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Accreditation Update

The SACSCOC review to consider reaffirmation of our accreditation represents a critical benchmark in the life of this University, as it independently validates every 10 years that our institution is providing a high-quality academic experience for our students that meets the most rigorous standards.

SACSCOC

MTSU has been reaccredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, with the announcement made at the annual SACSCOC meeting in Atlanta

in December. We received reaccreditation after the Commission

on Colleges reviewed the University’s Compliance Audit Report and its Quality Enhancement Plan, MT Engage. The review examined MTSU’s academic programs, policies, and operating procedures against standards based on best practices

in higher education. The University was found in compliance with both the audit standards and the QEP by the on-site peer review team that visited the campus as part of the two-year-long review process. A finding of compliance with every standard, including those related to the QEP, is rare among institutions that go through this review process. This accomplishment reaffirms the University’s quality endeavors by its peers and recognizes its commitment to excellence.

MT Engage

Our new Quality Enhancement Plan, called MT Engage, launched in Fall 2016 with broad support from

University faculty, students, and administrators. I keynoted a kickoff celebration for those who contributed to the development of the QEP under the leadership of Dr. Dianna Rust and recognized the leadership of Dr. Mary Hoffschwelle in implementing the plan. Over 1,500 students enrolled in 98 MT Engage-designated classes taught by 59 faculty. These classes featured high- impact teaching practices, beyond- the-classroom experiences, and assignments that fostered integrative thinking and reflection that students saved in electronic portfolios.

Engagement was the buzz across campus during MT Engage Week,
Sept. 19–23. The College of Basic and Applied Sciences held Science Café informal discussions, and Behavioral and Health Sciences hosted a symposium on gang violence reduction and a lecture for its American Society of Interior Designers student chapter. The College of Education promoted education beyond the classroom with

campus and community partners, and students learned about volunteer and paid employment opportunities from Facilities Services staff. The

College of Liberal Arts hosted a foreign language film festival and a debate on the value of a college education. Media and Entertainment students performed at Engage-a-palooza and screened films at First Look 2016. Alumnae discussed how they bridged college to careers at a panel hosted by University College, while University Honors had Timothy Huebner speak about black constitutionalism. The Jennings A. Jones College of Business incorporated MT Engage into Donuts with the Dean, and Student Programming designated Bash the Rec as an MT Engage event.

Construction Update Spring 2017

I often say that MTSU is such an exciting place to study and work due to all of the campus construction projects and improvements that are ongoing or were recently completed. Here is a brief update on those recent and current projects.

Davis Science and Wiser-Patten Science Renovations

Renovations of Wiser Patten and Davis Science Buildings.

Full renovations of Davis Science (75,500 gross square feet, constructed 1967) and Wiser- Patten (41,500 gross squarefeet, constructed 1932) are now complete. A new, central Strobel Lobby connects the two buildings and provides a direct path to the new Science Building for a new Science Corridor of Innovation comprising the three buildings—an important concept for the functional neighborhoods of the campus. ADA access was also part of the genesis of the building connector concept, with ramps leading from the central lobby up to Davis and down to two new elevators in Wiser-Patten.

Renovations of Wiser Patten and Davis Science Buildings.

Occupants of the buildings include:

•Davis Science—Geosciences, a Mechatronics Engineering lab, new Fermentation Science Lab, and new academic advising offices for the College of Basic and Applied Sciences

•Wiser-Patten—Physics and Astronomy, Anthropology, and Forensic Science

Equipment and furnishings were installed this fall, and the new and returning occupants moved in over the holiday break before the Spring 2017 semester.

Academic Building for College of Behavioral and Health Sciences

On July 14, the State Building Commission approved full planning of the proposed academic building for the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences. The SBC signed off on $1.6 million to complete the design and bid-ready documents, plus appointed Bauer Askew Architecture as designer for the project.

The building will serve the Criminal Justice Administration, Psychology, and Social Work departments, with 14 classrooms, 19 labs, 63 faculty offices, an area for advising offices, and a dean’s suite. The site is located east

of the McFarland Building and will form the beginning of a new academic quadrangle and outdoor green space north of MTSU Boulevard and the Student Union.

