TSU students participate in virtual Joint Day of Service to honor legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University students and their peers from other area higher education institutions are not letting the pandemic stop them from honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The students will participate in a virtual MLK Joint Day of Service on Monday, Jan. 18. Before the coronavirus, students would gather at one of their schools before being bused to various locations throughout Nashville to volunteer as part of the special day.

This year, once students register, they will get a choice of four nonprofit organizations to virtually learn about the entities, how they are faring during the pandemic, and how to volunteer with the nonprofits. A short service activity will follow with a reflection activity on the students’ experiences.

Besides TSU, participating schools include Fisk University, Meharry Medical College, Belmont University, Trevecca Nazarene, Lipscomb University, Vanderbilt University, and Nashville State Community College.

“All of the schools agreed that despite the pandemic, students needed the opportunity to honor the legacy of MLK in a virtual setting through service,” said Dr. Erik Schmeller, director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at TSU. “Given the racial and political upheavals of the last year and more recently, we felt the Dr. King quote, ‘Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve,’ was particularly relevant and serves as our theme this year.”

Volunteers organize classroom at Harvest Hands Community Development as part of last year’s MLK Joint Day of Service. (TSU Media Relations)

The organizations participating this year are Greater Nashville Regional Council, Turnip Green Creative Reuse, Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary, and Project Transformation.

TSU junior Brittanie Pruitt, a nursing major from Covington, Tennessee, says community service is critical, particularly amid the current pandemic.

“It’s definitely important to give back; everybody needs a helping hand,” says Pruitt. “You might need help one day.”

On Saturday, Jan. 16, TSU’s Honors College will join the Interdenominational Ministers’ Fellowship in a Virtual Nashville MLK Day Youth Symposium. The theme is “Moving the Movement: Honoring Our Past, Present and Future.

For more information about TSU’s Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/servicelearning/.

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 39 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 enhances student preparation for careers in technology in partnership with Propel Center, a New Global HBCU Headquarters for Innovation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is partnering with Propel Center, a new global campus headquartered in Atlanta that will support innovative learning and development for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) nationwide. TSU will collaborate with Propel Center and the entire HBCU community to bring leadership and career development programming to its students.

TSU President Glenda Glover

For the past two years, TSU has been working with Apple to launch and expand the school’s HBCU C2 initiative through the TSU Global SMART Technology Innovation Center. The initiative brings coding and creativity experiences to all 100-plus HBCUs and their communities.

In the new partnership, TSU officials say Propel Center will focus more on helping students, where the TSU Center will concentrate on faculty at HBCUs and their communities.

“Tennessee State University is excited to be partnering with Propel Center,” says TSU President Glenda Glover. “The TSU Global SMART Technology Innovation Center has been working with HBCU faculty leaders to help them learn about coding and app design and development, as well as bring coding and creativity experiences to their communities. This new partnership will strengthen that effort.”

Dr. Robbie Melton, Associate Vice President of the Global SMART Technology Innovation Center, agrees.

Dr. Robbie Melton

“The Propel Center expands the TSU Apple HBCU C2 National Hub “Everyone Can Code and Create” by creating a state-of-the-art technology innovation physical site for all HBCU students to now have full access to the latest 21st century technology tools, engineers, computer scientists, and resources to prepare them for the digital workforce,” says Melton. “Our students will now have a place to take them to the next level of innovation and entrepreneurship for the new digital careers of the future.”

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, says the tech giant is pleased to be part of the initiative.

Lisa Jackson, Apple

“We are thrilled to join with partners and community stakeholders to support the Propel Center and be part of this groundbreaking new global hub for HBCU innovation and learning, devoted to helping faculty create best-in-class curriculum and ensuring students have access to cutting-edge skills,” says Jackson.

Propel Center was imagined and designed by Ed Farm, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing education through technology — with Apple and Southern Company supporting the project as founding partners. The Propel Center is designed to connect HBCU students to technology curriculum, cultural thought leaders, entrepreneurship skills development, and accelerator programs, with a focus on social justice and equity. 

Curriculum options will include AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning, agricultural technologies, social justice, entertainment arts, app development, augmented reality, design and creativity, career preparation, and entrepreneurship tracks. 

TSU freshman Elise Russ

Students from participating schools will access Propel Center’s online digital learning platform from anywhere, and will also have access to the 50,000 square-foot Propel Center headquarters in Atlanta, equipped with state-of-the-art lecture halls, learning labs, and on-site living for a scholars-in-residence program.

