All posts by Lucas Johnson

TSU President Glenda Glover urges faculty and staff to focus on helping students succeed

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover urged faculty and staff to stay focused on helping students succeed amid university challenges.

Glover, now in her third year at TSU, on Monday addressed the Faculty and Staff Institute for the spring 2016 semester. She noted some of the challenges the university is facing, but said they shouldn’t distract from the university’s main objective, which is to improve retention and graduation rates.

“We’re here for the purpose of educating our students, and enhancing their well-being,” she said. “That’s our one fundamental overriding goal.”

She said steps being taken to help in that endeavor include the formation of a completion committee that will meet twice a month, and requiring teachers to have an assessment measure in place to evaluate students two weeks into the year so that those who are struggling can get assistance.

“By the time it gets to mid-terms, it’s too late,” Glover said. “If we catch students early enough, we can put them in tutoring.”

The president’s speech also highlighted some of the university’s successes, such as the Tennessee Board of Regents’ approval to build a $39 million Health Sciences Building, and the record amount of money it received last year for research grants.

Last year, the university set a goal to get $50 million in grants and received $51 million. This year the goal is $60 million.

“Research grants are very important to the university because they allow faculty members to work on quality solutions that help to meet needs in our country, and give students an opportunity to get engaged in cutting edge ideas,” Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, associate vice president and chief research officer, said after the president’s speech.

During her speech, Glover also discussed university challenges. She said one task is getting money to adequately fund security upgrades, and another is a proposed governance plan that could adversely affect the university.

Nevertheless, Glover said she’s optimistic about TSU’s future.

“We will fight through our difficulties,” she said. “We will roll up our sleeves and persevere.”

Glover told faculty and staff they can help in the fight by being “ambassadors” for the university, and promoting the positive things TSU is doing. She urged deans and faculty to make the university’s public relations department aware of what’s going on in their departments.

“It takes all of us working together, fighting together, as a unit,” Glover said. “It takes all of us.”

The Faculty and Staff Institute is a bi-annual event that convenes university employees prior to each academic semester. Following her speech, Glover took questions from faculty and staff, and later met with faculty during a planning session.

 

TSU Student and Graffiti Artist’s Passion Is Transforming A North Nashville Neighborhood’s Walls

Courtesy of National Public Radio

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Jenkins lives with his grandma, Lovie Jenkins, who has turned her house into a gallery of Jenkins’s work. CREDIT JAY JENKINS

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In a North Nashville yard, artists have transformed concrete walls into canvases by painting a dozen large-scale murals. It’s at 817 18th Avenue North, in what owner A.J. Sankari says used to be a wheel and rubber factory. The man behind it is Jay Jenkins, an art student from TSU.

On one wall, you see a painting of a woman who is reading from a big book, while formulas and equations float through the cosmos above her. On another, a kid lifts up his shirt, revealing a bull’s eye on his chest.

Jenkins grew up in the neighborhood. He works part-time at Home Depot, collecting carts from the parking lot. But he says he’s usually preoccupied with one thing: art.

“I mean art is a lifestyle so it’s the only thing on my mind,” Jenkins says. “When I’m driving, I’m thinking about art. When I’m in class, I’m thinking about art. When I’m pushing carts, I’m thinking about art. Besides my family, it’s the only thing I think about.”

not_an_object
Graffiti artist Arjae signs his Norf Wall Fest mural. CREDIT ERICA CICCARONE

Jenkins is lean and tall with short dreadlocks and a big smile. Even when he says he’s stressed out, he appears relaxed and self-assured. He’s popular among his professors and classmates at TSU, but his biggest fan is his grandma, Lovie Jenkins.

She has Jenkins’s paintings hanging in every room of her house, and even hangs up paintings that bother her. In one six-foot tall painting, a guy has caution tape wrapped around his face that’s covered in words you usually don’t want your grandma to see. But she still displayed it right outside the kitchen.

Jenkins says he didn’t think about art until high school, when he saw a friend drawing graffiti in a notebook. “I asked him can he teach me how to do that, and eventually he did show me and took me out painting. I was drawing before that, but once I started doing graffiti, it became a passion.”

His paintings are big, complex, influenced by jazz and surrealism.

Growing up, Jenkins watched North Nashville sidewalks crack and buildings fall into disrepair, while other parts of the city got bigger and better. But he also knows his neighborhood has something that others don’t: four historical black colleges.

He felt driven to harness the talent coming out of these schools, so he convinced Sankari to let him transform the walls in his lot into canvases for Norf Wall Fest. That’s Norf with an “F” because he says, “Everybody from North Nashville says ‘norf’ with an ‘F’ at the end of it.”

He turned to his mentor Thaxton Waters, who runs a gallery on Jefferson Street called Art History Class Lifestyle Lounge and Gallery. It’s filled with antique furniture and paintings by local Black artists.

“When he came to me with this idea, I was like man, this is beautiful because anytime we have the opportunity to heighten the aesthetic value of our neighborhood, we have to jump on that,” Waters says. “What was just him spitting out ideas is growing and has morphed into a whole ‘nother Frankenstein, so I love it.”

Waters helped Jenkins select seasoned graffiti artists who could handle the huge concrete canvases. They looked for work that addressed race, class, and community, issues central to the neighborhood.

In one mural by an artist who goes by Arjae, a nude Black woman sits among clouds at sunset, her back to the viewer, with the words “Not an object” written below her.

All this comes on the heels of *Metro Nashville Arts Commission’s recent report that highlights how people of color have been excluded from the arts. But this is not news to Jenkins’s mentor, Waters, who views his gallery and the surrounding North Nashville artistic neighborhood as a way around arts institutions.

“When I went through all the institutions and went through the art history books, I just didn’t see things that reflected me. That sends a message to the viewer: Why am I not important?” Waters says.

This feeling — to be visible, to make a mark, to assert that you exist — that’s why graffiti started, and it’s what drives Jenkins.

“I’ve got these worlds in my head that I get to show people,” Jenkins says. “I’m not really good at explaining things. My grandma says I’m quiet. I don’t really talk much, so I talk through my art.”

 

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.

 

Head of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation lauds TSU feature in HBCU Calendar

President Glenda Glover
President Glenda Glover

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The head of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation says the inclusion of Tennessee State University in the 2016 Black History HBCU Calendar and Resources Guide helps highlight what’s “great about Nashville.”

Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover is one of 13 leaders and visionaries in education, medicine, law, sports, corporate management and entertainment featured in the 2016 publication.

The calendar, a national fundraising vehicle for Historically Black Colleges and Universities now in its 10th year, features individuals and trailblazers who have made “outstanding” contributions in their fields.

“TSU’s feature in the HBCU calendar is yet another recognition of everything great about Nashville,” said Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation. “TSU is a long-standing treasure and a huge part of our heritage. We couldn’t be more pleased or proud.”

Glover said she’s honored to be featured.

“It’s something I will always cherish,” she said.

Others featured in the calendar include tennis star Serena Williams; multiple award-winning actress Taraji P. Henson; and Dr. Ronald A. Johnson, president of Clark Atlanta University, among others.

As a fundraising instrument, the calendar has helped to contribute needed funds to schools across the country. It serves as a resource for students and parents.

The calendar, which is now available across the nation, can be purchased online and at Walgreens stores.

 

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.