All posts by Lucas Johnson

TSU alumni giving exceeds half million dollars in honor of parents

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The children of two prominent Tennessee State University alumni have donated $250,000 in honor of their parents who attended TSU 80 years ago.

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TSU alumnus Damon Lee III, (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Damon Lee III, a 1967 graduate with a Business Administration degree, made the donation in the names of Damon and Rachel Lee at TSU’s 2016 Scholarship Appreciation Reception on April 7. His sister, Kimberly Lee-Lamb, also contributed to the gift, which will benefit TSU’s College of Business by providing scholarships to out-of-state juniors and seniors majoring in business.

The Damon and Rachel Lee Scholarship Endowment Fund was established in 1999 with a $200,000 donation to TSU. The family donated $50,000 to the university in 2005, and with this latest donation, their total contributions to the university exceed $500,000.

TSU officials say the family’s recent donation is among the top five given by a family in the university’s history.

“We are very grateful for the contributions the Lee family has made to Tennessee State University over the years,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “This latest donation not only shows their continued commitment to TSU, but their desire to better the lives of students by helping them get a quality education to compete in the global marketplace.”

Damon and Rachel Lee were college sweethearts. Damon was a founding member of TSU’s Beta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, and graduated with honors in 1935 with a degree in History. Years later, after relocating to Los Angeles, he earned a Doctor of Chiropractic degree and license.

Rachel was a Business Education major and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. After graduating in 1936, she began a career as a business education teacher at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, Georgia. She continued her teaching career in Los Angeles at Los Angeles Unified School District.

Damon Lee III said both his parents were business advocates who believed in “people having a knowledge of business, regardless of your profession.”

“The whole world revolves around business,” said Lee, a retired Los Angeles-based corporate marketing executive.

Eloise Abernathy Alexis is associate vice president for institutional advancement at TSU. She said while the latest donation by the Lee family will benefit students, she believes it will also inspire other alumni to give to the university.

“Regardless of the amount, when an alum sees another alum give, they say … ‘I should do that too,’” said Alexis.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

White House official urges TSU faculty, students to take advantage of federal funding to promote research

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The head of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities urged faculty at Tennessee State University to take advantage of federal funding to promote their research.

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State Rep. Harold Love, Jr.; TSU Chief Research Officer Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young; Valerie Williams, director of the Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences, attend the symposium. (Photo By John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Dr. Ivory A. Toldson spoke on April 6 during TSU’s 38th Annual University-Wide Research Symposium, which gives faculty, undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to present their research, as well as hear presentations on how to expand it.

Toldson was appointed by President Barack Obama to devise national strategies to sustain and expand federal support to the nation’s 100 HBCUs.

Toldson said before his speech at the symposium that TSU is in the top 10 as far as generating revenue from the federal government for research activities, and he wants to encourage the university to continue “tapping into these resources and make sure that they have every opportunity to build a robust research infrastructure.”

“It’s an 1890 land-grant institution that has a good working relationship with the federal government,” Toldson said of TSU. “It has a historic mission and a current mission that is in line with President Obama’s priority of making sure that students graduate on time and have the type of experiences that help them to land good jobs after college.”

Dr. Earnestine Easter with the National Science Foundation also spoke at the weeklong symposium that began on April 4. She said one of TSU’s strengths is its strong connection to the community, noting the Nashville Business Incubation Center, which is run by TSU.

“You have a connection … where you’re able to kind of demonstrate your expertise in doing innovations and connecting to the business community,” said Easter, a program officer in the division of graduate education in the directorate for education and human resources at NSF. “I’m real excited about the positioning that Tennessee State has right now, and the opportunities for it to do even more.”

Joshua O’Hair, a graduate research assistant in TSU’s Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department, said this is the second symposium he’s attended at TSU and that it’s been helpful in applying for grants.

“They definitely have some really good opportunities,” said O’Hair. “They let us know what we need to have for a really good competitive application.”

Last year, TSU set a record with $51 million in new research awards.

Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, TSU’s chief research officer, said the university is hoping to break another record this year, “and a big part of that is for faculty members to know what’s available so we can write those proposals and get funding.”

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU leads national service project that continues legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is using funding it was awarded to help facilitate a national service initiative involving 10 other higher education institutions in the southeast region.