TSU freshman Elise Russ says she is looking forward to the benefits of the new partnership.

”I believe the Propel Center partnership will significantly enhance the greatness that is within not only TSU students, but all HBCU pupils,” says Russ, a civil engineering major from Nashville. “The digital platform that will be accessible to us will also readily display our research, enhance talents, and create a network among students that will ignite knowledge and mastery in various fields.”

Treveon Hayes, a TSU sophomore elementary education major from Memphis, Tennessee, says the partnership is an “amazing opportunity.”

TSU sophomore Treveon Hayes

“It’s another example of HBCUs preparing students for life after graduation,” says Hayes.

Last month, TSU’s national coding hub welcomed 23 new HBCUs to be community coding centers, which means almost three dozen schools are now part of the initiative.

To learn more about TSU’s HBCU Cinitiative, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/hbcuc2/.

For more information about Propel Center, visit PropelCenter.org.

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 39 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 continuing to prioritize safety of students, employees with COVID-19 plan for spring return

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University officials are continuing to take steps amid the pandemic to ensure students and employees are safe when classes resume next week. A comprehensive plan that was put in place last semester was effective, officials say, and they plan to utilize it once again and enhance it where necessary.

Currently, the plan is to open residence halls on Jan. 21 and begin online classes Jan. 25 for two weeks. In-person classes will resume Feb. 8. The semester will conclude with a graduate commencement ceremony on April 30, and undergraduate ceremony on May 1.

“The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff are a top priority,” says TSU President Glenda Glover. “While there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel, it is important that we remain COVID-19 vigilant, which is why we continue to consult with TSU stakeholders and public health officials to ensure the well-being of everyone on campus.”

Dr. Curtis Johnson, chief of staff and head of the TSU Coronavirus Pandemic task force, says the university will “repeat the process used in fall 2020 for students returning to the university for spring 2021.”  

“The university experienced success in the process and will review the after-action comments and data yields,” says Johnson. “Meetings are presently occurring to ensure changes to improve services for students and employees are considered and instituted when and where possible. The university is conducting numerous cleaning and sanitizing processes to prepare facilities for the spring opening.” 

Like last semester, the university is implementing a 14-day “safer in place” policy upon arrival for all students in residence halls. The policy requires students to stay in their places of residence unless they need to perform essential activities, such as getting food, or going to medical appointments.

Classrooms will continue to be assessed to determine the number of students that can occupy the rooms, based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Computer labs are also being marked to determine the number of persons allowed to use them at the same time. Desks and high-touch surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day for classes, labs, and public areas between usage.

Other safety measures for the campus include wearing of face coverings and social distancing at all times; regular cleaning and sanitizing of buildings; temperature checks upon entering campus and randomly throughout campus; and use of shields throughout the campus. There’s also a non-emergency COVID-19 phone line and email for reporting concerns.

The University will also work closely with the Tennessee Department of Health for contact tracing. For any positive diagnostic test results, TSU will operationalize the protocols in place, and will follow the state reporting guidelines.  A contact tracing team will be in place to identify potential secondary cases to limit the spread of infection. TSU has also established its own early contact tracing.

Frank Stevenson, TSU’s associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, says about 2,200 students will be living on campus in the spring, and that the university is doing everything it can to create a safe and comfortable learning environment for them.

“We will continue to provide (COVID-19) testing for our students on campus through our Health Center,” says Stevenson. “Students can schedule a time to be tested with our health professionals five days a week. We will also continue our telehealth services. This was a new initiative to provide services to students 24 hours a day, including mental health services.”

Since students began distance learning in March 2020, TSU has also worked diligently to make sure they have the electronic devices needed to complete their coursework, like laptops. Students say they appreciate the university’s effort in this regard, as well as what it’s doing to keep the campus safe during the pandemic.

“I feel very safe returning in the spring,” says Treveon Hayes, a sophomore elementary education major from Memphis, Tennessee. “At the beginning of last semester, I was uncertain. But with the requirements and guidelines TSU has put in place, I feel safer than ever. TSU has my trust.”

As for distance learning, the university has received thousands of dollars to assist with technology needs, including support for course redesign software and staff to aid in remote teaching and learning.

“What TSU is doing is great,” says Alexus Dockery, a sophomore from Memphis majoring in political science at TSU. “It will allow students to get the support they need, and further advance their education.”

TSU is scheduled to have a virtual Spring 2021 Faculty-Staff Institute on Jan. 19. To see a calendar of other spring events, visit https://bit.ly/3awJqUl.

