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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.

Sincerely,

Sidney A. McPhee

President

MTSU Board of Trustees Actions on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 RE Salary increases

Dear Campus Community:

I am pleased to inform you that on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, the Middle Tennessee State University Board of Trustees held its quarterly meeting in the Miller Education Center.  At that meeting, the Board took formal action on my recommendation to approve a 1.5% across-the-board (ATB) salary increase or $500, whichever is greater, for MTSU employees.  The salary increase will be distributed to all unrestricted and restricted regular full-time and part-time benefit eligible employees and participants in the post-retirement service program on the payroll as of June 30, 2018.  Each eligible employee will receive an increase equal to 1.5% of their current salary or $500, whichever is greater.  The minimum payment will be prorated for part-time employees.   Increases for grant employees are part of the salary adjustments and their increases will be charged to the appropriate grant; and increases for auxiliary employees will be funded from auxiliary revenues.  For administrative and clerical staff, all increases will be effective July 1, 2018 and will be reflected in the July 31, 2018 payroll.  Faculty increases will be effective August 1, 2018 and will be reflected in the August 31, 2018 payroll.  Unfortunately, due to limited funds available, these increases will not apply to adjunct faculty, temporary employees, graduate assistants, or student workers.  It is my sincere hope that as resources become available we will be in a position to address these very important groups of employees.

As I have stated on several occasions, addressing the low salaries of our employees is my number one priority.  Upon my recommendation to the Board,  the Trustees approved the use of the remaining funds from the state-mandated salary pool, along with an additional $2 million, for partially implementing the University’s compensation plan.  This will put $3.7 million into addressing the gap between actual employee salaries and market salaries as reported by CUPA.  A plan to implement these market adjustments is currently being developed and will spread across all classes of employees.  These adjustments will apply to employees on the payroll as of June 30, 2018, be effective October 1, 2018 and reflected in the October 31, 2018 payroll.  This action is a major, and only the first, step to addressing this long standing priority for the University.

Other enhancements to employee compensation included approval of the recommendations to change the compensation plan guidelines.  Effective July 1, 2018, Human Resource Services will have the authority to recommend a 6% salary increase, or the minimum of the new pay range, for an employee whose position has been reclassified to a higher pay grade.  For employees whose positions are reclassified more than one pay range, the recommended increase in their salary will be 9%.  In addition, HR will have the authority to award the greater of 6% of the current salary or a salary based on relevant experience, up to the midpoint, for current employees who are selected for another position on campus.

In other business, Trustees approved the University’s final 2017-18 and upcoming 2018-19 operating budgets as well as increasing tuition and mandatory fees for the 2018-19 academic year by 2.88 percent.

Please know how much I value each of you and appreciate your good work.  I am grateful that we are able again to give some salary increases to our employees.

Sincerely,

Sidney A. McPhee

President

Update on Forrest Hall

Earlier this spring, the Tennessee Historical Commission denied our petition to rename Forrest Hall.  During a conference call with the Tennessee Attorney General, he explained that a conflict of interest could exist if that office represented two state entities on opposing sides of a lawsuit.  Therefore, if we were to appeal, we would be required to hire outside legal counsel at our expense.  After extended deliberation with key stakeholders, I have decided not to appeal that decision.

I continue to believe that renaming Forrest Hall is the right thing to do.  However, the cost of an appeal would be significant and there is a real possibility that we would not be successful.   Given these circumstances, I believe the money we would pay to retain outside counsel should instead be used toward our mission of supporting student success resulting in degree completion.  Despite the fact that the name Forrest Hall will remain, our efforts to ensure that MTSU remains an inclusive place where all students and staff feel welcome will continue unabated.

Response to Messages of Hate

To the University community,

Nov. 6, 2017 students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters across campus joined hands to form a human chain‚ to promote unity and solidarity.

We are aware, and are closely monitoring, the posting of unauthorized materials on our campus by Vanguard America, a white supremacist group. Some of these posts have been done specifically to deface materials related to our campus celebration of Black History Month; others have been anti-Semitic. Media reports indicate that several universities across the nation, including some in Tennessee, have discovered similar materials on their campuses.

Members of this group, and other similar groups, are targeting college campuses in the hopes that their hateful messages will bring attention and notoriety to their causes. As such, my note to you today shall be brief and to the point.

