Executives at MTSU

Dr. Sidney A. McPhee: President

President Sidney McPhee

Dr. Sidney A. McPhee, the tenth president of Middle Tennessee State University, has presided over one of the most remarkable periods of growth and progress in the institution’s century-plus of service.

MTSU is the No. 1 choice for our state's transfer students, the No. 1 provider of graduates to the Greater Nashville economy and the No. 1 choice of Tennessee adults (ages 25 and up) seeking a four-year degree. We have been recognized nationally for our Quest for Student Success, our priority to help our students persist and graduate. We are home to the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, the largest support facility of its kind in Tennessee.

McPhee’s presidency, which began in 2001, has coincided with more than $800 million in improvements in academic, athletic and campus facilities – either proposed, under construction or completed. Among those projects was MTSU’s $147-million Science Building, a 250,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art teaching and research facility, which opened in Fall 2014.

Since McPhee’s arrival, MTSU has been successful in raising admission standards, which resulted in an increase in enrollment of high-ability students.

MTSU’s ambitious Quest for Student Success, launched three years ago under McPhee’s leadership, is reshaping the institution’s approaches to teaching and learning. It has gained national attention for its innovation in improving student retention and graduation rates. It aligns with Gov. Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55, which aims to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with post-secondary degrees or certificates.

McPhee has overseen the addition of almost 30 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, two colleges (Behavioral and Health Sciences and University College) and more than a dozen institutes and centers, including the Center for Chinese Music and Culture that opened in March 2016.

And McPhee has strengthened MTSU’s international undergraduate and graduate student enrollment, expanded its study-abroad and cultural opportunities and developed research collaboration with international partners with a special emphasis on China.

Prior to his arrival at MTSU, McPhee was executive vice chancellor for the Tennessee Board of Regents system. In addition, he served as the TBR’s chief academic officer and interim chancellor. McPhee also served in various senior-level administrative capacities at several major universities, including Oklahoma State University, University of Louisville and University of Memphis.

McPhee is married to Elizabeth McPhee, and they have two adult children, Seneca and Sidney-Anthony.

Academics and Community Service

McPhee earned his bachelor’s degree (with highest honors, summa cum laude) from Prairie View A&M University in Texas; a master’s degree from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.; and a doctorate in applied behavioral studies in education from Oklahoma State University.

As an academician, his work has appeared in numerous local, national and international professional journals. His scholarly pursuits include international lectures and presentations in numerous countries, including China, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Belgium, Canada, England, Brazil, Ethiopia and the Bahamas.

China Agricultural University in Beijing, one of the country’s top universities, awarded McPhee its highest academic award (Honorary Professor) in May 2007. He was appointed in October 2010 as senior advisor to the Chief Executive of Hanban-Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing and, in December 2013, received Confucius Institute’s Individual Performance Excellence Award during the 8th Annual Global Confucius Institutes Conference in Beijing, China. This is the highest award given by the Minister of Education and the Confucius Institutes. A book of his photographic essays, China: Through the Eyes of An University President, published in July 2012, was released internationally.

McPhee served a four-year term on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors from 2003 to 2007 and a three-year term on its Executive Committee. In 2010, he was re-appointed to the NCAA board and executive committee as the Sun Belt Conference’s representative, which concluded in 2013.

He is a member of the Murfreesboro Noon Rotary Club and the SunTrust Bank Board of Directors (Nashville) and SunTrust Regional Bank Advisory Board (Murfreesboro). He previously served on the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and chaired its membership council He also served on the Nashville Adventure Science Center Board; the Middle Tennessee Medical Center Board; and the Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America’s Middle Tennessee Council.

McPhee was named Outstanding American University President of 2002 by the American Football Foundation. In 2003, he was listed by Nashville Post business magazine as one of Tennessee’s 100 Most Powerful Individuals and, in 2004, he was ranked by Business Tennessee magazine as one of the state’s Top 50 Most Powerful African Americans.

Also, President McPhee:

  • Was named Omega Citizen of the Year by the Pi Gamma Gamma Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity;
  • Was honored by the Nashville Business Journal with its Rutherford County Impact Award for two consecutive years (2014 and 2015);
  • In September 2013, was honored by the Rotary Foundation as a Paul Harris Fellow;
  • In November 2013, was inducted into the hall of fame for R.M. Bailey Senior High School, his alma mater in The Bahamas;
  • And, in December 2013, received Confucius Institute’s Individual Performance Excellence Award during the 8th Annual Global Confucius Institutes Conference in Beijing, China. This is the highest award given by the Minister of Education and the world headquarters of the Confucius Institutes in Beijing.

