All posts by Michael McLendon

TSU Graduate School Celebrates 75 Years And Unveils New Marketing Initiatives

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University School of Graduate and Professional Studies recently had a special program commemorating its 75th anniversary.

Dr. Robbie Melton, dean of the Graduate School, said the program on May 1 at the Avon Williams Campus downtown provided an opportunity to recognize two former deans who made significant contributions to the school, as well as showcase the school’s “next evolution.”

The late Dr. Camelia Taylor, who served in many administrative positions at TSU including interim dean of the Graduate School, and Dr. Helen Barrett, who served as the school’s dean from 1998-2008, were honored during the event, which was a precursor to the graduate school commencement ceremony on May 3. 

The school also paid homage to Martha Williams Wheeler, the first graduate student at Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State College to earn a master’s degree.

Melton said the graduate school is excited to recognize these women of impact, as well as celebrate 75 years of conferring degrees.  She said the school’s innovation will continue under its new theme, “Everyone can code, and everyone can create,” which is indicated by TSU C².

Dr. Robbie Melton

 “This theme reflects our new delivery systems hybrid online and on ground formats that incorporates technology, innovation, social media tools and our new global outreach to targeted communities nationally and internationally, and it permeates throughout our entire programs, courses and curriculum,” Melton said. “To reach the global market we must have the entire process online, including student services, courses, library services, mentoring, etc.  Everything must be online.”

According to Melton, many of the marketing ideas that will be shared at the program stem from a research project conducted by doctoral students in a marketing class taught by Dr. Eric Vogel, graduate director for the Higher Education Doctoral Students

“Instead of doing hypothetical, we did a problem-based action research project in which the class had the task of finding ways to increase graduate enrollment through marketing,” Melton said. “The class will present marketing research and strategies to enhance the graduate school and all graduate programs”

Minzi Thomas, a student in Vogel’s class who is pursuing her Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership, was one of five students who shared strategic ideas focused on areas such as research, digital marketing, recruitment and enrollment, international groups, and finance.

Thomas, a Memphis-native who teaches public speaking at Nashville State Community College and works as a reconnect navigator with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, said the composition of Vogel’s marketing class is perfect for this project.

“It’s really a unique experience and a unique opportunity because a lot of students in the class actually work in the graduate school. What you have is students who work in the graduate school and students who are enrolled in the graduate school coming up with a marketing plan to increase enrollment and increase engagement on social media and other additional marketing strategies,” she said.

Minzi Thomas

Thomas, whose presentation focused on digital marketing, said the class is excited about launching the #TSUSONASHSVILLE social media campaign.

“The whole premise of that is that while Nashville is experiencing all of this growth from gentrification, Tennessee State is still very much a part of that rich cultural aspect of Nashville, and it doesn’t matter how big Nashville gets, that’s not going to change,” Thomas said.

During Melton’s tenure as dean she has incorporated numerous technological strategies to advance the graduate school.

“We have reorganized and brought in technology enhancements and tools to automate the graduate school in terms of admission using GradCAS, in terms of curriculum improvement using Curriculog, in terms of automating a searchable graduate catalogue using Actualog, becoming a paperless environment through the use of DocuSign, and conducting our graduation audit using DegreeWorks,” she said.

Thomas, whose research topic explores gentrification and its impact on North Nashville, said Melton’s leadership plays a great role in the graduate school’s current success.

“Dr. Melton continues to ignite a fire underneath us.  Every time you think you have done the best that you can do, she always says or does something that lets you know that you can do or be better.  It can be done,” she said. “She makes you feel like it is possible, and when you think it is possible, that’s when you continue to try to reach your greatest potential.”

For more information about the TSU School of Graduate and Professional Studies, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/graduate/ .

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU College of Public Service Listed As One of Best In The Nation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – US News Rankings recently listed the Tennessee State University College of Public Service as one of the best public affairs programs in the nation.  The ranking, which is done annually, specifically evaluates masters in public affairs and administration programs based solely on peer assessment surveys completed by deans, directors and department chairs across the nation.

