All posts by Lucas Johnson

TSU exceeds 2019-2020 goal with more than $54 million in research awards

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has exceeded its research awards’ goal with more than $54 million from various funding agencies and sponsors. TSU officials say the amount is even more impressive considering faculty are continuing to receive awards despite financial hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

TSU President Glenda Glover

With a month still to go in the fiscal year, the university has so far received $54.2 million, which exceeds its 2019-2020 goal of $50 million. TSU is on pace to go beyond the most the university has received, which was $54.5 million in 2016.

“This is a true testament to the hard work and tenacity of our faculty and staff, particularly as we navigate the financially rough waters caused by COVID-19,” says TSU President Glenda Glover. “A crucial cornerstone of an institution’s success is measured through its research.” 

Dr. Frances Williams, associate vice president for Research and Sponsored Programs at TSU, agrees.

“TSU faculty and staff have continued to participate in scholarly activities and find success even during the pandemic as they have continued to submit proposals and receive new grant awards,” says Williams. “These grant awards provide substantial resources to the university to support the performance of cutting-edge research, student scholarships, student and faculty development and training, capacity and infrastructure development, as well as outreach to the community.” 

Some of the top awards are:

  • $11.4 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to Dr. Kimberly Smith, director of TSU’s Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences, for the “Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA).”
  • $999,999 from the National Science Foundation to the multi-disciplinary investigator team from the Colleges of Engineering and Agriculture (Drs. Frances Williams (PI), Lin Li, Richard Mu, Ying Wu, and Suping Zhou) for the “Enhancement of Research Infrastructure for Advanced Functional Materials for Biotechnology Applications.” 
  • $855,604 from DHHS to Dr. Margaret Whalen, professor in the College of Life and Physical Sciences, for the “MMC, VICC & TSU Partnership in Eliminating Cancer Disparities.”
  • $752,632 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Dr. De’Etra Young, College of Agriculture professor, for the “TSU 1890 Scholarship Program: Training and Mentoring the Next Generation of Leaders in Food and Agricultural Sciences.”
Dr. Frances Williams

Faculty members say the awards not only further place TSU – a Carnegie R2 designee – in the national spotlight, but helps to create a pipeline of outstanding workers for a competitive workforce.

Dr. Kimberly Smith says the grant from DHHS will allow TSU to continue to serve as the professional development hub for the state as it relates to child development and early childhood training. 

“One thing that makes TECTA (Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance) so unique is that we work with early childhood professionals to strengthen the workforce within the state for childcare,” says Smith.

Carmen Davis says without help from TECTA, she would not have been able to open her three-star childcare company, Ms. Carmen’s Precious Moments.

“I was working full-time and going to school, and I couldn’t afford to do both,” says Davis, who started her business in 2007. “TECTA came in to offset the price, which allowed me the opportunity to go and achieve my CDA (Child Development Associate) through their grant and their funding.”

Dr. De’Etra Young, who is also interim associate dean of academics and land-grant programs in TSU’s College of Agriculture, says the funding she received will be used to “encourage students to pursue and complete baccalaureate degrees in the food and agricultural sciences and related fields.”

Carmen Davis, owner of Ms. Carmen’s Precious Moments (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

John Barfield is director of engagement and visibility for Research and Sponsored Programs. He says the university has brought in more than $250 million in awards over the last five years.

“Our reaching $50 million with a month to go in our fiscal year is a testament to the hard work and efforts of our faculty,” says Barfield. “Dr. Glover has made research a priority for Tennessee State University and her steady leadership at the helm of TSU has contributed to creating a culture of research.”

To learn more about Research and Sponsored Programs at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/research/.

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 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 and Mt. Zion cut hunger for 10,000 Nashville families hit hardest by COVID-19 with grant from Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Over 10,000 Nashville families can put more food on their tables today because of a generous grant donation from the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation. The funds were made available through a partnership between Tennessee State University and Mt. Zion Baptist Church that grew out of Ms. Winfrey’s strong desire to help Nashville. 

Ms. Winfrey, a Big Blue alum, said TSU President Glenda Glover and Bishop Joseph Warren Walker III of Mt. Zion were recommended to her because of their great work in the community. Particularly in the case of President Glover, Ms. Winfrey said representatives with Apple suggested she connect with Glover and TSU, which has a successful coding partnership with Apple.

