MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Well before MTSU and Murfreesboro-based McGuire Management Group publicly announced a new partnership making it more affordable for current and future employees to obtain a degree from the university, word spread rapidly.
More than 40 McGuire Management employees including Michael Johnson had already discovered they could attend Middle Tennessee State University tuition-free starting this fall if they meet minimum qualifying criteria. Hundreds of others are now aware as well.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and local McDonald’s franchise owner Jonathon McGuire announced the McGuire True Blue Education Partnership Wednesday, Aug. 4, at the Memorial Boulevard fast-food restaurant. With McGuire employees, MTSU officials and others present, McPhee and McGuire signed the memorandum of understanding, cementing the partnership, in an event airing on True Blue TV.
McGuire owns 20 McDonald’s restaurants, 10 in Murfreesboro, seven in Nashville/Antioch, Tennessee, and others in Columbia, Centerville and White Bluff. McPhee said he’s “blessed to share a longtime personal friendship with the McGuire family, who have built their businesses on a foundation of supporting and giving back to their communities.”
“Through this partnership, we are pleased to join forces and launch a comprehensive education strategy, providing access for qualifying McGuire Management Group employees to attend classes and earn college credit with the management group funding 100% of tuition costs,” McPhee said. “This partnership is designed to empower employees to learn and advance in their careers, no matter where they are on their journey.”
“Our employees are very excited about this program,” said McGuire. “Even before this announcement, we have almost reached half of our first-year enrollment goal. We anticipate the announcement will spur an influx of applications and we are very excited to add to our McFamily.”
Johnson, a Murfreesboro resident who manages training and development of general managers and shift leaders at all 20 McDonald’s locations, will take a Prior Learning Assessment class in the fall and is tasked with “making sure prospective students get connected to MTSU,” he said.
“All of our senior leaders went to the Bahamas with Jonathon and Dr. McPhee earlier this year,” Johnson said. “Many of them expressed an interest in something like this. Dr. McPhee and Jonathon made it a priority. … It’s exciting to see so much interest, people wanting to go to school. A lot of GMs had prior experiences at universities, but never finished because of life happening.”
Ralph Schulz, president of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, said working at McDonald’s at age 16 “helped fund my college education. This partnership takes a job that was just a job and takes it to a career opportunity. A private organization and a university working together … is a reference point for many, many businesses throughout the community to make life-saving contributions (for their employees).”
University College Assistant Dean Peggy Carpenter will manage the program. Danielle Fowler, Adult Degree Completion Program corporate partner coordinator, also has played a vital role. A link to video featuring McGuire and Fowler discussing the partnership can be found here.
“Our degree programs are adult-friendly and flexible to meet the needs of a variety of students,” University College Dean Rick Sluder said. “Our staff have a special expertise and find value and reward in working with adult students. We have a recognized and respected program in Prior Learning Assessment, where students can earn college credit for prior work and professional experiences.”
McGuire said his company “can offer tuition-free education at one of the nation’s best universities. Our employees are able to receive personalized support from MTSU, including enrollment counseling and education advising. They will also enjoy a discounted tuition rate if they choose to attend additional hours above and beyond what our program offers per semester.”
Like many McDonald’s franchises in the U.S., McGuire Management has offered limited tuition reimbursement programs for several years, he added. “Our management training programs are also accredited, and we have offered and continue to offer online high school diploma opportunities and English as a second language.”
“People are the heart and soul of our business. … I seek to share the blessings God has given me and my family with others — whether that be a part-time job or career opportunity, or whether that be an affordable meal or a friendly smile.”