MTSU president reports positive freshmen, transfer application numbers to trustees

Dec 07, 2023 at 08:00 am by WGNS News

MTSU Board of Trustees Vice Chair Christine Karbowiak Vanek, center

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Middle Tennessee State University is seeing year-over-year increases in applications from first-time freshmen and transfers as of Dec. 1.

President Sidney A. McPhee, in a report to MTSU’s Board of Trustees at its quarterly meeting Wednesday, Dec. 6, said freshmen applications were up 4.1% and admissions from that pool are up by 10.3%, adding both are “above our very good numbers from last year.” Transfer applications are up 3.3% over last year, McPhee said, and MTSU has admitted 14.8% more transfer students.


MTSU attracted the highest percentage increase of first-time freshmen this fall (11.2%) among the state’s public four-year institutions.

McPhee also told trustees that this year’s True Blue Tour, the university’s premier undergraduate recruitment drive spanning 14 cities in four states, attracted just more than 1,000 prospects, up slightly over last year’s total.

And he noted MTSU’s High School and Community College Counselor Scholarship program, a drive launched this year that awards $2,500 in aid to each school sending a staffer to a tour stop, helped increase overall counselor attendance to 543, which was 63% over last year’s 331.

“Of the counselors who attended, 99 represent high schools for which MTSU has no currently enrolled students,” McPhee said. “We believe these relationships will grow our enrollment into new schools and communities.”

Chairs reelected; salary adjustments.

Meanwhile, in other business, alumnus Stephen B. Smith was unanimously reelected by trustees to a fourth consecutive two-year term as chairman of the institution’s governing body.

Smith, who has held the top trustee role since the board was created in 2017, has been a vocal advocate of the university’s adult degree completion program, earning his bachelor’s degree in 2011, about 30 years after he left the campus as a student-athlete.

Chairman of Haury and Smith Contractors, Smith has served on a number of boards, including the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati and the Nashville Planning Commission; the Nashville Park Board; Capstar Bank and the Williamson County Sports Authority.

Smith was a pitcher for the Blue Raiders baseball team in the mid-’70s and was elected to the university’s athletics Hall of Fame in 2004. He was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame earlier this year.

The board also reelected Christine Karbowiak Vanek, also one of its inaugural trustees, for a second straight two-year term as vice chair.

Vanek recently retired from her roles as chief administrative officer, chief risk officer, executive vice president and vice chair of the board of directors of Bridgestone Americas, the Nashville-based subsidiary of Bridgestone Corp., a global leader in tires and rubber. She also served as the corporation’s executive vice president.

She has been active in community organizations and served on numerous boards, including the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Japan America Society of Tennessee, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Franklin American Music City Bowl, which is now known as the Transperfect Music City Bowl.

Vanek recently received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette by the government of Japan for her work to strengthen Tennessee-Japan relations over the past nearly three decades. She holds bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Illinois.

The officers began serving their two-year terms immediately following the vote. The board they lead also recently welcomed two new trustees, appointed by Gov. Bill Lee:

• William S. “Bill” Jones, a 1982 alumnus and a nearly lifelong resident of Murfreesboro, has been in the financial services industry since graduation. He is area executive for Pinnacle Financial Partners with responsibilities for Rutherford and Bedford counties. He has more than 30 years with Pinnacle and its predecessor.

• Michael J. Wade, a 1990 alumnus and agency sales leader with State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance, has more than 20 years experience in insurance and financial Services. He lives in Chesterfield, Missouri, where he has responsibility for 50 independent locations in the St. Louis metro area. A Murfreesboro native, he is also a small business owner in Tennessee. 

Also, the board approved the administration’s recommendation to implement market salary increases for faculty and staff.

Trustee Pete Delay, chair of the board’s Finance and Personnel Committee, said the market adjustments will be based on 2020-21 market data and will be effective Jan. 1 for employees on the payroll as of Dec. 31.

With the allocated resources, employees paid at rates below the market-predicted salary will receive 46.7% of the recommended adjustment, in accordance with the university’s approved compensation plan, he said.

Since the establishment of the MTSU Board of Trustees in 2017, $31.3 million in salary increases has been approved by the Board, Delay noted. The state provided $20.9 million, with the remaining $10.4 million coming from other university resources, such as tuition revenue and budget reallocations.

For more information about the MTSU Board of Trustees, visit


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