Category Archives: Alumni

Future Dentist Says TSU Has Made Her A Better Leader

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When A’yadra Rodgers began her search for a high quality educational institution, she placed Tennessee State University at the top of her list.

She says it was her relationship with Carlos Houston, president of the East Tennessee chapter of the Tennessee State University National Alumni Association, that sealed the deal.

“I actually babysat for him,” says Rodgers. “He would always say things like, ‘Have you been looking at TSU?”

Houston’s persistence paid off, and Rodgers set her sites on becoming a TSU Tiger.

A’yadra Rodgers (Photo by Charles Cook, TSU Media Relations)

“Tennessee State was the first school I applied to and the first school I got accepted to,” says Rodgers, who graduated from Knoxville Catholic High School in 2017.

Rodgers says Houston played a major role in helping her secure a full scholarship to attend TSU.

After a transparent conversation with Houston’s wife Sheryl, who graduated from Tennessee State with a degree in engineering, Rodgers approached Houston about her need for financial assistance.

“Once she told me her grades and ACT score, I told her to let me make a phone call, and the rest is history,” says Houston, who graduated from TSU in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

“She got a full scholarship the next day, which was fantastic, but her GPA and test scores made her deserving of it,” he says. “She and her mother expressed in tears how grateful they were, and A’yadra said she would not let TSU down.”

Carlos Houston, president of the East Tennessee chapter of the Tennessee State University National Alumni Association. (Photo Submitted)

A junior dental hygiene major, Rodgers entered the university with the desire to become a nurse.  However, her aspiration changed as she became more aware of her true passion.

“When I first got here I had my mind set on nursing, and then I began to look more into it. I started to shadow, and I realized it wasn’t for me,” she says. “Then I started to think, ‘what do I love? Where do I like to go? Where am I around?’ And it was the dental office.”

After taking time to shadow her mother who works as a dental assistant, as well as watch the dental hygienists who work with her mother, Rodgers changed her major to dental hygiene and immediately began to excel. During her first semester in the program, Rodgers’ classmates elected her as class president and the Student Dental Hygiene Association’s first year recording secretary.

Rodgers also joined the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc., an organization that she says gives her an opportunity to participate in breast cancer awareness walks, make donations to Second Harvest Food Bank, and volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House of Nashville.

A’yadra Rodgers (second from left) poses for photo with other members of the National Association of Colored Women’s Club, Inc. after volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House of Nashville, a charity organization that provides essential resources and a “home-away-from-home” for families of critically ill children receiving inpatient or outpatient medical care at Nashville area hospitals. (Photo Submitted)

“Being involved in this organization has been a blessing, helping me to become a leader in all aspects of my life,” she says.

Brenda J. Kibbel, assistant professor of Dental Hygiene, says Rodgers is an exceptional student.

“I expect great accomplishments in Ms. Rodgers’ future endeavors because of her compassion and involvement,” says Kibbel. “I just see so much potential in her as a young woman, and I expect great things.”

Rodgers, who plans to double major and earn an additional degree in health information management at TSU, says she plans to become a dentist.

“My goal is to go to dental school at Meharry Medical College. After that I can decide if I want to be an orthodontist, or anything beyond that,” she says. “I do want to do some work outside of the U.S., so I am looking at Africa.”

She credits her parents with inspiring her to succeed.

“I feel like they are always working to make sure me and my siblings are OK, and so just seeing that work ethic and how they are really trying their best is inspiring,” says Rodgers.

A’yadra Rodgers

Kibbel, who worked as a dental hygienist for years after completing her degree through a joint program between TSU and Meharry Medical College, says the career landscape for dental hygienists is vast.

“We now in this state can do independent practice coming under a dentist or we can work on our own in nursing homes. You can be an educator. You can be a researcher. There are a lot of job opportunities.  It’s good money, and it has flexibility,” says Kibbel.

Brenda J. Kibbel, TSU assistant professor of Dental Hygiene (Photo Submitted)

She encourages students who want to become dental hygienists to visit the department of Dental Hygiene.

“I’m really proud of our school. Our department strives to not make them just great students and pass the program, but to become great human beings who will be assets to our society, as well as the healthcare profession.”