Dr. Michael Harris, dean of the TSU College of Public Service and professor of public administration, said the ranking is a reflection of the world-class work members of the college are doing to educate and serve their students, residents of Middle Tennessee, and beyond.

Dr. Michael Harris

“We work to provide a relevant and current education for leaders in the public sector. We also have a significant impact on the local economy, with regards to economic development because our graduates who work in the public sector all make a difference in our economic development and economic growth, as well as the social infrastructure of the community,” said Harris, a nationally-syndicated columnist.

Dr. Cara B. Robinson,  interim chair for the Department of Social Work and Urban Studies and acting director of the Center For Aging, said Harris’ leadership plays a major role in the college’s success.

“I think this recognition is really built on the fact that we have fostered a culture of innovation that prepares students to be on the front edge of what public service careers really require,” she said. “Dr. Harris has just done a good job of making sure that we are all willing and able to recruit students, help place them when they graduation and reach out to the community to make sure the students are prepared for careers in public service.”

Robinson said the wide array of courses the college offers as well as conferences like the Conference on Elderly Abuse, which the Center on Aging Research And Education Services cohosts in June, have a lot to do with its success.

“We have everything from nonprofit management courses, to executive leadership, public policy and social work, and they all cover things that put us at the forefront,” she said. “In addition, we have reached out to community members to be involved in our classrooms.”

Robinson said the hours they offer classes has also helped attract nontraditional students.  Alfred Degrafinreid II, Vanderbilt University associate vice chancellor for Community Relations within the Division of Government and Community Relations, said while he worked for the state Legislature, he would walk from work to the Avon Williams Campus to attend his evening classes.

Alfred Degrafinreid II

Degrafinreid, who earned a BS in Speech Pathology in 2006 and a MPA in 2008, both from TSU, also secured his law degree from the McKinney School of Law at Indiana University.

“The program really prepares students for the public service workforce.  I have experience on the local, state and federal levels of government, and I credit my success in working on all three levels of government to going through this program, which really prepared me for real life experiences, managing budgets,” said Degrafinreid, who served as deputy campaign manager for former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen’s recent U.S. Senate race. Nearly 100 percent of our graduates in our different programs immediately get jobs.  Our graduates are always off to rewarding and meaningful careers.”

Degrafinreid said TSU teaches its students to leave the university and serve the community, state, country and world.

“I’m proud that Tennessee State develops leaders and teaches students to fully embrace the ‘Think. Work. Serve.’ motto. It is very important to enter the university and go forth to serve. That’s something TSU always teaches students from the time they are freshmen until graduation.”

For more information on the Tennessee State University College of Public Service, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/cpsua/

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 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.

Tennessee State University To Host 2019 Fulbright Pakistan Re-entry Seminar

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University became the first historically black university to host the Fulbright Pakistan Re-entry Seminar that was held April 25-28.

Dr. Jewell Winn, executive director for International Affairs and diversity officer for TSU, said the seminar was to help students from Pakistan, who have studied in the United States  for two to seven years, prepare for the culture shock they may experience when they return home. The seminar is funded through a grant from the Institute of International Education (IIE),

“When you’ve been away from home for an extended period of time in a totally different culture and out of your country, you’ve gone through a culture shock for the most part.  When you return, it’s called reverse culture shock. Now you have to go back home and reenter your culture,“ said Winn, who serves as chair of the International Committee as part of her role on the board of the National Association of Diversity Officers In Higher Education.

Dr. Jewell Winn

Winn said the conference is designed to give participants an opportunity to reflect on their experiences in the U.S. and set goals for their lives upon returning to Pakistan based upon the information they have learned while studying in the America.

Dr. Latif Lighari, associate administrator for Extension in the College of Agriculture and a native of Pakistan, took part in a re-entry seminar in the late 1970s after completing his studies at the University of Missouri Columbia.

Lighari, who will serve as the keynote speaker during the opening dinner on Thursday evening, said these type of re-entry seminars are vital for students returning to Pakistan.

