Veteran MTSU professors accept interim aerospace, agriculture leadership roles

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Wendy Beckman (left) and Jessica Carter (right)

Taking on new leadership challenges in their MTSU careers, Wendy Beckman and Jessica Carter have accepted interim chair and director's roles in their respective Department of Aerospace and School of Agribusiness and Agriscience.

"Wendy and Jessica will do an outstanding job," said Bud Fischer, College of Basic and Applied Sciences dean, discussing Beckman and Carter, who assumed their positions Aug. 1. "Both are incredibly qualified and understand the future needs of their departments."

Now heading one of the leading university aerospace programs in the nation, Beckman replaces Professor Emeritus Ron Ferrara, who retired July 31.


Carter, a professor in animal science and entering her 14th year at MTSU, replaces Warren Gill, who chose to step down and remain as a tenured professor teaching and conducting research after overseeing the program grow to nearly 500 students.

"I hope to continue building on the success the aerospace department has experienced under Dr. Ferrara," said Beckman, who arrived at MTSU in 2005 from Saint Louis University and most recently served the department as coordinator in both the professional pilot concentration and graduate studies.


"The department's faculty are very dedicated and passionate about sharing their love of aviation with our students, and I look forward to working with them to move the department forward," she added.

Carter said she is "looking forward to serving students, faculty and staff in a different role" and appreciates the growth of the agriculture program during Gill's eight years as director.

"I hope to continue to seek the best students for our program and help them to succeed while they are here at MTSU," Carter added. "Student recruitment, enrollment and retention are key areas that I want to focus on."

Carter's vision includes helping faculty secure external funds for research and continuing the development and improvement of the Experiential Learning and Research Center (the MTSU Farm and Dairy) in Lascassas, Tennessee.

The ag department also looks to expand its milk-processing unit to eventually provide bottled milk to sell to the public, Carter added.

Carter, who grew up on a family farm in central Kentucky, holds degrees from Western Kentucky and Texas Tech universities.

Beckman, who has degrees from Saint Louis University, Missouri-Rolla and North Carolina State University, said her goals are "to continue to offer one of the most respected undergraduate aviation degree programs in the country. This will be accomplished by continuing to focus on the student experience within the department, including both curricular and extra-curricular offerings."

The further development of strong industry relationship aerospace currently enjoys will continue, as well as increasing the research opportunities for both students and faculty, Beckman added.

In addition to professional pilot, aerospace features a new academic concentration for unmanned aircraft, commonly called drones. Other concentrations include flight dispatch, maintenance management, administration and technology.

Aerospace and the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience are two of 11 departments in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.

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