Monday, May 21, 2018

[455] MTSU closes May 28 for Memorial Day holiday; classes resume May 29

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — MTSUwill be closed Monday, May 28, for the Memorial Day holiday. All offices will be closed and no summer term classes will be held.

Offices will reopen at 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 29. All summer term classes will resume at their regular times May 29.

MTSU campus openings and closings during the Memorial Day weekend:

James E. Walker Library— open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 26 and closed May 27-28.
• Student UnionKeathley University Centerand James Union Building— closed May 26-28
• Campus Recreation Center— closed May 26-28
• Student Health Servicesand Campus Pharmacy— closed May 26-28.

MTSUhas more than 240 combined undergraduate and graduate programs.

MT Dining hours of operation are always available on

[454] ‘MTSU On the Record’ fiddles around with co-author of John Hartford book

MURFREESBORO — The publication of previously unrecorded tunes by the late John Hartford is the topic of the next “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Greg Reish, director of MTSU’s Center for Popular Music, will air from 9:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, May 22, and from 6 to 6:30 a.m. Sunday, May 27, on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and

Reish, a music history professor and accomplished musician, wrote the text for “John Hartford’s Mammoth Collection of Fiddle Tunes” with former John Hartford String Band member Matt Combs and Hartford’s daughter, Katie Hartford Hogue.

The collection of 176 original fiddle tunes was culled down from more than 1,000 numbers that Hartford had written in more than 60 music journals he had squirreled away in boxes before his 2001 passing from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Hartford is best known as the composer of the Glen Campbell hit “Gentle on My Mind” and for his late ‘60s and early ‘70s television appearances on “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour” and “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.”  

However, Reish said, his blend of traditional folk and bluegrass music with contemporary twists continues to influence musicians of various genres.

“There’s always something distinctive and original in John’s music, and that’s true of his instrumental tunes as much as it is of the songs with words,” Reish said. “His influence seems to be as big as it ever was.”

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at

For more information about “MTSU On the Record,” contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.

[453] MTSU students make major impact at National Robotics Challenge

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. —For the second consecutive year, members of the MTSU Robotics Club shined at the National Robotics Challenge recently at the Marion County Fairgrounds in Marion, Ohio.

This year, MTSU emerged with gold and silver awards in the Mini-Sumo Robot competition, silver and bronze in Combat Robot competition and a bronze in the Autonomous Vehicles Challenge.

MTSU’s winners included:

• Wenbo Dong, a computational sciences graduate student from Beijing, China, who earned first place in the Mini Sumo robot competition and second place in Combat Robot event.
• Jacob Pawelski, senior and team captain from Elmwood, Tennessee; junior Sarah Zakariaof Thompson’s Station, Tennessee, and sophomore Michael Boyteof Frederick, Maryland — all mechatronics engineering majors — for a third-place showing in Combat Robot.
• Corey Gamache, junior and team captain from Murfreesboro, and juniors Nick Bledsoeand Alex Davis-Snow, both from Murfreesboro, captured third place in the Autonomous Vehicles Challenge. All are mechatronics majors.

“The teams did extremely well considering they won gold and silver awards in the Mini-Sumo competition at the postsecondary (level 3) level and the other awards,” said Vishwas Bedekar, club adviser and assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Technology. “Overall, it was a very productive competition for us and the students learned a lot from this exposure.”

The Mini-Sumo Robot needs to be self-propelled, self-controlled, powered by electrical batteries and be able to sense the other competition robot, Bedekar said. 

In Combat Robot, students design and create a single, custom-built machine that employs one or more methods of destroying or disabling their robot competitor. In the Autonomous Vehicle Challenge, each team had to design and build a vehicle to try to navigate an obstacle course in less than five minutes.

With approximately 450 robots participating, more than 1,300 students and 80 schools from eight states competed in divisions including college and university, high school, middle school and elementary school, event organizers said. MTSU’s on-site rivals were the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Case Western Reserve University. 

The MTSU club has been participating at the nationals since 2016 when MTSU was a Mini-Sumo Robot finalist. Members earned gold and bronze awards in Combat Robot and a bronze in Autonomous Vehicles Challenge.

The robotics club student chapter in engineering technology “has been consistently improving each year in terms of teams’ performances across competitions at the National Robotics Challenge,” Bedekar said.

Bedekar acknowledged the support from Walter Boles, engineering technology chair, student activity fee funds and from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Chapter 43 in Nashville.

“Without these supporting entities, it would be impossible to make progress toward these student projects and creative activities,” Bedekar said.

MTSUhas more than 240 combined undergraduate and graduate programs. Engineering technology is one of 11 College of Basic and Applied Sciences

[452] MTSU orientation welcomes new freshmen, Class of 2022

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. —They have attended their senior proms and completed their finals. All are awaiting graduation from their respective high schools or home school associations.

About 3,000 freshmen — the Class of 2022 — and 2,500 transfers — the Class of ’20 — are being welcomed by MTSU officials and departments as CUSTOMS orientation is fully under way.