“This re-entry seminar is extremely important.  This is over 100 Fulbright graduates from Pakistan who have completed their masters and doctorial degrees in this country in many different fields, from arts to science to engineering. They are 50 percent male and 50 percent female,” said Lighari, who serves as co principal investigator for the project. “Being from Pakistan myself, I know how much education is valued and needed there. Now  that these young people have finished their degrees here, we want to make some suggestions as to how they can work together in the future and work positively and constructively together to use their talents to transform Pakistan.”

The agenda for the four-day seminar included sessions on social entrepreneurship, goal-setting, skill-building and a virtual alumni panel for Ph.D. students that connected them with Fulbright alumni in Islamabad who discussed their backgrounds, professional careers and how they navigated their return to Pakistan.

Students took thematic site visits to the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, the Nashville Incubation Center and the Nashville International Airport as well as tour the Frist Art Museum, Historic Union Station and Hotel and SoBro, the area downtown south of Broadway which includes the Schermerhorn Symphony Center,  the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Bridgestone Arena, the Music City Center and a host of restaurants, hotels and live music venues.

Winn said the thematic visits gave the participants  “a deep look into how social enterprise works in Nashville, how entrepreneurship is viewed in Nashville, and how an organization can develop a strong diversity program.

Lighari said the seminar, which was hosted last year at the University of California, Berkley, is one of many re-entry seminars Fulbright sponsors for graduates returning to their home countries.  He said the mission of the seminar mirrors the work he does with the TSU Cooperative Extension Program.

“Cooperative Extension is an outreach arm of Tennessee State University. We engage people all the time in areas of agriculture, family and consumer sciences, youth development and community resource development.  The main idea of Extension is to help people get research-based information so they can live better lives,” he said. “Our mission for extension in this country is to build people so the people that we build can become better individuals who can build better families, communities and countries.”

For more information about the TSU Office and International Affiars and the TSU Cooperative Extension Program, visit www.tnstate.edu

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, premier historically-black land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU’s graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus boasts a top-notch Executive MBA Program. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

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Tennessee State University Hosts Successful Spring Preview Day

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Over 1,000 high school students from across the nation descended upon Tennessee State University on April 13 for Spring Preview Day 2019.

The day started with check in and a student organization fair in the Gentry Center Complex where student leaders, campus administrators, faculty and staff welcomed the students and their parents to campus.

Terrance Izzard (Submitted photo)

 “We are elated that you have chosen to spend today with us here at Tennessee State.  We already know that you are on one of the most phenomenal campuses in the United States of America,” said Terrence Izzard, associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Success  “The HBCU experience is an experience like none other, and I want to say to each parent and grandparent and aunt, thank you for bringing your student here.”

The high school students and their parents departed the Gentry Center in groups led by TSU students eager to serve as their guides for the day. Activities for the visitors, according to organizers, included meetings with academic departments, TSU student organizations, campus tours, and other forms of educational entertainment.

Future TSU Tiger Brandon Jones (center), with his mom, Sadera Baker (left), and his step-father, Stephen Baker (right), moments before heading to the Blue and White Spring scrimmage in Hale Stadium. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

Like many other students visiting for Spring Preview, Brandon Jones, a student at Georgia Military College, has already committed to Tennessee State University.  A football player, Jones had the opportunity to meet former NFL cornerback and TSU football player Randy Fuller during his campus tour.

“I already signed, and I report June 1,” Jones said.  “I really like the family atmosphere at TSU. It feels like home. So really, it’s the best fit for me.”

Mikaylah Abercrombie, a junior at New Manchester High School in Atlanta, said although she has not committed to TSU, she is impressed by the university.

“My cousin, Christion attended TSU, and I liked it when I saw him playing football.  And I just want to check it out,” she said.

Atlanta-native Mikaylah Abercrombie with her mother, Freda Abercrombie at TSU Spring Preview Day 2019. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

Abercrombie’s mother, Freda Abercrombie, who joined her for Spring Preview Day, said the university’s response after her nephew, Chistion Ambercrombie, suffered a life-threatning injury during a game against Vanderbilt University on Sept. 29, really touched her heart.

