After a national search, MTSU has chosen one of its own, longtime professor and community leader Mark Byrnes, as the new dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
Byrnes, a Murfreesboro native who also is a product of the Rutherford County school systems, has served as acting and interim dean following the illness and May 2010 death of Dr. John N. McDaniel, who served as MTSU’s dean of liberal arts for 26 years.
“Dr. Byrnes has served with distinction at MTSU as a faculty member, associate dean and interim dean,” said MTSU Provost Brad Bartel. “The entire University community respects him and looks forward to his upcoming leadership of the College of Liberal Arts.”
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. A 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, which were presented at the Fall Faculty Meeting last August.
He has coordinated MTSU’s Legislative Internship Program since 1993, selecting and supervising 12 to 16 students to work with the Tennessee General Assembly each spring.
“Liberal Arts is a large and diverse college, serving 3,600 majors and, through the general education program, virtually every MTSU student,” Byrnes said.
Regarding his official appointment, “I’m excited about the opportunity to lead the college and plan to continue its tradition of focusing on students and supporting our faculty and staff,” he remarked. “I graduated from an MTSU liberal-arts department, political science, and have worked as a professor and administrator here for 20 years. I’m sure I’ll enjoy this role in the college as I have the others.”
As dean, Byrnes will direct 10 academic departments offering 20 bachelor’s degrees, five master’s degrees and two doctorates, as well as nearly 20 interdisciplinary majors and minors, and 10 different centers and programs; a dean’s office staff of 10; and 315 full-time faculty members and 165 adjunct instructors. The College of Liberal Arts currently grants about 700 degrees annually.
The new dean also is chairman of the Rutherford County School Board, elected by his fellow school-board members and currently serving in his second two-year term. He was first elected in 2004 to the school board, which oversees more than 38,000 county students in kindergarten through 12th grades.