Wednesday, May 27, 2015

[480] MTSU professor taps technology, wins award for helping blind statistics student

MURFREESBORO — How can a totally blind college student pass a statistics class, which requires students to understand such visual items as graphs and charts?

Stuart Bernstein, a professor of psychology at MTSU, found ways to help rising senior James Boehm of Memphis, Tennessee, in his Statistics 2030 class in the fall 2014 semester. That ingenuity earned Bernstein an award from the National Foundation of the Blind.

The Stones River Chapter gave Bernstein an Educator of the Year Certificate and his own white-tipped cane at a chapter gathering in mid-April in the SunTrust Room of MTSU’s Business and Aerospace Building. Mark Riccobono, president of the national organization, congratulated Bernstein via speakerphone.

The chapter acted on Boehm’s nomination entry, which read, in part, “When I think of a professor who does whatever it takes to make a student’s education fully accessible and rewarding, I cannot help but think of Dr. Bernstein.”

Bernstein said Boehm had learned of a special tablet that would create raised lines on paper by drawing on it with heavy pressure.

The tablet, which is about the size of a mouse pad, enabled Bernstein to draw columns and graphs that Boehm could read by touching them.

“The probability tables are incredibly dense with columns and columns of numbers,” said Bernstein.

In addition, Bernstein used a multimedia interactive textbook that was paid for with a grant from the National Science Foundation. He also saved his PowerPoint presentations to the class in an outline format so that Boehm’s text reader could say them out loud.

“This is just a regular part of my job, to make sure that everyone I’m teaching understands and has access to stats,” said Bernstein. “It’s just what I do. And he did the hard work. I just simplified the tables. He learned everything.”

Boehm, who attends classes with the help of his trusty working dog, Shep, wrote, “Dr. Stuart Bernstein always made himself available to me if I needed further explanation on a lesson. If I emailed him, rarely did I wait more than an hour for a response.”

The certificate reads, “The National Federation of the Blind of Tennessee, Stones River Chapter, recognizes Dr. Stuart Bernstein as the recipient of the 2015 Educator of the Year Award because of the ways he ensures that his MTSU students who are blind and visually impaired have equal access to every aspect of his classes, his individualized support and willingness to learn supportive technology and tools and his recognition of the unique learning styles of all students.”

Boehm and Bernstein also credit MTSU’s Adaptive Technology Lab and Disability and Access Center with providing critical assistance.

For more information on MTSU’s services for the disabled, contact the Disability and Access Center at 615-898-2783 or go to

[479] Acclaimed alumnus, friends headline Tennessee Guitar Festival at MTSU

MURFREESBORO — An acclaimed alumnus, a past winner, neighbors and friends will help MTSU celebrate the 14th annual Tennessee Guitar Festival and International Competition May 27-30 on campus alongside some of the world's best young guitarists in concerts and master classes.

Each evening’s concert will begin at 8 p.m. in Hinton Hall inside the university’s Wright Music Building.

MTSU alumnus Matt Palmer, who debuted at Carnegie Hall in 2014 in that venue’s D'Addario Performance Series, will return to campus to headline the 2015 Tennessee Guitar Festival and present the Friday, May 29, concert.

Austin, Texas-based Chad Ibison, who won the 2013 Tennessee Guitar Festival Competition, also will return to MTSU to present the opening concert on Wednesday, May 27. He’ll be joined by Dr. Michael Patilla from Mississippi State University.

On Thursday, May 28, Dr. Elliot Frank from East Carolina University and Dr. Nick Ciraldo from University of Southern Mississippi will perform.

The guitar competition, which features a total $2,750 in prize money, regularly draws the world's best young guitarists to compete for the $1,200 first prize. A special concert featuring the guitar competition finalists is set for 8 p.m. Saturday, May 30, in Hinton Hall.

All events are open to the public. Admission to each concert is $10; students 18 and under will be admitted free. A single registration fee of $30 will admit guests to all four concerts along with lectures, workshops and master classes.

Palmer, a Tennessee native and 2003 magna cum laude graduate of MTSU who now teaches classical guitar in Bowie, Maryland, has received rave reviews at international performances. Guitar International Magazine described his work as having "the soul of an artist, with the technical virtuosity of the highest caliber and a heightened sense of musicality." You can watch his most recent promotional video at

Ibison, who is currently a teaching assistant at the University of Texas at Austin, has won numerous international guitar competition prizes. You can watch Ibison perform Bach's "Sonata in E minor for flute and continuo" at the 2013 Guitar Foundation of America International Concert Artist Competition at

Festival performers Ciraldo, Frank and Patilla all are seasoned international performers, competition winners and master teachers representing university guitar programs in the region. In addition to evening performances, they will also be presenting master classes at the festival.