“Actually I just got a good vibe from his experience here, and after the accident, all of the love and support that the school gave was awesome.  We  just fell in love with TSU, and I wanted to make sure my daughter at least checked out the school for herself.”

Mikaylah, who hopes to study early childhood education or musical theatre, said she would like to work as a pre-school teacher once she completes her academic studies.

Javon Jones, TSU associate director of Undergraduate Recruitment, said Spring Preview Day should definintely play a role in boosting enrollment for the fall. She said students who missed Spring Preview, can attend a similar day in the fall.

“We would love to see anyone who couldn’t come out today for Spring Preview Day,” she said. “We are about energy, about educating our students, and most of all we want them to have fun and be prepared for their future.  We will make sure they have all of  their admissions documents together, and that they have everything ready to go and if they ever need anything, the office of admissions and records is available to help.”

For more information on admission to Tennessee State University, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/admissions/.

Editor’s Note: Featured photo by Erynne Davis

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 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 Alum and Celebrated Actor L. Warren Young Returns to Alma Mater to Inspire Students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University alumnus and celebrated actor L. Warren Young speaks with nostalgia when he recalls piling into a room with other budding thespians during his freshman year at Tennessee State University.

L. Warren Young

“They had everybody in the speech and drama department to meet in one room.  I think it was like 50 or 60 people there, and the instructors were talking to us. Everybody was like ‘Yeah man!  We’re going to do this man!  I’m going to be a movie star!  I’m going to be in this play and get in this movie!’ Everybody had such high hopes,” said Young, who television viewers from around the world can watch currently as the recurring character Fred Williams from the hit TV series Greenleaf. “Out of the 50 to 60 people who were in the room at that moment, I am the only one left.  The odds are against you, but you can beat the odds.”

Young spoke in the Strange Performing Arts Building in Rehearsal Hall on April 8. He expressed excitement about returning to Tennessee State University to share with students some of the insights he has learned from being in the acting industry for almost five decades.

“I’ve been in this business for 47 years.  I’ve raised a family.  I’ve had to do other jobs and things like that, but I’ve always had my eye on the prize.  And as they say, I’m not finished yet,” he said.

Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Matthew McConaughey, Meagan Good and Will Ferrell represent just a few of the many well known actors Young has collaborated with on the set of countless TV shows and films including “Daddy’s Little Girls,” “The Blind Side,” “Saints and Sinners,” “Shots Fired,” “The Game, “Bessie,” “Meet The Browns,” “Nashville,” and “We Are Marshall.”

TSU senior professor of theatre and award-winning director Lawrence James said Young’s visit is a tremendous experience for students, as well as the entire TSU campus community.

L. Warren Young (middle) on the set of TV Series Greenleaf.

“It’s good to have beacons of light and success. This is an opportunity for the students to get up close and personal with someone who is a success,” James said. “We are always wanting to have role modes for our students, and to have someone of LaParee’s caliber and success to come and talk to the students should be extremely rewarding for them.”

Young, who entered TSU with a music scholarship and played trombone with the Aristocrat of Bands, also recalls being a member of the T.E. Poag Players Guild and Theta Alpha Phi National Honorary Dramatic Fraternity. He credits many of his TSU professors with teaching him skills he uses as a professional actor.

“One of the major forces in my career as a student was a mentor, and Oprah Winfrey’s mentor as well, W. Drury Cox.  He was the one,” Young said.  “A very knowledgeable man, a very sound man, a very personable man, and a very caring man. The four years I was at Tennessee State, it was amazing to have him as a mentor.”

L. Warren Yooung as a student at TSU rehearsing for a theatrical production of the play ‘No Place To Be Somebody’ by Charles Gordone.

Jordan Young, a Nashville native and sophomore marketing major at TSU, said his uncle consistently offered him great advice during his time as a child actor.

“Sometimes as an actor I would get discouraged when I didn’t get call backs, and he always told me to keep my head up,” said Jordan Young.

Jordan, son of actor K. Addison Young, said his father and uncle had a lot to do with him attending TSU.

