It is currently the second-largest institution of higher learning in Tennessee (by overall enrollment), trailing only The University of Tennessee at Knoxville. MTSU, however, currently has the state's largest enrollment of undergraduate students.
Originally known primarily for its Education and Nursing programs, MTSU has more recently gained recognition for its Aerospace, Business, Mass Communication/Recording Industry, and Music/Music Business programs. MTSU is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents System, one of two higher education systems in Tennessee. The school's tenth and current President is Sidney A. McPhee, Ed.D. He has served since 2001.
MTSU is the largest university in the central third of the state and the single largest economic contributor in Murfreesboro. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
MTSU's focus in recent years has been on growth, but the university is quickly outgrowing its infrastructure. With the 2004 advent of the Tennessee Lottery (which provides college scholarships to Tennessee students attending in-state schools), more students than ever have the financial resources to attend MTSU. The current administration seeks to curb growth by raising admission standards and delegating remedial study programs to 2-year community colleges within the Tennessee Board of Regents system.
MTSU classifies itself as a regional university, and primarily draws its student base from the areas surrounding Nashville and Murfreesboro. As the school has grown larger, its student base has expanded. The Aerospace and Recording Industry programs regularly draw students from outside the state of Tennessee. Most other programs primarily draw students from inside the state.
Only 3,500 students (approximately 15% of enrollment) live in on-campus dormitories, though the landscape surrounding the university has many apartments marketed toward students. It is estimated another 35-40% of students rent residential space within the city of Murfreesboro.
MTSU holds two graduation ceremonies each spring and autumn, and one each summer (a total of three classes each year). The spring and autumn commencements are split into two ceremonies to accommodate the large number of graduates (an average of 1,600 per class) and their families wishing to attend. The ceremonies are held in the 10,000-seat Monte Hale Arena inside the Charles M. Murphy Athletic Center.
MTSU is divided into seven colleges:
60 degree programs through 35 departments
The College of Graduate Studies confers Master's degrees in nine areas, the Specialist in Education degree, and the Doctor of Arts degree. MTSU's first Ph.D. was awarded in May 2003, though the university had awarded many Doctor of Arts degrees in the past.
Middle Tennessee State University employs approximately 900 full-time faculty members.
The RIM program is divided into two concentrations, 'Music Business', and 'Production & Technology'. Students must choose either one for their major. Music business focuses on the marketing, management, and business aspect of the recording, touring, and publishing industries. The Production and Technology concentration focuses on the techniques of recording, mixing, mastering, and specific technological trends of the industry.
The Pro/Tech side of the department boasts a number of studios and labs available exclusive for student course work. Studio A, and B, as well as the Mastering Lab, Post Production, MIDI Lab, and Maintenance are located in the Bragg Mass Comm building. Studio C is located in a basement in the James Union Building, and Studios D & E are located in two renovated Ezell former dorm rooms. A Pro Tools Lab is located in the basement of the Alumni Memorial Gym.
The Audio Engineering Society (AES) plays a significant role in the social networking for Pro/Tech students. Through seminars, meetings, and visits to Nashville studios many students find collaborative projects and potential employment for their post-graduation job search.
The school's close proximity to Nashville, a mecca for music recording, provides ample resources for this department, which is regularly recognized as one of the best the nation has to offer. It competes for students with Belmont University, a small private Christian university located in the heart of Nashville's Music Row district, which also offers a critically-acclaimed Recording Industry program but is more known for its music business program than its technological recording program. Competitors of the Pro/Tech side are SAE, Full Sail, Berklee, and the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Although the RIM department has exceptional credibility and prestige, there are some criticisms. Students often complain about the draconian candidacy rules that have been implemented in order to only allow the most qualified applicants. Another chief complaint of the Pro/Tech side is the limited course sections available in the upper division elective courses. Due to small class sizes and limited facility time, only a specific number of students can take the upper division courses per semester. This has caused a backlog of students waiting to graduate. Criticisms from the Industry itself are not based upon the quality of the program, but yet the quantity of the students graduated each semester. Many are of the opinion that the Industry cannot support jobs or viable sources of income for the majority of the students who earn a RIM degree.
The campus, set on 466 acres (1.9 km²), features 109 permanent buildings with 3.8 million square feet (353,000 m²) of space. It is located one mile (1.6 km) from the geographic center of Tennessee, and 1.3 miles (2 km) east of downtown Murfreesboro. The campus is largely devoid of hills, much like the landscape that makes up much of Murfreesboro (the mountains of the Highland Rim are only a few miles to the southeast). The oldest building on campus, Kirksey Old Main, lies at the north end of the original quadrangle. Flanking it to the west are Rutledge Hall (a dormitory), the James Union Building (student life and extra administration offices), and Lyon and Monohan Halls (also dormitories). Flanking to the east are Jones Hall (now an office building), Todd Hall (the former library, which recently underwent major renovations and is now home to the Art Department), Wiser-Patten Science Hall/Davis Science Building, and Smith Hall (a men's dormitory). These are the key original buildings on campus and form its historic core. Between these buildings are Peck Hall, (English and History departments), Walnut Grove, and Cope Administration Building. Further east are newer additions, such as the Keathley University Center (KUC), Photography Building, Ned McWherter Learning Resources Center, John Bragg Mass Communications Building, James E. Walker Library, Business and Aerospace Building, Campus Recreation Center, and the campus's newest building, the Paul W. Martin, Sr. Honors College.