Following more than 270 transfers receiving orientation Friday (May 11), more than 250 future students and 213 parents from across Tennessee and some from out of state joined in the first of the two-day orientation Thursday (May 17) on campus.

Coordinated by the Office of New Student and Family Programs, CUSTOMS guides freshmen through the ropes of being an MTSU student and introduces them to the intellectual, cultural and social climate of the university.

CUSTOMS sessions run through the end of July for new freshmen and early August for transfers. To learn more about the orientation process and other dates, visit

“We’re delighted you’re here,” Deb Sells, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, said in her welcome. “… The decisions you make on where you will go to college will change your life and your decisions will change our life. … You will make MTSU a different and better place.”

Alexandria “Alex” Hancockof Hendersonville, Tennessee, said she was drawn to the Science Building when she came for a campus tour and plans to major in chemistry.

“It definitely is really nice,” she said the 250,000-square-foot science facility that opened in 2014. 

The Beech Senior High School student, joined by her mother, Monica Hancock, said she was excited to be on campus for the orientation.

Kennedy Crawford, a Bartlett High School senior from the Memphis, Tennessee, area, plans to study physical therapy.

Part of her CUSTOMS expectations was “to make sure I am doing the right path — finding the right major for physical therapy,” she said.

In addition to her mother, Rachel Crawford, Kennedy Crawford was joined at CUSTOMS by a cousin, Tamera Parnell, a senior at Arlington High School in Arlington, Tennessee. Parnell plans to study forensics at MTSU. 

Lydia Cayton, coordinator of New Student and Family Programs, said the first freshman orientation began on a calm note.

“It is a pretty positive group of people who seem excited to be here,” Cayton added.

MTSUhas more than 240 combined undergraduate and graduate programs.

[451] MTSU president spreads True Blue message at partnering Chinese university

McPhee gives guest lecture, reaffirms long-standing ties with Hunan Normal University

CHANGSHA, China— Middle Tennessee State University’s True Blue spirit reached the campus of Hunan Normal University in China, as students there peppered President Sidney A. McPhee with questions ranging from the beauty of the Murfreesboro campus to its signature slogan.

One student clearly delighted McPhee, earning a fist bump during the Q&A part of the president’s lecture Tuesday to the study-abroad prospects, when he asked what it means to be True Blue.

“It means that we at MTSU are more than just a university; we are a family,” McPhee said. “We stand for certain values, such as honesty, integrity, commitment to reason, being engaged in our studies and in our community.

“It also reflects the welcoming spirit we will offer each of you when, hopefully, you attend our university.”

McPhee also urged students “to step outside of their comfort zones” by widening their experiences — from things as small as their daily lunch routines and as large as attending an American university like MTSU.

“Give thought to doing things that allow you to broaden your perspectives, and perhaps make you uncomfortable at first,” he said. “Don’t do the same things over and over again. Meet new people and do new things — not only in other countries, but here on your campus.”

MTSU’s relationship with HNU dates back to 2004 and is its longest-running partnership with a Chinese university. More than 20 MTSU students have taken part in exchange efforts at HNU, while more than 30 HNU students have been to the Murfreesboro campus.

HNU President Jiang Hongxin and his wife, Jane, have been frequent visitors to the MTSU campus. The HNU first lady studied at MTSU and the couple were guests of McPhee during the Great Tennessee Eclipse event in 2017.

MTSU has made international engagement one of its strategic priorities. As such, McPhee has focused on MTSU’s international undergraduate and graduate enrollment, particularly in China.

The MTSU delegation includes state Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and businessman and donor Paul Martin, the first graduate of MTSU’s Honors College and a supporter of the university’s China outreach and study into ginseng.

Ketron, Martin and MTSU Associate Vice Provost Guanping Zheng, a graduate of HNU, joined McPhee in a meeting before his lecture with HNU officials about next steps in the ongoing partnership between the two institutions.

More than 30,000 students take classes at one of HNU’s five campuses in the Hunan province. The university was named one of the country’s 100 key higher education institutions, giving it a higher priority in obtaining government funding.

The president’s stop in Changsha was the third in a four-stop outreach in China. It began in Beijing, then Hangzhou and will move next from Changsha to Nanning, home of Guangxi University. The trip was organized by MTSU’s Confucius Institute.

In Nanning, McPhee will also tour several traditional Chinese medicine facilities with MTSU professors involved in research between the Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants and the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research.

[450] MTSU president keynotes celebration, explores joint research options during China tour

McPhee speaks at anniversary celebration of Hangzhou Normal University

HNU, which helps MTSU operate the Confucius Institute on the Murfreesboro campus, marked the anniversary of its 1908 founding with an international assembly of scholars, which featured MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee as a keynote speaker.

Leaders from both universities also met Monday to discuss potential new joint research, new scholarships for Chinese students to attend MTSU and ways to showcase the Center for Chinese Music and Culture in Murfreesboro.

At the scholars assembly Sunday, McPhee represented more than 50 universities worldwide with ties to HNU, which, like MTSU, began as a teacher-training school and grew into a major comprehensive institution serving China’s Zhejiang province.

