Tennessee State University Ranked Among the Safest College Campuses in America

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is among the safest college campuses in the nation, a new report shows. The National Council for Home Safety and Security, in its 2019 report of Safest Colleges in America, lists TSU in the Top 8 percent of colleges with the lowest crime rate.

TSU Crime Prevention Officer Aerin Washington says the Police Department’s Rape Aggressive Defense program aims to help individuals defend themselves in any given situation. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

 The report ranked TSU No. 46 of the 490 colleges rated, using law enforcement and FBI data on crime rate and police adequacy.

 “It is extremely important that our students, parents, along with university employees, know they are safe on our campus, and this latest ranking is evident of our commitment to the institution’s public safety,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Campus safety is always a priority and this administration will continue to invest in proactive measures that we believe will also continue to yield even better numbers.” 

Over the past three years, TSU has committed millions to upgrading campus safety. This includes increase in police workforce, technology, physical enhancements and crime prevention programs. Officials say fencing of the campus is about 75 percent complete, the university has added checkpoints with “internal  and hard external security,” as well as access-controlled entrances in many of the buildings.

TSU students participating in the Collegiate Citizens Police Academy train with the Nashville Metro Police Department. The academy is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

According to Dr. Curtis Johnson, associate vice president and chief of staff, the enhancements are all part of President Glover’s focus and emphasis on campus safety.

“These are all things Dr. Glover values in terms of the safety of our students, faculty, staff and TSU constituents,” Johnson said. “You are now seeing the results of those investments. TSU is a safer campus by any standard.”

TSU Police Chief Greg Robinson, who recently received a prestigious international campus safety award, said the TSU high safety ranking is the result of being proactive and building strong relationships that allow individuals to come forward with information that is beneficial to crime prevention.

A staff member engages in a simulated attack with an aggressor during a RAD or Rape Aggressive Defense basic self-defense class in the TSU Police Department. (Submitted Photo)

 “We plan on doing different things with our shift supervisors and building liaison roles with each residence hall, as well as adding more educational classes on prevention with students and the community at large,” Robinson said. “We will continue to depend on the stewards of our community to help us keep up the positive momentum.”

 In Tennessee, TSU is also rated “extremely high” among schools that have students living on campus, Robinson said. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, comparing figures from 2017 to 2018, reports that across Tennessee overall, crime report is down 15 percent. Robbery offenses are down 50 percent. Sex offenses are down 17 percent. Rape offenses are down 10 percent.

 During that time, Robinson said, TSU saw major improvement.

 “We will enhance and expand our current efforts that will allow us to sustain and even surpass the decline,” said Robinson, who received the 2019 International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) Award for Administrative Excellence, during a June ceremony in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

“We have had record numbers in decline, and we want to keep this downward trend. We also want to keep the crime indicator numbers low but keep TSUPD visibility high so that our students, faculty, staff, and even our visitors know that we want to serve them in the greatest capacity.”

 In collaboration with campus police, TSU has also initiated a number of other programs in campus safety and crime prevention that have yielded measurable results. The university now has the only co-ed R.A.D., or Rape Aggressive Defense program. RAD, a self-defense program opened to students, faculty and staff, emphasizes awareness, prevention, risk reduction and avoidance. The 12-hour class is taught over the course of three days in four-hour sessions.

 “You can’t always depend on law enforcement to be the first line of defense when it comes to your personal safety,” said Aerin Washington, TSU’s crime prevention officer. “Having a program like this really empowers our community members, as well as our students, faculty and staff to take their personal safety in their own hands. We want to make sure they’re able to defend themselves in any given situation.”

 In 2016, TSU and the Nashville Metro Police Department formed what’s believed to be the nation’s first Collegiate Citizens Police Academy. Students in the five-week training program are exposed to various aspects of police work, including domestic violence investigation, and making split-second decisions.  

Graduates of the program make up what’s called Tiger Patrol and work in shifts to guide fellow students on campus, or alert the police if a situation warrants it. More than 50 students have participated in the program since its inception about three years ago.

