TSU joins nation’s first quantum education and research initiative through partnership with tech giant IBM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University says it looks forward to students being on the cutting edge of technology in the fields of finance, digital manufacturing and military affairs now that the institution is a member of the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center. TSU announced today that it has joined the nation’s first quantum education and research initiative for historically black colleges and universities. The aim of the center is to help students and faculty build skills in quantum computing and increase diversity and inclusion in the field.

TSU President Glenda Glover

“With the creation of Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and aerospace designing just to name a few, quantum computing has quickly become an emerging technology,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “The IBM-HBCU Quantum Center partnership helps TSU prepare our students and faculty to be innovators in this field. It is an absolute game-changer when we consider our current climate and how research could lead to new discoveries in medicine and drug development.”

TSU is one of 10 newly added institutions that comprise the 23 HBCUs that have joined the Center to date. As part of the initiative, TSU will have access to IBM quantum computers on the cloud, as well as opportunities for joint collaboration on research, education, and community outreach programs.

“IBM’s priority in launching the Center is to support and facilitate quantum research and education for HBCU faculty and students as part of the growing quantum workforce,” said Dr. Kayla Lee, Product Manager for Community Partnerships, IBM Quantum. “We’re proud to continue building on the momentum of the founding institutions and looking forward to collaborating with Tennessee State University to build a quantum future.”

Established in September 2020, the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center is a multi-year investment designed to prepare and develop talent at HBCUs from all STEM disciplines for the quantum future. It emphasizes the power of community and focuses on developing students through support and funding for research opportunities, curriculum development, workforce advocacy, and special projects. 

Junior Jeia Moore

Jeia Moore, a junior from Memphis, Tennessee majoring in business information systems at TSU, said she’s glad the university is now part of the Center.

“IBM has opened opportunities for me, my peers, and my university,” she said. “Having a firsthand experience of the nation’s first quantum initiative for HBCUs will allow me to grow and develop in the computing world. I am grateful to see companies invest in me, my peers, and Tennessee State University.”

IBM continues to deliver on the Center’s goal to build a sustainable quantum research and education program by increasing the number of black students educated in Quantum Information Science and Engineering (QISE), strengthening research efforts of faculty at HBCUs in QISE, providing opportunities for scholarships, fellowships and internships, and empowering HBCUs to lead in the quantum workforce and broader black communities. The 25 HBCUs participating in the Center were prioritized based on their research and education focus in physics, engineering, mathematics, computer science, and other STEM fields.

“Tennessee State University is proud to be invited to partner in the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center,” said Dr. Michael Harris, Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at TSU. “This partnership will provide our faculty and students with excellent opportunities to pursue research and specific tasks in quantum and its impact on computing, a leading technology guiding fields across business and industry.”

Iris Ramey, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at TSU, agreed.

“Our students and faculty are anxious to begin the high level of research and learning that the Center will require,” said Ramey. “We are grateful to IBM for this opportunity.“

For more information about the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center, read HBCU Center Driving Diversity and Inclusion in Quantum Computing.

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 eight 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 alum who designed, constructed National Museum of African American Music continues as industry trailblazer, promotes student success by giving back

A TSU BLACK HISTORY MONTH FEATURE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When Don Hardin drives by the National Museum of African American Music, the Tennessee State University alum can’t help but smile, proudly. That’s because the firm he owns managed the design and construction of the facility, and he credits TSU with giving him the tools as a young college student to make it happen. 

“I love the Blue and White,” said Hardin, who graduated in 1990 with a degree in architectural engineering. “TSU is a part of me. I strive to be excellent.”  

Don Hardin. (Submitted photo)

However, a seed of determination and success was planted in Hardin by his mother before he came to TSU. She raised Hardin and his three other brothers by herself. He said her tough love is what they needed growing up in a low-income part of Nashville.  

“My mother worked hard; she set standards for us,” said Hardin. “She kept us out of trouble. She had strict rules that didn’t seem fair at the time, but it turned out to be a good thing because some of the guys who were free to run the streets didn’t turn out so well. All of my brothers are doing well, and it’s because of her upbringing.” 