“Although our respective universities are separated by the great Pacific Ocean, as Middle Tennessee State University’s president, I can personally attest to the many benefits that MTSU has enjoyed through our partnership,” McPhee said.

McPhee credited HNU in helping MTSU create the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research; a new initiative to help Tennessee farmers grow ginseng; and the Chinese music center that has become a cultural hub for local and area K-12 schools.

“The partnership that MTSU shares with HNU in establishing a Confucius Institute on our campus illustrates the positive outcomes of educational exchange,” he said.

“In addition to our students studying at one another’s universities, the partnership has broadened the cultural understanding of each university community and has resulted in numerous advances in language, science, agriculture and research.”

You can watch excerpts of McPhee’s address at

The Confucius Institute at MTSU opened in 2010 and has since taught hundreds of Tennessee K-12 students about Chinese language and culture. Similar institutes operate worldwide through partnerships between Chinese universities and host institutions.

McPhee also underscored “the importance of maintaining and increasing the connections made through educational programs” like the Confucius Institute, saying they “play a vital role in creating people-to-people contacts – apart from politics – to increase appreciation of the arts, culture and education.”

After his address, McPhee also met HNU alumnus and Chinese business magnate Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of the Alibaba Group. Ma, who is chairman of the Alibaba Business School at HNU, also addressed the scholars assembly.

McPhee and HNU leaders later convened the annual meeting of the MTSU-HNU Confucius board. HNU leaders outlined their plans to fund more students to attend MTSU, while McPhee said he would press for more research collaboration with HNU faculty.

MTSU has made international engagement one of its strategic priorities. As such, McPhee worked to strengthen MTSU’s international undergraduate and graduate enrollment, particularly in China.

McPhee’s series of four lectures in China in May began with a stop in Beijing and, on Tuesday, will move from Hangzhou to Changsha, home of Hunan Normal University.

Next, he will travel to Nanning and tour several traditional Chinese medicine facilities with MTSU professors involved in research between the Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants and the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research.

McPhee will also lecture at Guangxi University in Nanning, one of the top providers of international students to the Murfreesboro campus.

The MTSU delegation includes state Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and businessman and donor Paul Martin, the first graduate of MTSU’s Honors College and a supporter of the university’s China outreach and study into ginseng.

[449] MTSU report: Foreign firms invested $2B, created 3,400 jobs in Tenn. last year

State continues to attract new operations, expansions

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Tennessee again attracted substantial foreign investment in 2017, amounting to roughly $2 billion from 11 different countries, according to the latest “Global Commerce” report from MTSU’s Business and Economic Research Center.

This investment by 19 foreign-owned firms created almost 3,400 new jobs, and the amount of new investment was the highest over the past 10 years, said professor Steven Livingston, associate BERC director.

• The largest single investment was by Denso, a Japanese company with a facility in Maryville, Tennessee. Japan in fact continued to be the single largest source of this investment. 

• Meanwhile,Philips, a global health technology business based in the Netherlands, provided the largest investment of employment by creating 800 jobs in Nashville. 

In recent years, Tennessee has been one of the most successful states in attracting foreign investment, and this trend continued in 2017, Livingston noted. Of the 19 foreign-owned firm investments, seven were new operations while 12 were expansions by existing operations.

To read the full report, go to click on the link for “2017 Foreign Investment in Tennessee.”

For more information about the report, contact Livingston at 615-898-2720 or email

[448] MTSU commissions nine as U.S. Army second lieutenants

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. —Nine recent MTSUgraduates were commissioned as U.S. Army second lieutenants Friday (May 11) during a formal ceremony at the Veterans Memorial outside the Tom H. Jackson Building.

U.S. Army Col. Thomas W. Von Weisenstein, Chief of the Joint Staff with the Tennessee National Guard, provided remarks, welcoming them into the next phase of their military careers.

To view video from the event, visit

The ceremony is a tradition for the program, which has seen them prepare for service to their country.

Those commissioned as second lieutenants included:

• Salim Altaie, a criminal justice major from Antioch, Tennessee.
• Nicholas Biggers, a criminal justice major from Smyrna, Tennessee.
• Samuel Howell, a criminal justice major from Tullahoma, Tennessee.
• Daryl Jackson, a business education major from Oakland, Tennessee.
• Antonio Johnston, an international relations major from Nashville.
• Brooklyn Kenerson, a nursing major from Gallatin, Tennessee.
• Christian Moskovitz, a business administration major from Murfreesboro.
• Zaire Murray, a criminal justice major from Hermitage, Tennessee.
• Joshua Williams, a criminal justice major from Murfreesboro.

The event marked the final formal ceremony for Lt. Col. Jackie McDowell, who has received a change of assignment to Fort Knox, Kentucky, later this year. He is the chair in the MTSU Department of Military Science.

Maj. Carrick McCarthywill be replacing McDowell. He comes to MTSU in August.

