MTSU’s Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning launches new Scholars Program

Mar 24, 2023 at 02:55 pm by WGNS News

Members of the advisory committee for the Jennings and Rebecca Jones Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning gather for a group photo during their February meeting at the MTSU Student Union. Shown standing, from left, are Rubi Devi, research association, Business and Economic Research Center, or BERC; Ryan Egly, Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce; Kendrick Curtis, Middle Tennessee Industrial Development Association; Cliff Lippard, Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations; committee chair and alumnus Paul Martin Jr., Clarity Resources LLC; Joseph Howard, BERC student researcher; and Andrea Lawrence, BERC secretary. Seated, from left, is Patrick Cammack, Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce; Lori Odom, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce; Murat Arik, chairholder and BERC director; and Steven Livingston, BERC associate director and political science professor. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — MTSU’s Jennings and Rebecca Jones Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning Advisory Committee is launching a new Scholars Program to assist students in their academic and professional development.

The COE-URP Scholars Program is a nine-month research and engagement program for undergraduate students at Middle Tennessee State University designed to bring students, professors, and community members together to address pressing urban and regional concerns through academic research.


In addition to gaining relevant experience and learning key skills, students will receive a stipend of $3,900, a completion certificate, and the opportunity for a scholarly designation on their graduation diploma.

Advisory Committee Chair Paul Martin outlined the program’s potential impact on the region and its consistency with the founders’ goal from over 25 years ago.

“I think it’s a unique realization of Jennings Jones’ vision to create a better future through urban and regional planning, and it’s an expansion of MTSU’s engagement, not only with its student body but also with the community at large,” Martin said.

The pilot program will launch Aug. 25 just as MTSU begins its fall semester and is available to sophomore and junior students of all programs of study. Students who intend to apply must have a minimum GPA of 3.5 and submit a two-page statement of interest in the program.

Applications for the program will open April 1 and continue through May 15.

Murat Arik, chairholder of the COE-URP, said he is dedicated to helping ambitious students achieve their career goals and is “looking to select 10 passionate students for participation in the program. These students will be partnered with a faculty mentor to aid in their development and will have valuable networking opportunities with community leaders and professionals.”

“It’s all about putting students in a position where they can be exposed to professionals who deal with real-world issues before they graduate,” said Kendrick Curtis, assistant executive director for the Middle Tennessee Industrial Development Association. “This program will leverage this organization’s resources and develop a synergy between professors and students that will be advantageous when these students enter the workforce.”

Cliff Lippard, executive director of the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, is excited about the influx of new perspectives that the students in the program will provide.

“As someone constantly working on projects related to urban and regional planning, I think this program is a great strategy to get more fresh ideas on how to address the challenges faced by the region,” Lippard said.

The COE-URP plans to use this program to help foster the next generation’s minds, address ongoing issues, and impact economic development in Middle Tennessee.

“This program is distinctively designed to promote applied research and service focused on regional and urban planning,” said David Urban, dean of the Jennings A. Jones College of Business. “We are eager to provide a forum for these issues and are determined to develop solutions to promote effective economic development.”

With matching funds from the state of Tennessee, the Jennings and Rebecca Jones Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning at MTSU was established in 1997.

For more information about the Scholars Program and how to apply, visit


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