Following a competitive grant process, TSU received $447,000 in June from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the agency that leads the national Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in service, and this initiative falls in line with not just his belief, but TSU’s motto – Think. Work. Serve,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “We’re proud that TSU was selected as one of six institutions to help lead this national service project.”

TSU’s Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement was one of six organizations to receive federal and matching funds from CNCS to mobilize volunteers to honor King’s memory through service projects. TSU then provided the 10 regional HBCUs with mini-grants up to $4,400.

Dazzjah Jones
TSU student Dazzjah Jones helps with beautification project at a local day care center. (By John Cross, TSU Media Service)

Some of the institutions used the grants for activities in January, while others are doing theirs through August. The activities include community beautification, disaster relief initiatives, and financial literacy and on-site education events.

Specifically at TSU, which performed its activities the first weekend in April, students and community volunteers packed disaster relief boxes, helped workers at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, and partnered with the Nashville Area American Red Cross to help install smoke detectors in homes.

Carrie Grishaber was one of several workers with the American Red Cross who were with students when they visited homes to promote fire safety.

“This benefits the community because we get the students really involved in the neighborhoods,”Grishaber said. “People get to see the Red Cross and college students together, making a positive difference.”

TSU student Tyler Lewis was one of the more than 400 individuals who signed up to participate in TSU’s MLK Day of Service. She was in one of the groups that visited homes near the college to teach people how to be prepared for home fires and to install smoke alarms where needed.

“I know this will help the community,” said Lewis, an 18-year-old psychology major. “Lives are lost every year due to not knowing, or not understanding, ways to protect yourself when it comes to fire.”

At Second Harvest Food Bank, volunteer services manager Stacie Denton said she’s grateful for TSU’s volunteer service.

“Volunteers are critical to our day-to-day operations and provide invaluable support in the fight against hunger in Middle Tennessee,” Denton said.

TSU junior Christina Young said the activities give her and other students a chance “to give back.”

“I think it’s very important to give back and be aware of other surroundings,” said the 21-year-old Young, who is majoring in mass communications. “This makes you not just think about yourself, but think about others.”

Established in 1993, CNCS engages more than five million Americans in service through different programs each year. The funding is intended to get more Americans to observe the MLK federal holiday as a day of service in communities, and encourage them to make a long-term commitment to community service.

“We want people to realize that Dr. King’s holiday is not just a day off,” said Shirley Nix-Davis, director of a youth empowerment program at TSU and one of the MLK Day of Service project directors. “But it’s an opportunity to serve, and continue serving throughout the year.”

The colleges and universities that received mini-grants from TSU are Albany State University, American Baptist College, Benedict College, Clinton College, Dillard University, Huston-Tillotson University, Jackson State University, Morehouse College, Southern University and A&M College, and Talladega College.

 

Black Girls Rock founder encourages women to lead, innovate, serve

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Black Girls Rock founder Beverly Bond has a message for TSU students: “Anybody can be a voice to make a difference.”

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TSU President Glenda Glover, Black Girls Rock founder Beverly Bond, and Nashville Mayor Megan Barry at the Women of Legend and Merit Awards dinner. (By John Cross, TSU Media Relations)
Bond, who is also CEO of the global nonprofit mentoring organization, was the keynote speaker at TSU’s Ninth Women of Legend and Merit Awards dinner on March 22.

She said before the event that she wants to empower and encourage students, particularly young women, to be leaders, and realize they have a purpose.

“Through my journey, I’m hoping to share wisdom and encouragement and inspiration on how to step into the next leg of your own journey,” said Bond, who spoke at a luncheon on campus and participated in a lecture series before the dinner. “The process is probably, if not more important, it’s definitely as important as the destination. And I think that sometimes people miss that. And so, I’m hoping my story inspires others to see that anybody can be a voice to make a difference.”

Founded in 2006, the mission of Black Girls Rock is to empower young women to lead, innovate, and serve.

“Black Girls Rock builds the self-esteem and self-worth of young women of color by changing their outlook on life, broadening their horizons and providing tools for self-empowerment and efficacy,” according to the organization’s website.

TSU student Kaila Boyd is a fan of Black Girls Rock. She said Bond’s message and the organization’s mission are inspiring.

“My generation, we’re about to be up next,” said Boyd, who is a sophomore majoring in communications. “We have to empower each other in order to reach that goal of success.”

TSU President Glenda Glover said she’s glad Bond was able to come to Nashville, and that “her amazing achievements truly embody the University’s motto of think, work, serve.”