Hardin said his math teacher at Maplewood High School was also a major influence in his life. He said the teacher recognized his talent and arranged for him to visit TSU and its College of Engineering his senior year. The Big Blue won him over, and he enrolled at TSU in fall 1983.  

Because he also enjoyed art, Hardin decided to major in architectural engineering, where he met Dr. Walter Vincent, Jr., who at the time was head of the Architectural Engineering Department. Vincent also noticed Hardin’s drive and talent, and took him under his wing.  

“He was a very engaging guy,” recalled Hardin of Vincent. “He was always encouraging us to get out of Nashville and take trips to places like Chicago to study buildings.”  

Vincent passed away on Nov. 30, 2020, at the age of 89. But Hardin said he will never forget the advice and encouragement Vincent gave him that would eventually cement his career in his chosen field.  

Hardin said it was tough to get internships in architectural engineering. However, his peers in electrical and mechanical engineering were getting job opportunities. Hardin said he went to Vincent to change his major, but the professor talked him out of it.  

“He said, ‘If you stick with it, it’s going to pay off.’” Hardin recalled him saying. “So instead of giving him a change of major form, I tore it up and decided to stay with architectural engineering.”  

And he’s glad he did. Vincent was right. When Hardin graduated, he had three job offers. The one he selected took him out of town for about 10 years. But he returned to Nashville and eventually started his own company, the Don Hardin Group, which hit its 20-year mark this year.  

TSU alumna Lisa Johnson majored in architectural engineering at the same time Hardin did. She said the small group that made up their major was close knit, and that they encouraged one another. Johnson said she was one of four women in the program at the time, and that Hardin was like a brother to her.

Don Hardin, son Donald III (center), and wife Tracy, CFO of the Don Hardin Group. (Submitted photo)

“Don is a good guy, gracious, and hard-working,” said Johnson, who is a construction manager. “Him having this business that he has today, I’m not surprised.”

Hardin and his team have been players in some of Nashville’s largest projects, including the Music City Center, Hospital Corporation of America, Nissan North America, the First Horizon (Baseball) Park, and of course, the National Museum of African American Music that officially opened downtown last month.  

Hardin said what he enjoyed most about the National Museum of African American Music project was the number of other African American businesses involved in the construction.  

“We’re proud of what we did,” said Hardin. “What we’re even more proud of is the fact that a lot of other African Americans got involved in something that represents us.” 

Both Hardin and Johnson said they’re glad they stuck with architectural engineering, and they encourage aspiring engineers to consider the field because opportunities in it have grown over the years.

“There are more programs offered,” said Johnson. “It’s still not as common as civil, mechanical and electrical, but it has become more known.”

Regardless of the major, Hardin said students should contact alumni in their field, or an area of study they’re considering, for support.

 “TSU students need to continue to reach out; press us for opportunities,” said Hardin, whose firm offers an internship to college students.

And he added this advice to them, words that were also told to him years ago.  

“Know that you can achieve whatever you set out to do,” he said. “You can do it. You can be excellent.”  

Hardin is a member of the TSU Engineering Alumni Association, and the Omega Psi Phi Rho Psi Alumni Chapter of TSU.

To learn more about the Don Hardin Group, visit http://donhardingroup.com.

For more information about TSU’s College of Engineering and architectural engineering, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/engineering/index1.aspx

NOTE: Feature photo of Don Hardin at First Horizon Park courtesy of the Nashville Business Journal

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 eight 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.

Home or away: Amid pandemic, many TSU students still see campus life as a better choice

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As a new semester begins, returning students at Tennessee State University say they are glad to be back, despite challenges they faced last semester trying to live on campus amid the pandemic. 

Jeia Moore

Residence halls opened Jan. 21 for new and returning students. Classes are offered in hybrid, online and in face-to-face formats, including distance learning. Students have the choice of staying home and taking classes online at a discounted tuition rate, but many have instead selected to live on campus, stay in their door rooms, and complete their courses online without the discount. 

