About us

Dr. Susan Myers-Shirk

Susan Myers-Shirk earned her undergraduate degree in History at Messiah College, and her Master’s and PhD in History from Pennsylvania State University. Myers-Shirk has been a faculty member in the History Department at MTSU since 1994 and has taught countless general education courses in History during that time. She served as the General Education Director for the History Department for four years, has been the university-wide Director of General Education since 2017, and will oversee the general education redesign process from start to finish in that capacity.

Dr. Katherine Brackett

Katherine Brackett earned undergraduate degrees in English and History at the University of Georgia, her Master’s Degree in History at West Virginia University, and her PhD in History at the University of Georgia. Brackett joined the History Department at MTSU in Fall 2018 and became the Communications Director for the MTSU General Education Redesign in Spring 2019. In August 2019, she became a Research Assistant Professor jointly appointed in the Department of History and General Education.

Design Team

In June 2019 a Design Team representing MTSU attended the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) Institute on General Education and Assessment. At the Institute the team began developing a general education curriculum that aligns with MTSU values as defined in the data collected in focus groups, surveys, and interviews from students, faculty, staff, and administrators and in our strategic planning workshop that took place April 26, 2019. The rough draft produced at the Institute will be presented to and workshopped by the broader MTSU community during academic year 2019-2020. You can learn more about the Institute here.

The Design Team is made up of Dr. Myers-Shirk and faculty members from various colleges across campus who have been directly involved in the information-gathering phase of general education redesign at MTSU. Read more about the Design Team members below.

Design Team Members:

Dr. Michelle Boyer-Pennington earned a Ph.D. and M.S. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Florida and a BA in Psychology from Emory University. Currently, she is a full professor in the psychology department where she serves as the department’s Coordinator of Undergraduate Programs. She is also chair of the URECA committee and a member of the MT Engage Leadership Team, MT Engage Oversight Committee, and Honors Council. She routinely teaches courses that are part of the EXL, MT Engage, and Honors programs and regularly mentors honors theses and graduate theses in her department. In 2018, she was awarded an Outstanding EXL Instructor award. In the past, she has served as the subcommittee chair of the MT Engage Learning Outcomes and Assessment subcommittee, and she was chair of the General Education Committee when the last general education redesign was implemented.  She has published in the journals Child Development and Journal of Experimental Child Development and regularly presents research at meetings of the Association for Psychological Science and the Teaching Institute of the Association of Psychological Science.

Dr. Brian Frank  joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Middle Tennessee State University in 2011. Before joining MTSU, he earned his doctorate degree in Physics from the University of Maryland and worked as a post-doctoral researcher in the Center for Research in STEM Education at the University of Maine. As an education researcher, Dr. Frank studies student thinking and engagement in settings that aim to connect students' classroom learning with their everyday lives.  In this and other areas of teaching and learning, he has been awarded over 100k in grants and has published over a dozen peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. As an educator, Dr. Frank is dedicated to the preparation and professional development of physics teachers and is deeply committed to teaching for both depth-of-knowledge and depth-of-engagement.  He was recently awarded MTSU's Outstanding Teacher Award and Outstanding General Education Award for 2018.

Dr. Keith Gamble is Associate Professor of Finance and Chair of the Department of Economics and Finance in the College of Business. Gamble earned his PhD in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley and his Bachelors in Economics from Harvard. His research interests include financial decisions and behavioral finance. He has published his research in Management Science, the Journal of Financial Markets, and Financial Management among others, and he has presented his research at international conferences such as the European Finance Association Annual Meetings and the Netspar International Pension Workshop.

Dr. Soraya Nogueira is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese in the College of Liberal Arts and has worked at MTSU since 1999. Nogueira earned her Ph.D. in Spanish & Portuguese Languages specializing in 20th-Century Latin-American Literature from Vanderbilt University. Her book, O grotesco em contos selecionados de Miguel Jorge e Julio Cortázar, received the Celso Cunha award for best book published in Brazil on comparative literature (2002). She has also published articles in Latin American literature in Spanish and Portuguese and recently, her book chapter on “Introducing the Portuguese Language through a Humanities Course” was accepted for publication. While at MTSU, Nogueira has implemented the Interdisciplinary Portuguese Studies Minor, served as Honors Faculty, and received the Outstanding Teacher Award (2009-10).

Faculty Advisory Council

Faculty Advisory Council members come from across the university and represent every college and academic unit, including the library and student affairs. Most of the Faculty Advisory Council (FAC) members participated in Faculty Learning Communities on General Education Redesign in AY 2018-2019. The Faculty Learning Community (FLC) was administered through the LT&ITC and facilitated by Dr. Susan Myers-Shirk, the MTSU Director of General Education. It was advertised along with the other FLCs this year (2018-2019) and was open to all university faculty. In Spring 2019, members of the FLC conducted focus groups across campus. Additional members are faculty and administrators who previously expressed interest in participating in the redesign.

