All posts by Emmanuel Freeman

TSU alum and longtime public policy practitioner receives top American Society for Public Administration award

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dr. Cliff Lippard, a Tennessee State University alum and top graduate of the university’s public administration program, is the recipient of the 2021 Donald C. Stone Practitioner Award by the American Society for Public Administration, or ASPA.

Dr. Cliff Lippard

Presented by ASPA’s section on Intergovernmental Administration and Management, the award recognizes outstanding practitioners for their contributions to intergovernmental relations and management.

Lippard, executive director of the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, holds MPA and Ph.D. degrees from TSU. He was nominated for the award for his leadership of the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations and strong support for research and program evaluation of the federal system. The award will be presented at the ASPA national conference on April 12.

“I see this honor as another validation of the work that my team at TACIR and our commission members do to analyze and find solutions to the tricky public policy problems faced across jurisdictions and levels of government here in Tennessee,” Lippard said, crediting TSU for the preparation he received.

“The faculty and students of TSU and its public administration program have not only given me the skills necessary to be an engaged, effective public servant, they have also helped shape my belief that the academic community functions best when it is just that, a community. TSU is an integral part of my community,” he said.

Dr. Michael Harris, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, was previously the dean of the College of Public Service.

“Dr. Lippard represents the hard work, dedication, and innovation we expect of College of Public Service graduates at TSU,” Harris said. “Recognition by ASPA is a true reflection of the leadership of CPS graduates serving in the public sector and the amazing faculty. Congratulations to Dr. Lippard!”

Dr. Elizabeth Williams, interim dean of the College of Public Service, said, “This award demonstrates TSU graduates’ power to effectuate positive change in the world. The College of Public Service celebrates Cliff Lippard as a leader who thinks, works, and serves.”

A longtime public policy practitioner, Lippard serves as an adjunct professor in the MPA program, and as president of the TSU chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha, the national honor society of public affairs and administration.

TSU’s College of Public Service offers graduate degrees and certificate programs in public policy and administration, as well as degrees in social work, urban studies, and professional studies.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and 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 alumna Debbi Howard rejoins university as new director of alumni relations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University alumna Debbi Howard has returned to her alma mater as the new Director of Alumni Relations after nearly 30 years with the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Debbi Howard

Howard, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, and lifetime member of the Tennessee State University National Alumni Association, and the President’s Society, earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from TSU in 1994. She also holds a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Before assuming her new role at TSU on March 1, Howard spent 26 years as a civil/structural engineer with TDOT. During that time, she maintained active relationships with TSU by participating in events to increase alumni awareness and engagement, as well as outreach campaigns to raise funds for deserving students.

“I am excited about the opportunity to work with Debbi Howard,” says Jamie Isabel, TSU’s associate vice president of Institutional Advancement, Corporate Relations and Foundations. “She brings a fresh new set of eyes, and her exposure and experience will be a great benefit to Tennessee State University alumni. I am quite sure she will do great at solidifying and strengthening TSU’s alumni base.”

With a long lineage of more than 20 family members who have attended TSU, Howard says she is glad to be back to serve.

“I’m extremely excited and honored for the opportunity to be able to come back to my prestigious alma mater, Tennessee State University, to serve as your new director of alumni relations,” says Howard. “My goal is to not only recommence all of the wonderful traditions and alumni engagement events that are currently in place, but to galvanize our alumni base by creating partnerships, community engagement opportunities and incorporating exciting, innovative ideas and events that alums would enjoy and be proud of.”

In her other roles with the TSUNAA, Howard is co-chair and committee member of TSU’s Alumni Greek Society, and executive board member and event planner for the TSU Alumni Deltas (Absolutely AX) Greek Affinity Chapter.

Howard replaces Cassandra Griggs, who served in the position for eight years, and left TSU recently after serving the university in different positions for 25 years.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and 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.

National Council on Teacher Quality names TSU’s teacher preparation programs among the best in the nation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service)Tennessee State University’s undergraduate and graduate elementary teacher preparation programs have been named among the top in the country for contributing to greater teacher diversity by the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Dr. Jerri Haynes

TSU’s programs are among only 21 percent of the 1,256 NCTQ evaluated across the country and among only seven programs in Tennessee to be recognized in a new NCTQ report for enrolling a cohort of future teachers that is both more racially diverse than the current teacher workforce in their state and reflects the racial diversity of their local community.

Tennessee State University’s undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program was also named among the top in the country by NCTQ for Early Reading Instruction

Dr. Jerri Haynes, dean of the College of Education, said the college is excited to receive this prestigious NCTQ recognition.

