All posts by Michael McLendon

Tennessee State University Welcomes Class of 2023 At Freshman Convocation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University welcomed first-year students during the 2019 freshman convocation on Aug. 30.

Nearly 1,400 incoming freshman students were inducted during the ceremony in Kean Hall.

TSU President Glenda Glover welcomed the students to the university, calling TSU “the greatest institution for men, women, boys and girls on earth and in heaven.”

“Your class is one of the strongest ever.  You have such high ACT scores. You have such good GPAs,” she said.  “You hail from 41states and 21 different countries.  You’re from Bangladesh, Canada, China, Columbia, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Great Britain, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Pakistan Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Uganda and Vietnam.”

Dr. John Cade, vice president for Enrollment and Student Success, presented the students for the induction.

Female students taking Freshman Pledge at 2019 Freshman Convocation.

“Madam President, it is my pleasure to present these young people who have satisfied all the requirements for admission to Tennessee State University as freshmen and students with advance standing,” Cade said.

With each student holding a lighted candle symbolizing “knowledge and truth,” they took the TSU Freshman Pledge..

Aaliyah Brown, an economics and finance major from Chattanooga, said the induction ceremony is an experience she will always remember.

Aaliyah Brown

“It was a good feeling to see all of my classmates, all the men and women, in our white,” she said. “When I was leaving the residence hall, there were a bunch of girls in white, and we all looked very beautiful and put together.  It was a great moment to cherish.”

Brown said she decided to come to TSU after visiting the campus for Preview Day.

“I fell in love with the College of Business.  That was what really sold me.  I said this is where I have to be if I want to be successful and have a good career.  I was just amazed,” she said.

Females dressed in white with pearls presented to them by the TSU Women’s Center, and males dressed in white shirts and blue pants, sporting TSU-supplied blue and red ties. They pledged to commit themselves “to serious intellectual and cultural efforts” and to deport themselves “with honor and dignity to become better prepared to live a full and useful life in society.”

Male students preparing for induction at 2019 Freshman Convocation.

In addition to student representatives, speakers at the convocation included Dr. Alisa Mosley, interim vice president for Academic Affairs, Joni McReynolds, president of the TSU National Alumni Association and Dr. Geoffrey Burks, associate professor of physics.

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.

Women’s Center Welcomes New Students To TSU With Pearls

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University Women’s Center recently presented over 500 pearl sets to female freshman and transfer students to welcome them to the TSU Family.

Seanne Wilson, the center’s coordinator, said the initiative, which was started five years ago in conjunction with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., gives her an ideal opportunity to connect with new students.

“This initiative gives us a chance to reach the students and to find out what their needs are—if they have anxiety or depression, if they are in the wrong career field or if they need a little guidance,” she said. “It is all about empowerment, mentorship, and life coaching, which is what I do everyday.”

The young ladies wore the pearls during the New Student Convocation on Aug. 30. This year members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. joined the AKA’s to present pearls to the students.  

Wilson said The Women’s Center tries to help by giving scholarships, work-study and various opportunities to young ladies who attend TSU. She said presenting the young ladies with pearls is a significant gesture for several reasons.

Kori Robinson, an architectural engineering major from St. Louis, proudly displays the pearl set she received from the TSU Women’s Center.

“Every girl should have pearls.  It just really sets another tone. It raises the bar,” she said. “It just helps them to understand that they need to look a certain way on campus.  You’re not just going to throw pearls on with anything.” 

Kariya Jennings, a freshman human performances and sports sciences major from Hyattsville, Maryland, said wearing the pearls at the convocation will give her class a chance to showcase their love for TSU.   She said attending an HBCU ranked high on her list of priorities when choosing a university to attend.

“I’m an aspiring physical therapist. My cousin is an alum here. My cheerleading coach in high school also went here.  I was just looking up schools over my high school career, and Tennesee State popped up.  It’s an HBCU. It met all of my qualifications. So now I am here,” she said.

