Mark Byrnes - Biography

Mark Byrnes

More than 30 years ago, Mark Byrnes joined the faculty at MTSU as an assistant professor of political science.  He would eventually serve as interim department chair, associate dean, and dean. In 2016, Byrnes was asked to be interim provost and earned the full-time role a year later. Today, he is the longest tenured chief academic officer in any Tennessee public university. 

An author of dozens of articles and book chapters, Byrnes is probably best known for his book about U.S. President James K. Polk, who like Byrnes, has boyhood ties to Murfreesboro. Byrnes is a graduate of Murfreesboro’s Riverdale High School and is an alumnus of MTSU, where he received a B.S. in political science.

Byrnes also earned a diploma in international and comparative politics from the London School of Economics and a Ph.D. in political science from Vanderbilt University, where he studied as a prestigious Eisenhower Institute fellow.

An active member of the campus and local community, Byrnes is a past winner of MTSU’s Outstanding Public Service Award (2010). He coordinated the university’s legislative internship program for nearly two decades and continues to make regular presentations to local civic and professional organizations.

Byrnes is a current member of the board for ThinkTennessee, a nonpartisan think tank focused on public policy, and is past president for the Tennessee Political Science Association. He was elected to the Rutherford County School Board twice, as chair and vice chair, and is an alumnus of Leadership Rutherford and the Regents Academy Leadership Institute.

Byrnes’ hobbies include biking, gardening, and traveling the globe. Never one to completely leave the classroom, he has taught a very popular study abroad course annually for the past decade.