MTSU Salutes Nearly 270 Employees  


Middle Tennessee State University honored almost 270 faculty and staff members campuswide for their years of working with and for students at the annual Employee Service Awards, held Dec. 3 for the first time as a virtual event.

Every year the university recognizes employees with a decade or more of service at a special lunch and ceremony, where they receive pins and/or plaques saluting their work with MTSU and the state of Tennessee.

The pandemic forced the in-person event’s cancelation for this year’s 269 honorees, however. The university held two of its three Class of 2020 commencements virtually before conducting its fall graduation ceremonies outdoors, masked and socially distanced, last month.

“We hope that in 2021 we will be able to once again hold the ceremony in person,” said Kathy Musselman, the university’s assistant vice president for human resource services.

“What I will miss today is hearing the sounds of conversation between colleagues, the laughter, and most of all the pause for pictures being made by colleagues who are not sure how to operate their camera on their phone.”

Some of those employees certainly couldn’t snap photos with their phones, or even carry them in jacket or pants pockets, when they started at MTSU.

Professors Ron Aday and Bichaka Fayissa, this year’s longest-serving employees with 40 years each of teaching, joined the university in 1980, three years before the first analog, bricklike, mobile phone was introduced in America.

Aday, a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology in MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts, has brought students and the community into his continuing research on the needs of the aging population by combining sociology and gerontology in multiple areas, including aging prisoners, elder abuse, intergenerational friendships, and the work of senior centers.

He established and directed MTSU’s interdisciplinary Aging Studies Program for 25 years and has won the university’s Distinguished Research Award, along with the top honor, the Career Achievement Award, for his work.

Fayissa, who joined the Department of Economics and Finance in the Jones College of Business that same year, has focused his scholarly work on economic development, technology and growth, particularly in Africa, including the prominence of tourism and the plan to diversify industries. He too has received MTSU’s top award for faculty research and is also the recipient of the university’s Outstanding Public Service Award.

The professor also is a former coordinator for MTSU’s Inroads Program, which identified and worked with talented young minority students to help get them into college, graduate and develop management careers in corporations across America.

The professors and their MTSU colleagues recognized at the 2020 event have provided a combined total of 5,130 years of service to the university, which MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee called “very special.”

“You are part of the foundation we have to have built this institution into a world-class university,” McPhee said during the virtual ceremony.

“You’ve done a wonderful job serving our students and our visitors that come to this campus, and I want you to know that the first lady (Elizabeth McPhee) and I deeply, deeply appreciate your many, many years of service to MTSU.”

The ceremony is available to watch on YouTube anytime at The university also will rebroadcast the 2020 Service Awards on its True Blue TV educational resource channel and website Friday, Dec. 4, at 8 p.m. Central; Saturday, Dec. 5, at 3 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 6, at 9 p.m.; and Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 9:30 p.m.

True Blue TV is available at and airs on channel 9.1 on the MTSU campus; channel 99 on AT&T U-verse in Middle Tennessee; Comcast Xfinity channels 9 and 1096; channel 195 on DTC in Alexandria, Tennessee; and digital channel 206 on United Communications in Chapel Hill, Tennessee.

The station also is available on Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV; those details are available at the True Blue TV website.

The 2020 honorees and their departments include:
10 years of service: 

