee include:
    • Mark Byrnes , provost (committee chair)
    • Joe Bales , vice president for university advancement
    • David Butler , vice provost for research and College of Graduate Studies dean
    • Jeff Gibson , Theatre and Dance professor and chair
    • Pippa Holloway , History professor and 2018–19 Faculty Senate president
    • Mary Hoffschwelle , History professor and MT Engage director
    • Faye Johnson , associate provost for strategic planning and partnerships
    • Marva Lucas , University Studies professor and chair
    • Susan Myers-Shirk , History professor and General Education director
    • Ken Paulson , College of Media and Entertainment dean
    • David Schmidt , vice provost for international affairs
    • Deb Sells, vice president for student affairs and vice provost for academic and enrollment services
    • Rick Sluder, vice provost for student success and University College dean
    • Chris Brewer and Sylvia Collins, of Institutional Effectiveness, Planning, and Research
  • Our campus-wide tutoring initiative has added ePortfolio tutoring to its menu of offerings. In addition, mobile portability is an option for classes that meet in areas without a designated nearby kiosk.
  • Supplemental Instruction (SI) remains a core component of MTSU’s comprehensive approach to learner support. This program is in its third year at MTSU and reaches into 119 individual course sections across five academic colleges in the current academic year. This large and nationally recognized program has grown to support thousands of students in 14 of MTSU’s most challenging and commonly attended courses, delivering nearly 10,000 hours of academic support through approximately 6,000 student contacts in the previous 2017–18 academic year. Similar impressive numbers are being compiled during the current academic cycle.
  • A record number of participants (444) attended the Scholars Academy’s Freshmen Summer Institute this past August. For at least the last four years, 90 percent of Scholars Academy students registered for the spring semester. By the end of the semester, 93 percent of the Fall 2018 cohort registered for Spring 2019. The Fall 2018 cohort also had 275 students (62 percent) earn a grade point average of 2.75 or above, with 123 of those students (28 percent) achieving Dean’s List status.
  • Letters were sent to 520 freshmen over the holidays encouraging those students to participate in our national award-winning REBOUND program. Historically, those students who qualify (having earned less than a 2.0 GPA their first semester) and participate in the program stand a 50 percent-better chance of returning to MTSU for their second year than do students who qualify for the program but do not participate.

Spring 2019 Admissions Update


Several bold admissions initiatives have been key to our ongoing efforts to both sustain our operations and fuel our plans for growth. Fall is the busiest season for recruiting high school seniors. We have eight recruiters in the Office of Undergraduate Recruitment who cover Tennessee and the greater geographical area served by the Regional Scholars program. In addition to working Preview Days and the True Blue Tour, these recruiters staffed tables at 128 recruitment fairs across their territories and made hundreds of visits to high schools where they met with students and parents, presented the benefits of an MTSU degree, and worked with high school teachers and guidance counselors to spread the True Blue word.

In the Fall 2018 semester, we added a True Blue Tour date to serve the students here in Rutherford County. In 14 tour stops across Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Kentucky, we met with 1,352 students and an additional 1,890 family members. That’s a 13 percent growth in student attendance.

Our on-campus recruitment events are our Preview Days, where students get an extended tour and meet with advisors, faculty, and the dean. This fall we had three Preview Days where we hosted 691 students— again, a 13 percent increase.

In addition to Preview Days, Admissions provides two tours of campus each weekday, as well as regularly scheduled Saturday tours throughout the semester (and additional housing tours for students interested in seeing on-campus housing options). We also schedule special tours upon request. This past fall, our Blue Elite tour guides walked approximately 1,010 miles while providing tours of our beautiful campus to more than 7,000 guests!

All of this hard work has resulted in increases in applications. We have made scholarship offers to 2,054 students who had at least a 25 ACT and 3.5 high school GPA. That’s more than a 17 percent increase over offers we made by this point last year.

This spring, we will turn our attention to converting those admitted students into enrolled students and will be visiting high schools with a particular focus on meeting with high school juniors with the objective of making them our entering freshmen in 2020.

Transfer recruiters will be working with community college partners to enroll more transfer students than any other institution in Tennessee.