“This competition brings in world-class guitarists,” said Dr. William Yelverton, festival director and a professor of music at MTSU. “This is a unique opportunity to hear some of the finest young guitarists in the world compete for prestige and prize money. As with last year, we are expecting a contingent of guitarists from Europe and Latin America to be among the competitors in this year's competition."

"The Saturday night finals will be an awesome display of solo guitar playing. I particularly hope young guitarists from the community take this opportunity to hear this event, the largest of its kind in the state. It only happens once a year."

More information on the event is available at 

[478] MTSU’s Huber will speak May 24 at Stones River Battlefield Memorial Day event

MURFREESBORO — Retired Lt. Gen. Keith M. Huber, MTSU’s senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives, will be speaking during the 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 24, Stones River National Battlefield and Cemetery events to commemorate Memorial Day.

The battlefield and cemetery are accessible via both 3501 Old Nashville Highway and 1563 N. Thompson Lane in Murfreesboro.

A retired U.S. Army three-star general, Huber spent nearly 40 years in the military serving his country and now lives in Franklin, Tennessee.

The Memorial Day program will be held at the rostrum in the Stones River National Cemetery. Parking will be in the visitor center parking lot. Visitors are encouraged to park at the North Thompson Lane entrance. Visitors with disabilities will be directed to parking near the event.

In remembering the sacrifices of soldiers past and present, the May 24 program will include patriotic music, a wreath-laying ceremony and the reading of names of veterans who have died since Memorial Day 2014.

Hired by the university in January, Huber is helping bridge the gap between the MTSU student veterans population (around 1,000 including family members) and the campus community. He has met with MTSU student veterans in campus town hall meetings to gauge their needs and earlier this spring toured the Pat Tillman Veterans Center at Arizona State University to research the veterans services offered there.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee announced recently the university plans to create a 2,600-square-foot center specifically for student veterans. The construction in Keathley University Center will coincide with a suite of new student services.

To assist veterans and their families in a variety of ways, MTSU unveiled the state’s first VetSuccess on Campus program in March 2012. The VetSuccess office will move to the new center. Learn more about MTSU’s student veterans’ services at

[477] Registration now open for Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp

MURFREESBORO — A fun-filled week of rock, rhythm and recording information is in store at the 13th annual Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp.

Registration is open now for the day camp, which is scheduled for July 27-31 at MTSU, at .

Tuition is $310 per camper with a 5 percent discount for siblings if they enroll at the same time.

The camp is open to girls ages 10 to 17. It was created by Kelley Anderson in 2003 to give young women an empowering, positive place for self-expression through music.

Activities include instruction from experienced musicians in beginning and advanced guitar, beginning and advanced drums, keyboards, vocals, electronic music and bass. The camp will culminate in a showcase that is open to the public.

Workshops in recording, screen printing, photography, image and identity and music “herstory” also will be provided. There also will be daily lunchtime performances from local acts such as Wildfront, Sallow, Becky Buller and many more.

Scholarship applications are available at .

Southern Girls Rock & Roll Camp is a program of Youth Empowerment through Arts and Humanities, or YEAH!, a Murfreesboro-based nonprofit organization. For more information, contact YEAH! at 615-849-8140 or

[476] ‘MTSU On the Record’ ponders wisdom of NFL coaching changes

MURFREESBORO — A professor will provide his view of turnover among head coaches in the National Football League on the next edition of the “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Michael Roach, assistant professor of economics, will air from 5:30 to 6 p.m. Monday, May 25, and from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, May 31, on WMOT-FM (89.5 and

After analyzing all NFL teams between 1995 and 2012, Roach concluded that, on average, teams fare even worse in the win column after changing head coaches.

Roach discovered that firing a head coach reduces the next season’s win total by eight-tenths of a win, the difference between the number of points scored by the team and the number of points scored against it by 27 points and the likelihood of making the playoffs by 12 percent.

“If you’re an organization, and you think that a change of coaching is going to change your on-field fortunes overnight, I think it’s useful to understand that that’s, on average, not the case,” Roach said.

Roach, who teaches sports economics at MTSU, published his research in the academic journal “Applied Economics Letters.”
To listen to previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, go to click on the “more” link under “Audio Clips.”

For more information, contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.