Middle Tennessee Boulevard Widening

Road construction on Middle Tennessee Boulevard continues to progress on schedule. The roadway was redesigned to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety, with landscaped median and dedicated turn lanes, improved pedestrian walks and crossings, bike lanes, better lighting, additional signalized crossings at Lytle and Division, and new underground utilities. Additional enhancements to the roadway will include campus monument entry walls and signage, pedestrian and vehicular improvements to the Faulkinberry intersection, and a new drop-off drive at Murphy Center.

Utility work is progressing along the northbound lanes and is nearing completion along the southbound lanes from Lytle Street to Greenland Drive. Work will remain focused along the southbound lanes throughout the spring of 2017, when work along the northbound lanes adjacent to campus will begin. Construction completion is expected by fall of 2018.

Pedestrians are encouraged to exercise extreme caution when driving or walking in proximity to the construction zone through the course of the entire project.

Parking and Transportation Projects

The next phase of Parking and Transportation projects will focus on pedestrian walkways and lighting in the core of campus. The designs include ADA walkway improvements from the Livestock Lot; a dedicated walkway from Blue Raider Drive connecting to the south side of the Media and Honors buildings; a new sidewalk and lighting on the north side of Alumni Drive; and a widened walk on Founders Lane. A widened sidewalk and additional lighting are planned from Business and Aerospace to the north side of KUC, with intersec- tion improvements at Champion Way and Military Memorial. In addition, the Murphy Center lot will undergo resur- facing, along with new lighting and ADA parking improvements. The project is expected to bid in the spring, with construction beginning early summer.

Saunders Fine Arts HVAC Update

The second and final phase of the Saunders project consists of the removal of all window air conditioning units, replacement of the window systems in the building, and completion of the connection of the Saunders building to the campus central heat and cooling system. The work is planned to begin in early summer and to reach substantial completion by mid-August 2017.

 

Student Success Update Spring 2017

Our collective Quest for Student Success efforts are designed to ensure that every student who comes to MTSU with the drive to achieve is met with the best instruction from excellent professors who care for their success, and provide extra support and assistance when our students encounter unexpected difficulties or when roadblocks arise that negatively affect their persistence toward graduation.

We are excelling in the areas of retention and graduation over the past few years. Here are the latest updates on our student success efforts.

MTSU Spring 2017 Budget Update•Our full-time freshman retention rate increased to 76.1 percent for the Fall 2016 semester, up from 68.7 percent for Fall 2013. This increase of nearly 11 percent over the past three years is the fastest rate of increase in the history of the institution. This also represents the highest freshman retention rate in the history of MTSU, based on available data.

•The new transfer student retention rate rose to 73.8 percent, an increase of 4.7 percent in the same three-year period.

•Our sophomore retention rate increased to 80.6 percent, up 3.1 percent between the Fall 2013 and Fall 2016 semesters.

•The percentage of freshmen completing at least 30 hours during their first two semesters of study increased to 50.4 percent during the 2015–16 academic year. Just two years prior, only 42 percent of freshmen completed at least 30 hours. This means that more freshmen are on track to finish their degrees in four years, an accomplishment in sync with both state and national initiatives.

•In summer 2016, a record 312 new students participated in the Scholars Academy, a two-week summer bridge, early-arrival program designed to enhance the success of at-risk students. One in every 10 MTSU new freshmen, therefore, participated in the Scholars Academy support program. The average retention rate for students who went through the Scholars Academy is 83 percent, well above that for other students. In addition, 54 percent of students in the Scholars Academy completed at least 30 hours in their first year of study, a rate that surpasses that of other students.

•Free tutoring was available during the Fall 2016 semester for more than 200 courses, a new record level of support at MTSU. More importantly, more students are going for tutoring and spending more hours in tutoring sessions, while tutoring usage already has surpassed that of all last year. The total number of tutoring sessions increased by 20 percent for Fall 2016 compared to Fall 2015. The number of hours spent by students in tutoring sessions increased by 23 percent from Fall 2015 to Fall 2016.

•MTSU was invited to join 44 other leading universities from across the country to participate in the Re-Imagining the First Year (RFY) initiative last semester. This initiative, sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, seeks to increase student success rates by focusing on improving the first-year experience for students. MTSU’s participation in RFY was made possible by a special invitation from AASCU.

