All posts by K. Dawn Rutledge

The Robinsons share fond memories of TSU sparking their 52-year union

Although native Floridians, Freddie L. and Dr. Susie Blocker Stewart Robinson, Sr. , were only two hours away from each other in their hometowns of Fort Pierce and Sanford, respectively. It was an 11-hour trip up the road to Nashville, Tennessee that created the setting for this couple to meet.

The voice of the late powerhouse blues and jazz vocalist, Etta James, rocked the then-Tennessee A & I State University Homecoming dance in 1962, which provided the perfect backdrop for a chance meeting between the future husband-and-wife.

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The Robinsons celebrate their 50th class reunion together at TSU. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“That’s how I met him in 1962,” said Susie, still beaming over her college sweetheart. “I stepped on his foot at the homecoming dance.”

Three years later, they were married on February 8, 1965.

At that moment, they became inseparable, spending 52 years of their lives still doing everything “together,” Susie said, including celebrating as Golden Vintagers marking their 50th anniversary as TSU graduates during the annual event held earlier this month.

The two, who were both the first to graduate from college in their families, remember those times on TSU’s campus as a place that felt much like the family they left many miles away.

“My memory of TSU was that something was always going on,” said Freddie, who earned his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1967 and even ran for president of the freshman class. “It was full of activity.”

“The campus was very exciting,” added Susie, who earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1967. “People were close and friendly. People would help you when you were in need.”

Over the years, education became an important career path for the couple with emphasis placed on continuing their studies in the field. Freddie attended the University of Northern Colorado, earning a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Nova Southeastern University and a certificate in administration and supervision from Florida International University. Susie furthered her studies at Nova University in Fort Lauderdale, earning a master’s in administration and supervision, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

The duo has enjoyed long careers in education, and credit TSU for giving them their foundation to be successful. Both are long-time educators and administrators with Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Freddie retired in 2004, having served in many roles, including assistant principal and Principal’s Designee. Susie, who retired in 2016, was an elementary teacher, assistant principal, and principal receiving recognition as “Teacher of the Year” and “Mentor Principal of the Year.” Between the two, they have more than 70 years of dedicated commitment to academic excellence.

They remain active in the community and hold life memberships in their respective affiliations of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. They are also members of the Miami Alumni Chapter of Tennessee State University, and currently serve as University Supervisors for Pre-Student Teachers and Internships at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens.

Since the inception of the Vintagers program in 1971, Freddie and Susie have come back to every single one. But the year 2017 has been a little extra special.

“We are so energized and excited to share in this milestone,” Susie said. “I am just so thankful and extremely proud.”

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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, 25 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.

 

Graduates say goodbye to TSU, hello to jobs awaiting them

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Nationally syndicated radio personality Tom Joyner helped Tennessee State University showcase its excellence on Saturday.

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TSU President Glenda Glover presents radio personality Tom Joyner with a tribute to his great aunt, Jane Elliott Hall, who has a building named in her honor at TSU. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Joyner, host of The Tom Joyner Morning Show, delivered TSU’s undergraduate commencement address. More than 800 students received degrees in various disciplines at the spring ceremony in the William Jasper Hale Stadium on the main campus.

Joyner, who has long been a proponent of historically black colleges and universities, credits his mother and great aunt, Jane Elliott Hall. Elliott, who started TSU’s cafeteria program in its early days, has a building on campus named in her honor.

Joyner encouraged the graduates to “choose a cause and commit to making a change.”

“If I leave you with anything this morning, it’s to do what you can, and everybody can do something,” he said.

Mr. TSU Jordan Gaither, of Atlanta, was among Saturday’s graduates. Gaither said he met Joyner last year at the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis, Tennessee, and that Joyner’s hard work ethic is inspirational.

“He’s definitely one of the hardest working people in the business,” said Gaither, who is majoring in exercise science with a minor in mass communications. “Radio is something I’m into. I’d like to be a radio personality one of these days.”

An entrepreneur and philanthropist, Joyner is a champion of historically black colleges and universities. His foundation, the Tom Joyner Foundation, supports HBCUs with scholarships, endowments, and capacity building enhancements.

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Class of 2017 celebrates. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Since its creation in 1997, the foundation has raised more than $65 million to help students stay in school. Last year, the foundation selected TSU to be a “school of the month.” Under the designation, the foundation awarded scholarships to students throughout the month and featured TSU’s accomplishments on Joyner’s weekly morning program.

Also last year, the foundation entered into a partnership with TSU to help students interested in science, technology, engineering and math. Under the partnership, Memphis students graduating from five Tennessee community colleges will receive full scholarships to attend TSU.