The tech giant is also in partnership with Ms. Winfrey, who recently spoke with local and national print outlets during a Zoom meeting to announce the $2 million grant to TSU and Mt. Zion to help the families in need.

“Everybody was already connected. I felt like I was in good hands,” said Ms. Winfrey, adding that she brainstormed with Glover and Walker on how to get help “directly to the people.”

“I was honored to receive Ms. Winfrey’s call, and even more touched by her concern for underserved communities in her home city of Nashville deeply impacted by COVID-19,” said Glover, who was a classmate of Ms. Winfrey. “A vast majority of the families benefitting are single heads of households experiencing job loss or a substantial cut in hours. The university, along with Mt. Zion, is extremely proud to have assisted with such a monumental humanitarian effort with our alumna, Ms. Winfrey.” 

“We are deeply grateful to Ms. Winfrey, who has such a heart for Nashville and asked us to help her develop a method for getting relief to the most vulnerable people as fast as possible,” said Walker. “In response, we convened an extensive network of religious, civic and business leaders who have direct knowledge of individuals and families in this city whose lives have been devastated by the confluence of disasters that have hit Nashville in 2020.” 

NashvilleNurtures, the collaboration between TSU and Mt. Zion, brought together a coalition of African-American churches and community organizations to assist in helping the city’s most at need individuals. In addition to the coronavirus, a tornado that struck parts of Nashville near TSU in early March left many families homeless. 

One beneficiary is LaWanda Jackson. She said the gift card was “truly a blessing” because her work hours had been reduced and she was still displaced by the tornado. “I honestly did not know what my next meal was going to be,” said Jackson. “The card was right on time. I’m thankful to everyone who played a part in me getting it.” 

Single mom Janice Easley was overjoyed to receive the $200 Kroger gift card. The mom of six and housekeeper said her hours had been cut as well, and she worried about having enough food available with her children out of school. 

“I was down to my last food and didn’t have anything,” said Easley. “I thank Ms. Oprah Winfrey. She didn’t have to do it but you came through. It’s a blessing.” 

Glover said, “The gratitude and appreciation expressed to Ms. Winfrey, TSU and Mt. Zion has been overwhelming. Along with single parents, we’ve been able to help people who are crucial to the city’s tourism industry; the men and women that wait tables, hotel check-in, and small business owners suffering financial loss. As a college president, I see first-hand how this virus has affected every aspect of daily living, financial, operational and of course educational.” 

Ms. Winfrey said she was compelled to help because of how African-American communities are being disproportionally affected by the virus. She voiced her concern about the lack of access to healthcare, leading to a larger number of deaths and the economic toll on communities of color.

“The reason I’m talking about it is because there is going to be a need for people of means to step up, and you got those people right here in Nashville,” said Ms. Winfrey. “I mean, this thing is not going away. Even when the virus is gone.”

Agreeing with Winfrey, Glover said it was important that TSU continue to help families as they face uncertain futures due to the devastating impact of the virus and that’s being done with the newly created COVID-19 Academy at the university.

“TSU has established the COVID-19 Academy to continue outreach to the Nashville community as it recovers from the pandemic,” said Glover. “The academy will work to bridge the health care disparity for people of color that experts say will have a lasting impact for generations to come through a holistic approach combining access to care, human services and education.” 

The grant to NashvilleNurtures was a part of the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation’s $12 million COVID-19 Relief Fund. The grants support organizations in Ms. Winfrey’s “home cities” of Nashville, TN; Chicago, IL; Milwaukee, WI; Baltimore; and Kosciusko, MS that are helping underserved communities currently experiencing a disproportionate impact from the pandemic.

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 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 planning to start classes in the fall, created task force for additional safety measures and best practices

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is planning to start classes in the fall, but under additional safety protocols to protect the public health and safety of its students and employees.

In addition to a Pandemic Task Force that currently meets every day to address COVID-19 related issues, TSU President Glenda Glover is appointing a Fall Course Delivery Task Force to help develop the best strategy for classes this fall.

“We are evaluating and developing operational safety measures, best practices, and academic related logistical options to prepare for the return of students in the fall with the focus on the health and safety of the campus community,” President Glover said recently in a correspondence with TSU faculty and staff.  

“These measures will include the ongoing cleaning of campus facilities, the use of larger classrooms and hybrid in-person and online course presentations, and the implementation of appropriate social distancing standards.”