•A Supplemental Instruction (SI) pilot program was implemented starting with the Fall 2016 semester. The program provides students enrolled in some of MTSU’s most challenging courses with additional instructional support. MTSU’s SI kickoff, like so many initiatives at the University, was “big,” involving 21 course sections, across three colleges, and serving more than 1,500 students. The program is already showing very promising results and has the support of our faculty and students.

•After receiving requests from students and others, our Office of Student Success started offering tutoring in Study Skills and Learning Strategies during the Fall 2016 semester. Early results show that Study Skills tutoring has a significant and positive impact on students who went for Study Skills tutoring compared to a matched sample of those who did not.

•MTSU launched the SSC Campus student information and analytics system, which is an important tool used by multiple campus partners in their work with current MTSU students, in March 2016. The very successful launch of this powerful technology platform, developed and supported by the Education Advisory Board (EAB), represents the culmination of many months of ongoing planning and coordinated efforts across multiple University divisions. For an introduction to SSC Campus, contact Brian Hinote in the MTSU Office of Student Success at brian.hinote@mtsu.edu.

•MTSU continues to be studied by other entities with an interest in learning more about the Quest for Student Success. Visits have been made by representatives from the Lumina Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Community College Resource Center at Columbia University.

Campus Safety Update Spring 2017

Students Amanda Leachman and Ginny Whaley talking to MTSU Police officers Jason Hicks and Adam Wortman.

Students Amanda Leachman and Ginny Whaley talking to MTSU Police officers Jason Hicks and Adam Wortman.

Our University Police officers have been hard at work implementing some new campus safety initiatives to help broaden and sustain a safe environ- ment at MTSU. These efforts are assisted by other on-campus departments such as Campus Planning, Facilities, Student Affairs, and ITD. Some of the new or expanded services and developments include:

•Additional walking patrols by officers during the evening hours especially in the higher trafficked areas of campus

•Two additional Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) officers
who focus on positively interacting with students, patrolling residence halls, providing crime prevention programming on campus, and being available to help faculty, students, staff, and visitors with any concerns or issues

•Reintroduction of Emergency Call Box/Call Stations to be located in various areas around campus

• More exterior surveillance cameras around the Floyd Stadium/Murphy Center complex area, with more planned for the Womack Lane Apartments

•Replacement of security guards with University Police Raider Patrol to provide a bigger security presence, encourage more community engagement and cooperation, and emphasize consistent security processes and communication

• Emphasis and focus on more safety-conscious educational programs like Active Shooter Response training for student, staff, and faculty including redesigned Fact Cards and updated information on MTSU’s Alert 4U website

•Hiring and implementation of a sexual assault intervention liaison to increase advocacy for victims of sexual or dating violence and to maximize the ability of victims to receive resources including support from campus or local police.

Budget Overview Spring 2017

Our overall enrollment for Fall 2016 was relatively flat compared to the previous year, which reflected our hard work to hold steady in the second year of the Tennessee Promise, a last-dollar scholarship program that covers tuition and fees for high school seniors wishing to enroll in the state’s community and technical colleges. I was encouraged to see we had almost a 2.5 percent increase in domestic freshmen this fall and an uptick of more than 5.25 percent in new graduate students.

We received an increase of more than $3.7 million in state appropriations, which is based on outcomes formula adjustments and new funds for outcomes improvement. That new money, coupled with about $2.48 million resulting from tuition increases, helped offset the $1.5 million reduction that came as a result of our .98 percent decrease in full-time equivalency. These new funds were allocated to pay for:

• A 1 percent pool salary increase fully funded by MTSU

• Faculty promotions

• Increased cost of software maintenance agreements

• Cost increases in utilities and in operations and maintenance

• Scholarships, tuition discounts, employee fee waivers and dependent discounts, and graduate assistant fee waivers

• Funding for college deans’ requests for continuing improvements on the MTSU Quest for Student Success initiatives

• Funding for three critical faculty positions

• Funding for personal computer replacement for faculty • Supplemental Instruction

Looking toward Fiscal Year 2017–18, MTSU’s share of the THEC outcomes formula adjustment will be a decrease of $1,907,300. THEC voted at its November meeting to propose new state funding totaling $48 million for the higher education formula institutions. MTSU’s share of the proposed new funding will be $4,581,900. Thus, MTSU’s state funding could actually increase by $2,674,600.