“I established the Tom Joyner Foundation because I wanted to continue showing love to HBCUs,” Joyner said. “Schools like TSU make it easy to do.”

Students say the Tom Joyner partnership and other TSU initiatives – like the Career Development Center and the Women’s Center – have helped prepare them for the workforce, as well as find jobs.

Gaither, who has an internship lined up with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and will be working with an NBA basketball team this summer, is one of a number of TSU graduates who have jobs waiting for them.

Maya Davis of Nashville, a computer science major, and electrical engineering major Cametria Weatherspoon of Memphis, will both be working for Lockheed Martin.

“Having a job after I graduate is a blessing,” Weatherspoon said. “I’m excited.”

While some students have jobs lined up, Joyner joked that for others, they may be asked when they are going to start making money.

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TSU Undergraduate Commencement speaker Tom Joyner gives gift to graduate. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“The answer is today,” he said, “I am going to give each graduate $5. Some will invest and may save it and put it with other Graduation money. Keep in touch and let me know what you did with it. But whatever you do with it, make it count.”

Also celebrating were TSU’s Class of 1967, who returned as Golden Vintagers. These alumni walked across the stage for a second time, receiving certificates recognizing their 50-year milestone.

Georgia native Alvin Hinkle, an accomplished attorney now residing in Columbia, South Carolina, returned for the Vintagers celebration.

“When I was on campus in 1967 it was during the Civil Rights era and there was a lot of activity,” said Hinkle, who was president of the Student Senate at the time. “I wanted to come back and see people I haven’t seen in 50 years. It’s good to be back.”

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TSU’s Class of 1967 returns as Golden Vintagers. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

The evening before, graduate commencement participants received words of wisdom from Congressman Jim Cooper in TSU’s Howard C. Gentry Complex.

Cooper, who represents Middle Tennessee in the U.S. Congress, said before the event that he was “excited to honor Tennessee State University’s graduate class,” and that the “world is ready for their knowledge and leadership.”

Taking Cooper’s words to heart, graduate George Davis will put his TSU education to work at the U.S. Department of Agriculture where he has secured employment. Davis received a master’s in agricultural science with a concentration in data analysis and business management.

“You’ve got to seize every opportunity that you get,” said Davis, a Memphis native. “Having a job lined up just shows me how hard I’ve worked.”

Altogether, 1,067 TSU graduates – 266 grad and 801 undergrad – participated in the commencement ceremonies. Of the undergrads, 128 got degrees in nursing, 56 in criminal justice, 51 in business administration, and 50 in health sciences.

Student Government Association president Aarian Forman is one of the business administration majors who graduated. The Danville, Illinois, native said his experience at TSU has prepared him to be a “leader in the world.”

“TSU has made me think on a different level,” Forman said. “I was challenged to not just think on a local or national scale, but on a global scale.”

About Tennessee State University

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, 25 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.

 

TSU kicks off football season with John Merritt pep rally

The melodic sounds of Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands filled the campus as the Tigers kicked off a spirited pep rally in preparation of a new football season.

At the pep rally, students, alumni, faculty and staff blasted roaring screams and applause cheering on the Tigers in support of the big opener – the John A. Merritt Classic.

The Classic will be the first home game held Sunday, Sept. 6, 6 p.m. at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. The TSU Tigers will face off with rival Alabama State Hornets. Fans will enjoy the big blue experience complete with the game, the band and a salute to TSU great, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, who was drafted by the NFL in 1974 and was one of only three players to ever play 15 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. Jones’ successful professional football career includes being named an All-Pro, Pro Bowl and Super Bowl XII champion.

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Among those motivating the crowd at the pep rally were student leaders and administrators including Mr. TSU Delvakio Brown and Miss TSU Tyra Laster, along with TSU Athletics Director Teresa Lawrence-Phillips and Head Coach Rod Reed.

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“We really appreciate your support and need you there on Sunday night,” Reed said to the crowd. “We want you to show up and show out because that’s what the Tigers plan to do!”

Psychology major Kenneesha Beckwith was excited to share in the festivities on TSU’s campus.

“This is my first TSU pep rally on campus,” said Beckwith, a freshman from Chicago. “The band is great.”

Also joining in the celebration were TSU alumnae Margo Cain (’61) of Nashville and Renee McCleary (’88), who traveled from Chicago. They fondly remembered the excitement that pep rallies had in building the spirit on campus and the energy at TSU during their years as students when the games were held in the William Jasper Hale Stadium, affectionately known as ‘The Hole.’

“There was a lot of student involvement when the games were in ‘The Hole,’” said McCleary. “The pep rallies were always fund and the band would come from across the campus, and everyone would be ready to win.”