MTSUhas more than 240 combined undergraduate and graduate programs. Military science is one of 11 College of Basic and Applied Sciencesdepartments.

[447] MTSU students to make North Carolina historic site three-dimensional

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. —MTSU students will combine old-fashioned shoe leather and newfangled technology to bring an historical site closer to the public.

The Digital History Program’s “Maymester Experience” will partner Molly Taylor-Poleskey’s digital history class with animator Richard Lewis’ motion graphics class to create “Hidden Town in 3D.” 

Taylor-Poleskey’s students are in the Moravian village of Old Salem in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where they will create three-dimensional models of the historic townscape.

Having departed May 13, eight public history doctoral students will stay through May 31 to gather data about African-American dwellings that existed in the 19thand early 20thcenturies within a village of European Moravians from Germany.

The Moravians, who migrated from a part of what was 19thcentury Germany that is now in the Czech Republic, adhered to Protestant principles espoused by Jan Hus, a theologian who was executed in 1415 for having religious views similar to those espoused by Martin Luther some 50 years later. 

Seeking religious freedom, some Moravians fled to England, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Taylor-Poleskey said Moravians were particular among other radical Protestant sects because African-Americans lived among them and there was even some intermarriage.

“Early on, a small number of African-Americans were part of the Moravian community in all levels, including religious,” Taylor-Poleskey said. “They worshipped side by side with the white Moravians.”

However, the Moravians were highly mission-oriented religious people who justified slavery as a means to advancing their missionary goals. By the 1840s, they had become more Southern and less adherent to the rules of their faith. Gradually, racial differences became more important.

Archaeological excavations in the last two decades have uncovered tangible evidence of many traces of African-American lives in Salem. With the information Taylor-Poleskey’s students obtain on-site, they will create a virtual exhibit to be accessed on the web and a packet to be handed over to Lewis. 

His students will spend the summer creating a digital rendering of a former African-American dwelling to be inserted into a virtual reality experience that will show the buildings where they once were on the landscape and information about them. The professors hope to have the entire project online by the end of summer.

“We’re doing something groundbreaking,” Taylor-Poleskey said. “We are creating the process. It’s not just playing with some fun toys and doing a digital project. We’re pushing the bounds of museum interpretation.”

For more information, contact Taylor-Poleskey at molly.taylor-poleskey@mtsu.eduor Lewis at


[446] June Anderson Foundation honors three students with scholarships

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Three nontraditional MTSU students have received a boost in their educational careers from the June S. Anderson Foundation.

The organization awarded full-tuition scholarships to AnToinette Jefferson, Shaina Massey and Samantha Sweat at a May 9 luncheon in Murfreesboro. The June S. Anderson Foundation awards full-tuition scholarships to full-time MTSU undergraduate women age 23 or older who are preparing for careers in nontraditional fields for women. Each applicant must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0, must not be paying out-of-state tuition and must demonstrate financial need.

Jefferson, a 23-year-old Memphis, Tennessee, native, said she was undecided about her college major until a relative who had taken classes in the MTSU Department of Aerospace told her about its programs. To satisfy her curiosity, she approached the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, a nonprofit industry group.

“They took us on different tours, like to FedEx and UPS,” Jefferson said. “We got a chance to fly and to (try out) the different simulators, and I kind of liked it. So I decided to pursue a major in it.”

The rising senior said she is concentrating on air traffic control as a career, but she said she also would like to become a commercial airline pilot later.

Twenty-nine-year-old Shaina Massey is a dental assistant and the single mother of a 6-year-old son. The rising senior from Smyrna, Tennessee, has been a dental assistant for several years. She majors in health care administration with a minor in accounting.

“Right now, I work chairside with the doctor, but I’m trained upfront as well,” Massey said. “I’ve gotten to know some of the insurance stuff.”

Massey said she is leaning toward insurance industry management for a career choice, combining the skills of her major and her minor.

“I decided to go back to school to finish my degree in January 2017, and paying for school is hard,” Massey said. “So receiving this scholarship has been a big relief to me.”

Samantha Sweat, a 23-year-old accounting major from Henderson, Tennessee, said she initially chose accounting because it was “so factual.” She found out there were more grey areas in the profession than she realized, but she said she loves the challenge. Sweat became emotional as she expressed her gratitude.

“It gives me inspiration to keep pushing forward and achieving high grades and looking on to the finished goal,” Sweat said.

While Sweat welcomes her scholarship, she said she will continue with her job as a customer service representative for a local bank.

MTSU chemistry professor June S. Anderson established the foundation that bears her name in 1982. Anderson, who died in 1984, also established the forerunner of the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students, the Women’s Studies Program, which now is the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, and Women in Higher Education in Tennessee.

For more information, go to send an email to

[445] MTSU develops curriculum for professionals to help traumatized children

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. —MTSU’s Center for Health & Human Services is working to ensure that the troubles and tragedies of life do not impede children’s opportunities.

In partnership with the departments of Social Work and Health and Human Performance and the College of Education, the center will work to develop a curriculum on adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs.

