Monday, September 29, 2008

Steve Sibley from Bangladesh - Sept. 29, 2008

This past Monday, September 22, we made our first overnight visit to a branch office. I woke up at 5:30 to pack up all of my things and check out of the hotel for a couple of nights to save twenty dollars. At 7:30 in the morning, Babor picked up Kathryn, Nana, and I in a taxi to take us to the Fegunashar Shirajdikhan Branch in the Munshiganj district, a bit more than 50 km south of Dhaka. After an hour and a half taxi drive through the morning traffic of Dhaka and down one-lane two-way roads, we arrived at the branch and met a Bangladeshi intern named Topu and the branch manager, Harun, who escorted us to the morning's center meeting at a nearby village.
At the center meeting, we talk to several members who have been with the branch for 20 years. Many of them had used their first loan to start cultivating potatoes, as there is a storage warehouse near the village where the potatoes harvested during the growing season are stored and then sold during the dry season for increased profits.
Another member had used a 20,000-taka loan combined with some savings to buy a "miltch" cow (the bank's ledger spells "milk" this way) 20 years ago. Now she has 7 miltch cows, and can produce a daily surplus of six liters of miltch, which she sell for 45 taka per liter. She recently took a 30,000-taka loan with which she plans on combining with 30,000 taka of savings to buy another, more productive miltch cow in order to increase her daily output to ten liters. Her weekly installment on this new loan will be only 750 taka per week, while her current revenue is 1,890 taka per week. Once her new miltch cow arrives, she will be able to make 3,150 taka per week.
Her husband quit his job in Dhaka several years ago to help his wife with her dairy business. Her sons also help with the business. This woman, as with the more successful women from the center we visited the week prior, seems to have much support from her husband than other members. Again, the husband and wife seem to be equals. I imagine it would be very humbling to live in a society in which, as a man, you are the head of the household, only to have your wife become the more successful breadwinner.
At this center, we also speak to a member who had joined Grameen only a year ago. She has just finished paying off her first 1,000-taka loan. With her initial loan, she had bought bamboo with which she makes stools. Her supplies for each stool cost 140 taka, while she can sell each stool to a retailer for 200 taka. Working five days a week while also raising her two children, she has been able to increase her family's income by 175 taka per week. With the extra income, she says that she can better feed her family and has been saving money in a Grameen savings account.
After the center meeting, we visit the woman's miltch cow business and her home. We see where the stool-maker lived and worked. The difference between the living standards of the two women is drastic. The dairy farmer's house is much larger and more lavish. In looking at these two women, the impact that Grameen has had in the long run on the well being of its borrowers is clear. The cumulative growth in the businesses of the borrowers leads to much higher standards of living over time.
Several girls in the village ask Babor if they can speak with me, as they are learning English. One actually speaks better English than Babor. Additionally, there is a young man who had moved from the village to Singapore, where he had worked in a manufacturing plant. Having moved back to the village, he lives like a king. His stereo system is better than many of my friends', and he has satellite television with more channels than I have ever had since moving out of my parents' house. While Grameen is certainly able to help increase the income of its borrowers, there is nothing like industrialization to increase the wages of a laborer.
After returning to the branch, we unload our bags from the taxi and settle into our rooms, while Babor bid us adieu. I stay in the living quarters of the Second Officer (the assistant branch manager). Again, the generosity of Grameen Bank's employees and of the Bangladeshi people in general is astounding.
The branch does not have air conditioning but does have fans. The bathroom does not have a flushing toilet but does have the biggest spider I have ever seen. "Flushing" the toilet involves taking a bucket of dirty pond water and pouring it down the basin. Additionally, it isn't the type of toilet on which you sit. It is more the squat-and-hover style. This, I soon learn, is quite an experience. The branch's shower is also located in this most unsanitary of "sanitary latrines" (Grameen's nomenclature, not my own). I would definitely go several days without showering.
After unpacking our things and eating lunch, Topu, Nana, Kathryn, and I go to the market near the branch to buy notebooks and charge our pre-paid cell phones with minutes. It is quite a CONUNDRUM to think that the people of the villages have cell phones but no flushing toilets. Having purchased our necessary materials from the market, we go for a walk. We come upon an old man who stares at us as we gaze out over a large pond. After some time of staring, the man approached us.
"Assalam waleykum," says Nana.
"Waleykum assalam," the man responds with a smile. He then starts speaking to us in Bengali. Luckily, Topu was there to translate. He had asked us, "What is your country?"
"America, America, Germany," respond myself, Kathryn, and Nana, respectively.
He tells us, through Topu, what a wonderful place America is. He tells us that he has always wanted to go to America. We also find out that he is a lumberjack.
Kathryn asks him why he hasn't visited America. He shook his head, saying "Nai taka," (not any taka) and fanning invisible bills in his hand.
I tell him that I wish that I could take him back to America with me. He smiles a big smile and says, shaking his head, "I am too old."
After several more moments of conversation, we share a silent gaze, me smiling at him, and him at me. Words were not necessary; all was understood.
We return to the branch. Topu and I have a nice conversation about the differences between American and Bangladeshi cultures. We talk about everything from religion to male/female relationships. Topu thinks that all Americans are Christians and that we change romantic partners frequently. He tells me how much he would like to go to America for graduate school and how difficult it is to get accepted into American schools.
Later, the branch staff shares Iftar with us. During Ramadan, Iftar is the breaking of the daily fast after sunset. It is an honor to be included in this ritual. After Iftar is finished, Topu takes off on foot to catch a bus back to Dhaka.
Returning to my room, the food at Iftar seems like a very small meal, especially for someone who has been fasting since four in the morning. Then the electricity (and therefore the fan) goes out. Sweating profusely as I sit underneath the mosquito net hanging from a frame over the bed, by candlelight I read some of Dr. Yunus' (the founder of Grameen) newest book, Creating a World without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism. I am certain that I will not be able to sleep due to the stifling heat. Fifteen minutes later, I can't keep my eyes open.
Harun wakes me up about an hour later, saying "Dinner is ready."
Having thought that Iftar was dinner, I am not expecting any more food. After pointing out that my shirt is soaked in sweat, Harun asks me to summon the girls for dinner. They ask, "Didn't we already have dinner?"
"Apparently not," I say.
They say they aren't hungry. Neither am I, but I eat so as not to waste food or seem insulting. I eat a lot--enough to feed three, actually. After dinner, I go to the roof of the branch building with the branch's messenger, who is responsible for delivering money from the centers to the branch, and vice versa. He tries to teach me numberous Bengali words and phrases. I retain two: "koop kushi" (very happy) and "koop shundur" (very nice). After several minutes of this, I return to my room, crawl under the mosquito net, and immediately fall asleep.
Waking up in the morning to the sound of a monsoon storm, I realize that I haven't slept that well in quite some time. After breakfast, the branch manager, Harun, briefs us on the day's activities. We are going to take a boat to a nearby village to attend another center meeting. The prospect of a boat trip sounds exciting.
Traveling down the river, we encounter many other boats. Some are pumping sand from the riverbed to a nearby low-lying (read: underwater during the rainy season) area that is soon to be a housing development. Small fishing boats are manned by fisher-boys who are likely no older than twelve or thirteen. Several huts line the riverbank. Women on the riverbank are washing their families' clothes in the river. Rising up from the middle of the river are several concrete pillars that had once been the supports for a bridge that washed away during a flood.
After a half hour boat ride, we arrive at our destination. Nestled on the riverbank, the village seems poorer than the others we have visited. The houses here are also several feet off of the ground, so that they aren't flooded during the rainy season. Underfed chickens roam freely through the village (free range chicken?).
As we walk through the village towards the Grameen Bank center building, children peek their heads out from windows and stare at us curiously. This village seems less accustomed to Caucasian visitors than the other villages we have visited. Entering the center meeting, the Grameen members have already arrived. Harun introduces us to the center manager, and we take a seat.
The women look at us with curious trepidation. The center manager introduces Harun to the members, and Harun briefly explains, in Bengali, that we are interns with Grameen Ban, here to study and ask them questions. He then asks us to introduce ourselves to the members, explaining that he will translate what we say to them.
Having studied up on my Bengali that morning, I introduce myself in their native language. "Aamar naam Steve. Aami America teke eschechen. Aami ekune pohr te eshe chi." (My name is Steve. I'm from America. I'm here to study.)
I have never said anything met with such confused looks. After Harun explained what I had tried to say, the members laughed hysterically. My bungling of their language certainly breaks the ice. After introductions from Nana and Kathryn, we begin asking questions of and gathering information from the members.
One woman, Nasima, is especially vocal about how much better life in the village is since Grameen started operating there 20 years ago. Before Grameen, she says that she lived in a one room, one-roofed house (exposed tin roof). She ate dahl (lentils) and rice for most meals and had one type of meat, chicken, only once per week. She had only one 150-taka sari (the traditional dress of Bangladeshi women), which she wore for a month.
Nasima says that she now lives is a three-room, two-roofed house (wood underneath the tin) and is preparing to build a fourth roof (I don't know what this means. Insulation?). She says that she currently takes three types of meat, chicken, beef, and fish, three times per week. Her clothing now consists of three 500-taka batik saris.
While Nasima continues talking, a gruff looking older man enters the center meeting and takes a seat. Belly bulging out from his unbuttoned shirt, as soon as Nasima stops talking, he proclaims in very loud English, "We are poor. Very, very poor. We are progressing day by day. It (poverty?) will soon be forgotten." After this exclamation, he stands and exits the center.
After this brief interruption, another woman says that she gathered only ten cases of rice per month before joining Grameen. Now she gathers forty to fifty cases of rice per month.
When Kathryn asks about how the education for the children has improved, a woman responds in Bengali, "All eligible children go to primary school." Before Grameen, apparently there were not enough schools in the area, and no children from this village attended.
Another member says that her child is getting a Master's of Fine Arts. Kathryn asks if her son is taking loans from Grameen to fund his education. The woman responds, "I am paying for my daughter's education myself. No loans." Upon questioning, she tells us that she has a decorating business, which she has expanded greatly with a Micro-Enterprise loan from Grameen.
After this, Nana asks if there are any women who didn't work before they took loans from Grameen. Two women say that they didn't work. Both now have tailoring businesses. Kaydasha, the more vocal of the two, says that she has now hired an employee to do the tailoring for her so that she can focus on her new miltch business.
Kathryn asks how the women's social status has changed since becoming Grameen members. One woman responds, "My moving area is bigger. I go everywhere by myself."
Another elaborates, "We are now self-sufficient and self-dependent."
The woman whose daughter is pursuing her MFA says, "When my daughter went to college, I took her by myself."
Nasima says, "When I first joined, I took three people with me to the bank. Now, I know how to handle money. It used to take me a week to gather 1,000 taka. Now, I gather 10,000 in one day.
Returning to Nasima, I ask her what business she does. She says that she has a bakery and two grocery shops. I ask her what she did before her first loan. She says that her husband bought vegetables in the village and sold them in a nearby bazaar. She baked snacks and sold them out of her house.
When Nasima took her first loan of 5,000 taka, her husband quit his vegetable selling and focused on selling her baked goods in nearby villages. Now, Nasima has hired someone else to do the baking, while she operates one shop and her husband operates another.
I ask how the village responded to Grameen's arrival in 1988. Nasima, again the most vocal of the center, answers. "At first, the village elder forbade them from going to Grameen, because he said it was a Christian bank. After he read the Sixteen Decisions1, he realized it wasn't a Christian bank, and we could go."
Nana asks how many members there are in the center, and the center manager says that there are 68. I ask how many families there are in the village, and the members estimate that there are about 95. They say that there aren't any mothers with daughters who are borrowers, so this means that 68 of about 95 families are members. This is pretty solid membership, especially given the initial disapproval by the elder.
After the center meeting, we visit Nasima's house. Again, there is a television in the front room of the house. As was the case in the first village we visited, the family's silverware and China is also proudly on display in a glass case in the front room. We take photographs of Nasima, her husband Habib, and their granddaughter.
As we leave Nasima's house, the big-bellied man who interrupted the meeting invites me to his house. Kathryn asks if she can visit the local school. She, Nana, and Harun follow the center manager to the school, while I go to the man's house.
On the way to his house, he tells me that his name is Nuun Hussein. I ask him how he is, and he says, "I am very old. I most certainly will die soon. Many diseases attack me." As I walk to his house, I hope that none of these diseases will attack me.
Nuun invites me to sit on his sofa. I sit down, and he shouts something to his wife in Bengali. He tells me, "My wife will bring you food."
I ask him what he does. He tells me that he is retired from teaching at a government school. At this point, a young man enters the room. Nuun says, "This is my son Sadjat. You can make friends with him."
I ask Sadjat how old he is. He tells me that he is 22. I ask him if he is in school. Nuun answers for him, "He is my youngest son. He does no school, no job, no work. He does nothing." Obviously, this young man receives nothing but disapproval from his father. I feel for Sadjat and try to convey this to him with an approving smile.
Then Nuun tells me that his second son, Sakwat, died while in college in Sweden in 2001. Sadjat produces a laminated photo of Sakwat from his wallet. Nuun looks at the photograph and hands it to me.
Nuun says, "I always think of him." He begins to cry. "He was so smart. So young."
Putting my hand on his shoulder, I say, "I am so sorry for your loss. How did he die?"
"An auto accident. After, his friends from Sweden visit for seven days. It was very sad time." Nuun wipes the tears from his eyes.
At this point, his wife enters the room with three whole bananas and a multitude of apple and orange slices. Hungry, I am grateful for the food. Emotional, I am grateful for the interruption.
We continue talking. Nuun says, "You are from America. Americans very smart." I thank him for the compliment, without mentioning that I know several Americans who aren't very smart.
Continuing to talk about America. Nuun says, "America is great, but Bush very bad. Bush wants to control world." As he makes a fist, he says, "He wants world like this."
I offer my agreement and say, "Obama."
He says, "Yes, Obama. And Clinton."
At this point, Kathryn, Nana, and Harun enter the house. Nuun tells them to have a seat and points to the food. Thankfully, I now have help in finishing the feast that his wife prepared for me. We talk for several minutes and Harun tells Nuun in Bengali that we need to go catch our boat.
Nuun gives me a long and hard handshake. "Thank you for visiting me."
I thank him for the food and the company as he walks us to the door. As we walk through the village, numerous children begin to follow us. Exiting the village, we see many young boys playing soccer in a field. I take out my camera to photograph them. Upon seeing the camera, even more children begin following us. They begin to horse around and do anything that might warrant getting photographed. I oblige.
Harun says that we must walk one kilometer to our boat. For the entire kilometer walk, the children follow us. Along the road, children from nearby houses hear the commotion and see its cause, us. They begin to follow. By the end of the kilometer walk, we must have an entourage of a hundred children following us.
Sad to see us go (and likely wanting to go with us), the children wave goodbye as we board our boat taxi. We return to the bank branch. Exhausted from the information overload, the heat, and the emotional experience in the village, I immediately fall asleep.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 29, 2008EDITORIAL CONTACT: Gina Logue, 615-898-5081