To view TSU’s operational guidelines during COVID-19 and more, visit http://bit.ly/37DPoAY.

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 39 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 President Glenda Glover named one of ‘Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2021’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University begins the new academic year with a major accolade for the University’s president.

Dr. Glenda Glover has been named one of the “Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2021,” by HBCU Campaign Fund, a national non-profit organization that advocates for student and higher education.

“I am honored to be included with this distinguished group of university presidents selected by HBCU Campaign Fund, a well-respected organization that advocates for our students and institutions,” President Glover said.

“It is particularly gratifying because of the common mission we share of ensuring the highest academic achievement of our students.”

According to HBCU Campaign Fund, presidents and chancellors selected for the Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders award have “proven their responsibilities for shaping policies, changing perspectives, and making decisions that affect millions of individuals in the higher education space, and the daily needs of what an HBCU or Minority-Serving Institutions contributes.”

“These individuals play a prominent and influential role in leadership and display the characteristics of the following responsibilities in the progression of effectively moving an institution forward,” said Demetrius Johnson Jr., president, CEO and founder of HCF.

See the complete listing of award recipients and fourth-class inductees via https://hbcucampaignfund.org/the-ten-most-dominant-hbcu-leaders-of-2021/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 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 researchers named among ‘1,000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Two Tennessee State University researchers have been named among the “1,000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America” by Cell Mentor.

Dr. Frances Williams

Dr. Frances Williams, associate vice president of Research and Sponsored Programs and professor of electrical engineering; and Dr. Quincy Quick, associate professor of biology, were cited by Community of Scholars in its latest posting in Cell Mentors, a web resource that provides support and resources for emerging scientists.

Williams and Quick, acknowledged as top scientists in the nation, have extensive research, teaching and scientific backgrounds.

“It is an honor to be recognized as one of the ‘1000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America’ on Cell Mentor,” Williams said upon receiving news of her selection. 

“I am humbled to be included with some of my STEM heroes and sheroes.  I hope that students see the list and are able to envision themselves as the next generation of scientists and innovators that make a positive impact on our world.”

Williams is widely published, 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.

Dr. Quincy Quick

Quick, who investigates brain tumors and serves as scientific grant reviewer for several cancer journals in the nation, said it is a “humbling and grateful experience to be acknowledged for your work, along with your peers like Dr. Williams, as well as the other African American scientists” around the United States.

“The visibility from a minority standpoint is critical,” Quick said. “Often times our work at HBCUs is overlooked in comparison to other majority institutions. Acknowledging the breadth of all of the African Americans across all types of institutions is a critical exposure for everybody.”

In addition to research projects supported by federal state funding, Quick has mentored more than 80 students at the Ph.D., master’s and undergraduate levels, as well as a research mentor for several NSF and NIH training and developmental programs.

At TSU, students are also celebrating the selection of Williams and Quick as inspiring black scientists by Cell Mentor.

“It is no surprise that Dr. (Quincy) Quick would be recognized for an accomplishment such as this,” Mariel Liggin, a senior biology major from Louisville, Kentucky, said about her professor. “His dedication to science can be been in the classroom as well as in the lab. He is one of the reasons why I continue to pursue my major in biology.”

Of Dr. Williams, civil engineering graduate student Morgan Chatmon, congratulated her professor for the recognition.

“Dr.  Williams is a dynamic leader, powerful motivator, and beneficial contributor to the STEM staff and student at TSU,” said Chatmon, of Omaha, Nebraska.

According to the Cell mentor, The Community of Scholars is “a group of Persons Excluded because of their Ethnicity or Race (PEER) composed of postdoctoral fellows, early-stage investigators, instructors, and consultants with a common passion to advance scientific discovery while innovating diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.”

To see the complete list, visit: https://crosstalk.cell.com/blog/1000-inspiring-black-scientists-in-america(link is external).

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 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 employee’s community outreach helping families cope during pandemic, holidays

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As thousands of families struggle to put food on the table during the holidays amid the pandemic, a Tennessee State University employee and her private ministry are helping to make sure no one in the community goes hungry.

Antoinette Hargrove Duke is founder of “But God Nette Working For You,” a ministry of volunteers and community partners started in 2014 to provide food for those in need across Davidson and Rutherford counties in Tennessee. So far this year, the ministry has distributed more than 140,000 pounds of food, or about 55,000 meals to needy families.