“Tiger Patrol is a very innovative way of allowing students to take part in the safety of the campus,” said Frank Stevenson, associate vice president and dean of students, who is the brainchild of the Collegiate Citizens Police Academy. “Tiger Patrol has been a tremendous success. It allows peer-to-peer interaction, and allows us to hear students’ concerns, and provide information on things around campus that should be brought to the attention of the police department.”

According to Stevenson, many of the graduates of the Tiger Patrol and Citizens Police Academy program have gone on to professional careers in different forms of law enforcement.


For more information on the TSU Police Department or student programs go to http://www.tnstate.edu/police/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU’s Frank Stevenson Selected to Participate in Leadership Nashville’s 2019-2020 Class

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Frank Stevenson, TSU’s associate vice president and dean of students, has been selected to participate in the 2019-2020 class of Leadership Nashville. Stevenson was one of 44 individuals selected from among 280 applicants to participate in the program’s 44th class, which starts in September.

Frank Stevenson

For more than 40 years, Leadership Nashville has organized an intensive program that assists community decision-makers. Over nine months, participants learn about pressing issues affecting their community and gain an in-depth understanding of the nature of those problems. The nonpartisan group refrains from taking positions on issues, and does not endorse political candidates. 

Stevenson said he is excited to be selected for this year’s class.

“I am honored to be chosen out of a very competitive  process,” said Stevenson, who recently reinstituted Leadership TSU, a top training program that has received national recognition. “I believe I will benefit immensely from this cohort of amazing leaders from across the city.”

Jerry Williams, executive director of Leadership TSU, said selection for the 2019-2020 class was “especially difficult” because of the large number of very qualified applicants.

“We do not attempt to pass out solutions,” Williams said. “In fact, our participants are so diverse that they would never agree with each other. Instead, we expose them to various viewpoints on each issue, believing that Nashville will be stronger because decisions these leaders make in the future will come from a broadened, enlightened perspective.”

The nine-month program aspires to cultivate community leaders. Participants are educators, doctors, bankers, artists, business people, rabbis, ministers, lawyers, and representatives of labor, public service, international communities and the volunteer sector.

In January, Stevenson, a longtime Nashvillian and senior pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, reinstituted Leadership TSU in partnership with FedEx. The program trains and develops students with top leadership skills to help them be more competitive in the workforce. Forty students – from freshmen to seniors – with demonstrated ability to lead, are participating in the program.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Tennessee State University Athletics Partners with Nike and BSN Sports

Courtesy: TSU Athletic Media Relations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee State University Department of Athletics has announced a new multi-year agreement with Nike through BSN SPORTS beginning with the 2019-20 season.  

“I am very pleased to have TSU Athletics in a new partnership with BSN/Nike for the provider of equipment and apparel for our sport programs,” said Director of Athletics Teresa Phillips. “We had enjoyed a good relationship for a decade with another major player in sport apparel and simply sought to discover what brand would be best for our student-athletes moving forward. We feel that the Nike brand will bring a superior branding opportunity for our programs and the university community at large. Our entire staff is working feverishly to get our teams ready to represent the swoosh this fall. We can’t wait for our alumni and supporters to be a part of this awesome new look.” 

The agreement between TSU and BSN SPORTS is for five years and makes Nike the official athletic apparel, footwear, accessory and equipment brand for all 15 Big Blue programs.

“We are looking forward to partnering with Tennessee State University and NIKE in providing the finest apparel and athletic products,” said Todd Northrop, Collegiate Select senior vice president.  “This agreement affirms our highest aspirations for BSN’s Collegiate Select program: delivering elite, customized products and services to our college customers.  We are excited to partner with Tigers to elevate the performance and impact of their tradition-rich and growing athletic program.

“Additionally, we can’t wait to get to know all of the coaches associated with this great program and work tirelessly to put time back into their day so they can spend more time impacting lives on the field of play.”

