- DR. SIDNEY A. McPHEE: President
- DR. MARK BYRNES: University Provost
- MR. WILLIAM J. BALES: Vice President for University Advancement
- YVETTE CLARK: Interim Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer
- MR. ANDREW OPPMANN: Vice President for Marketing and Communications
- DR. DEBRA SELLS: Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice Provost for Enrollment and Academic Services
- MR. ALAN THOMAS: Vice President for Business and Finance
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 more than 110 years of service.
Since McPhee’s presidency began in 2001, the university has been successful in completing more than $1.3 billion in improvements in academic, athletic and campus facilities.
Those new facilities include the $40-million, 90,000-square-foot building for our School of Concrete and Construction Management, which opened in October 2022; a $40-million, 91,000-square-foot Academic Classroom Building for the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, which opened in the summer of 2020, and the $147 million Science Corridor of Innovation, and includes the 250,000-square-foot Science Building, which opened in August 2014, and the renovation of Wiser-Patten and Davis science buildings.
With an enrollment of more than 20,000 students, MTSU has been recognized for offering the greatest return on investment in Tennessee higher education. It is the No. 1 provider of college graduates to the greater Nashville economy; the second-largest producer of college graduates in the state; and the top producer of low-income (Pell Grant-eligible) graduates in Tennessee (in all, over 40% of MTSU’s undergraduate population receives Pell aid). MTSU’s standing as a destination of choice for first-generation students and its long success in helping underserved students overcome obstacles often posed by tuition and fees are well established. MTSU is also the No. 1 choice of the state’s transfer students and is home to the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, the largest academic support center of its kind in the nation.
Since McPhee’s arrival, MTSU has been successful in raising admission standards, which resulted in an increase in enrollment of high-ability students. He has overseen the addition of about 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, two colleges, and about 20 institutes and centers.
He has also worked to strengthen MTSU’s international initiatives on the Murfreesboro campus and abroad. MTSU boasts about 40 university partnerships in 17 different countries and enrolls more international students than any other university in the State of Tennessee.
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.
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, Kenya and the Bahamas.
McPhee was recently elected a third term on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, representing Conference USA. He previously served from 2003 to 2007 and a three-year term on its Executive Committee and, in 2010, he was on the NCAA board and executive committee as the Sun Belt Conference’s representative, which concluded in 2013.
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.
McPhee is married to retired educator Elizabeth McPhee, and they have two adult children, Dr. Seneca McPhee and Dr. Sidney-Anthony McPhee.
Also, President McPhee:
- Was named Omega Citizen of the Year by the Pi Gamma Gamma Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
- Was honored by the Nashville Business Journal with its Rutherford County Impact Award for two consecutive years (2014 and 2015).
- In September 2013, was honored by the Rotary Foundation as a Paul Harris Fellow.
- In March 2017, was presented with the Phi Beta Sigma Southwestern Regional Meritorious Award.
- In May 2017, was appointed Honorary Professor at North China University of Technology and as adjunct professor by the National Center for International Research of BioEnergy Science and Technology.
- In February 2018, was named an American Red Cross Hero by its Heart of Tennessee Chapter.
Dr. Mark Byrnes, who was appointed University Provost in September 2017, provides leadership and management to support instruction, research, public service, institutional effectiveness, international affairs, and student success at MTSU.
Byrnes, a native of Murfreesboro, graduated from Riverdale High School before completing a B.S. in political science from MTSU in 1983. He went on to earn a Diploma in International and Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics (1987), and an M.A. and Ph.D. (1991) in political science from Vanderbilt University.
A specialist in American government and politics, he joined the MTSU Department of Political Science in 1991. He is a nationally recognized expert on the presidency and has published books on NASA, President James K. Polk, and Tennessee politics.
Byrnes served as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, which includes more than 300 full-time faculty members and nearly 60 full-time staff, from 2010 until his appointment as Interim University Provost in May 2016. He was Associate Dean of the College from 2006 to 2010.
Byrnes was elected to two terms (2004 to 2012) on the Rutherford County Board of Education. During that time, he served as chairman for four years and vice chairman for three.
Byrnes has also served as president of the Tennessee Political Science Association and of the MTSU chapters of the American Association of University Professors and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.
Byrnes also was the recipient of one of the MTSU Foundation’s 2010 Public Service Awards.
William J. "Joe" Bales, is the Vice President for University Advancement at MTSU.
With 30 years’ experience in fundraising and institutional advancement, he leads the
University's efforts in development, alumni relations, corporate engagement and governmental
relations. Fundraising activities at the University have more than doubled during
Under his leadership, MTSU raised more than $105 million in the Centennial Campaign, surpassing the $80 million goal set when the effort was announced in 2012. The $105,465,308 raised during the campaign, which concluded Dec. 31, 2015, represents the largest fundraising effort in University history, surpassing a $30 million campaign mark set in 2001.