Antoinette Hargrove Duke and her “But God” ministry volunteers and partners distribute food the fourth Friday of every month at locations across Davidson and Rutherford counties. (Photo by TSU Media relations)

“We are able to serve so many families by networking with other agencies,” says Duke, who is interim director of TSU’s Career Development Center.  “We partner with organizations within our community to serve families in need of food, clothing and other resources.” 

Duke and But God – for short – volunteers do not get paid for their work. They get support from local churches and individuals who donate equipment and make financial contributions to the organization. Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee is the group’s biggest partner and provider. Along with Second Harvest, the group distributes food the fourth Friday of every month at locations across Davidson and Rutherford counties.

Volunteers prepare packages to give out at the drive-thru, contact-free food distribution at Meharry Boulevard Church of God. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

A recent report in The Washington Post shows that more Americans are going hungry now than at any point during the deadly coronavirus pandemic — a problem created by an economic downturn that has tightened its grip on millions of Americans. In Middle Tennessee, the problem is even steeper, especially among children. Reports show that the number of children at risk of hunger has jumped from one in seven to more than one in five as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Second Harvest. 

“And this is why we keep doing what we are doing, to give people hope,” says Duke.  

On Friday, with food delivered by Second Harvest, Duke and her group, including nearly 100 volunteers from local organizations, served more than 300 families in a drive-thru, contact-free food distribution at Meharry Boulevard Church of God. According to Duke, the church and its pastor, the Rev. Vernon Ray McGuire, Jr., have adopted But God as a community partner that provides volunteers and financial donation to the group. 

Pastor Vernon Ray McGuire, Jr., of Meharry Boulevard Church of God; and Antoinette Duke welcome volunteers at the Dec. 18 food distribution. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Donna Hobbs, of Nashville, was one of those in line Friday to receive help at the food distribution. After working in the hospitality industry for many years, Hobbs was furloughed from her job in March. Although she landed a new job recently, Hobbs says she is glad she heard about Duke and But God ministry and their food distribution, “because it is still difficult to make ends meet.” 

“I have never done anything like this before. I have never had to reach out,” says Hobbs. “I am the one that’s always volunteering and giving. I am really humbled to be able to see this going on and to be able to get help.” 

Pastor McGuire, who was formerly part of a food giveaway program in Franklin, Tennessee, where he pastored another church before relocating to Meharry Boulevard Church of God, says he was drawn to Duke and But God ministry because of the group’s mission to meet the needs of others. 

“Sister Antoinette (Duke) has been a blessing to the community,” says McGuire. “There is a lot of people in need during this pandemic. We became a partner because we love and agree with what they do and their concern for others.” 

 Duke says she’s thankful to the many “wonderful” people and organizations that are willing to work day or night to help “touch the many lives we try to reach.” 

For more information about But God ministry, visit http://www.findglocal.com/US/Nashville/428539363922684/But-God-Ministry-Nette-Working-For-You 

TSU experts say apprehension about COVID-19 vaccine based on history for African-American community

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As the first coronavirus vaccine is distributed across the nation, African American health officials are working to ease concerns about the vaccine in black communities. 

Dr. Esther Lynch

African Americans are disproportionately getting sick and dying of COVID-19, but surveys suggest they’re more hesitant to get the vaccine than other racial and ethnic groups in the United States. History is a big reason for that, experts say.

“That we shouldn’t trust the government is a message that’s been sent down from generation to generation,” says Dr. Esther Lynch, an assistant professor in Tennessee State University’s Psychology Department who specializes in integrated behavioral health and trauma in marginalized populations.

“It doesn’t matter what area we touch on, there’s always some sort of injustice that has happened when it comes to people of color in general.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine last week, and another vaccine was expected to be approved as early as Friday, Dec. 18. Dr. Lynch, along with History and infectious disease experts at Tennessee State University, say they understand the concern African Americans have about the vaccines, but seriously suggest everyone should get vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus, especially in communities of color. 

She notes the Tuskegee Institute syphilis study, where black men were deceived and were withheld treatment. Then there was the eugenics project in Mississippi where thousands upon thousands of African American women who went to state health facilities for routine medical procedures were sterilized without their knowledge.

“There’s just too much distrust,” says Lynch. 

Recent figures show Tennessee has seen an average of 8,760 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 71 deaths per day. It has the most confirmed cases per capita among states and D.C. during the same period. Tennessee has received nearly 57,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and a second shipment of close to that amount is expected in the next few weeks.

Dr. Learotha Williams

State officials say health-care workers and nursing home residents will receive the vaccines first; second in line are expected to be essential workers, teachers, and first responders; then individuals with pre-existing conditions, and those over age 65.