A Campus without Borders 

Next, MTSU’s independent governing board voted in December to expand our regional scholarship plan that offers qualifying out-of-state scholars with a discounted tuition rate. Previously under the “radius 250” or “R250” plan, qualifying applicants graduating from a high school in a county within 250 miles of MTSU in any direction were eligible to receive almost half off of their out-of-state tuition costs. This geography, which still applies, includes portions of Illinois, Indiana, South Carolina, and Ohio (Cincinnati). The board’s recent vote expanded the out-of-state discount program to ALSO include qualifying students from anywhere in each of the eight states that touch Tennessee (even sharing a small border like Missouri).

Major Scholarship Enhancement 

Finally, last October, I announced that MTSU would substantially increase the value and broaden eligibility of its Presidential Scholarship, a move that will more than double the amount awarded to some high-ability freshmen who enroll for this fall.

The Presidential Scholarship will increase to $18,000 in total value, paid out to eligible incoming freshmen at $4,500 a year for four years.

Students must have a 3.5 high school GPA and score between 25 and 29 on the ACT to qualify for the expanded award.

MTSU guarantees the scholarship to all students who apply to the University before Dec. 1 each year and meet the eligibility criteria.

With these enhancements, the Presidential Scholarship becomes the largest guaranteed academic award given by any public university in Tennessee to students with these credentials.

For Tennessee residents, when combined with the Hope Lottery Scholarship provided by the state, it will substantially reduce the cost of tuition for these high-ability students to attend MTSU.

The Presidential Scholarship previously only paid $4,000 a year to students with ACT scores of 28 and 29.

The expanded award now replaces two of MTSU’s previous guaranteed scholarships: True Blue, which paid $3,000 a year to students scoring 26 or 27 on the ACT, and Provost, which paid out $2,000 a year to students with an ACT score of 25.

MTSU will continue to offer students making an ACT score of 30 and above, along with at least a 3.5 high school GPA, our guaranteed Trustees Scholarship, which pays $20,000 in four annual installments of $5,000.

Students scoring at least 29 on the ACT and with a high school GPA at 3.5 and above can apply for MTSU’s highest academic award, the Buchanan Fellowship, a competitive and selective full-tuition scholarship through the University Honors College.

This expanded Presidential Scholarship award will begin with freshmen entering in the Fall 2019 semester.

We feel strongly that MTSU, as a major comprehensive university with a broad array of top-notch majors, is the best choice for these high-ability students. Enhancing this scholarship will make it even more practical and affordable for them to pursue their higher education goals on our beautiful campus.

The University reallocated existing funds in our budget to pay for the scholarship enhancements. MTSU is also exploring additional changes that could be in place as soon as the Fall 2020 semester.

Spring 2019 Budget and Salary Overview

The combination of $4.6 million in state appropriations and additional funding from the 2.84 percent increase in tuition allowed the University to fund several initiatives this year. For the first time since 2012, market adjustments based on the University’s compensation plan were partially implemented effective Oct. 1, 2018. Other items funded were:

  • 1.5 percent across-the-board increase— or $500, whichever is greater—effective July 1, 2018
  • Faculty promotions
  • Increased cost of software maintenance agreements
  • Scholarships, tuition discounts, employee fee waivers and dependent discounts, and graduate assistant fee waivers
  • Funding for new startup programs and continuing improvements on the MTSU Quest for Student Success initiatives

Looking toward the 2019–20 fiscal year, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) is recommending operating state appropriations of $107.7 million for MTSU. This is a $4.5 million increase, or 4.4 percent, over 2018–19. This net increase is a combination of a decrease of $1.5 million in outcomes formula adjustments and a $6 million increase in proposed new funding for higher education.

The most exciting news is that MTSU has a new capital outlay project proposed for funding in 2019–20. No. 3 on THEC’s capital project list is the new School of Concrete and Construction Management building, which has a total project cost of $40.1 million. This project is No. 1 among the six locally governed universities. In addition to the 54,000-square-foot building, the funding also includes an addition to the Satellite Chiller Plant and demolition of Abernathy and Ezell halls in order to prepare the site for development. With such a high ranking of this project by THEC, we are optimistic the project will be included in the governor’s budget and funded in the upcoming fiscal year.