“The College of Education continues to pave the path where ‘Excellence is our Habit’ in preparing our teacher candidates in both undergraduate and graduate programs to become effective teachers and leaders in rural, urban, and metropolitan school settings,” Haynes said.

Dionna Robinson

In its report, NCTQ, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit research and policy organization, said TSU’s programs showed clear evidence of dedicated course time, as well as measures where aspiring teachers must demonstrate their knowledge of the five key components of the science of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. This, the report added, puts TSU among the fewer than one-third of programs in Tennessee and nationally to earn an “A” on this NCTQ standard.

Dionna Robinson and Quinton Bolden are students in the teacher preparation program in the TSU College of Education. They are not surprised that NCTQ named their programs among the top in the nation.

Quinton Bolden

“We have amazing professors and advisors who go the extra mile to see us succeed,” said Robinson, a junior elementary education major from Huntsville, Alabama. “From the start, my advisor opened my eyes to making the right decision about my career goal, and I have not regretted it.”

For Bolden, who will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, the NCTQ recognition underscores the dedication and care “my professors show to make sure I am not only successful in the classroom but how I approach my career in the future.”

“It is very uplifting for me to know you have people who care so much for your successful development. They provide me with all the tools I need to be successful,” said Bolden, a native of Earl, Arkansas. “

With a long record of an outstanding teacher preparation in the country, TSU’s recognition by the NCTQ is only the latest accolade for the College of Education.    About two years ago, the university was recognized as the highest producer of teachers among historically black universities and colleges in the nation. A year ago, TSU received $600,000 from the Tennessee Department of Education to train educators to become assistant principals in Middle Tennessee school districts.

To learn more about the College of Education, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/coe/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and 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 using $25,000 gift from Renasant Bank to help students succeed during pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is using a $25,000 donation from Renasant Bank to help fulfill student needs, particularly during the pandemic. Officials say the funds will go toward assisting students in need of financial support, as well as making sure they have the tools they need to complete their coursework.

In a letter, Renasant Bank said the financial donation is in support of “student emergency scholarship” at TSU, as part of its legacy of strong community service. In addition to Tennessee, Renasant serves communities in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

“TSU is grateful to Renasant Bank for its support of the institution and our students,” says President Glenda Glover. “We made a commitment to students that the university would ensure quality of student learning and their academic success during this pandemic. This gift from Renasant helps us keep that promise by providing much needed support for students as we enter the spring semester.”

Tracey Morant Adams, Renasant Bank’s senior executive vice president, says, “When the unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic began to impact our communities, Renasant made an intentional decision to redirect much of our charitable donations to support COVID relief efforts. Our support of TSU’s student emergency scholarship program demonstrates a sincere desire of community service by our company during a very critical time.”

Danielle Glenn

Currently, there are about 1,600 students living on campus, that’s about 50 percent of full occupancy. Classes are offered in hybrid, online and in face-to-face formats, including distance learning. For various reasons, many students have chosen to live on campus, stay in their dorm rooms, and complete their courses online.

Danielle Glenn, a junior criminal justice major from Atlanta, who lives on campus and takes classes online, says she is “extremely” happy that Renasant Bank is helping students “at this very critical” time.

“This is a great way to help many students stay in school,” says Glenn. “Many students are facing some real hard time, and this money will help many of them continue their education, especially during this pandemic.”

Tiant Perry, Jr.

Junior accounting major Tiant Perry, Jr., from Montgomery, Alabama, agrees.

“When I heard about the gift from Renasant Bank I was really happy because there are students on campus right now with balances that they don’t know how they are going to settle,” says Perry. “This generous donation will go a long way to help out many students on campus.”

Jamie Isabel, TSU’s associate vice president of Institutional Advancement, Corporate Relations and Foundations, says the financial gift from Renasant is an example of the bank’s commitment to the university, and the “value of corporate partners to students and the university.”

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and 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.

One year after tornado, TSU family remembers community support, help from ‘total strangers’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University may have been caught in the devastation of a tornado that hit northwest and east Nashville early last March, but the campus family also experienced an outpouring of community support and resilience in the aftermath that has fostered healing and a spirit to rebuild.

President Glenda Glover pets 1-year-old Gracie the goat, which was born the night of the tornado. Gracie’s mother survived the storm and gave birth to two kids that night. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“It was so much outpouring of love and support. People came from different places on different days,” says Dr. Glenda Glover, president of TSU. “Nashvillians stuck together, some students were on spring break and when they came back, they jumped in. We were overwhelmed with the level of love and support and care.” 