Five women were honored during the awards dinner, which benefits TSU’s Women’s Center. They are: Nashville Mayor Megan Barry; businesswoman Jacky Akbari; Nashville Circuit Court Judge Angela Cox; Dr. Sandra Holt, former director of TSU’s Women’s Center and Honors Program; and Latrisha Jemison, senior vice president and regional community affairs manager at Regions Bank.

“The Women’s Center serves a critical role by empowering women through mentorship and education programs that create stronger bonds and professional development opportunities for students and faculty alike,” said Barry, the city’s first female mayor.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry says TSU’s Women’s Center plays a ‘critical role’ in many lives

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Nashville Mayor Megan Barry says Tennessee State University’s Women’s Center plays a “critical role” in the lives of the university’s students, as well as its employees.

Barry, the city’s first female mayor, is one of five women who will be honored on March 22 at TSU’s Ninth Women of Legend and Merit Awards dinner, which benefits the Women’s Center.

“The Women’s Center serves a critical role by empowering women through mentorship and education programs that create stronger bonds and professional development opportunities for students and faculty alike,” Barry said. “I’m honored to have the chance to show my support for this important program at the Women of Legend and Merit Awards dinner later this month.”

Besides Mayor Barry, other honorees include businesswoman Jacky Akbari; Nashville Circuit Court Judge Angela Cox; Dr. Sandra Holt, former director of TSU’s Women’s Center and Honors Program; and Latrisha Jemison, senior vice president and regional community affairs manager at Regions Bank.

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Women’s Center coordinator Seanne Wilson talks with students. (By John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

For nearly 10 years, the center, located on the second floor of TSU’s Floyd-Payne Campus Center, has worked to mentor and empower young women attending TSU from across the country. It’s among a handful of historically black colleges and universities with similar centers.

“Our Women’s Center does a tremendous job in helping young women discover their voice and their purpose on campus, and ultimately in their community and workplace,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “For almost a decade, the center has nurtured and mentored students in an environment they categorized as a home away from home setting that allows them to flourish on our campus. It’s a special place.”

TSU student Alicia Jones agreed the atmosphere of the center has a “home feel” that allows students to be comfortable.

“I can come in, do some homework, and just talk about various things,” said Jones, a 20-year-old mass communications major from Memphis.

The center also has an open door for administrators, faculty and staff who may need some type of assistance. For instance, the center recently helped a homeless staffer find housing and offered her other assistance.

Coordinator Seanne Wilson said the center also helps students with issues that range from financial needs to domestic abuse. It also has programs like “Wisdom Speaks,” in which alumni return to the campus to engage students in empowering discussions, as well as a clothing boutique.

“Several of our students are first generation college students and have a very limited wardrobe, with many of the pieces being inappropriate for a college setting,” Wilson said. “Some young ladies, if they’re interviewing or doing internships, will come to the center looking for something to wear.”

While most of its visitors are women, young men drop by from time to time to talk or participate in group discussions.

Student Alan Bond said he likes talking about relationships with his female counterparts.

“It gives people a space to be able to talk,” said the 21-year-old computer science major. “It’s good to just hear the other side. An example of that would be relationships; my perspective on relationships, versus a woman’s perspective.”

In addition to honoring the five women, Wilson said a $500 “book award” will be given to a TSU student at the awards dinner on March 22. And starting in the spring, two students will receive $500 each per semester in financial aid to assist with expenses.

Beverly Bond, CEO and founder of Black Girls Rock, a global women’s empowerment movement and nonprofit mentoring organization, will be the keynote speaker at the dinner.

“The TSU family and community are pleased to have Ms. Bond as our guest speaker for this signature event,” President Glover said. “Her amazing achievements truly embody the University’s motto of think, work, serve, and we look forward to hearing her incredible journey.”

For more information about the Women’s Center or the March 22 dinner visit: www.tnstate.edu/womenscenter/legend.aspx.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Event educates small businesses about contract opportunities with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently hosted a small business outreach event at Tennessee State University.

The one-day event on March 16 at TSU’s Avon Williams Campus allowed small business owners to learn strategies for identifying and pursuing contract opportunities with HHS, and meet with federal government representatives.

“We want to provide information to small businesses that can help them advance what they want to do, as well as advance the mission of HHS,” said Teresa Lewis, director of HHS’ Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.