Tennessee State University’s Dental Hygiene Clinic is located in Clement Hall on the main TSU campus. It provides a wide range of dental services to nearly 600 patients a year at reduced cost. This includes the campus, as well as the greater Nashville community.

To learn more about the Department of Dental Hygiene, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/dentalhygiene/.

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 President Glover Encourages Community to ‘Stand Strong’ at 8th Presidential Prayer Service

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover provided encouraging words of perseverance at the 8th annual Presidential Prayer Service on Jan. 8.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper thanked President Glover for her leadership. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

Dr. Glover was the keynote speaker, as TSU and the Nashville faith-based community joined hands to begin the New Year with a morning of prayer at Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church. 

Faith-based leaders of various denominations from across Metro Nashville, as well as Mayor John Cooper, Vice Mayor Jim Shullman, and TSU alum and gospel legend Dr. Bobby Jones, participated in the program. Also participating was Bishop Joseph Walker III, chairman of the TSU Board of Trustees and presiding bishop of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International. 

During her speech, Glover encouraged the gathering — community, state and local leaders and citizens, TSU staff, administrators, alumni and students — to “stand” in the face of difficulties.

A cross-section of faith-based leaders participated in the 8th Annual Presidential Prayer Service at Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

“There will be difficult days in accomplishing goals, when others will challenge you and or doubt you, but you must stand and be steadfast,” Glover said. “We had some ups and downs, we had some trials and tribulations, but we are here. We are thankful for people who have stood up for TSU.”

Before Glover’s presentation, Mayor Cooper thanked her for her leadership, and the community for coming together in prayers for the city, TSU and residents.

Darrien Phillips, a TSU senior commercial music major, performs a musical rendition at the prayer service. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

“Dr. Glover, this is your day as you go into your eighth year as president of Tennessee State University,” Cooper declared. “The city of Nashville and I thank you for all you have done for not just this community but across the nation. TSU graduate students, teachers, engineers, to name a few, continue to nurture our students that come from TSU to go out near and far. The city of Nashville is so fortunate to have you here. We thank you for this annual prayer service.”

Following Glover’s address, ministers offered prayer in several areas, including peace, the global community, the Nashville community, children and youth, and the TSU community.

Rev. Aaron X. Marble, pastor of Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church, presided over the program. He praised Dr. Glover for her leadership and said the annual prayer service “is a wonderful tradition that she’s established.”

The prayers concluded with the Rev. Derrick Moore, pastor of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, praying fervently for Glover as various ministers gathered around her in a display of unity and support.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded 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.

US State Department Designates TSU a ‘Fulbright HBCU Institutional Leader’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is a Fulbright HBCU Institutional Leader for Academic Year 2018-2019, solidifying its position even more on the global stage.

The designation was recently announced in a letter to TSU President Glenda Glover from Marie Royce, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

TSU is one of 19 HBCUs to receive the Fulbright designation for demonstrating noteworthy support for Fulbright exchange participants during the 2018-2019 academic year, as well as for promoting Fulbright program opportunities on campus.

“We are extremely excited to be recognized for our participation in this prestigious program,” Glover said. “With our diverse student, staff and faculty population, TSU identifies with the Fulbright program’s goal of promoting mutual understanding between people of the United States and other countries through cultural exchanges.”

Last year, TSU became the first historically black university to host the Fulbright Pakistan Re-entry Seminar (April 25-28). The seminar, funded through a grant from the Institute of International Education, was intended 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.

Earlier this year, TSU professor Janice M. Williams received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to South Africa in Dental Sciences. She was one of over 800 U.S. citizens who were selected to teach, conduct research, and/or provide expertise abroad for the 2019-2020 academic year.

According to Dr. Jewell Winn, executive director of the TSU Office of International Affairs, having this designation with Fulbright, which has partnerships with more than 160 countries worldwide, positions the university to be more attractive globally.

“It has been challenging to develop cultural exchange programs with major research institutions around the world,” she said. “But this designation will show that we are among the most prestigious and respected HBCUs implementing comprehensive internationalization.”

In the State Department’s letter, assistant secretary Royce congratulated TSU for attaining the Fulbright HBCU Institutional Leadership status, along with the other 18 HBCUs.