There is no place here for hateful rhetoric, displays or actions that demean any member of the MTSU family. While we will respect the right of free speech when exercised within the policies of the University, we will also continue to take all appropriate action to make our campus as safe and inclusive as possible.

We strongly condemn the views of white supremacists and other hate groups. We will maintain our focus on the enrichment that comes to our campus through the wide range of diversity represented by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and we will refuse to give to hate groups the attention that they seek.

The values of our True Blue Pledge commit us to reason, not violence; to both listening and speaking; and to our membership in this diverse community. I am proud that our community celebrates and supports the differences among us, as we also seek to build upon our commonalities.

Sincerely,

Sidney A. McPhee

President

Capital Projects Update

Here is a brief update on recent, current, and possible future construction projects on our campus.

Proposed New Buildings

MTSU has two new capital outlay projects proposed for funding in 2018–19. No. 1 on THEC’s capital project list is the new Academic Classroom Building (for the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences), which has a total project cost of $39.6 million. No. 7 on the list is a new Applied Engineering Building (for the Department of Engineering Technology), with a $54 million project cost. In order for us to receive funding for both buildings, the governor’s budget must include at least $246.1 million for capital projects.

MTSU College of Behavioral and Health Sciences Academic Building RenderingNew Academic Building for College of Behavioral and Health Sciences

  • Construction will move forward if approved as part of the Tennessee state budget.
  • The building will provide consol- idated functional areas to the Criminal Justice, Psychology, and Social Work departments, which offer highly related, integrative programs now located in multi- ple buildings across the campus. It will provide critically needed classrooms, of ces, and labs.
  • Estimated completion date is Fall 2020.

Applied Engineering Building

  • Project programming is complete.
  • The building will house a new center for applied engineering programs located within the Science Corridor of Innovation. It will consolidate the undergraduate and graduate programs of Engineering Technology and Mechatronics Engineering into the Department of Engineering Technology.
  • The proposed location is the southern end of the East Quad. This location will group the proposed Applied Engineering Building near the new Science building to create an academic neighborhood focused on STEM and STEM disciplines.

The commission also voted to recommend $8.2 million in capital maintenance funds for MTSU projects, which include Keathley University Center, Miller Education Center, and Maintenance Complex roof replacements; mechanical and electrical updates for data and communication centers; elevator modernization phase II; and several infrastructure projects.

Peck Hall Courtyard and Stairwell Renovation

Peck Hall will undergo renovations to the courtyard, stairwells, and corridors as the budget allows.
The estimated construction date is this summer.

Middle Tennessee Boulevard Widening

Construction continues to progress on schedule and includes:

  • Improved traffic flow and pedestrian safety
  • Landscaped medians
  • Dedicated turn lanes
  • Improved pedestrian walks
  • Bike lanes, lighting, underground utilities, and signalized crossings at Lytle and Division
  • Pedestrian and vehicular improvements, now underway at the Faulkinberry intersection and the new drop-off drive at Murphy Center
  • Scheduled completion for end of 2018

MTSU Parking Services Facility RenderingParking and Transportation

Upcoming parking and transportation improvements include new and improved pedestrian walkways in the core of campus, additional parking lots, and better lighting around campus.

  • Construction beginning this summer
  • New lighting in the Greenland Drive parking lot
  • New sidewalks along Alumni Drive
  • Improved pedestrian area north of the Learning Resource Center
  • Improved ADA walkway to the Livestock Lot
  • Wider sidewalks along Founders Lane

Parking Services Facility

A new parking services facility is in the schematic design stage at this time. It will include:

  • New parking of ces and bus maintenance garage
  • Around 14,000 total square footage
  • Located on City View Drive between Alumni and Main
  • Construction probably starting this August, with completion date of summer 2019

QEP Update

MT Engage, the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan for 2016–21, has reached several milestones midway through its second year.

  • Our first annual MT Engage Sophomore Scholarship competition begins this semester, opening up Jan. 15. Qualifying sophomores who have taken at least two MT Engage courses will submit ePortfolio presentations in which they document and reflect on connections across their academic and cocurricular experiences. Up to 15 students will be selected for scholarships valued at $6,000 (based on cost of attendance), and all qualifying applicants will earn priority registration.
  • More than 3,500 students successfully completed MT Engage-designated courses in Fall 2017, representing 187 sections of 64 courses taught by 98 faculty—double the benchmarks specified for the full 2017–18 academic year in the MT Engage plan. MT Engage faculty will teach a similar number of course sections in Spring 2018 as well.
  • The MT Engage leadership team and assistant director wowed their audience at the 2017 Quality Enhancement and Accreditation Institute of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Dianna Rust, Michelle Boyer-Pennington, Lara Daniel, Lexy Denton, and Jason Vance shared their insights from the development of the MT Engage QEP in their presentation, “Engaging Your Campus with a New Quality Enhancement Plan.”

