- DR. SIDNEY A. McPHEE: President
- DR. BRAD BARTEL: University Provost
- MR. JOHN W. COTHERN: Senior Vice President
- MR. WILLIAM J. BALES: Vice President for University Advancement
- MR. ANDREW OPPMANN: Vice President for Marketing and Communications
- MR. BRUCE PETRYSHAK: Vice President for Information Technology & Chief Information Officer
- DR. DEBRA SELLS: Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice Provost for Enrollment and Academic Services
Dr. Sidney A. McPhee, the tenth president of Middle Tennessee State University, has presided over one of the most remarkable periods of growth and progress in the institution’s century-plus of service.
MTSU is the oldest and largest institution in the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and the No. 1 producer of graduates for the Greater Nashville economy. It is also the top destination for transfer students in Tennessee and, in November 2015, will be home to the state’s largest academic support center dedicated to veterans and military families.
McPhee’s presidency, which began in 2001, also coincided with more than $700 million in improvements in academic, athletic and campus facilities – either proposed, under construction or completed. MTSU’s $147-million Science Building, a 250,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art teaching and research facility, opened in Fall 2014.
Since his arrival, MTSU has been successful in raising admission standards, which resulted in an increase in enrollment of high-ability students. McPhee has overseen the addition of almost 30 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, two colleges (Behavioral and Health Sciences and University College) and 12 institutes and centers.
McPhee’s ambitious Quest for Student Success, which was launched two years ago, is reshaping MTSU’s approaches to teaching and learning. It has gained national attention for its innovation in improving MTSU’s student retention and graduation rates. It aligns with Gov. Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55, which aims to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with post-secondary degrees or certificates.
He has also worked to strengthen MTSU’s international undergraduate and graduate student enrollment, expanded its study-abroad and cultural opportunities and developed research collaboration with international partners.
Prior to his arrival at MTSU, McPhee was executive vice chancellor for TBR. In addition, he served as the TBR’s chief academic officer and interim chancellor. McPhee also served in various senior-level administrative capacities at several major universities, including Oklahoma State University, University of Louisville and University of Memphis.
McPhee is married to Elizabeth McPhee, and they have two adult children, Seneca and Sidney-Anthony.
Academics and Community Service
McPhee earned his bachelor’s degree (with highest honors, summa cum laude) from Prairie View A&M University in Texas; a master’s degree from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.; and a doctorate in applied behavioral studies in education from Oklahoma State University. He is also a graduate of the Harvard University Management Development Program and completed professional development programs at St. Mary’s University of San Antonio, Texas, and Colorado College in Colorado Springs.
As an academician, his work has appeared in numerous local, national and international professional journals. His scholarly pursuits include international lectures and presentations in numerous countries, including China, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Belgium, Canada, England, Brazil, Ethiopia and the Bahamas. His scholarly pursuits include international lectures and presentations in numerous countries, including China, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Belgium, Canada, England, Brazil, Ethiopia and The Bahamas.
China Agricultural University in Beijing, one of the country’s top universities, awarded McPhee its highest academic award (Honorary Professor) in May 2007. He was appointed in October 2010 as senior advisor to the Chief Executive of Hanban-Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing and, in December 2013, received Confucius Institute’s Individual Performance Excellence Award during the 8th Annual Global Confucius Institutes Conference in Beijing, China. This is the highest award given by the Minister of Education and the Confucius Institutes. A book of his photographic essays, China: Through the Eyes of An University President, published in July 2012, was released internationally.
McPhee served a four-year term on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors from 2003 to 2007 and a three-year term on its Executive Committee. In 2010, he was re-appointed to the NCAA board and executive committee as the Sun Belt Conference’s representative, which concluded in 2013.
McPhee co-chaired the Tennessee Legislative Retreat Task Force on Higher Education and was recently reelected to a second three-year term as a commission member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
He is a member of the Murfreesboro Noon Rotary Club and the SunTrust Bank Board of Directors (Nashville) and SunTrust Regional Bank Advisory Board (Murfreesboro). He previously served on the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and chaired its membership council He also served on the Nashville Adventure Science Center Board; the Middle Tennessee Medical Center Board; and the Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America’s Middle Tennessee Council.
McPhee was named Outstanding American University President of 2002 by the American Football Foundation. In 2003, he was listed by Nashville Post business magazine as one of Tennessee’s 100 Most Powerful Individuals and, in 2004, he was ranked by Business Tennessee magazine as one of the state’s Top 50 Most Powerful African Americans. He was honored by the Nashville Business Journal with its Rutherford County Impact Award for two consecutive years in 2014 and 2015. He also has been named Omega Citizen of the Year by the Pi Gamma Gamma Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity; recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International; and was inducted into the Hall of Fame for R.M. Bailey Senior High School, his alma mater in The Bahamas.