Kori Robinson, an architectural engineering major from St. Louis, who also participated in the convocation, said she came to TSU because of close family ties.

“I looked up reviews, and it’s just a loving school,” she said. “Most of my family came here like my cousins and my aunt.  It’s a school that most of my family members went to and graduated from.”

Mayora Celeste Berry, Miss Sophomore, who received her pearls last year and participated in last year’s New Student Convocation, said she still has her pearls.

 “I’ve always been a pearl girl.  I love pearls. Receiving another pair is great, and they are something that girls should always have,” she said.  “There are many other accessories, but you are going to need these for professional looks and many other things.”

Over 1,200 new students participated in the New Student Orientation held in Kean Hall.

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

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.

Bittersweet moment for TSU as university prepares to kick off football season with John Merritt Classic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A trip down memory lane, a celebration of perseverance, new beginnings and remembering a fallen tiger, all will take place when Tennessee State University football has its season opener this Saturday at Nissan Stadium. The TSU Tigers will take on Mississippi Valley State University for the John Merritt Classic.

As the much-anticipated duel against the Delta Devils kicks-off at 6 pm CST, the smile of a prominent member of Big Blue Nation will be absent from the arena.

Debra K. Johnson

Former Tennessee Department of Correction Administrator Debra K. Johnson, who was killed by a prison escapee earlier this month, will be recognized throughout the game. Johnson’s usual seat at home games will be draped with the university flag in honor of the slain TSU alumna.

TSU President Glenda Glover, who presented Johnson’s family with a proclamation along with a special donation during a recent fundraiser organized by WKRN Channel 2, said Johnson was a great football lover who came to TSU home games and functions.

“We celebrate the life and the legacy of Debra Johnson,” Glover said. “She was just an ideal sweetheart of a person, very professional all the time, downright nice, and we are happy to honor her because she just loved TSU.”

At the conclusion of the first quarter, President Glover will present former TSU Football Player Christion Abercrombie with the HBCU Male Athlete of the Year Award, one of HBCU DIGEST’s top awards. Abercrombie continues to recover from a severe brain injury he suffered on Sept. 29, 2018, during a game against Vanderbilt. The Atlanta native will also be recognized during this year’s homecoming as the Special Presidential Grand Marshal.

Christion Abercrombie

TSU assistant athletics director for Media Relations Zekeya Harrison said the award is well deserved because of how Abercrombie has persevered through an extraordinary situation.

“Just to see his progress now from where he was after his injury last year at the Vanderbilt game is phenomenal. He has inspired not only Tennessee State University, but the entire world,” she said. “The strength of Christion’s entire family is something that I know encourages and inspires many people, and his journey is an inspiration to us all.”

At halftime, the university will unveil its new signage at Nissan Stadium. Glover, 2019–2020 SGA President Katelyn Thompson, Athletics Director Teresa Phillips and TSU National Alumni Association President Joni McReynolds will unveil signs simultaneously on the mid-level at the four corners of the stadium.

Members of Tennessee State’s 1999 Ohio Valley Conference Championship football team.

Also during halftime, members of Tennessee State’s 1999 Ohio Valley Conference Championship football team will be honored. This season marks the 20th anniversary of TSU’s second OVC title. Posting an 11-1 overall record including an undefeated 7-0 mark in OVC games, the 1999 team was guided by back-to-back OVC Coach of the Year L.C. Cole.

For ticket information, (615) 963-5841, or order tickets online at http://www.tsutigers.com.

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 Partners With Apple, Inc. to Offer Alums Free App Design and Development Course

Technology giant Apple, Inc. has partnered with Tennessee State University to give minorities and underserved communities greater access to the field. TSU has been charged with strengthening the collaboration by offering the company’s coding curriculum to new audiences.

That expansion includes providing TSU alums the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of app design and app development for free. Computer Applications for Educational Leaders is being offered through the TSU School of Graduate and Professional Studies, and is accepting applications now.

