825 MTSU grads' Aug. 7 commencement will seem more like old times

Aug 03, 2021 at 06:24 pm by WGNS

New MTSU College of Education graduate Andrea Villegas proudly wears her customized mortarboard during the university’s spring 2021 three-day weekend of commencement ceremonies in May. Villegas, who now teaches at Stewartsboro Elementary School, wrote “For my father, who came with nothing but gave me everything” on her graduation cap. MTSU students will return to Murphy Center Saturday, Aug. 7, for the university’s summer 2021 commencement ceremony. (MTSU file photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — MTSU’s 825 graduating members of the August Class of 2021 and their supporters will see a more familiar scene this Saturday, Aug. 7, when they walk into Hale Arena inside Murphy Center for the university’s summer 2021 commencement ceremony.  

The summer ceremony, which will begin at 9 a.m. Aug. 7, will resume the traditional capped-and-gowned procession of students preparing to accept their hard-earned degrees.  

And their professors, many of whom haven’t seen some of their students in person, much less attended a commencement, since spring 2020, will be back in their seats behind the stage in their full academic regalia to applaud the new graduates. 

MTSU officials are encouraging prospective graduates and their supporters to wear masks in the building, per new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, on Saturday and will provide them as needed.  

Social distancing also will be encouraged for participants’ and guests’ safety and comfort, even for those who are vaccinated. 

Last summer’s commencement still featured the traditional address from the departing president of MTSU’s Faculty Senate, but his remarks were recorded as part of a virtual ceremony because of the pandemic. Spring 2021 commencement, a three-day, 10-ceremony weekend event, had no outside speakers, giving MTSU deans a chance to speak directly to their college’s graduates in smaller, safer gatherings. 

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On Aug. 7, MTSU human sciences professor Rick Cottle, the 2020-21 president of the university's Faculty Senate and an associate professor in the Department of Human Sciences’ Textiles, Merchandising and Design Program in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, will provide the last word for the graduates before MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee instructs them to turn their tassels to mark their accomplishment. 

Friends, families and supporters who can’t attend in person can watch the ceremony free and live at https://www.mtsu.edu/live and https://facebook.com/mtsublueraiders. It also will be broadcast on MTSU’s True Blue TV station on local cable channels and at https://mtsu.edu/TrueBlueTV

The university will provide closed-captioning services for the live video streams as well as American Sign Language interpretation, with the help of longtime interpreter Jaclyn Kollar of the Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing nonprofit organization, at the ceremony. 

The online commencement coverage will begin about 15 minutes before the ceremony starts. 

August grads boost MTSU total over 171,780 

The August 2021 graduating class at MTSU, totaling 825 students as of Aug. 2, comprises 607 undergraduates and 218 graduate scholars, according to the university Registrar’s Office. 

That second figure includes 189 master’s degree candidates, eight education-specialist degree recipients and 21 doctoral candidates, along with 12 graduate students who’ll receive certificates for their advanced study. Five undergraduate students also are scheduled to receive a certificate. 

Students from MTSU’s nine colleges — Graduate Studies, Basic and Applied Sciences, Behavioral and Health Sciences, the Jones College of Business, the College of Education, Liberal Arts, Media and Entertainment, the University College and the University Honors College — will receive their degrees during the summer ceremony.  

This graduating group will bring the total degrees awarded by MTSU since its 1911 founding to more than 171,780. 

The official summer 2021 commencement program, listing all the graduates by college and noting their honors, is available athttp://ow.ly/P9F730rPlW9

MTSU’s commencement ceremonies are always free and open to the public. A printable campus map with parking details is available at https://mtsu.edu/parking/documents/parking-map.pdf, and a seating chart of Murphy Center, including access for guests who use wheelchairs or have other mobility issues, is available at http://ow.ly/TCkd30ld2PQ

Professional experience in classroom 

Cottle, who earned his MBA from the University of Phoenix and his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Auburn University, has been a member of the MTSU faculty since 2013. 

He’s served in MTSU’s Faculty Senate since 2017 and is completing his tenure as the group’s president at commencement, which marks the end of the 2020-21 academic year. Cottle also is a new member of the university’s Board of Trustees, elected for a two-year term ending in 2023. 

The professor has been a part of the textile/apparel industry for more than 25 years, serving in roles that include industrial engineering, manufacturing management, accounting, marketing and sales, as well as an advisory panel member for Nashville Fashion Week. 

At MTSU, Cottle teaches basic and advanced textiles courses, following the process from fiber to fabric, along with apparel-focused business courses. His specialties also include apparel marketing, sizing and 3-D body scanning, and he’s twice been recognized by graduating students, via the Division of Student Affairs, as a “Person Who Made a Difference.” 

Ceremony should last two hours 

MTSU’s Aug. 7 summer commencement ceremony is expected to last about two hours. All graduating students must remain for the entire event.       

Driving directions, along with graduation details for students and guests, are available anytime at https://mtsu.edu/graduation and https://mtsunews.com/graduation-info.  

The university’s 2021-21 academic year begins Monday, Aug. 23, with the first official day of fall 2021 classes.  

MTSU will formally welcome its new freshman class of 2025 and new transfer students at University Convocation in Murphy Center on Saturday, Aug. 21, at 6 p.m. Central.  

That special event will feature youth advocate and U.S. Army veteran Wes Moore, author of MTSU’s Summer Reading Selection, "The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates," as guest speaker. It also will air live at https://www.mtsu.edu/livehttps://facebook.com/mtsublueraiders and https://mtsu.edu/TrueBlueTV.  

For status updates on MTSU, visit https://mtsu.edu/coronavirus.  

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