The John A. Merritt Classic was first played in 1999 and honors John Ayers Merritt, the legendary TSU football coach who led the Tigers from 1963-1983. During 21 seasons, “Big John” won four undisputed national championships among historically black colleges ranked by the Sheridan Poll, compiled a lifetime record of 172-33-1, and built a powerful program that produced NFL stars like Richard Dent (Chicago Bears), “Jefferson Street” Joe Gilliam (Pittsburgh Steelers), Ed “Too Tall” Jones (Dallas Cowboys), Claude Humphrey (Philadelphia Eagles) and many others. John Merritt Boulevard in Nashville is named in Coach Merritt’s honor.

Words of Remembrance Honoring the Life of Dr. James A. Hefner, Sixth President of Tennessee State University

Dr. Glenda Glover
President
Tennessee State University
“Dr. Hefner devoted his entire adult life to serving others and expanding educational opportunities to all. As educators, we have lost a visionary and one of the best leaders to ever serve this great institution. He loved inspiring students and challenging them.”

Dr. Stephen H. Kolison, Jr.
Associate Vice President of Academic, Faculty and Global ProgramUniversity of Wisconsin System
“Dr. Hefner talked about the future. He was very respectful and inclusive, and I liked that about him. He was also a very kind and approachable fellow who cared about the student and believed in high quality.” 

Mr. Wilson Lee
Director, Center for Extended Education
Tennessee State University

“Dr. Hefner always demanded the best and excellence from students as well as faculty and staff member. He taught me how to be humble to students. He was compassionate but at the same time very strong and goal-oriented. He had charisma and demonstrated dedication to the staff and students. In my opinion, he was a model president, especially to HBCUs.”

Mr. Thomas Martin
Former Vice President of Student Affairs
Tennessee State University
“Dr. Hefner was a strong advocate for positive student experiences academically and athletically.  During his tenure as President of Tennessee State University, he awarded countless academic scholarships and created “honor hall’ residential living accommodations among his many supportive initiatives.  He had an outstanding relationship with students.”

Dr. Nebraska Mays
Former Distinguished Professor of Education, Tennessee State University
Former Senior Vice Chancellor, Tennessee Board of Regents
“His leadership still was one of inclusion. I knew him to be a consummate academician and he was respected as an outstanding academician. He had a positive influence on and a respect and understanding of the faculty. What made Dr. Hefner so effective was that he came through the ranks of academics – from a faculty member to department chair to provost and then president.”

Dr. Jacqueline Mitchell
Professor and Director of Interdisciplinary Programs
Tennessee State University
“A Commitment to Excellence…that sums Dr. Hefner up. He lived by this and really wanted to put students first and he did that by exhibiting excellence. He also put into place opportunities for others to achieve excellence. He didn’t believe in 2nd class status. He meant to bring Tennessee State University to a level equal or superior to any school, anywhere. He was a trailblazer.”

Ms. Michelle Viera
Assistant Vice President of Conferences and Events
Tennessee State University
“As president, he truly believed in ‘students matter most,’” she said. “He encouraged them to keeping running and never give up and to be their best. He shared that story so often that the students began to join in with him when he told it.”

Mr. Homer Wheaton
Former Vice President, University Relations and DevelopmentTennessee State University
“Dr. Hefner was the kind of leader who would let you do what you could do to make a contribution – all he wanted to see was results. He respected people for what they did and was very complimentary of people who did a good job. The fact that he would turn you loose and let you do your work, made it so gratifying to work for him. I appreciated him so much.”

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

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.

A BRIEF SNAPSHOT OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF FORMER TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT JAMES A. HEFNER

  • Positioned Tennessee State University as a premier institution of higher learning.
  • Kicked off the university’s first-ever “Students Matter Most” capital campaign in 2001.
  • Occupied the Thomas and Patricia Frist Chair of Excellence in Entrepreneurship, a $1.2 million endowed chair at Tennessee State University.
  • Established the $1.5 million Chair of Excellence in Banking and Financial Services in the College of Business, and a $1.5 million Samuel P. Massey Chair of Environmental Sciences.
  • Renovated nearly every building on the institution’s main and downtown campuses, and supervised the construction of eight new buildings including the Floyd-Payne Campus Center, the McWherter Administration Building and the Performing Arts Building.
  • Dedicated the TSU Olympic Plaza featuring a more than 45-foot tall sculpture entitled, “The Olympian,” honoring the university’s 58 Olympians and their 30 medals – 16 gold, eight silver and six bronze.
  • Increased the TSU endowment from $500,000 to more than $25 million (through fund-raising and settling a federal Consent Decree).
  • Established two of the nation’s top honor societies, Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi, at Tennessee State University.
  • Fostered total enrollment growth at the university to an all-time high of 9,100 students.
  • Led growth in research from $7 million at the time he arrived at TSU to more than $41 million in 2004, positioning TSU with the highest research productivity among all Tennessee Board of Regents institutions.
  • During his presidency, Tennessee State University was listed in S. News & World Report’s “Guide to America’s Best Colleges” for 11 consecutive years (1994-2005).
  • From 1991-2004, TSU won two OVC championships in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball, and four OVC Championships in women’s track.Department of Media Relations
    Tennessee State University
    3500 John Merritt Boulevard
    Nashville, Tennessee 37209
    615.963.5331

