As global industries evolve and change, communities depend on colleges and universities to develop skilled talent for the local workforce. Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in Rutherford County is doing just that by enhancing programs and facilities to meet current and future industry demands.
MTSU is the largest higher education institution in the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) system and the leading producer of graduates for the Nashville area and the TBR system. The university has also received accolades for increasing undergraduate and graduate retention rates and expanding its dual enrollment programs for high school students.
In addition to these efforts, colleges across MTSU’s campus are adapting to meet growing trends and local workforce needs.
Changing With the Times
The College of Media and Entertainment has recently made major changes in order to meet the 24-hour media demand. It started with the name change. Formerly the College of Mass Communication, the new name more accurately reflects the offerings available to students, says Ken Paulson, dean of the college.
“We are training the next generation of professionals by offering all media, from reading and writing to audio and video,” he says. “Students now can master a wide set of digital tools, explore more avenues and become more hireable.”
The college also combined multiple departments, including the Recording Industry, School of Journalism and Electronic Media Communication, to provide more classes and in-demand concentrations. The unity among the programs allows students to become masters in digital media.
Located in the Department of Recording Industry is the Music Business School – a leader in developing future music professionals to work in an industry that is one of the Nashville area’s top economic draws. Working with experienced professors and industry contacts is an integral part of the program. Studentsalso work with Match Records, a university-based entity that teaches them the basics of running a record label, from scouting top talent to production, marketing and distribution.
“Our services are now more contemporary, and we are seeing tremendous enthusiasm in recruiting,” Paulson says. “We’re excited to prepare our graduates for a wide range of employment options.”
Boosting Business Programs
With entrepreneurship on the rise, many professionals look to fulfill the American dream of owning their own business. To support that trend and help students succeed at it, the Jennings A. Jones College of Business has upgraded facilities and enhanced its programs.
New facilities include the Financial Analysis Center, which features a trading room with a circular stock ticker and interactive display monitors with stock information that provide business students with hands-on stock trading experience. Other upgrades have occurred in the computer lab, professional sales lab and business analytics lab. New programs include a Master of Science in Finance, a Flex-MBA program that allows students to complete courses online and graduate in 12 months, and a Dale Carnegie Course requirement for all undergraduate business majors.
“We are the only university and requiring the Carnegie Course,” says David Urban, dean of the College of Business. “Through these upgrades, students will be able to enhance their technical skills, and our advisement staff – focused on professional career development – will help increase their chances of academic and career success.”
Filling the Talent Pipeline
Other standout programs at MTSU are doing their part to integrate a quality education with real-world experience. The School of Nursing and computer science programs have received national recognition for excellence. The Concrete Industry Management program gives students the opportunity to fulfill a need for skilled professionals in construction. MTSU is the first university to integrate a technical education in concrete with business and communication skills needed to advance in the industry.
Due to an increased enrollment in science and research, current renovations to MTSU’s science facilities are also under way. The Wiser-Patten Science Hall will reopen in 2017 after $20 million in renovations are complete. The renovations will include state-of-the-art equipment and repurposed space, helping MTSU to become a science leader in the Southeast.
Additionally, a wide range of internships and workforce programs are available – from communications and journalism to political science and international relations. Internships not only provide students with hands-on experience, but also allow the university to help supply the local workforce.
“We strive to keep our internship programs up-to-date with current offerings for our students, so they can get the best experience working in a professional setting,” says Tricia M. Farwell, associate professor at the School of Journalism.
These programs help students gain professional experience in their field as well as develop relationships with potential future employers.
“We do our best to prepare students for the workforce through internships and development programs,” Farwell says. “These opportunities enable students to experience what their major will be like once they have left the classroom.”