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."
Ms. Clark arrived at MTSU in August 2021. Before joining MTSU, she was the Executive Director of Information Technology Services (ITS) at Tennessee Tech University (TTU) for four years. Ms. Clark also served in two other leadership positions within the ITS division, Director of Academic and Client Technologies (ACT) for two and a half years and Assistant Director of ACT for a year and a half. Before joining the central ITS staff at TTU, she was a Research and Development Engineer at the TTU, Center for the Management, Utilization, and Protection of Water Resources, conducting and managing research projects and providing support for a broad spectrum of technology. The majority of the projects included working with cross-disciplinary teams of faculty and graduate students to develop state-of-the-art turnkey systems using the cutting-edge technology available at the time. Ms. Clark specialized in Water Resource Planning using Geographic Information Systems linked to water quality and quantity models. In addition, she served as an adjunct instructor for Civil and Environmental Engineering and Chemical Engineering for several years.
Ms. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and a Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Tennessee Tech University.
Andrew Oppmann, a former media executive for news organizations in seven states, leads MTSU’s efforts to tell our unique stories on multiple platforms. His team shapes and implements organic and paid advertising and communications strategies that serve the needs and priorities of the university’s colleges and units. As the university’s chief spokesman, Oppmann also works with the President and Provost to shape executive-level outreach.
As executive producer of MTSU True Blue TV, Oppmann is also responsible for the university’s premier video platform and public access channel for live broadcasts and campus original programming. He is host and executive producer of “Out of the Blue,” MTSU’s award-winning public service program that airs on NewsChannel 5+ and channels in 17 states. The program’s web-only series during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, “Stay on Course,” was honored with a 2020 Silver Telly Award.
And he leads special initiatives, such as bolstering MTSU’s ties to Peru, Kenya, China and The Bahamas; launching the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center; and establishing partnerships with major brands, including The Grammys; the Academy of Country Music; Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival; EAA AirVenture; Civil Air Patrol, the U.S. Air Force volunteer civilian auxiliary; the Grand Ole Opry; Nashville Predators; Nashville Sounds; Music City Grand Prix; Tennessee Air National Guard; Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America; and Nashville Film Festival.
Before joining MTSU, Oppmann was a vice president at The Tennessean in Nashville and president and publisher of Gannett Tennessee’s media groups in Murfreesboro (The Daily News Journal) and Clarksville (The Leaf-Chronicle). He was an executive, editor or reporter for news organizations in Alabama, California, Kentucky, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin. He earned his master’s degree from MTSU in strategic leadership and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky in journalism.
Oppmann is a lieutenant colonel in Civil Air Patrol; an Army Reserve Ambassador on behalf of MTSU’s Army ROTC program; and a volunteer Boy Scout leader. An adjunct professor of journalism in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment since 2011, he was conferred lifetime membership and regent status by the Associated Press Media Editors (now the News Leader Association) for his work on behalf of the journalism industry.
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.
She oversees the Division of Student Affairs, Enrollment and Academic Services, which provides essential programs and services that support the matriculation, academic achievement, personal development, and quality of life of our students. In her role as a vice provost, she is also responsible for the recruitment of traditional and transfer students and helps them make effective transitions to the university environment.
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.
Sells completed her Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Sociology and Communications at Hope College 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."
In 2016, she was the co-author of a book, “A New Way: Introducing Higher Education to Professional Learning Communities at Work,” that examined how leaders may positively impact student success through the use of high-performing collaborative teaming.
"Our students and their families will know what we value by where we invest our time and our presence,” said Sells. "It is critical that we are accessible, involved and engaged with our students. They are the reason we come to work each day."
Alan Thomas was named MTSU's Vice President for Business and Finance in July 2016. He was named to the post on an interim basis in January 2016 while serving as Associate Vice President for Business and Finance.
His more than 25 years at MTSU also included service as the University’s Controller and Executive Director of Finance Technology and Compliance (December 1999 to December 2014); Director of Accounting Services (November 1995 to November 1999); Accounting Manager (January 1995 to October 1995); and Foundation Accountant (April 1990 to June 1993). He was also a Financial Analyst for the Tennessee Board of Regents Central Office (July 1993 to December 1994) and started his career as a Legislative Auditor in the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s Division of State Audit (June 1987 to March 1990), focusing on audits of Tennessee’s higher education institutions.
Thomas, a Middle Tennessee native, is a 1987 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting. In 1992, he obtained his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license (inactive). He received his Master of Education in Administration and Supervision from MTSU in 1998. He also holds memberships in both the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) and Southern Association of College and University Business Officers (SACUBO), as well as served on various state-wide committees for higher education.
Alan and his wife, Kandi, have lived in the Rutherford County or the Murfreesboro area since 1990. Their daughter, Briana, graduated from MTSU in December 2017 and represented the University as a member of the MT Cheer team for four years.