MTSU and Blackman High Renew Partnership

Mar 25, 2023 at 06:47 am by WGNS

Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee, left, shakes hands with Rutherford County Schools Director Jimmy Sullivan, as Blackman High School Principal Justin Smith observes. They had just signed a renewal of a memorandum of understanding between MTSU and the Murfreesboro high school, one of the largest in Tennessee. The two academic partners are wrapping up the eighth year of the collegiate academy. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)

(MURFREESBORO) With about 80 Blackman High School students flanking them, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, Blackman Principal Justin Smith and Rutherford County Schools’ Director Jimmy Sullivan signed a renewal of the memorandum of understanding between the university and local high school.

The signing occurred Friday, March 24, 2023, in the MTSU Student Union Ballroom, as a universitywide Scholars Week event led by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs — with 10 Blackman seniors participating — was about to wrap up.


In eight years since the partnership began, more than 2,200 students have participated in the collegiate academy, many of whom graduated and then came to college at MTSU.

The mission of The Blackman Collegiate Academy is to provide a high-quality, college-preparatory academic program while providing students with “The Blackman Experience,” where they can thrive not only academically but also socially, athletically and artistically.

Now in its eighth year, the BCA has established itself as one of the premier academic programs in the region and is proud to celebrate the accomplishments of its current students and our esteemed alumni.

Commenting on the room full of MTSU and Blackman research, McPhee said it was “an appropriate setting to renew this landmark agreement, which allows our university to partner and participate in this innovative college preparatory program.

“It is very fitting we are here, at the end of our Scholars Week activities by our Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, to extend our relationship. It is an example of the academic enrichment provided by MTSU that the academy now routinely offers to its students.”

Smith said the re-signing “is a declaration of a continued partnership we’ve enjoyed with MTSU these past eight years. … Hundreds of students have benefited from this rigorous academic path. We continue to hear feedback from them, saying college became easier because of the work they did in BCA.”

Sullivan, an MTSU alumnus, said “when looking at the partnership with a prestigious university and one of our high-performing high schools in the county, Blackman High School, that collaboration and community partnership shows a true love for learning and a true love for just the common spirit of making sure everyone’s improving.”

Smith, the Blackman principal, praised the BCA Executive Council — which includes MTSU administrators Deb Sells, Rick Sluder, Laurie Witherow, Andrew Oppmann, McPhee and others — for working to make it a successful venture.

Smith also praised former Principal Leisa Justus, who was unable to attend, but said “35 teachers developed the program to help students reach their potential. MTSU has been amazing in how they supported us. We have a strong dual enrollment program with MTSU. We call ourselves ‘MTSU West.’”

Justus added the four pillars of the academy include academics, extracurricular activities, life experiences and a research component.

The Blackman Collegiate Academy is directed by faculty member and Dean Kim Baumann., who was recognized by Smith.

Sections: News