“Future MTSU graduates will be given the tools needed to help address the number of children presenting with ACEs in the communities which they serve,” said Cynthia Chafin, the center’s associate director for community programs. 

Chafin said MTSU students will learn how these adverse experiences affect children’s brain architecture, behavioral issues, long-term health effects and community issues. The goal is to influence how practitioners who strive to help children address ACEs and promote a practice of trauma-informed care.

The curriculum is part of a grant proposal titled “All Children Excelling through a Comprehensive Network of Trained Providers.” Funding is provided by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services through its Building Stronger Brains initiative.

MTSU’s Center for Health and Human Services, in partnership with the Adams Chair of Excellence in Health Care Services, initiates and strengthens academic programs in health and human services to support workforce development and promote healthy communities.

Through collaboration and partnership, the center facilitates research, communications, education and training in public health issues important to Tennessee and consistent with MTSU’s mission and purpose.

For more information, contact Chafin at 615-898-5493 or cynthia.chafin@mtsu.eduor visit the center’s website at

[444] MTSU president to stress cultural outreach, partnerships during China visit

McPhee to giving series of guest lectures as part of ongoing relationship

BEIJING, China— MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee began a lecture series Wednesday (May 9) that will take him to four Chinese universities as part of a concerted effort to share American culture with high-ability students who are considering potential study-abroad opportunities.

McPhee’s first stop on his lecture circuit was at North China University of Technology, on the western edge of the Chinese capital, where he answered questions about MTSU and stressed the importance of building and maintaining bridges between the two countries.

The president stressed to the NCUT students that study-abroad opportunities provide them a way to gain “an accurate reflection of the people and activities of a country,” which better prepares them for success in an increasingly global society.

“Many Americans do not realize how beautiful a country that China is until they come and visit,” McPhee said. “Many Chinese do not realize until they come and visit that America is a broad, friendly country — not just New York and Los Angeles — with good people and many great attributes.”

Answering a question from a Chinese student who wondered if the U.S. was like what he saw in recent action movies, McPhee cautioned his audience that such entertainment in both China and the U.S. can sometimes reinforce stereotypes.

“We often let popular media build a perception that is not necessarily accurate,” he said. “Find out for yourself, with your own eyes, and get an accurate reflection of the people and activities of a country.”

In addition to detailing the more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs at MTSU, McPhee also underscored how the American higher education system affords academic challenges and styles that are distinctly different than schools in China.

“By learning from and about one another, we become not just better educated, we become better human beings, and we better our world,” he said. “We need more bridges to encourage the two-way flow of ideas, knowledge, and cultural appreciation.”

NCUT, founded in 1946, is a multidisciplinary university that combines the natural sciences and engineering with liberal arts, economics, management and law. It includes eight colleges with an enrollment of more than 10,200 undergraduate students, 1,500 graduate students, 200 international students and 2,400 students studying at the College of Continuing Education.

The university is also active internationally through more than 30 cooperative partnerships and exchanges. It has established partnerships with universities in the U.S., Japan, Germany, Great Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere.

MTSU has made international engagement one of its strategic priorities. As such, McPhee worked to strengthen MTSU’s international undergraduate and graduate enrollment, particularly in China. He also has expanded education abroad and cultural opportunities and developed research collaborations with international partners.

The president, who also lectured here in late 2013, presented a special award from MTSU to NCUT Chairman Zheng Wentang, who in turn thanked McPhee for the long friendship between the two institutions.

McPhee’s trip, organized by and in support of MTSU’s Confucius Institute, will include stops in Hangzhou and Nanning. Joining him on the trip is state Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and businessman Paul Martin, the first graduate of MTSU’s Honors College and a supporter of the university’s China outreach and study into ginseng.

In Hangzhou, the president will deliver a keynote address at the 110th anniversary celebration of Hangzhou Normal University, MTSU’s partner in the operation of the Confucius Institute on the Murfreesboro campus. McPhee will also participate in the annual meeting of the MTSU Confucius board with HNU officials and will lecture at the university.

Then, he will go to Changsha to lecture at Hunan Normal University followed by a trip to Nanning, where he will tour several traditional Chinese medicine facilities with MTSU professors and other supporters of the joint research effort between the Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants and the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research.

McPhee will also lecture at Guangxi University in Nanning, one of the top providers of international students to the Murfreesboro campus.

[443] MTSU robotic pancake-makers require team effort

              Engineering Technology Open House features senior projects

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. —While an MTSU student-athlete, Ed Simpsonwas a consummate team player.

The 6-foot-2 guard was a contributor, both as a starter and coming off the bench for the men’s basketball team, which won a record-tying100 games during his four seasons. He could hit the 3-pointer or dish out assists.

One of more than 2,600 graduates May 4-5 in Murphy Center, the 22-year-old Ocean Springs, Mississippi, native was a team man in his mechatronics engineeringmajor, too.

This spring, he was project manager for a four-man team making a robotic pancake-making machine — one of five such contraptions producing plenty of pancakes for visitors attending the recent Department of Engineering Technology Open House featuring senior projects.