While the plan is to open as planned for the fall, TSU officials said that will change if the threat of COVID-19 resurfaces.

Meanwhile, like most higher education institutions across the country, TSU’s students completed the semester online and the majority of the university’s employees continue to work remotely.

TSU has also postponed or cancelled all in-person events until further notice. Several events are occurring virtually as arranged by the respective divisions of the university.

Whether students are on campus or not, TSU has taken steps to meet their needs. For those students who needed digital devices to complete their online coursework for the semester and summer, the university provided them with more than 40 laptops and tablets.

Last month, TSU students received housing and meal refunds, and the university is currently using millions of federal dollars to help with student expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic. The university has distributed the funds as emergency financial aid grants to students.

Graduate students will receive a one-time grant of $500. Undergraduate students who are not PELL Grant eligible will receive $600, and undergraduate students who are PELL eligible will receive $800. 

TSU students say they appreciate the university’s effort to accommodate them, especially their instructors, but they acknowledge the distance learning has been challenging because of the absence of things like face to face interaction with their instructors. 

“We were able to go to their office, now it’s mainly emails,” says Rekha Berry, a senior from Mobile, Alabama, majoring in history and political science. “I definitely miss the face to face with instructors.”

Nevertheless, they are finding ways to adjust. For Treveon Hayes of Memphis, Tennessee, who has two to four classes a day, he practices better time management.

“After class, I give myself about five minutes to use the restroom, grab a snack, then get right back to class,” adds Hayes, an elementary education major. “I have to time manage myself. The work has to be done. No excuses.”

Jakori Hollinger, a music education major from Montgomery, Alabama, says the lack of in-person instruction has caused him to do more reading and research in order to understand certain concepts.

“Whereas, if I was sitting in front of them, they could just show me how to do it,” says Hollinger, “I could just pick it up and it would be no issue.”

However, despite the circumstances, he lauded TSU’s faculty and staff for “working with students to make this transition as easy as possible.”

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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 Offering Full Scholarships to High School, Community College Graduates Majoring in Agricultural Sciences

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is making college more affordable for high school and community college graduates looking to major in food and agricultural sciences.  The College of Agriculture will use its portion of a $14 million federal grant to provide full and partial scholarships to undergraduate students.

The funding is made possible through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s 1890 Scholarship Program, authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. 

TSU President Glenda Glover says the University is extremely pleased to receive this funding that comes at a critical time for students.  

“Many students and their families have incurred additional expenses because of COVID-19, and this funding will allow us to retain and bring academically talented students to the university to be a part of our outstanding agriculture programs,” says President Glover. 

“We are thankful to Congress for providing funding to TSU, and particularly Congressman David Scott, the 1890 scholarship bill sponsor; the Tennessee Congressional Delegation, and U.S. Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue for making this happen.” 

TSU’s portion of the funding is approximately $752,000. Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, says this will fund full-ride scholarships for at least 20 freshmen and community college graduates per year for the next four years. 

USDA 1890 Scholar Kristin Day

“Food supply and security are major concerns for our nation right now, and the College of Agriculture has nationally recognized programs, and now these scholarship dollars help students wanting to pursue degrees in these areas,” says Dr. Reddy.  

“We are excited about this opportunity to recruit and fund outstanding young people in agriculture.” 

Senior Kristin Day, a USDA 1890 Scholar, says more than anything the scholarship provides students financial relief so they can focus on completing their degree.

“It helps relieve the burden of funding for college, and gives you an opportunity to just focus on your school work and developing your passion,” says Day, an agricultural sciences major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “It’s a great program that students need to take advantage of.”

Jonathan Alford, an agricultural sciences major and also an USDA 1890 Scholar at TSU, agrees. 

“The scholarship not only allows students to enhance their skills and learn new things about agriculture, but get an even better understanding of why it’s needed in the world,” says Alford, a junior from Nashville. 

Dr. De’Etra Young is interim associate dean of academics and land-grant programs in TSU’s College of Agriculture. She says the scholarships help create a pipeline of outstanding workers for the global workforce.

USDA 1890 Scholar Jonathan Alford

“Our scholarship program seeks to encourage students to pursue and complete baccalaureate degrees in the food and agricultural sciences and related fields,” says Young. “This will lead to a highly-skilled food and agricultural systems workforce.” 