“EVOLUTIONARY EVANGELISM” TOPIC OF TALK AT MTSU LIBRARY Participants to Discuss Rev. Michael Dowd’s View of Creation

(MURFREESBORO) – Dr. Gary Wulfsberg, chemistry professor, and Dr. Rami Shapiro, adjunct professor of religious studies, will facilitate a discussion of Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World by Rev. Michael Dowd at a brown bag luncheon at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 1, in the fourth floor conference room of the James E. Walker Library at MTSU. The event is free and open to the public. It is the latest in the continuing series of Science and Spirituality brown bag discussions, which began in spring 2008. The purpose of these exchanges is to help us appreciate how both areas of thought can enrich the human experience without regarding them as mutually exclusive of one another. Dowd, who visited Murfreesboro’s Unity of Life Church on Sept. 17, refers to himself and his wife, Connie Barlow, as “evolutionary evangelists.” They are co-creators of, a Web site dedicated to education and organization in what they call the “sacred evolution movement.” According to the Web site, Dowd believes that the story of creation “manifests synergistic coherence between science, religion, and the needs of today’s world. Because the creation stories of classical religions and primary peoples were birthed well prior to the discoveries of an evolutionary universe, these stories can at best be reconciled with scientific awareness. In contrast, The Great Story grounds its celebratory creation story on the contributions of the scientific endeavor, and the interpretations are nuanced to be empowering for today’s concerns.”
Thank God for Evolution is endorsed by five Nobel laureates—Craig Mello, 2006 winner in Physiology or Medicine; John Mather, 2006 winner in Physics; Thomas C. Schelling, 2005 winner in Economics; Frank Wilczek, 2004 winner in Physics; and Lee Hartwell, 2001 winner in Physiology or Medicine. The Science and Spirituality Forum is co-sponsored by the James E. Walker Library, the Colleges of Basic & Applied Sciences, Liberal Arts and Honors, the Department of Physics & Astronomy and the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. For more information, contact Bill Black at the Walker Library at 615-898-2772 or Wulfsberg at 615-898-2070.


ATTENTION, MEDIA: Rev. Matthew Dowd will NOT be at the brown bag luncheon/discussion. The participants will be discussing the book and its ideas.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 29, 2008EDITORIAL CONTACT: Gina Logue, 615-898-5081

Print, Mixed-Media Visual Expressions of Text Displayed in Special Collections Area
(MURFREESBORO) – “4 Women 4 Views with Text,” a new art exhibition in the James E. Walker Library, features the creativity of three MTSU professors and an MTSU graduate in combining visual and verbal elements, treating visitors to a experience that is at once visceral and intellectual. The works of Assistant Professors Noel Lorson and Kim Dummons, Professor Janet Higgins, and alumna Nance Cooley will remain on display through Thursday, Nov. 13, in the Special Collections area on the fourth floor of the library on the MTSU campus. Viewing is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Susan Hanson, a specialist with the library, says the artists got together from time to time from the summer of 2007 through this past summer to play with ideas and the materials they brought to the table. The works on display are individual entities that emerged from the creative spark of the collaborative experience. “It starts with a word, and it begins to take on a life of its own,” Hanson says. Old calendars form the bases of “Seasons,” “In December,” and “Dancing among the Fireflies”--three of Higgins’ accordion-fold books. For “Fireflies,” she used a calendar depicting Japanese gardens. The accompanying text refers to being in nature and remembering the “path to the garden.” “The calendar image is folded in half and in half again so the viewer doesn’t see the entire photo image, but has the impression of the lushness of a garden environment,” Higgins says. “The paper carrier of the text is vellum, a translucent paper that blends with the garden images while still allowing the text to be read.” A standout in Cooley’s work, which she describes as a “hodgepodge,” is “The Storytellers’ Tale,” a group book passed around to the seven women in her family. In turn, Cooley, her sister, their daughters and a daughter-in-law added their unique touches to the piece, which traveled some 70,000 miles in the creative process. The book is hand-bound in Venetian marble paper. Cooley used the library’s showpiece, the Stones River Press, a replica of an 18th-century Franklin-era press, in “Florida’s Creatures,” the book display in the entryway to the Special Collections area. It includes individual block prints of a manatee, a green turtle and a sand hill crane, the blocks themselves, loose hand-made papers and a completed mockup of a book.