The commission also voted to recommend $12.22 million in capital maintenance funds for MTSU projects, including alarm system updates, piping and manhole replacement, roof replacements, Keathley University Center mechanical and HVAC upgrades, elevator modernizations, domestic water- sewer system updates, Miller Education Center roof replacement, and Stark Ag Center mechanical updates. No MTSU capital project was proposed for new capital outlay funding for 2017–18.

THEC’s recommendations have been submitted to the Department of Finance and Administration for consideration in the proposed state budget that Gov. Haslam will be submitting to the state legislature in the coming weeks. At that point, we will have more information regarding our likely 2017–18 state appropriation.

International Relations

MTSU has strengthened its international initiatives both on campus and around the world. Those efforts boost student success through creating opportunities for travel, exposure to culture, and research opportunities.

Our most recent international outreach has included:

• For the second consecutive year MTSU professors taught at our partner university in China, Guangxi University (Nanning, China), in our support of the MTSU-GXU established 2+2 program. The faculty included Dr. Raholanda White (Marketing), who spent 2015 in Nanning and was invited back; Dr. Thomas Tang (Management); and Professor Lara Daniel (Accounting).

• MTSU faculty led a record number 24 MTSU signature programs during the 2015–16 academic year including many new, first-year programs—one in Africa, Dr. Aliou Ly’s History in Senegal, and one in the Middle East, Professor Ayaz Amed’s Concrete Industry Management in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Additional first-year programs include Dr. Priya Ananth’s MTSU in Japan, Dr. Lauren Rudd’s Fashion in Italy, Dr. Sarah Bergemann and Dr. Vincent Cobb’s Tropical Biology in Costa Rica, Dr. Richard Pace’s Archaeological Field School in the Brazilian Amazon, Dr. Mark Doyle’s MTSU in Scotland, Dr. Guangping Zheng and Dr. Kim Sokoya’s International Management in China, Dr. John Bodle’s Advertising, Public Relations and Tourism in Mexico, and Dr. James Chaney and Dr. Steve Morrison’s Cuba in the 21st Century. These were offered in addition to longstanding MTSU signature programs in Argentina, Belize, Canada, Finland. France, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Italy, Mexico Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Strengthening Ties

My personal 2016 travels to China resulted in several important new agreements and exchanges.

As a result of my May 2016 trip:

• Hangzhou Normal University, already partners in the operation of MTSU’s Confucius Institute, agreed to send graduate students to work at MTSU’s new Center for Chinese Music and Culture. HNU faculty members will also regularly visit Murfreesboro to perform in Chinese music ensembles organized by the center. HNU’s Alibaba Business College and MTSU’s Jones College of Business forged an exchange agreement.

• Plans were made for future student exchanges and joint faculty research efforts with Zhejiang University of Science and Technology that would boost international enrollment on the Murfreesboro campus.

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Speaking May 2016 at the 16th International Congress on Ethnopharmacology in Yulin, China.

• MTSU’s research of traditional Chinese herbal remedies in modern medicine took center stage May 16 at an international conference in China where I was among the keynote speakers at the International Congress on Ethnopharmacology in Yulin.

• Guangxi University agreed to send 260 students to study at MTSU, almost doubling the goal set two years ago.

Next, my summer 2016 China trip was the continuation of a unique educational exchange organized by MTSU wherein several Rutherford County schoolchildren, parents, and teachers (28 in all) were welcomed to China for two weeks to visit classrooms, participate in enrichment activities, and go with Chinese families for home visits as part of the reciprocal exchange with Dongcheng Education Group of Hangzhou Normal University. Dongcheng oversees a network of magnet-style schools in Hangzhou. It is the third such trip led by my wife, retired Murfreesboro City Schools teacher Elizabeth McPhee, and me. Rutherford students visited China in 2012 and 2014, and Dongcheng students came to Murfreesboro in 2013 and 2015. During this trip, Elizabeth, aided by teachers in the delegation, conducted a joint class for Chinese and American students, then hosted a workshop for Chinese teachers. While there are many other cultural-exchange programs between nations, I think this program is one of the most unique and one of the most successful in the world.

Graduate Studies Update

MTSU is continuing to evolve into a powerhouse in graduate education and a burgeoning research institution with the promise of significant results now and in the near future.