Undergraduate students, with the required GPA, must pursue degrees in the following areas: Agribusiness, Agriculture Leadership, Education and Communication (ALEC), Biotechnology, Environmental Sciences, Food and Animal Sciences, and Food and Nutritional Sciences (Dietetics).

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

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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 provides emergency grants to students from CARES Act funding

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will use $7.2 million in federal aid to help students and support institutional needs as a result of COVID-19.  

The funds are being provided to TSU as part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The university has received $3.6 million, the first half of the allocation, which is specifically for student expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic. The university has distributed the funds as emergency financial aid grants to students. The remaining amount will be released later and is reserved for institutional use to cover costs associated with significant changes due to the coronavirus.

Human Performance and Sports Science major Maddison Metcalf says she will use the money to enroll in summer school. Metcalf received her emergency funds on Monday.

“This was unexpected, but very much needed,” says Metcalf, a rising TSU senior. “I had an old laptop and the online class load added more wear and tear to the device. I used the money saved for summer school to help me get another one.” 

Fellow rising TSU senior Matthew Benton is putting his money away for the upcoming semester. “The funds went directly into my savings to help me pay for the fall semester,” says Benton. The business major from Atlanta adds that he wants to make sure all expenses are covered for his final year at TSU.

“The university is attempting to assist as many students as possible that have been impacted by Covid-19,” says Chase, TSU’s vice president of business and finance. 

“Qualifying undergraduate students, graduate students, PELL eligible students, and those experiencing hardships as a result of the pandemic will receive financial support.”

The funds will help students cover “those unplanned expenses,” adds Chase, that have occurred as a result of the pandemic. 

Graduate students will receive a one-time grant of $500. Undergraduate students who are not PELL Grant eligible will receive $600, and undergraduate students who are PELL eligible will receive $800. 

This funding is separate from refunds or financial aid students have received from the university. Last month, TSU students received housing and meal refunds.  

“Each student has her or his own unique challenges as a result of Covid-19,” says Chase. “These funds are flexible and allows them to be used in a way that best suits the students’ individual needs.”

Terrence Izzard, associate vice president of admissions and recruitment at TSU, says “finances play a major role in a student’s ability to enroll, persist, and graduate from college.” 

“TSU is committed to doing all we can to help students remain in school,” says Izzard. “Funding from the CARES Act is certainly helping us keep talented students enrolled.” 

The university will use the second half of the allocation to enhance online learning and other expenses associated with new campus operation measures implemented because of COVID-19. Summer sessions are 100 percent online. They started May 4 and run through August 6.

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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 committed to seeing students succeed during pandemic by providing laptops to those in need

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is making sure students have the digital devices they need to complete their coursework online as a result of COVID-19.

On March 16, TSU was the first public university in Tennessee to transition to all online classes because of the coronavirus. TSU officials checked with faculty to find out which students needed devices – like laptops and tablets – to be able to successfully work remotely.

Laptops arrive at TSU to be distributed to students. (Submitted photo).

“The impact of COVID-19 challenged us to reflect on student learning and the efforts of us all to maintain quality in the midst of a natural event,” said Dr. Alisa Mosley, interim vice president for academic affairs at TSU. “Faculty are grateful that we were able to provide these devices for use in their courses. We received requests from students in all majors and we addressed them.”

TSU freshman Nakailah Shields-Robinson said the laptop she received has been very useful. She said she wasn’t sure what she was going to do when her computer crashed.

“I have an iPad, but that’s not really good either,” said Shields-Robinson, a criminal justice major from St. Louis, Missouri. “So, when the laptop came, it’s been helping me write my papers. I have a five-page paper that’s coming up, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to do that on the iPad.”

Junior Joyvon Dickerson, a human performance and sports science major from Chicago, agreed.

“It’s kind of hard trying to write a five-page paper off your phone,” said Dickerson, who also received a laptop. “It’s nice to be at a school that cares about its students in this way.” 

Dr. Robbie Melton, TSU’s associate vice president for Smart Technology and Innovation, said once the devices were shipped, “we followed up to give them personalized tutoring on how to use the device.”  

“We had someone personally call them and walk them through, as well as help them with their online courses,” added Melton.

She said the university received donations to purchase more than 20 laptops and 20 tablets. One of the contributions was $25,000 from Fifth Third Bank.

 “To be competitive, both academically and for future work, they’ve got to have a digital device,” said Hosetta Coleman, senior vice president, university relations at Fifth Third Bank. “You look at our world, this whole virtual paradigm. If our communities are not ready for a digital environment, they have one more factor that makes them less competitive against others.”