“ECA has established this new designation to acknowledge the strong partnership between the Fulbright Program and HBCUs, and to encourage the entire network of HBCUs to increase their Fulbright engagement,” the letter said. “This initiative is part of the U.S. State Department’s long-standing commitment to build diversity and inclusion within the Fulbright Program and within the Bureau’s international exchange program overall.”

TSU will be recognized at a special reception hosted by the Fulbright Program on Feb. 18, during the annual Association of International Education Administration in Washington, D.C.

Terrence Izzard, TSU’s associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Success, said the designation helps the university’s recruitment effort by further opening the pipeline for engaging more foreign students.

“We have a large international population of students, and this designation certainly helps to enhance our outreach to continue to attract the best and brightest from abroad,” Izzard said.

Added Katelyn Thompson, president of Tennessee State’s SGA, “TSU’s diverse student population makes us unique. I think the Fulbright Program would help to expose our students to more cultural exchanges, as well as bring in more students from foreign countries.” 

As part of the State Department designation, TSU received a certification of congratulations, as well as a Fulbright HBCU Institutional Leader digital badge to display on the institution’s website and on its social media platforms.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded 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.

Georgia City Declares ‘Christion Abercrombie Day’ to Honor Injured TSU Football Player

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The City of South Fulton, Georgia, has declared December 19 ‘Christion Abercrombie Day,’ in honor of injured Tennessee State University football player Christion Abercrombie.

South Fulton City Mayor William “Bill” Edwards, right, welcomes Christion Abercrombie to his office. (Submitted Photo)

City Mayor William “Bill” Edwards recently made the proclamation during a ceremony at Westlake High School, where the TSU linebacker graduated.

Abercrombie, an Atlanta native, rose to national prominence last year after suffering a severe brain injury in TSU’s game against Vanderbilt on Sept. 29.  His remarkable recovery was described as a miracle.

In a statement at the Westlake ceremony, Abercrombie said he feels great.

“I thank God. I feel amazing,” he said. “I thank everybody for coming out, my friends and family.  I just thank everybody for their support and prayers.”

In addition to Mayor Edwards, several city dignitaries, and the South Fulton School Board president and members attended the event.  TSU head football coach Rod Reed, along with some members of his coaching staff, as well as Abercrombie’s little league tag football coach, also attended the program. Gus Morris, an SEC official, who regularly visited Abercrombie during his recovery, attended the Christion Abercrombie Day ceremony.

Christion Abercrombie, left, Gus Morris, SEC oficial; and Rod Reed, TSU Head Football Coach, attend “Christion Abercrombie Day” in South Fulton, Georgia. (Submitted Photo)

Staci Abercrombie, Christion’s mother, said she wants ‘Christion Abercrombie Day’ to be special to everyone in South Fulton.

“This is a city that we both grew up in,” she said.  “We are from Atlanta, and it was annexed two years ago, and I want everyone to know if you have faith in God and you are one who can fight and be a pillar of the community, you are honored in such a way. Christion exemplifies all of that.  He’s given so much to this community, not just through football, but as a student-athlete and we are just very thankful that today we celebrate Christion Abercrombie Day.”

During this year’s Homecoming at TSU, Christion was honored as a grand marshal, and received a Special Presidential Recognition from TSU President Glenda Glover. HBCU Digest also named Christion “Male Athlete of the Year,” during the organization’s annual honoring gala in Washington, D.C.

Christian’s family has announced the formation of the “Christion Abercrombie Foundation,” a nonprofit organization to assist families dealing with brain injuries.

“The mission of the foundation is to bring awareness to traumatic brain injury through education and outreach to families and patients,” Staci Abercrombie said. “What we have learned is that there are severe cases, like Christion’s was. We want to partner with medical staff, coaches and therapists on how everyone can work together in providing the necessary care.”

As part of his quest to obtain a degree in sports medicine, Christion Abercrombie currently takes online courses at TSU.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded 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.

Toys For Tots Brings More Than 2,000 Parents To TSU Campus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University continues to keep community service at the center of its mission this holiday season.

On Dec. 21, more than 2,000 parents walked away with toys for their children during the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots distribution on the TSU main campus.