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“What she’s trying to do in this case is to give you a sense of how the book goes together, to give you some idea of the process of art rather than just the finished product,” Hanson says. “I printed in June and July of this summer for eight days,” Cooley says. “The book was produced for a show in Tallahassee, Fla.” Lorson’s creations include ”Octopus Bonnet,” an off-white ball with tentacles swirling out from it, and “Panel Discussion,” which positions words one might hear in a television commercial with several TV screens and a female image. Harmon says her works are made with abaca. The Web site describes this type of paper as “made from the stems of the stalk of the abaca plant, which is similar to a banana plant.” Dummons’ multicolored print collages, “House Home 1” and “House Home 2,” create an optical illusion akin to being invited into an alcove. Her “Block Box” and “Pandora’s Box” bring children’s lettered building blocks to life. In “Pandora’s Box,” the blocks actually form a box with a drawer that opens and closes. Dummons also fashioned the signature piece “4Women 4 Views with Text,” a three-dimensional mixed media work that includes spools, a key and a playing card.


ATTENTION, MEDIA: For photos of the “4 Women 4 Views with Text” art display at the James E. Walker Library, contact Gina Logue in the MTSU Office of News and Public Affairs at 615-898-5081 or


Release date: Sept. 29, 2008

News & Public Affairs contact: Randy Weiler, 615-898-2919
University Honors College contact: Dr. John Vile, 615-898-2152 or


(MURFREESBORO) — The second group of 20 Buchanan Fellows will be recognized Friday, Oct. 3, during the Buchanan Inauguration, University Honors College Dean John Vile said.
“We had 200 applications for Buchanans and 20 are selected. It’s a very elite group,” Vile said, adding that the 2008-09 crop includes students with an overall ACT score of 31 and a combined 3.87 high-school grade-point average.
The formal program will begin at 6 p.m. in the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building Amphitheatre (Room 106). Because of limited seating, it will be an invitation-only event.
Dr. Kevin J. Donovan, professor in the English department, will deliver the challenge to the Buchanan Class of 2008. Jeff Whorley, chairman of the Honors College Board of Visitors, will introduce him.
Sophomore Buchanan Fellows Chelsea Curtis and Aaron Scherer will add to the welcome by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, who will be introduced by Vile after the Buchanan faculty are recognized.
Former Dean Phil Mathis, who now is professor emeritus, will provide the introduction of the Book of Town and Gown. Dr. Scott Carnicom, Honors College associate dean, will preside over the ceremonial signing of the book.
All of the Buchanan Fellows will participate in the recitation of the Honors Creed, which will be led by Dr. Angela Hague, Honors faculty member and professor in the English department.
Vile said the Buchanan Fellowship is the highest award given to an entering Honors College student.

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Buchanan Fellows/Page 2

The 2008-09 freshman class of Buchanan Fellows includes Eldridge Alexander, Riverdale High School; Shelby Barton, Libby (Mont.) High School; Kaitlin Beck, Oakland High School; Troy Berry, Oakland High School; Erica Cathey, Siegel High School; Holly Cunningham, Clinton (Iowa) High School; Adam Emerson, DeKalb County High School; Adam Raul Gimenez, Bob Jones High School (Madison, Ala.); Eric Guyes, Cave Spring High School (Roanoke, Va.); Jennifer Johnson, Maryville High School; Katherine Miller, Cedar Shoals High School (Athens, Ga.); Haley Pimentel, Cascade High School; Shelby Ragan, Eagleville High School; Nathan Reale, Franklin High School; Samuel “Lee” Reed, Siegel High School; Lauren Rigsby, Riverdale High School; James Skelley, Jackson Liberty High School; Chad Slaven, Cumberland Gap High School; and Christen Denise Vann, Moore County High School.

In addition to Curtis and Scherer, the returning Buchanan Scholars are Robert Bridgers, Jordan Cox, Meghan Davis, Michelle Ebel, Elizabeth Henegar, James Larson, Nellery Marty, Taffy O’Neal, Danielle Rutherford, Jonathan Siler, Richard Skelley, Jessica Taylor, Jordan Timmons and Andrew Trivette.

For MTSU news and information, go to



Release date: Sept. 29, 2008

News & Public Affairs contact: Randy Weiler, 615-898-2919
University Honors College contact: Dr. John Vile, 615-898-2152


(MURFREESBORO) — The University Honors College will welcome its Board of Visitors for the second time when members gather Oct. 2-3 in Murfreesboro, Dean John Vile said.
“This is our second meeting and the first that I will attend, so I am particularly excited to meet the board members to whom I have not yet been introduced,” said Vile, who was named dean in late May, replacing Dr. Phil Mathis, now professor emeritus.
Vile said Mathis will be “announcing a special ‘challenge’ to raise money for a fund that he is establishing to help students with expenses to conferences.”
“We also are going to brainstorm over possible ways that board members can help with recruiting,” Vile said. “We will be introducing some of our students to board members, and we anticipate that some board members also will stay for the Buchanan Inauguration (Friday night).”
All Thursday, Oct. 2, activities will be held at the new Embassy Suites Hotel. Dr. David Rowe of the history department will give a short presentation on his new book on William Miller, an important 19th-century religious figure.
After dinner, Board Chairman Jeff Whorley—a nephew of MTSU alumnus James M. Buchanan, the winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in economic sciences for whom the Buchanan Fellows are named—will preside over the meeting.
Vile said he plans to share his vision for the Honors College and will introduce sophomore Michelle Eble, a Buchanan Fellow, and Taylor A. Barnes, a Goldwater Scholar, who will give a brief welcome on behalf of fellow students.
Vile said he anticipates that Whorley will share his ideas on how board members can help recruit students by sharing the news of the quality education available through the Honors College.
Along with Vile’s vision and Mathis’ fundraising challenge, the Honors dean said the student-recruiting angle again would be part of the Friday agenda when the group gathers in subcommittees in the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building.

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Honors College Board of Visitors/Page 2

Gregg F. Morton, president of AT&T Tennessee and the board’s newest member, will be introduced. He replaces James A. Thorpe, vice president and general manager of Kentucky-Tennessee AT&T. Also moving off the board is alumnus Vincent Windrow, MTSU’s new director of the Office of Intercultural-al and Diversity Affairs.
Other board members are Don R. Ash, James H. Bailey III, Albert Cauz, Emily Ellis, Mark A. Hall, Emil Hassan, Debra H. Hopkins, H. Lee Martin, Paul W. Martin, Chasity Wilson Nicoll, Utpal P. Patel, Byron Smith, Holly Thompson and Jim Tracy.
The Distinguished Board members are Buchanan and Dr. June Hall McCash, who was the founding director of the MTSU Honors Program and professor emeritus in foreign languages and literatures

For MTSU news and information, go to



CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947

170-Year-Old Russell Farm is County’s 15th Century Farm, Hankins Reports

(MURFREESBORO, Tenn.)—The Russell Farm in White 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 MTSU campus.
The Russell Farm, just south of Sparta, dates to 1838 when W. J. Molloy and wife Mary Lewis Molloy founded the property. On 122 acres, the Molloys produced cattle, horses, hogs, corn and garden vegetables. While managing the farm, W. J. was one of the first trustees of Fraser’s Chapel Methodist Church. Family history records that Mary’s father, Maj. William Lewis, fought with Washington at Valley Forge and was taken prisoner; her father fought in the War of 1812; and her brother, James Madison Lewis, was killed in the Civil War
The Molloys, who had no children, deeded the land to Mary’s nephew, Tandy Lane Lewis, in 1874. He and wife Tennie had nine children. Although Tandy became the owner of the farm, W. J. continued to help farm the land and raise cattle, hogs and horses. In 1882, Tandy became sheriff of White County and gave back the farm to W. J. and Mary.
In 1894, the farm was bequeathed to Mary’s niece, Emily “Emma” Lewis Russell, and her husband, William Matthew Russell. Emma and William had eight children: Walter T., Oscar B., Emmitt E., Mattie, W. Byron, Famie, Horace L. and Maurine. Four years after they acquired the property, Emma’s father, Thomas Lewis, gave the couple an additional 110-acre farm that adjoined the Molloy Farm. The property had a large
Log house on it and the family moved to this dwelling.
In 1926, William and Emma sold the Molloy portion of the farm to son Oscar Russell and his wife, Bessie Haston Russell, who lived in Akron, Ohio, at the time. The family recounted that while Oscar and Bessie were in Ohio, a moonshine still was built in a wooded area near the farm. While managing the farm, William Matthew often took time out to drink some of the whiskey that was being produced at the still. One day when he saw his wife coming, William put the quart of moonshine in a posthole where some men were building a fence. Later that night, it rained and washed dirt into the postholes. The next morning, William Matthew could not remember in which hole he had placed the moonshine, and soon the men put the posts in and built the fence. The family reported the quart of moonshine is probably still under one of the fence posts.
In 1931, with the economic hardships of the Great Depression, Oscar and Bessie Russell moved to the farm. They constructed a two-room house with a cellar and a large barn from timber that was felled on the farm. Eight years later, the couple built a second and larger house that is used as the residence for the Russell family today. Oscar and Bessie raised cattle, hogs, corn, sweet potatoes and tobacco. Oscar served in the U.S. Navy during World War I. He lived to be 102 years old and, prior to his death in 1993, he received a medal honoring him for being a 75-year veteran of World War I.