Mosley said the university plans to “maintain this connection to technology in the future.”

“We moved to e-textbooks for general education in 2015 and we anticipate our work with open educational resources (OER) will increase,” said Mosley. “Our students will need devices as a part of the new landscape for their learning and careers.”

TSU has 23 distance education undergraduate and graduate programs and will offer most of the classes online this summer. Summer sessions are scheduled to begin in late May, early June. To learn more about the university’s online courses, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/online/.

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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 alumna Earnestine Dawson keeps things moving smoothly on Capitol Hill amid COVID-19 pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover and other alumni say they’re proud of the impact alumna Earnestine Dawson is making on Capitol Hill amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Earnestine Dawson poses for graduation shoot at TSU. (Submitted photo)

Dawson, a 2005 graduate of TSU, recently made national headlines when she was profiled by The New York Times. She is the House Democratic Caucus’ digital director, charged with convening and managing digital conferences on congressional activity and policy debate. 

However, because of the virtual Congress the Caucus has set up for members due to the coronavirus, Dawson’s direction has become even more important to lawmakers. 

“At a time of stress and uncertainty, I’m so proud to see a TSU alumna helping to calm the waters at our nation’s capital, and in such an important role,” says President Glover. “Our University motto is Think, Work, Serve, and Ms. Dawson epitomizes that and more, especially during this unprecedented time in our country’s history. Her responsibilities highlight the caliber of students Tennessee State and other HBCUs produce that go on to have a global impact.”

Since March 16, Dawson has moderated more than a dozen two-hour caucus calls, and facilitated over 300 questions from 235 lawmakers. Her cheery voice is a welcome sound to lawmakers as she directs them to do things like “press star three” to ask questions, and to unmute their phones when they have the floor to speak. 

Some lawmakers say her voice is a reminder of what it was like when there was just radio, others describe the calmness of her direction as the glue that holds them together in uncertain times.

Dawson, humbled by their comments and the national attention she’s received, says she’s just doing her job. 

“The work is more important than me as an individual,” says Dawson. “I help them know that everything is going to be OK. They are making some tough decisions for the American people.”

A native of Cleveland, Mississippi, Dawson dreamed of becoming the nation’s first black woman elected to Congress from Mississippi. While at TSU, she majored in speech communication with an emphasis in mass communication, and was active on campus. She was the Junior Class Representative on the Student Government Association, and also pledged Alpha Chi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Incorporated.  

Earnestine Dawson (far left) in National Broadcasting Society photo sophomore year at TSU. (Submitted photo)

Amaris L. Johnson joined the sorority the same time Dawson did in 2003. She says even back then, Dawson’s pleasant, cheery attitude stood out. 

“She had this signature tagline. Anytime she gave a report or her name, she would say, ‘Greetings and salutations, my name is Earnestine Elaine Dawson,’” recalls Johnson, adding that her sorority sister was also good at resolving issues. 

“When we were disconnected, she was always able to defuse the situation and bring a level of calmness. When I read the (New York Times) article, I saw the same thing. That’s her.” 

Alum Charles Galbreath agrees.

“What’s so funny about the article, that was her spirit then,” says Galbreath, a former Mr. TSU who interacted with Dawson at the SGA. “Just a good energy. When she walked in a room, her positivity and her attitude walked in with her.”

Joni McReynolds, president of the TSU National Alumni Association, says the attention Dawson is receiving makes her proud. 

“I often say, TSU prepares our alumni to go anywhere and handle the most difficult situations,” says McReynolds. “She is a prime example of this.”

Dawson acknowledges TSU helped make her the person she is today. 

“TSU was my growing up moment,” she says. “I walked away from TSU being much stronger than I came in, and I’m really appreciative of that.”   

To read The New York Times profile on Dawson, visit https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/us/politics/democrats-coronavirus-earnestine.html.

NOTE: Featured photo by James Marrow

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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.CHERYL

TSU faculty, students use online classes to continue teaching and learning amid COVID-19 pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Treveon Hayes is not letting anything stop him from completing his course work and ultimately getting his college degree – not even the coronavirus. 

Treveon Hayes. (Submitted photo)

The Tennessee State University freshman is among countless students at higher education institutions across the country who have transitioned to online learning as a precaution to contracting COVID-19. 