One of them is junior information systems major Jeia Moore of Memphis, Tennessee, who sees campus life as the essence of going to college and won’t trade it for anything. Besides, Moore says, TSU is providing an “atmosphere that makes us very safe.” 

“It’s a little bit different, because you know, we have to wear a mask, social distance and everything,” says Moore. “We are limited in some ways in how we move around, so it’s a little bit different, but I understand that they’re doing it to keep us safe, and I rather be here than at home.” 

Danielle Glenn

Moore is not alone. In interviews to gauge returning students’ experience about living on campus during the pandemic, and why many chose campus life over home, many say it’s “a missed opportunity” not to experience what a college campus offers. For the spring semester, about 1,600 students, including returning and new students are living on campus, that’s about 50 percent of full occupancy. 

“I just feel like you only get four years of college and you better make the best use of that experience, even during the pandemic,” says Danielle Glenn, a junior criminal justice major from Atlanta. “I feel like campus is safe. The university is taking all precautions that need to be taken to make sure everyone is safe. Temperature checks, quarantines, having a place for students to go if they test positive. All of my classes are online. So even when I go on campus to get food or go to the post office, everyone is wearing a mask and there are stickers to keep everyone distant.” 

A TSU expert on social behavior says that students’ preference to stay on campus even during a pandemic “could be due to many factors.” 

“Their identity as a student is tied to being on campus. Their reference groups – other students and faculty – are on campus and close contact with them is important for their success,” says Dr. Oscar Miller, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology. “Being a college student is being a member of a select group of people who have achieved an important rite of passage. To a large measure what that means to a student is engaging the campus experience as an independent adult. For some, assuming the role of a student may require getting away from their home environment.” 

Damien Antwine

TSU officials say students’ optimism about campus life that makes them want to come back even during the pandemic is rooted in the campus preparation they saw and experienced last semester. For instance, the university is continuing a comprehensive plan put in place last semester, which includes a 14-day “safer in place” policy for all 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. Last semester, of all Tennessee colleges, TSU reported one of the lowest COVID-19 cases, with mostly mild to no symptoms and no hospitalization. 

Dr. Curtis Johnson, associate vice president and chief of staff, leads the university’s COVID taskforce. He says students want to come back because the university has “gone to great lengths” to be as accommodating as possible. 

“Creating a campus environment that is welcoming to the students and that provides opportunities for them to interact in the safest way possible are what we strive for every day,” says Johnson. 

Frank Stevenson, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, says “the university is very intentional” about creating a home environment for the students that makes them want to come back. 

“For many students, TSU becomes their home. When they go home, they are visitors,” says Stevenson. “They know that we’re going to be there to support them. This is their village, so knowing that they have that TSU village of RAs, hall directors and others surrounding them, they know they are home.” 

Damien Antwine, one of the returning students interviewed, agrees. He says coming from a neighborhood with drugs and other distractions, he “definitely” didn’t want to stay home.

“It definitely helped a lot that campus was open, where I could be with people who are there to help me succeed,” says Antwine, a junior agricultural science major from Memphis, who also has a job in Nashville. “Teachers were accommodating. It was a great experience.” 

Terrance Izzard, TSU associate vice president for admissions and recruitment, says that the university’s goal is to let returning and new students know that their safety and wellbeing remain a major priority. 

“Our ultimate goal is that we get through this together and that students understand their social responsibility, as well as the university’s commitment to safety,” says Izzard.

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 eight 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, Meharry virtual health summit to feature top health experts Drs. Anthony Fauci and James Hildreth

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is co-sponsoring a Virtual Health Summit with Meharry Medical College on the COVID-19 vaccine and health equity. The summit will feature Meharry President and CEO Dr. James Hildreth, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to President Biden.

The summit is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 17, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time. It can be accessed at:  https://youtu.be/VThTmBxTRPM.