Budget and Salary Update

For the Fall 2017 semester, I was encouraged to see we had a 3.87 percent increase in new freshmen, 4.99 percent rise in new transfers, 7.82 percent growth in new graduate students, and an uptick of 4.54 percent in new students overall.

Our total enrollment was relatively at compared to the previous year, which re ected our hard work to hold steady in the third 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.

We received an increase of $3.5 million in state appropriations, which is based on outcomes formula adjustments and new funds for higher education. That new money, coupled with about $3.9 million resulting from tuition increases, helped offset the $1.5 million reduction that came as a result of our 1.11 percent decrease in full-time equivalency. These new funds were allocated to pay for:

•A mandated 3% salary pool increase

•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 2018–19 fiscal year, MTSU’s share of the THEC outcomes formula adjustment will be a decrease of $706,000. However, THEC voted at its November meeting to propose new state funding totaling $55 million for the higher education formula institutions. If approved, MTSU’s share of the proposed new funding would be $5.2 million. Thus, MTSU’s state funding could actually increase by $4.5 million.

THEC’s recommendations have been submitted to the Department of Finance and Administration for consideration in the proposed state budget that Gov. Bill Haslam will be submitting to the state legislature in the coming weeks. At that point, we will have more information regarding our likely 2018–19 state appropriations.

Student Life Update

Hands Across MTSU event featuring students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters across campus joining hands to form a human chain to promote unity and solidarity.

The formula for student success involves more than just ensuring students make it to class, fulfill course obligations, and get consistent and proper academic advising on their journey toward a degree. After all, college life is more than just books and classrooms.

Connection Point

The Connection Point program continues to be an effective initiative to engage our first-semester freshman students with exciting out-of-classroom involvement activities. Fall 2017 marked the beginning of the program’s fth year! More than 80 percent of our first-semester freshmen participated in the program during Fall 2017, which reflects an attendance increase. Large numbers of upper-class students also attended many of the events.

A new addition to the slate of programs included Freedom Sings, featuring musical artists performing popular songs that at different points in history were banned or censored due to controversial social or political issues during the time of their release.

Connection Point Spring 2018 will include motivational speakers, free movies, sporting events, a free concert for students, and much more! Visit www.mtsu.edu/connection for a complete list of events.

Other Activities

Student Organization Fair: This event will provide students with an opportunity to meet members from many of our 250-plus student organizations and learn how to get involved with one or more of these groups. The fair will be held Wednesday, Jan. 24 at 2:00–5:00 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.

Women’s History Month: Celebrated throughout March, the month of activities always includes a well-known keynote speaker who inspires audience members to support worthwhile causes. An events calendar will be available by mid-February at mtsu.edu/jac.

MT After Dark: Come out and enjoy FREE first-run movies at this annual event, which takes place at the Premier 6 movie theater in Murfreesboro on Thursday, March 22. Doors open at 11:00 p.m., and movies start at midnight.

Hands Across MTSU

Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and alumni joined hands and formed a human chain across the campus of MTSU on Nov. 6 in a strong show of unity and as a demonstration of solidarity across a diverse campus.

Participants linked hands for about 15 minutes in between classes. The event was one of several programs and activities on campus recently as an outgrowth of a meeting between President Sidney A. McPhee and the MTSU Intercultural and Diversity Affairs Advisory Board.

The event mirrored the 1986 Hands Across America event where Americans embraced each other in a human chain to show their support in the ght against hunger and homelessness.

Hands Across MTSU celebrated the University’s strength through its diversity.

Preparations for Saturday’s downtown protest rallies

Update Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017

To the University community,

We have received word from the City of Murfreesboro that the organizers of the protest planned for the downtown square this afternoon decided to cancel. As of 4:15 p.m., the remaining protesters and counter-protesters assembled were leaving the square. Fortunately, no related activities occurred on our campus.

