All posts by Lucas Johnson

TSU remembers famed alum and most iconic female track and field star, Wilma Rudolph

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University joined the world in remembering alumna Wilma Glodean Rudolph, the first American woman and to win three gold medals in a single Olympiad. She also galvanized the country and made the world take notice as the first African American female to accomplish this feat. 

 Rudolph would have been 79 on Sunday, June 23. But even in death, her legacy lives on. 

“We are so very blessed to have had the great Olympic Champion and former Tigerbelle Wilma Rudolph attend and graduate from Tennessee State University,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Ms. Rudolph’s determination and accomplishments, on and off the track field, continue to inspire young people today. She will always be remembered as a global icon and a trailblazer in her sport as a record-setting gold medalist, and TSU is proud to be a part of Wilma’s amazing history as we celebrate her.” 

Wilma Rudolph (2nd from left top), TSU track and field coach Ed Temple (3rd from left), and Ralph Boston (5th from left), with Tigerbelle members. (TSU archives)

 As a child, Rudolph battled double pneumonia, scarlet fever and polio. Problems with her leg forced her to wear a leg brace. But she overcame her illnesses, and eventually, her disability through intense physical therapy, and her mother’s support. 

 “My doctors told me I would never walk again,” Rudolph said in an interview. “My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.”

 She did way more than walk. In 1958, Rudolph enrolled at then Tennessee A&I and joined the famed Tigerbelles, under legendary track and field coach Ed Temple. 

As a sophomore, Rudolph competed in the U.S. Olympic track and field trials at Abilene Christian University, in Texas, where she set a world record in the 200-meter dash. With that performance, she also qualified for the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy, and soon made history. 

Rudolph competed in three events on a cinder track in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico: the 100- and 200-meter sprints, as well as the 4 × 100-meter relay. She won a gold medal in each of the three events, and immediately rose to international fame. 

TSU alumnus Ralph Boston, who won a gold medal in the long jump competition at the 1960 Olympics as well, said he and Rudolph won their medals less than 15 minutes apart. Boston said he still marvels at her perseverance.

“Here’s a person who couldn’t walk, and then becomes at the time the greatest sprinter that ever lived,” Boston said. 

 He said Rudolph had many admirers, including boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who was very fond of her. Boston said they met Ali while in Rome, and he stayed in contact with them afterward, even making several stops at TSU to see them on his way to training camp in Miami. Boston fondly recalls the champ mainly wanted to see Rudolph. 

TSU Olympians Ralph Boston and Wilma Rudolph hang out with up and coming boxing legend Muhammad Ali during one of his visits to Tennessee State University. (TSU archives)

 “He had brashness, but he was always very cordial,” Boston said of Ali.

Former Tigerbelle Edith McGuire Duvall said she first met Rudolph right before she went to the Olympics in 1960. She said the accomplishment of Rudolph, and the other track and field TSU Tigers, was inspirational. 

 “To have met them that summer, and then they went to the Olympics and won gold medals, it made me want to be a part of that,” said Duvall, who went on to win a gold and two silver medals at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. “It motivated me.”

 Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice, a former Tigerbelle who currently serves as director of track and field at TSU, said she first met Rudolph when she was a high school senior, and that the two formed a bond that lasted until Rudolph’s death. 

 “She was just a down-to-earth person,” recalled Cheeseborough-Guice. “She brought me in like one of her own children. She was a mother figure to me.”

Rudolph’s feats were seen as a true American story and was made into a television movie in 1977 starring Shirley Jo Finney as Wilma, an up and coming actor by the name of Denzel Washington as her love interest, and Cicely Tyson as her mother, Blanche Rudolph.

The Saint Bethlehem, Tennessee, native was also seen as an important figure in African American history. In 2016, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture opened and featured Rudolph in its sports section, including a pair of her Olympic cleats and photographs. 

TSU also has a display of the track and field sports legend housed at the Brown-Daniel Library. The campus display is a main attraction during the summer months leading up to the Olympic Games. 

To learn more about TSU’s track and field program, visit http://www.tsutigers.com/wtrack/.

Note: Kelli Sharpe contributed to this story.

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 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven 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 receives $2M from Governor to assist with retention and graduation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will receive $2 million to support retention of academically high achieving students from underserved communities.  

The funds were included in Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s budget during the recent legislative session, and approved by state lawmakers. The money will be received as a lump sum with the fiscal year beginning July 1.