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After Bessie and Oscar passed away, the farm went jointly to their children, Emma Russell Boyd and Oscar Paul Russell. Emma married Tudor Boyd and they had two children, Janet Boyd Hill and Karen Boyd Henry. Paul married Virginia Russell, and their two children are Paula Russell Polk and Mark R. Russell. Paul and Emma kept the farm in operation until 2004 when they sold it to Mark and his wife, Susan. Currently, the farm is worked by Mark, Susan and family in partnership with Paul. The Russell family mainly raises cattle and hay on their family farm.
Hankins said the Russell Farm is the 15th Century Farm to be certified in White 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 owners or request jpegs for editorial use, please contact the CHP directly at 615-898-2947.


CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947

159-Year-Old Blackmon-Parrish Farm is County’s 12th Century Farm

(MURFREESBORO, Tenn.)—The Blackmon-Parrish Farm in Madison 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 MTSU campus.
Burrell Blackmon, whose family migrated to Madison County from Moore County, N.C., between 1830 and 1840, founded the Blackmon-Parrish Farm in 1849. Married to Mary Elizabeth Watson, the couple had nine children though three died in infancy. On the 92 acres, the family raised corn, wheat, cotton, sweet potatoes, horses, cattle, swine and sheep. Eldest daughter Elizabeth Jane ultimately purchased the farm from her siblings.
Elizabeth Jane and husband Fountain Willis Parrish were the parents of Burrell Smith, Walter Azbury, Charlie Jones, Fountain Ernest and Lora Lee. In 1908, Burrell and Walter purchased 48 acres that adjoined the original farm, along with another 19 ¾ acres that was adjacent to the farm. After the death of their mother, Burrell and Walter purchased the 92 acres from their siblings.
In 1915, Walter sold his half of the farm to Burrell and his wife, Dora Ann Woods. During their ownership, they built a frame house on the property facing the Spring Creek Road. The couple had three children and they helped with the farm chores. According to the family records, Burrell and Dora farmed and operated a dairy for many years and their daughters helped raise chickens and eggs. The family traveled to Jackson by wagon to market their produce and poultry.
Hester, one of their daughters, and her husband Fred Exum Jr. moved back to the farm after Burrell developed glaucoma and lost his eyesight, and with Dora, they operated the farm. After Burrell’s death in 1957, Fred continued to manage the farm. Dora lived until 1971, dying just before her 92nd birthday.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Fred and Hester made many improvements to the farm, including constructing a new brick home and adding two equipment sheds. In addition, the farm had a large barn that housed livestock and mules that were used for gardening and pulling cotton wagons. The family also helped raise registered Yorkshire hogs and Santa Gertrudis cattle, along with cotton, corn, soybeans and hay. In 1991 Fred passed away Hester followed in 2005, having lived almost all of her 90 years on her family’s farm.
In 2005, the great-great-granddaughter of the founder, Carol Ann Exum Watson, acquired the farm. She and husband Harold and their sons, Jody and Scott, currently raise beef cattle and hay. Son Jody, wife Diana and their son, Hunter, are the sixth and seventh generations to live on the farm. Since moving to the farm, Jody and Harold have restored and updated the sheds; plus, adding cattle working facilities where the milking barn once stood.

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The Blackmon-Parrish Farm is the 12th Century Farm to be certified in Madison County, Hankins said.
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 owners or request a jpeg of the Century Farm signed presented to farm owners for editorial use, please contact the CHP directly at 615-898-2947.


Release date: Sept. 29, 2008

News & Public Affairs contact: Randy Weiler, 615-898-2919
MTSU Career Development Center contact: Bill Fletcher, 615-898-2500


(MURFREESBORO) — MTSU’s Career Development Center will host more than 120 organizations from business, industry, government, nonprofit and graduate/professional schools at the 2008 Fall Career Fair Wednesday, Oct. 1.
Representatives from a wide-range of industries and fields will be on campus from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the track level of Murphy Center to provide information on full-time career-related employment, co-op and internship opportunities as well as educational requirements and demand for graduates in various career fields. Graduate and professional schools also will be on-site with admission information.
“Even though the economy is unstable right now, we still have a large amount of employers recruiting MTSU students,” said Bill Fletcher, center director. “Students should take advantage of this opportunity to speak to employers face-to-face and be proactive in their career management.”
The fair is open for current MTSU students and graduates. For additional information, contact the Career Development Center at 615-898-2500 or online at

For MTSU news and information, go to

Media welcomed.


Release date: Sept. 29, 2008

News & Public Affairs contact: Randy Weiler, 615-898-2919
MTSU Military Science contact: Lt. Col. Michael Walsh, 615-898-2470


(MURFREESBORO) — Jason Stisser is not a typical 18-year-old cadet who has become part of MTSU’s Military Science and ROTC program. Stisser is a true freshman, although he has taken one online course in Arabic.
But at 25 and after being deployed with various units to Iraq, he does have a leg up on classmates Wendell Bryant of Ooltewah, Jonathan Hartsfield of Old Hickory and Joshua Wilcox of Clarksville.
“It’s an interesting transition,” Stisser said, acknowledging his move from military to college student. “I’m low man on the totem pole. My rank is MS1 cadet. I’ve got a huge learning curve on these 18-year-old guys. I will try to help guide them along as best as I can.
“My goals are to be involved in one or two of the programs. I want to walk out of here making good use of taxpayer dollars.”
Stisser is attending MTSU, what he considers his hometown university and where he wants to be, on the U.S. Army’s Green to Gold Scholarship.
“MTSU has the most to offer,” said Stisser, who said he would be a mathematics major. “They have a great math department. And the ROTC program here is excellent.”
He said the “military bug is something I picked up when I was young. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”
Stisser graduated from Nashville’s Stratford High School but served as cadet corps commander one semester in the Air Force Junior ROTC program in which he participated at Maplewood High.
Wilcox, a Kenwood High School graduate, will be following in his father’s footsteps. Sylvester Wilcox retired as a sergeant first class from the U.S. Army.
At MTSU, Joshua Wilcox plans to major in aerospace. “I’m hoping to get into the aviation field and fly helicopters for the Army,” he said.
Wilcox said he chose MTSU because it’s close to his home and he “knew about the (MTSU) ROTC program because I did JROTC in high school all four years.”
He added that his mother, Tammy Wilcox, “has been a big supporter.”
For MTSU news and information, go to


CONTACT: Jennifer B. Butt, 615-217-8013, or

Public Encouraged to Attend Talk About How County’s Locales Got Their Names

(MURFREESBORO)—The Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area will present the third lecture in a four-part series of public programs at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9. The free talk is part of the 2008 Community Heritage Lecture Series held at The Heritage Center, 225 W. College St., and sponsored by the TCWNHA, which is a partnership unit of the National Park Service and administered by the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU.
During the upcoming talk, Kevin Cason, a Ph.D. student in the public history program at MTSU, will discuss the history and folklore of how Rutherford County communities and geographic landmarks earned their names.
Cason, along with fellow doctoral student Heather Bailey, conducted fieldwork and research on various historic landscapes and structures in Rutherford County to uncover how each place got its unique name. The team effort culminated with the students creating an exhibit showcasing historic photographs of the various sites.
“The opportunity as students to be involved in an exhibit project from its inception to its final design was a quality learning experience” Cason said. Jennifer B. Butt, program assistant at the center, said attendees may view the “Place Names” exhibit the evening of the community lecture.
Located just off the square, The Heritage Center is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday (excluding major holidays) and features guided walking tours of the town square on the hour. Group tours are available Monday through Saturday by advance reservations. Admission is free.
The center is a joint venture of the TCWNHA, Main Street: Murfreesboro/Rutherford County, the City of Murfreesboro and the CHP. Additional support comes from the Rutherford County government and State Farm Insurance.
For more information on the Community Heritage Lecture Series, please call the center at 615-217-8013 or send an e-mail to