TSU COACHES’ COMMENTS ABOUT THE NEW PARTNERSHIP

Donika Sutton, Head Volleyball Coach: “I am excited about the move with Nike. Volleyball is one of the first sports to introduce the transition this fall and we are honored to lead the way.  This move allows Tennessee State University, Athletics and our recruiting to expand to another level. My favorite part will be watching our girls’ faces on gear day.”

Brian “Penny” Collins, Head Men’s Basketball Coach: “This is a great time to be a Tiger… joining the BSN/Nike Family will be vital to our student athletes’ experience. The swoosh will give us instant credibility in recruiting potential future Tigers. I’m looking forward to growing our TSU brand as well as bringing value to Nike as well!”

Jessica Kern, Head Women’s Basketball Coach “The Nike brand has been an ambassador for social change, promoting all facets of every athlete and is propitiatory to staying within the guidelines of being trendsetters while staying loyal to classic looks and comfort for all shapes and sizes. I am elated and honored to be donning the swoosh daily.”

Rod Reed, Head Football Coach: “I’m excited about our new partnership with Nike. I think that this is a brand that will be big in our recruiting efforts, and it has also created a buzz among our student athletes.”

Jeremy Taylor, Director of Equipment: “I believe that this partnership with BSN/NIKE opens up some new roads for us. We now have a one-stop shop for over 95 percent of our apparel, equipment, footwear, and product embellishment needs. It allows us to outfit our incoming student-athletes, in all sports, with the same brand of apparel and footwear that they have been wearing during their prospective high school careers, which should help us in recruiting as well.”

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Williams Named Associate Vice President For Research And Sponsored Programs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dr. Frances Williams has been appointed associate vice president for research and sponsored programs.  Williams is currently the associate dean for graduate studies and research in the College of Engineering.

Frances Williams

In her new role, Williams will provide oversight of TSU’s research enterprise, including management of research grants and contracts, strategic research initiatives and partnerships, proposal development, and TSU’s Centers of Excellence.

“I am excited for the opportunity to serve the university in this capacity,” said Williams, who is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering, and director of the Center for Micro-, Nano-, and Bio-technology Research at Tennessee State University. “I look forward to working with the TSU family to expand our research and sponsored activities and to foster strategic partnerships for growth.”

John Barfield, TSU director of engagement and visibility in the Division of Research and Institutional Advancement, said he is encouraged by Williams’ appoint because of her vast research experience.

“Dr. Williams is an experienced researcher who has gone through every gamut of what it means to be funded and is known nationally for her research.  She also has a good sense of what research administration takes because she has worked on these projects over the years.  So to have somebody who has that experience and has also been the associate dean in the College of Engineering and understands the faculty side of it, I expect her to take off and take us in new directions.”

A veteran researcher and university administrator, Williams previously served as the director of the Center for Materials Research at Norfolk State University as well as the director of Norfolk State’s Micro- and Nano-technology Cleanroom, a premiere research facility for fabricating micro- and nano-scale devices.

Williams has extensive publications, and holds a patent in the areas of advanced materials and devices, biosensors, and nano- and micro-electromechanical systems processing and devices. She has received grants totaling over $15 million as a principal investigator or co-principal investigator.

For her contributions in teaching, scholarship, and service, she has received various awards including the 2018 STEM Innovation Award at the 32nd Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Global Competitiveness Conference.  In 2013, she received the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) Outstanding Faculty Award (the highest faculty award given out by the state).  She was named an “Emerging Scholar” by Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine in 2012.  She was also awarded Norfolk State’s top distinguished faculty award, the University Award of Excellence in 2010.

Williams holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority establishes endowment at Tennessee State University and honors school’s President Glenda Glover

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is the latest HBCU recipient of financial support from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. On Wednesday, the service organization continued its commitment of creating a $100,000 endowment at each of the nation’s four-year historically black colleges and universities with a donation to TSU President Glenda Glover.