Updated: October 2015
Brad Bartel earned his baccalaureate degree from Brooklyn College in 1970 and his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in 1974. Both degrees were in Anthropology. An archaeologist specializing in studies of colonialism, mortuary practice, and early human symbolism, Bartel has conducted field research in Yugoslavia, Turkey, Ireland, and the United States. His projects include the excavation of the Roman city of Sirmium and Roman metallurgical site of Kraku'lu Yordan in Serbia, the Celtic ceremonial site of Dun Ailline in Ireland, and Early Bronze Age cemeteries in western Turkey. In the United States, Bartel has excavated the San Diego Presidio, the first permanent European ettlement on the West coast, the Moravian settlement of Old Salem in North Carolina, and the home sites of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford in Florida. His archaeological research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and various other foundations. His research has appeared in numerous anthropological journals including World Archaeology, The Journal of Archaeological Science, and the Journal of Field Archaeology.
Bartel began his professional career at San Diego State University as an assistant professor of Anthropology in 1975. He was promoted to associate professor in 1981. In 1983 he was promoted to Professor and also appointed the Associate Dean of the Graduate Division and Research with responsibility over all of the master's and doctoral programs. In 1991, he became the Dean of the Graduate School and Associate Provost for Research at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. During his tenure, he increased graduate enrollment and research funding, established new research institutes, and developed new master's and doctoral programs. During his time as a graduate dean, Bartel was responsible for training of all new graduate administrators throughout the South for the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) and was a consultant on the role of graduate certificates for the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), the national organization for graduate education in the United States.
In 2000, he became the Provost and Executive Vice President at Florida Gulf Coast University located in southwest Florida. This was a newly established state university with dynamic growth. Bartel was responsible for all facets of the academic enterprise as well as student affairs, public television and radio stations, continuing education and partnerships with the community, and capital construction of academic buildings.
In 2004 he became the President of Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. Fort Lewis College is the designated public liberal arts college of Colorado and the national leader in Native American undergraduate education with students from more than 125 different Native American tribes in attendance. Bartel's responsibilities included all aspects of college operations. During his tenure, admissions standards were significantly elevated, new degree programs developed, universal opportunities for student service learning created, annual fundraising increased dramatically, two national championships earned in Men's Soccer, and $100 million of capital construction implemented. Bartel served on the national policy council and undergraduate experience committee of the American Association of State College and Universities (AASCU).
Bartel has been married to Laura Bartel, an anthropologist and instructor at Motlow State Community College, for over thirty-five years. They have two children, Jordan, an editor at the Baltimore Sun newspaper in Maryland, and Kim, a social worker in Asheville, N.C. Brad and Laura also have two pugs who rule their lives.
John W. Cothern serves as MTSU's Senior Vice President. Previously he served as Vice President of Business and Finance from 2003 until June 2005.
Prior to his arrival at MTSU, Cothern was Assistant Vice President for Business and Finance at the University of Memphis (UM).
Cothern, a Memphis native, is a 1970 graduate of UM (then Memphis State University) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, and he has a Juris Doctor degree (1973) from UM's Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Cothern is a licensed attorney, and he had been with the UM Division of Business and Finance since November 1973.
He and his wife Debbie have lived in Nashville since 1998, and he had been commuting to UM since that time. Cothern previously worked with McPhee when McPhee was UM's Senior Vice Provost.
Cothern also worked with Gene Smith, who served as MTSU's interim president prior to McPhee's arrival. Smith was also UM's Vice President for Business and Finance prior to assuming MTSU's interim presidency for a year in Fall 2000.
The Cotherns have two grown children, John and Joanie.
William J. "Joe" Bales, is the Vice President for University Advancement at MTSU. With more than two decades of experience in fundraising and institutional advancement, he leads the University's efforts in development, alumni relations and governmental relations. Fundraising activities at the University have doubled during Bales’ tenure. And, under his leadership, MTSU launched its $80 million Centennial Campaign, the largest fundraising effort in the University’s history in April 2012; it reached more than $67 million in its first year.
Bales came to MTSU in 2002 from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where he spent nearly 15 years in a variety of development and alumni affairs roles. Immediately prior to coming to MTSU, Bales served for more than five years as Assistant Vice President for Corporate Relations. In that role, he was responsible for developing cultivation and solicitation plans for more than 30 major corporations - and providing leadership to all appropriate colleges and constituent development offices. His accomplishments included the creation of a formal corporate partnership plan, the development of an annual-giving blueprint and the launching of an "executive briefing" newsletter for the campus.