Thousands of toys of different sizes and shapes, for boys and girls up to age 12, were collected and distributed.  Volunteers, including TSU students, staff, alumni, and representatives from area charitable organizations and churches, helped with the distribution in Kean Hall.

Parents excited to receive toys for their children waited patiently in a line that extended outside Kean Hall. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

This event stems from a partnership between TSU and the Marine Corps Reserve in its annual toy distribution program. Prior to Saturday, TSU served as the official drop-off center for donated toys.

Christopher Terry, a senior electrical engineering major with a minor in computer science, served as a volunteer at the event, helping parents to gather and secure toys for their children.

Terry, a Memphis-native whose community service group, Generation of Educated Men, volunteered at the event last year, said assisting with Toys For Tots gives him an opportunity to spread joy during the holiday season.

“Growing up in Memphis I did this with my church, and it just feels wonderful being able to do this now at an older age,” he said. “I just love the fact that TSU continues to be a pillar for the Nashville community by giving back and supporting the communities around us.”

Associate Dean of Students, Dr. William Hytche(right), coordinator of the Toys for Tots program for TSU, with Christopher Terry(left), a senior electrical engineering major with a minor in computer science who volunteered for the event, and Benetta M. Sears(center), the local director of Simply United Together Foundation. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media)

As part of the partnership with the Marine Corp – the first with a university in the Nashville, Davidson County area – TSU received unwrapped toys for children up to age 12.

Associate Dean of Students, Dr. William Hytche, coordinator of the Toys for Tots program for TSU, said Simply United Together, a non-profit that coordinates the pickup of donated toys from Toys for Tots, spearheaded bringing the program to TSU. He said this year the program served a more diverse group.

“We have Hispanics now. We have our Caucasian brothers and sisters who are coming in, and that’s because they have closed their centers.  So the demographics have changed this year,” Hytche said. “The director of Simply United Together was offered to go to other institutions who wanted this program, and they were offering a lot of incentives for her to come to their schools. She said, ‘No. I think Tennessee State University is where I want to be.’”

Benetta M. Sears, the local director of Simply United Together Foundation, said the number of families served at TSU this year has increased exponentially.

Benetta M. Sears(left), the local director of Simply United Together Foundation, with representatives from Nashville Noticias, a local media organization that assisted with recruiting parents for the Toys For Tots event. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media)

“Tennessee State University is very positive. This is a community school also, and the people here are more willing and ready to serve the Nashville community as it grows and we have exploded,” she said.

Sears said she hopes the parents who participated will one day encourage their children to attend Tennessee State University.

For more information on Toys for Tots at TSU, call Dr. William Hytche at 615-963-5069.

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.

Tennessee State University Remembers Former Educator and Civil Rights Pioneer Carrie Gentry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Carrie Gentry, a civil rights activist and TSU educator, died Saturday. She was 95.

Carrie Gentry, right, with her son, Howard Gentry, Jr., was a pioneer in the nonviolent civil rights movement in Nashville. (Courtesy Photo)

Gentry, mother of TSU alum and Nashville Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry, Jr., was married to the late TSU athletic director Howard Gentry, Sr., after whom the Gentry Center is named.

She came to then-Tennessee A&I College in 1949 with her husband, and taught rhythmic and modern dance at the university. Later, along with friend Inez Crutchfield, an assistant professor of health education at TSU (1949-1985), Carrie Gentry became influential in the effort to desegregate Nashville, aiding student protestors during the nonviolent civil rights movement.

“I really feel humbled today standing among so many worthy people, and you my friend, Inez,” Gentry said in 2014, as she, Crutchfield and legendary track and field coach Ed. Temple were being honored for their contributions to the city, at the 10th Annual James “Tex” Thomas Humanitarian Prayer Breakfast.

“As I stand here today, I think about all the people that helped me move along the way. I want to thank everyone for the honor and praise. It is a tribute to my family who helped me succeed.”

Pioneers in the civil rights movement in Nashville during the 1960s, Gentry and Crutchfield became involved in the League for Women Voters, and were the first African-American members of the Davidson County Democratic Party’s Women Club. The two would later become presidents of the group – Crutchfield in 1975, and Gentry in 1978.