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Dr. Mark Byrnes: University Provost

Dr. Brad Bartel

Dr. Mark Byrnes, who was appointed University Provost in September 2017, provides leadership and management to support instruction, research, public service, institutional effectiveness, international affairs, and student success at MTSU.

Byrnes, a native of Murfreesboro, graduated from Riverdale High School before completing a B.S. in political science from MTSU in 1983. He went on to earn a Diploma in International and Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics (1987), and an M.A. and Ph.D. (1991) in political science from Vanderbilt University. 

A specialist in American government and politics, he joined the MTSU Department of Political Science in 1991. He is a nationally recognized expert on the presidency and has published books on NASA, President James K. Polk, and Tennessee politics. 

Byrnes served as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, which includes more than 300 full-time faculty members and nearly 60 full-time staff, from 2010 until his appointment as Interim University Provost in May 2016. He was Associate Dean of the College from 2006 to 2010.

Byrnes was elected to two terms (2004 to 2012) on the Rutherford County Board of Education. During that time, he served as chairman for four years and vice chairman for three. 

Byrnes has also served as president of the Tennessee Political Science Association and of the MTSU chapters of the American Association of University Professors and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. 

Byrnes also was the recipient of one of the MTSU Foundation’s 2010 Public Service Awards.

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William J. Bales: Vice President for University Advancement

ILLIAM J. BALES: VP for Development & University Relations

William J. "Joe" Bales, is the Vice President for University Advancement at MTSU. With 30 years’ experience in fundraising and institutional advancement, he leads the University's efforts in development, alumni relations, corporate engagement and governmental relations. Fundraising activities at the University have more than doubled during Bales’ tenure.

Under his leadership, MTSU raised more than $105 million in the Centennial Campaign, surpassing the $80 million goal set when the effort was announced in 2012. The $105,465,308 raised during the campaign, which concluded Dec. 31, 2015, represents the largest fundraising effort in University history, surpassing a $30 million campaign mark set in 2001.

Bales came to MTSU in 2002 from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where he spent nearly 15 years in a variety of development and alumni affairs roles. Immediately prior to coming to MTSU, Bales served for more than five years as Assistant Vice President for Corporate Relations. In that role, he was responsible for developing cultivation and solicitation plans for more than 30 major corporations - and providing leadership to all appropriate colleges and constituent development offices. His accomplishments included the creation of a formal corporate partnership plan, the development of an annual-giving blueprint and the launching of an "executive briefing" newsletter for the campus.

Earlier, from 1993 to 1997, Bales was director of development for the UT’s College of Engineering. During that time, he directed the college's 21st Century Campaign that raised more than $34 million in gifts and pledges from alumni, friends and corporations. The annual average for total giving increased from $2 million to $4.5 million. He also developed a tracking/management system for the college's gift funds composed of more than 200 gift accounts and a $15 million endowment. Before that, Bales served for four years as associate director of institutional advancement for the university's Institute of Agriculture, then later became director of development.

He earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in agriculture from UT-Knoxville and served as a graduate teaching assistant and as an instructor in the Department of Animal Science.

"As a native of this state, I strongly believe in the value of higher education and am committed to working to strengthen our educational system," Bales said. "The chance to assist MTSU in meeting the future needs of Tennessee is an exciting challenge. MTSU is one of the best kept secrets in higher education -- not only in Tennessee, but across the country. It is gratifying to have the opportunity to work with Dr. McPhee, the university community and MTSU's students and alumni in moving MTSU to the top tier of America's comprehensive universities."

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Andrew Oppmann: Vice President for Marketing and Communications

Andrew Oppmann - Vice President for Marketing and Communications

Andrew Oppmann is MTSU's Vice President for Marketing and Communications and the University's chief spokesman. He joined MTSU in 2010 as associate vice president and led a strategic restructuring of its marketing and communications operations, including the relaunch of MTSUNews.com and MTSU Magazine and creation a digital and social media strategy for the institution. He became vice president in 2013.

Oppmann also teaches Media Writing as an adjunct professor of journalism in MTSU's College of Media and Entertainment. As an adjunct professor, he serves as editor of APME News, the quarterly magazine of the Associated Press Media Editors association. He was honored as an APME Regent in 2015 and awarded APME Lifetime Membership status in 2017 for service to the association. 

Oppmann spent more than 25 years as a reporter, editor or executive for newspapers in seven states. Before joining MTSU, he was president and publisher of Gannett Tennessee’s media groups in Murfreesboro (The Daily News Journal) and Clarksville (The Leaf-Chronicle) and a vice president for The Tennessean in Nashville. Oppmann was a reporter for The Orange County Register in Santa Ana, California.; the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader and The Knoxville (Tennessee) News-Sentinel. He worked as an editor at the Herald-LeaderThe Houston (Texas) PostThe Cincinnati (Ohio) Enquirer, the Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser and The Post-Crescent in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he also served as general manager. He also served as senior editor for a six-newspaper Gannett Wisconsin group that included media sites in Appleton, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Manitowoc, Oshkosh and Sheboygan, coordinating special projects and sports coverage, including the Green Bay Packers, 2002 MLB All-Star Game and the 2004 PGA Championship.