The course supports the university’s mission to provide life-long learning opportunities to the TSU alumni.

“This course is the first of its kind to address an individual’s working and learning style where they can take the course on-ground, online, hybrid or at the Apple Store,” said Dr. Robbie K. Melton, Tennessee State University’s dean of Graduate and Professional Studies and program director for the coding initiative.

Dr. Melton also says the curriculum is structured to provide onsite instruction for groups of 10 or more wherever they are located.

That scheduling flexibility is what attracted Dr. Jeffery Norfleet, associate dean of Academic Services at Trevecca Nazarene University.

Dr. Jeffery Norfleet (Photo Submitted)

“I like to learn virtually because it just works with my time and my schedule,” said Norfleet, who received his undergraduate degree from TSU in Humanities in 2008 and his master’s in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in educational technology in 2010.

“There are apps out their for everyone. Apps out there that will help you with your personal life, your professional life, and your spiritual journey,” he said. “We may not be coding experts as far as the ‘IT’ side is concerned, but from your basic line of work and employment, you can utilize this skill set to benefit the community in which you live.”

Norfleet, a Clarksville-native who served as saxophone section leader with the Aristocrat of Bands while at TSU, said he believes efforts like this one will strengthen the university’s relationship with its alumni.

Jeffery Norfleet marching with the Aristocrat of Band as an undergraduate student at Tennessee State University. (Photo Submitted)

“I think this will begin to open up doors where students can see that they may have walked away with one major or one type of master’s, but the resources that the school wants to pour back into them will give them the opportunity to continue to develop their professional skill set as well as their personal skill set,” he said.

“It also encourages them to give back to the university, because these opportunities don’t come free at most places. “

Sheron B. Doss, who secured a bachelors degree in Social Welfare from TSU in 1976, is proving you’re never too old to learn, and said courses like this one are important for seniors.

“At our age, we assume we are too old to learn, but why shouldn’t we learn now,” said Doss, who was recently accepted into the doctoral program for Administration Management in Pre-K and Higher Education at TSU.

Sheron B. Doss (Photo Submitted)

“We are living longer, and we have got to be there rather than depend on our children and grandchildren. It makes communicating and living so much easier.”

Melton said the HBCU C2 initiative puts TSU on the forefront of embracing STEM, and she credits the university’s partnership with Apple with being key to its success. She said TSU employees as well as Tennessee high school students are also eligible to take the free course.

“Apple provides an approach to introduce coding and creativity in a nonthreatening manner,” she said. “You have children coding. You have seniors coding, and the fact that we have over 200 people from high school to senior citizen centers wanting to code and create is phenomenal.”

The push comes on the heels of the university’s July launch of HBCU C2 “Everyone Can Code and Everyone Can Create”, a national initiative supported by Apple, Inc., which seeks to bring coding experiences to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and underserved communities.

“Apple is encouraging us to offer more academies because of the result from the academy this summer in which five of the apps that were designed are now being tested on campuses,” said Melton.

“We got a call from the Department of Labor because they received word from other constituents about the excitement, not just in Tennessee, but throughout all HBCUs regarding our transformation attitude regarding STEM careers,” she added.

Doss, who found out about the class during registration, said she took Melton’s Microcomputer Technology in Primary and Elementary Schools course in 2017. She encourages all alums to take advantage of the free learning opportunity.

“I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what level or what age, just start,” she said. “Just look at it, and I guarantee you that something in the course during the duration of the class will make you happy, will make you glad, and if you are like me, it will excite you.”

TSU hosted the inaugural HBCU C2 Presidential Academy July 14-19 through its newly established National Center for Smart Technology Innovations. Leaders of 14 historically black colleges and universities – including Tennessee State – from across the country came away from the Academy with knowledge and skills in coding and app development from Apple’s comprehensive coding curriculum, which utilizes its popular Swift programming language.