“I did a lot of documentation, making sure we stayed on track,” Simpson said of the group that included fellow seniors Chance FergusonEli Little and Jeremy Hood. “We would meet every two weeks to make sure everything was running smoothly.”

Simpson also did a lot of math as they planned, designed and built the pancake-maker, which had to dispense batter, flip a pancake and place it on a plate.

During the open house — where the aroma of cooked pancakes and the accompanying syrup filled the room in the Tom H. Jackson Building’s Cantrell Hall — things ran smoothly until the power went out because there were too many cooks (and pancake-makers) using too much electricity on one end of the facility.

Simpson, who could’ve chosen an Ivy League school because of his strong academic background, entered MTSU majoring in mechanical engineering technology. By his sophomore year and at the suggestion of an adviser, he switched to the fast-growing mechatronics program.

A member of the Conference USA All-Academic team and True Blue President’s Award recipient, Simpson said he has landed a systems engineering position with aviation, defense, space and security giant Boeing in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and will begin work there in mid- to late June. 

For more on mechatronics engineering and engineering technology, call 615-898-2776.

MTSUhas more than 240 combined undergraduate and graduate programs. Engineering and mechatronics are part of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.

[442] MTSU's future educators seek job opportunities during on-campus recruitment fair

Event drew 40-plus school districts seeking next generation of teachers

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — For MTSU senior Jaylan Ashley, her inspiration forbecoming a special educationteacher came from volunteering with her aunt.

"My aunt is a speech pathologist, and I volunteered with her in high school with kids who had special needs," said Ashley, a native of Nashville, Tennessee. "I met a little boy with Down syndrome who I spent all summer with. Then when it was over, I found myself missing him and our interaction with each other."

More than 140 graduating student teachers joined Ashley, who is certified to teach grades K-12, during the 2018 Spring Teacher Recruitment Fair, where they learned about open teaching positions across Tennessee.

The May 2 fair, held in the Student Union Ballroom, hosted over 40 school systems and organizations to share teaching opportunities in their districts. Sponsored by MTSU's College of Education, the event gave employers an opportunity to speak with the soon-to-be MTSU graduates seeking jobs right after the May 4 and 5 commencement ceremonies.

Added Ashley: "This fair is a good opportunity with all the schools who came out, and special educationis such a high needs area. So it's great to see all the schools who came out for us.”

Dean Lana Seivers of MTSU's College of Education encourages such fairs so students can establish a face-to-face relationship with hiring employers.

"In this day and age of employers getting a lot of online applications, if they remember who they met and receive a good impression, then that's going to come to the forefront," Seivers said.

Roderick White, director of Diversity and Community Life at University School of Nashville, attended the fair seeking talented future teachers and even those desiring leadership positions within the education profession.

"We're looking for a director for service learning, a high school math teacher and a new theater director … we're just asking that our teachers have a passion in these fields," White said. "Teachers teach kids, and it doesn't matter where they are because kids need role models.”

Knoxville, Tennessee, native Lacie Ford has always had her heart set on becoming an educator for children in kindergarten through third grade.

"I've always wanted to be a teacher and make a difference in a child's life," Ford said.

The fair also featured a drawing in which selected student teachers will be reimbursed $50 at the end of the school year forout-of-pocket costs toward school supplies and classroom needs.

"A lot of school systems are on a tight budget and teachers do end up coming out-of-pocket for a ton of our supplies, so just knowing I have that $50 in my pocket for the little things is super exciting," Ashley said. 

Although her name was not pulled in the drawing, Ford was impressed with MTSU's willingness to help new teachers in such a way.

"This is a big deal that they're giving back to us to help start up our classrooms, so I'm really appreciative of them," Ford said. 

For more information about how to register for next year's Teacher Recruitment Fair, visit

For more information about MTSU's College of Education, visit

— By Jayla Jackson, MTSU News

[441] MTSU Business Plan Finals gives students, alums taste of entrepreneurship

Top three finishers win seed capital for startup ideas

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — MTSU students and alumni finalists received helpful feedback toward launching future business ventures during the 2018 Pam Wright Business Plan Competition to wrap up the spring semester.

Sponsored by The Pam Wright Chair in Entrepreneurshipin MTSU's Jones College of Business, the contest presented a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs to pitch their plans to five judges and receive feedback about how their plans could be improved.

The fourth annual Business Plan Competition Finals inside the Student Union Building rewarded the top three competitors with cash prizes — $5,000 for first, $3,000 for second, $1,000 for third — that serve as seed capital for their businesses. 

MTSU senior entrepreneurship major Evan Hemontolor, the third-place winner, said he received multiple benefits from being able to pitch judges his concept for Vendy, a vending machine supplier of high quality gourmet meals.

"Being involved in this competition allowed me to exercise my networking skills, gain problem-solving abilities and pull me out of my comfort zone," Hemontolor said.

The top three finalists and their proposals:

• First Place: University Ready – Economics alumnusMatthew Bullington's plan includes an online guide to help students navigate how to prepare for college and life after high school through custom weekly classes.