EDITORIAL CONTACT: Lisa L. Rollins, 615-898-2941, or

Free & Open Events Include Lectures on Global Warming and Petroleum’s Future

(MURFREESBORO)—The Department of Geosciences at MTSU will participate in Earth Science Week in October with a series of activities and events that are free and open to the public.
This year’s National Earth Science Week, which is designed to help raise awareness about the many contributions geoscientists make to society, is set for Oct. 12-18. In turn, MTSU’s geosciences faculty will celebrate the week with a number of activities beginning Oct. 12
Dr. Melissa Lobegeier, assistant professor, geosciences, said among the celebration’s MTSU-sponsored highlights will be a guest lecture/brown bag forum 6:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, by Gerry Calhoun, a surface geochemist consultant at New Paradigm Exploration, whose talk, “Petroleum: Its Past, Its Present, Its Possibilities,” will be held in Room 452 of Kirksey Old Main on the MTSU campus.
Another featured brown-bag forum, “Climate History and Global Warming: Fact and Fiction,” will begin at 12:45 p.m. Friday, Oct. 17, in KOM 452. Led by Lobegeier and Dr. Jim Henry, geosciences professor, the two-hour discussion will include a panel whose members will answer questions about global warming and climate change.
Other on-campus Earth Science Week functions will include the below-listed activities.
• Wednesday, Oct. 15: Gem, Mineral and Jewelry Sale from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Keathley University Center courtyard. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the MTSU chapter of Sigma Gamma Epsilon
• Thursday, Oct. 16: Department of Geosciences Open House at 9 a.m.-2 p.m. in KOM 300. Sponsored by Sigma Gamma Epsilon, the event will feature posters and displays on department courses. Refreshments and snacks will be provided by Sigma Gamma Epsilon.
Also, throughout the day faculty and staff will be present to provide information and answer questions on careers in geosciences. Participating faculty will include the following: Dr. Henry (remote sensing, meteorology) at 9-9:45 a.m.; Dr. Melissa Lobegeier (paleontology, climatology) at 9:45-10:30 a.m.; Dr. Warner Cribb (mining/mineralogy, geochemistry) at 10:30-11:15 a.m.; Dr. Albert Ogden (hydrogeology) at 11:15 a.m.-noon; Dr. Mark Abolins and Dr. Pat Boda (geographic information systems) at 12-12:45 p.m.; Dr. Clay Harris (petroleum geology) at 12:45-1:30 p.m.; and Dr. Laura Collins (K-12 earth science education) at 1:30-2 p.m.
For more information about these local Earth Science Week events, please contact MTSU’s geosciences department at by calling (615) 898-2726.



CONTACT: Tim Musselman, 615-898-2493

Ensemble Premieres New Work by Composer Osterfield at Free Oct. 6 Concert

(MURFREESBORO)—The Stones River Chamber Players, an ensemble in residence at MTSU, will premier a new work in its first concert of the 2008-2009 season at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6, in Hinton Music Hall of the Wright Music Building on the MTSU campus.
The premiere work, “Klee Abstractions,” by MTSU faculty composer Paul Osterfield will be performed by faculty members Deanna Little (flute) Todd Waldecker (clarinet) and William Yelverton (guitar). Lynn Rice-See, MTSU faculty pianist and co-director of SRCP, said Osterfield based the work on paintings by Swiss painter Paul Klee.
"(Osterfield) became acquainted Klee's paintings when the youth orchestra of which he was a member performed Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ ‘Five Klee Pictures,’" Rice-See said. "Four of Klee’s paintings inspired Osterfield in this work: ‘Ad Parnassum,’ ‘Crystal Gradation,’ ‘North Sea Picture’ and ‘Twittering Machine,’" she added.
"This (entire SRCP) program is titled 'Back to School,' because it showcases works by composers who also had significant influence as teachers," she said.
In addition to “Klee Abstractions,” the group will perform song cycle “Along the Field” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, “Dance Suite” by Leonard Bernstein, “Diamond in the Rough” by Michael Daugherty and “Septet for Winds” by Paul Hindemith.
“Along the Field” for voice and violin will be performed by faculty members H. Stephen Smith (tenor) and Andrea Dawson (violin).
Concerning the work, Rice-See said that the Vaughan Williams used a setting of poems by A. E. Housman, which unfolds the story of a love affair gone awry.
About “Dance Suite,” Rice-See indicated that each of the five movements is dedicated to a significant American choreographer or dancer: Anthony Tudor, Agnes de Mille, Mikhail Barishnikov, George Balanchine, and Jerome Robbins. Performers on this piece will include Michael Arndt (trumpet), Jeff Bailey (trumpet), Angela DeBoer (horn), David Loucky (trombone) and Gilbert Long (tuba).
The work titled “Diamond in the Rough” will be performed by Dawson (violin), Sarah Cote (viola) and Lalo Davila (percussion).
"This imaginative work, originally composed in celebration of the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, contains movements titled ‘Magic,’ ‘Wig Dance’ and ‘Fifty-five Minutes Past Midnight,’ (which refers) to the time of Mozart’s death," Rice-See said.
Hindemith's “Septet for Winds" will be performed by Little (flute), Waldecker (clarinet), Greg Lawson (bass clarinet), Gil Perel (bassoon), Arndt (trumpet) and DeBoer (horn).
The Oct. 6 concert is free and open to the public.
For more information on this and other events in the MTSU School of Music, please call 615-898-2493 or visit



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 24, 2008EDITORIAL CONTACT: Gina Logue, 615-898-5081

Events Highlight Awareness of Perils of Domestic Violence and Breast Cancer

(MURFREESBORO) – The June Anderson Women’s Center (JAWC) at MTSU will augment its constant concern for the health and safety of women and girls in October with observances of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Janine Latus, author of If I Am Missing or Dead—A Sister’s Story of Love, Murder and Liberation, will be the keynote speaker for Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities. Latus will deliver her address at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 7, in Tom H. Jackson Hall with a reception and book signing to follow. Additionally, Latus’ book will be the focus of discussion at the JAWC’s first “Our Friends/Our Selves Book Club” meeting of the new academic year from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 29, at the center, Room 206 in the James Union Building. An international best-seller, If I Am Missing or Dead chronicles Latus’ courage in breaking out of a repressive marriage only to learn that her younger sister, Amy, had been murdered by her boyfriend. A note Amy left in 2002 foreshadowed her own demise. She went missing in Knoxville, Tenn., on July 4 of that year. The book is a gut-wrenching exploration of how two successful, intelligent women could fall for men who would disrespect and abuse them, even to the point of physical violence. Terri Johnson, JAWC director, says, “Our keynote speaker will make one of the most powerful and personal presentations ever on the trauma and tragedy of domestic violence. Ms. Latus graciously also is making time to visit classes on campus and community groups.” Jennifer Rawls, executive director of the Tennessee Economic Council for Women, will deliver a presentation on “The Economics of Domestic Violence” from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, in the Hazlewood Room of the James Union Building. Also in October, the JAWC will present a breast cancer keychain/educational awareness workshop from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, in the Hazlewood Room. Participants will assemble key chains to take home with them. The bead sizes on the key chains represent the various sizes of lumps found in mammograms and breast self-examinations.

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The key chains are offered by the Breast Health Initiative, a program of the Student Community Health Coalition at the Vanderbilt Center for Health Services in Nashville. The program is funded partially by the Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and the Tennessee Commission on National and Community Service. Offices and departments around campus will provide ribbons made by the Women’s Center throughout the month of October—purple ribbons for domestic violence awareness and pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact the June Anderson Women’s Center at 615-898-2193 or


ATTENTION, MEDIA: For a color jpeg photo of Janine Latus, author of If I Am Missing or Dead—A Sister’s Story of Love, Murder and Liberation, contact Gina Logue in the Office of News and Public Affairs at 615-898-5081 or


EDITORIAL CONTACT: Lisa L. Rollins, 615-898-2919, or

Upcoming Exhibit by Collaborating Artists Features Free, Open Public Reception

(MURFREESBORO)—“Pulled Resources,” a sculptural collaborative composed of artists Dan DeZarn and Thomas H. Sturgill, will be on display Oct. 6-17 at MTSU’s Todd Gallery.
The artmakers’ upcoming exhibition, titled “Housing Crunch,” will feature a free and open reception for DeZarn and Sturgill from 6 to 8 p.m. on its opening day, Oct. 6, in the gallery’s lobby.
Regarding the artists—who first met in 2001 as students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville—Eric V. Snyder, gallery curator, said, “The two have worked together on a number of projects and proposals, exhibiting in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.”
After meeting, Sturgill and DeZarn reportedly discovered many shared conceptual similarities in each other’s work. Thus, by 2003 the two began collaborating produce large-scale works artworks under the “Pulled Resources” moniker.
“By working together in this way, they quickly found that they could construct impressively large, labor -intensive projects in relatively short periods of time and with fairly modest budgets,” Snyder explained.
With a shared interest in exploring the concerns of contemporary human culture, the artists, in the past, have focused on material usage, commodity, nature and people, or more importantly, how these ideas intersect, he added.
“We are building a full-scale structure based on the floor plan of a typical suburban home in the confines of the space in Todd Hall’s art gallery,” Sturgill explained. “The structure will be composed of dimensional lumber made by the artists from salvaged cardboard boxes.
“The end result,” he continued, “will be a structure that is too big for its allotted space (that is) made with a material more typically associated with vagrant structures, rather than traditional permanent homes.”
DeZarn received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from North Kentucky University and his Master of Fine Arts from the UT. He currently resides in Geneseo, N.Y., where he serves as assistant professor at the State University of New York at Geneseo.
Nashville resident Sturgill received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from UT and his Master of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University. He currently serves as an assistant art professor at MTSU.
• GALLERY HOURS: Located on the first floor of MTSU’s Todd Building, the Todd Gallery is open 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays and closed on all state holidays. Admission is always free and exhibits are open to the public.
For more information regarding the current exhibit, please contact Snyder at 615-898-5653 or via e-mail at
•ATTENTION, MEDIA: To request interviews with the artists or jpegs of some of the artists’ works, please contact Lisa L. Rollins, 615-898-2919, or via e-


