MURFREESBORO — An hourlong summer thunderstorm may have canceled the official MTSU Opening Night Ceremony, but it did not dampen spirits or curtail the annual President’s Picnic Saturday (Aug. 23).
Because of rain and lightning, university officials called off the scheduled one-hour ceremony in Floyd Stadium featuring MTSU Summer Reading Program author Jay Allison, who penned “This I Believe,” which is about the personal philosophies of remarkable men and women.
Murphy Center renovations forced university officials to switch Convocation to a different day, time and venue, and a slightly different name this year. Convocation is a formal Week of Welcome event for new students, their families and friends of the university, and always held on Sunday afternoons in the previous 12 years.
The President’s Picnic always follows Convocation, but it turned out to be the only event because Mother Nature upstaged the Opening Night Ceremony. To view video from the rainout and picnic, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3lrQ0tLtWU. To view more photographs, visit https://www.facebook.com/mtsublueraiders.
“We had to cancel, but we think folks still had a good time in the rain and picnic,” said Dr. Deb Sells, vice president for Student Affairs and vice provost for Enrollment and Academic Services.
Sells said the attendees all had something in common — sitting or standing out of the rain and lightning, and enjoying barbecue, hot dogs, potato salad and other picnic fare.
“This was a great ice-breaker,” Sells said. “This will make the Class of 2018 different from every other class.”
Freshman Taylor Gordon of Columbia, Tennessee, joined her 350-member Band of Blue for a trio of songs including “Get Ready,” the “MTSU Fight Song” and “2001,” plus some other pregame songs.
“I’ve had fun in the rain. It didn’t bother me,” said Gordon, who was joined by her mother, Jill Gordon; an aunt, Karen Clark; and nephews Ryan and Brady Clark, all from Columbia, at the event. “We sat and talked, and then played. I really wanted to be on the field, so everybody could see us, but we got to hang out with everybody.”
Taylor Gordon said her Band of Blue mates were going to a get-together later in the evening.
Donnell Reynolds, a junior graphic design major from Chattanooga, Tennessee, said it “seemed like everybody had an enjoyable time,” even with the rain.
“It’s a good way to meet new people, and the food’s pretty good, too,” said Reynolds, who was eating with recent alumnus Ed Lester.
Luther McGee, a freshman accounting major from Memphis, Tennessee, said he still enjoyed the event despite the weather.
“I still got to connect with other people and feed my tummy,” said McGee, who was joined by his mother, Nicole Martin; sister, Monae McGee; and cousins Sienna, Miranda, Erica and Micah Bills, all from Memphis, at the event.
A foursome of freshmen friends —Ceosha Wiseman and Moesha Yancey of Collierville, Tennessee, Ann-Hali Blewett of Portland, Tennessee, and Spenser Crutcher of Memphis — was surprised when university President Sidney A. McPhee showed up to personally greet them.
Allison will appear at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24, at Linebaugh Public Library, 105 W. Vine St., in downtown Murfreesboro. He will sign copies of his book and meet attendees in the second-floor reading room. Registration is required and the cost is $10.
An independent producer and journalist, Allison lives with his family on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. He will visit two MTSU classes Monday, Aug. 25, the official start of the fall semester for MTSU and other Tennessee Board of Regents institutions.
Sells and other campus officials expect Convocation to return to Murphy Center in August 2015.