    About Tennessee State University

    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.

Tennessee State University Family Remembers the Legacy of Former President, Dr. James A. Hefner

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dr. James A. Hefner, who served as president of Tennessee State University for 14 years, has died. He was 76. In honor of his life, the university will hold a memorial service Wednesday, Sept. 2, 6:30 p.m. in the Thomas E. Poag Auditorium on the university’s main campus. Funeral services are scheduled Thursday, Sept. 3, 1 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, located at 900 Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Those who knew Dr. James A. Hefner described him as a strong academician and an individual who encouraged and appreciated excellence. (File Photo)

Dr. Hefner made his way to TSU in April 1991 after ending a seven-year presidency at Jackson State University in Mississippi. Prior to Jackson State, he served as provost of Tuskegee University in Alabama. His passion for academic excellence and student success concluded at one of his alma maters, Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University), where he as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs until his death.

“The Tennessee State University family sends its deepest condolences to the Hefner family,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Dr. Hefner devoted his entire adult life to serving others and expanding educational opportunities to all. As educators, we have lost a visionary and one of the best leaders to ever serve this great institution. He loved inspiring students and challenging them.”

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Dr. Hefner’s focus on nurturing minds was not limited to college students. Here he interacts with children during a special program in Nashville. (File Photo)

Those who knew Dr. Hefner described him as a strong academician and an individual who encouraged and appreciated excellence. While president at TSU, his focus on ensuring faculty and staff put students first was evident in the slogan, “Students Matter Most,” which became a part of the culture on campus during his tenure.

Homer Wheaton, a former vice president of University Relations and Development, said Dr. Hefner was a “real good person,” adding that he was a brilliant man who was very academic-focused and results-driven.

“When Dr. Hefner first came to TSU, he promoted me to vice president. It was something completely unexpected for me,” Wheaton said. “He had heard about my relationship with alumni and students, and offered me an opportunity to move up.

“Dr. Hefner was the kind of leader who would let you do what you could do to make a contribution – all he wanted to see was results. He respected people for what they did and was very complimentary of people who did a good job. The fact that he would turn you loose and let you do your work, made it so gratifying to work for him. I appreciated him so much.

Dr. Hefner’s push for excellence came from humble beginnings in rural Brevard, North Carolina, where he began to develop a love for learning at an early age. According to a profile article by former TSU history professor, Dr. James Haney, Hefner’s family had no books in their home. He was taken under the wing of his elementary principal who invited him to her home to read her encyclopedias.”

“For eight years,” said Dr. Hefner at the time, “while I was in elementary school, I would stop at her house on the way home and I would read the encyclopedia.”

He made no apologies for being intelligent, and earned his place as valedictorian of his elementary class, salutatorian of his high school, and then soon received scholarship offers to a number of higher education institutions, including Duke University. He ultimately chose to attend the historically black university, North Carolina A&T State University.

Wilson Lee, director of TSU’s Center for Extended Education, recalls his first encounter with Dr. Hefner when applying for a job at Jackson State University. He said he happened to meet and interview with the former president by chance and knew immediately that he wanted the “best around him.” Wilson was hired there by Dr. Hefner and also joined Dr. Hefner when he assumed the presidency at Tennessee State University in 1991.

“He listened more than anything else and you didn’t have to go through a second person, you could talk directly to him,” Lee said. “He recruited and built a team of people to work with him at TSU – people he had known throughout the years and people who were experts in their fields. He was a model president to me.”

Under Dr. Hefner’s leadership, TSU saw some of its most significant growth. He managed the end of the Geier desegregation case, in which TSU received an Endowment for Educational Excellence to support scholarship opportunities for exceptional students. He kicked off the university’s first capital fundraising campaign to increase TSU’s endowment, and saw the completion of the new Performing Arts Building, the final building in the $112 million capital improvements project which funded the construction of eight new facilities and renovations of existing structures on campus. See Brief Snapshot of Accomplishments.

