Dr. Sidney McPhee: Setting milestones of campus improvement and successful student innovation at MTSU

10 Best Influential Educational Leaders in 2022

Since the wake of modern education, education leaders have been setting a path of quality education to reshape young minds by sharing their visions with the world. Their modern visions and tactful strategies working through comprehensive programs and administration have led educational institutions towards pivotal growth and development.

Today, educational leaders play a role of more than leading the educational institutions, they have emerged as the supporting pillars of education. Our education leader in feature Dr. Sidney A. McPhee, President of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) has demonstrated and achieved remarkable growth with his strong educational values and visionary leadership.

Tell us about your journey in the educational field?

Originally from the Bahamas, I was always curious and excited to travel the world. I used to think about attending universities in the U.S. after the completion of my elementary and secondary education.

I pursued my bachelor’s degree at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. I completed my master’s from the University of Miami in Florida later moved on to pursue a doctorate in applied behavioral studies from Oklahoma State University.

In 2001 I took the charge of Middle Tennessee State University as its 10th president. During my quest for education, I traveled to different places around the world and have established educational partnerships to benefit our faculty and students at MTSU.

Tell us about the education programs implemented at MTSU that make the University stand out in the education space?

In 2013 we launched a program called “Quest for Student Success” to radically redefine the university’s approach to student attrition. Since then the University has been working collaboratively to overhaul student advising, develop fresh options and perspectives for academic support. During this tenure, we also redesigned courses that appeared to be traditional stumbling blocks to students’ graduation.

How MTSU is encouraging and maintaining the diversity at the campus?

MTSU boasts a diverse campus. We have 30% of our student population coming from different minorities. We also experience students coming from various countries to pursue their educational dreams at MTSU every year.

I believe nurturing this diverse yet all-inclusive environment is crucial to building sensible and responsible citizens of tomorrow. Thus, I make sure to personally visit student leaders of students organizations from different minorities every semester.

We conduct open forums with these leaders in coordination with the Office of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs to encourage student leaders to freely express their needs and concerns.

I believe merely understanding needs and solving issues is not enough. At MTSU’s Office of International Affairs, international students at our campus receive hands-on support through various means such as directing them to relevant student organizations, advising them on maintaining visa status, helping them find employment on campus, and more.

The university has also been endorsing an International Ambassadors program in which international students who have been on campus for at least a year can mentor and help new students to get acclimated to the campus and community.

How your leadership has led MTSU to achieve milestones in the education field?

Since I stepped as the President of MTSU the University has raised admission standards and increased enrollment of students boasting high abilities. During my tenure, we added two colleges and 20 institutes and centers to our campus, and have expanded our academic programs by adding more than 40-degree programs.

We also helped secure the support of the late Charlie Daniels, who we remember as the country music icon known for his work on behalf of veterans, to create the center, which serves the more than 1,200 veteran and military dependent students pursuing their education at MTSU.

During my time as the President, I also hired Lt. Gen. Keith Huber, a retired three-star Army general, to advise and oversee veteran outreach at MTSU.

How did you lead and manage teaching and other operations at MTSU during the pandemic?

The time when the pandemic was announced and lockdowns were imposed were difficult for the whole world. However, our partners, administrators, and faculty members at MTSU proactively responded to effectively deliver the revamped curriculum while strategically maintaining its threshold for quality higher education.

We invested considerably in audio visual upgrades of classrooms to record meetings to conduct both synchronous and asynchronous classes with ease.

The university also focused its investments on other resources such as faculty laptops, online exam proctoring, and other software upgrades. During this tough time, we made sure to empower and encourage our faculty by hosting numerous faculty training workshops. This enabled the faculty to ensure and encourage all students to continue receiving high-quality education as before the pandemic. The pandemic also helped us as an educational institution to prepare for possible future crises.

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