For more information about enrolling in EDAD 6100: Computer Applications for Educational Leaders course, contact Deborah Chisom at dchisom@tnstate.edu or call (615) 963-7390.

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.

Williams Named Associate Vice President For Research And Sponsored Programs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dr. Frances Williams has been appointed associate vice president for research and sponsored programs.  Williams is currently the associate dean for graduate studies and research in the College of Engineering.

Frances Williams

In her new role, Williams will provide oversight of TSU’s research enterprise, including management of research grants and contracts, strategic research initiatives and partnerships, proposal development, and TSU’s Centers of Excellence.

“I am excited for the opportunity to serve the university in this capacity,” said Williams, who is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering, and director of the Center for Micro-, Nano-, and Bio-technology Research at Tennessee State University. “I look forward to working with the TSU family to expand our research and sponsored activities and to foster strategic partnerships for growth.”

John Barfield, TSU director of engagement and visibility in the Division of Research and Institutional Advancement, said he is encouraged by Williams’ appoint because of her vast research experience.

“Dr. Williams is an experienced researcher who has gone through every gamut of what it means to be funded and is known nationally for her research.  She also has a good sense of what research administration takes because she has worked on these projects over the years.  So to have somebody who has that experience and has also been the associate dean in the College of Engineering and understands the faculty side of it, I expect her to take off and take us in new directions.”

A veteran researcher and university administrator, Williams previously served as the director of the Center for Materials Research at Norfolk State University as well as the director of Norfolk State’s Micro- and Nano-technology Cleanroom, a premiere research facility for fabricating micro- and nano-scale devices.

Williams has extensive publications, and holds a patent in the areas of advanced materials and devices, biosensors, and nano- and micro-electromechanical systems processing and devices. She has received grants totaling over $15 million as a principal investigator or co-principal investigator.

For her contributions in teaching, scholarship, and service, she has received various awards including the 2018 STEM Innovation Award at the 32nd Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Global Competitiveness Conference.  In 2013, she received the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) Outstanding Faculty Award (the highest faculty award given out by the state).  She was named an “Emerging Scholar” by Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine in 2012.  She was also awarded Norfolk State’s top distinguished faculty award, the University Award of Excellence in 2010.

Williams holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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 students benefit from Regions Bank and Cheekwood Partnership providing summer jobs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – This summer Tennessee State University is providing paid internships for TSU students thanks to a partnership with Cheekwood Estate and Gardens and Regions Bank.

According to Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, these internships are part of the college’s initiative to increase its number of student internships with industry partners.

“This is a great investment by Regions Bank in our students,” said Reddy.  “We place a lot of importance on these internships.  Historically, we used to send a lot of students to the different governmental agencies. Now we are branching out to a lot of industry partners. This summer we have almost forty students across the country in different organizations and companies doing internships.”

Reddy said Regions Bank is providing $25,000 this year for student salaries. 

Daiva Wilson, a senior Agriculture major with a concentration in biotechnology who interned with Cheekwood last summer, said her experience at Cheekwood was eye-opening.

Daiva WIlson

“I’d never been to a botanical garden before, so just seeing the garden was a benefit,” said Wilson, who serves as an intern with USDA this summer.  “Also, I was able to see how the gardeners work with one another. They actually create such a beautiful display for members and people who visit the garden.”

Wilson’s internship at Cheekwood focused on horticulture.  She said she worked with the plant team and had the opportunity to experience the entire Cheekwood garden.  She credits Dr. De’Etra Young, assistant professor of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, with helping her secure the internship.

“The TSU College of Agriculture is really big on students presenting their goals. We have the Dean’s Scholars Program, and students with a 3.0 or higher are partnered with a mentor, which is usually a professor who does research in the lab,” she said. “Dr. Young pretty much says if you are a dean’s scholar, you should have an internship every summer.”

Young said the Cheekwood internships focus on three areas: education, horticulture and aboriculture.