In 1997, Dr. Hefner hired Michelle Viera to lead the Office of Alumni Relations. Viera, who is now assistant vice president of events management and conference services, said Dr. Hefner had a way of making alumni feel special.

“He treated them [alumni] like VIPs regardless of their background,” Viera said.

She said she fondly remembers Dr. Hefner’s stories of encouragement. One, in particular, that he repeated often was the African parable of “The Lion and the Gazelle.”

“As president, he truly believed that ‘students matter most,’” Viera continued. “He encouraged them to keeping running and to never give up and to be their best. He shared that story so often that the students began to join in reciting it with him when he told it.”

Dr. Jacqueline Mitchell also enjoyed a great working relationship with Dr. Hefner, who appointed her special assistant for the Geier Consent Decree. Mitchell now serves as professor and director of Interdisciplinary Studies at TSU.

“Dr. Hefner was on a true wave length of excellence. He didn’t believe in second class status and strived to bring Tennessee State University to the level equal or superior to any school, anywhere,” Mitchell said.

“It was because of Dr. Hefner that Tennessee State was able to receive $4.1 million in reoccurring funds from the state of Tennessee,” said Dr. Stephen H. Kolison, Jr., associate vice president of Academic, Faculty and Global Programs with the University of Wisconsin System. Kolison spent 10 years at TSU serving in the capacities of research director and funding dean in Agricultural and Environmental Research.

“The College of Agriculture at TSU made some significant strides in receiving funding from the state. The Agriculture Information Technology Center and the Biotechnology Building were conceived while working with Dr. Hefner. I give tremendous credit to Dr. Hefner for being willing to engage with the state and not giving up,” he continued. See more Words of Remembrance Honoring the Life of Dr. Hefner.

Among Dr. Hefner’s extensive awards and honors include an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Marlboro College in 1999, and an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree from The University of the South. He was co-author and editor of the book, Public Policy for the Black Community: Strategies and Perspectives in 1976, and wrote and published more than 50 articles in the areas of employment practice and labor-force participation rates of minorities.

Dr. Hefner’s long-standing career as an academician and executive administrator also included teaching and serving as research associate at Harvard University, Princeton University, Clark College, Florida A&M University, Benedict College and Prairie View A&M University. After from retiring from TSU in 2005, he accepted a non-resident fellowship at Harvard University in the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African-American Research and served as Visiting Distinguished Professor of Economics and Presidential Leadership at Texas Southern University. He was also a former member of the board of regents at the University of the South and the board of trustees at Morehouse College where he was the Charles E. Merrill Professor of Economics and chair of the Department of Business and Economics.

Dr. Hefner earned degrees at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, where he obtained his bachelor’s in business administration. At Atlanta University, he received a Master of Economics, and then went on to earn a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

He is survived by a wife, Edwina Hefner; three sons: Christopher Hefner of St. Petersburg, Florida., Jonathan Hefner, M.D. and his wife Katrina of Atlanta, Georgia, David Hefner, Ed.D. and his wife Tasha of Marietta, Georgia; 11 grandchildren; two brothers-in-law and a sister-in-law; and a host of other family and friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that condolences be made in support of the James. A. Hefner Scholarship Award – named in his honor at Tennessee State University and Morehouse College for outstanding students. For more information, contact the TSU Foundation at (615) 963-5481.

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

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.

 

TSU legendary Coach Ed Temple gets due recognition with bronze statue dedicated in his honor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When people use the phrase, “living legend,” it is a perfect fit for describing legendary Olympic track and field coach Ed Temple.

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Nearly 200 people including federal, state and local government officials, as well as family and friends turn out as the city unveils a 9-foot bronze statute honoring legendary TSU track and field Coach Ed Temple. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)
Temple was honored with a “befitting” tribute among family, friends and an entire community Aug. 27 chronicling his outstanding 40-plus-year career on-and-off the track when a 9-foot bronze statue was unveiled in his likeness at First Tennessee Park in Nashville, Tennessee.

During the ceremony, Temple shared some of his fondest memories as TSU’s head track coach, as well as his experiences with the Olympic team. He also acknowledged and thanked his family, the community, former student-athletes and administrators for their support.

“I’m just glad to be on top of the ground,” said Temple to a crowd of nearly 200, of his ability to see the statue in his honor.

Temple, 87, served as Tennessee State University’s women’s track coach from 1953 to 1994. He led 40 athletes to the Olympics, snagging a total of 23 medals, 13 of which were gold. His athletes also accumulated more than 30 national titles. Temple’s accomplishments are even more impressive coming in the midst of severe racism and discrimination that permeated the United States during the 1950s and 1960s.