  • Lynn Adams, Office of Alumni Relations.
  • Elliot Altman, Department of Biology.
  • Gwen Barrett, Human Resource Services.
  • Brad Bartel, Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
  • Andrew Bennett, University Police Department.
  • Jimmy Borendame, MTSU Athletics.
  • Eddie Bowen, Department of Media Arts.
  • Debra Boyd, Department of Communication Studies.
  • Kim Brewton, MTSU Athletics.
  • Matthew Brown, Department of English.
  • Ethan Castelo, Department of English.
  • Charles Chusuei, Department of Chemistry.
  • John Coons, Department of Health and Human Performance.
  • Stephen Decker, Department of Communication Studies.
  • Kira Duke, Center for Historic Preservation.
  • Sasha Fallon, Department of Social Work.
  • Michelle Finch, School of Nursing.
  • Anne Ford, MT One Stop.
  • Mark Frame, Department of Psychology.
  • Phillip Harvey, University Housing and Residential Life (retired).
  • Frances Henderson, Department of English.
  • Jack Head, Information Technology Division.
  • Diana Hill, Womack Educational Leadership Department.
  • Denise Holt, University Housing and Residential Life.
  • Kara Hooper, Creative Marketing Solutions.
  • Kyle Kennedy, Department of Theatre and Dance.
  • James Kentfield, MTSU Ticket Office.
  • Seth Marshall, Department of Psychology.
  • Jolynda Maynard, Parking and Transportation Services.
  • Mary McClain, Office of the President.
  • Kevin McNulty, Department of Media Arts.
  • Shelley Moore, School of Nursing.
  • Lisa Murphree, School of Nursing.
  • Arunesh Nadgir, School of Music.
  • Greg Nagel, Department of Economics and Finance.
  • Tara Hayes Odette, Office of the Vice Provost for Research.
  • Andrew Oppmann, Division of Marketing and Communications.
  • Marie Patterson, College of Behavioral and Health Sciences.
  • Bruce Petryshak, Information Technology Division.
  • Kristi Plunk, School of Nursing.
  • Susan Quinn, University Business Office.
  • Betty Rinaudo, University College.
  • Drew Ruble, University Publications.
  • Megan Russell, University College.
  • Kim Sandman, Department of Aerospace.
  • Lana Seivers, College of Education (retired).
  • Kristi Shamburger, Department of Theatre and Dance.
  • Leslie Shearon, Student Health Services.
  • Xiaowei Shi, Department of Communication Studies.
  • John Shires, Department of Chemistry.
  • Rebecca Shults, Home and Community Based Early Intervention Program.
  • Tammy Simmons, Home and Community Based Early Intervention Program.
  • Sheri Simon, Tennessee Livestock Center.
  • Carter Smith, Department of Criminal Justice Administration.
  • Stephanie Steiner, Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
  • L’Oreal Stephens, Department of Communication Studies.
  • Chris Strickland, Energy Services Department.
  • Lisa Throneberry, Financial Aid and Scholarships Office.
  • Armando Tobar, University Housing and Residential Life.
  • Jennifer Vannatta-Hall, School of Music.
  • Deborah Wagnon, Department of Recording Industry.
  • Shannon Walker, Department of Psychology.
  • John Wallin, College of Basic and Applied Sciences.
  • Laura White, Department of English.
  • Stephen White, Financial Aid and Scholarships Office.
  • Heidi Zimmerman, Office of the University Counsel.
  • Chris Zumbro, Energy Services Department.

15 years of service: 

    • Mohammed Albakry, Department of English.
    • Cynthia Allen, Environmental Health and Safety.
    • Watson Ambruster, Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures.
    • Erin Anfinson, Department of Art and Design.
    • Wendy Beckman, Department of Aerospace.
    • Alan Brown, Department of Geosciences.
    • Nate Callender, Department of Aerospace.
    • Chad Carter, Department of Economics and Finance.
    • Frank Cathey, Grounds and Greenhouse Services Department.
    • Bev Clanton, Department of Health and Human Performance.
    • Randy Clark, Department of Marketing.
    • Laura Collins, Department of Geosciences.
    • Melanie Collins, Financial Aid and Scholarships Office.
    • Becky Davidson, Ann Campbell Early Learning Center (retired).
    • Monica Davis, Department of Accounting.
    • Libby DeMarco, Counseling and Testing Services.
    • Mary Evins, University Honors College.
    • Mark Fisher, Energy Services Department.
    • Martin Fisher, Center for Popular Music.
    • Missy Gray, Student Health Services.
    • Scott Handy, Department of Chemistry.
    • Melissa Hawkins, College of Business.
    • Shannon Chappell Hodge, Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
    • Don Hong, Department of Mathematical Sciences.
    • Jarrod Houghton, Department of Art and Design.
    • Rick Insell, MTSU Athletics.
    • Abdul Khaliq, Department of Mathematical Sciences.
    • Zaf Khan, Department of Elementary and Special Education.
    • Marcus Knight, School of Concrete and Construction Management.
    • Will Leggett, Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
    • Chris Massaro, MTSU Athletics.
    • Lisa McCann, College of Media and Entertainment.
    • Jeff McConnell, Environmental Health and Safety.
    • Susan McConnell, Student Health Services.
    • Allison McGoffin, Office of the University Provost.
    • Leighann McInnis, School of Nursing.
    • Jamila McWhirter, School of Music.
    • Eric Miller, Telecommunication Services Department.
    • Nancy Miller, College of Basic and Applied Sciences.
    • Karen Moser, University Business Office.
    • Cassie Mullins, Information Technology Division.
    • Chad Mullis, Information Technology Division.
    • Robert Patterson, Office of Admissions, Undergraduate Recruitment.
    • Karen Petersen, College of Liberal Arts.
    • Sandra Poirier, Department of Human Sciences.
    • Brian Ratliff, Information Technology Division.
    • Mischa Renfroe, Department of English.
    • Robyn Ridgley, Department of Elementary and Special Education.
    • Amanda Rogers, Environmental Health and Safety.
    • Lauren Rudd, Department of Human Sciences.
    • Drew Shea, MTSU Athletics.
    • Mary Ellen Sloane, James E. Walker Library.
    • Raj Srivastava, Department of Marketing.
    • Pamela Steiner, University Housing and Residential Life.
    • Rick Stockstill, MTSU Athletics.
    • Keith Stokes, University Business Office.
    • Tommy Summers, Energy Services Department.
    • James Taylor, MT One Stop.
    • Angela Todd, University Police Department.