Liberal Arts dean appointed interim MTSU provost

– Mark Byrnes, dean of MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts since June 2010, will become the university’s interim provost on May 9, President Sidney A. McPhee announced Friday.

Byrnes will replace Brad Bartel, who will step down as chief academic officer after spring commencement ceremonies conclude on May 7.

“I wish to express my deep appreciation and thanks for Brad’s many contributions to our university,” McPhee said. “Our Quest for Student Success was developed under his watch as provost, which has garnered national praise and recognition.”

Bartel, who has served as provost since July 2010, will continue at MTSU as a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

In a note to the university’s faculty, Bartel said it was “an honor and a privilege” to serve as provost. “I am truly thankful for the opportunity I have had to work with such a great group of dedicated administrators, educators and staff,” he said.

An archaeologist specializing in studies of colonialism, mortuary practice and early human symbolism, Bartel has conducted field research in Yugoslavia, Turkey, Ireland and the United States. His research has appeared in numerous anthropological journals.

McPhee said the university will begin a national search for a permanent provost later this year.

As Liberal Arts dean, Byrnes leads 10 academic departments that offer 50 undergraduate majors, six master’s degrees and two Ph.D.’s, which generate nearly a third of the university’s student credit hours.

Byrnes, a nationally recognized expert on the American presidency and Tennessee politics, has taught political science at MTSU since 1991 and was associate dean of liberal arts from 2006 to 2009.

“I am grateful to President McPhee for this opportunity,” Byrnes said. “I see being interim provost as another way to serve the university I love. My job will be to support the faculty and staff in the outstanding work they do with our students.”

A 1983 graduate of MTSU who earned his master’s and doctoral degrees at Vanderbilt University, Byrnes also was the recipient of one of the MTSU Foundation’s 2010 Public Service Awards.

Byrnes, a native of Murfreesboro and a graduate of Riverdale High School, also has served as chairman and vice chairman of the Rutherford County School Board.

McPhee also said he accepted Byrnes’ recommendation to appoint Karen Petersen as interim dean of the Liberal Arts college.

Petersen, a professor of political science specializing in international relations, served as the college’s assistant dean from 2010 to 2013 and has been associate dean since January 2014.