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Academic Master Plan

Strategic Direction 2

Foster academic community

The University has taken important steps to foster academic community between 2015 and 2022.  Drawing upon current program strengths, our faculty have developed new programs in emerging and interdisciplinary fields. The University has increased its investment in creating, preserving, and sharing knowledge that sustains learning, scholarship, and outreach by fostering relationships among faculty, students, staff, alumni, communities, and partners. MTSU continues to embrace diversity in its academic community because diversity and the free exchange of ideas are necessary to create new knowledge, advance excellence in academic programs, scholarship, and the arts, and promote meaningful academic, civic, and professional engagement.

To foster academic community, the University:

Members of the Access and Diversity Board participated in Compliance and Ethics Events in 2018 and 2019 with panels on disability access and diversity that identified best practices and MTSU’s successful initiatives. Academic Affairs and Student Affairs co-sponsored an additional workshop by disability access consultant Salome Heyward in Fall 2019. The institution continues to make good on its commitment to diversifying the professoriate through its successful Diversity Dissertation Fellows program, which brings diverse teacher-scholars to our classrooms while they finish their dissertations.

New and expanded guaranteed academic scholarships provide additional access and financial support to the most qualified freshmen. We have deepened our commitment to all members of the University community by elevating the elimination of achievement gaps and increasing the diversity of faculty and staff from an action step to a strategic priority for implementing the Quest for Student Success 2025. 

We have fostered innovative, interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate study with new and revised academic programs in Fermentation Science, Religious Studies, Public Writing and Rhetoric, Risk Management and Insurance, Africana Studies, Commerce, Dance, Data Science, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Journalism and Strategic Media, Photography, Video and Film Production, Supply Chain Management, and Physician Assistant Studies.

Travis Layne, Middle Tennessee State University director of didactic education, far right, demonstrates a technique on a medical mannequin to students during the grand opening event for the university’s new Physician Assistant Studies graduate program at the Cason Kennedy Nursing Building on campus on May 13, 2022. (MTSU photo by J Intintoli)

Our outstanding faculty continue to make strides in advancing knowledge through their research and creative work, including collaborations among faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates. University researchers contribute to their academic fields and to social, economic, and civic well-being from the local to the global, and use their work to create deeper learning experiences for their students. Faculty mentorship and collaborations with students are central to the success of the University Research and Creative Activity undergraduate fellowships. The Student Organization for the Advancement of Research (SOAR) took flight in 2019 with the support of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Partnerships tie MTSU to stakeholders in the region, the nation, and the world. University Advancement’s strategic partnership outreach, University College’s corporate outreach for education programming, Academic Affairs’ University-Community Partnerships initiative, and University units across campus collaborate to build off-campus relationships that benefit students and communities and expand cultural and economic opportunities. A 2018-19 survey of faculty identified over 1800 partnership activities; beginning in 2020, the Digital Measures/Faculty Success platform facilitates annual faculty reporting of their service and partnership work. See also Center for Historic Preservation partnerships database.

Public service is a value as well as a practice through which our academic community engages with others. Distinguished Visiting Scholar Dr. Beth Harwell, former Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, provided a role model and mentor for Political Science and Journalism majors and students involved with the American Democracy Project and Free Speech Center.

Student registering to vote. Read full story. 

The Learning, Teaching, and Innovative Technologies Center expanded professional development activities to include faculty-led workshops, book groups, learning communities, and writing groups, as well as guest speakers, special events, and an open classrooms initiative. Total participation skyrocketed from 636 in 2015-16 to 1830 in 2018-19, and 1487 in 2019-20 despite necessary COVID-19 cancellations. Funding for professional development accounts for a large portion of the University’s investment in our Quality Enhancement Plan, MT Engage, which offers an annual summer institute and workshops as well as support for LT&ITC faculty learning communities and MT Engage Major Pathway professional learning communities.

Student professional development opportunities have increased both on campus and through electronic media. Between 2015 and 2022, 49 students received prestigious national awards, including the Fulbright, Goldwater, Critical Language Scholarship, and Phi Kappa Phi. Electronic media have become important tools for access to professional development and employment opportunities. Marketing students in the Jones College of Business learn to use LinkedIn and SalesForce. In 2019, Alumni Affairs launched a webinar series and introduced MT Connect, an electronic platform joining students and alumni; in 2020 the Career Development Center implemented Handshake to connect students with professional internship, webinar, and employment opportunities.

Academic colleges and departments, Student Affairs, Blue Raider Athletics, and Human Resources annually recognize excellence and service to the University’s mission through ceremonies and publications, both print and electronic. In 2020, academic colleges, Blue Raider Athletics, and the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership took their awards ceremonies online to ensure continuous recognition of student excellence in the face of COVID-19 disruption to our academic community.


Midpoint Highlights Publication:

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2022-23 Implementation Overview