Lewis said the agency uses small businesses to assist in strengthening the health care of all Americans by advancing scientific knowledge, innovation, health care safety and accountability.

TSU was selected because the university is “doing some great things in the area of research that mirrors the work that we’re doing at the Department of Health and Human Services,” Lewis said.

Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, TSU’s chief research officer, said she’s glad the university had the opportunity to partner with the federal agency and looks forward to future collaboration.

“TSU, because of our interest in helping the community, economic development and because of our rich history in small business development, we agreed to be the partner in providing the venue for this program and in providing access to information on small businesses that’s beneficial,” she said.

Business owner Lincoln Tyson traveled from Washington, D.C. to attend the event because he wants to open a business in Nashville.

“Being a small business, I’m just trying to branch out and do some things in different parts of the country,” said Tyson, whose company does facilities-based work. “This is an opportunity to network, and gain information that will help me open an office in Nashville.

For more information about OSDBU, visit: www.hhs.gov/grants/small-business-programs.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU continues implementation of security plan with new police chief and other safety measures

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is continuing to implement its 10-Point Safety Enhancement Plan with the hiring of a new police chief and additional safety measures.

University officials announced March 14 that Gregory Robinson has returned to his alma mater to take the top position. Robinson, who has over 30 years of experience in law enforcement, is coming from Vanderbilt University where he was in charge of the entire police operation on the main campus that included nearly 100 police and security officers.

“I’m extremely honored to have been offered and accepted the position of Assistant Vice President and Chief of Police of this prestigious institution,” Robinson said. “l look forward to carrying out the plan set forth by President Glover that will continue to enhance campus safety, and serve the TSU community.“

TSU President Glenda Glover said the University is very pleased with the experience and qualifications that Chief Robinson brings to the University’s public safety program.

“It was important to have an individual with a vast background in law enforcement, and with specific knowledge of higher education public safety policies and procedures,” Glover said. “Our new chief has an extensive and impressive employment history that will further enhance the work we have already begun as we continue to make the TSU Police Department even better as it serves the campus family.”

President Glover commended Interim Police Chief Anthony Carter for his leadership during his time as head of TSUPD.

“I truly appreciate Carter for his hard work and commitment to the University,” she said.

In addition to hiring a new chief, the campus is now enclosed by more fencing and has new traffic control gates that were installed over the last month. The upgrades are part of the University’s safety enhancement plan instituted last October.

The current fencing initiative is nearly 75 percent complete along the west side of the campus and is scheduled for completion this semester. The first phase was completed in January 2015 and included the campus area facing 33rd Avenue, enclosing several residence halls. The fencing initiative is an effort to curb outside pedestrian traffic.

Another component of the plan being implemented addresses traffic control. New traffic gates with call boxes have been installed at several sites. Additional access control devices are being installed as well. Individuals must swipe an active ID badge for access.

These new measures help to fulfill components of TSU’s 10-Point Safety Enhancement Plan that require individuals to have a current ID to move about on campus, whether on foot, or by vehicle. Last semester, TSU opened a police satellite office in the Student Center and established a Student Safety Patrol.

Visit www.tnstate.edu/safety for a comprehensive list of the safety plan.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU app to provide ‘convenient’ way for students to register for classes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Class registration will soon be a little more convenient for TSU students.

By the fall, students will be able to use a new mobile app to register, drop and add classes. The app, released in January, is accessible now for Android through the Google store and Apple iOS through iTunes.

TSU Chief Information Officer Tim Warren said software that allows students to register will soon be added to the app.

“They do everything on apps nowadays, so it just makes sense,” Warren said. “I think students are really going to like it. It’s very, very convenient.”

The app, developed by leading software company Ellucian and modified by TSU’s Office of Technology Services, currently allows students to check courses, schedules and grades; access myTSU and eLearn; and even unlock accounts and reset passwords.

Other features include interactive maps of the campus and access to Nashville’s bus schedules. There is also a section for all things athletics, and of course, TSU’s social media sites.

While a number of higher education institutions across the country are using similar apps, TSU is among only a handful of state schools that have such a device.

So far, about 800 TSU students have downloaded the app, Warren said.

TSU student David Johnson said he plans to download it and is looking forward to using it to register for classes.

“It’s going to make it a lot easier,” said Johnson, a junior who is majoring in Health Sciences. “It’s pretty convenient.”