• Second Place: Salomon’s Greenhouse – Biology major Brock Arivett's plan involves an urban farm startup focused on safe and sustainable production of low-calorie nutrient-dense foods. It focuses on commercial production of high quality vegetables and partners with local ranchers to provide grass-fed beef and lamb.

• Third Place: Vendy – Hemontolor's idea involves a new way to serve high quality gourmet meals without a five-star building. It is a franchise of gourmet vending machines that can serve multiple options (pizza, cupcakes, ice cream, salads, etc.) at a fast rate.

Also, the Robert and Virgie Clouse Agricultural Entrepreneurship Spirit Award, including a $500 prize, was presented to Salomon’s Greenhouse by Wil Clouse with the Clouse-Elrod Foundation Inc. Clouse is an adjunct professor in the Womack Educational Leadership Department within the College of Education.

Other awards presented included the Best Written Plan (Brock Arivettfor Salomon’s Greenhouse); Best Elevator Pitch (Hillary Huylerfor Drunken Parrot); and Best Trade Show (Jacob Andrewsfor Drones iVue).

Students from throughout the university presented their business plans in late February, then in late March, entrepreneurs conferred with experienced evaluators on how to improve their business plans during the Business Plan Competition’s Trade Show in the Student Union Atrium. The Finals were held April 25 in the Student Union Ballroom and included a panel of five judges made up of local entrepreneurs and business leaders.

"The ultimate goal of the competition is to expose potential and current entrepreneurs to outside business people to provide necessary guidance," said organizer Stacy Aaron with the Wright Chair. "To be successful in this competition, entrepreneurs must be able to articulate the need for their product or service and successfully present their business plan to a group of leading business people in the middle Tennessee community."

The Business Plan Competition was started through The Pam Wright Chair in Entrepreneurship to foster the entrepreneurial spirit within the region. It is designed to help students and alumni in launching new business ventures, including for-profit businesses, not-for-profit businesses, corporate entrepreneurship, and social enterprise.

To learn more about the chair, visit To learn more about the Jones College of Business, visit


University, brewery partnering to offer hands-on laboratory training to students

MURFREESBORO, Tenn.— Attendees of the Brewers Association’s national 2018 Craft Brewing Conference in Nashville got a sneak peek Friday of MTSU’s Fermentation Sciences laboratory under construction at the Hop Springs agritourism destination under construction by Steel Barrel Brewery.

Provost Mark Byrnes joined College of Basic and Applied Sciences Dean Bud Fischer and Tony Johnston, director of MTSU’s fermentation science program, in welcoming attendees to the open house at the 80-acre Hop Springs construction site, located at 6790 John Bragg Highway.

Conference-goers were offered bus rides from Nashville’s Music City Center to the Hop Springs site, where they sampled Steel Barrel beers and reviewed plans for the facility.

Johnston will oversee a hands-on laboratory and research site being built as part of the Hop Springs facility. Steel Barrel’s brewing headquarters, anticipated to be complete by fall 2018, will also feature a 2,000-seat amphitheater, a 10-acre hop field, wet and dry dog parks and scenic hiking and biking trails.

Also attending the event was state Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, who sponsored legislation that enabled MTSU to create the fermentation science program, which opened up to students in the fall of 2017.

“The collaboration between Steel Barrel Brewery and MTSU is critical for our program,” Johnston said. “It represents the commitment MTSU has to serve the industries our students may enter upon graduation.”

To learn more about MTSU’s Fermentation Science program, go to

[439] First-year MTSU coach guides equestrian team to third-place finish at nationals

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Middle Tennessee State University’sequestrian team has sent individual riders to the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association National Championship for many years.

However, it had been five years since the well-respected program had qualified as a team. Now, a third-place finish at nationals is how coach Ariel Herrincapped off her first year as coach following the retirement of coaching legend Anne Brzezicki.

MTSU and Oregon State tied for third in the annual IHSA event, held May 3-6 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. More than 400 teams and nearly 9,000 riders competed in the event that ends the fall and spring competition seasons for teams nationwide.

“It was awesome,” Herrin said of the accomplishment. “Our riders rode great — everything we had practiced for. It was exciting.” The team celebrated with dinner, where lots of pictures were taken, Herrin added.

National power University of Findlay of Ohio claimed its sixth IHSA American Quarter Horse Association Western (horsemanship and reining) team national title. Ohio State University placed second and was named reserve champion.

Blue Raider Western team members featured Jenna Sealand Steven Toddof Meridian, Mississippi; Mary Catherine Wadeof Germantown, Tennessee; Tricia Wingateof Woodbury, Tennessee; Lucas Brockof Franklin, Tennessee; and Sarah Kozuszekof Scheller, Illinois.

Wade was second in team open reining. Wingate took third in team novice horsemanship. Brock placed third in team intermediate horsemanship. Todd finished fourth in team advanced horsemanship. Seal landed sixth in team open horsemanship. Kozuszek finished ninth in team beginner.

