Middle Tennessee State University began as Middle Tennessee State Normal School, opening its doors on Monday, September 11, 1911.
In this historic year, as we proudly celebrate our Centennial with the theme “Traditions of Excellence,” we will present events during the 2011-12 academic year that highlight these traditions. The celebration will kick off with a Blue Tie Gala on Friday, September 9, 2011, at Embassy Suites.
A Centennial Committee has developed a history, timeline, and other Centennial information; is planning various events; and has created a Website. A “coffee table” book that covers the first 100 years will be available for order in the summer.
In 1909, the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation to create three normal schools, institutions that established teaching standards or “norms,” hence the name. The Murfreesboro school began with four buildings on a dusty site that just a year earlier had been farmland. Professor R.L. Jones, president, presided over the opening ceremony; he was joined by 18 faculty members. The opening day enrollment of 125 grew to 247 by the end of the academic year.
The ensuing years brought four different eras, reflected in the names, as the needs and expectations of students and society changed. In 1925, the Normal School became Middle Tennessee State Teachers College, which offered a four-year bachelor of science degree. The institution was known variously as MTSTC, State Teachers College at Murfreesboro, or STC over more than the next decade. Enrollment grew steadily except during the two world wars, and women consistently outnumbered men until the influx of veterans following WWII. With increasing pressure from students who wanted to pursue careers other than teaching, 1943 brought a change to Middle Tennessee State College. A graduate school was established in 1951. The college celebrated its Golden Anniversary in 1961, and the current name—Middle Tennessee State University—became official in 1965.
Led by ten different presidents (two of them interim) over the past century, the institution has faced and responded to a changing world. The fifties brought post-war growth, prosperity, and innovation. With the sixties and seventies came integration, computer technology, and orderly student protests prompted by the Vietnam War and an awareness of individual rights. Enrollment passed 10,000 in 1974. The number of buildings and acreage increased steadily trying to keep pace with enrollment. Degree programs grew and expanded with a Doctor of Arts to prepare college teachers and discipline-specific bachelor and master’s degrees. The most recent degree changes include Ph.D.s in several fields.
Dr. Sidney A. McPhee became MTSU’s tenth president in 2001. His years have been guided by three Academic Master Plan goals: a commitment to academic quality, student-centered learning, and innovative partnerships. With more than 130 building on 515 acres, MTSU now has the largest undergraduate enrollment in the state and offers nationally recognized programs.