Wednesday, January 07, 2015

[252] MTSU enters partnership with Blackman High School to offer college-level courses, support for new Collegiate Academy

High school students can take up to six hours at MTSU at no cost;
university to assist BHS in development of new program for top scholars

The agreement signed Tuesday (Jan. 6) by MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Blackman Principal Leisa Justus will allow Blackman juniors and seniors who meet eligibility standards to take up to six hours of university courses at no cost to students. Credits will count on high school and college transcripts.

The partners will develop and offer select post-secondary courses at Blackman with an eye toward building curriculum options for the Collegiate Academy, a competitive college-preparatory program at the school that begins this fall.

MTSU will also make certain programs, activities and resources available to academy students, such as access to its new state-of-the-art, $147 million Science Building, education-abroad programs and participation in campus events and lectures.

“We are excited to partner with Blackman in the formation of the Collegiate Academy, which promises to be among the very best preparatory programs of its kind in the nation,” McPhee said.

“And we are eager to welcome select Blackman students to the MTSU family through our dual-enrollment program,” he said. “This will afford them a unique opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge about the advantages offered by our university.”

Justus said she welcomed MTSU’s participation in the new academy and looked forward to the university’s greater involvement at the school. Blackman is accepting applications for the academy until Jan. 19. For more information on the academy, go to

“This partnership will help prepare our graduates to succeed in their higher educational pursuits,” Justus said. “It will help us create a rigorous academic environment in the academy where our students can be challenged.”

McPhee said the initial classes by MTSU on Blackman’s west Murfreesboro campus will likely include courses such as freshman-level biology, chemistry, English, history and other “core curriculum” required for university students regardless of major.

MTSU is able to offer six credits at no cost to students, he said, thanks to a state Dual Enrollment Grant, funded by the Tennessee Lottery, and a new dual-enrollment rate recently approved by the Tennessee Board of Regents at goes into effect this fall. The credits can apply to MTSU or another university of the student’s choice.

Odom thanked McPhee for reaching out to him early in his tenure as director to ask how MTSU could assist the county school system.

“We have lots of bright students … and if we can get MTSU teachers into this school, we have some opportunities there, and we can retain some of the best and brightest here in Rutherford County,” he said.

Justus said the academy would require students to earn a combined total of at least 12 credits in honors, advanced placement or dual-enrollment courses.

And she said she hopes the university will be a resource for the academy’s “major focus areas” that students will select for specialization, which include:
·      STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
·      Fine Arts
·      Health Science
·      Business and Economics
·      Math and Science
·      Liberal Arts
·      Information Technology
·      Political Science
·      Journalism and Communications
·      Agricultural Science
·      Culinary Science

“MTSU’s standing as a major comprehensive university will provide Blackman many opportunities for enrichment,” McPhee said. “We bring to bear a top-notch faculty, more than 140 undergraduate majors and state-of-the-art facilities.”

Justus said the academy also would require real-life experiences, school involvement and small-group and individual research projects that culminate into a senior-year project. That makes access to MTSU resources like the Science Building and the James E. Walker Library and other programs even more valuable, she said.

“There’s no doubt that our partnership with the university will give our academy students, and our entire school, some amazing opportunities,” she said.

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