“The role that I play is actually recruiting students and then internally vetting them before we send them over to Cheekwood, and then Cheekwood has their own application and interviewing process,” Young said. “For me, I believe that the experience for our students is hands-on experience that compliments what we are teaching in the classroom.”

Daniel Shaw, a senior Agribusiness major from Lamar, Arkansas, said he enjoys being a summer intern at Cheekwood.

“I am doing maintenance at the garden, like weeding, watering and planting.  Earlier on, we were transitioning from the spring annuals to the summer annuals, and we briefly started doing some plant identification for a daylily collection they have,” he said.

Shaw, who is also considering a career in environmental sciences and was introduced to the opportunity by Young, said he thinks the internship will give him leverage with future employers.

“It shows that you can be committed to something. Hopefully other people are going to be able to see your work ethic and put in a good word for you,” he said.

Shaw and fellow TSU student Jenna Jones, an education major at TSU, began their summer internships at Cheekwood in mid-May and will work through late July. 

TSU students Steve Osborne (left), an Agriculture Sciences major with concentration in Environmental Sciences and Davia Wilson(right), an Agriculture major with a concentration in Biotechnology, with Cheekwood Plant Collections Manager Shanna T. Jones (center) during their summer internship at Cheekwood in 2018.

Although the Cheekwood internship has existed since 2017, it has had multiple funders. This year Regions Bank is playing an instrumental role in the partnership. 

“Regions has longstanding relationships with both Tennessee State University and Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, said Senior VP and Regional Community Development and Partnerships Manager Latrisha Jemison with Regions Bank. “This is an ideal partnership that allows us to invest in a successful program with very talented students. TSU students complete the internship with workforce ready skills and go on to acquire employment in the horticultural profession.”

Reddy said TSU President Glenda Glover initiated the partnership.

“We have been sending out students as interns, and they have been paying the students for internships during the summer and during the regular semester for some time,” he said. “We are interested from an environmental perspective, with regards to botany and understanding the plants.  From their perspective, it is for beauty and environment.” 

He said faculty from the College of Agriculture have also played a role in the partnership.

“Our faculty have been trying to provide technical assistance on some basic things, like how to grow plants hydroponically, and how to take care of the ornamental plants,” he said.  “So there are student internships and faculty support for the public who come to Cheekwood Gardens.”

Peter Grimaldi, vice president of gardens and facilities at Cheekwood, said the internships provide students with an experience that includes a combination of direct service, working in the garden along with Cheekwood’s permanent professional staff, and project-based work.

“Public Horticulture includes the full spectrum of horticulture, and the opportunities at our operation pretty much include bits and pieces of almost any professional opportunity you can seek out in the green industry,” he said. “The interns have been very impressive, the students themselves, and if they are in anyway a representation of the young professionals that TSU is sending out into the workplace and the community, and they are, then that’s something the university should be proud of.”

Grimaldi said the botanical garden plans to have two additional internships this fall.

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

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU Receives 11 Nominations For 2019 HBCU Digest Awards

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is a finalist in 11 categories of the 2019 Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ Digest Awards.

The winners will be announced at the ninth annual HBCU Awards ceremony to be held on August 2 at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in downtown Baltimore. 

TSU is a finalist for University of the Year, and TSU President Glenda Glover is in the running for Female President of the Year.

Other TSU nominations are:

Best Marching Band: Aristocrat of Bands

Best HBCU Choir: New Direction Choir

Best Fine Arts Program: Department of Music

Best Science, Technology, Engineer and Mathematics (STEM) Program: College of Engineering

Best Business Program: Executive MBA Program

Alumna of the Year: Traci Otey Blunt

Female Coach of the Year: Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice

Male Athlete of the Year: Christion Abercrombie

Male Student of the Year: Jailen Leavell

The HBCU Awards is the first and only national awards ceremony honoring individual and institutional achievement at historically black colleges and universities throughout the country. Winners are selected by a panel of previous winners, journalist, HBCU executives, students and alumni for the merit of accomplishment and for generating positive coverage for HBCU campus communities.