President Glenda Glover admires a commemorative bench dedicated in her honor by the AKA Sorority, Inc. (Submitted Photo)

An initial gift of $25,000 was presented to Glover during a bench dedication in her honor by the sorority. She was joined by Horace Chace, vice president of Business and Finance; Terry Clayton, member of the TSU Foundation Board; and Iris Ramey, associate vice president for Corporate Partnership and Strategic Initiatives.

“One meaningful part of the AKA Leadership Seminar in Nashville is the $100,000 commitment for an endowment from Alpha Kappa Alpha to Tennessee State University,” Glover said. “It begins with this initial donation of $25,000 to assist with student scholarships. I’m extremely appreciative to the sorority for this gift.”

 The gift coincides with AKA’s HBCU Endowment initiative, which looks to award $10 million to these institutions by 2022. 

“We are trying to assist students and help retain them to continue with their education,” Chase said. “This funding from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is definitely going to be a big plus in helping to accomplish that goal.”

The Commemorative Bench was unveiled and dedicated on the TSU main campus on June 29. The honor recognizes President Glover’s exemplary leadership and service. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The Executive Director of the TSU Foundation, Betsy Jackson-Mosley, added, “The TSU Foundation is very grateful for the support received from the AKA Foundation for student scholarships. Scholarships are very important to attract the best and brightest and to help students stay in school.”

The financial support and bench dedication were two of several service projects taking place during the AKA’s 2019 Leadership Seminar – June 27-30 – being held at Opryland Hotel.

In a litany at the dedication, led by Dr. Norma S. White, 25th international president of AKA, the group acknowledged the significant contributions of Dr. Glover in leadership, education, community service and philanthropy.

“As we dedicate this commemorative bench in honor of the 30th International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Dr. Glenda Glover, we take pride in her leadership and the many contributions that she has made to the sorority, Tennessee State University and other noteworthy organizations,” the group said. “May this bench be a permanent reminder of the significant accomplishments of Dr. Glover.”

Glover, a native of Memphis and the eighth and first female president of TSU, became the 30th international president of AKA in July 2018.  Immediately upon taking the helm, she sent a clear message that education would remain a priority for the organization, especially supporting the nation’s HBCUs. She launched HBCU for Life: A Call to Action and signature program College Admissions Process, also known as #CAP, to promote and market HBCUs.

Saying that she leads by example, Glover donated $50,000 to the sorority’s Educational Advancement Foundation to further emphasize her commitment. She made that same commitment to TSU when she became president of her alma mater in 2013. 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU students benefit from Regions Bank and Cheekwood Partnership providing summer jobs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – This summer Tennessee State University is providing paid internships for TSU students thanks to a partnership with Cheekwood Estate and Gardens and Regions Bank.

According to Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, these internships are part of the college’s initiative to increase its number of student internships with industry partners.

“This is a great investment by Regions Bank in our students,” said Reddy.  “We place a lot of importance on these internships.  Historically, we used to send a lot of students to the different governmental agencies. Now we are branching out to a lot of industry partners. This summer we have almost forty students across the country in different organizations and companies doing internships.”

Reddy said Regions Bank is providing $25,000 this year for student salaries. 

Daiva Wilson, a senior Agriculture major with a concentration in biotechnology who interned with Cheekwood last summer, said her experience at Cheekwood was eye-opening.

Daiva WIlson

“I’d never been to a botanical garden before, so just seeing the garden was a benefit,” said Wilson, who serves as an intern with USDA this summer.  “Also, I was able to see how the gardeners work with one another. They actually create such a beautiful display for members and people who visit the garden.”

Wilson’s internship at Cheekwood focused on horticulture.  She said she worked with the plant team and had the opportunity to experience the entire Cheekwood garden.  She credits Dr. De’Etra Young, assistant professor of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, with helping her secure the internship.

“The TSU College of Agriculture is really big on students presenting their goals. We have the Dean’s Scholars Program, and students with a 3.0 or higher are partnered with a mentor, which is usually a professor who does research in the lab,” she said. “Dr. Young pretty much says if you are a dean’s scholar, you should have an internship every summer.”