“The main reason many of our students can’t return is due to financial hardship, so the allotment of these funds is great for Tennessee State University, and especially our students,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “The $2 million will help us keep students who may not have money to return. We’re thankful to Gov. Bill Lee, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, and state lawmakers for making the funds possible.”

Sophomore Jahnari Edwards of Phenix City, Alabama, said the money will be particularly beneficial to out-of-state students like herself.

“I’m really excited about it,” said Edwards, who is majoring in agriculture. “Something like this, especially for out-of-state students, will help.”

Katelyn Thompson, a graduating senior and president of TSU’s Student Government Association, agreed.

“I think it’s outstanding that we’re getting this money,” Thompson said. “A lot of our students need assistance, especially our out-of-state students. They worry about paying their tuition because of fees, and they are some really talented students. So, this will allow us to help those students who need assistance for their education.”

Horace Chase, TSU’s vice president for business and finance, said the “university is constantly seeking ways to assist students with furthering their education and enabling them to persist despite their various challenges.”

“Understanding that some students have greater financial challenges than others, but yet have similar potential to excel academically, these funds will give them the opportunity to succeed,” Chase said.

In 2017, TSU implemented higher admission standards to attract quality students. At the same time, the university began initiatives to improve retention and graduation rates, such as increasing the number of coaches to help students with their personal and educational goals.

Last month, TSU got a commitment from Memphis high school graduate Tupac Moseley, who was homeless his senior year, but managed to graduate valedictorian of his class, and receive more than $3 million in scholarship offers.  

Dr. Glover personally led a team of senior university officials to Memphis and presented Moseley with a full-ride scholarship, including housing and a meal plan. TSU Dean of Students Frank Stevenson was a part of that group that went to Memphis.  

“Any assistance that is available for students is a win-win for Tennessee State University,” said Stevenson. “It’s an awesome opportunity to continue to help students move forward with getting their education and their degrees.” 

To learn more about attending TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/admissions/.

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 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven 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.

Ag professor receives close to $1M to study crops’ adaptation to climate change

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A Tennessee State University agriculture professor has received close to a million dollars to conduct research that will study how crops adapt to climate change.

Dr. Jianwei Li received the $999,429 from the National Science Foundation. It will be used to study the effects of high temperatures on microbiome, or the combined genetic material of microorganisms in a particular environment, in cropland soils in Middle Tennessee.

TSU Assistant Professor Dr. Jianwei Li (from right) is pictured with his climate change lab team Visiting Scholar Jianjun Duan, doctoral student Siyang Jian, and master’s student Madhav Parajuli. (Photo by Joan Kite, College of Agriculture)

Li said there is very little data in this area, and the consequential release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which scientists say is one of the main greenhouse gases causing global warming.

“We want to increase soil fertility, productivity, and potentially reduce the carbon dioxide, greenhouse emission,” said Li of the research, which will help scientists better determine how much carbon dioxide is being emitted.

Earth’s global surface temperature last year was the fourth warmest since 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Scientists say atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are at the highest levels ever recorded.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, said the grant is “very timely.”

“The climate change is there, whether politically some of us believe it or not,” Reddy said. “It is a reality.”

Li will work on the project with co-principal investigators TSU professor Dr. Dafeng Hui, TSU associate professor Dr. Jason P. de Koff, and University of California, Irvine professor Dr. Steven D. Allison.

This fall, TSU scientists will prepare a research plot to grow the biofuel crop switch grass at the Agricultural Research and Education Center. Using a soil gas flux system, the plot will be kept heated even through winter, and soil and gas samples will be routinely collected in high frequency.

The grant also seeks to specifically train young minority students in global environmental change issues, including climate change. Each year, an undergraduate student will be selected to receive formal training for two months at the University of California, Irvine, where the student will acquire experience in molecular analysis and microbial trait-based modeling.

Li envisions the grant as seed money to help build a permanent experimental infrastructure and develop an interpretive display on climate change to educate farmers and school children throughout Tennessee.

To learn more about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/.

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 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven 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.

Ag officials hope tariffs not long term

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University agriculture officials say they hope President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods is not long term.

Last month, Trump announced that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would go up from 10 percent to 25 percent. The U.S. has also begun investigating whether $300 billion of other Chinese goods could be subject to tariffs.