“They both went to TSU.  It was like a tradition in my family that for the first 17 years of my life, we always used to go early in the morning to the parade. I’ve seen the culture around here, and I’ve seen how much they have benefited from it,” he said.

James hopes Young’s visit gives students across the campus a real look at what it takes to be a successful actor.

“Sometimes theatre is looked at as that kind of secondary art form, but now we can look and see all the wonderful movies and TV shows, particularly with young minorities starting out as far as television and film are concerned, with ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Insecure,’ ‘Atlanta’ and ‘Boomerang,’” James said.  “All of these are wonderful movies, and others are starting theatre groups. The point is that theatre and the movie arts and television arts are alive, and I wish more of our students would focus there, and discipline themselves academically and artistically to be successes in those areas.”

Young, who emphasizes the importance of doing theatre for developing skills as an actor, said he performed in every theatrical production except for three, during his time as a TSU student. He said students must learn different acting techniques, as well as the business of acting in order to be truly successful.

“Learn what you can at an institution like Tennessee State University that has the facilities to further your career, because those people that have studied and learned the business of this business are the ones that last and have the staying power,” he said. “There are a lot of people that may get into a series today, and you don’t see them in another year, because a lot of times they were just good for that particular role. They didn’t know how to act; they knew how to just memorize lines.’

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 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 Africana Studies Program Partners With Alum to Host US-Africa Business Opportunities and Exchange Conference

The Tennessee State University Africana Studies Program, in partnership with DC Consult International, will host the US-Africa Business Opportunities and Exchange Conference, beginning Wednesday, April 3.

The conference will bring together federal and state government leaders, industry experts, and private business leaders from the Southern region of the United States around the themes of business development and investment opportunities in the areas of green infrastructure, healthcare, agriculture, entertainment and entrepreneurship.

“All eyes are on Africa in regard to future opportunities for business investment. The timing of this conference couldn’t be any better, and I encourage everyone to participate,” said TSU assistant professor of business administration Isaac Addae, who will present at the conference. “Strong relationships are a major aspect of achieving business success on the continent, and this conference provides a great opportunity to forge partnerships with individuals currently doing business across Africa.”

Isaac Addae

Diana C. Onyejiaka, founder of DCCI and an alumna of TSU, said attendees can expect panel sessions to include: Civil Rights, Pan Africanism, and Decolonization: Making the Connection; Agribusiness with Africa; Entertainment: Africa’s Next Export; Female Empowerment For Economic Growth and Sustainability; Healthcare Systems and Primary Care; Green Infrastructure for Urban Development in Africa; and  Blockchain Technology for Developing Nations.

“I graduated from TSU with plans to go to law school, come out, and only practice law in the United States,” said Onyejiaka, who obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in political science with minors in philosophy and psychology in 2007 and a master’s in public administration from the university in 2013. “However, when I started learning about the different types of business engagements that many international firms engaged with Africa, I was determined to create something similar. I wanted to participate in those business engagements too.”

Onyejiaka, the main organizer of the conference and a speaker for the “Entertainment: Africa’s Next Export” session, also obtained her Juris Doctorate from Southern University Law Center in 2014. Addae and Samuel O’Sesin, digital and marketing strategist and owner of Gadgetivo, an online “gadget mall,” will serve as speakers for the “Millennials, Capital and Opportunities” session.

Samuel O’Sesin

The Culture & Creative Industries Council (CCIC) Awards Gala at 7:30 p.m. on April 5, will honor men, women, and organizations that heavily impact Africa and its diaspora. The gala, themed “A Night Dedicated to People of African Descent,” will include a dinner catered from Pole’ Pole’, a local mobile and catering food service that offers gourmet cuisine from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a traditional dance performance from Nigeria, West Africa, and live music from Uzoma Obiora and The Path to Freedom.

Onyejiaka hopes to attract millennials to the conference so they can become more informed about the vital role Africa will play in the future of the global economy.