Earlier, from 1993 to 1997, Bales was director of development for the UT’s College of Engineering. During that time, he directed the college's 21st Century Campaign that raised more than $34 million in gifts and pledges from alumni, friends and corporations. The annual average for total giving increased from $2 million to $4.5 million. He also developed a tracking/management system for the college's gift funds composed of more than 200 gift accounts and a $15 million endowment. Before that, Bales served for four years as associate director of institutional advancement for the university's Institute of Agriculture, then later became director of development.
He earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in agriculture from UT-Knoxville and served as a graduate teaching assistant and as an instructor in the Department of Animal Science.
"As a native of this state, I strongly believe in the value of higher education and am committed to working to strengthen our educational system," Bales said. "The chance to assist MTSU in meeting the future needs of Tennessee is an exciting challenge. MTSU is one of the best kept secrets in higher education -- not only in Tennessee, but across the country. It is gratifying to have the opportunity to work with Dr. McPhee, the university community and MTSU's students and alumni in moving MTSU to the top tier of America's comprehensive universities."
Andrew Oppmann: Vice President for Marketing and Communications
Andrew Oppmann is MTSU's Vice President for Marketing and Communications and the University's chief spokesman. He joined MTSU in 2010 as associate vice president and led a strategic restructuring of the University's marketing and communications operations, including the creation of MTSUNews.com and the relaunch of MTSU Magazine. He became vice president in 2013.
Oppmann also teaches Media Writing as an adjunct professor of journalism in MTSU's College of Media and Entertainment. In that role, he serves as editor of APME News, the quarterly magazine of the Associated Press Media Editors association. He was appointed an APME Regent in 2015 for his service to the association.
Oppmann spent more than 25 years as a reporter, editor or executive for newspapers in seven states. He was president and publisher of Gannett Tennessee’s media groups in Murfreesboro (The Daily News Journal) and Clarksville (The Leaf-Chronicle) and was a vice president for The Tennessean in Nashville. A 1985 graduate of the University of Kentucky, Oppmann was a reporter for The Orange County Register in Santa Ana, Calif.; the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader and The Knoxville News-Sentinel. He worked as an editor at the Herald-Leader, The Houston Post, The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser and The Post-Crescent in Appleton, Wis., where he also served as the newspaper’s general manager.
Oppmann was honored as best columnist in 2004 by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association and Gannett's national journalism competition. He was named one of Gannett's top 15 newsroom supervisors in 1995 and 2000; 10 top executive editors in 2005; and top three publishers in 2008. He was among the inaugural class of honorees in the Nashville Business Journal's Chief Marketing Officer Awards in 2013 and was again recognized by NBJ in 2014. He serves on advisory boards for MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment; MTSU’s Confucius Institute; and the University of Kentucky’s journalism alumni association.
He lives in Murfreesboro with his wife, Elise, and their three daughters. His community involvement includes service as a lieutenant colonel in the Civil Air Patrol, the volunteer civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force (2014-present), chairman of the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties (2011) and a vice president and executive board member of the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America (2008-10).
Bruce Petryshak serves as MTSU's Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer.
Petryshak arrived at MTSU in August 2010. Prior to joining MTSU he was Chief Information Officer at Bowling Green State University in Ohio for nine years. Petryshak also served in the Information Technology Division at Kent State University where he was Executive Director of University Information Systems. Mr. Petryshak has held positions in all areas of Information Technology.
Petryshak holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, Computer Sciences and a Masters of Business Administration from Kent State University.
Petryshak was named one of the top CIOs in the country, according to ExecRank’s “Top CIO Rankings” for 2012. According to the California-based executive ranking service, there are over 38,000 CIOs in the United States and “only the very best are awarded the distinction” of inclusion in ExecRank’s listings; he was ranked No. 83 out of 213 CIOs listed in the category of “Top Private Company CIOs.”
Dr. Debra Sells: Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice Provost for Enrollment and Academic Services
Dr. Debra Sells serves as MTSU's Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice Provost for Academic and Enrollment Services.
Sells joined the administration at Middle Tennessee State University in January of 1996. Prior to arriving at MTSU, she worked for nine years at Arizona State University in Tempe. Sells has also served in the division of Student Affairs at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, and at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.
Dr. Sells completed her Bachelors of Arts degree in Sociology and Communications at Hope College, located in Holland, Michigan. She completed her Master of Social Work with a concentration in Interpersonal Practice and Clinical Casework at the University of Michigan in 1983. She completed her Doctorate of Education at Arizona State University in 1996 with a dissertation entitled "The Freshman Year Experience: A case study of a freshman living-learning center."
"Our students and their families will know what we value by where we invest our time and our presence,"; says Dr. Sells. "It is critical that we are accessible, involved and engaged with our students. They are the reason we come to work each day."