The commission also voted to recommend $10.1 million in capital maintenance funds for MTSU projects, which includes several buildings roof replacements; Kirksey Old Main mechanical, HVAC, fire protection, lighting, and ceiling upgrades; Stark Ag / Police mechanical and HVAC upgrades; campus stormwater best management practices (BMP) Phase 1; sidewalk repair/replacement Phase 1; and boiler replacement at Miller Education Center.

THEC’s recommendations have been submitted to the Department of Finance and Administration for consideration in the proposed state budget that Gov.-elect Bill Lee will be submitting to the state legislature in late February. At that point, we will have more information regarding our likely 2019–20 state and capital appropriations.

In December, MTSU Board of Trustees Chair Steve Smith, Vice Chair Darrell Freeman, and Alan Thomas, vice president for business and finance, went before the State Education, Health and General Welfare Joint Subcommittee of Government Operations for our Sunset Hearing as required by state statue. Initially, the Board of Trustees was established for a two-year period ending this upcoming June 30. The hearing’s purpose was for the subcommittee to review MTSU’s answers to questions issued by the Comptroller’s Office auditors to determine whether the Board of Trustees should be continued, restructured, or terminated. The subcommittee approved MTSU’s Board of Trustees until June 30, 2021.

Spring 2019 Construction Update

Numerous improvements to our campus buildings and roadways are underway or were recently completed. Here is a brief update on recent and current construction projects.

Middle Tennessee Boulevard

  • Working on Alma Mater Drive circle
  • Finishing entrance columns and pavers at Faulkinberry Drive
  • Constructing curbs and gutters in median, top soil, and installing irrigation lines
  • Completing Bell Street entrance plaza • Anticipating final asphalt topping this spring
  • Scope of work:

» $15.7 million project » Widening of 0.8-mile section of Middle Tennessee Boulevard between East Main and Greenland to a divided four-lane street

» Landscaped median with dedicated turn lanes » Improved pedestrian walks and crossings

» Bike lanes

» Improved lighting

» New underground utilities

» Monument entry walls to MTSU campus

» New drop-off at Murphy Center » Improvements to the Faulkinberry Drive intersection


Parking Services Facility

  • Design development phase completed
  • Construction starting late spring and finishing in summer 2020
  • Scope of work:

» New home for Parking Services, including parking permits, bus maintenance, and personnel offices

» Located on City View Drive

» $3.4 million project budget

» 13,000-square-foot building area


Academic Classroom Building

  • MTSU College of Behavioral and Health Sciences Academic Building RenderingNew center for the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences
  • Consolidating the Criminal Justice Administration, Psychology, and Social Work departments
  • Providing critically needed classrooms, offices, and lab spaces • Sitework construction (site utilities and grading) wrapping up in January
  • Building construction starting in January
  • Project completion expected summer 2020
  • Scope of work:

» $39.6 million total project cost » State funding received last July 13

» 91,000 square feet

» Building site north of the Student Union across MTSU Boulevard

» Construction manager general contractor: Turner Construction Co.

» Architect: Bauer Askew Architecture


Peck Hall

  • Interior improvements completed
  • “Energetic” courtyard that’s been created by new exterior furniture
  • Scope of work:

» $924,000 construction cost

» Interior improvements, including new lighting at corridors and refinishing of terrazzo flooring on second and third levels

» New ceiling and lighting at breezeways

» New outdoor furnishings


Parking and Transportation Improvements

  • New sidewalks open to students returning to class in January
  • Scope of work:

» $1.58 million construction cost » New surface and lighting at Greenland Drive parking lot

» New sidewalks and lighting along Alumni Drive and Military Memorial Drive

» Improved pedestrian access to Livestock Lot and new lighting

» Wider sidewalks along Founders Lane

» Small roundabout at Military Memorial and Champion Way

Law School Update

To the University community,

By now, I know you are aware that the Tennessee Higher Education Commission this week denied our proposal to transfer to Valparaiso University School of Law to our Murfreesboro campus. The 8 to 5 vote, in my opinion, was not based on merits of our proposal, as those who opposed our measure appeared to be mostly concerned about how the school would pose competition to the public law schools in Knoxville and Memphis.