Last year, Tennessee State University received awards for “Best Student Organization” and “Alumnus of the Year.”

The year before that, TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands and the university’s College of Engineering received top honors in the HBCU Digest Awards.

In 2015, TSU’s women’s basketball team got Female Team of the Year, and student activities received Best Student Organization.

To see all the 2019 HBCU Awards finalists, visit: https://bit.ly/31JbrRF

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 Graduate School Dean Robbie Melton Inducted into 2019 USDLA Hall of Fame

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The United States Distance Learning Association inducted Tennessee State University’s interim dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, Dr. Robbie K. Melton, into the USDLA 2019 Hall of Fame at the association’s national conference held recently in Nashville.  

USDLA, the nation’s leading distance learning organization, honored Melton, along with other outstanding distance learning professionals, last month during the presentation of its 2019 International Distance Learning Awards because of their contributions to the field of distance and online learning.

Melton, who was recently elected to the USDLA Board of Directors, said this honor gives her the opportunity to tell more people about the advancements taking place at TSU.

“When you receive an award of this high caliber, it brings recognition, not to the person, but to the institution, and that was the honor in receiving this award, because then I could stand up and say I am a faculty member at Tennessee State University,” she said.

The USDLA International Awards are presented annually to organizations and individuals engaged in the development and delivery of distance learning programs.

Dr. Reggie Smith III,  executive director of USDLA, said the association enjoys honoring leaders within the industry.

“Each year these recognized leaders raise the bar and exceed best practice expectations for the industry as a whole, and we are truly honored by their contributions within all distance learning constituencies,” he said.

Melton’s knowledge of how to best use mobile apps and mobile devices as teaching tools, as well as her creation of the Mobile App Education Workforce Resource Center, have earned her the title “App-ologist.”

Her presence at TSU has strengthened the university’s relationship with many major corporations, such as Verizon, AT&T, Dell, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Samsung, who all currently support initiatives at TSU.

“Right now, I am transitioning into the HBCU C2, ‘Everyone Can Code, And Everyone Can Create’ Initiative that is supported by Apple, where everyone at TSU, students, faculty, staff and community partners, will be embraced and immersed into coding and creativity,” she said.

Now a technology guru, Melton started her career as a special education teacher with a vision for using distance education as a tool to help hospitalized students with disabilities connect with schools.

“I’m one of the old pioneers in distance education before the Internet,” she said. “I was always a risk taker, and a person willing to try out the new technology in terms of developing new courses, teaching online, training online and using different tools online.”

Melton, who formerly served for 20 years as the associate vice chancellor of Mobilization Emerging Technology for the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), has amassed many other awards throughout her career, including the 2016 Online Learning Consortium Leadership Award, the 2016 MERLOT Technology Distinguished Leadership Award, and the 2016 WCET Richard Jonsen Award. She has lectured internationally as a keynote speaker in Scotland, Rotterdam, Malawi, Scotland, France, Argentina and Canada.

She credits her husband, Thomas Melton, with playing a vital role in her success.

“To support all my passion, energy and activity, I have a supportive family, particularly my husband who works to make sure that I am able to do these things,” said Melton, who attended Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s inaugural United State of Women Summit in June 2016 as an invited guest because of her work  in technology.

Ultimately, she envisions Tennessee State University becoming the number one university in emerging technology.

“We at Tennessee State University have the knowledge, the skill, the passion and the foresight that companies need in order to make what I call appropriate effective safe secure technology tools,” she said.  “My dream for TSU is a national smart technology innovation center to address the challenges of education and workforce issues—a center that would address issues across all professions, health care, business, etc., and we would be the center where we will have technology from all companies, Sony, Dell, Samsung and Apple. Name it, and they will come to us, Tennessee State, for the research, development and creativity,  and it will be ever-changing.”

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 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.