Friday, August 01, 2008


CONTACT: Claudette Northcutt, School of Music, 615-898-5924

Tickets Now Available for 3rd Annual Fundraising Dinner/Dance Event

(MURFREESBORO)—The third annual “Evening of Swing” gala, a dinner/dance event, will get under way beginning at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1, in the James Union Building’s Tennessee Room, announced MTSU’s Friends of Music committee members.
The evening’s entertainment will feature the big-band music of the 1930s and ‘40s, as performed by MTSU’s two jazz ensembles, with MTSU music faculty members Don Aliquo and Jamey Simmons directing. “The Friends’ first two inaugural galas in 2005 and 2006 were so successful, drawing a full house of over 300, with great big-band music and lots of dancing, that our committee decided that it was time to celebrate again,” said George T. Riordan, director, MTSU School of Music. “The Tennessee Room is a great place for dancing and enjoying the music and the evening,” he added. “People were very impressed with the authentic and danceable swing provided by our students in the MTSU jazz ensembles … (so) this is a wonderful forum to introduce the high quality of our musicians to people who haven’t yet enjoyed concerts at the School of Music.” Riordan said Friends of Music was designed to encourage community members to take advantage of the 200 concerts presented annually at MTSU and to enable the school to better provide services and opportunities to music students, as well as provide guidance to the school by providing a community perspective. “We have an active and dynamic leadership committee who are really excited about this event, the school and our students,” he remarked. MTSU’s Friends of Music organizing committee members include Liz Rhea, Shirley LaRoche, Jane Blakey, Martha Curl, Bobbie and John Duke, Brenda McFarlin, Margie Spangler, Veronica Milnar, Linda Palmer, Robbie Hooper and Ernestine Thomas. Representing MTSU on the committee are Riordan, Aliquo, Connie Huddleston, Robyn Kilpatrick, Deanna Hahn, Andrea Dawson and Claudette Northcutt. “Our committee did a great job at putting together our first two events and the evenings were truly memorable. So many people took part in the dancing that we’re put together what could well be the largest dance floor in the area,” Riordan said. “In the past we filled all of our tables, and we’re well on track to selling out 2008.”
Also, he continued, “To help people polish their moves (as well as to learn the basics), a free group swing-dance lesson session will be offered on Thursday, Oct. 30.”
•TICKETS: Individual tickets for “Evening of Swing,” which includes dinner and a gala evening of music and dancing, are $75 per person ($35 is tax-deductible). Tables seating 10 are available for $750 ($350 is tax-deductible) and patron and major sponsor tables are available for $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000. For more information on “Evening of Swing” or the Friends of Music, including ticket inquiries, please contact Claudette Northcutt at 615-898-5924.


ATTENTION, MEDIA—To request Evening of Swing jpegs or an interview with Riordan, please e-mail Lisa L. Rollins in the Office of News and Public Affairs at


Release date: Aug. 1, 2008

News & Public Affairs contact: Randy Weiler, 615-898-2919


(MURFREESBORO) — Cancer survivor Gayle Jones has taken the road more frequently traveled to reach her next destination – graduating from MTSU Saturday, Aug. 9, in Murphy Center with 831 other degree candidates.
A nontraditional student, Jones, 50, is a Hendersonville resident who has majored in liberal studies with a concentration in business and communication (3.67 GPA at MTSU since enrolling here full time in the summer of 2007 and 4.0 in her last 21 hours).
“I thought about quitting, but I kept chugging along,” Jones said.
“I’m the first person in my family ever to graduate college,” said Jones, whose son, Jordan, 22, is a junior business administration major at MTSU. “During the Christmas 2006 holidays, he questioned me. He challenged me to go to college. I felt hypocritical. I thought, ‘How can I have high expectations for my kids when I never had any for myself.’”
Mother and son even talked about graduating together, but Jordan switched from music business to his current major. “I will graduate with some of Jordan’s Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers,” she said.
En route to graduating from MTSU, Jones’ stops have included the University of Texas (“where I majored in partying”) in 1976-77, San Jacinto (Texas) College (associate’s degree), Volunteer State Community College (12 hours in spring 2007) and MTSU.
Her detours have included 25 years in the human resources field (many as an HR director and, more recently, as a consultant) and thyroid cancer and radiation treatments in the middle of her fall 2007 semester at MTSU.
“The very same week I started fall classes at MTSU is when I started having (health) problems,” she said. “I went to the doctor. He said it was a thyroid problem, but he did not know if it was malignant because the tests were inconclusive. I had surgery Oct. 9 – in the middle of fall break and midterms. They tested it, and it was malignant so they removed the entire thyroid.”
Doctors recently told Jones that she is cancer free.
“I got the green light two weeks ago (mid-July),” she said. “This has been a great summer for me. I will get my degree and I am cancer free.”
Added blessings for the summer terms came separately from friends Johnny and Patsy Shook of Lamesa, Texas, and an MTSU benefactor, she said.
“Johnny called,” she said. “He wanted to know how school was going. I was evasive. With not having had a job since November, I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for these classes. Several weeks later, I received a card from Johnny and Patsy. There was a check inside the card. In the subject line, it said, ‘Investment.’ I called to thank them, and Johnny said, ‘I felt like I wanted to make an investment in you.’”
Then, Jones’ MTSU financial aid adviser, Suzanne Beller, an assistant director, helped further by finding her an additional $2,500 in a low-interest loan from the Stark Loan from the MTSU Foundation.
“It all fell into place,” Jones said. “Almost to the penny, it’s like the $3,500 I needed for books and fees dropped out of the sky.”
Jones’ nearly 80-year-old mother, LaVerne Greer of Magnolia, Texas, plans to attend her daughter’s graduation.
Also attending will be her husband Kyle and daughter Lauren, the Shooks and girls from the 11th grade Sunday school class Jones teaches at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville.
Jordan Jones and other family members hope to watch via streaming video ( His summer job as merchandise manager for country group Lonestar takes him to Bethlehem, Pa., Aug. 9.
Later in August, Gayle Jones will resume her academic career, pursuing a master’s in profession studies/organizational leadership. Her goal is “to have the ability to teach at the community college level.”