The summit is a continuation of TSU’s collaboration with Meharry. The two historically-black institutions recently announced a new partnership focused on establishing a pipeline of African-American doctors and dentists who will provide essential care to underserved communities. The initiative is named after one of TSU’s most distinguished graduates, Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., an internationally renowned cardiac surgeon who holds an honorary degree from Meharry. 

“We are excited to co-sponsor this summit with Meharry,” said Barbara Murrell, chair of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Institute at TSU. “It’s important for people in our community to be exposed to leading health experts who will be discussing topics that impact their lives.”

Dissemination of the vaccine in minority communities is one of the main topics Fauci and Hildreth are expected to discuss. There will also be a panel discussion on health equity.

“This virtual convening creates effective collaboration among thought leaders and medical and oral health experts to re-imagine and advance health equity toward the goal of developing a roadmap toward accessible and affordable healthcare,” according to organizers.

Dr. Wendolyn Inman is an infectious disease expert and professor and director of public health programs in the College of Health Sciences at TSU. She said events like the summit are important because they keep the public informed, especially when there’s apprehension in the black community about taking the vaccine, and its lack of dissemination into communities of color.

Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr.

“When we are not informed, unfounded fears govern our responses to productive solutions like vaccine immunizations and appropriate health care access,” said Inman.

“The “fireside chat” with Dr. Hildreth and Dr. Fauci is another way that communities of color can effectively collaborate to ensure all communities are served appropriately during this pandemic.”

Dr. Ronald Barredo, dean of the College of Health Sciences, said the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for events like the summit that focus on better healthcare in general.

“Access has always been limited when it comes to minorities,” said Barredo. “Hopefully the discussion will help lead to more equitable delivery of health care, more equitable access to health care.”

To learn more about TSU’s College of Health Sciences, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/health_sciences/clinics.aspx.

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 eight 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 to receive $1M from FedEx as part of HBCU initiative to enhance student success and access to corporate America

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service)– Tennessee State University is receiving $1 million from FedEx Corporation to help students complete their degrees and prepare them for the workforce. The funds will also provide relief support to students, faculty, and staff impacted by the pandemic.

TSU President Glenda Glover

“This is an awesome gift from the FedEx Corporation that will assist TSU in addressing some of the unique challenges our institution is facing directly and indirectly because of COVID-19,” said Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover. “We are so appreciative to the FedEx leadership for this innovative program that will disburse one million dollars over a five-year period to also address some of the long-standing issues faced by HBCU students. It is no secret that many of the challenges faced by students at TSU relate to limited funds. This partnership is a great example of public and private entities collaborating to enhance the higher education experience for African-American students.”

“With many students and families struggling right now as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, our hope is that this timely investment will help keep more students in school and provide future access to leadership, educational and employment opportunities,” said Judy Edge, corporate vice president of Human Resources at FedEx. “This contribution further deepens our commitment to creating more equitable communities by breaking down barriers to work and making a sustainable, long-term impact on underrepresented groups.”

Senior Toree Sims, Jr.

TSU is among four historically black colleges and universities that FedEx has pledged to collectively give $5 million to assist local HBCUs. The other schools are LeMoyne-Owen College, Jackson State University, and Mississippi Valley State University.

TSU senior Toree Sims, Jr., a computer science major from Louisville, Kentucky, said he appreciates FedEx’s commitment to HBCUs.

“I feel like it’s a win for both FedEx and HBCUs,” said Sims. “It shows the company’s commitment to diversity, and in ensuring HBCU students are successful.”

TSU junior Ammria Carter agreed.

“FedEx prioritizing HBCUs during the current climate of our economy means so much to so many people,” said Carter, a political science major from Cleveland, Ohio. “I hope that this act of generosity will spark other companies to consider donating and partnering with HBCUs, especially our beloved Tennessee State University.”

Junior Ammria Carter

This new initiative builds on the longstanding relationship between these HBCUs and FedEx, which includes endowed scholarships at Jackson State University, Tennessee State University and LeMoyne-Owen College; a customized career readiness program established at Mississippi Valley State University; and leadership summits in support of the Southern Heritage Classic for students at both Tennessee State University and Jackson State University, according to FedEx officials.