A longtime member of First Baptist Church until her passing, Carrie and her husband Howard reportedly transported students from TSU to her pastor, first to be trained in nonviolent tactics in the church basement and then to participate in the sit-in protests in downtown Nashville.

Carry Gentry was born in Georgia as one of 14 children. She lost her parents at an early age and was raised by her siblings and moved to Boston. She attended Howard University, where she majored in health physical education and dance.

At TSU, Gentry also served as the director of the majorettes. Like her husband, Howard Gentry, Sr., she is also in the school’s Sports Hall of Fame. 

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.

Tennessean Names Conference Room in Honor of Late Reporter and TSU Professor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessean newspaper has named a conference room in honor of the late award-winning business reporter and TSU adjunct professor Getahn Ward, who died in 2016. He was 45.

The Meter staffers visit the Getahn Ward Conference Room in The Tennessean new office building. Pictured are, from left, staff writer Brianna Sparrow, Editor-in-Chief KaBria Kirkham, and staff writer Nyah Peebles. (Courtesy photo)

The Getahn Ward Conference Room, in the newspaper’s new office building, includes a table with four chairs, a cabinet displaying awards Ward won while he worked there, as well as a white board for writing ideas. The multimedia room in the TSU Department of Communications is also named in honor of the fallen professor.

An active member of the Nashville chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, where he chaired the scholarship committee, Ward was an adjunct in the Communications Department at TSU, teaching an introductory course in journalism for many years.

Former students and staffers of The Meter, the TSU student newspaper, which Ward headed as editor-in-chief while a student at TSU, visited the Getahn Ward Conference Room recently. The experience, one said, “was very moving.”

Three visiting Meter staffers sit in on the morning editorial staff meeting at The Tennessean. (Courtesy Photo)

“Although I did not know him personally, but as soon as I saw his picture I felt an immediate connection …seeing his accomplishments and the remarkable person he was,” said KaBria Kirkham, editor-in-chief of The Meter, who came to TSU the year after Ward’s death.

She said as an aspiring journalist, she was inspired by Ward’s dedication to excellence and how he went about his work.

“I was just amazed to see something so important dedicated to him in recognition of his work and contribution to his community and individuals he came across,” Kirkham added.

During visit to the Getahn Ward Conference Room, The Meter staffers had an opportunity to interact with their counterparts at The Tennessean. (Courtesy Photo)

Meter staff writers Brianna Sparrow and Nyah Peebles accompanied Kirkham during the visit to The Tennessean. The group also toured the newspaper’s elaborate facility at its new 1801 West End Avenue location, and sat in on the paper’s morning editorial meeting, where the plan for the day’s coverage is discussed.

Following Ward’s death, TSU, The Tennessean, the Gannett Foundation and NABJ partnered to create a scholarship in Ward’s name to benefit aspiring journalists. The new scholarship is the first endowed scholarship in the history of the TSU Department of Communications.

“At a time when our majors are working multiple jobs to offset the cost of a college education, this (scholarship) will go a long way in helping some of our best and brightest students,” Dr. Tameka Winston, chair of the TSU Department of Communications, said during the launching of the scholarship.  “This scholarship represents a man who devoted much of his life to the field of journalism and to the education and success of students at Tennessee State University.”

Ward, who previously worked at the Nashville Banner before it closed in 1997, had a passion for teaching students and advocating for black journalists. He earned two degrees at TSU, where he was a proud alum.

To contribute to the Getahn Ward Endowed Scholarship Fund, visit https://bit.ly/35kPUjK

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.

Award-Winning Filmmaker Returns to TSU To Premiere Latest Project “Wear The Crown”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University Alum and Award-Winning Filmmaker Alan Nettles returned to campus on Dec. 14 to premiere his latest film project, “Wear The Crown.”

In ”Wear The Crown,” Nettles, who secured his Bachelor of Science degree in communication studies with a concentration in TV and film production from TSU in 2019, takes viewers inside the trying world of a family rocked by the news that their mother, Winnie Price, has been diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer.

The Phoenix Troupe (Photo Submitted)

The evening began at 6:30 p.m. in the Cox-Lewis Theater with a pre-show performance by a group of creative artists called the Phoenix Troupe.