I voiced those points in this article that appeared in Wednesday’s edition of The Tennessean: https://www.dnj.com/story/news/2018/10/16/mtsu-law-school-valparaiso-vote-opposed-thec-nashville-memphis-knoxville/1659112002/

In the article, Commission Chairman Evan Cope made an important point: One-third of the state’s population lives in the Nashville-Franklin-Murfreesboro MSA and the growth in that area is 150 percent above the average rate of growth in the nation. It is regrettable that the state’s fastest-growing and most populous area has been denied the opportunity of a public, accredited law school – and that the state of Tennessee has been denied a significant, multi-million dollar gift. Our proposal would have helped most those in Middle Tennessee seeking a legal education from an accredited school who cannot afford a private school or cannot travel to either corner of the state.

It would be easy to leave this process bitter and discouraged. However, I urge that we emerge from this more resolute and more determined than ever in our continued efforts to move our University forward. I intend to channel our feelings on this outcome into a concerted call to action and advance further the standing and service of our great institution.

Now, more than ever, we must all work together and remain True Blue.


Sidney A. McPhee

Committed to the Quest

MTSU Dual Enrollment StatiisticsConsidering the cost of college, students can’t afford not to graduate, especially if they have student debt. Yet, American universities suffer from chronic attrition. About a third of college freshmen don’t return for a second year. Universities have tried various strategies to keep students on a path to graduation, but nationally the six-year completion rate hovers at 57 percent. Attrition isn’t just expensive for students. Universities take a hit too—especially in Tennessee, which in 2010 began using outcomes rather than enrollment numbers to calculate higher education funding. At that time, a 3,000-student freshman class at MTSU could expect to lose 900 students the first year. Only half the class would graduate within six years.

The Quest for Student Success, which the University launched in 2013, radically rethought the University’s approach to attrition. While MTSU has always targeted at-risk populations for support, our new Office of Student Success is boosting every student’s chance to succeed. Working collaboratively, the University has overhauled student advising, developed fresh options for academic help, and redesigned courses that are traditional stumbling blocks to graduation. At the same time, we are using predictive analytics—an approach more commonly associated with health care than higher ed—to fight attrition in a highly surgical way. Predictive data can help identify students who are at statistical risk of attrition even if they don’t fit into traditionally “at-risk” population. Armed with this knowledge, our faculty and advisors can watch them to spot any problems early and get them back on track.

MTSU Fall Online Course EnrollmentsThe results of the Quest have been dramatic, and it has become a standard by which other such initiatives are measured. In 2017, MTSU was one of just 45 American universities invited
to join Re-Imagining the First Year, an initiative sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to help other institutions improve their student success, too. And recently, AASCU extended an invitation to me to share our student success initiatives with university presidents from across the country.

Here are the most recent updates regarding our collective work to improve student success at MTSU. Thank you for your help in achieving these gains.

MTSU Full-Time Freshmen Retention RateUnder the leadership of Provost Mark Byrnes, work continues to revise and update MTSU’s Quest for Student Success 2013–16. Since the launch of the original Quest, MTSU
has witnessed unprecedented outcomes on key student success measures. For example, the full- time freshman retention rate has increased from 69 percent to 76.8 percent. Similar increases in retention have been observed for every student category (sophomores, juniors, seniors) and across all colleges.

Accomplishments like these have drawn national attention, and MTSU’s student success initiatives have been highlighted in the New  York Times, Washington Post, Chronicle of Higher Education, and more than a dozen other national publications.

Input is being solicited from across the University for the revised plan, Quest for Student Success 2025. Current members serving on the Quest committee include:

Mark Byrnes, provost (committee chair)Joe Bales, vice president for university advancement

David Butler, vice provost for research and dean, College of Graduate Studies

Jeff Gibson, professor and chair, Department of Theatre and Dance

Joey Gray, associate professor, Department of Health and Human Performance, and 2017–18 Faculty Senate president

Mary Hoffschwelle, professor, Department of History and director, MT Engage

Faye Johnson, associate provost for planning and partnerships

Marva Lucas, professor and chair, University Studies

Susan Myers-Shirk, professor, Department of History and director, General Education

Ken Paulson, dean, College of Media and Entertainment

David Schmidt, vice provost for international affairs

Deb Sells, vice president for student affairs and vice provost for academic and enrollment services

Rick Sluder, vice provost for student success and dean, University College

Data resources: Chris Brewer and Sylvia Collins of Institutional Effectiveness, Planning, and Research

Please be on the lookout for additional information, and do not hesitate to contact any member of the work group if you have questions or need additional information. Find out more about this very important initiative atmtsu.edu/provost/quest-2018.