March 3 marked the one-year anniversary of the EF2 tornado that struck shortly after midnight. TSU’s Agriculture Farm took the biggest hit. Five of six structures, including research facilities, greenhouses, and a pavilion, were reduced to rubble. Two calves were killed, and several goats injured.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, Dean of the College of Agriculture, talks to a reporter from the spot where the nearly 300-seat pavilion once stood. The pavilion and several other structures were damaged. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Other parts of the main campus received damage to signs and building rooftops, as well as downed power lines, uprooted trees, and other debris. About 85 students who did not go away for the spring break were on campus, but no injuries were reported.

Officials estimate total damage to the campus to be about $20 million.

However, amid the scars of what was lost or destroyed, one thing that has stood out is the volunteerism displayed by people from all walks of life. When asked what they remembered most about the tornado and the aftermath, faculty, staff, and students noted the general outpouring of support from total strangers.

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, Dean of the College of Engineering, right, led a team of faculty, staff, student and community volunteers to remove debris. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Jeia Moore arrived in Nashville from her spring break a few days after the storm hit.  

“It was sad to see my campus like that because so much student work had been lost,” says Moore, a junior information systems major from Memphis, Tennessee. A year later, however, Moore is impressed with how the university has been able to pull through, even with the onset of the coronavirus at the same time. 

“TSU, we are not going to be down too long. We are going to come back,” says Moore. “I am just happy that we are still able to function like we never missed a beat.” 

Volunteers from all walks of life signed up to help with the cleanup effort after the tornado. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Bryce Daniel, a junior health sciences major from Fort Worth, Texas, was in his dorm room in Hale Hall when the storm hit. Hale Hall was not affected, but the sight of the destruction on the other side of campus was too overwhelming for Daniel to ignore. 

“I immediately felt I needed to give back and help my campus recover,” says Daniel, who’s part of “Generation of Educated Men,” or GEM, a social and educational student group. The group mobilized and was among the first volunteers to join the cleanup effort on the Ag farm. 

Members of Generation of Educated Men, a campus group of TSU students, were among the first volunteers to join the cleanup effort. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“I was glad to be safe and blessed to still have all of my things. So, it was just natural to go and give back to help clean up my campus,” says Daniel. 

Some renovations on the main campus are either completed or ongoing. As for the Ag farm, TSU officials say discussions with state and federal agencies and insurance underwriters are ongoing, and construction should start soon and be completed by year’s end.  

“Effort to reconstruct is slower, complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. But we are moving along, it might take some time, but we will get there,” says Glover. 

Debris was thrown about in every corner of the Ag farm in the aftermath of the tornado. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

On the learning aspect, she says it’s been a grueling year, because things are at a slower pace. How students are taught changed drastically, with teaching and learning now about 85 percent virtual.  

“We have some aspects that are not virtual, and we do require in-person learning, so we want to make sure that is taken care of,” says Glover. “Once COVID has run its course, we believe that we will be moving at a faster pace.” 

Dr. Curtis Johnson, associate vice president and chief of staff, heads the reconstruction effort at TSU. He says recovery will take time, but the main concern is making sure teaching and research are not affected.

As the days went by, more volunteers showed up to lend a hand in the cleanup. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“We look forward to rebuilding a better campus,” says Johnson. “We expect our rebuilding to have better structure, better technology. ”

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture, agrees, saying the goal is to “make sure all of our buildings and research facilities are much better and much stronger.” 

On the show of support, Frank Stevenson, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, says in the aftermath of the storm he saw a campus community determined to bounce back, “not only to represent Tiger pride, but the city of Nashville strong.” 

“Our students, faculty, staff, everyone put the gloves on, rolled up their sleeves and were committed to making our campus continue in the space of beauty,” says Stevenson. 

GEM member Derrick Sanders, a junior secondary English education major from Cincinnati, Ohio, who drove into Nashville the next morning amid the destruction, says “it felt so good to see people come together for the enhancement of TSU.”

“I saw people from the community, people from different churches, even students giving out anything they had to help. It just felt good to know that we are a family, and we can help each other,” says Sanders. 

Future surgeon, entrepreneur sets sight on Tennessee governor’s mansion, wants to level playing field

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Denias Smith has big dreams. He wants to become a surgeon, own a business, and eventually become the first black governor of Tennessee. 

Denias Smith

“I want to level the playing field and create equal opportunities for everyone,” says Smith, a senior pre-med student majoring in biology. “It is not so much about making history, but a way of increasing representation for people from low-income housing like me.” 