“It’s been an adjustment, but I have goals, and I can’t let anything stop me from reaching them,” says Hayes, an elementary education major from Memphis, Tennessee. 

Earlier this month, TSU President Glenda Glover and other university administrators held a live meeting via Zoom with over 200 student leaders to assure them that TSU is dedicated to accommodating them while they finish the semester remotely as a result of the virus. 

“We are going to do everything humanly possible to accommodate you to ensure that you succeed in spite of this very daunting challenge,” said Dr. Glover. “It is tough for everyone across the world as we face the daily uncertainties and dangers that this virus presents. We’re going to do whatever we can to ensure that you remain whole.”

TSU students say they appreciate the effort of university faculty and staff, but they acknowledge the distance learning has been challenging because of the absence of things like face to face interaction with their instructors. 

“We were able to go to their office, now it’s mainly emails,” says Rekha Berry, a senior from Mobile, Alabama, majoring in history and political science. “I definitely miss the face to face with instructors.”

Music education major Jakori Hollinger practicing at home. (Submitted photo)

Nevertheless, they are finding ways to adjust. For Hayes, who has two to four classes a day, he practices better time management.

“After class, I give myself about five minutes to use the restroom, grab a snack, then get right back to class,” adds Hayes. “I have to time manage myself. The work has to be done. No excuses.”

Jakori Hollinger, a music education major from Montgomery, Alabama, says the lack of in-person instruction has caused him to do more reading and research in order to understand certain concepts.

“Whereas, if I was sitting in front of them, they could just show me how to do it,” says Hollinger, “I could just pick it up and it would be no issue.”

However, despite the circumstances, he lauded TSU’s faculty and staff for “working with students to make this transition as easy as possible.”

On March 16, TSU was the first public university in Tennessee to transition to all online classes as a result of COVID-19.

Dr. Robbie Melton, interim dean of Graduate and Professional Studies at TSU, says prior to the coronavirus the university was exploring several types of online options for students. 

“We were already positioned to transition online when the coronavirus hit, which is why it only took us less than a week for a full transition,” says Melton. “We had the software and the tools and the training. And we had faculty training every day, including weekends, to assist the faculty in this new norm.”

Dr. Cheryl Seay is executive director of TSU’s Global Online and the lead person in helping TSU’s faculty transition to online instruction. She says sessions are held seven days a week via Zoom to address faculty questions or concerns, and she’s pleased with the participation and adjustment. 

Speech pathology grad student Jordan Robinson prepares to use a clinical simulation. (Submitted photo)

“The faculty have really stepped up to the plate,” says Seay. “They are doing everything they can to embrace this. I’m just really proud of our faculty.”

Dr. Tina Smith, chair of TSU’s Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, set up the first distance education program for the state of Tennessee in the area of speech pathology when she came to TSU in 2005. As a result, Smith says her students have had an easier time adjusting to remote learning. The biggest change she’s had to make involves the clinical component. 

“I now use clinical simulation, virtual patients,” says Smith. “Real clients, but online. We’re also using Zoom to do telehealth with our clients. That’s the new frontier for speech pathology.”

Dr. Learotha Williams, an associate professor of history at TSU, says he realizes these are difficult times for everyone, which is why he checks on the well-being of his students at the beginning of each online class. 

“I ask how each of them are doing, and what I can do to assist,” says Williams. “I also ask them to write a journal entry about how the coronavirus is impacting their lives where they live. It allows them to put their feelings on paper. And as a historian, it’s given me a wide gaze of what students are going through during this period.”

Like many students, Dr. Robert Elliott, chair of TSU’s Music Department, says he too misses the face-to-face interaction. He described the challenge of trying to virtually help a student who was playing Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” on his bass guitar. 

“I’ve got my instrument (bass guitar) in my living room, and he’s got his instrument in his living room,” says Elliott. “He told me at one point, ‘Doc, I can’t wait until we’re back in your office.’ I said me too.” 

TSU has 23 distance education undergraduate and graduate programs and will offer most of the classes online this summer. Summer sessions are scheduled to begin in late May, early June. To learn more, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/aeao/.

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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 Mourns the Loss of assistant football coach Tarvaris Jackson

Courtesy: TSU Athletics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State assistant football coach Tarvaris Jackson passed away late Sunday night in Alabama. Jackson served as the quarterbacks coach for the 2019 season.

