Congratulations To 5 Outstanding MTSU Professors

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MTSU Professors (L-R) Michelle Boyer-Pennington, Robert Gordon, Lucy Matthews, Hanna Park, and Ben Stickle.

(Murfreesboro) Five MTSU professors have been honored for their excellence in helping students learn by doing. The MTSU EXL Scholars Committee chose five recipients for the 2017-2018 "Outstanding EXL Faculty Award," which acknowledges educators for their commitment to experiential learning. They are:

  • Michelle Boyer-Pennington, professor, psychology;
  • Robert Gordon, assistant professor, media arts;
  • Lucy Matthews, assistant professor, marketing;
  • Hanna Park, assistant professor, public relations;
  • Ben Stickle, assistant professor, criminal justice.

With more than 600 course selections, the EXL Scholars Program at MTSU is designed to enhance student learning through practical experiences in their fields of study beyond the traditional classroom setting and engage the students directly in service learning projects.

Boyer-Pennington requires each student in her general psychology class to identify a group to which he or she shows "implicit bias" and do a service project involving that group to learn more about it.


"EXL courses encourage students to think differently, to be more open to ways of thinking that are different than their own, and to identify issues they care about," Boyer-Pennington said.

Gordon provides his students with real-world, hands-on experiences in classes on television production. These classes enable students to produce, create, manage, direct and serve as crew members for live sports events, dance events, musicals and other television presentations.


"Thanks to professor Gordon and his experience-based courses, I feel very prepared and confident in my abilities for starting my career after graduation," said Laura Morgan, a senior majoring in mass communication and minoring in entertainment technology.

Matthews' EXL courses have included professional selling, advanced selling, promotion and Dale Carnegie courses, which are designed to help students improve their "soft skills."

"In Dale Carnegie courses, students not only learn the human relations principles, but they are required to live out those principles and report to the class on the application," Matthews said.

Class projects in Park's public relations courses include oral presentations, research reports, campaign books and peer evaluation.

"Dr. Park has done a tremendously fine job with the EXL courses that she is teaching, not only benefitting the students in honing their knowledge and skills, but also helping 24 different community and campus organizations, as well as local businesses," said Zeny Sarabia-Panol, associate dean of the College of Media and Entertainment.

In one of Stickle's courses, students are required to search for and analyze crime statistics, conduct a home security check and visit a local retail store to identify objects that could be stolen easily.

"Based on my experiences with professor Stickle and the materials/activities he's designed, I believe his work exemplifies the excellence of student learning experiences sought by the EXL program," said Daniel Pfeifer, a professor of recording industry and an architect of the EXL program.

To learn more about MTSU's Experiential Learning Scholars Program, go to or call the EXL office at 615-898-5542.

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5 professors honored, Ben Stickle, Hanna Park, Lucy Matthews, Michelle Boyer-Pennington, MTSU, Murfreesboro, Robert Gordon, WGNS
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