Share MTSU President’s Fondness for China at New Photo Exhibit

McPhee Bird's Nest stadium
McPhee Bird’s Nest stadium

MURFREESBOROMTSU President Sidney A. McPhee’s collection of photos from more than a decade of visits to China are the focus of a special exhibit at the university’s Todd Art Gallery Sept. 10-12 to help celebrate MTSU’s Founder’s Day.

The free public exhibit, “China: Through the Eyes of an American University President,” is presented by MTSU Arts and features more than 300 digital images and 30 large prints in 14 different categories. The photos commemorate McPhee’s visits to more than 100 Chinese towns, cities and provinces during his tenure as MTSU’s 10th president.

The brief campus exhibit will then move to the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce headquarters on Medical Center Parkway to be seen for a month by an even larger audience beginning Monday, Sept. 22.

To help celebrate the presidential photo exhibit, MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts has planned a special fall reception for the 2014-15 MTSU Arts Patron Society on Founder’s Day, Thursday, Sept. 11, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Todd Art Gallery. 

The reception is open to members of the public interested in joining the MTSU Arts Patron Society, which helps support artistic development and student enrichment at the university with annual giving.

“My goal has been to capture some of the texture and nuances of the people and places of China through these images,” McPhee said. “It has helped me learn more about this fascinating and complex culture and has allowed me to share my perspectives with others.”

McPhee’s photo exhibit at the Chamber of Commerce, which is free and open to the public, will continue through Wednesday, Oct. 22.

The photo exhibit expands upon McPhee’s 2012 internationally released book of photographic essays, “China: Through the Eyes of an American University President,” published by the Hanban-Confucius Institute. In 2013, China’s foreign ministry designated the book as a significant cultural presentation.

McPhee has visited the country multiple times since 1999 and has also worked closely with Chinese educational partners to strengthen MTSU’s international undergraduate and graduate student enrollment, expand its study-abroad and cultural opportunities and develop research collaboration. In 2007, China Agricultural University in Beijing named McPhee an honorary professor, its highest academic award.

MTSU has tripled its international enrollment under McPhee’s watch and this year welcomed its largest class of international scholars.

“Dr. McPhee tells of the beauty and wonder of China’s past, its undeniable progress and its evolution through images that illustrate the people’s history, traditions and contemporary life,” Todd Art Gallery Director Eric Snyder said of the exhibit.

“Comprising 10 years of photographic work and more than 300 images, the exhibit promotes a positive new understanding of a modern China that is a rising economic and cultural world power. Dr. McPhee’s work speaks not as a mere tourist but as a pictorial account that reflects the human connections and personal accounts of his Chinese friends and colleagues who accompanied him throughout an incredible journey across an extraordinary country.”

For more information about MTSU Arts, which presents a full slate of art, theatre and music offerings at the university each year, or the MTSU Arts Patron Society, visit

MTSU’s Todd Art Gallery is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and is closed on weekends and state and university holidays. 

For more information, including parking and directions, contact Snyder at 615-898-5653 or or visit You also can find a campus parking map at


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