Health experts say the vaccines won’t work unless enough people take them to establish herd immunity, or when most of the population is immune to the disease.  So far, COVID-19 has killed more than 300,000 Americans, and millions worldwide. 

Dr. Learotha Williams, a history professor at TSU, says African Americans’ apprehension concerning vaccines in general is understandable, but that they should give serious consideration to taking those that fight COVID-19 because of how the virus “disproportionately affects us.”

He says a number of black health experts have expressed similar sentiment, such as Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, who has been leading the effort to combat COVID-19. Corbett, a research fellow and scientific lead at the National Institute of Health, is working with a team of scientists studying Moderna’s vaccine, one of the two COVID-19 vaccines shown to be effective by more than 90 percent.

Dr. Wendelyn Inman

“The black doctors that I know, that I trust, I don’t see them suggesting something that would harm us,” says Williams, an expert on African American and public history. 

Dr. Wendelyn Inman, an infectious disease expert and director of public health programs in TSU’s College of Health Sciences, has some advice for those who have reservations about the COVID-19 vaccines.

“I don’t see any reason to be concerned, but if you are, just wait a couple of weeks, or days, before you take yours,” says Inman, who previously was chief of epidemiology for the State of Tennessee. “You’ll be able to see how people react to the vaccine.”

To learn more about the vaccines and how they will be administered, contact your local health department, or visit the Tennessee Department of Health’s website:  http://bit.ly/38aZrfX.

NOTE: Featured photo courtesy of Reuters.

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 39 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 national coding hub welcomes 23 new HBCUs to be community centers as part of Apple initiative

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s national coding hub is welcoming 23 new HBCUs to be community centers as part of Apple’s Community Education Initiative. The announcement comes during Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 7-13.

The tech giant has been working with TSU for the past two years to launch and expand the school’s HBCU C2 initiative, which brings coding and creativity experiences to all 100-plus historically black colleges and universities and their communities.

Students discuss ideas at TSU’s national coding hub. (TSU Media Relations)

To date, there are eight C2 hubs across the nation, and now a total of 25 HBCU C2 centers. Stakeholders say the promotion of digital literacy, computational thinking, coding and creativity will help bring workforce development opportunities to students, faculty, and the broader HBCU communities.

“This partnership with Apple will empower our HBCUs with the knowledge and skill sets now required for the technological workforce,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Coding and app development are a growing part of the global workforce, and we want to help make sure people of color, especially our students, are equipped with the knowledge and skills to be competitive, and successful.”

Dr. Robbie Melton, associate vice president of the TSU SMART Innovation Global Center that oversees the initiative, said faculty leaders from the HBCUs will participate in Apple’s ongoing Community Education Initiative Learning Series to learn about coding and app design and development.

“As part of that ongoing professional development, educators will explore innovative ways to engage with learners using Apple’s comprehensive curriculum, which utilizes its easy-to-learn Swift programming language,” said Melton.

As part of its Community Education Initiative and this partnership, Apple is supporting HBCUs with equipment, resources, and professional development to help the new centers become the pre-eminent HBCU C2 Centers in bringing coding and creativity to their communities.

In June, Apple launched a new Racial Equity and Justice Initiative focused on challenging systemic barriers to opportunity for communities of color by advancing education, economic equality, and criminal justice reform efforts.

”Apple is committed to working alongside communities of color to advance educational equity,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “We see this expansion of our Community Education Initiative and partnership with HBCUs as another step toward helping Black students realize their dreams and solve the problems of tomorrow.”

Earlier this year, TSU held a virtual HBCU C2 summit, bringing together nearly 300 educators from across the HBCU community. The goal of the program was to share best practices and hear from colleagues about workforce development, connecting with their communities, and to bring coding to students of all ages.

To learn more about TSU’s HBCU Cinitiative, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/hbcuc2/.

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 39 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 receives $1M federal grant to lead development of national platform for remote high school learners

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has received a $1 million federal grant to lead development of a national platform that allows high school agricultural courses to be taught remotely because of the pandemic. 

Dr. John Ricketts

The two-year grant and work, which will target underserved communities, are supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative/Education and Workforce Development Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture. 

Officials in TSU’s College of Agriculture say current resources being used for remote learning because of COVID-19 do not include the critical STEM topics of food and agriculture. But they plan to change that by helping to develop eight standards-based courses in agriculture, food and natural resources for high school students needing online/digital learning options. 