Lexes Harper, a 21-year-old Chemistry major, currently uses a browser on her iPhone to access TSU’s website. But she agrees the app is more convenient, and plans to download it – particularly for registration.

“We can go straight to the app,” Harper said. “It saves time.”

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Senate Education Committee delays vote on legislation that would restructure higher education governance

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – TSU students and administrators gathered at the state Capitol and saw the Senate Education Committee delay voting on legislation that would restructure higher education governance.

The students, along with TSU President Glenda Glover, packed the hearing at the Legislative Plaza on March 2 to hear lawmakers discuss the Focus on College and University Success Act. After some lengthy debate, a vote on the legislation was delayed until next week after committee chairwoman Dolores Gresham attempted to amend the proposal to provide legislative oversight.

Committee members said they wanted more time to review the proposed amendment. TSU distributed a list of questions regarding the Act that highlighted the negative impact it would have on the institution.

The legislation, which is being pushed by Gov. Bill Haslam, had been rapidly moving through the legislative process before the delay. It’s scheduled to be taken up in the same Senate committee on March 9.

TSU student Jordan Spencer attended the Senate hearing and said she was glad to see the bill delayed.

“I’m really concerned as to the benefit it will give to our school,” said Spencer, a 20-year-old biology major. “We need specifics, and there are no projected specifics.”

Aarian Forman, a junior at TSU majoring in business administration, said he believes the strong attendance by students “made a statement to legislators.”

“We will continue  to stand strong as a student body to make sure this bill is not passed, or at least in its present form,” Forman said.

The day before the Senate committee meeting, TSU students and administrators also attended the House Government Operations Committee where the FOCUS Act was also debated. Rep. Jeremy Faison, the chair of the House committee, welcomed the crowd of students and commended them for seeking more information on the legislation.

“Y’all have been extremely respectful, and I’m proud to have y’all in my committee,” said Faison, whose committee advanced the bill with a positive recommendation. He explained to students that his panel could only review the bill; not make changes or kill it.

“What I want you to know, is that regardless of the outcome of the bill, you walk out with your heads high and know that you live to fight another day,” Faison said.

Even though the FOCUS Act is likely to pass the Legislature, TSU students, faculty, and administrators contend it could be hurtful to the State’s only public HBCU.

TSU President Glenda Glover has expressed numerous concerns about the legislation. They include the possibility of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville growing even stronger because it will be left intact while the TBR is dismantled; unnecessary duplication of programs; and probably most important, maintaining an equitable funding process.

“What will the funding formula look like?” Glover said to reporters after the House committee meeting. “The legislation only broadly describes it, but no formula is in place at this point. The (Tennessee) Board of Regents ensures balance. They do all they can to make the playing field fair. “

Currently, the Board of Regents oversees 46 institutions: six public four-year state universities (including TSU), 13 community colleges and 27 technical colleges.

Under the FOCUS Act, TBR would oversee the state’s community and technical colleges only, and focus on promoting graduation rates at those institutions. Haslam has said the legislation is the next step in his “Drive to 55” initiative, which seeks to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential to 55 by 2025.

“With 46 institutions, it is difficult for TBR to meet all of the diverse challenges of the system,” according to the governor’s website about the legislation. “Community colleges arguably need greater focus at a system level in the Drive to 55, while TBR’s four-year state universities could benefit from greater autonomy.”

Despite her concerns, Glover said she’s still willing to work with the governor’s office to make the proposal less hurtful to TSU.

“We’ve been in contact with the governor’s office, and we’ve expressed concerns,” she said. “And to their credit, they’ve listened to quite a few of them. I have to be optimistic that we’ll continue to work with the governor’s office to work out the remaining differences.”

The FOCUS bill will have to pass finance committees in the House and Senate before reaching a full vote on the floors of both chambers.

According to the Tennessee General Assembly’s website, the legislation is scheduled to be heard in the House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee on March 9 at 10:30 a.m. It’s scheduled for 2:30 p.m. in the Senate Education Committee on the same day.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU delves into governor’s FOCUS Act with students, faculty, administrators and alumni

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover and State Rep. Harold Love, Jr. held a forum at TSU to discuss a legislative proposal that would restructure higher education governance.

Protest-4
TSU student Kyara Murry waits in line with other students to discuss the FOCUS Act, a legislative proposal that would restructure higher education governance. (By John Cross, TSU Media Service)

Students, faculty, administrators, and alumni packed the Floyd-Payne Student Center auditorium on the university’s campus on Feb. 23 to learn more about the Focus on College and University Success Act and express their concerns about the proposal being pushed by Gov. Bill Haslam and that’s advancing in the legislative process.