“My heart is so heavy with hurt hearing of the passing of Coach Jackson,” said TSU Director of Athletics Teresa Phillips. “We were blessed with him for a short time but he did make an impact with our young men in this one season at TSU. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his young family and all who knew and loved him. We lift up all who are mourning today. Each loss is piercing. Today I ask God’s comfort to spread through the TSU community, the nation and the world.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Jackson family in this time of bereavement,” said TSU Head Coach Rod Reed. “We are devastated. He was an awesome young man and he will be missed by our players, our staff and the TSU family.”

Jackson mentored TSU quarterback Cameron Rosendahl to one of the better seasons in Big Blue history. The senior signal caller set a program record for completions in a season (241) and became the fourth player at TSU to throw for over 3, 000 yards. Rosendahl’s 3,023 yards is the second highest total in a single season at Tennessee State.

Department of Media Relations

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

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 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.

Tennessee State University Names Mikki Allen New Athletics Director 

By Kelli Sharpe

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dr. Mikki Allen has been named the next director of athletics at Tennessee State University. TSU President Glenda Glover made the announcement on Thursday during a virtual press conference that included top administrators, head coaches and alumni, along with members of the press.

Dr. Mikki Allen

Allen comes to TSU after 11 years in sports administration, including his most recent position as the assistant director of athletics for Player Relations and Development at the University of Tennessee. Under his leadership, Allen set a new standard in the Southeastern Conference by creating a comprehensive development and transitional assistance program for Tennessee football student-athletes. The program was designed to guide football student-athletes from enrollment through their transition to post-football professional careers.

“With the retirement of AD Teresa Phillips after a stellar career here at TSU, it was essential that we find a leader that could build upon our recent successes, as well as our storied legacy of winning,” Glover said. “I believe we have found that in Dr. Allen. He’s a successful leader who puts student-athletes first, builds strong relationships both internally and externally from his success as a fundraiser, and just as important, Allen is committed to the development of coaches and staff to achieve at a very high level. We are extremely excited about the future of TSU Athletics.”

Allen, a four-year letterman and member of the UT 1999 National Championship Team, has strong ties to TSU, where he earned his master’s degree. His wife received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the university as well.

“I’m honored that President Glover has entrusted me to be the new Director of Athletics for Tennessee State University. To have the opportunity to be reconnected to our TSU family means everything to my wife, Jekia, and me,” Allen said. 

 “Tennessee State University is very special to my family’s legacy. This is about returning to an institution that I not only have a great passion for, but one that has been both impactful and transformative throughout my life. I have an incredible amount of respect and admiration for the work that Teresa Phillips accomplished during her 16-year tenure.  As the new Director of Athletics, I look forward to carrying the torch forward and elevating the sports programs at TSU to the top of the OVC pyramid.”

After a brief stint in the NFL due to injury, Allen joined the Tennessee Athletics staff in 2009 and excelled during multiple record-breaking fundraising years.  Serving as the Director of Athletics Development, Allen played an invaluable role for Tennessee Athletics in helping to secure more than $20 million in capital campaign gifts during his tenure as an athletics fundraiser.

The new AD will lead TSU Athletics that consist of 15 programs, and will officially begin in his new position May 1.  UT Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer called Allen a born leader and winner.

“Tennessee State is getting a man of great integrity and a born leader,” Fulmer said. “Mikki has made impactful contributions across several departments here at Tennessee over the years and has earned the respect from administrators and staff all throughout campus. The vast experience he’s gained has him well prepared to lead a department of his own. A former national championship student-athlete, he knows firsthand what a winning culture looks like. I know he’ll work tirelessly to build relationships and develop robust support systems to deliver a first-class student-athlete experience.”

Allen replaces Teresa Phillips, who is stepping down after 16 years with the university. Student-athletes excelled in the classroom under her leadership and posted some of the school’s highest graduation rates.  

Allen’s wife, Jekia, is a ’99 TSU graduate and currently is an elementary school Assistant Principal.  The couple has two children, Mikenzie Rae (12) and Jansen Michael Allen (8). 

Allen, 42, is a native of Middle Tennessee (Murfreesboro, TN), received his Bachelor of Arts and Science degree at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 2001, Master of Arts and Science degree in Sports Administration from Tennessee State University in 2007 and a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from Trevecca Nazarene University in 2016.

Department of Media Relations

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

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 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.