At the Spring 2016 commencement, in a first-ever special graduation ceremony for graduate students, 349 students were presented with graduate degrees, including 316 master’s candidates, 16 education-specialist degree candidates, and 17 doctoral candidates. Four graduate students also received graduate certificates. Paired with that, we also witnessed an increase in the number of students accepted into graduate programs for spring 2016.

The College of Graduate Studies experienced several
other significant successes in the past year. Here are just
a few examples.

  • Collectively, our doctoral programs graduated a record number in summer 2016 with 35 graduates. Ten of these are our first Ed.D. graduates in Assessment, Learning, and School Improvement.
  • The success of the Ph.D. program in English is evidenced by the fact that 12 recent graduates are all employed in faculty positions.
  • We have a Fulbright Scholar entering the Recording Arts and Technologies M.F.A. program.
  • M.S. in Professional Science programs continue to be considered a national model of how to successfully create and operate such a program (we achieved national recognition and a successful external review in 2016).
  • We are building upon the success of Computer and Information Systems, Computer Science, Computational Science, and the M.S. in professional Science programs in general, working on the creation of a new Data Science concentration for the Professional Science M.S. to fill the growing need for computer and information science skills in the middle Tennessee area.
  • We are experiencing a resurgence in the creation of Education cohorts throughout middle Tennessee (five to nine new cohorts in development).
  • Our Regional Scholars program is already impacting enrollment, with more than 30 new eligible out-of-state students within 250 miles of the MTSU campus enrolled in graduate studies.

True Blue!

Advancement

The University’s advancement efforts continue to bring valuable resources to campus, impacting all areas of the University.

paula-mansfieldkbOn May 1, MTSU welcomed Paula Mansfield as the new director of partnerships and strategic planning.  This newly established position will provide leadership in proactively securing and managing corporate and business relationships for the University, providing a central

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Joe Bales, MTSU Vice President for University Advancement

point of contact and access for key partners.  Initially identified as a long-term institutional need during our Positioning for the Future initiative, the director of partnerships and strategic planning will seek to foster mutually beneficial relationships with the area’s leading employers by enhancing employment and experiential learning opportunities for our students, marketing our research capabilities, and identifying and pursuing workforce educational needs and programs.

 

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Delivering a speech at the conclusion of our $105 million Centennial Campaign earlier this year.

Earlier this year, I was proud to make the announcement that the University had raised more than $105 million in the Centennial Campaign, surpassing the $80 million goal set when the effort was announced in 2012. In fact, the $105,465,308 raised during the campaign, which concluded Dec. 31, 2015, represents the largest fundraising effort in University history. The fact that we met—and exceeded—our goal speaks to the commitment of the campaign’s volunteer leadership, the passion of our alumni, and the vision we set forward for the future of our great University.

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

In all, the $105 million was the result of more than 111,000 separate gifts from 23,276 different donors.

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Campaign co-chair Pam Wright.

 

Construction Update

MTSU continues to be an exciting place to work and study, in large part because of so many renovations and the new buildings underway or opening for use. Here is a brief update on recent and current projects.

Master Plan

The MTSU Master Plan was reviewed and approved on Aug. 11 by the State Building Commission. The plan features proposed new facilities for Behavioral and Health Sciences, Math and Computer Science, Liberal Arts, the School of Music, Engineering Technology and Concrete Industry Management, and new student housing in the future, as well as other MTSU Athletics and support facilities. In addition, new parking decks are planned on the perimeter of campus along with infrastructure improvements to support the growth of the campus.

Academic Building for the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences

On July 14, the State Building Commission approved full planning of the proposed Academic Building for the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences. Funding in the amount of $1.6 million was approved to complete the design and bid-ready documents, and preparations are underway to begin the design work. Construction funding is listed as a priority project on TBR’s capital outlay funding request and is anticipated to move up in priority in
the next state legislative session.