The project will also establish dual credit options for completers of the courses through a university or college-level faculty-course review and sharing platform.

Dr. John Ricketts, professor of agricultural education at TSU, is leading a team of content experts from the university, as well as individuals from several other institutions, including Auburn University, Mississippi State University, and the University of Georgia. 

Dr. Chandra Reddy

“Dr. Ricketts has put together an expert team that will address the concerns of teachers, students, and parents everywhere and help students complete their high school education and progress to colleges in a timely manner,” says Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture. 

Ricketts will recruit the high school teachers who will work with instructional designers and micro-adaptive course developers to roll out the courses. Faculty mentors will assist with content contribution and vet the courses for use at the college level, ensuring they can help students achieve academically at the high school and college level. The eight courses will be loaded onto a national course sharing platform so that students can use them at any institution where agreements have been reached to use the platform, according to officials. 

“The courses to be developed will help high school students, who have been sent home because of the coronavirus, to graduate on time,” says Ricketts. “The expert vetting of courses developed for dual enrollment will help those same students stay on track in college.”

TSU Senior Waymon McNeal

Dr. Tom Byl, a TSU Ag professor, is on Ricketts’ team. He says he’s pleased the project is aimed at underserved communities because less than 2 percent of current natural-resource scientists are African American. 

“I think TSU is well suited to lead the effort and address this lack of diversity in STEM disciplines,” says Byl, who is also a research scientist with the US Geological Survey.  “I am proud to be part of that effort and look forward to working with this exceptional team of educators, leaders and scientists.”

TSU senior Waymon McNeal, an Ag major with a concentration in environmental sciences, says he wishes such courses were available when he was in high school. 

“I believe the platform will have a positive impact on those participating,” says McNeal, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “I also think it’s a great way to recruit students” to TSU. 

TSU Senior Kalie Ellis

Senior Kalie Ellis of Ashland City, Tennessee, agrees. She’s also majoring in Ag at TSU, with a concentration in education. 

“Think about all the high school students who don’t know about TSU,” says Ellis. “This platform allows them to see that TSU has an amazing Ag program. And since they’re already taking high school Ag courses, and have a relationship with TSU professors, then why not go there.”

To learn more 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 39 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.

Chattanooga Gas, Southern Company Gas, Southern Company Foundation award $100K to TSU for critical technology needs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Chattanooga Gas, Southern Company Gas and its parent, Southern Company, are donating $100,000 to Tennessee State University to support remote learning initiatives. 

The gift is part of the Southern Company Foundation’s and its subsidiaries’ $50 million Historically Black College and Universities Initiative, a multiyear funding strategy announced in January that provides HBCU students with scholarships, internships, leadership development and access to technology and innovation to support career readiness. 

Dr. Michael Harris

“We are very grateful to Chattanooga Gas and the Southern Company Foundation for their investment in Tennessee State University’s students. It creates a meaningful partnership and a collaboration grounded in shared values for years to come,” said Dr. Michael Harris, TSU’s interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. “This generous grant will enhance our technology capabilities in assuring student success during these challenging times of remote learning. It will also impact TSU’s continued commitment to being a leader in online learning innovation, as part of its commitment to academic excellence.” 

The funds awarded to TSU will be used to support course redesign software and staff to aid in remote teaching and learning; remote education and delivery resources, tools and materials; and remote streaming equipment, including hotspots, cameras and microphones. This investment will benefit 6,000 undergraduate students. 

“We have students who come from all walks of life, and some don’t have the luxury of having electronic resources and other educational aids, particularly at a time like this when they’re really needed for remote learning,” said TSU senior Gabrielle Kershaw, a Nashville resident majoring in political science and economics. “This donation will be of tremendous help to those students.”

Kim Greene, chairman, president and CEO of Southern Company Gas, said the company is glad to “invest in the next generation of technology leaders,”

“Our goal is to provide resources that will stimulate strategic thinking and creativity, enabling the students attending these schools to create a better future,” said Greene. “We look forward to seeing the great things these students accomplish.” 

Pedro Cherry, president and CEO of Chattanooga Gas, said he hopes the funding will “deepen partnerships between business and civic leaders and these vital institutions.

“HBCUs are at the forefront of innovation and academic excellence in the United States, and we hope our company’s investment will only accelerate this important work,” said Cherry.  

Since TSU students transitioned to remote learning in March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the university has made sure that they have digital devices, such as laptops, to successfully complete their coursework. And TSU officials said going forward they will continue to make sure students have what they need, as well as faculty.

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 39 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.