For MTSU news and information, go to


To interview or obtain/take a photo of Gayle Jones, call her at 615-495-5442.


EDITORIAL CONTACT: Gina Logue, 615-898-5081; WMOT-FM, 615-898-2800

Dr. Derek Frisby Talks Zbout Upcoming Historic Trip on “MTSU on the Record”

(MURFREESBORO) – Dr. Derek Frisby, who is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, will accompany students on an exploration of the Central Pacific World War II battlefields of Guam, Iwo Jima and Pelelieu in the spring 2009 semester.
This MTSU study abroad course not only will give students a chance to earn college credit. While in the Pacific region, students will film portions of a documentary honoring MTSU veterans. Additionally, Frisby and his group will honor those Tennesseans who fought in the three engagements under study, including the three known MTSU fatalities.
Frisby will talk in detail about this extraordinary opportunity on “MTSU On the Record,” a 30-minute public affairs program hosted by Gina Logue, at 7 a.m. this Sunday, Aug. 3, on WMOT-FM (89.5 or Contact Frisby at 615-494-8620 or
For more information about “MTSU on the Record,” contact Gina Logue in the Office of News and Public Affairs at 615-898-5081 or or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.


[031]Robert E. Musto Insurance Hall of Fame

The Robert E. Musto Insurance Hall of Fame at MTSU recently held its annual induction ceremony at the Franklin Marriott at Cool Springs to honor four professionals who have made outstanding contributions to Tennessee’s insurance industry. They are, left to right, Ronald L. Corbin, field vice president of the Southern Region for Allstate Insurance Company in Nashville; Chester A. Butler III, from Brentwood, who founded his own agency, The Butler Company, in 1983; Scott Maclellan, grandson of honoree Thomas Maclellan (deceased), who was born in Scotland in 1837 and founded the Unum Group, which is the world’s largest disability insurer (Maclellan is an industry legend in the Chattanooga area.); and Andy Womack, State Farm Insurance Agent in Murfreesboro, who also served as a senator in the Tennessee General Assembly from 1988 to 2000. In 1997, Robert L. Musto, son of Robert E. Musto, presented a $10,000 gift to MTSU's Martin Chair of Insurance in honor of his father, which provided the foundation for the hall of fame. The late Robert E. Musto served as vice president of the former National Life and Accident Insurance Company. Robert L. Musto of Nashville is regional sales manager of the company his father helped build. To date there are 38 members of the Robert E. Musto Insurance Hall of Fame, which is under the auspices of the Tommy T. Martin Chair of Insurance in MTSU’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business. Dr. Kenneth W. Hollman is chair holder.



July 30, 2008

CONTACT: Tom Tozer, 615-898-2919

MURFREESBORO—Rep. John Hood will soon leave the halls of the Tennessee General Assembly after serving six terms as state representative from the 48th District, but he will continue to serve the state of Tennessee out of the Office of Community Engagement and Support at Middle Tennessee State University.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee established the office to support the university’s overall mission as it relates to addressing the ever-growing needs of both MTSU and the surrounding community at large. The president appointed Dr. Gloria Bonner to take the reins of leadership.
“Rep. John Hood is a good friend of Middle Tennessee State University, and I welcome his expertise and energy to the Community Engagement and Support office,” McPhee stated. “Any endeavor that John is involved in will be enhanced and enriched by his knowledge and skills, and we are extremely fortunate that he will continue to be a valuable resource for a university that he loves and has served for so many years.”
“I am very excited about coming back to MTSU to work on behalf of my alma mater,” Hood said, who will report to his new job Aug. 1. “When Dr. McPhee called to share his idea for setting up the Office of Community Engagement and Support and asked if I would be interested in a part-time position, I had no hesitation in saying yes. During my 12 years in the Legislature, I have worked in support of MTSU, and this will give me another opportunity to represent the university with the community and local governments.”
Hood (B.S. 1954, M.Ed. 1974) worked at MTSU for 10 years, from 1966 to 1976, in development and later as administrative assistant to President Melvin G. Scarlett. In the Tennessee Legislature, he served as a member of the Finance, Ways & Means Committee, Education Committee, Higher Education Subcommittee and as vice chair of the Calendar & Rules Committee. Hood helped to facilitate the Regents Posters-at-the-Capitol program, which showcases undergraduate research at Tennessee universities. He also worked with several organizations to create an awareness of issues involving child abuse.
The 2004 “Click it or Ticket” safety-belt campaign, of which Hood was the primary sponsor, reduced the state’s automobile deaths by 10 percent, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety. He also championed Jessica’s Law, which mandates a 25-year minimum sentence for the rape of a child.
Hood retired from SunTrust Bank as vice president of marketing in 1996. He has worked as radio broadcaster, personnel manager and is a veteran of the United States Army, 1954-1956. He formerly served as member and chairman of the Murfreesboro City School Board, president of the Tennessee School Boards Association, president of the Murfreesboro/Rutherford County Cultural Arts Commission and president of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce.
Currently, Hood serves as treasurer and board member of the Rutherford County Emergency Communications District (E-911). He also is a member of the board of directors for AAA AutoClub South and serves as chairman of the organization’s advisory board.
Hood and his wife, Marilyn (Stockard), reside in Murfreesboro and have three children and four grandchildren.




CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947


Brabson Ferry Plantation Becomes County’s Newest and 12th Century Farm

(MURFREESBORO)—The Brabson Ferry Plantation in Sevier County has been designated as a Tennessee Century Farm, reported Caneta S. Hankins, director of the Century Farms program at the Center for Historic Preservation, which is located on the Middle Tennessee State University campus.

According to the farm’s history, John Brabson II came from Virginia to Tennessee in 1794 searching for new land and a more prosperous future. Having received a land grant from the State of North Carolina in the same year, Brabson was eager to establish a new life in the area that would eventually become Sevier County, Tenn. Not long after his parents died, John Brabson returned to Virginia and made an indenture agreement with his brother, Thomas J. Brabson, to release all of his shares of the family land in Virginia that was divided between them.

After the transaction, Brabson returned to Sevier County and began acquiring more acreage and engaging in several enterprises. In 1826, he was granted leave by the Tennessee State Legislature to construct a dam on the south side of the French Broad River near the head of Boggs Island.

During his ownership, the farm produced corn, wheat and beef cattle. In addition to producing these commodities, Brabson purchased grain from the surrounding area and transported it by log rafts down the river. To supply his mercantile stores, Brabson often bought goods from eastern cities such as Baltimore. Per one source, the trip to Baltimore by horseback took six weeks and the merchandise—such as coffee, sugar, lamps, silks, satins and broadcloth—were brought by covered wagons drawn by six draft horses. While there were mercantile stores on the property, the land also had blacksmith shops, tanneries and carpenter shops that produced a variety of supplies and goods for consumers. John and his wife, Elizabeth Davis, were the parents of 10 children.

In 1848, John and Elizabeth’s son, Benjamin Davis Brabson, obtained the property. Benjamin married Elizabeth Berry Toole and they reared eight children. Similar to his father, Benjamin was an entrepreneur and astute businessman. Benjamin and his brother, Thomas, established Brabson and Brother in 1852. According to the family’s history, this complex included a tan yard, a blacksmith shop, and a mercantile business.

During the Civil War, conditions reportedly became intolerable for many members of the Brabson family and they left for safer places. While some relatives went to Morristown, Knoxville and Greene County, Benjamin opted to move to Winchester, Tenn. Less than a year after moving, Benjamin passed away and his family returned to Sevier County and helped restore the farm and land.

Over the years, the farm passed through several generations, and today, Ben D. Brabson II, the great-great-grandson of the founder, owns the farm. He and wife Elaine D. Brabson work the land that currently produces, beef cattle, corn, oats, wheat, hay and soybeans.

“This property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and many historic structures that were built in the 19th century such as a log house, a barn and a tenant house remain,” Hankins said.

The Brabson Ferry Plantation is the 12th Tennessee Century Farm to be certified in Sevier County.

The Century Farm Program recognizes the contributions of Tennessee residents who have continuously owned, and kept in production, family land for at least 100 years. Since 1984, the CHP at MTSU has been a leader in the important work of documenting Tennessee’s agricultural heritage and history through the Tennessee Century Farm Program, and continues to administer this program.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture began the Tennessee Century Farm Program in 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial. Today, the TDA provides a metal outdoor sign denoting either 100, 150 or 200 years of “continuous agricultural production” to Century Farm families.

To be considered for eligibility, a farm must be owned by the same family for at least 100 years; must produce $1,000 revenue annually; must have at least 10 acres of the original farm; and one owner must be a resident of Tennessee.

“The Century Farmers represent all the farm families of Tennessee,” Hankins said, “and their contributions to the economy, and to the social, cultural and agrarian vitality of the state, both past and present, is immeasurable. Each farm is a Tennessee treasure.”

For more information about the Century Farms Program, please visit its Web site at The Center for Historic Preservation also may be contacted via mail at Box 80, MTSU, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 37132, or by telephone at 615-898-2947.


ATTENTION, MEDIA: To interview the farm’s owner or request jpegs of the farm, please contact the CHP directly at 615-898-2947.