Davis Science and Wiser-Patten Science Renovations

Project completion is planned by late fall for this crucial renovation project, costing approximately $20 million in state money already allocated during the construction of our new $147 million Science Building project. A new connector between the Davis Science Building and Wiser-Patten Science Hall—the Strobel Lobby—will create a central entrance for both buildings and will provide ADA accessibility within both buildings. Occupants of the buildings will include College of Basic and Applied Sciences new academic advising offices, Geosciences, and new Mechatronics Lab in Davis Science, and Physics, Anthropology, and Forensic Science in Wiser-Patten. Wiser-Patten building construction is approximately 95 percent complete, and Davis Science is approximately 85 percent complete. Equipment and furnishings will be installed through the end of the summer and fall, and the new and returning occupants will move in late fall and over the holiday break before the spring 2017 semester.

Capital Maintenance

A five-year project to provide an underground electric distribution system is now installed throughout the campus, and the long-range project is substantially complete. The improved system created an additional electrical feed into the campus, removed overhead lines, and installed the electrical distribution in underground conduit duct banks. With the addition of a second Murfreesboro Electric Department substation, the campus is well prepared for current loads as well as future growth, and the system protects the grid from weather-related problems. Major maintenance projects to replace major steam and condensate lines, upgrades of elevators in Corlew, and replacement of an old chiller giving full chilling capacity for the campus all were completed this summer. New maintenance projects totaling $6.73 million in state capital funding were approved by the State Building Commission for fiscal year 2016–17. These projects include repairs to building exteriors, electrical equipment replacements and upgrades, Saunders Fine Arts HVAC connection to the Central Plant and window replacements, boiler replacements, and energy controls improvements.

Miller Education Center Renovation

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Miller Education Center

The renovation of the Miller Education Center (MEC), formerly the Bell Street Center, opened for the start of last semester. The center is an approximately two-minute drive from the edge of campus, located at the intersection of Greenland Drive, Highland Avenue, and Bell Street. New occupants include the Jennings A. Jones College of Business Center for Executive Education, the University College, the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services, and the Center for Chinese Music and Culture. The Chinese cultural center is the result of a $1 million grant provided by Hanban Confucius Institute in Beijing, an organization sponsored by China’s education ministry that oversees more than 440 institutes in 120 countries. In collaboration with our sister university, Hangzhou, the new center will promote music as a vital element in education and understanding of Chinese people and culture.

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Grand Opening celebration of MTSU Chinese Music & Culture Center inside Miller Education Center

MT Athletics

The Blue Raider basketball team’s stunning upset over Michigan State in the 2016 NCAA Tournament attracted global attention to the University. 

One Shining Moment

Our University received untold attention around the nation during March Madness when the 15th-seeded Blue Raider men’s basketball team scored its stunning upset, 90-81, over No. 2 seed Michigan State in a NCAA Tournament bracket-buster. The resulting media and social media spotlight on MTSU and our community was priceless.

Blue Raiders MT Athletics

It seemed like almost everyone, everywhere, was True Blue, if only for a few moments.
Social reach tracked by MTSU’s Division of Marketing and Communications hit an all-time high of 167,025,273 people during March 18–21.

#MTSU was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter leading up to the final seconds of the win over the Spartans.

There were 60,000-plus mentions about MTSU in three days, 300 percent more than the University’s monthly average of 15,000 mentions.

MTSU’s win was tweeted by such notable influencers as Magic Johnson (2.9M reach); ESPN (25.7M);
Wall Street Journal (10.3M); Sports Illustrated (1.4M); MLB pitcher and Murfreesboro native David Price (1.3M); Getty Images Sport (978K); Dick Vitale (822K); Yahoo! Sports (381K); and the Denver Broncos (294K).

MTSU’s brand reach on social media extended worldwide as a result of the game to areas where it doesn’t usually register, like Liechtenstein, Kenya, Norway, Andorra, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Vitale, the iconic ESPN basketball analyst who had picked Michigan State to win it all, called it “one of the all-time shockers.” The game also was deemed the biggest upset in tournament history by the likes of Sports Illustrated and USA Today.

The Spartans were favored by oddsmakers to win the national title, and MTSU was a 16- to 17-point underdog going into the game. Seven other No. 15 teams had registered wins over No. 2 seeds, but none beat a No. 2 that was so highly regarded. All five Middle Tennessee starters scored in double figures: Reggie Upshaw (21 points), Giddy Potts (19), Darnell Harris (15), Perrin Buford (15) and Jaqawn Raymond (11).