EDITORIAL CONTACT: Lisa L. Rollins, 615-898-2919 or

(MURFREESBORO)—MTSU Theatre & Dance will present the fantastical, magical, musical extravaganza known as “Seussical the Musical” at 7:30 nightly Oct. 22-25 on the stage of the university’s Tucker Theatre. Based on the zany and endearing characters and stories of Dr. Seuss, the musical will include appearances by some of his most famous characters, from Cat in the Hat and Horton the Elephant, to the Whos of Whoville. Directed by Dr. Jette Halladay, professor of speech and theater, the all-ages musical follows a child’s imagination, as Horton the Elephant finds a mysterious speck of dust that turns out to be a tiny planet containing Whoville! “Working on ‘Seussical the Musical’ has been an absolute joy!” Halladay exclaimed. “In its simplest form, the script focuses on integrity and kindness, yet that simplicity is portrayed in strong images, stirring music and zany Seuss characters.” With its positive message, “Seussical” is a show for all ages, commented Halladay, just like its inspiration, The Dr. Seuss book series, whose author is a literary icon known worldwide and related to by millions. “The play marries story lines from several Seuss books, primarily ‘Horton Hears a Who’ and ‘Horton Hatches an Egg,’ with bits of ‘Gertrude McFuzz’ and ‘Oh The Thinks You Can Think,’ among others,” she added. Regarding the play’s set, Scott Boyd, associate professor of speech and theatre, “While the setting is an essential aspect of theater and can help draw the audience into the world of Seuss, we want to bring something new to the table. “We want to give the audience something that they don’t necessarily expect …while still paying homage to the legacy of Dr. Seuss,” observed Boyd, the show’s scenic designer. One of the best parts of “Suessical,” Halladay remarked, are the memories it conjures for both old and young, thanks to the many whimsical characters Dr. Seuss created for all to enjoy. “Whatever age, everyone should watch out for the brilliant cast as they sing and dance their way into your hearts,” she said. “We have a cast rich in talent, and our music director and choreographer are experts at harvesting and refining that talent. Sally Geib, our music director, is coaxing music from our students that fills me with joy each time I hear them sing,” she added. In addition to the Oct. 22-25 evening performances that are open to the general public, school-group matinees also are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Oct. 24 and Oct. 30-31. Student tickets for these matinees are $4. and reservations may be made by calling (615) 494-8810. TICKET INFO: Tickets for evening showings of “Seussical the Musical” must be purchased at the door prior to performance. Tickets are $10 for general admission; $5 for MTSU staff and K-12 students. MTSU students are admitted free of charge with a valid ID. For more information please visit the department’s Web site at
* ATTENTION, MEDIA- For editorial needs, including interview requests with performers or faculty, photo requests or to obtain review tickets, please contact Lisa L. Rollins in the Office of News and Public Affairs at MTSU at 615-898-2919 or

Monday, September 22, 2008

Steven Sibley from Bangladesh - Sept. 21, 2008

NOTE: MTSU student Steve Sibley is in Bangladesh to learn microfinance, a humanitarian empowerment of the poor, from its pioneer, Nobel Prize-winner and former MTSU professor Muhammad Yunus.

Sibley is the recipient of the Kawahito Scholarship for Experiential World Poverty Studies. For more information, contact Dr. Kiyoshi Kawahito at

One of the best feelings one can have is the relief when luggage lost in transit by an airline is recovered. This reveals a fundamental attachment to things. However, the comfort in having two large bottles of Pepto-Bismol, numerous pairs of clean socks and underwear, and good works of fiction cannot be denied.
When I showed up at 9:30 in the morning to begin my first full day at Grameen, I was delighted to discover that another American intern, Kathryn, was starting on the same day as I. To add to my elation, she is staying at the Grand Prince Hotel along with me. This completely alleviated my concerns about being alone in a country where I cannot adequately communicate with anyone. Additionally, this helps reduce transportation costs and costs of a translator.
Today was supposed to be my first full day at Grameen Bank. Unbeknownst to me, my internship coordinator, Babor was busy calling the hotel and airline trying to track down my luggage while Kathryn and I were undergoing orientation. When Babor interrupted the video introduction to Grameen Bank to inform me that my luggage had arrived at Zia International Airport, it took restraint not to jump out of my seat and give him a gigantic hug. Babor even offered to personally drive me to the airport to recover my luggage.
Again, the kindness and openness of the staff at the bank is overwhelming. I am a stranger to them, a mere intern who can speak none of their language, yet they have welcomed me wholeheartedly as a member of their family. Jannat, the director of the internship program, and Babor said that, while I am a guest at their bank and in their country, they will do anything in their power to make my stay as pleasant and comfortable as possible.
I didn't accept Babor's invitation to escort me to the airport, as I didn't want to impose. Instead, I told him that I would get the hotel to call me a cab. Mr. Rahman, the Grand Prince's assistant manager, arranged for a cab and a hotel employee, Shopi, to drive and escort me to the airport. The trip to the airport was relatively uneventful, save for the tense moment as Shopi explained my situation to the security guard carrying a semi-automatic rifle.
I collected my lost bag without incident. However, during the return trip from the airport, again the beggars, upon seeing an American in a taxi, swarmed around me. Today, however, I was prepared emotionally, as I had gotten a good night's rest and knew what to expect. Furthermore, I was prepared financially.
Expecting that I would again encounter beggars, I had broken a 50-taka bill into 25 2-taka bills to give to beggars. The first beggar woman with child told me "Good morning" as she held out her hand. Instead of handing two 2-taka bills to her, I placed them in the hand of her infant child. The child knew that money meant food and smiled one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen as he held the bills to his cheek.
It is unimaginable to think that as little as four taka (approximately six US cents) could bring such a huge, heart-wrenching smile to the face of an infant. The smile itself was priceless. While I don't delude myself into believing that my four-taka donations offered any long-term solution to the staggering problems facing the infants and their beggar mothers, I know that ten Bangladeshi children were able to put some food in their bellies today.
The next day, Thursday, was my first trip out of Dhaka and into one of the villages in which a Grameen Bank branch operates. After two days of witnessing what seem to be helpless people in hopelessly poor circumstances, today's excursion has renewed my optimism that there is perhaps a light at the end of the tunnel for these impoverished people. Microcredit, as practiced by Grameen Bank, can help alleviate poverty. At least, it can help motivated poor people to help themselves.
Before relating my experience in the village, perhaps it is necessary to briefly describe what Grameen Bank does and how it is organized. Grameen practices microcredit, the lending of money to poor people who lack collateral or credit. The majority of Grameen's borrowers are women, who, tending to be responsible for the household duties and rearing of children, have more time with which to start a small business.
In order to apply for a loan, a prospective borrower assembles into a group with four other prospective borrowers who live in the same village and have similar socio-economic situations. Prospective borrowers receive instruction on the basic principles of borrowing and repaying both principal and interest. After they understand this process, the group members form loan proposals, which include a basic description of what they plan to do with the money they receive and the term over which they will repay the loan.
Once the proposals are approved, the loans are disbursed, and the borrowers (who join the bank as members) use the funds to start their own small businesses. These businesses are as varied as groceries, small agricultural ventures, or transportation services, to name a few. Members repay principal and interest on these loans in uniform weekly payments over the term of the loan. After the initial loan is paid off, members often apply for additional, larger loans with which they can expand their businesses.
So today, Babor, Kathryn, and I visited a center meeting. The center conducted its business while Kathryn and I asked questions (through Babor, of course) to several of the members of the center. The first woman was an elderly new borrower. We asked what she was doing with the loan. She said, "I am old, I cannot improve myself with my loan." Disappointment.
The second member of whom we asked this question, Morjina, had been a member for three years, and she said, "Today I am borrowing 100,000 taka (at an exchange rate of approximately 68 taka per U.S. dollar, this amounts to $1,470). Her first loan had been for 15,000 taka and the second for 30,000. With each of Morjina's loans, she expanded her husband's already existing grocery business and also bought a milk cow and some chickens for eggs.
I thought to myself, "Wait a minute, Grameen is supposed to be lending money to poor women. These loans were given to a woman whose husband already owned a business. Furthermore, the loans seem to have been funneled to her husband's business. This seems to contradict Grameen's mission of lending primarily to women in an effort to improve their social status, thereby empowering them."
Nonetheless, Morjina described the amount of income she and her husband were able to earn with their various business ventures. Both of her children were in school and were not having to work to help support their family. Obviously, Grameen's financial assistance had helped improve their livelihood. As the cliché goes, all is well that ends well.
While we were talking Morjina, another member was hiding her face in her sari, blushing a little bit. After Morjina had finished answering our questions, Babor asked if there were any long-time members. Several women in the center mentioned Shohana, and the blushing woman started giggling.
When Babor asked how much money she was borrowing today, Shohana answered "600,000 taka." At 68 taka per US dollar, this amounts to over $8,800. As we learned more about Shohana, we discovered that she had received her first loan of 3,000 taka 14 years ago. At that time, her husband was driving a baby taxi, which he did not own. With her first loan, Shohana bought a used, broken down bus. She and her husband repaired the bus and started a bus service. Again, the loan was funneled through the woman to her husband. However, Shohana and her husband now operate six buses. Her 600,000 taka loan is going to be used to purchase their seventh bus.
It was such an uplifting experience, spending time in the village. After the center meeting, each of the women with whom we spoke took us to their houses and stuffed us full of food. At Morjina's home, we met her husband and youngest child. They fed us bananas, mango "Hello Jello," and 7-Up from their grocery store. Additionally, Morjina brought us cups of homemade yogurt, which she had made with milk from her dairy cow. They laughed at me as I sliced a banana and put it in my yogurt. I explained that we put fruit in our yogurt in America. They looked baffled. After leaving the house, we visited their grocery. It had a variety of items for sale and a television playing movies in Bengali. There were several people congregating around the store watching the television. In a village with few televisions, this seemed quite an effective way to lure business to their store.
Shohana's home was a mansion compared to the other homes in the village. We met the husband who had been a rickshaw driver, turned taxi driver, turned bus driver, turned entrepreneur. Again, the wife and husband seemed to be equals. The woman brought us cookies and biscuits on very nice plates. On examining the room, I discovered a plethora of silverware, plates, and cookery, all of which are signs of wealth in Bangladesh. They also had a television and a battery-operated Apache helicopter toy for their young son.
Shohana's house is large enough that they currently rent a two-room apartment to a sick elderly woman and her son. Discussing their long-term plans, Shohana and her husband hope to build a five-story house. They plan to live on the top floor, while renting the bottom four to other families. If the couple's past successes are any indication, this plan will come to fruition in the not too distant future.
After leaving the village, we visited the village branch office. Here, we met with the branch manager, the assistant manager, and a center manager. Babor showed us the branch's books. This branch, while one of the more successful branches, had 68 million taka in deposits from both Grameen members and non-members. One of the main reasons for the overwhelming success of this branch is the fast growth of a nearby city to which several textile mills had located. Additionally, the branch has been in existence for more than 15 years.
In addition to offering a temporary escape from the low roar of traffic, the pungent odor of rot, and the constant pleading of beggars, the trip to the village offered hope that the bleak poverty of the Bangladeshi villagers could be alleviated. I am optimistic about the ability of the tools of finance to solve societal problems, like poverty.
Kathryn and I explored Dhaka on Friday, but this email is long enough as it is. That story will come at another time. Upon showing up for work this morning, Kathryn, Nana (a brand new German intern), and I were informed that we are to take a three-day, two-night trip to a village tomorrow. As a result of such short notice, I need to purchase some clothes and begin packing.