And last week, the president announced a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican goods, starting June 10, if that country does not substantially halt illegal immigration across the border.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, said the tariffs are affecting producers, and that federal government subsidies may not be enough to help farmers who have to take out loans to make ends meet.

Trump unveiled a $16 billion bailout last month for farmers hurt by the trade war.

“It’s very unfortunate that agriculture gets caught in this crossfire,” Reddy said. “It’s not good for us, not good for the rest of the world. Hopefully this is short term.”

Finis Stribling is an area extension specialist and coordinator of the New Farmer Academy at TSU. He and a friend have a farm that grows cotton, corn, soybeans and rice, and they’re feeling the effect of the tariffs.

However, Stribling noted that vegetable farmers are not really affected right now, because they can set their prices.

“It just depends on what part of agriculture you’re in, whether it’s the vegetable market, the livestock market, or the grain market,” he said.

Farm groups have warned the White House against proposed new tariffs on Mexico, saying they could trigger retaliatory trade actions from Mexico and again impede exports to one of the top markets for U.S. crops and meat.  

The National Pork Producers Council, a trade group, estimated that tariffs over the last year from Mexico and China so far have cost U.S. pork producers $2.5 billion.

Despite the trade war, there is still interest in farming. Currently, more than 50 prospective farmers from across the country are participating in TSU’s New Farmer Academy, which covers topics like hydroponics and irrigation, farm equipment selection, and organic production.

Brian MacDonald travels from Orange County, California, to attend the seven-month class that meets the third Monday in each month. He said he’s aware of the effect tariffs are having on farmers, but he’s not letting it discourage him from becoming an organic farmer.

“I have this dream of owning a farm,” said MacDonald, who is a retired president and chief financial officer for an electronics company. “It’s a dream I’ve had for the last couple of years.”

For more information about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/.

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 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven 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.

Office of Emergency Management participates in campus preparedness exercise

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State’s Office of Emergency Management recently participated in an exercise to better prepare the university for an emergency event.

Besides the OEM, the exercise on May 23, which simulated a bioterrorism attack, involved the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Tennessee Department of Military, and the 45th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team.

“There are simple steps that everyone can take to prepare themselves and their loved ones for emergencies: be informed, make a plan, build a disaster supply kit, and get involved through opportunities that support community preparedness,” said Dr. Curtis Johnson, chief of staff and associate vice president for administration.

“By gathering supplies to meet basic needs, discussing what to do during an emergency with your family in advance, and being aware of the risks and appropriate actions, you will be better prepared for the unexpected and can help better prepare your community and the country.”

Last year, TSU was selected to host the Best Practices in Higher Education Emergency Management Conference.

TSU, the first HBCU selected to host the conference, was recognized for its unique urban-agriculture and cutting-edge emergency preparedness initiatives that have earned the university many accolades, including a Storm Ready designation.

As a result of the recognition, TSU was presented with the Best Practice Trophy at the 2017 conference, and subsequently selected to host the one in 2018.

Please visit https://www.ready.gov, or call 1-800-BE-READY, to learn more about preparedness activities.

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 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven 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.

College of agriculture’s New Farmer Academy attracts participants from across the country

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 50 prospective farmers from across the country are participating in Tennessee State University’s New Farmer Academy

The seven-month program was started by the university’s College of Agriculture in 2014. Participants meet the third Monday in each month from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and cover topics that include agricultural leadership and regulations, financial planning, hydroponics and irrigation, organic production, farm equipment selection, soil fertility and suitability, and value-added agribusiness.

Finis Stribling, TSU area extension specialist and Academy coordinator, speaks to participants. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

The Academy, which also offers classes in West and East Tennessee, is the only one of its kind in Tennessee. Its first year, the program had nine participants. This year, 52 are enrolled in the Middle Tennessee class, which will finish in September.

“Every year we’ve been growing and growing,” said Finis Stribling, TSU area extension specialist and coordinator of the New Farmer Academy. “There’s a lot of interest.”

Brian MacDonald traveled from Orange County, California, to attend this year’s Academy. After visiting Tennessee several years ago, he decided it is a place where he would like to retire, and do some organic farming.

“I have this dream of owning a farm,” said MacDonald, who is a retired president and chief financial officer for an electronics company. “It’s a dream I’ve had for the last couple of years.”