Love, who represents the university in House District 58 and is also an alumnus of TSU, said he wanted to address concerns about the impact the legislation could have specifically on Tennessee State University.

“I felt it was important to make myself available to answer questions,” Love said before the event. “Tennessee State University has great leadership, students, faculty and alumni and it is my intention to convey their concerns to my colleagues in the Legislature and the Governor’s office.”

Currently, the Tennessee Board of Regents oversees 46 institutions: six public four-year state universities (including TSU), 13 community colleges and 27 technical colleges.

Under the FOCUS Act, TBR would oversee the state’s community and technical colleges only, and focus on promoting graduation rates at those institutions. Haslam has said the legislation is the next step in his “Drive to 55” initiative, which seeks to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential to 55 by 2025.

“With 46 institutions, it is difficult for TBR to meet all of the diverse challenges of the system,” according to the governor’s website about the legislation. “Community colleges arguably need greater focus at a system level in the Drive to 55, while TBR’s four-year state universities could benefit from greater autonomy.”

Glover said she has concerns about the legislation, but noted that of the nine amendments the university has proposed to the governor, four have been accepted.

She said one of her main concerns is that the legislation maintains an equitable funding process for all of the four-year public institutions, especially TSU.

“We have a mission that is far different from the other five institutions,” Glover said. “The proposed legislation can’t be viewed as one size fits all. This difference must be recognized. I have communicated these and other concerns to the governor’s office and they are working with us. I remain hopeful that the final legislation will be fair and equitable for our students, faculty, and staff, but most important, our university. We’re going to get through this together.”

Glover said she would be persistent in talking to lawmakers about what’s in the best interest of the university.

“Our university is in the planning stages of implementing FOCUS.  We will host several meetings in an effort to keep the TSU family updated on any amendments to the bill as well as where we are in the implementation phase.”

Protest-3
Rep. Harold Love, Jr. speaks about FOCUS Act and takes questions from the audience. (By John Cross, TSU Media Service)

Another concern is the bill’s makeup of local boards that will oversee the state’s six four-year institutions. Some attending the forum questioned whether the eight members appointed by the governor for the 10-member panels should be handling certain higher education issues, such as schools’ leadership, tuition, faculty tenure, and curricula.

“This bill appears to weaken the institutional leadership of the university and potentially allow a university board to manage the day-to-day operations whereby their credentials and vision may conflict with that of the president of the university, “ said Dr. Samuel Hargrove, dean of TSU’s College of Engineering. “However, if this is the intent of the bill, I am confident TSU will respond strategically to continue its mission and purpose.”

Faculty Senate Chair Michael Catanzaro said he’s received phone calls and emails from the Faculty Senate regarding concerns about the bill and its potentially negative impact on the university.

“Each college and school within Tennessee State University has specific curricula and requirements for diplomas and degrees as determined by accrediting agencies,” Catanzaro said. “The FOCUS bill enables a Board of Trustees that may comprise people with little or no knowledge of accreditation requirements to have the power to develop curricula that may adversely affect the quality of education as well as violate the ‘academic freedom’ of professors.”

Students also voiced their concerns about the proposal, with questions ranging from a name change, available funding for campus improvements, to student involvement on the newly formed university board.

SGA President RaCia Poston said she had spoken with her counterparts regarding student participation with the board on student-related programs, fees, and activities.

“I’ve talked with student leaders from the other TBR four-year institutions and shared my concerns about the student representative being a non-voting member of the board,” Poston said.

“As a legislative intern, I’m lobbying lawmakers during my time at the Capitol on why the student vote should count.”

Love urged everyone to email the governor and lawmakers their concerns, as well as attend legislative committee meetings where the bill is being debated. If the measure passes, it is expected to be fully implemented late next year.

Tennessee State University is the only four-year public institution in Nashville and the only public four-year HBCU in the State of Tennessee. TSU offers 45 bachelor’s degree programs and 24 master’s degree programs and awards doctoral degrees in biological sciences, computer information systems, engineering, psychology, public administration, curriculum and instruction, educational administration and supervision, and physical therapy. In entirety, Tennessee State University comprises eight colleges and schools.

 

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About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.