Young said the Cheekwood internships focus on three areas: education, horticulture and aboriculture.

“The role that I play is actually recruiting students and then internally vetting them before we send them over to Cheekwood, and then Cheekwood has their own application and interviewing process,” Young said. “For me, I believe that the experience for our students is hands-on experience that compliments what we are teaching in the classroom.”

Daniel Shaw, a senior Agribusiness major from Lamar, Arkansas, said he enjoys being a summer intern at Cheekwood.

“I am doing maintenance at the garden, like weeding, watering and planting.  Earlier on, we were transitioning from the spring annuals to the summer annuals, and we briefly started doing some plant identification for a daylily collection they have,” he said.

Shaw, who is also considering a career in environmental sciences and was introduced to the opportunity by Young, said he thinks the internship will give him leverage with future employers.

“It shows that you can be committed to something. Hopefully other people are going to be able to see your work ethic and put in a good word for you,” he said.

Shaw and fellow TSU student Jenna Jones, an education major at TSU, began their summer internships at Cheekwood in mid-May and will work through late July. 

TSU students Steve Osborne (left), an Agriculture Sciences major with concentration in Environmental Sciences and Davia Wilson(right), an Agriculture major with a concentration in Biotechnology, with Cheekwood Plant Collections Manager Shanna T. Jones (center) during their summer internship at Cheekwood in 2018.

Although the Cheekwood internship has existed since 2017, it has had multiple funders. This year Regions Bank is playing an instrumental role in the partnership. 

“Regions has longstanding relationships with both Tennessee State University and Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, said Senior VP and Regional Community Development and Partnerships Manager Latrisha Jemison with Regions Bank. “This is an ideal partnership that allows us to invest in a successful program with very talented students. TSU students complete the internship with workforce ready skills and go on to acquire employment in the horticultural profession.”

Reddy said TSU President Glenda Glover initiated the partnership.

“We have been sending out students as interns, and they have been paying the students for internships during the summer and during the regular semester for some time,” he said. “We are interested from an environmental perspective, with regards to botany and understanding the plants.  From their perspective, it is for beauty and environment.” 

He said faculty from the College of Agriculture have also played a role in the partnership.

“Our faculty have been trying to provide technical assistance on some basic things, like how to grow plants hydroponically, and how to take care of the ornamental plants,” he said.  “So there are student internships and faculty support for the public who come to Cheekwood Gardens.”

Peter Grimaldi, vice president of gardens and facilities at Cheekwood, said the internships provide students with an experience that includes a combination of direct service, working in the garden along with Cheekwood’s permanent professional staff, and project-based work.

“Public Horticulture includes the full spectrum of horticulture, and the opportunities at our operation pretty much include bits and pieces of almost any professional opportunity you can seek out in the green industry,” he said. “The interns have been very impressive, the students themselves, and if they are in anyway a representation of the young professionals that TSU is sending out into the workplace and the community, and they are, then that’s something the university should be proud of.”

Grimaldi said the botanical garden plans to have two additional internships this fall.

For more information about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU remembers famed alum and most iconic female track and field star, Wilma Rudolph

Kelli Sharpe contributing writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University joined the world in remembering alumna Wilma Glodean Rudolph, the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympiad. She also galvanized the country and made the world take notice as the first African American female to accomplish this feat. 

 Rudolph would have been 79 on Sunday, June 23. But even in death, her legacy lives on. 

“We are so very blessed to have had the great Olympic Champion and former Tigerbelle Wilma Rudolph attend and graduate from Tennessee State University,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Ms. Rudolph’s determination and accomplishments, on and off the track field, continue to inspire young people today. She will always be remembered as a global icon and a trailblazer in her sport as a record-setting gold medalist, and TSU is proud to be a part of Wilma’s amazing history as we celebrate her.” 