A transfer student in his sophomore year, Smith says he came to TSU to fulfill a yearning to attend a historically black college or university. He says growing up in his hometown of Bolivar, Tennessee, he did not know much about HBCUs and how nurturing they are until he started reading about TSU on social media – the strong academics and student life. 

“I am a first-generation college student. I ended up attending a predominantly white institution,” says Smith. “I didn’t feel I was being nurtured as a black student. At TSU, I saw students doing their own thing. They were holding down their academic duties. They were being student leaders.” 

Smith says he was in awe of what he saw going on at TSU. “I said, wow, I can do that. I told my mom I was going to transfer. It was a quick decision, and I don’t regret it,” says Smith. “Here I am today growing as a student – academically, and as a student leader. I have grown to love myself because of the environment I am in.” 

With help from TSU schoolmates, Denias Smith, second from left, organized a protest in his hometown to bring awareness about police brutality and other injustices following the death of George Floyd.

At TSU, Smith has adjusted well and proven to be an overall outstanding student, with high leadership skills. He has remained on the Dean’s List since coming to TSU. He is a National Society of Leadership and Success inductee; member of Collegiate 100 Black Men of Tennessee State University; secretary of the National Professional Advancement for Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers; and the Tennessee Louise Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, where he recently presented a research paper. Smith is also the current president of the highly respected Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Society, a pre-medical and pre-dental society at TSU. 

Dr. Keon Vercruysse, associate professor of chemistry, teaches Smith and also serves as the faculty advisor for the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Society. Vercruysse describes his young protégé as a dedicated and accomplished student, who takes his academic duties very seriously. 

“Denias is a friendly and sociable person with a diverse mix of skills that will serve him well in his current and future academic endeavors,” says Vercruysse. “In his capacity as president (of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Society), he has shown his potential as a leader and as someone that looks beyond his own interests.” 

A social justice advocate, Smith played a key role last summer in organizing a peaceful protest following the death of George Floyd. With help from fellow TSU schoolmates, he organized a protest in his hometown to bring awareness about police brutality and other injustices following Floyd’s death. He remembered the moment his plan gained city-wide support. Local law enforcement, the mayor of Bolivar, and other elected officials participated.

“I had finished talking to my mom about my plan, made a social media post, and went to bed. The next morning, I got a call from the mayor and a radio personality saying they would back me up 100 percent,” Smith was quoted as saying to a local CBS affiliate. 

On his future career, Smith says his goal is to become a plastic surgeon, and eventually get into politics. 

“That’s what I am working toward now,” says Smith. “My dream is to own a surgery center. As time goes on, I plan to be a politician. My long-term goal is to be governor of Tennessee. I am all about creating opportunities for people who look like me.”

Smith is a graduate of Bolivar Central High School, where he was an academic standout.

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 honors best and brightest students at first virtual Honors Day Convocation; speaker donates $50K to Alma Mater

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University recently recognized its best and brightest students with the university’s first-ever virtual Honors Day Convocation. More than 2,100 students with grade point averages of 3.0 or higher were recognized on March 2 for academic excellence.

President Glenda Glover

Among the honorees were 400 President’s List scholars. These are students who have maintained 4.0 GPAs throughout their matriculation.

Damyon J. Thompson, a 2003 TSU graduate and chief of staff to the general manager of IBM’s Automation Division, was the keynote speaker. Thompson was a member of the Honors College at TSU.

Before Thompson’s keynote speech, TSU President Glenda Glover congratulated the honorees for their achievements. She challenged them to further develop their talents “to be the leaders you have been chosen to be.”

Daymon J. Thompson

“Honors Day is more than personal recognition; it is a challenge to soar even higher,” Glover said. “As honors students, we will depend on you to research challenges and issues and to develop solutions that will remake our university. Whether it is the COVID pandemic, or racial injustice, it is you our honorees who must contribute to finding a path that leads to solutions to the threats that we currently face.”

Thompson, who earned two bachelor’s degrees – computer science, business information systems – from TSU, started his remarks with a $50,000 donation to the university’s Enterprise Computing program, on behalf of him and his sister, Shari D. Thompson, a 2006 TSU graduate and member of the Honors College. A high industry demand area, the enterprise computing initiative was launched at TSU in 2014 to help prepare students to compete for high-paying enterprise internships and jobs.

Kerrington Powell received the Dr. McDonald Williams Award for Academic Excellence.