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 eight 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.

COVID-19 podcast features TSU infectious disease control expert in hour-long national Q&A session

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With new COVID-19 variants spreading across the country, a Tennessee State University infectious disease control expert is urging all Americans to take advantage of available vaccines and get immunized, as the surest way to protect against the coronavirus.  

Dr. Wendolyn Inman

Data so far suggests current vaccines should protect against the emergence of three main variants from the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa, and the pathogen circulating in the United States. 

Dr. Wendolyn Inman, professor and director of public health programs in the College of Health Sciences, was the featured speaker on a podcast organized Monday by the TSU Department of Graduate and Professional Development to address COVID-19 concerns. More than 100 people from across the country tuned in to the podcast themed, “Pacing for the Pandemic, A Question and Answer Session on Preparing for the Next Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Listeners raised questions from “Who should take the vaccine?” “Is the vaccine safe?” to “When will there be normalcy?” 

Inman, who was previously chief of epidemiology for the State of Tennessee, said she thinks everyone should be required to take the vaccines because they are “effective and potent.” 

“If it shows that it is not killing folks, and if it shows that it is helping people, I think everyone should be required to take it, unless they have a religious or a health exemption,” said Inman. She debunked the idea that the vaccine is a killer. 

Jeia More

“I can guarantee you that some of the most elite people on the planet have had that shot, and they won’t take it if it were a killer,” she said, adding that if Americans continue to observe COVID-19 safety protocols, and get immunized, “life could have some normalcy by August.” 

Currently in circulation are the Pfizer and Moderna two-step vaccines. On Friday, Johnson & Johnson announced that its single-dose coronavirus vaccine is 72 percent effective against the pathogen in the U.S. and will ask federal regulators for approval this month. 

“I suspect that with these new things – like the Johnson & Johnson announcement – we have the potential of having more normalcy by August than we’ve had in the past year,” Inman said. 

Jalaya Harris

Among those watching the podcast were Jeia Moore and Jalaya Harris, two returning TSU students who attend classes online from their dorm rooms because of COVID-19. They wanted to know the efficacy of the vaccines, and when things would return to normal. 

“This podcast helped me understand the vaccine and what it actually helps me with, as well as the pros and cons of wearing a mask,” said Moore, a junior information systems major from Memphis, Tennessee. “To see 100 people on this podcast was heartwarming; the TSU family wants the best for each other.”

Harris agreed. 

“I got a lot of questions answered about how to be safe during this pandemic,” said Harris, a junior computer science major also from Memphis. “This podcast provided an informative and open space to gain and spread awareness and knowledge about this COVID.” 

Dr. Robbie Melton, dean of the School of Graduate Studies, said the podcast, presented monthly by the Department of Graduate and Professional Development, is intended to highlight experts at TSU who are usually heard only on the outside. 

“We are taking advantage of our own faculty members and staff who are usually called by people around the country, but we don’t take advantage of them,” Melton said. “Dr. Inman is an expert in addressing COVID-19 issues. But we have yet to have her present to our own faculty. So, this was a podcast to really address some of the fears, concerns and questions in an open forum.” 

Dr. Timothy Jones, TSU associate professor of Human Performance and Sport Sciences, who also listened in on the podcast, said Dr. Inman’s presentation was informative and highly educational. 

“She (Dr. Inman) was precise in presenting and debunking rumors about COVID-19 and the vaccine,” Jones said.

Dr. Inman is scheduled to do a Part 2 presentation on COVID-19 at the end of February.

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 eight 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, faculty excited about historical knowledge the Rev. Al Sharpton will bring as Distinguished Guest Lecturer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – It is rare to be able to interact with a living historical figure. But that’s what students and faculty at Tennessee State University experienced on Feb. 3 when the Rev. Al Sharpton, one of the nation’s most renowned civil rights leaders and activists, began as a Distinguished Guest Lecturer for the semester.  

Sharpton will be a featured lecturer in the area of political science grounded in social justice. His lectures will be via Zoom each Wednesday through April.  