With the help of the Academy, MacDonald plans to make that dream a reality when he permanently moves to Tennessee, as early as next year.

Academy participant Ashley Brooks of Chicago is also hoping to start farming soon. She’s interested in growing hemp, and developing products from it, as well as using its oil for medical uses.    

“Hemp has been proven to help with different conditions, like pain,” said Brooks, a TSU alum who grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. “I have aging family members who have used the oil, and they say it relieves their pain tremendously.”

John Ferrell, TSU extension agent for Franklin County, Tennessee, talks to participants about irrigation. (Photo by Lucas Johnson, TSU Media Relations)

Tennessee State is among the nation’s leaders in hemp research. TSU’s College of Agriculture has hosted several hemp workshops, and has charged a team of scientists to develop hemp production practices for Tennessee. The research projects include developing hemp nutritional products for human consumption and studying the economic viability of hemp production. Currently, the university is growing and evaluating 10 varieties of hemp.

“TSU wants to be at the forefront of this new interest that’s cropping up across the country,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture. “If it’s ever approved for large scale use, we have some knowledge about it and can work with the farmers.”

For more information about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/.

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 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven 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.

Health Sciences dean receives highest award given by American Physical Therapy Association

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dr. Ronald Barredo, interim dean of Tennessee State University’s College of Health Sciences, is the recipient of the highest award given by the American Physical Therapy Association.

In June, Barredo will attend an award ceremony in Chicago, where he will receive the Catherine Worthingham Fellow of the American Physical Therapy Association. The award is the highest recognition that the association can give to physical therapists, and is given to individuals “who have demonstrated unwavering efforts to advance the physical therapy profession for more than 15 years,” according to the Association’s website. 

Dr. Ronald Barredo

There are more than 100,000 members of the APTA. Of that number, only 214 have received the Catherine Worthingham Fellow. In Tennessee, only five have been given the honor.

““We are so proud of Dr. Ronald Barredo,” said Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover. “Here at TSU, excellence is our habit, and Dr. Barredo is continuing that tradition with this prestigious award. We applaud him, and thank him for his service to our university.”

Dr. Barredo, who is also professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, is being recognized for his work in professional and post-professional education, particularly in the area of competency assessment.

He has been actively involved with the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, with its focus on the assessment of entry-level competence through the National Physical Therapy Examination; the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties, with its focus on the assessment of continuing competence through specialist certification; the Foreign Credentialing Commission in Physical Therapy, with its focus on assessment of educational equivalence of foreign educated physical therapists; and the APTA Credentialed Clinical Instructor Program, with its focus on education and credentialing of clinical instructors.

“I am humbled and honored to be recognized as a Catherine Worthingham Fellow,” Barredo said. “My appreciation goes out to the faculty, staff and students at Tennessee State University, who make my life interesting, challenging, and fun every day.”

TSU is currently constructing a new state-of-the-art Health Sciences Building.

“This project will not only bring together a number of excellent programs under one roof – Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Cardiorespiratory Care, and Health Information Management – but will also be a hub for collaborative practice, community service, and clinical research,” Barredo said.

For more information about TSU’s College of Health Sciences, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/health_sciences/.

campus Police Chief Gregory Robinson to receive international safety award

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University Police Chief Gregory Robinson is the recipient of a prestigious international campus safety award.

Robinson has been selected to receive the 2019 International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) Award for Administrative Excellence. He will be presented the award in June at a ceremony in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

TSU Police Chief Gregory Robinson

The IACLEA is the leading authority for campus public safety. Its members represent campus law enforcement and security issues before law and policy makers, higher education officials, and members of the public around the globe.

“This award is incredibly humbling,” Robinson said. “I thank the IACLEA for the selection, and the officers who make up the TSUPD for embracing a vision that was designed to enhance the characterization of professionalism and service as a Department. In addition, a special thanks to TSU President Glenda Glover for believing in me and choosing me to lead this organization.”

Robinson lauded his officers for their roles in “decreasing crime in and around campus, along with improved methodologies that have proven to be foundational in building the many positive relationships with the students, faculty, and staff members at TSU.”

Crime on college campuses around Tennessee is down, according to a recent report by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. TSU is one school that saw major improvement from 2017 to 2018.

“We have had record numbers in decline and we want to keep it like that,” Robinson said in an interview with Nashville television station WSMV.