He holds a master’s degree in strategic leadership from MTSU and a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from the University of Kentucky. He was honored as one of Gannett's top 15 newsroom supervisors in 1995 and 2000; one of its 10 top executive editors in 2005; and one of its top three publishers in 2008. He was among the inaugural class of honorees in the Nashville Business Journal's Chief Marketing Officer Awards in 2013 and was again recognized by NBJ in 2014.

He lives in Murfreesboro with his wife, Elise. They have three daughters, one of whom, Emily, attends MTSU as a Buchanan Fellow. His community involvement includes service as a lieutenant colonel in Civil Air Patrol, the volunteer civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force (2014-present); board member of Cumberland Region Tomorrow (2017-present); chairman of the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties (2011); and a vice president and executive board member of the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America (2008-10).

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Bruce Petryshak: Vice President for Information Technology & Chief Information Officer

Bruce Petryshak - VP of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer

Bruce Petryshak serves as MTSU's Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer.

Petryshak arrived at MTSU in August 2010. Prior to joining MTSU he was Chief Information Officer at Bowling Green State University in Ohio for nine years. Petryshak also served in the Information Technology Division at Kent State University where he was Executive Director of University Information Systems. Mr. Petryshak has held positions in all areas of Information Technology.

Petryshak holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, Computer Sciences and a Masters of Business Administration from Kent State University.

Petryshak was named one of the top CIOs in the country, according to ExecRank’s “Top CIO Rankings” for 2012. According to the California-based executive ranking service, there are over 38,000 CIOs in the United States and “only the very best are awarded the distinction” of inclusion in ExecRank’s listings; he was ranked No. 83 out of 213 CIOs listed in the category of “Top Private Company CIOs.”

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Dr. Debra Sells: Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice Provost for Enrollment and Academic Services

Dr. Debra Sells

Dr. Debra Sells serves as MTSU's Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice Provost for Academic and Enrollment Services.

She oversees the Division of Student Affairs, Enrollment and Academic Services, which provides essential programs and services that support the matriculation, academic achievement, personal development, and quality of life of our students. In her role as a vice provost, she is also responsible for the recruitment of traditional and transfer students and helps them make effective transitions to the university environment.

Sells joined the administration at Middle Tennessee State University in January of 1996. Prior to arriving at MTSU, she worked for nine years at Arizona State University in Tempe. Sells has also served in the division of Student Affairs at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, and at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

Sells completed her Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Sociology and Communications at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. She completed her Master of Social Work with a concentration in Interpersonal Practice and Clinical Casework at the University of Michigan in 1983. She completed her Doctorate of Education at Arizona State University in 1996 with a dissertation entitled "The Freshman Year Experience: A Case Study of a Freshman Living-Learning Center."

In 2016, she was the co-author of a book, “A New Way: Introducing Higher Education to Professional Learning Communities at Work,” that examined how leaders may positively impact student success through the use of high-performing collaborative teaming. 
"Our students and their families will know what we value by where we invest our time and our presence,” said Sells. "It is critical that we are accessible, involved and engaged with our students. They are the reason we come to work each day."

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Alan Thomas: Vice President for Business and Finance

Alan Thomas

Alan Thomas was named MTSU's Vice President for Business and Finance in July 2016. He was named to the post on an interim basis in January 2016 while serving as Associate Vice President for Business and Finance.

His more than 25 years at MTSU also included service as the University’s Controller and Executive Director of Finance Technology and Compliance (December 1999 to December 2014); Director of Accounting Services (November 1995 to November 1999); Accounting Manager (January 1995 to October 1995); and Foundation Accountant (April 1990 to June 1993). He was also a Financial Analyst for the Tennessee Board of Regents Central Office (July 1993 to December 1994) and started his career as a Legislative Auditor in the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s Division of State Audit (June 1987 to March 1990), focusing on audits of Tennessee’s higher education institutions.

Thomas, a Middle Tennessee native, is a 1987 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting.  In 1992, he obtained his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license (inactive). He received his Master of Education in Administration and Supervision from MTSU in 1998.  He also holds memberships in both the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) and Southern Association of College and University Business Officers (SACUBO), as well as served on various state-wide committees for higher education.

Alan and his wife, Kandi, have lived in the Rutherford County or the Murfreesboro area since 1990. Their daughter, Briana, graduated from MTSU in December 2017 and represented the University as a member of the MT Cheer team for four years.

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