“I want students to be informed about the shift currently happening. The United Nations projects that by 2050, 1 in 4 people on Earth will be African and that Africa will likely be the only region that will continue to grow after 2050,” she said. “I would say that the average American student today should expect that he or she will likely engage in business with or in Africa at some point of their career. It is inevitable.”

Uzoma Obiora

The TSU Africana Studies Program offers an 18 credit hour Minor designed to complement a student’s major in one of the university’s degree granting programs. The program’s curriculum and pedagogy are designed to prepare students for success in a diverse and increasingly interdependent global economy and job market.

For more information about the US-Africa Business Opportunities and Exchange Conference visit http://www.dcconsultintl.com/usafricaboe-2019

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 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.

Angela Rye Inspires Attendees to Take Political Action At Annual Scholarship Fundraiser Honoring Outstanding Women

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Political commentator and analyst Angela Rye served as the special guest for this year’s Women of Legend and Merit Awards Dinner at Tennessee State University, as part of the TSU Women’s Center’s effort to celebrate Women’s History Month.

Rye, who offers regular on-air commentary for several media outlets including BET, CNN, MSNBC, and TV One, spoke briefly from the podium and then participated in a seated interview-style presentation. She answered questions from various attendees, including TSU President Glenda Glover and addressed several issues, such as affirmative action, the legitimacy of legacy admissions and the need for a black agenda.

“I want to help establish what a black agenda should look like, not just for 2020, but ongoing,” Rye said.  “Do you all know that before the Emancipation Proclamation, every year black folks met to talk about our political agenda? The last time we did that collectively, where there was a lot of attention drawn to it, was in 1972 in Gary, Indiana.”

During a light-hearted moment towards the end of the conversation, Glover suggested a petition be started for Rye to run for president.  She encouraged the audience with the chant, “Run! Angie Run! Run! Angie Run!”

Angela Rye

“You want me to run right out that door,” Rye jokingly replied.

Seanne Wilson, chairperson of the event, which took place in Kean Hall Auditorium, said the annual awards dinner raises money for student scholarships and highlights the careers of women she hopes her students will emulate.

“As we know, this is the year of the woman, and women are being more vocal, and we are owning who we are. It’s very important with us attempting to educate these young ladies, that they are aware of opportunities and not afraid to speak out and to speak up for their rights,” said Wilson, who serves as coordinator of the TSU Women’s Center.

According to Wilson, the center is a “safe zone” for women at TSU who experience issues such as fear, anxiety and depression, as well as domestic violence, homelessness and the lack of food.

Lyric Carter, a freshman civil engineering major who serves as a work-study student for the Women’s Center, said she was inspired by Rye’s comments.

” If we don’t speak for us, who is going to speak for us,” Carter said.

Vivian Wilhoite, Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County property accessor and a former Women of Legend and Merit honoree, said the event is important because it celebrates the women.

“We do not do enough to recognize women in the various areas of the world, whether it be in business or leadership or government or strong women committed to different topics and issues,” she said.  “I really think there are so many women doing so many different things, and we really cannot do enough to honor them.”

Several women where  honored during this year’s event including: Veronica Marable Johnson, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce New Member Representative; Dr. Robbie Melton, TSU interim dean of the Graduate School; Karen Johnson, Davidson County Register of Deeds; Attorney Cynthia Fitzgerald; Attorney Joy Kimbrough; Dr. Judy Cummings, Pastor of New Covenant Christian Church; and Zaya Mouto, a sophomore Business Administration major who received the “Rising Star” Award.

For more information about how to support the TSU Women’s Center, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/womenscenter/

Editor’s Note: Featured photo by Ramona Whitworth Wiggins

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 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.

Political Analyst Angela Rye To Speak at TSU Women’s Center Scholarship Fundraising Affair

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Political Commentator and Analyst Angela Rye will serve as the keynote speaker for this year’s Women of Legend and Merit Awards Dinner at Tennessee State University on March 19 as part of the TSU Women’s Center’s effort to celebrate Women’s History Month.

Rye, who offers regular on-air commentary for several media outlets including BET, CNN, MSNBC, and TV One, will speak about “Making An Impact Economically, Civically, and Politically.” The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Kean Hall on the main campus.