The Western category allows riders of all levels and abilities — from beginner with no show experience to ones having success at a high level — to compete as a team.

MTSU horse Hotroddin’ in Chrome, aka Harley, became the judge’s pick for horse of the show, earning the SmartPak Most Popular Western Horse award. Harley was one of five university horses the team brought for the competition.

“He’s just really a good, honest horse,” Herrin said of Harley, 23. “He’s safe, but he can be a great horse for an experienced or beginning rider. He’s worth his weight in gold to us.”

At least 10 riders from other universities rode Harley in the competition.

Kelsey Sloanof Olive Branch, Mississippi, finished in the top 20 for the United States Equestrian Federation/Cacchione Cup, which is awarded to the national individual Hunter Seat high point rider. It is named for Bob Cacchione, who helped establish the organization and competition in 1967 as an 18-year-old Fairleigh Dickinson University sophomore.

Todd placed seventh in the Novice Western Horsemanship category.

Julia Rhyneof Brentwood, Tennessee, placed 13thin novice fences.

Alumna Emily Kopkoof College Grove, Tennessee, finished sixth in the Alumni Western Horsemanship division.

The 2019 IHSA National Championships will be held in Syracuse, New York.

[438] MTSU equestrian team takes aim at nationals in Pennsylvania

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. —First-year coach Ariel Herrin likes her Middle Tennessee State Universityequestrian team’s chances in the four-day Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association National Championships starting Thursday (May 3) at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The IHSA nationals is the culmination of the season for nine MTSU riders. It marks the first time in five years the Blue Raider riders qualified as a team in the Western (horsemanship and reining) category, allowing riders of all levels and abilities — from beginner with no show experience to ones having success at a high level — to compete as a team.

MTSU took four individuals and six Western team riders to the nationals, which includes more than 400 teams and nearly 9,000 competitors. To advance, MTSU had to place in the top three in the regional. 

Individual riders include seniors Kelsey Sloan(Cacchione Cup class) of Olive Branch, Mississippi; Julia Rhyne(novice fences) of Brentwood, Tennessee; and Steven Todd(individual novice horsemanship) of Meridian, Mississippi. Alumna Emily Kopko(Class of 2014) of College Grove, Tennessee, competes in Alumni Horsemanship Reining.

The United States Equestrian Federation/Cacchione Cup is awarded to the national individual Hunter Seat high point rider. It is named for Bob Cacchione, who helped found the organization and competition as an 18-year-old Fairleigh Dickinson University sophomore.

Todd is joined by Mary Catherine Wadeof Germantown, Tennessee; Jenna Sealof Meridian, Mississippi; Patricia Wingateof Woodbury, Tennessee; Lucas Brockof Franklin, Tennessee; and Sarah Kozuszekof Scheller, Illinois, in the Western team event.

“They are prepared and mentally focused,” Herrin said of her riders. “I’m excited to see how this week turns out.”

Herrin, who replaced longtime coach Anne Brzezicki, calls the nationals “a really big deal to make it. Everyone on the team who qualified did it in style. We’re looking very strong.”

In the Western team category, Herrin considers the University of Nebraska, Oregon State and perennial power University of Findlay from Ohio as favorites. St. Andrews University in North Carolina won the title in 2017 and returns to try to repeat.

MTSU took five of its horses to the competition. All riders draw for the horse they will compete in at the event.

“We may draw our own horse or draw a horse from a college in New York we’ve never heard of,” Herrin said. “That’s the fun but challenging part of being here.”

MTSUhas more than 240 combined undergraduate and graduate programs. Horse science is in the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience, which is one of 11 College of Basic and Applied Sciencesdepartments.

MTSU riders fare well in national stock horse show

In April, Blue Raider riders fared extremely well against NCAA Division I and II schools across the country at the three-day North American Stock Horse Association Show in Sweetwater, Texas. 

Award winners included:

• Lucas Brock— placed first in pleasure and reserve in reining; he took Reserve Champion overall in limited non-pro cow horse and trail, and finished fourth overall in collegiate trail.
• Jenna Seal— placed second in pleasure and first in reining; named grand champion in green horse trail and fifth overall in cow horse class.
• Jennifer Dowdof Shelbyville, Tennessee — placed sixth in pleasure and reining; maintained top-five placings in green horse trail and cow horse.
• Caroline Blackstoneof Douglasville, Georgia — took fourth place in novice pleasure and sixth in novice reining; seventh overall in novice cow horse.
• Mary Catherine Wade— tied for fifth place in novice pleasure and third in reining; sixth-place overall in novice cow horse and trail.
• Patricia Wingate— tied for fifth place in novice pleasure; clinched title for collegiate novice champion in trail and eighth-place overall in novice cow horse.
• Andrea Rego— in coach division, took reserve champion overall in open trail.
• Jessica Starling of Knoxville, Tennessee — 12th-place overall in collegiate limited non-pro trail.
• Lindsay Kate Gillelandof Powder Springs, Georgia — placed second overall in youth cow horse.