Filled with touching music and engaging subplots, “Wear The Crown,” which took five days to shoot, showcases various locations in Nashville, including Tennessee State University, Arlington United Methodist Church and Diamond Sound Studios. The crew also shot on location in Cadiz, Kentucky.

“Our preproduction was also very intense. We had about six weeks of rehearsals with the cast,” Nettles said. “We had a lot of different marketing events that we participated in from September until now.  We did a huge crowd-funder campaign, and there were just so many different things that we were doing to really bring this film to life.”

Alan Nettles, founder and CEO of Moving4ward Productions (Photo Submitted)

Nettles, founder and CEO of Moving4ward Productions, the company responsible for the film, said “Wear The Crown” features numerous TSU alums, including Lynn Summers who portrays Winnie Price and Pamela Bennett, who portrays Mrs. Alexander.

Summers said the film takes a close look at the dynamics of family relationships.

“This film mirrors true society today.  These are the trials and tribulations we go through each and every day,” she said.  “Regardless of what happens, family is family.  We should still love one another, and we should still get together.”

TSU Alum Lynn Summers portrays Winnie Price in “Wear The Crown.” (Photo Submitted)

“Wear The Crown” was produced by an all-female team which includes: Cillea Houghton, producer; Janice Wheaton, executive producer; and Sabrina Moore, line producer.  This is the first time all three have produced a film.

Moore, a former nuclear engineer who recently graduated from TSU with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications, said the film encourages people to take ownership of their lives, particularly their health.

“This film spotlights not only the issue of cancer, but of gender identity, depression and just how to accept yourself wherever you are in life,” she said.  “Deal with your issues. Deal with your health. Deal with your mental stability.  You can deal with it.  Everybody is dealing with something in some shape, form or fashion, so take ownership of your body and your life.”

Nettles, whose debut film “3 Blind Boys on the Block” was named Best of Fest at the 2015 Chi-Town Multicultural Film Festival, said witnessing his aunt, Tracey Reid, battle cancer inspired him to make the film.  He said the cast and crew worked tirelessly to produce a high-quality project that should strike a chord with anyone who has grappled with depression, grief or sickness.

“I’ve had to sacrifice life in order to breathe life into this production,” he said.

Nettles credits many of his professors at TSU, as well as his parents, with giving him the guidance and support necessary to achieve his creative aspirations.

“The faculty in the Department of Communications truly does care about its students, and if you allow them to love you, they will love you. You just have to be open to receive them,” he said.

Houghton said she hopes the film gives a voice to the voiceless.

“It’s shining a spotlight on important issues that I think will kind of resonate with everybody, from cancer to mental health, which is such a prominent issue today,” she said.  “We just really hope they feel that their voice is in this story, that their story is in this film.”

“Wear the Crown” also features performances by the Phoenix Troupe, a group of African-American singers and creative artists, including 2014 Essence Festival “You’re My Star” contest winner Megan Broadnax; Jeffrey White of gospel duo Same Seed; Lynn Echo, who appeared on former BET show “Bobby Jones Gospel,” along with Kyiara Jackson, Aundra Keo Brown and April Sledge.  

The premiere event also included a screening of the short film, “Loose Change,” written and directed by Moving4ward Productions  assistant director of Creative Development, William Jenkins.  

The event also honored cancer survivors related to members of the cast with the presentation of a special gift.

For more information about “Wear The Crown,” visit https://bit.ly/2PtbH1Z .

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 Alum Kevin W. Williams Named President, CEO of Major Global Manufacturing Company

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Kevin W. Williams, a Tennessee State University alum and member of the TSU Foundation Board of Trustees, is the new president and CEO of Detroit-based GAA Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management. Williams is a former senior executive of General Motors.

In announcing Williams’ appointment, GAA Chairman Sylvester L. Hester described him as a “game changer” for the company.

“Kevin Williams’ proven leadership capabilities at GM, including a strong track record of growing revenues, managing global operations and delivering quality-driven processes and products, will be key as we continue to diversify and expand our global network of resources to meet the demands of our supply chain customers,” Hester said.

GAA Founder and Executive Chairman William F. Pickard said adding Williams to “our team” demonstrates the company’s commitment to its customers and its seriousness about market growth.

“Kevin is one of America’s most talented executives and we are absolutely delighted that he chose to join us,” Pickard said. “His arrival is simply momentous.”