Wilma Rudolph (2nd from left top), TSU track and field coach Ed Temple (3rd from left), and Ralph Boston (5th from left), with Tigerbelle members. (TSU archives)

 As a child, Rudolph battled double pneumonia, scarlet fever and polio. Problems with her leg forced her to wear a leg brace. But she overcame her illnesses, and eventually, her disability through intense physical therapy, and her mother’s support. 

 “My doctors told me I would never walk again,” Rudolph said in an interview. “My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.”

 She did way more than walk. In 1958, Rudolph enrolled at then Tennessee A&I and joined the famed Tigerbelles, under legendary track and field coach Ed Temple. 

As a sophomore, Rudolph competed in the U.S. Olympic track and field trials at Abilene Christian University, in Texas, where she set a world record in the 200-meter dash. With that performance, she also qualified for the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy, and soon made history. 

Rudolph competed in three events on a cinder track in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico: the 100- and 200-meter sprints, as well as the 4 × 100-meter relay. She won a gold medal in each of the three events, and immediately rose to international fame. 

TSU alumnus Ralph Boston, who won a gold medal in the long jump competition at the 1960 Olympics as well, said he and Rudolph won their medals less than 15 minutes apart. Boston said he still marvels at her perseverance.

“Here’s a person who couldn’t walk, and then becomes at the time the greatest sprinter that ever lived,” Boston said. 

 He said Rudolph had many admirers, including boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who was very fond of her. Boston said they met Ali while in Rome, and he stayed in contact with them afterward, even making several stops at TSU to see them on his way to training camp in Miami. Boston fondly recalls the champ mainly wanted to see Rudolph. 

TSU Olympians Ralph Boston and Wilma Rudolph hang out with up and coming boxing legend Muhammad Ali during one of his visits to Tennessee State University. (TSU archives)

 “He had brashness, but he was always very cordial,” Boston said of Ali.

Former Tigerbelle Edith McGuire Duvall said she first met Rudolph right before she went to the Olympics in 1960. She said the accomplishment of Rudolph, and the other track and field TSU Tigers, was inspirational. 

 “To have met them that summer, and then they went to the Olympics and won gold medals, it made me want to be a part of that,” said Duvall, who went on to win a gold and two silver medals at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. “It motivated me.”

 Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice, a former Tigerbelle who currently serves as director of track and field at TSU, said she first met Rudolph when she was a high school senior, and that the two formed a bond that lasted until Rudolph’s death. 

 “She was just a down-to-earth person,” recalled Cheeseborough-Guice. “She brought me in like one of her own children. She was a mother figure to me.”

Rudolph’s feats were seen as a true American story and was made into a television movie in 1977 starring Shirley Jo Finney as Wilma, an up and coming actor by the name of Denzel Washington as her love interest, and Cicely Tyson as her mother, Blanche Rudolph.

The Saint Bethlehem, Tennessee, native was also seen as an important figure in African American history. In 2016, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture opened and featured Rudolph in its sports section, including a pair of her Olympic cleats and photographs. 

TSU also has a display of the track and field sports legend housed at the Brown-Daniel Library. The campus display is a main attraction during the summer months leading up to the Olympic Games. 

To learn more about TSU’s track and field program, visit http://www.tsutigers.com/wtrack/.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Severe Thunderstorms Cause Damages on TSU’s Main Campus; Fencing and Mural Around Hale Stadium Partly Torn Off

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Severe thunderstorms caused damages on the Tennessee State University campus over the weekend. No one was injured, but high winds Friday night tore down a 114-foot section of the fence around Hale Stadium. A mural depicting some TSU historical events that hung on the fence was also badly damaged.

In front of Kean Hall on the main campus, several branches of a large tree were seen scattered about. There was no damage to the building.

Workers were Monday expected to repair a 114-foot section of the fence around Hale Stadium that sustained wing damage during a thunderstorm Friday. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

TSU Facilities Management engineers gave no immediate cost estimate, but said repairs to the fence would begin and be completed Monday.