The idea to erect the statue was the vision of Nashville businessman Bo Roberts. Roberts said the project had been in the works for well over a decade, and he was glad the unveiling could finally take place for one of his long-time heroes.

“The Coach Temple Statue Committee is grateful to those who have given. Each is now part of Nashville’s history and a part of Temple’s team,” Roberts said. “The Coach’s impact on Nashville will forever be immortalized by this statue. We hope locals and visitors will come to this statue to learn about and honor one of the city’s most important citizens.”

According to an Aug. 29 article in The Tennessean newspaper, the effort to erect the statue kicked into high gear in October 2012 after Roberts met with Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who hosted the first fundraising event to raise the $80,000 needed to make and anchor the statue. Since 2011, Roberts has diligently organized fundraisers, called on donors and worked with TSU to make the project a reality.

Among the supporters at Friday’s unveiling ceremony was TSU President Glenda Glover, Mayor Dean, Congressman Jim Cooper, and former TSU Tigerbelles Wyomia Tyus and Edith McQuire Duvall, who made brief remarks at the event.

“Coach Temple’s accomplishments in track and field at TSU are unparalleled nationally and internationally,” President Glover said before introducing Coach Temple. “He groomed the Tigerbelles for greatness on-and-off the track field. While he receives his accolades for accomplishments on the track field, as an educator and university president, I’m most proud of his coaching away from competition. He and his wife, the late Charlie B. Temple, prepared the Tigerbelles to be winners in life after track. He is truly to be applauded for that.”

“This is a great day for Nashville,” Dean said. “From the racial segregation of the Eisenhower days to the Clinton days, Coach Temple has amassed a career that is difficult for anyone to match.

“He did things the right way. Out of the 40 athletes he got to the Olympics – 100 percent of them received college degrees. Coach Temple is a man of great character, gentle humor and steely determination. He is a great teacher which is one of the best things you can be.”

Tyus, the first person to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in the 100-meter dash, was recruited by Temple in 1963 receiving a scholarship and a spot on his famed Tigerbelles team. She said Coach Temple always pushed them to excellence.

“I never thought I would see this in my lifetime,” said Tyus, considered the fastest woman in the world in 1964 and 1968. “Coach always says he wants his roses while he’s still alive, and I am so happy to see this today.”

Temple was head coach of the US Olympics Women’s Track and Field teams in 1960 and 1964 and assistant coach in 1980. He has been inducted into nine different Halls of Fame, including the Olympic Hall of Fame in 2012, in which he is one of only four coaches to be inducted. He is a past member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, the International Women’s Track and Field Committee and the Nashville Sports Council. He also served as chairman of Nashville’s 200-plus member Amateur Sports Committee.

In addition to being part of the Tennessee State University Hall of Fame, Temple’s legacy of excellence continues in such recognitions as the Edward S. Temple Track at Tennessee State University; Ed Temple Boulevard in Nashville, adjacent to the TSU campus; the Edward Temple Award established by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Track and Field Coaches Association; and the Edward S. Temple Seminars: Society and Sports, held annually at Tennessee State University.

Temple’s autobiography, Only the Pure in Heart Survive, was published in 1980. The book, along with additional papers and memorabilia from his lifetime of achievement, are part of the Special Collections department in TSU’s Brown-Daniel Library.

“Even the Bible says a prophet is seldom honored in his hometown,” said Congressman Cooper at the ceremony. “But here we are honoring perhaps one of the greatest coaches in all of history.”

Brian Hanlon, the commissioned sculptor of the project said, “This is an historical marker that celebrates the principles of real discipline. It is a huge feather in my hat, not just artistically but for what this stands for in our community.”

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

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.

Tennessee State University honored with two HBCU Digest Awards

Hampton Roads alumni interest group represents TSU as they work to establish official chapter

LogoJPEGblueTennessee State University was recognized with two honors during the 2015 HBCU Digest Awards presented July 10 at the annual AARP HBCU Awards ceremony at Hampton University.

Several TSU alumni were on hand to accept the awards on behalf of the university in the categories of Athletic Excellence for “Female Team of the Year” and Student Activities for “Best Student Organization.”

“Being awarded by your peer institutions is a tremendous honor,” said Shelton Tucker, a 1980 graduate and co-organizer of an interest group seeking to establish an alumni chapter in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. “Jarrett Carter, president of HBCU Digest, is to be congratulated for putting on a grand event that featured the best in our class of black colleges and universities.”

