‘MTSU Day on the Hill’ Touts Progress, Programs to Lawmakers


The Middle Tennessee State University School of Agriculture’s Creamery brought its award-winning chocolate and white milk to the statewide Ag Day on the Hill at the Tennessee State Capitol Tuesday (March 12).

MTSU Board of Trustees Chairman Steve Smith touted university growth, progress and new ideas — and that it’s OK to return to college to earn your degree no matter your age during MTSU Day on the Hill Tuesday.

Many groups gather at the Capitol each day lawmakers conduct business, meeting with their senators and representatives, observing committee sessions and more. It just so happened that outdoors Ag Day on the Hill, which included the MTSU School of Ag with the milk and young pigs, coincided with MTSU Day on the Hill.

Smith led an MTSU delegation that included trustees board member Pete Delay, university Vice Presidents Joe Bales (Advancement Services) and Andrew Oppmann (Marketing and Communications), Faculty Senate President Pippa Holloway and John Hood, director of governmental and community affairs and a former state legislator.

The group met with key House and Senate committee chairs and Rutherford County’s legislators, sharing major points of emphasis regarding MTSU’s status as one of the top four-year schools in Tennessee.

“I think the objective is to familiarize our elected officials with what our mission is and what we’re accomplishing, and try to provide them a scoreboard of ways we’re helping students have a better life,” Smith said.

Delay, a Nashville businessman, said his role as a board member was to “make sure members of the state Legislature are aware we are good stewards of taxpayer money, let them know about the issues that affect our university thank them for their support.”

Smith’s group had scheduled meetings with Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, Rep. Susan Lynn (chair of the Finance, Ways & Means Committed), Sen. Delores Gresham (chair of the Senate Education Committee) and Rep. Mark White (chair of House Education Committee).

They also had an unscheduled meeting with Rep. Jeremy Faison, who has been a partner and consultant in ginseng production for the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research at MTSU.

In goody bags for legislators and also at a table, MTSU provided information about the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, the latest MTSU Magazine and the “Ready to Work” incentive, where the university offers programs focused on industry needs. Areas of study include education, aerospace, business, criminal justice, computer science, journalism and strategic media, the master of professional science and more.

Key legislators also received autographed MTSU footballs and basketballs.

The visit with McNally included meeting MTSU alumnus Tim Sigle, the lieutenant governor’s chief of staff.

Capitol Hill intern Dalton Slatton, 21, of Whitwell, Tennessee, a senior political science (prelaw) major, shared with a Nissan USA-sponsored luncheon group about his positive experience on the Hill, including helping to sponsor a bill to add two more dual-enrollment courses for high school juniors and seniors.

“It has been eye-opening,” Slatton said. “Senators don’t necessarily write their own legislation. Attorneys draft it in legal, to make sure the wording is right. You see how much work goes into a bill, and you meet with senators, legislators and committees.”

The bill came before the Senate Education Committee Wednesday (March 13).