MURFREESBORO — MTSU’s newest alumni have countless “outrageous adventures” ahead, one of their professors assured them Saturday, Aug. 6, at the university’s summer 2016 commencement ceremony in Murphy Center.
“We wish we could guarantee that things would be spectacular as soon as you cross this stage,” Tricia Farwell, an advertising and public relations professor and the outgoing MTSU Faculty Senate president, told the 886 graduates. “But you’re not here to live a fairy tale. … You are the only one who can hold you responsible.”
The summer 2016 graduates included the first 10 recipients of MTSU’s new Doctor of Education in Assessment, Learning, and School Improvement degree — the first of its kind in Tennessee. The program in the College of Education (http://www.mtsu.edu/education/alsi.php) began in fall 2013 and trains educators in pre-K through 12th grades to analyze student-learning data and pinpoint areas of success as well as areas in need of attention.
“Adventures planned and unplanned are what make us who we are,” Farwell continued. “Live your adventures, find your voice and have your own experiences. Starting this moment, take the time to create the biggest, most spectacular, most outrageous adventures that you can.”
One of those new graduates, Mark Eischeid of Murfreesboro, completed one of his adventures by checking off a long-delayed item on his to-do list.
The area business manager at the Bridgestone/Firestone plant in La Vergne, Tennessee, struck up a conversation with David Gotcher, interim dean of MTSU’s University College, while leading an Aug. 2 plant tour for some MTSU faculty. Eischeid told Gotcher that he’d entered MTSU in 1980 as a marketing major but dropped out in 1984 after acquiring a job in Smyrna.
Gotcher checked the 54-year-old Eischeid’s transcript and found out that he was eligible for a bachelor’s degree if he switched his major to liberal studies, a major that didn’t exist in 1984. MTSU’s degree-track analysts went into overdrive to determine whether Eischeid could join Saturday’s ceremony.
“We were just able to restructure the courses that he was taking to allow him to legitimately, academically finish a degree,” said Gotcher, whose college specializes in working with adult learners.
He pointed to Eischeid as a great example of former students who are being aided by Tennessee Reconnect and Graduate MT (http://www.mtsu.edu/adcp/reconnect.php), an outreach program that targets adults who want to finish their college degrees. Gotcher said about 200 students have taken advantage of the program in the past year.
“He was on our list,” said Gotcher. “We just hadn’t heard from him yet, so we followed up.”
“I’m actually very excited, kind of shocked,” said Eischeid as he waited for commencement to begin.
Eischeid, who has been with Bridgestone for 17 years, said he “just got busy with life” with his wife, family and career and “put the degree on the back burner.”
More higher education isn’t off the table. “I’ll think about this, but, you know, if it’s out there, there’s maybe a couple of opportunities for a further degree,” Eischeid said.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee told the excited crowd that he considers commencement “the single most important event of this university” and encouraged the new graduates to “bask in the glow that comes with this day.”
A complete list of the 273 graduate and 613 undergraduate degree recipients from all nine of MTSU’s colleges is available in the summer commencement program at http://ow.ly/uW0o302Zp0k.
The event program also includes a list on page six of the university’s newest professors emeriti, which is an honor bestowed during MTSU’s summer commencements upon retiring professors as thanks for their exceptional service and achievements.
MTSU graduation information is always available online at http://www.mtsunews.com/graduation-info.
The university’s 2016-17 academic year begins Monday, Aug. 22, with the first official day of fall 2015 semester classes. University Convocation, a public ceremony welcoming new freshmen into the MTSU family, is set for Sunday, Aug. 21, at 2 p.m. in Murphy Center.