Seanne Wilson, chairperson of the event, which raises money for student scholarships, said she hopes Rye’s visit will inspire young women at TSU to be more aware of the power of their voice. 

“As we know, this is the year of the woman, and women are being more vocal and we are owning who we are. It’s very important with us attempting to educate these young ladies, that they are aware of opportunities and not afraid to speak out and to speak up for their rights,” said Wilson, who serves as coordinator of the TSU Women’s Center.

Wilson said an increasing number of young women in the Nashville community have expressed interest in attending this year’s event because of Rye.

“I think that a lot of women, whether they are in politics or not, will feel coached and mentored by her, or feel empowered by her.  And empowering women is something that the Women’s Center attempts to do,” Wilson said. “There are so many people out there who are interested in how we have gotten into this political climate.  How did we get here? And how do we fix the problems that we see?”

According to Wilson, the Women’s Center is a “safe zone” for women at TSU who experience issues such as fear, anxiety and depression, as well as domestic violence, homelessness and the lack of food. She said this year for Women’s History Month, the Women’s Center hopes to inspire students by bringing numerous professional women to campus, including judges, political figures, entrepreneurs, chief executive officers, and international women of distinction.

Several women will be honored during this year’s event including: Veronica Marable Johnson, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce New Member Representative; Dr. Robbie Melton, TSU interim dean of the Graduate School; Karen Johnson, Davidson County Register of Deeds; Attorney Cynthia Fitzgerald; Attorney Joy Kimbrough; Dr. Judy Cummings, Pastor of New Covenant Christian Church; and Zaya Mouto, a sophomore Business Administration major who will receive the “Rising Star” Award.

To purchase tickets for the March 19 awards dinner or learn more about the Women’s Center, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/legendandmerit/.

‘Let My People Vote,’ TSU Students Host Forum To Address Voter Suppression

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University students in the College of Public Service hosted a forum recently to have a candid discussion about voter suppression.

‘Let My People Vote’ Poster (Submitted Photo)

The forum on Feb. 27 at the university’s Avon Williams Campus included a panel discussion, as well as a screening of “Let My People Vote,” an award-winning short documentary about voter suppression.

Keturah Barnett, a student in the Master of Public Administration Program at the university and cofounder of the Know Your Rights Program, said voter suppression is an issue that affects people from all walks of life.

“Voter suppression doesn’t just affect minorities.  It affects young people, students, ex-offenders and others,” she said. “When you think of voter suppression, a lot of people say that happened years ago in the 1960s during the civil rights movement, but it is still happening today.  And with the midterm elections that took place last year in 2018 in November, we saw a lot of that in state’s like Georgia and Florida.”

Keturah Barnett (Submitted Photo)

Barnett, who has worked at the Nashville Juvenile Public Defenders Office since 2016, said she hoped the event would inspire students to engage in the political process by voting, as well as challenging current laws and holding elected officials accountable.

Dr. Michael Harris, dean of the College of Public Service and a nationally-syndicated columnist, was pleased to see members of the larger Nashville community, as well as TSU students and faculty, at the screening.

“It is imperative that the College of Public Service stand at the forefront of engaging on issues related to voter suppression and access.  The history of and current efforts to suppress voters in African-American communities undermines the democratic processes black institutions, including TSU, have fought to improve and revolutionize for centuries,” Harris said. 

Dr. Anthony Campbell, assistant professor of Public Administration in the College of Public Service and the faculty member who worked with students to organize the event, stressed the importance of grappling with this issue.

Dr. Michael Harris (Submitted Photo)

“This filmmaker has developed a documentary that shows how the black vote has been suppressed in Florida for a long time and leading up to this last election, typically felons but more broadly people of color,” he said.

“Let My People Vote,” directed by Gilda Brasch, follows formerly homeless Desmond Meade, now the State Director for Florida Live Free Campaign, as he canvasses the streets of Tampa, Florida, on the last day of early voting before the 2016 presidential election.  At the time of the filming, Meade, who earned a law degree from Florida International University’s College of Law, could not vote or practice law in Florida because he has a felony.