To see that interview, visit https://www.wsmv.com/news/crime-on-tn-college-campuses-down-according-to-tbi/article_ee05a772-7578-11e9-aaab-dbd051bb7c2f.html.

For more information about TSUPD, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/police/.

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 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven 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 hosts Metro Nashville Public Schools ‘STEAM’ Project Expo

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s College of Engineering partnered with Metro Nashville Public Schools to host the STEAM Project Expo.

About 150 students in grades 5-8 from 18 Nashville area schools participated in the event in TSU’s Kean Hall on May 8.

William Henry Oliver Middle School students showcase project at STEAM Expo. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

During the event, students showcased their collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking skills by displaying projects created throughout the year.

The projects were judged by experts in the fields of STEAM (science technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics). The main difference between STEAM and STEM, is that STEAM includes the “arts.”

“We are focusing on STEM, but we really want to tap into that creative piece,” said Jennifer Berry, director of STEAM/Science for MNPS. “When you look around Nashville, it’s … an art city. So we want to value the culture of Nashville.”

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering, said he’s glad to have the partnership with MNPS.

“TSU and the College of Engineering have been a strong supporter of STEM education for a number of years,” Hargrove said. “The goal is to recognize and encourage students in K-12 to consider STEM careers by being engaged in STEM-related projects while they’re in school.”

Brandon Gregoril, a student at William Henry Oliver Middle School, said he enjoyed meeting other students, and experts in the different STEAM fields.

“I feel privileged to do this,” said Gregoril. “Many students don’t get this opportunity. I feel I’ve accomplished one of my goals.”

Jeff Hunter, a senior program manager with the National Parks Conservation Association, was one of the Expo’s judges. He said the students were “impressive.”

“This is the next generation, the next stewards of our public lands, and wildlife,” said Hunter. “It inspires hope in me.”

Catherine Gordon, assistant professor of civil and architectural engineering at TSU, said the Expo was also a great recruitment opportunity for the university.

“To allow students to come to the university and participate in STEM activity is huge for us, especially the College of Engineering, and all STEM-related departments at TSU,” she said. “It allows the students to be familiar with TSU, know where the school is, see what we have, and then feel like they can also do it.”

TSU has received a million dollars from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to bolster undergraduate students’ interest in STEM.

Earlier this year, TSU President Glenda Glover surprised 20 students who visited the university with scholarship offers if they planned to major in a STEM course and have a good GPA.

To learn more about TSU’s College of Engineering, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/engineering/.

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 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven 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 Spring Commencement speakers the Rev. Al Sharpton, Dr. Michael E. Dyson receive honorary degrees

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University Spring Commencement speakers, civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton and bestselling author Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, were presented honorary degrees.

Sharpton gave the address at the Graduate Commencement Ceremony on May 3, and Sharpton spoke at the Undergraduate Commencement the following day.

They received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of their body of work, and their impact on society.

Both men encouraged graduates to continue to better themselves.

“Tonight, you have shown you can achieve something,” said Sharpton, who serves as the host of PoliticsNation on MSNBC. “Only you know … what you went through to get here. But through it all, you got here tonight, which proves that you can achieve something, and it proves that you can keep achieving if you use the same discipline and determination you did to graduate here tonight. You can keep going higher and higher if you push yourself to do that.”

Dyson, professor of sociology at Georgetown University, said to impact the world graduates must be literate, interconnected and transformative.

“You must be ‘LIT,’” he said, attributing the acronym to the young generation’s reference to something fun, good or exciting. “You might think classes are over so you don’t have to read. But you have to be literate in the world we live in because it is important. When you go into the world as proud Tennessee State University graduates they know you come from a great place. You got to be morally and psychologically literate.”

Georgetta Harris-Wyatt received a doctorate in psychology. She said Sharpton’s speech was motivational, that it “encouraged all the graduate students to see beyond where they are now.”

She said Sharpton’s words inspired her even more to use her degree to help youth. 

“Ultimately, I hope to work with children and adolescents in the juvenile justice system, and help them to rewrite their stories,” said Harris-Wyatt.

Charles Alexander Hill, who received his bachelor’s degree in business, said Dyson gave him and his fellow graduates “just what we needed to hear.”

“I am very prepared to face the world,” Hill said. “TSU has given me all the tools I need to succeed in my life, and the speaker was very dynamic with his words of encouragement and wisdom.”

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 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven 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.