NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Dr. Portia Shields will make her final comments to students and the University community Saturday, Dec. 15 when she delivers the keynote address at the annual fall Commencement Exercise. The ceremony takes place in the Gentry Complex beginning at 9a.m.
Dr. Shields has served as Interim President of the University since January 2011. Upon her arrival at Tennessee State University, she assumed the position of leadership of a University that was facing some extraordinary challenges, and helped address the impending Southern Association of Colleges and School’s reaffirmation and a three-year flat enrollment.
Under her guidance, the University achieved full and unconditional reaffirmation from SACS and saw a reverse in enrollment, climbing to nearly 9,000 students, the highest in the University’s 100-year history.
During the two short years at TSU, Dr. Shields developed a “Student First” or student-centered philosophy focused on the needs and welfare of the students attending the institution, with such programs as “Maymester,” implementation of the STARS program that enhanced study skills in reading, writing and mathematics, and launching Service Learning and Civic Engagement, a service-to-leadership class required of all incoming freshman.
With the goal of producing the next generation of leaders, she recruited the largest number of Presidential Scholars and honor students enrolled at Tennessee State, awarding 13 scholarships in 2011 and nearly doubling the amount to 24 in 2012. During her tenure, overall retention increased by 41 percent while the six-year graduation rate increased 34 percent.
Perhaps one of the president’s most notable achievements is in the physical footprint of the University. Dr. Shields was instrumental in the growth of the campus to include the $8 million, 30,000 square-foot agriculture biotechnology research center, the dedication of a new 18,000 square foot greenhouses with teaching and research areas, 14 new “smart classrooms,” the dedication of the areas’ first indoor practice facility, and the $1 million renovation to Hale Stadium that brought nearly 16,000 fans to “The Hole” after a 14-year absence of football on campus.
Dr. Shields has been an advocate for Tennessee State and influential in raising funds and external support for the institution. The University has seen a 6.6 percent increase in extramural funding through grants, receiving $48.3 million. While securing funding, she was steadfast in securing donations to the University; increasing alumni giving by 34 percent and while overall giving went up 63 percent. Not only did she observe but became an active personal financial contributor by joining the Foundation’s Leadership Society of individuals who give more than $20,000 or more to the University.
Dr. Shields holds a Ph.D. in Early Childhood/Elementary Education from the University of Maryland, Master of Arts degree in Remedial Reading from George Washington University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the District of Columbia Teachers College. She was awarded Post‐Doctoral Fellowship to study in West Africa by the African American Institute in New York City. She also attended the International Faculty Development Seminar (The Dynamics of the New South Africa) in Johannesburg and Cape Town in 1997, sponsored by the Council on International Educational Exchange.
Dr. Shields has served in various capacities in the field of education. At Howard University, she served as dean of School of Education, director of Medical Education and Biomedical Communications. She also served as the first female president of Albany State University in Georgia from 1996 until 2005. In 2007 she became the chief executive officer and chief academic officer at Concordia College until 2009.
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About Tennessee State University
With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university and is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational, 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 county by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912 Tennessee State University celebrates 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu
TSU Quick Facts
Motto: Think, Work, Serve Established: June 19, 1912 Type: Public, HBCU Endowment: $41.7 million Chancellor: John Morgan President: Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover Faculty: 431 Enrollment: 8775 Location: Nashville, Tennessee, United States Campus: Urban, 500 acres (2 km²) Former names: Tennessee A&I State Normal School for Negroes (1912); Tennessee A&I State Normal College (1925); Tennessee A&I State University (1951); Tennessee State University (1968) Colors: Reflex Blue and White Nickname: Tigers Athletics: National Collegiate Athletic Association Affiliations: Ohio Valley Conference Web site: www.tnstate.edu Phone: 615-963-5000
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