In interviews beamed around the world in the afterglow of the upset, Coach Kermit Davis became an instant media superstar and talked about the importance that the win had in bolstering MTSU’s brand. He anticipated that a lingering benefit of the victory would be increased visibility of the University not just on athletics, but also academics.

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Coach Kermit Davis cuts the nets at C-USA Championship

This group of student-athletes also put MTSU on an exclusive list of only seven programs to win an NCAA Tournament game AND boast an NCAA graduation rate of 100 percent. Additionally, the Blue Raiders have the most wins (123) of any Division I school in the state of Tennessee the past five years and have captured five conference titles in the past seven seasons.

Coach Davis likened athletics to being “the front porch of the University” and expressed hopes that the student-athlete success on the court “puts a brighter bulb over the door and shines some attention on our faculty, our academic programs, and our students.”

The University’s marketing team produced new TV commercials, secured air time during the NCAA second round across Tennessee, and upped advertising on social media and electronic billboards as part of MTSU’s Take a Closer Look campaign. The latter encourages students

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Coach Rick Insell cuts nets at women’s C-USA Championship

and parents to dig deeper into the University’s many academic attributes.

 

One of MTSU’s newly added catch phrases became: “Our team may have busted your tournament bracket. But that’s not the first time Middle Tennessee State University exceeded expectations.”

Coach Davis said he enjoys helping spread the True Blue message, including to students or parents who may not have ever considered MTSU. And I’m happy to say he recently signed an eight-year contract extension through 2023–24.

It’s impossible to put a price tag on the extensive exposure on varied platforms that the historic NCAA victory brought to the University.

Blue Raider Duo Makes Olympics

rio-2016-logotransFormer Middle Tennessee standout John Ampomah and current Blue Raider runner Janet Amponsah qualified for the Olympic games in Rio for their native Ghana after hitting the IAAf qualifying standards at the Soga-Nana Memorial meet. Ampomah, who finished third at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the javelin and second at the Senior African Championships, broke his own national record with a throw of 83.09 meters (272-7) at Cape Coast Stadium. Amponsah, who is labeled the Ghanaian sprint queen, qualified in the 200 meters after running a personal-best 22.99 seconds. Amponsah was also the anchor leg in Ghana’s 4x100-meter relay, which qualified for Rio in a national-record 42.67 seconds.

Men’s Track Finishes 18th in Nation

The Middle Tennessee men’s outdoor track team capped off an exciting season by finishing 18th nationally. The Blue Raiders’ 18th-place finish was the second-highest outdoor finish in program history behind the 2003 squad’s 17th-place finish.

Other Highlights

  • During the Spring 2016 semester,
    12 of 15 teams had a semester team grade point average of 3.0 or higher; 90 student-athletes made the Dean’s List (3.5+ GPA), and 30 had a perfect 4.0. Overall, 174 of 304 student-athletes had a 3.0 or higher (57%).
  • Outfielder Blake Benefield, named to the Louisville Slugger All-American Baseball team, became just the fifth freshman All-American in program history and 16th player overall.
  • Former Blue Raider golfer Kent Bulle (2006–10), who plays on the Web.com Tour, saw a dream come true as he qualified for the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont. He is only the second Blue Raider to ever play in the U.S. Open.
  • For the second consecutive year, Middle Tennessee men’s tennis has notched the No. 25 recruiting class in the country, according to tennisrecruiting.net.
  • Max Rauch, Tom Moonen and Nicolas Buitrago all join the team this fall.
  • Eliud Rutto was named Conference USA Male Track Athlete of the Year, and fellow junior Elizabeth Dadzie was voted C-USA Field Athlete of
    the Year by conference coaches.
  • The MTSU women’s golf team won its second straight Conference USA tournament, and Chris Adams was tabbed the C-USA Coach of the Year.
  • Pitcher Kelci Cheney, an Exercise Science major with a 3.74 GPA, was named to the 2016 Conference USA Softball All-Academic Team in May.
  • The baseball team (3.329 GPA) and men’s tennis team (3.385) each repeated as C-USA Sport Academic Award winners for 2015–16 year.
  • The Tennessee Sports Writers Association voted MTSU guard
  • Brea Edwards their women’s basketball Player of the Year.
  • Blue Raider soccer standout Kelsey Brouwer was MTSU’s nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year award.
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