The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks to students in virtual lecture. (Submitted photo)

“Not only does the Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights icon, know American history and the role African Americans have played to shape that history, he has been an intricate piece of it as well,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “This will be an amazing opportunity for our students to learn from an individual who comes from the pages of the history books they are reading, and to gain knowledge directly from the source.”  

Sophomore Alexus Dockery

Sharpton, a community leader, politician, and minister, serves as the host of PoliticsNation on MSNBC. With more than 40 years of experience as an advocate, he has held such notable positions as the youth director of New York’s Operation Breadbasket, director of ministers for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, and founder of his own broad-based progressive civil rights organization, the National Action Network. 

His activism allowed him to walk among other civil rights icons, like Jesse Jackson and A. Phillip Randolph. He also brought attention to high profile cases in New York, such as the Howard Beach incident in December 1986 in which three African-American men were assaulted in the Howard Beach neighborhood of Queens by a mob of white men. Later that month, Sharpton led 1,200 demonstrators on a march through the streets of Howard Beach. His role in the case helped propel him to national prominence.

Junior Gelanni Jones

Sophomore Alexus Dockery is a political science major from Memphis, Tennessee. She said it’s only fitting that Sharpton should be at TSU because of the university’s rich history in the fight against racial injustice, such as students’ participation in the Freedom Rides and sit-ins during the civil rights movement. In 2008, the university honored 14 TSU alums who were beaten and arrested during the Freedom Rides with honorary degrees.

“TSU students embody the meaning of call to action, which is demonstrated through our motto, ‘Think. Work. Serve,’” said Dockery. “Rev. Sharpton understands the importance of this, and the importance of HBCUs contributing to society for the advancement of Black people.”  

TSU President Glenda Glover and the Rev. Sharpton at the university’s 2019 Graduate Commencement ceremony. (TSU Media Relations)

Gelanni Jones is a junior majoring in biology at TSU. However, he said Sharpton, because of his historical significance, should appeal to all students, regardless of their major.  

“The statement that he makes by just being himself, is exciting to have at TSU,” said Jones, a Cincinnati, Ohio, resident. “He’s a civil rights icon at an HBCU that I attend.”  

Sharpton is no stranger to TSU. He gave the keynote address last year at the university’s spring graduate commencement ceremony, where he was given an honorary degree in recognition of his body of work and societal impact.  

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 eight 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, UT, Motlow State sign agreement to make advanced degree program more accessible

Degree program meets community college students where they are.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) -Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee Knoxville are partnering to create a program that provides pathways for Motlow State Community College students to take classes leading to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering.  

Students in the program never have to leave home, and all classes are offered at Motlow State in face-to-face, online and hybrid formats.  

A Memorandum of Understanding recently signed between the three Tennessee institutions states that students participating in the 2+2+2 program will complete the applied associate degree at Motlow, the Bachelor of Science degree in applied and industrial technology at TSU, and a research-based curriculum leading to the Master of Science in industrial engineering from UT. 

Matthew Terry and Daniel Luis Campos, now in their last semester at TSU, are among the first in the program who will receive their bachelor’s degree when the university holds its May commencement. Terry and Campos, of McMinnville, Tennessee, who will receive their TSU degrees in applied and industrial technology, with concentration in mechatronics, have full-time jobs. They say the quality of the program is outstanding and convenient for working students, and those who may have a problem driving the long distance to TSU each day. 

Matthew Terry

“Initially, I was going to go to a different college that would require me to travel every day or possibly move away,” says Terry. “With this educational experience here, I have been able to stay home, keep my job, work around my class schedule and not miss any coursework.  It’s been a blessing.”


Campos says in addition to the convenience the program offers, professors are also very helpful and thorough.

“The quality of the program is really good, and all my professors have helped me every step of the way,” says Campos. “Overall, it’s been a blessing and a great experience to expand my education like I have.” 

Daniel Luis Campos

Terrance Izzard, TSU associate vice president for admissions and recruitment, says TSU is excited about the partnership between the three institutions. 

