Wednesday, May 17, 2017

[462] Deadline nears for STEM camp at MTSU for underrepresented middle school girls

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — The deadline for a STEM camp at MTSU for underrepresented middle school girls is Friday, May 19, and openings remain, a camp official said.

Participants will spend one day during the week of camp (June 12-16) to learn about each letter in STEM — one day on Science, one on Technology, one on Engineering and one on Mathematics — and the closing day will include a group activity to develop a poster describing one activity covered during the week the students particularly liked.

Those underrepresented in STEM fields include African-American, Hispanic and Native American girls.

The cost is $100 per participant (lunch and snacks provided) with $75 scholarships available for students eligible for free and reduced lunch. For scholarships or to apply to attend, visit

To apply for a scholarship, parents must provide certification of the student’s participation in the free and reduced lunch program.

The camp will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with drop-off starting at 8 a.m. and pick up by 4:30 p.m. in the Kirksey Old Main lobby. To find KOM, visit Each of the daily STEM activities will be held at a different campus location.

“Activities are fun, hands-on and age appropriate,” said Tom Cheatham, director of the Tennessee STEM Education Center at MTSU.

For questions about the program, email Cheatham at or call 615-904-8573.

To learn about other summer camp opportunities at MTSU, visit the Summer Experiences website at

[461] MTSU on WGNS: Liberal arts education, performance arts, historic preservation

MTSU faculty and staff took to WGNS Radio recently to share information about the university’s efforts to emphasize the value of a liberal arts education, the latest events and enhancements in the fine arts department as well as ongoing faculty and staff projects to preserve history.

The details were shared during the May 15 “Action Line” program with host Bart Walker. The live program was broadcast on FM 100.5, 101.9 and AM 1450 from the WGNS studio in downtown Murfreesboro. If you missed it, you can listen to a podcast of the show here.

Guests and their topics were as follows:

Dr. Karen Petersen, interim dean of the MTSU College of Liberal Arts, discussed the faculty-driven effort to reinforce the benefits of getting a liberal arts education. The disciplines within Liberal Arts form the foundation of higher education and the knowledge and skills that are represented in a liberal arts degree have applications across a variety of career paths.

More than 2,500 students major in fields housed in the 10 academic departments of the MTSU College of Liberal Arts. Learn more at

Dr. Mike Parkinson, director of the MTSU School of Music, and Justin Reed, production manager of the Department of Theatre and Dance, discussed the latest news within MTSU fine arts, including upcoming renovations.

More than 200 concerts a year offered by the School of Music, a prestigious "all Steinway" school, while top-notch stage performances are presented at Tucker Theatre. Learn more at

Antoinette Van Zelm, assistant director of the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, discussed ongoing CHP projects, including a drive to streamline the application process for its professional services partnerships, which enable local governments, state agencies, nonprofit organizations and community groups to save their local history with the help of the CHP’s professional staff and graduate research assistants at no cost.

The deadline to apply for a partnership is June 1. Learn more at

[460] MTSU’s EXL Program honors three with outstanding faculty awards

MTSU’s Experiential Learning Program has recognized the hard work of three individuals by presenting them with the 2016 Outstanding EXL Faculty Award.
Since its establishment in 2006, MTSU’s EXL Program has provided students with hands-on learning in a specific work or service. It presents these annual awards to faculty members who go above and beyond in providing their students with experiential learning opportunities.
The 2016 winners are Odie Blackmon, Dr. Tricia Farwell and Dr. Lauren Rudd.
• Odie Blackmon, assistant professor of Recording Industry and Commercial Songwriting Concentration coordinator, was honored due to his commitment in providing educational and professional experiences for his students.
Since joining the Department of Recording Industry in 2014, Blackmon has continuously provided experiential learning to his students by the creation of new courses, establishment of the MTSU Student Songwriter Showcase, and a fundraiser that brought $10,000 to the university’s Songwriting program. Additionally, Blackmon connects his students with professionals in the music industry through a number of partnerships. These partners include ASCAP, Grammy Award-winning artists and songwriters such as Alison Krauss and R.L. Castleman, artist manager Mike Doyle, industry publishers such as BMG Music Publishing, and many more. Blackmon even helped students secure summer jobs at the George Jones Museum after working with Jones’s widow, Nancy.
Advanced songwriting students praised Blackmon’s commitment to the class, saying, “Odie has such a strong desire for his students to succeed, so he works hard to give us opportunities that set us up for success. Writing songs with the Australian students and recording them in RCA Studio A was just one of the many incredible experiences we got through Odie during our Advanced Songwriting class. This class is so valuable and I can’t believe how lucky we are to have been a part of it.”
“It has been my goal, since becoming a faculty member at Middle Tennessee State University, to craft experiences for my students that will not only offer them the opportunity to learn practical skills in the recording industry field but to take them to settings where they will attain first-hand knowledge of the music business by talking to and working with industry professionals,” Blackmon said.
Associate professor of advertising Dr. Tricia Farwell was also honored because of the success in her Advertising Campaigns and Internship/Practicum courses in the School of Journalism.
In Farwell’s Advertising Campaigns course, students have the opportunity to research, design, and implement advertising campaigns for community partners. In some instances, students have even received awards for their hard work and dedication. In spring 2013, a group of Farwell’s students won first place in the America’s Natural Gas Alliance Collegiate Energy Challenge, receiving a $5,000 reward and trip to present their campaign in Washington, D.C.
In discussing Farwell’s campaigns class, assistant journalism professor Katie Foss said, “Her consistent regard for students being able to connect to the material beyond the textbook has been instrumental in preparing her students for a life in advertising and public relations.”
Farwell noted that advertising students have more opportunities through the EXL Program: “Having the connection to EXL encouraged us to incorporate a stronger reflective element through weekly journaling. The impact on the course was huge. The students were making connections beyond the classroom in areas of teamwork, professional development, community, and advertising in general.”
• Dr. Lauren Rudd, assistant professor in the Department of Human Sciences, was honored for her work in service learning by offering diverse learning opportunities for her students and spearheading faculty involvement in the EXL Program.
Rudd has greatly contributed to student success through a variety of class projects. In Social Aspects of Clothing, Rudd gave students the chance to gain perspective by trying on the headdress of diverse cultures. In Computer-Aided Apparel Design, students were also given the opportunity to create window displays for Garden Patch (a local Greenhouse Ministries thrift store) and develop marketing strategies to increase donations. In the future, Rudd plans to include Mitchell-Neilson Elementary School students in purchasing, reconstructing and styling clothes from the store.
“Working with elementary school students will help encourage awareness of the community services that Greenhouse provides, and expose the youngsters to career opportunities and information regarding their interests and abilities,” she said. “Positive relationships are formed between the university and elementary students through demonstrating to the kids that everyone, even at a young age, can have a positive impact within the community.”

Rudd has also collaborated with the Organizational Communication Department to train student assistants in a quilt workshop for young people with disabilities. Additionally, she has submitted 27 courses to potentially join the Experiential Learning Program, helping more students graduate as Experiential Learning Scholars.