“Contractors should be here today to attempt to put this back in place,” George Herring, engineer and senior project manager said. “They may have to get some pieces and parts, but it should be back up today.”

Herring said he received a phone call Saturday morning and came out immediately to survey the damage. He said the torn portion of the fence was found several feet from the wall.

“It was all out on the road so we pushed it against the sidewalk so nobody would get hurt,” he said.

Most of Middle Tennessee was affected by the storms. More than 10,000 Nashville residents were without power for several hours.

 
The National Weather Service said the storm may have been a derecho, a rare weather event classified by strong, straight line winds sustained over a wide path. 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Tennessee State University Ag Professor Receives $650,000 in Grants for Food Safety and Disease Prevention Research

By JOAN KITE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) — Tennessee State University professor Dr. Ankit Patras has received two grants totaling $650,000 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Trojan Technologies of Canada, and California-based Aquafine Corporation. The grants will fund research to make food safer by eliminating harmful viruses and bacterial endospores in juices and other beverages.

Dr. Ankit Patras

In the NIFA grant, Patras, as principal investigator, and his research team at TSU, including Dr. Agnes Kilonzo-Nthenge and Dr. John Rickettes, are collaborating with researchers at the University of Tennessee, and the Institute of Food Safety and Health at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Together, Patras and his fellow researchers will study the effect of highly energetic photons at 253.7 nm wavelength for the inactivation of viral particles, bacterial spores, and mycotoxins.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture, said TSU is glad to partner with USDA and private industry in a research project that is aimed to make food safe for consumers without worrying about bacterial or viral contamination and illnesses.

“Dr. Patras is one of the national leaders in this area of research and he and his team are exploring some novel ways to contain or eliminate bacteria and viruses in foods through these grants,” Reddy said. “As our new Food Science building comes online in a year or so, we will intensify the food science research at TSU.”

Dr. Ankit Patras demonstrates the thin film pilot UV system, a novel pasteurization technology for inactivating viruses and bacterial endospores in liquid foods. Research Fellow Dr. Brahmiah Pendyala looks on. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

According to Patras, who is research assistant professor of agricultural science, the ultimate goal of this project is to develop new and improved non-thermal technologies to inactivate viruses and bacterial endospores. He said one of the unique aspects of the project is the use of novel approaches for ensuring uniform UV exposure to bacterial and viral particles in fluids, without any arbitrary fluence rate distribution and uncertainty in the delivered UV fluence within the UV systems.

“Another important aspect of the study is to create science-based knowledge and bridge existing knowledge gaps by assessing the sensitivity of target foodborne viruses and spores to this treatment,” Patras said. “We want to identify markers of oxidative stress, which can be correlated to microbial inactivation.”

Madison Purifoy, a graduating senior participating in a science summer program for exceptional high school seniors, explains her findings in an experiment where she tested e coli in synthetic fluid using UV radiation to see if it will grow or create mutations. Purifoy is from Plano West Senior High School in Plano, Texas. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The team will develop chemical and biological sensors (biodosimeters) to quantify the UV dose delivered to pathogenic targets ensuring accurate dose delivery. The overall integrated approach will generate fundamental knowledge on the inactivation of viruses and bacterial spores on bench and commercial UV systems. Members of federal agencies including USDA-ARS, US-FDA, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada are on the advisory board. Patras’s grant is one of the few awarded by the AFRI Foundation and Applied Science Program in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Among Patras’ team at TSU is Taylor Ribeiro, a third-year Ph.D. student in biological sciences, who is working on the inactivation of bacterial in blue berry-flavored functional beverage. She said it feels good to be working with something that’s in the forefront of technology because “current pasteurization methods are starting to fail us.”

Some members of Dr. Patras’s research team in the Meats Processing Lab at TSU (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“We are starting to see outbreaks left and right. So, to be at the forefront of something that is going to be global pretty soon is a big deal for me,” said Ribeiro, who is from Chesapeake, Virginia. “I am enjoying it. I enjoy working with Dr. Petras and the rest of the team.”

