Monday, September 25, 2023

MTSU’s Board of Trustees approves merger of 2 departments


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Featured Photo by Matthew Giffin

Story by Jenene Grover

Middle Tennessee State University’s Board of Trustees approved a merger between two departments in the College of Liberal Arts at their Sept. 12 quarterly meeting.

The new Department of Political and Global Affairs combines the Political Science and International Relations with the Global Studies and Human Geography departments, and the change will be implemented May 13, 2024.

“I think it’s a positive action which provides greater support for students in a merged department, with Political Science having more resources. I see it as a positive decision and a positive for our students,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee.

There will be no program changes in this merger, meaning there will be no new majors or minors or any majors or minors removed, according to MTSU Provost Mark Byrnes.

Towards the end of the meeting, McPhee gave some general statistics regarding enrollment, revealing that first-year student and graduate student enrollment have increased by more than 11% and 10%, respectively, with a small decrease in transfer student enrollment.

“We will be over 20,000 students in total enrollment. That’s our first increase in total enrollment in 3 years,” said Vice Provost for Enrollment Service Laurie Witherow.

MTSU’s upward trend in enrollment shows the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The pandemic caused decreased enrollment, which has seemed to settle with these new statistics.

“Even though the country is experiencing an increase in the new variant of COVID, I do think that the fact that there have been vaccinations and opportunities for folks to protect themselves that there is a sense of safety as it related to COVID compared to two, three years ago,” said McPhee.

Over the summer, the Supreme Court decided that affirmative action was to not be used in college admissions. According to McPhee, affirmative action never played a role in MTSU’s admissions and will continue to not have any role, not impacting future enrollment.

“We never used race exclusively as a decision for admissions to the university. So, we don’t see this Supreme Court decision having any significant impact on the university as it relates to our admissions process,” said McPhee.

During the President’s Report towards the end of the meeting, McPhee welcomed three new deans to various colleges: Neporcha Cone in the College of Education, Joyce Heames in the Jones College of Business and Michael Hein, Interim Dean for the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences.

Also during his report, McPhee said the True Blue Tour starts Sept. 13 at MTSU for Rutherford County students.

“We also have as one of our objectives during the True Blue Tours to update counselors and new prospective students and their parents about the university, our academic programs, new initiatives, and to bring them up to speed with regards to what’s happening at the university and what’s exciting going on at the university that will allow them to select the university as a choice,” said McPhee.

Other things on the agenda included the approval of the University’s new Chief Audit Executive Leah Ladley, approval for the Annual Audit Report, Risk Assessment Reporting and the Board Member Self-Evaluation Form.

Jenene Grover is the government and politics reporter for MTSU Sidelines.

To contact News Editor Kailee Shores, Assistant News Editor Alyssa Williams and Assistant News Editor Zoe Naylor, email

For more news, visit, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter and Instagram at @mtsusidelines.

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