Nearly a year ago, a group of dedicated academic advisors began meeting to devise a comprehensive professional development and training plan. Through their efforts, the Advisor Mastery Program (AMP) was created and implemented. AMP provides our advisors with access to a wide-ranging series of professional development and training opportunities. This includes anything from webinars, lunch-and-learns, sessions led by advisors and others from across campus, and workshops featuring nationally recognized student success experts.

Through their participation in these sessions, advisors earn points with the goal of attaining annual AMP certification. Twenty-nine advisors were recognized for completion of the Advisor Mastery Program at an advisor annual retreat and workshop in April.

Today, two committees guide this important work. The Professional Development Committee is chaired by Amber Bollinger, advisor in the Jones College of Business. The Training Committee is led by Janae Daniels, an advisor in the College of Media and Entertainment.

The Advisor Mastery Program will host Florida Atlantic University’s Jennifer Bloom on campus Sept. 13–14. Bloom co-founded the Appreciative Advising and Appreciative Education movements. She will conduct an Appreciative Administration session on Thursday, Sept. 13. Please RSVP to Amber.Bollinger@mtsu.edu if you would like to attend.

Learner support for MTSU students continues to evolve. Two primary components of learner support at MTSU are free tutoring and Supplemental Instruction (SI). Although in operation for a relatively short period of time, both tutoring and SI have evolved rapidly and are crucial components of MTSU’s efforts to support students.

Free tutoring is now offered for more than 200 courses each semester. In 2017, students spent 15,557 hours in tutoring, a 120 percent increase over 2015. MTSU’s tutoring program was highlighted nationally in an article published inEDUCAUSE Review.

Supplemental Instruction has also quickly become a core component of our system of learner support. The first SI courses were implemented as a pilot in 2016–17, involving 57 course sections across three colleges with a potential to impact 3,047 students. In 2017–18, SI had grown to serve 118 course sections across five colleges with a potential
to impact 4,990 students. MTSU’s SI efforts have been recognized nationally.

In Fall 2017, Rick Sluder, the leader of MTSU’s Office of Student Success, was identified as one of 25 state leaders from across the country for making a difference with educational technology. Named as an “EdTech Hero” by EdScoop.com, Sluder was recognized for work occurring on the MTSU campus involving the application of predictive analytics in student success.

MTSU is a participant, along with other selected universities, in the Survey of Student Experiences. This project is coordinated by the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. The purpose of the project is to build awareness of the psychological components of student success to understand how programs, policies, processes, and communications impact student persistence and retention. The goal is to use this knowledge to increase and expand the efficacy of existing student success strategies at MTSU. Five institutions from the cohort will be selected and provided with multi- year funding to further develop and implement lessons learned.

MTSU was one of 22 institutions selected by AASCU to participate in an Institutional Transformation Assessment. This project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,

In June, researchers representing the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation visited MTSU to study work completed as a part of the Quest for Student Success. Representatives met with MTSU staff to learn about strategies that might be used by other universities to enhance leadership capacity, institutional research, and strategic finance in student success initiatives.

Finally, let me state that students rely on MTSU academic advisors, who work tirelessly to guide them toward a successful educational future, even if that means countless appointments, emails, and phone calls. Among those advisors is College of Liberal Arts advising managerLucy Langworthy, who was recently recognized nationally for her diligence with an award from the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). Langworthy received the 2018 Region

MTSU is a participant, along with other selected universities, in the Survey of Student Experiences. This project is coordinated by the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. The purpose of the project is to build awareness of the psychological components of student success to understand how programs, policies, processes, and communications impact student persistence and retention. The goal is to use this knowledge to increase and expand the efficacy of existing student success strategies at MTSU. Five institutions from the cohort will be selected and provided with multi- year funding to further develop and implement lessons learned.

MTSU was one of 22 institutions selected by AASCU to participate in an Institutional Transformation Assessment. This project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,

In June, researchers representing the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation visited MTSU to study work completed as a part of the Quest for Student Success. Representatives met with MTSU staff to learn about strategies that might be used by other universities to enhance leadership capacity, institutional research, and strategic finance in student success initiatives.