In the early 2000s, eight fraternities moved from off-campus sites to the university's state-of-the-art Greek Row, located on the extreme eastern side of campus (a few other fraternities remain off-campus). Since then, two fraternities have had their charters revoked and banned from campus. The latest of these two incidents occurred in December 2006 when the Theta Iota Chapter of the Sigma Nu fraternity had their charter revoked after incidents of illegal activity and hazing, including: underaged drinking, personal servitude, pledges being kidnapped, psychological shock, and humiliation. Since then the fraternity has successfully appealed the headquarters decision and may become a colony. Sorority houses at public universities in Tennessee were disallowed per a perceived prohibition in Tennessee state law discouraging sorority houses based on the notion that more than eight women living in the same house would constitute a brothel. This law was never questioned until 2003, when the Tennessee General Assembly passed a resolution clearing the myth when it determined there was indeed no statute prohibiting sorority houses. To this date, no sorority houses have opened on MTSU's campus.
All buildings on campus are given 2, 3, or 4 letter abbreviations, which most people use to identify the buildings. For example, the Keathley University Center is known as "the K.U.C."; the Business and Aerospace Building is better known as "the B.A.S."; Kirksey Old Main is better known as "K.O.M."; and the James Union Building is called "the J.U.B." Some buildings, however, are not referred to by their abbreviations. For example, Cope Administration Building (CAB) is commonly just called "Cope", John Bragg Mass Communications Building (COMM) is called "Mass Comm", and most students opt to call Peck Hall (PH) by its full name or just Peck.
The campus takes the general shape of a rectangle and automobile traffic is mostly confined to the campus perimeter. Its borders, however, are generally defined by four high-traffic Murfreesboro thoroughfares:
In recent years, however, MTSU has been buying property and buildings on the other sides of these four streets. Most of these buildings are former churches and houses, and are used primarily as office space, though a few classes may take place in these buildings. Some of the buildings have been demolished and replaced with campus parking lots.
MTSU has never been linked directly to Interstate 24, but steps have been taken to make a near-direct route to the freeway for the first time. The first step was to create Middle Tennessee Boulevard by simply reducing the single road's four names into one (the old Samsonite Boulevard, Sanbyrn Drive, South Tennessee Boulevard, and North Tennessee Boulevard names were retired). Second, the road's terminus was rerouted a few hundred feet north from Old Salem Road to New Salem Highway (Tennessee State Route 99), and the road was widened to four lanes between Mercury Boulevard and East Main Street. Third, an interchange was built at New Salem Highway and I-24, less than a quarter-mile from the intersection with Middle Tennessee Blvd. The multi-year project was completed in May 2008.
Middle Tennessee State University has no auxiliary campuses, and aside from online courses, all classes are held either on-campus or at adequate facilities in the city of Murfreesboro.
MTSU is only a half-mile (800 m) east of the nearest hospital, privately-owned Middle Tennessee Medical Center, located on East Bell St. The hospital will move to a new building across town in 2010.
The university's athletic teams simply refer to the school as "Middle Tennessee" or "MT", abandoning the words "State University". This is being done to save another logo change should the university change its name to "University of Middle Tennessee", as has been long-rumored.
MTSU's original mascot was a student dressed as Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate General who was a pioneer in "mobile warfare". At an 1867 Ku Klux Klan convention in Nashville Forrest was named the organization's honorary Grand Wizard, or leader-in-chief. His involvement was determined in an 1868 Congressional investigation to be limited to trying to disband the Klan. Despite this, the mascot was changed to a blue-colored scent hound dog named "Ole Blue" in the 1970s due to sensitivities within the African American community. "Ole Blue" still appears on the basketball arena's video screen from time to time during games.
MT set a record when it won the highest-scoring NCAA Division I-A football game in history, 70-58 over the University of Idaho Vandals on October 6, 2001 at Floyd Stadium. It remained the highest-scoring game since Division I-A was established until the overall record was eventually surpassed by the 71-63 game between Arkansas and Kentucky in 2003, which took seven overtimes to complete. MTSU/Idaho also held the record for the highest-scoring regulation game until the 74-62 Navy win over North Texas on November 10, 2007.
MT also fields teams in club sports such as rugby union, ice hockey and inline hockey. These "club sports" are not sanctioned by the university, though each team does receive funding as a student organization. They are also authorized to use school logos, wordmarks, and identities. These teams do not compete at the NCAA level, though they do compete against other colleges and universities within unofficial intercollegiate organizations.