A native of Lexington Park, Maryland, Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from TSU in 1983 and a master’s in business administration from Central Michigan University in 1989. In 2002, Williams completed the GM Senior Executive Development Program.

Over the course of his 31-year career at GM, Williams accumulated extensive experience where he held numerous global roles. Most recently, he served as board chairman, president and managing director of GM of Canada Ltd, with revenues of $38.7 billion. Prior to that, Williams served as GM vice president and general manager, service and parts operations, where he oversaw all GM global aftersales businesses with annual revenues of $24.5 billion. He also served as president and managing director of GM de Mexico, and GM Central American and the Cayman Islands.

A native of Lexington Park, Maryland, Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Tennessee State University in 1983 and a master’s degree in business administration from Central Michigan University in 1989. In 2002, Williams completed the GM Senior Executive Development Program.

In addition to the TSU Foundation Board of Trustees, Williams is vice chair of the board of directors of the United Negro College Fund, a member of the board of trustees of the American Medical Association, and a former trustee of Genesys Health System of Michigan.

GAA Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management, one of the country’s largest African-American-owned businesses,  provides contract logistics, procurement, quality containment, warehousing, freight forwarding and contract assembly services.

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.

Tennessee State University to Begin Construction of Two New Residence Halls in January

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – In January, Tennessee State University will begin construction on the first new residence halls on the campus in 23 years.

The State Building Commission recently gave the green light for the six-story, 700-bed facility estimated at $75.3 million. It will be located between Eppse Hall and the Performing Arts Center on the main campus. The new project is part of a number of planned and ongoing constructions, including a new Health Sciences Building, that are changing the landscape at TSU.

TSU President Glenda Glover believes the new residence halls and academic building will play a major role in recruitment efforts.

“The university is undergoing a renaissance of sorts; it began with our new, higher admission standards, and continues with the new construction of the residence halls and Health Sciences Building for prospective students to enjoy and reap the benefits,” Glover said.

“We are proud of our legacy and the current buildings on campus are a part of that legacy. The facilities are the first state-funded construction projects on our campus in 23 years. These are exciting times for the university and our partners.”

Joni McReynolds, president of the TSU National Alumni Association, agreed that “building the residence halls with the best of technology will help us recruit” new students.

“I am extremely pleased to hear that the university will be able to move forward with the construction of two new residence halls,” McReynolds said.

At last year’s Homecoming, TSU broke grounds for the new residence halls, a new Health Sciences Building, and an Alumni Welcome Center. The Health Sciences Building, currently under construction on the main campus, is expected to be completed in early 2020.

Dr. Curtis Johnson, chief of staff and associate vice president for administration, said construction of the residence halls will last for 18-20 months beginning in January 2020. Prior to that, he said the university will soon begin making modifications in parking that will include groundbreaking activity.

“The facility will require some parking shift,” Johnson said. “The intent is not to lose any parking spaces, but to just relocate those parking spaces to another lot to allow the construction area laydown for the new facility.”

The building will also have a high-tech security infrastructure that gives exclusive access to occupants, he said. Outsiders coming in to use dining facilities on the first floor will not be able to enter living areas.

“Security design in this facility will include elevator lobbies, meaning that occupants will have access through their IDs to be able to access the floor you live on. There will be cameras and monitoring equipment throughout the facility,” Johnson said.

Katelyn Thompson, president of the Student Government Association, called construction of the new residence halls “a historic endeavor that will make a big and exciting difference” in student living.

“I am so happy about this news,” Thompson said. “To have them starting the construction this early means the world because I love my university, and to watch it grow with new things is amazing, as new Tigers continue to enroll and leave their mark at TSU.”

TSU’s Dean of Student and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Frank Stevenson, said the new residence will greatly help relieve the university of the growing demand for student campus housing.

‘This will be a state-of-the-art facility that creates a more dynamic student experience,” Stevenson said. “We are tremendously excited about the progress.”

The new residence facility will include an assortment of room types, four dining concepts, a fitness facility, indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, spa concept in some bathrooms, and laundry rooms. It will have three towers, and 4,5 and 6-story living areas. Construction is expected to be completed in summer 2020.

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.