Advising-Advising Administrator Award. NACADA prides itself as a professional association that promotes student success while providing opportunities for professional development, networking, and leadership for a diverse membership. The association includes 10 regions throughout the U.S. and Canada, and Region 3 is composed of Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. This is the third consecutive year an MTSU College of Liberal Arts advising center staff member has won a NACADA award. Past winners include Brad Baumgardner for the Region 3 Outstanding New Advisor Award and Matt Hibdon for Excellence in Academic Advising for Region 3.

Construction/Parking/Transportation Update

Numerous campus construction projects are ongoing or were recently completed. Here is a brief update on those recent and current projects:

Middle Tennessee Boulevard

Currently under construction

Scope of work:

  • Widening 0.8-mile section of Middle Tennessee Boulevard between East Main and Greenland to a divided four-lane street
  • Landscaped median with dedicated turn lanes
  • Improved pedestrian walks and crossings
  • Bike lanes
  • Improved lighting
  • New underground utilities
  • Monument entry walls to MTSU campus
  • New drop-off at Murphy Center
  • Improvements to the Faulkinberry Drive intersection

Completion expected in December

Academic Classroom Building

  • New center for the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences
  • Consolidating of functional areas to the Criminal Justice Administration, Psychology, and Social Work departments
  • Critically needed classrooms, offices, and lab spaces provided
  • State funding received July 13
  • $39.6 million total project cost
  • 91,000 square feet Building site located north of the Student Union across

MTSU Boulevard
• Sitework construction (site utilities and grading) starting late August; project completion expected summer 2020

• Building project manager: Turner Construction Co.

• Project architect: Bauer Askew Architecture

Parking Services Facility

• New home for Parking Services, including parking permits, bus maintenance, and personnel offices

• Design phase completed

•Bids opened Aug. 22

• Construction starting this fall and finishing in winter 2019

• Located on City View Drive

• $3.4 million total project cost

• 13,000-square-foot building area

Parking and Transportation Improvements

  • $1.580 million construction cost
  • New surface and lighting at Greenland Drive parking lot
  • New sidewalks and lighting along Alumni Drive and Military Memorial Drive
  • Improved pedestrian access to Livestock Lot and new lighting
  • Wider sidewalks along Founders Lane
  • Currently under construction, with completion this fall
  • Small roundabout at Military Memorial and Champion Way

Peck Hall Renovations

  • $924,000 construction cost
  • Interior improvements, including new lighting at corridors and refinishing of terrazzo flooring on second and third levels
  • New ceiling and lighting at breezeways
  • New furnishings for courtyard areas
  • Project completion this fall


Changes are occurring in the Student Union. We are replacing the Dippers venue and installing a “restaurant rotation” concept. Rotation options will include:

• Barbeque District (Texas BBQ) • BibimBox (Korean food)

• Medi-Eats (Mediterranean-inspired cuisine)

• Noodle Fix (global noodle dishes)

• O-mori Ramen Bar (build-your-own Ramen dish)

• Road Trip America (regional American cuisine, such as New England classics)

• Taco del Seoul (Korean flavors and Mexican fusion)

• Zoca (Mexican fare)

We also will begin offering breakfast at Steak ’n Shake this fall. Breakfast options include biscuit sandwiches, breakfast tacos, Royale Steakburger, and Country Breakfast Bowl.

Discussions with Valparaiso

To the University Community,

I wish to inform you of an exciting opportunity that we are currently exploring.

Middle Tennessee State University and Valparaiso University have entered into a non-binding letter of intent to transfer Valparaiso’s American Bar Association-accredited law school to our Murfreesboro campus.

These discussions are preliminary, however, as both MTSU and Valparaiso determine whether such a move would be in the best interests of our respective stakeholders.

If MTSU and Valparaiso move forward with the transfer, it would require approval from the governing boards of each institution, as well as the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

Founded in 1879, the Valparaiso University School of Law has a long and distinguished history of public service and a demonstrated commitment to diversity. It embraces law as a calling to leadership and, like MTSU, it is also known for its commitment to experiential education.

Our exploration of this proposal is in keeping with MTSU’s tradition and strategic priority of pursuing innovative partnerships that create meaningful opportunities for our students, our region and our state.


Sidney A. McPhee


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