Steven Sibley from Bangladesh - Sept. 16, 2008

NOTE: MTSU student Steve Sibley is in Bangladesh to learn microfinance, a humanitarian empowerment of the poor, from its pioneer, Nobel Prize-winner and former MTSU professor Muhammad Yunus.

Sibley is the recipient of the Kawahito Scholarship for Experiential World Poverty Studies. For more information, contact Dr. Kiyoshi Kawahito at 615-898-5751.

I finally arrived in Dhaka, Bangladesh this morning at 8:50 Dhaka time. After about 30 hours in transit, the descent into Dhaka promised an end to what seemed like an endless day. The heat that I met upon disembarking from the plane was unlike any that I had ever felt. As I waited, and waited, and waited for my luggage to arrive on the conveyor belt, I began to accept that it might have gotten lost. Sure enough, it had gotten misplaced somewhere along the way.
After filing a report with the airport and heading outside, I was met with a great number of young boys, none appearing to be any older than 10, who tried to arrange a cab ride for me, for a small fee of course. One in particular, spoke surprisingly good English. The youngest of the group, probably about 5 or 6, was not trying to arrange a ride, but was instead begging for a meal. The desperation in his eyes as he held out one hand while rubbing his stomach with the other told me that he was not lying about his hunger. As the cab drove off, this young boy held onto the door and ran alongside the cab for several hundred feet. I could not turn him down. I handed him a $1 bill, which I knew, if it had any effect at all, would only stave off hunger for a day or so.
As the cab driver took me into the city, the traffic was unlike any I had ever seen. I didn't know that it was physically possible for five lanes of traffic to occupy four lanes. The constant din of honking was somewhat unnerving, but had much less effect on me than what I was about to see. Traffic ground to a halt. Beggars approached cars (and particularly my cab) from all sides.
One man was showing the gnarled black infection on his ankle; another had legs so skinny and useless that he was only able to beg in traffic by walking on his arms. Women with small babies clinging tightly to their necks had that same look of desperate hunger worn on the face of the young boy at the airport. It quickly became apparent that handing out money to all of these desperate people was not only impossible due to my meager funds, but also futile. Certainly, the relatively large number of beggars on this one road into Dhaka was a small number when compared to the number of poor, starved souls begging for sustenance throughout the city.
Had I not been so dehydrated from the constant sweating, I would have been weeping. Unable to afford the moisture for tears and exhausted by my travels, I was able to maintain my composure, but I was on the verge of a breakdown. Finally, after an hour and a half of breathing diesel fumes and dust on the road to the hotel, I arrived, drenched in sweat and light-headed due to thirst and exhaustion.
Getting out of the cab, I was struck by the putrid smell of rotting food, diesel, urine, and god knows what else. The stench was intense and the filth unlike any I had ever seen. There was a three-foot tall pile of trash, from which the rotting food smell was likely emanating A young boy of approximately ten years of age was sifting through this pile of rotting trash in search of food or anything else of value.
I checked into the hotel, and immediately ordered two liters of water from room service. The bottles were labeled "Acme Premium Drinking Water: Free from Arsenic." The fact that it is necessary for a manufacturer to advertise that its water is free from arsenic indicates exactly how difficult it is to find clean, safe drinking water here. After a small lunch, I bought some clothes, showered, and headed to Grameen Bank.
On the five minute walk to the bank, I saw men urinating in the gutter, more young boys sifting through garbage, and more men with legs skinnier than my wrists either walking on their hands or pushing themselves along on makeshift carts. People were performing all sorts of jobs on the side of the street. I saw a teenage boy underneath a car with a welding torch. Many people were cooking and selling food, while others were hocking bananas. A boy no older than four was begging alongside an elderly blind woman. The plight of the Bangladeshi people is immense.
Arriving at the Grameen Bank headquarters, I was thrilled to be off of the streets. The staff there was excited to see me. They each knew my name and were aware that I was coming. They hugged me despite my sweat-drenched clothes. I was relieved to find that I will have such supportive, kind, and generous people helping me. After introductions and a brief meeting with Babor, my internship coordinator, I headed back to my hotel to take a brief nap before dinner.
I'm not sure if my current exhaustion is the result of jet lag and lost luggage or of such an extremely emotional day of seeing so many who are so poor. As a compassionate person, I want to help, but I don't see how anything can alleviate the extreme poverty that I witnessed today. Typing this now brings me to the verge of tears. I hope that Grameen demonstrates that it is possible to help and that progress can be made.

Friday, September 19, 2008


elease date: Sept. 19, 2007

News & Public Affairs contact: Randy Weiler, 615-898-2919
Office of Admissions contact: Susanna Wassom, 615-898-2457


(MURFREESBORO) — Junior and senior high-school students from Chattanooga and surrounding counties are invited to attend MTSU’s student reception. It will be held from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 23, at the Chattanooga African-American Museum, 200 E. Martin Luther King Blvd.
Students from Hamilton, Bradley, Marion, Grundy, Sequatchie and other nearby counties are invited to attend, said Susanna Wassom, an MTSU admissions assistant director.
MTSU Office of Admissions, faculty, staff and students will answer the high-school students’ questions about admissions, financial aid, housing and academic programs, Wassom said.
One student will receive an iPod Touch, and other prizes will be awarded to those who attend.
To register for the event or for more information and contest rules, visit

For MTSU news and information, go to



CONTACT: Tim Musselman, 615-898-2493

Public Encouraged to Attend Free and Open Performance

(MURFREESBORO)—Jamey Simmons, MTSU faculty jazz trumpeter and composer, will give a free and open recital featuring the MTSU Faculty Jazz Octet and Quintet at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21 in the Hinton Music Hall of the Wright Music Building on the MTSU campus.
Joining Simmons will be MTSU faculty members Don Aliquo (tenor saxophone), David Loucky (trombone) and Pat Coil (piano), along with graduate assistants Jonathan Wires (bass), Ryan Middagh (baritone saxophone) and Derek Phillips (drums). MTSU student Cord Martin (alto saxophone) will also perform with the octet.
Simmons said the concert will begin with a transcription of Blue Mitchell's tune, "Millie," and will be performed by the octet.
"I feel pretty sanguine about the new tunes I've written for this concert," Simmons said. "I'm trying to express a variety of moods, and at the same time, give the group ample space to weave improvisations."
The Sept. 21 concert is free and open to the public.
For more information on this and other events in the MTSU School of Music, please call 615-898-2493 or visit


[105]MTSU crime log online

Sept. 18, 2008
CONTACT: Buddy Peaster, 615-898-2424
Tom Tozer, 615-898-2919

MURFREESBORO—Beginning next week (Sept. 22), the Middle Tennessee State University Police crime log will be posted and available online for anyone to access, all in an effort to continue to comply with recent legislation on the disclosure of information as well as to respond to the public’s right to know. Rather than having to go in person to police headquarters on campus, anyone who has Internet access will be able to print out a hard copy of the crime log.
“We really are committed to the idea that the community needs to know about incidents that occur on campus,” said MTSU Police Chief Buddy Peaster. “People need to be informed and make crime prevention part of their daily lives. All of us need to be more aware of what’s happening around us and implement crime-safety procedures.”
A crime log includes a general description of the incident, the date and time it occurred, where it happened and the disposition of the incident, whether it’s closed or still open, Peaster noted. The chief added that he hopes to include a case number.
“We want to go above and beyond what’s required and also include traffic stops and other infractions that are not considered criminal offenses,” Peaster said. “Anyone who has access to the Internet will be able to access this information. If you don’t have a computer, you can come to the police headquarters and we’ll provide computer access. It’s free of charge.”
Peaster added that as early as the spring 2009 semester, he hopes also to make basic police reports available online. Information will be accessible to anyone, including students, faculty and the media. Information that is released will remain within the parameters of what the law requires to be shared as well as what the law prohibits from being released, the latter including such information as birth date and Social Security and driver’s license numbers. Information on juveniles will not be disclosed.
To access the MTSU Police Web site, go to



