Saturday, June 10, 2023

MTSU Board of Trustees Approved New Degree and Change in University Policy


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Story by Kailee Shores / Contributing Writer

The Middle Tennessee State University Board of Trustees held a committee meeting on Tuesday to prepare for the December board meeting.

The Academic Affairs, Student Life and Athletics committee discussed and approved a new Master of Science in Data Science degree, expedited tenure for the Department of Communication Studies Chair and approved a change in University Policy 301 that will affect future university applicants.

University Provost Mark Byrnes presented the M.S. in Data Science program for a second approval, as the board had previously approved the development of the program. 

Byrnes said those who developed the program stayed in contact with data science professionals through the process to make sure the program was up to date with the ever-changing field.

Job prospects are high for individuals who pursue the degree, Byrnes stated, adding that the degree program is a “no brainer.”

The committee approved expedited tenure for Amy Aldridge Sanford from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to become the Department of Communication Studies Chair. It is common for universities to offer expedited tenure for administrative positions, said Byrnes.

The board also approved a change in University Policy 301 that would make it possible for university applicants with an associate degree to apply without a high school transcript or G.E.D. certificate. The policy change is in accordance with the Tennessee Code Annotated chapter on education, policy T.C.A. § 49-7- 101.

Byrnes presented a Performance Metrics Dashboard update. He recognized a positive trend in the graduation rate and drew attention to a decrease in average debt for graduates from May 2020 to May 2021 and the percentage of students graduating with debt.

Debra Sells, Vice President for Student Affairs, gave an enrollment update in which she said the University is recovering well from the dip in enrollment resulting from COVID.

During the enrollment update, the board members discussed purged students. Trustee Darrell Freeman Sr. made the board aware that he felt strongly about increasing resources for students in danger of being purged and was ready to take action.

Athletic Director Chris Massaro gave an athletics update on homecoming festivities, the recent success of the university cross country team, the celebration of life for coach Steve Peterson and the recent Conference U.S.A. commitment.

In other news:

  • The Audit and Compliance Committee received the results of a recent FEMA review for the F.Y. 2018 Fire Prevention and Safety grant and the quarterly results of internal audits, neither of which reported any issues.
  • The Executive and Governance Committee discussed a 2.7% increase in President McPhee’s salary and a one-time bonus for his excellence in handling MTSU’s response to COVID. The committee also discussed the results of the 2021 board self-evaluation.
  • The Finance and Personnel Committee approved and October (Revised) Budget, received a Salary Data Update, and discussed the THEC 2022-23 Operating Appropriation Recommendations.

Each item approved by the committees will move forward to be approved by the entire board during the forthcoming December 8, 2021 meeting.

Find the minutes, agendas and materials of the committee meetings on the MTSU’s website.

To contact News Editor Toriana Williams, email

For more news, visit, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter at @Sidelines_News 

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