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


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.


Sidney A. McPhee


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.


Sidney A. McPhee


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.

Secured By miniOrange