MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) honored five Metro police officers with honorary professorships during a spring commencement on Friday.

The announcement was made during the university’s second spring commencement at Murphy Center.  

MTSU President Sidney McPhee called Detective Ryan Cagle, Detective Michael Collazo, Sgt. Jeffrey Mathes, and Detective Zachary Plese to the stage, thanking them for their bravery and heroism following their response to the Covenant School shooting on March 27. Officer Rex Engelbert was also honored, but was unable to attend the ceremony.

Each officer was conferred Honorary Professor of Public Safety degrees during the commencement. According to Metro police, the honor is the first in the university’s history. 

“It is my great honor as president to confer upon these five officers, the first-ever such honor extended by our university,” said McPhee. “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.”

Chief John Drake also spoke during the commencement and thanked the officers for their “precision, duty and selflessness” in response to the shooting that left three children and three adults dead at the Covenant School in late March

“We continue to mourn the losses of Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, Will Kinney, Cynthia Peak, Katherine Koonce and Mike Hill,” said Drake. “Many of us had hoped and prayed that the evil we saw on March 27 would never occur in Nashville, although members of our police department had trained for years on how we would respond. I am grateful to MTSU for recognizing the heroism, dedication and skill of our officers.”

The five officers were recently named Officers of the Month by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

More than 2,650 people will receive degrees during the spring 2023 commencement ceremonies planned for this weekend at MTSU.