Gilda Brasch (Submitted Photo)

Brasch’s documentary has won many awards, including the 2018 Best Short Documentary at the BronzeLens Film Festival in Atlanta and the 2018 Audience Award For Best Short Film in the Florida Film Festival.  It was also featured at the Meet The Press Film Festival  with The American Film Institute. She said she created the documentary so viewers could see what voter suppression looks like in the current political climate.

“If people are interested in voting rights, followed the recent midterm elections and saw what happened to Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum, then when they watch ‘Let My People Vote’ they will actually get an opportunity to see real people at the polling places having their votes surpressed,” she said.

Brasch said she was shocked by how quickly she found examples of people being turned around at the polls.

“We just got out of the rental van, and turned the camera on, and we got all those testimonies immediately in the space of probably 45 minutes to an hour.  It’s not like we had to go stand out there for hours.  It’s immediate in these districts,” she said.

Martesha Johnson (Submitted Photo)

Immediately following the screening, students hosted a panel to discuss the issue.  Panel members included: Metropolitan Nashville Public Defender Martesha Johnson, Davidson County Election Commisioner A.J. Starling, Project Return Associate Director Elizabeth Hayes and others.

Barnett  said the goal of the event was to provide a forum for a conversation they believe is timely and necessary.

“Voting is a fundamental right for everybody.  It is something that any American should be able to do without being hassled,” she said.  “Going to the polls should be just as easy as going to the grocery store.”


Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 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.

New Link Allows TSU Family To Track Progress of Health Sciences Building Construction

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – TSU officials are excited about a new link that will give the university’s alumni and constituents an opportunity to monitor the construction process of its new Health Sciences Building.

“Many of our alums don’t get to the campus throughout the year because they live all over the country. I thought giving them an opportunity to see this facility evolve would be a benefit to them, so they can watch the evolution of the campus,” said Dr. Curtis Johnson, Chief of Staff. 

Johnson said HOAR Construction, the company responsible for building the facility, installed the camera, which will monitor the 18 to 24 month construction project.

“It updates itself every 15 minutes, but you can also do a six-day review.  It can go back six days and play forward for you to see the progress,” he said.

Dr. Ronald Barredo, interim dean of the College of Health Sciences, said viewing the development of the new facility is a positive sign of the college’s growth.

“I am excited to witness the steady progress that is being made in constructing the new Health Sciences Building. This project will not only bring together a number of excellent programs under one roof – Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Cardiorespiratory Care, and Health Information Management – but will also be a hub for collaborative practice, community service, and clinical research,” he said.

Hannah Brown, president of the Student Occupational Therapy Association, said although she will have graduated when the new building opens, she will return as alum to see the impact it will have on educating future health professionals at TSU.

“The new building is a great addition to the campus. The added space will help promote interprofessionalism among the programs housed in the building and will provide a larger space for clinical simulations and laboratory experiences that are essential in professional practice,” said Brown, who is pursuing a Master in Occupational Therapy degree.

TSU National Alumni Association President Joni McReynolds said she thinks providing a link for alums to monitor the construction is a wonderful idea.

 “I would encourage all alumni to look at the link and see how progress is being made, and I will do my best to send it around to my executive board, and to all alums we have the ability to contact,” she said.

TSU Nashville Alumni Chapter President Dwight Beard echoed McReynolds’ comments.

“I think it’s a great initiative.  I am excited about it. It’s going to bring in new students, and it’s going to create new opportunities,” he said.

Braxton Simpson, a sophomore agricultural sciences major who serves as the student trustee on the TSU Board of Trustees, said having the ability to monitor the progress of the construction will have a tremendous impact because of the large numbers of health science students at TSU.

“I think it’s very important that students and faculty… have the opportunity to track the progress of something that is going to be so instrumental to the students at Tennessee State University,” she said.

Construction progress of the new health sciences building at Tennessee State University can be viewed at the following link: https://app.truelook.com/?u=hj1548695954

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 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.