MTSU Names Covenant School Police Officers ‘Honorary Professors of Public Safety’

Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) honored five Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) officers on Friday evening during one of the university’s spring commencement ceremonies.

MNPD Detectives Ryan Cagle, Michael Collazo and Zachary Plese, officer Rex Engelbert and Sgt. Jeffrey Mathes were named honorary professors of public safety by MTSU for their “precision, duty and selflessness” in response to the recent Covenant School shooting. MNPD officer Engelbert was unable to attend the ceremony.

Specifically, MTSU awarded the five officers for their “decisive and immediate reactions upon arriving at the scene to neutralize the shooter,” on March 27 when 28-year-old Audrey Elizabeth Hale shot her way into The Presbyterian Covenant School in Nashville and killed three children and three adults.

“It is my great honor as president to confer upon these five officers, the first-ever such honor extended by our university,” MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee said in a statement. “We do so not only to recognize their individual heroism and duty, but through them, the high standards and actions of the Metro Nashville Police Department.”

“What made these five so remarkable, and such a testament to their training and sense of duty, was that some had never before worked together as a team. And, as a team, they acted with precision, bravery and selflessness, at great risk to their lives,” McPhee added.

In MTSU’s 112 year history, the university has only given out six honorary doctorate degrees. The honorary professorship granted to the five officers is the first of its kind at MTSU.

“This honorary professorship is the first in the history and well deserved for these officers,” McPhee told the crowd while awarding the officers.

The six victims of the shooting – Evelyn Dieckhaus, age 9; William Kinney, age 9; Hallie Scruggs, age 9; Mike Hill, age 61; Cynthia Peak, age 61; and Katherine Koonce, age 60 – were also honored during Friday’s second commencement ceremony with a moment of silence.

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “Rex Engelbert” by Metro Nashville PD. Photo “Michael Collazo” by Metro Nashville PD. Background Photo “Metropolitan Nashville Police Detectives Ryan Cagle, Michael Collazo and Zachary Plese, Officer Rex Engelbert and Sgt. Jeffrey Mathes” by Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.


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One Thought to “MTSU Names Covenant School Police Officers ‘Honorary Professors of Public Safety’”

  1. Randall Davidson

    Sydney McPhee trying to get some attention.