In the second grant, Patras and Co-PI Dr. Hongwei Si will evaluate the cytotoxicity of irradiated liquid foods. Cytotoxicity of irradiated liquid foods must be evaluated to ensure the novel food processing techniques do not produce cytotoxic chemical compounds.

UV photons can break chemical bonds and could result in modifying compounds in foods. UV disinfection itself is the result of forming dimers (bonds) between adjacent pyrimidines in the nucleic acids of bacteria and viruses. The team aims to evaluate the cytotoxicity against normal colon, blood cells and study the protein expression of these cells. Experiments will be conducted mimicking the human gastric system.

For more information on TSU’s College Agriculture, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Nashville Mayor Extols Verizon Innovative Learning Program with Middle School Students During Visit to Tennessee State University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Thirteen-year-old Carlile Burgess wants to one day be a technician at Verizon, and he thinks a summer program at Tennessee State University has opened the door for him.

Nashville Mayor David Briley; and Thomas Francis, Verizon Innovative Learning program coordinator, right, observe students as they work on a program during class. (Photo BY Erynne Davis, TSU Media Relations)

“I love technology in general especially with Verizon because I like working with their equipment,” said the 8th grader from Nashville’s East Middle School. “I want to work with them; if they have a crash or something, I can fix it.”

Burgess has big dreams and he is not alone. On Tuesday, he and about 80 other students in grades 6-8 from the Nashville Metro Public Schools got a chance to show Nashville Mayor David Briley new technology they are learning on the TSU campus as part of the Verizon Innovative Learning Program.

The VIL, a partnership between TSU and Verizon, gives the students a firsthand experience in “the vital role technology plays in today’s world, empowering them to become creators and makers,” a Verizon release said.

Eighth-grader Carlile Burgess, middle, and fellow students work on a circuit board. (Photo by Erynne Davis, TSU Media Relations)

Mayor Briley’s visit allowed him to see students participating in hands-on coursework in virtual reality, augmented reality, 3-D printing, robotics and electronics. He said it was very encouraging to get the students interested early in technology.

“This is clearly a part of the economy that is growing and we need to make sure our young folks are ready to compete,” Briley said. “So, having a partnership between Tennessee State and Verizon and Metro Schools is a great thing to be doing this summer for these young men.”

Dr. Curtis Johnson, associate vice president and chief of staff, who welcomed the mayor on behalf of TSU President Glenda Glover, said the university was excited to be a part of the training program for the students, he described as future leaders who could one day become TSU Tigers.

About 80 middle school students are participating in the Verizon Innovative Learning program on the Tennessee State University campus during the summer. (Pohto by Erynne Davis, TSU Media Relations)

“We are excited that the mayor can come out to see some of the many great things that are taking place here on our campus with youth from the community who are being developed for future leaders here at Tennessee State,” Johnson said.

Also, on hand to greet the mayor was Dulaney L. O’Roark III, from Verizon Government Affairs. He said Verizon is very proud to sponsor the program.

“It means a lot to bring these young men to really experience cutting-edge technology to be able to envision themselves on a college campus learning about virtual reality, computing and all of the newest innovations,” O’Roark said. “We are really honored that the mayor would come and be a part of the program and express to the young men how supportive he is of them being part of this learning experience.”

According to Verizon, the three-week program for minority male students is intended to prepare them for future tech careers through intensive coursework in design and product development while being mentored by relatable professional STEM role models. The program helps participants acquire technical and soft skills to reach a higher level of academic achievement.  After summer courses are completed,  students will make monthly visits to TSU for STEM education courses and individual mentoring with undergraduate and graduate students.

Thomas Francis, a STEM instructor, is a coordinator of the VIL program at TSU. He said the students are also developing friendships and learning to work together.

“The students are leaning with other students who are like-minded like them and that’s important in learning technology and in putting math and science together,” Thomas said.

For more information on Verizon Innovative Learning program, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/computer_science/documents/VerizonTSUCampFlyer.pdf

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.