“This partnership gives Tennessee State an opportunity to impact industry with talented students, who are interested in the field of mechatronics,” says Izzard. “We have some of the best and brightest students that have come from that program already and we are looking forward to expanding our efforts to continue to build the program and impact our community.” 

Larry Flatt, executive director of Motlow’s Automation & Robotics Training Center, says creating partnerships with educational institutions and industry furthers the Motlow mission of student success. 

“Our partnership with TSU and UTSI provides a new and exciting pathway for Motlow students,” says Flatt. “The opportunity to earn an associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees without leaving Tullahoma (Tennessee) is cost-effective and convenient for potential students from that area. Additionally, partnerships increase our ability to ensure access and inclusion for all students.” 

In addition to the new pathways program, TSU also partners with Motlow to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural sciences in Fayetteville, Tennessee, and another in elementary education and criminal justice at Motlow’s main campus in Tullahoma. Also, the university is partnering with several other community colleges across the state to expand its educational initiatives around Tennessee. For instance, TSU’s College of Engineering recently received $1 million from the National Science Foundation to recruit minority transfer students from regional community colleges in Middle Tennessee who are interested in pursuing degrees in engineering, mathematical sciences, or computer science. 

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering at TSU, says with the growing need for industrial engineers to work in manufacturing and the automotive industry, the new agreement with Motlow State “allows practice-based technologists” to proceed with a four-year degree, and further validate their experience and credentials with an advanced degree. 

“We are extremely excited about providing an opportunity for students to obtain multiple degrees from three institutions in Tennessee,” says Hargrove.  “The academic pathway demonstrates a partnership of one of our outstanding community colleges, Nashville’s only public university, and the state’s flagship institution, to prepare and produce engineers for the production industry, logistics, manufacturing, and operations for Tennessee’s workforce.” 

Dr. Carlos D. Beane, assistant professor of applied and industrial technology, is one of the TSU instructors in the pathways program. He says that in addition to flexibility, the program is very cost effective. And, with scholarship opportunities, and TSU having the lowest tuition of any university in the state, a full-time student in the program can possibly attend school tuition free. 

“The benefit is that the student never has to leave the McMinnville area. So, the program comes to them,” says Beane. “The only time they will ever have to come to TSU will basically be to graduate.” 

For more information on the TSU College of Engineering, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/engineering/moreaboutus.aspx 

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 eight 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.

How TSU connected with Apple and became a global coding hub for HBCUs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover had a vision of bringing coding and creativity experiences to all the nation’s historically black colleges and universities and their communities. About two years ago, she, along with a team of community and administrative leaders, traveled to California to discuss the idea with Apple. The tech giant liked it.

TSU President Glenda Glover

“We shared our vision and our mission of empowering all the HBCUs with the digital literacy skills of coding,” says Dr. Glover. “We saw where the world was changing, which meant the workplace was changing, and a need for us to change the way we prepare HBCU students so they can be more competitive in the workforce.”

In July 2019, TSU launched the inaugural HBCU C2 Presidential Academy through its newly established Global SMART Technology Innovation Center. More than a dozen HBCUs were involved, and Apple provided equipment, professional development and training.

Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted about the initiative: “Anything is possible when people come together with a shared vision. Thank you to @TSUedu for your leadership and enthusiasm in bringing coding to your community and HBCUs nationwide!”

That vision has continued to grow. Under TSU’s Global SMART Technology Innovation Center, there are now eight regional hubs, and community coding centers at 26 HBCUs. At least 20 HBCUs are on a waiting list.

“I can document that right now we have impacted 14,000-plus HBCU students and 5,000-plus community people (including faculty, staff, students and the community),” says Dr. Robbie Melton, associate vice president of TSU’s Center.

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove is dean of the College of Engineering at TSU and a coding trainer.

“We are well on our way to impacting and expanding our HBCU reach to more institutions and communities, to promote the value of coding and using creativity tools for software development,” says Hargrove. “And we can’t wait to see the amazing things they will do with these new skills.”  