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The TSU Women’s Basketball Team received the award for “Best Female Team of the Year.” (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

The Tennessee State University women’s basketball team, which won the 2015 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship last spring, was honored as the “Female Team of the Year.” On March 7, the Lady Tigers claimed the program’s first OVC title in 20 years, and earned the team a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The university was nominated in the Best Student Organization category with The Nashville Student Organizing Committee, consisting of a group of student activists from TSU, Fisk and other area colleges, being recognized. NSOC, established in February 2014, was instrumental in leading protests at the Tennessee State Capitol in support of Medicaid expansion, the repeal of new voter ID requirements, and other oppressive state legislation under the campaign of “Put the People First.”

tumblr_static_a8g1kyd2cdkow8sgw4sko8ssgA record 430 nominations from universities, alumni, and students were submitted for the 2015 HBCU Digest Awards. Finalists were selected based on the impact of the nominees’ achievements on institutional development, and for media coverage earned for the university by way of the nominee. Winners were selected by an academy of former HBCU Digest Award winners, former and current HBCU presidents, alumni, faculty, students, and journalists covering HBCU issues for local or national outlets.

“The HBCU Digest Awards is the first national awards event to recognize the influence and impact of HBCUs on American culture,” said HBCU Digest Founding Editor Jarrett L. Carter Sr., who created the event in 2011. “The awards seek to recognize and crown winners in the fields of leadership, arts, athletics, research, and community engagement.”

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TSU Alums, from left, Georgia Spivey (’68), Mark Grant (’90), Dwaynia Grant (’97), Dr. Danny Myers (’70), Sandra Myers (’72), Shelton Tucker (’80), and Cameo Hargrove, a supporter, were on hand to receive the awards for their alma mater. (Courtesy Photo)

In addition to Tucker, other TSU alumni in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area attending the event were Mark Grant (’90), Dwaynia Grant (’97), Brunell McKissack (’67), Dr. Danny Myers (’70), Sandra Myers (’72) and Georgia Spivey (’68).

Grant, also a co-organizer of the Hampton Roads/Richmond alumni interest, said more than 20 TSU alumni have signed up to establish a chapter. He said he expects that number to grow as there are more than 300 alumni residing in the area.

“Since our first get-together for the movie, ‘From the Rough,’ we have discovered that there are many more Tigers in the area,” Grant said. “We have added them to our Facebook group and have had several TSU round-ups and meetings. We will be sending our chapter application soon and hope to be inducted as an official chapter during TSU’s Homecoming this year.”

The group was formed in April 2014 after heeding a “call-to-action” for alumni to support the movie, “From the Rough,” starring Academy Award-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson portraying the life of former TSU golf coach Dr. Catana Starks.

Tucker added that there are significant employment opportunities for TSU graduate in the area, such as the military, NASA and the Newport News Shipyard, to name a few. Brunell McKissack, a 1967 graduate who has been in support of starting a chapter, has been a mathematician for NASA for over 30 years, according to Tucker.

“This area has great attractions, student talent, and events year round and many TSU band members were recruited by Prof. Graves here in his early years at TSU,” Grant added. “Many of those parents still send students to TSU. We hope to partner with other HBCUs on projects to raise money for our schools, engage in joint ventures with other chapters, and support the TSUNAA National Convention in Washington, D.C. next year.”

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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 45 undergraduate, 24 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.

President Glenda Glover Nominated “Female President of the Year” as TSU receives four finalist nods for HBCU Digest Awards

TSU finalist in categories for “Best Choir,” “Male Athlete of the Year,” and “Best Women’s Team of the Year”

LogoJPEGblueNASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has been nominated as a finalist in four top categories for the 5th Annual AARP HBCU Digest Awards. The winners will be unveiled July 10 during the AARP National HBCU Media Week to be held on the campus of Hampton University.

Among the categories TSU will be vying for include awards for “Best Choir,” “Male Athlete of the Year,” “Women’s Team of the Year,” and “Female President of the Year.”

tumblr_static_a8g1kyd2cdkow8sgw4sko8ssgA record 430 nominations from institutions, alumni and students were submitted for the 2015 edition of the awards. Finalists are annually selected based upon the impact of nominees’ achievement on institutional development, and for media coverage earned for the institution by way of the nominee.

Winners are selected by an academy of former HBCU Awards winners, former and current HBCU presidents, alumni, faculty, students and journalists covering HBCU issues for local or national outlets.

“The HBCU Awards is the first national awards event to recognize the influence and impact of HBCUs on American culture,” said HBCU Digest Founding Editor Jarrett L. Carter Sr., who created the event in 2011. “The awards seek to recognize and crown winners in the fields of leadership, arts, athletics, research, and community engagement.”