We will continue to monitor the campus closely. However, assuming all remains well, this note will be the last I will send on this matter until next week. We owe our thanks for the proactive work done by our city and county leadership, campus officials, and law enforcement, which I feel made a difference in the outcome of today’s events.

Sincerely,

Sidney A. McPhee

President

 


 

Update Friday, Oct. 27, 2017

To the University community,

A quick update: It’s just before 10 p.m. Friday and it is quiet on the beautiful campus of Middle Tennessee State University. There were no protests.

My thanks to the dedicated officers of the MTSU Police Department, who provided safety and security for our students, faculty and staff. My deepest appreciation for the assistance from the fine officers of Austin Peay State University, Tennessee Tech University,  and Tennessee State University; the Murfreesboro, LaVergne and Cookeville police departments; and deputies from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office.

The largest gathering on campus tonight was at the Student Union Building for the Fall Festival, sponsored by our Student Programming and Raider Entertainment. I had an opportunity not only to chat with our students, but also enjoy music from student performers, visit the craft and game tables, and walk through the haunted house.

My thanks to all for showing the world what it means to remain True Blue.

Sincerely,

Sidney A. McPhee

President

 


 

Update Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017

To the University community,

The City of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County issued a statement that says both protesters and counter protesters, as groups and individuals, are expected to assemble on the downtown Murfreesboro square between 1:30 p.m to 4 p.m. Saturday. You can read the full statement by clicking here. ​​MTSU has not received verified reports of any related activities set for campus on either Friday or Saturday. Nevertheless, we are aware, and are closely monitoring, social media comments and posts that have referenced our campus. As such, we want to put forward information that states clearly our expectations of conduct and behavior:

— The MTSU Police Department, and all law enforcement agencies acting in concert with our officers on our campus, will take immediate law enforcement action at the slightest indication of disruption or violence. We will do so to uphold the rights of citizens and ensure their safety.

— Any student, visitor or guest found to be in violation of laws related to weapons, or MTSU’s policy on weapons,which you can read by clicking here, may be subject to immediate law enforcement action.

— Any student, visitors or guest found to be in violation of MTSU’s safety policy on open flames, which you can read by clicking here, may be subject to immediate law enforcement action. The policy prohibits the unauthorized possession, ignition, or detonation of any object or article that would cause damage by fire or other means to persons or property.

— Any student, visitor or guest found to be in violation of Tennessee state law against civil rights intimidation, under statute 39-17-309, which you can read by clicking here, may be subject to immediate law enforcement action. The law defines as civil rights intimidation when anyone injures, threatens to injure, or coerce another with the intent to unlawfully intimidate another from the exercise of their constitutionalrights. The statute also includes any action to damage, destroy or deface any real or personal property.

The University remains open Friday. However, we are closing all parking on Military Memorial (behind McCallie Dining Hall and Forrest Hall) and in the Jones parking lot after 4:30 p.m. today. No one will be able to park in these locations Friday and any vehicles there after 2:30 p.m. Friday will be towed. In the interest of reducing tension and avoiding conflicts, the City and County are strongly encouraging community members to avoid the downtown square on Saturday. I concur with this recommendation.

You can read my previous notes about this weekend by clicking here. The groups initiating Saturday’s rally do not reflect the values of our University and we are heartsick that so many of our plans and activities set on campus have been disrupted out of an abundance of caution. Nevertheless, we share the commitment by our partners and friends in the City and the County governments both to the Constitution and to ensuring the safety of our community.

I urge us all to remain True Blue.

Sincerely,

Sidney A. McPhee

President

 


 

Update Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017

To the University community,

I wanted to provide you with an update regarding Saturday’s planned protest rally in Murfreesboro. In consultation with law enforcement officials, the University has decided to cancel Saturday’s Contest of Champions band competition and postpone the Expanding Your Horizons science event due to the protests scheduled or planned for the downtown area. We decided it was wise to reduce traffic to the surrounding area Saturday and these decisions will allow our police and other security personnel to be available elsewhere on campus if needed.

The MTSU Police Department and our partners from city, county and state law enforcement have not received any verified information regarding any potential activities on campus related to the protests. However, as the downtown rally approaches, we are monitoring a variety of sources, including from social media, about potential concerns before, during and after Saturday and we are ready to respond if situations warrant. Meanwhile, we are also reaching out to sponsors of on-campus activities on Friday and Saturday to ensure they are aware of the situation.