Statistics show 67 percent of tech companies are made up of less than 5 percent of black employees. In Tennessee, information technology employment grew by nearly 3,800 net new jobs in 2019.

At TSU, the university is giving its alumni and others affected by the coronavirus pandemic an opportunity to retool. In a continued partnership with Apple, it’s helping those individuals learn how to code and design apps through an “Everyone Can Code and Create” course offered online.

Michael Davis, Jr., a science teacher with Metro Nashville Public Schools, says he and his wife took the course and it was very beneficial. In addition to improving his own skill set, Davis says he wants to pass what he learns on to his students.

“This is so beneficial for me as an educator because I can share this with my students,” says Davis. “It’s so important that they learn this.”

Dr. Robbie Melton

Melton says the pandemic has helped reveal the importance of having digital skills.

“The pandemic has helped us realize the world is now digital and connected,” says Melton. “In order to function, regardless of your career discipline, you have to have digital literacy and skills to be competitive.”

Last month, TSU announced its partnership with Propel Center, a new global campus headquartered in Atlanta that will support innovative learning and development for the 100-plus HBCUs.

Apple and Atlanta-based Southern Company are investing $25 million to build the Propel Center, which will be based at the Atlanta University Center, the nation’s largest consortium of HBCUs including Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College. Nearly 8,000 students are enrolled across the complex.

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 center, equipped with state-of-the-art lecture halls, learning labs, and on-site living for a scholars-in-residence program.

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 eight 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 professor wins prestigious NSF CAREER award, receives nearly $500k grant for cybersecurity study

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A Tennessee State University computer science professor has received the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Award, the federal agency’s most prestigious honor for junior faculty members.

Dr. Swastik Brahma’s CAREER award comes with a nearly $500,000 grant, which he plans to use to enhance his research in networked systems, signal processing and cybersecurity.

“I feel very excited and thankful to the NSF for getting the award,” says Brahma, an assistant professor of computer science. “The grant will help us in addressing many fundamental issues and questions that remain unanswered for building crowdsensing systems,” he says.

The awards, presented once a year, are in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through research and education, and the integration of these endeavors in the context of their organizations’ missions.

Dr. Swastik Brahma

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering, says the college is pleased Dr. Brahma is being recognized.

“As we continue to recruit and hire outstanding faculty in the College of Engineering, this recognition promotes the quality of education in our computer science program, and the innovative research that engages students, dedicated faculty, and our external partners,” says Hargrove.

Dr. Ali Sekmen, chair of the Department of Computer Science, adds that the award is proof of the quality of research that Dr. Brahma has developed at TSU as an early career faculty.

“This prestigious award, along with his other recent grants from NSF and ARO, will help him strengthen TSU’s leading research efforts in cybersecurity and networking,” says Sekmen. “We are very proud of him.”

Brahma, who is entering his fourth year as a faculty member at TSU, was also the principal investigator for a nearly $400,000 NSF grant to study the “Infusion of Cyber Physical System Education and Research Training in the Undergraduate Curriculum in the College of Engineering at TSU.”

He says the new funding will enable him to address “fundamental questions that remain unresolved” for building crowdsensing systems.

“This research will adopt a novel approach for the design of crowdsensing systems, one that not only focuses on signal processing and communication engineering aspects, which are vital for designing such systems, but also on the characteristics of the human agents who power crowdsensing frameworks,” says Brahma. “The research will enable us to acquire information at a societal-scale and utilize it to sustain smarter, safer, and more resilient communities.”

Satyaki Nan, a Ph.D. student in engineering and computational sciences, says he is glad to see Dr. Brahma recognized for his work.

“I am very excited about my Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Brahma, winning the prestigious NSF CAREER award,” says Nam, who is from Kolkata, India. “It will help us pursue cutting-edge research and advance the frontiers of our understanding of human decision-making behavior and capabilities to design human-in-the-loop crowdsensing systems. I feel privileged to work with Dr. Brahma.”

For more information on the TSU Department of Computer Science, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/computer_science/degrees.aspx

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 eight 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.