Faculty Advisory Council Members

First Last Department College
Michelle Boyer-Pennington Psychology CBHS
Meg Brooker Theater & Dance CLA
Nita Brooks Interim Vice Provost for Academic Programs Adminstration
Laura Cochrane Art & Design CLA
Mary Evins History/Honors CLA/Honors
Tricia Farwell School of Journalism & Strategic Media CME
Kathryn Fenton School of Music CLA
Brian Frank Astonomy & Physics CBAS
Keith Gamble Economics & Finance COB
Joey Gray Health & Human Performance CBHS
Virginia Hemby Marketing COB
Matthew Hibson Strategic Communications Manager CLA
Tony Johnston School of Agriculture CBAS
Ryan Korstange University Studies UNIV
Aliou Ly History/Gen Ed Committee Chair CLA
Julie Myatt Director of MT Engage Director
Kari Neely World Languages, Literatures, & Cultures CLA
Kim Page University Studies UNIV
Kate Pantelides English CLA
Dwight Patterson Chemistry CBAS
Carol Swayze Director of MT EXL Director
Laurie Witherow Enrollment Services Student Affairs

Student Advisory Council

 Student Advisory Council (SAC) members also represent their peers in most university colleges. In Spring 2019, an application to participate was posted on Pipeline and emailed directly to students. Drs. Myers-Shirk and Brackett reviewed the applications to select a council of students who represented as many colleges and backgrounds as possible. Current SGA president, Delanie McDonald, appointed two of the SAC members as student representatives on the university general education committee.

Student Advisory Council Members

first last major college
Beth Heise Nutrition & Food Science CBHS
Alexis Lyles Criminal Justice CBHS
Kelsie Roberts Health & Human Performance CBHS
Caitlyn Ellis  Global Studies CLA
Brad Fansher History CLA
Preston George (*) Political Science CLA
Milky Abadula Biology CBAS
Jiwoo Park Biology CBAS
Hellen Valencia Lemos Biology CBAS
Samuel  Blumen (*) Computer Information Systems COB
Jessica Figueroa Interdisciplinary Studies COE

 * Indicates Gen Ed Commitee Representatives

General Education Redesign & Faculty Learning Communities

 To initiate a university-wide conversation about general education redesign, Dr. Myers-Shirk established two Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs). The two FLCs are co-sponsored by the LT&ITC and the Provost’s Office. The General Education Redesign FLCs were constituted in the same manner as all FLCs administered through the LT&ITC. They were advertised at the beginning of AY 2018-2019 through the LT&ITC. (For the advertisement see: https://www.mtsu.edu/ltanditc/FLC/MTSU_General_Education_Redesign.php)

Participation was voluntary and included representation across all university colleges. Faculty Learning Community members helped conduct focus groups in Spring 2019 to assess MTSU community members' thoughts on general education redesign. Many FLC members will continue to participate in the redesign process either as design team members or on the Faculty Advisory Council. 

MTSU General Education Redesign Faculty Learning Community Members:

Last First Department College
Baran Emily History CLA
Fenton Kathryn School of Music CLA
Brooker Meg Theater & Dance


Witherow Laurie Enrollment Services Student Affairs
Page Kim University Studies University College
Gamble Keith Economics & Finance COB
Hemby Virginia Marketing COB
Farwell Tricia School of Journalism & Strategic Communications ME
Richey Pat Communication Studies CLA
Khan Zaf Elementary & Special Education COE
Johnston Tony Agriculture CBAS
Melton Tammy Chemistry CBAS
Cullen Shaun English CLA
Evins Mary American Democracy Project Honors
West Kristen User Services Library
Boyer-Pennington Michelle Psychology CBHS
de Clercq Trevor Recording Industry ME
Aber Jeremy Geosciences CBAS
Neely Kari WLLC CLA
Noguiera Soraya WLLC CLA

Future of General Education Workgroup, 2018-2019:

Last First Department College
Cochrane Laura Art & Design CLA
Pantelides Kate English CLA
Korstange Ryan University Studies University College
Myatt Julie English CLA
Gray Joey Health & Human Performance CBHS
McCormack Dawn Associate Dean CLA

Director of General Education
Dr. Susan Myers-Shirk, Professor of History

Director of Communications & Research Associate
Dr. Katherine Brackett, Research Assistant Professor of History

Graduate Assistant
Meredith Funderburk

Contact Information


Institutional Memberships:

Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U)

Association for General & Liberal Studies (AGLS)