Speaking on “Promoting academic excellence, breaking paradigms, and transforming growth leaders in the new decade,” Thompson told the honorees that to succeed they must have growth mindset, be technologically inclined, and have an executable plan. He said the world is filled with people with fixed mindset, who are afraid of challenges or failure, and those with growth mindset who embrace change, challenges and see failure as a chance “to pivot” and learn from their mistakes.

“At age 29, I took and chance to advance my career and took a job in a foreign country where I knew no one, I did not understand the culture, but I am glad I did. It paid off,” said Thompson, who engages with business unit leaders to execute the direction of the 7,000-person, $5 billion IBM division.

Meleena Warters

“I embraced the challenge and the change because, I said, ‘you know what, if I can learn and grow from this, it will really set me up when I return home.’ And it did although with challenges. I had a growth mindset, I said let me jump in, let me embrace the change, let me go across the world and see what happens,” Thompson said. “In the midst of COVID-19, the social justice reckoning of 2020, economic uncertainty, and the massive amount of debt students are facing every day, we have to hit the ground running. We have to keep our focus ahead.”

Meleena Warters and Larry McNary, Honors College scholars, were among the students recognized at the virtual convocation. They are inspired and are very grateful for the recognition given for their academic achievements.

L:arry McNary

“I know it takes a lot of work to be on the honor roll or on the Dean’s List, but to have your peers, the who institution and speakers come out and congratulate you on a personal level is really very important and feels good,” said Warters, a junior mass communications major from Brentwood, Tennessee, with a 3.9 GPA.

McNary agreed.  “This is about recognizing the hard work that students put in, and that means a lot,” he said. “I feel grateful and supported to be a part of something like that.” McNary, who is from Memphis, Tennessee, will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He has a 3.7 GPA.

Among those also recognized were Honors College Scholars, those on the Dean’s List, members of the university-wide Honor Societies, Student Leadership Award recipient, the top graduating seniors, and the recipient of the Dr. McDonald Williams Scholarship for Academic Excellence.

Dr. Michael Harris, interim Vice President for Academic Affairs; Dr. Coreen Jackson, interim dean of the Honors College; and other senior officials participated in the convocation.

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.

Nashville businessman honors mother’s memory with $50,000 scholarship for students at TSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Nashville businessman and community activist Jerry L. Maynard II recently presented Tennessee State University with a check for $50,000 to establish a scholarship in his late mother’s honor for students in financial need.

The Shirley Ann Coates Student Government Association Scholarship will support student scholarship and leadership development at the university to promote his mother’s legacy of caring, according to Maynard. He made the presentation during a ceremony in the Floyd Payne Campus Center.

Jerry L. Maynard II says the gift to TSU students is to promote his late mother’s legacy of caring. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“We are giving a $50,000 scholarship award to TSU, specifically for students in need to matriculate, but also to prepare them for leadership skills and training,” Maynard said. “I think that’s the best way to honor my mother who passed away a year and half ago.”

Neither Maynard nor his mother attended TSU, but the longtime businessman said “President (Glenda) Glover and Tennessee State University have been a beacon of hope for students,” which made the decision easy on how to use the funds to honor his mother.

In the ‘90s, Shirley Ann Coates, a pastor, opened and operated a daycare center in her local church, charging a “very nominal rate” to help working women who could not afford the average $125 a week to care for their kids.

Dominique Davis, President of the Student Government Association, says many students will reap the benefit of Maynard’s generosity. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“So, my mother opened a daycare and charged $35 a week so the working woman, especially single mothers, could go to work and still be able to provide daycare for their children,” Maynard said. “She took a loss, but she did so because she wanted women to feel proudful by going to work and providing for their kids. That’s the type of woman she was. So, with this gift, Michelle Ann, Michael and David (Maynard’s siblings), we stand together and we honor my mother, and also honor TSU.”

In receiving the check, Student Government Association President Dominique Davis thanked and congratulated Maynard and his family for the donation.

“This endowment will provide much needed help to our students over the next several semesters,” Davis told Maynard. “Many students here will reap the benefit of your generosity. TSU is indebted to you, and we do not take your act of kindness lightly.”

Frank Stevenson, TSU’s associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said Maynard has always been a supporter of TSU.

“To now have Mr. Maynard make this level of financial commitment to our students, and putting it in the hands of student affairs and the SGA to find fellow students who are in the most need, is an amazing opportunity,” said Stevenson. “So, we are excited, our students are excited. We are also excited that Jerry is challenging other alumni, businesses in the community to step up and support this wonderful institution.”

To find out how to establish a scholarship or to make a donation, please visit https://www.tnstate.edu/foundation/.

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.

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.