NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – College graduates are expected to be leaders with capabilities that impact society beyond their families and personal careers, the keynote at Tennessee State University’s fall commencement told more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students who received degrees in various disciplines Saturday.
Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, said by working so hard and achieving a university degree in spite of difficult and insurmountable odds, position graduates to be leaders who are “doers, makers and shapers of events and outcomes.”
“America and the world need active and engaged citizens who are not just satisfied with their personal success,” Lomax said. “As leaders you must see that some part of your life, some portion of your personal power, and your leadership are invested in work beyond yourself, your family and close friends.”
While challenging the graduates, Lomax, leader of the nation’s largest provider of scholarships and other educational support to African-American students, also called for strengthening of the educational system if those leaving institutions of higher learning are to have any chance to succeed.
“The global, technology-driven knowledge economy demands that educational institutions be more effective and efficient in producing measurable student outcomes and graduates who can transition smoothly from the classroom to the workplace,” he said. “Those (graduates) who either don’t have the advanced skills or cannot attain them will be punished with low-wage jobs at the bottom of the employment ladder.”
Among those receiving degrees were the first graduating class of the university’s 12-month Accelerated MBA Program in the College of Business. The program started in January 2015 with 14 cohorts. Also receiving degrees was a mother/daughter team, who earned bachelor’s degrees in Interdisciplinary Studies, and Psychology, respectively.
Chelsea Marlin, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, was recognized for achieving the highest GPA among her fellow undergraduates.
Lomax, under whose leadership the UNCF has fought for college readiness and education reform, said, “The increasing emphasis on test is to confirm that students are learning, building the knowledge and skills they will need to advance and compete and demonstrate that their diploma is more than a piece of paper.”
He extolled the leadership of TSU under President Glenda Glover, calling her an “exemplary leader.”
“The challenge of building and maintaining a 21st century university is great,” he said. “This calls for leaders who can envision the future, set bold and challenging goals and guide the institution through disagreements and controversies toward attaining its goals. This is the work that TSU’s dynamic, determined, focused and keenly intelligent president, Dr. Glover, is called to do.”
Earlier, President Glover thanked Lomax for agreeing to be the fall commencement speaker. She presented the UNCF leader with a plaque as a token of appreciation from the university. She congratulated the graduates for their accomplishments.
“You have endured and prepared yourselves to reach this goal which may have seemed unattainable, but you stuck with it,” Dr. Glover said. “You must always remember that you did not accomplish this goal all by yourselves. There were parents, relatives, friends and mentors who helped you along the way. Remember to thank them.”
Friday night, Glover hosted a reception in honor of Lomax at the President’s Residence. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry; TSU graduate and Vice Chair of the UNCF Board, Kevin W. Williams, were among guests, including university administrators, alumni and friends who attended the reception.
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.