MTSU Center for Historic Preservation: Goals and Mission Statement
The Center for Historic Preservation was established in 1984 as MTSU’s first Center of Excellence and one of the nine original centers at the Tennessee Board of Regents universities. In 1989, the CHP received accomplished center status and in 1991 it became a full-time research and public service institute while continuing to shape MTSU academic programs by supporting and directing undergraduate and graduate students in research and experiential learning opportunities. In 2001, it became the administrator of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, a partnership unit of the National Park Service. In 2008, the Center took on the Tennessee administration of Teaching with Primary Sources, a program of the Library of Congress, and have since served classroom educators with primary source-centered workshops and materials. In 2013, Center director Dr. Carroll Van West was appointed the Tennessee State Historian.
Center programs and projects strongly support the general legislative mandates implemented by TBR/THEC when they created Centers of Excellence in 1984. These are: (1) utilize present educational resources more effectively to achieve a genuine excellence in a specific field; (2) support the economic development of the state; (3) enhance the intellectual, cultural, and social climate of Tennessee citizens; (4) improve the research base of the state; and, (5) encourage institutions to increase support for educational and research activities from external sources.
The Center meets these mandates through projects and programs that focus on the heritage development–the identification, research, preservation, interpretation, and promotion–of our historic environment. Through its varied resources, and its partnerships at local, state, and national levels, the Center responds to the requests, needs, and concerns of communities, individuals, agencies, and organizations, both governmental and not-for-profit, working towards historic preservation goals.
Working within state, regional, and national partnerships, the Center for Historic Preservation focuses its efforts on heritage area development, rural preservation, heritage education, and heritage tourism through inclusive preservation practice and programs. Consistent with the MTSU Academic Master Plan to enhance research and public service, the Center supports efforts to improve the education and quality of life for all Tennesseans. The Center enhances citizens’ sense of place, pride, and identity through the interpretation and preservation of the historic sites, landscapes, and historical narratives that comprise the Tennessee experience.
To complement MTSU Academic Master Plan’s goals, the Center for Historic Preservation uses multiple community-centered projects to teach selected courses in the History Department. It provides crucial teaching and funding for the Ph.D. in Public History. The Center is a primary conduit for professional training and placement of M.A. students in public history and plays a significant role in directing M.A. theses in that graduate program. By offering graduate research assistantships in addition to internships and other opportunities for both undergraduates and graduates, the CHP provides multidisciplinary and applied working experiences and fosters a research culture for faculty, staff, and students.