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sept. 17, 2008EDITORIAL CONTACT: Gina Logue, 615-898-5081 ELECTIONS COME ALIVE FOR MTSU STUDENTS IN FALL CLASSES Producing Television Coverage, Dissecting Political Speech, Politics and the Press

(MURFREESBORO) – Several courses at MTSU this semester are geared toward capitalizing on the energy and excitement of what could be one of the most unique presidential elections in American history. Three of these courses will examine the relationships between politics and media, the nature of political speech, and concrete strategies for political involvement. Perhaps the most hands-on course is “Electronic Media Production: Election Night News Coverage,” taught by Dr. Bob Pondillo, associate professor of electronic media communication. Students will prepare and broadcast their own election night roundup live on MTTV, Channel 10, from 8 p.m. to 11 or possibly later, on Election Night, Tuesday, Nov. 4, depending on how close the tallies are. “It becomes more than just an organizational exercise, which is important,” Pondillo says. “However, it’s one thing to know how to make great television, but it’s quite another to know how to engage the community.” Although arrangements are subject to revision at a moment’s notice depending on the circumstances, the class is planning on three bases for live shots—outside Studio C of the John Bragg Mass Communication Building, outside the Rutherford County Election Commission building on the south side of the public square in Murfreesboro, and in the Keathley University Center, where a panel of pundits will analyze the results. “The idea is that we’re going to go live as much as possible, says student Richard Lowe, who will be the editorial content producer. In addition to the presidential contest, “Election Party ’08: Bring In the Vote” will focus on Tennessee races for the U.S. Senate; U.S. House; state Senate District 16; state House Districts 34, 48, 49 and 62; two aldermanic seats in La Vergne; three council seats in Eagleville; and three town council seats and a package liquor referendum in Smyrna. The numbers will be displayed at the bottom of the television screen through a black box Associated Press interface device. “It enables us to run live, real-time stats on the air no matter what else is on the screen, says Lowe. Since the broadcast is still in the planning stages, Lowe says, the most time-consuming preparation involves jumping through some logistical hoops. “We have to go through a lot of different levels to get people to understand what we’re doing, he says. “It’s definitely testing our networking skills.”

Several elected officials are scheduled to drop in on another election-related course, the “Political Communication” course taught by Dr. Russell Church, professor in the Department of Speech and Theatre. State Reps. John Hood and Kent Coleman and State Sen. Bill Ketron are slated to meet with students, and Kim Harris-Mullins, an aide to U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon who has taught the course herself at MTSU, has been helping to recruit other speakers. Students will take on questions of whether race and gender are still issues, who votes and why, whether candidates are now more important than parties, whether the media now call the shots, the power of interest groups, and how parties can increase turnout. The fall lecture series from the University Honors College is titled “Politics and the Press: The Relationship Between Government and the Fourth Estate.” It kicked off in earnest Sept. 8 with “Immigrationomics,” a dissection of the impact of undocumented aliens in America, by Dr. William Ford, holder of the Weatherford Chair of Finance. Other topics to be explored include “Politics, the Presidency and Film;” “Politics, Non-Traditional Media and Young Voters;” “Agenda-Setting Images in National Politics;” and “Between Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama: Race Management, Electoral Populism and Presidential Politics.”
ATTENTION, MEDIA: For more information on Election Night television coverage by MTSU students, contact Dr. Bob Pondillo at 615-904-8465 or “Political Communication” is taught on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:20 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. in Room 302 of the E.W. Midgett Business Building. For more information, contact Dr. Russell Church at 615-494-7958 or The Honors Lecture Series on “Politics and the Press” takes place each Monday at 3 p.m. in Room 106 of the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building. To learn more, contact the University Honors College at 615-898-2152. Honors lectures are free and open to the public.


Release date: Sept. 16, 2008

News & Public Affairs contact: Randy Weiler, 615-898-2919
Development contact for media: Meredith Kerr, 615-898-2728


(MURFREESBORO) — The Office of Development’s fall annual giving Phonathon will move into its next phase, said Meredith Kerr, coordinator of annual giving.
MTSU students will be calling alumni to inform them of the latest developments from MTSU and their respective colleges and ask them to make a gift to the university, Kerr said. It also serves as an opportunity to update their personal information for alumni records. Students will ask for a gift to the MTSU Foundation Annual Fund, and calls generally will be made from Sunday through Thursday.
Kerr said the mission of the MTSU Phonathon is to build the university’s alumni participation through yearly gifts from alumni, parents and students by informing them about the current needs of the university.
“The Phonathon is essential to increasing our private support for the institution and enhancing our academic departments and programs,” she said.
Contributions made to the MTSU Annual Fund through the Phonathon can go to any specific need or area of interest, Kerr said. These can include, but are not limited to, student scholarships, innovative academic endeavors, state-of-the-art computer/laboratory equipment, special library and departmental acquisitions, facilities improvement or special academic initiatives and projects.
The calling schedule to alumni includes: Sept. 17-Oct.1, Jennings A. Jones College of Business; Oct. 2-16, Mass Communication; Oct. 19-28, Education and Behavioral Science; Oct. 29-Nov. 12, Basic and Applied Sciences; Nov. 13-17, Continuing Education and Distance Learning; and Nov. 18-Nov. 23, James E. Walker Library. From Sept. 7-16, alumni from the College of Liberal Arts were called.
For more information, please contact Kerr by calling 615-898-2728 or e-mailing You also may visit
For MTSU news and information, go to



CONTACT: Caneta Hankins, 615-898-2947

111-Year-Old Roach Farm is County’s Newest Century Farm, Hankins Reports

(MURFREESBORO, Tenn.)— The Roach Farm in Grainger 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 MTSU campus.
Related to its history, as the 19th century came to a close, John Spoon purchased 27 acres in Grainger County in 1897, paying $194.50 for the parcel of land. The family indicated that John owned considerable acreage in the Central Point community and passed it on to his six children. Born in 1842, John served in the 4th Tennessee Calvary Company C during the Civil War. He and his wife, Martha Satterfield, and their family raised wheat, corn, hay and cattle.
The next generation to own the property was Sam Spoon, who acquired the land in 1909, two years before his father’s death. His and wife Amanda had nine children. In 1913, Amanda passed away and Sam later married Susie Bridgewater. During Sam’s ownership, the farm produced wheat, oats, corn, sheep and cattle. According to the family’s records, Sam had a goose that he sold for a pound of meat, and then traded his meat for an acre of land, and soon began accumulating more land. Sam lived to be 93 years old and his family remembers that he “loved to sit on his front porch and watch his cattle.”
In 1927, Claude Spoon and his wife Ella Hodge purchased some of the property from his father and became the third generation to own the land. Claude and Ella children were Hazel, Helen and Claude Jr. Under their ownership, they made many improvements to the farmhouse such as putting a cinderblock foundation underneath, adding more rooms and putting in wooden floors, walls and new ceilings. The family did not have electricity until 1953 and Ella cooked on a wooden stove all her life. They raised cattle, swine and chickens, and Ella took her eggs to the store to trade for meal, sugar, coffee and other goods. Claude died in 1957 and the farm passed to Ella.
Only a few short years later, in 1959, Ella split the farm into two tracts and gave them to her two daughters, Helen and Hazel. Hazel, married briefly to Clinton Roach, had one son, Martin. Hazel and Martin lived with her parents on that farm. Helen, who did not marry, was very active in the farm’s work and management as well. Helen, who stripped most of the tobacco by herself, raised potatoes, Irish and sweet, cornfield peas, and had “lots of chickens and cats,” according to the family’s records. The sisters loved the farm and enjoyed having friends, neighbors, and family visit.
In 1991, Helen’s health deteriorated and she passed her part of the land to her nephew, Martin. The sisters, always close, died within seven months of one another. When Hazel died in 1998, she bequeathed her acreage to her son. Today, Martin and wife Brenda Lawrence Roach own the property, where they have lived on since the 1960s. Martin and Brenda’s children are Robin, Mark and Jamie.


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The owners report that Mark seems to have his great-aunt Helen’s love of growing vegetables and raising animals, including chickens. Active in the 4-H when in high school, he and his family live on the farm. Robin and her husband, Gary Yardley, also live on the farm. Jamie has worked on the farm since high school. Although employed by Ross Meter Co., he handles most of farm workload with his father and also lives on the farm.
The Roach family has worked hard and maintained their acreage while also making many improvements to the farm over the years such as putting up new barbed-wire fences all around the borders and purchasing a bush hog to help them keep their fields clean.
“They recently added two more ponds and a new water-tank system,” Hankins noted. Also, they run around 40 head of cattle, and while Martin manages the farm that he has lived on since a child, he also pastors Flat Gap Baptist Church in New Market.
“Martin and Brenda are retired from their ‘off-the-farm jobs’ and enjoy an active life on what is truly a family farming enterprise,” she added.
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 owners or request jpegs for editorial use, please contact the CHP directly at 615-898-2947.