Topics: Tennessee’s economy, High-impact teaching, Upcoming MLK Day, Black History Month, and the Unity Luncheon

Dec 19, 2022 at 09:00 am by WGNS News

Today, WGNS' Scott Walker talks to a number of guests from MTSU and covers several significant topics to include, Tracking Tennessee’s economy, High-impact teaching and the upcoming 27th annual Unity Luncheon, MLK Day and Black History Month. Details below and Podcast Above

SEGMENT ONE – GUEST: Dr. Murat Arik, director of the MTSU Business and Economic Research Center and holder of the Jones Chair of Excellence in Regional and Urban Planning

TOPIC: BERC’s research activities and national website award, the Jones Chair of Excellence’s new advisory committee on urban planning

Founded in 1970, the Business and Economic Research Center functions as a public service by researching the regional economy and operates on a contract basis for clients in the local community.

The BERC’s research-based, interactive dashboard website, Tracking Tennessee’s Economywas granted the National AUBER 2022 Award of Excellence. The website features an interactive dashboard displaying information about Tennessee’s economic and labor market trends, sourced from monthly data from the state, county, and metropolitan statistical areas, MSAs.

Established in 1947, the Association for University Business and Economic Research, or AUBER, is the foremost professional organization for business and economic research centers. Its membership is comprised of economists and researchers from over 75 public and private universities in the United States who are committed to raising the standard of business economics and public policy research.

For more information, visit the website at

Meanwhile, MTSU is tapping the expertise and insights of 10 business leaders in the region who have been named to the advisory committee for the Jennings and Rebecca Jones Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning.

The committee, which held its first meeting in early September on the MTSU campus, is chaired by Paul Martin Jr., chief managing member of Clarity Resources LLC.

Established in 1997, the Jones Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning seeks to promote applied research and service focused on regional and urban planning, provide a forum to generate discussion and solutions, and support the on-campus development of curriculum materials and faculty more conversant with the issues of the region.

Arik, an associate professor of management, was appointed chair in September 2021.


SEGMENT TWO – GUEST: Dr. Julie Myatt, director of Middle Tennessee State University’s MT Engage program

TOPIC: The University recently made the MT Engage Quality Enhancement Plan a permanent part of the curriculum

Launched in 2016 as part of the university’s second Quality Enhancement Plan, MT Engage is designed to support students’ academic engagement in their courses through investing in faculty development and promoting high-impact teaching practices to better support students from all backgrounds.

“More specifically, MT Engage invites students to explore connections across different learning experiences and to reflect on the knowledge and skills they are gaining at MTSU so they are equipped to take that knowledge forward into their future careers and civic lives,” Myatt said.

MT Engage courses include active learning practices, such as assignments that are problem-based, collaborative, or involve undergraduate research, and help students reflect on their learning by documenting their ongoing growth in an ePortfolio.

Currently, 336 courses are certified.

The program would not be possible without the support of faculty and staff. Faculty can get a course MT Engage certified — on a completely voluntary basis — and Myatt said the process does not take much extra effort. 

In addition to MT Engage certified courses helping students making those cross-curricular connections, the ePortfolio helps students articulate to prospective employers what they have learned and have to offer. 

The program also recognizes students’ accomplishments through scholarships and other means. 

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SEGMENT THREE – GUEST: Danielle Rochelle, director of the MTSU Office of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs

TOPIC: Her new role and upcoming IDA programs such as MLK Day observances and Black History Month celebrations such as the 27th annual Unity Luncheon

Rochelle assumed her new role in the fall after serving in the MT One Stop where among other responsibilities she managed the Student Food Pantry.

As IDA director, Rochelle will lead the office’s mission to promote cultural awareness, understanding and a sense of belonging for all students at MTSU. Quickly approaching is the office’s coordination of MTSU’s annual Black History Month observance, which features several special events such as the upcoming 27th annual Unity Luncheon as well as guest speakers, panels and a variety of student-centered events.

The Unity Luncheon will again honor several “unsung hero” members from the Midstate community and nominations are still being accepted. Deadline to submit nominations is Monday, Dec. 19.

This year, at least five honorees age 50 or older who have resided in the Middle Tennessee area for 20 years or more and who have made outstanding contributions to their community are selected from among submitted nominations in the following categories: Education; Community Service; Advocate of Civility; Excellence in Sports; and Contribution to Black Arts. Sometimes multiple honorees are selected in individual categories.

Honorees will be recognized and receive their awards at the Unity Luncheon, which will be held on Feb. 8, 2023, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the MTSU Student Union Ballroom.

To nominate an individual and for category details, visit and submit a form electronically.

You may also visit for more information about the Unity Luncheon and to see the list of past honorees, or contact Danielle Rochelle, director of intercultural and diversity affairs, at 615-898-5812 or

Additionally, the Office of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs helps the University in providing comfortable, supportive and relevant environments; while also serving as an information, referral and resource base for the provision of support services. Finally, the office creates opportunities in and out of the classroom that help students further their life goals and heighten and enhance their academic, social, psychological, cultural, moral, physical and personal growth and development.

Together, the Office of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs and the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment and Academic Services and MTSU help produce citizen leaders who make substantive contributions to their communities.

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