The TSU finalists (names, categories, areas of award) include: 

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President Glenda Glover is nominated for “Female President of the Year” award. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover – “Female President of the Year” (Highest Honor)
Dr. Glenda Glover began serving as president of Tennessee State University on January 2, 2013. She has advanced a five-point vision that includes: 1) academic progress and customer service; 2) fundraising and partnerships; 3) diversity and inclusion; 4) shared governance; and 5) business outreach.

Her educational development began as a student at Tennessee State University, where she majored in mathematics. After graduating with honors with a Bachelor of Science degree, she pursued the Master of Business Administration at Clark Atlanta University. She then completed her doctorate in business at George Washington University, and later earned her law degree from Georgetown University.

President Glover is the former dean of the College of Business at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi and served as chairperson of the Department of Accounting at Howard University. She is a certified public accountant, an attorney, and is one of two African-American women to hold the Ph.D.-CPA-JD combination in the nation.

President Glover has been a corporate board member of three publicly-traded corporations and is the author of more than 100 articles and papers. She is regarded as one of the nation’s experts on corporate governance. In 2013, President Glover was named to Diverse Issues in Higher Education’s prestigious list as one of the “Top 25 Women in Higher Education.”

Since joining TSU, she has offered dozens of scholarships to top high school seniors, raised millions of dollars in support of the university’s programmatic, research and service efforts, engaged new business and industry partners, and has established TSU Safety Commission made up of administrators, faculty/staff, alumni, students and community leaders to address campus security concerns.

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New Direction Choir, winner of the “Nation’s Best Gospel Choir Award” at the National College Choir Explosion this year, receives nod as “Best Choir.” (Submitted photo)

New Direction Choir – “Best Choir” (Student Activities)
Tennessee State University’s New Direction Choir proved it is the best college gospel group in the country after receiving top honors at the National College Choir Explosion this year in Louisville, Kentucky. Competing as one of eight finalists from among several college gospel choirs, the TSU New Direction Choir won the coveted title as the “Nation’s Best Gospel Choir.” The group also won the “People’s Choice Award” as the audience’s favorite group. This is the group’s third straight finish as champions and runners-up in national competitions in the last four years. In 2011, they won first place in the Fourth Annual National Black Collegiate Alumni Hall of Fame Gospel Choir Competition in Atlanta, competing against four HBCU choirs. Two years later in 2013, the group won the Regional Runner-Up title in Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound Gospel Choir Competition. In addition to vocal presentation, New Direction has mastered diction, intonation, tone quality, appearance, stage presence and audience appeal. 

42 Nick Thrasher
Nick Thrasher, “College Sports Madness OVC Defensive Player of the Year,” and the Tigers’ second all-time leader in tackles, is nominated for “Male Athlete of the Year” award. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Nick Thrasher – “Male Athlete of the Year” (Athletic Excellence)
Nick Thrasher started all 12 games at middle linebacker and amassed a team and career-high 128 stops (69 solo). He was also a terror to opposing offenses, notching 11.5 tackles for loss and recording 3.5 sacks. The Morrow, Ga. native also excelled in zone coverage and broke up three passes. He even recorded first career interception against Florida A&M (Sept. 27), taking it all the way back for a touchdown. The senior-captain anchored the OVC’s top total defense (303.2 yards per game) and pass defense (153.3 yards per game) and helped TSU to a No. 4 FCS ranking in sacks per game (3.58). Thrasher led the Tigers to a 6-6 record which gave Big Blue three consecutive non-losing seasons, a feat that had not been done since 1984-86. With his stellar senior campaign, Thrasher moved up to second-place in tackles in the TSU record book over the course of the season, finishing with 358. At the end of the year, Thrasher was named College Sports Madness OVC Defensive Player of the Year and a Second Team and Third Team All-American by Phil Steele and The Associated Press, respectively.

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Nominated for “Best Women’s Team of the Year,” award, the TSU Women’s Basketball Team is the 2015 OVC Conference Tournament Champion. The Lady Tigers were honored at the Tennessee State Capitol April 8, where they were received and celebrated with a standing ovation by the Tennessee House of Representatives. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Tennessee State University Women’s Basketball Team – “Best Women’s Team of the Year” (Athletic Excellence)
The TSU Women’s Basketball Team snagged the 2015 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship. TSU defeated four-time defending champ UT Martin, 64-60, on March 7 to claim the program’s first OVC title in 20 years. The victory also earned the Lady Tigers a berth in the NCAA Tournament. 

The Lady Tigers were honored at the Tennessee State Capitol April 8, received and celebrated with a standing ovation by the Tennessee House of Representatives. Once the team, coaches and administrators made it to the front of the room, TSU alumnus, Rep. Harold M. Love, Jr., presented the team with a Resolution for their accomplishments.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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 45 undergraduate, 24 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.