As I said in my earlier note, please do not hesitate to call 615-898-2424 (Ext. 2424 for on campus phones) if you need assistance or see anything that causes concern for your safety — or 911 in emergencies. Also, if you’re not already receiving text alerts and/or voice alerts from our MTSU Alert4U and Emergency Response system, please consider signing up for the service by visiting http://www.getrave.com/login/mtsu. You can log in with your Pipeline credentials to change or update your notification preferences. MTSU residence halls and apartments will lock at 5 p.m. Friday and will remain locked until 8 a.m. Monday. Residents should plan to carry their keys and IDs.

Again, we all must remember what it means to be True Blue and conduct ourselves accordingly.

Sincerely,

Sidney A. McPhee

President


Update Monday, Oct. 23, 2017

To the University community,

As we approach Saturday (Oct. 28), the day when outside groups plan to hold protest rallies in the region and our city, I want to assure our students, faculty, staff and alumni that the MTSU Police Department and our partners in law enforcement agencies in the city, county and state are prepared and will continue to keep our campus safe. While we are not aware of any plans for associated activities on our campus, we remain vigilant.

Local authorities have advised downtown merchants to close Saturday and the morning Farmers Market on the square has been cancelled as result of the planned rallies. Officials are strongly advising citizens to avoid the downtown area on that day. It is also anticipated that regular traffic routes will be disrupted as well. Students seeking services from that area should consider going before or after Saturday in order to avoid delays or difficulties.

Please do not hesitate to call 615-898-2424 (Ext. 2424 for on campus phones) if you need assistance or see anything that causes concern for your safety – or call 911 in emergencies. Also, if you’re not already receiving text alerts and/or voice alerts from our MTSU Alert4U and Emergency Response system, please consider signing up for the service by visiting http://www.getrave.com/login/mtsu. You can log in with your Pipeline credentials to change or update your notification preferences. MTSU residence halls and apartments will lock as usual on Friday night and will remain locked until Monday morning. Residents should plan to carry their keys and IDs.

While we detest actions and behaviors that are contrary to our True Blue values (you can read about our values here), we also respect the First Amendment, which allows the freedom to express all views – even those that may be repugnant to what many of us hold dear.

I do ask that each of us remember what it means to be True Blue and conduct ourselves accordingly.

Sincerely,

Sidney A. McPhee

President

Ripple Effect

Murat Arik, director, Business and Economic Research Center, and assistant professor

You work for a university that is growing in prominence and impact. Witness the recent study by MTSU’s Business and Economic Research Center (BERC), a center housed in MTSU’s Jones College of Business, on MTSU’s economic impact on the region.

According to BERC’s report:

• 90 percent of MTSU students are from Tennessee, and 78 percent of MTSU alumni live in Tennessee. This means that we are more than fulfilling our mission to educate Tennesseans and, even better, most of those we educate stay in Tennessee. That means a better educated, more capable workforce for our state. And in the area of skilled workforce development, MTSU graduates account for one in every two adults with a higher-education degree (bachelor’s and above) in Rutherford County.

•MTSU is responsible for about 8,400 jobs across the state, which generate $1.12 billion in revenues and over $408 million in wages and salaries.

•The University is Murfreesboro’s second- largest employer, resulting in $88 million of local, state, and federal tax revenue.

•MTSU is responsible for more than $300 million in student spending, along with more than 1,800 jobs tied to student spending.

•MTSU is the overwhelming education choice of Rutherford County and the Nashville MSA.

•MTSU is a source of diverse cultural, academic, business, community, educational, and sports events and activities. That not only contributes to the quality of life of our citizens, but also brings dollars to these areas.

•The study shows MTSU brings nearly 500,000 people to Rutherford County each year. Spending by visitors accounts for more than $56 million, and that translates to almost 830 jobs.

•One of every five adults in the Nashville metro area with a higher education degree (bachelor’s and above) graduated from MTSU. In other words, we’re not just keeping students from Rutherford; we’re keeping many of those college- educated students who hail from other parts of Tennessee. That means our entire area benefits from this continuous flow of graduates.

There is no question that MTSU is unrivaled in what we bring to the table for our city, county, and region. Much of who we are now, and what we want to become in the future, depends upon the continued health and prosperity of your University. I hope each and every one of you appreciates the vast and significant economic impact that our student population brings to the local economy.

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