MT also has a very active equestrian team which competes in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association in both huntseat and western division. Though a club team, the members have won several individual national championships and were as a team the 2003 National Western Reserve Champions.
MT has won two NCAA national championships in team sports: golf (1965) and men's tennis doubles (2007). However, seven individuals have won national championships. All were in golf or track. The most recent of these came in 2003 when sprinter Marty Scales captured the NCAA Men's 100 meter sprint title.
MTSU Track has a storied history including 43 conference titles, 18 NCAA top-25 finishes and 80 All-American awards. The program has been led since 1965 by legendary coach Dean Hayes.
The MTSU Women's Basketball program has a long record of success including a number of appearances in the NCAA and WNIT basketball tournaments dating to the 1970s. The Blue Raiders won the Sun Belt Conference championship in 2005, 2006 and 2007, receiving the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Women's Tournament and advancing to the second round in each year. In 2007-2008, All-American Amber Holt led the nation in scoring, but the Blue Raiders had to settle for an WNIT appearance, advancing to the second round.
The MTSU Women's Volleyball program has developed into a national power with consecutive Sun Belt Conference championships and NCAA tournament bids in 2006 and 2007. In 2006 the Blue Raiders advanced to the NCAA tournament second round and followed that up in 2007 with a "sweet 16" appearance to conclude the best season in team history.
The 2008 Blue Raider Men's Golf team advanced to the NCAA tournament final round (16 teams) and finished ranked 15th in the nation.
Murphy Center features an indoor track, and is regularly home to the Sun Belt Conference indoor track championships.
Johnny "Red" Floyd Stadium features 31,788 seats and a Sportexe PowerBlade playing surface installed before the 2006 season. The stadium has never been filled to capacity since its expansion (from approximately 15,000 seats) in 1997.
The university's baseball stadium is currently the subject of major upgrades and will be ready for the 2009 season.
MTSU women's basketball, plus occasional baseball and softball games, can be heard on 88.3 FM WMTS-FM.
MTSU also provides live audio and video broadcasts of women's soccer through their website www.GoBlueRaiders.com, with David Powell providing commentary since the 2006 season.
Middle Tennessee State University has its own zip code (Murfreesboro, TN 37132) and telephone prefix +1 615 898 ****.
There is abundant parking on campus, but most of this lies on the outer perimeter. The distance one has to walk from vehicle to class is a constant gripe amongst students, though this is being addressed by the addition of extra buses to campus.
The university's student-run newspaper is entitled "Sidelines." It is published two times a week (Monday and Thursday) during the spring and fall semesters, and once weekly (Wednesday) during the summer session. No issues are published during fall, winter, and spring breaks. Thursday issues feature the entertainment insert "Exposure."
MTSU holds the licenses to two FM radio stations:
MTSU has been awarded Comcast Cable's channel 10, which has been named "MTTV", throughout Rutherford County for student-created programs and official university announcements. MTTV also broadcasts a live newscast Monday through Thursday at 6:30 p.m. with student anchors and crew. MTSU also carries instructional class work related programming on Comcast channel 9 in the same area.
The athletic facilities at MTSU (along with select venues in and around Murfreesboro) play host to every Tennessee state high school championship game/match in every Division I (public schools and non-scholarship private schools) sport except girls' soccer (held in Chattanooga). Most Division II (scholarship-awarding private schools) championships are also held at MTSU, although the basketball tournaments are held at Lipscomb University in Nashville.
Floyd Stadium, the university's football field, is thought to be the geographic center of Tennessee, though the official marker sits approximately a half-mile (800 m) north of the stadium on Old Lascassas Pike.
The three main roads through campus were named A Street, B Street, and C Street until 2001. They were then renamed Alumni Drive, Blue Raider Drive, and Champion Way in correlation with their original A, B, C names. Another road, Faulkinberry Drive, kept its original name. In September 2006, Alumni Drive was renamed Alma Mater Dr, and a new road south of Greek Row connecting to N Rutherford Blvd was named Alumni Dr.
Middle Tennessee State University has its own police force, but is also under the jurisdiction of Murfreesboro police.
Middle Tennessee State University is a "dry campus", meaning alcoholic beverages are prohibited at all times, and violators are sent to the Office of Judicial Affairs. However the ban on alcohol is generally ignored on nights of home football games in the fall.
Charles M. Murphy Athletic Center on the northwest corner of the MTSU campus was once the Nashville area's premier concert venue, hosting concerts from artists such as Elvis Presley, KISS, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Pearl Jam, Phish, and Garth Brooks. Murphy Center was the site of country/western duo The Judds' 1992 farewell concert.
The school's athletics logo appears on overhead street signs for the newly-christened Middle Tennessee Boulevard (formerly Samsonite Blvd, Sanbyrn Dr, and North Tennessee Blvd until being renamed in May 2005).