Category Archives: Alumni

‘$1 Million In One Month’ Campaign Gets Major Boost at Celebrity Telethon; More Than $60,000 raised in Four Hours

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With just a few days to go, TSU’s historic push to raise $1 million in February for student scholarships is all but certain, thanks to a huge showing of Big Blue spirit on Sunday.

Jamie Isabel, left, Chairman of the TSU $1 million campaign, talks to NBC local affiliate Channel 4 about the telethon and the overall goal of the campaign. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

A four-hour celebrity telethon, “Dialing for Dollars,” raised more than $63,000. It was well over the telethon’s $25,000 initial goal, bringing total campaign contributions to nearly $938,609. Within two hours of the telethon, volunteers had already surpassed the $25,000 mark, organizers said.

“Today is a good day. This showing of support is very tremendous,” said Campaign Chairman Jamie Isabel, a TSU alum. “We exceeded our goal, which I knew we were going to do. The excitement and sheer commitment to the cause by all who participated are responsible for the success we achieved.”

Volunteers, including prominent local TSU alums, make calls to personal friends and acquaintances to contribute to the telethon. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

In a historic, long-term partnership with the Nashville Predators, TSU announced the campaign on Feb. 2 to raise $1 million during Black History Month for student scholarships. Since then, activities have included a “TSU Night” at the Bridgestone Arena, with appearances by the Aristocrat of Bands and the New Direction Gospel Choir, as well as a Big Blue Old School Concert at the Gentry Complex.

The telethon, live streamed from Jackson Hall on the main campus, included guest hosts and alumni, students, staff, faculty, community leaders and supporters manning telephones and taking contributions from supporters. TSU President Glenda Glover, who was on travel, called in to thank organizers and volunteers.

TSU alums State Rep. Harold L. Love, Jr., and his wife Leah Dupree Love volunteer at the telethon. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Several prominent local TSU alums and supporters stopped by to help man telephones. They included TSU Board of Trustee member Richard Lewis and his wife, Delores, a former TSU administrator; Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry, Jr., State Rep. Harold Love, Jr., and his wife, Leah; Barbara Murrell, longtime TSU supporter and former administrator; TSU National Alumni Association President Joni McReynolds; and Vivian Wilhoite, Nashville and Davidson County property assessor, among others.

Dr. Frederick S. Humphries, president of TSU from 1975-1985, who could not be present in Nashville, was among many who joined in from home and made calls to friends and acquaintances to contribute to the telethon.

Miss TSU Jada Crisp, left, and Head Football Coach Rod Reed, middle, were among many students and staff who volunteered at the telethon. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

According to Isabel, some major contributors were:  Dr. William F. Pickard, chairman of Detroit-based Global Automotive Alliance, a supporter of HBCUs, who contributed $10,000; and Nashville businessman Joe Davis, who sent in a check for $5,000.

“We had some large checks, but we also had some small checks and all those small checks added up to get us to where we are,” said Isabel.

Mr. TSU Damyr Moore, a senior mass communications major from Atlanta, and Eukirah Pennyman, a junior film and television major, also from Atlanta, were among many students who volunteered at the telethon. Moore helped with making calls, while Pennyman served as technical director.

Telethon hosts Grant Winrow, left, Seanne Wilson and Michael McLendon make a pitch at the four-hour long fundraiser. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“The experience today has been a great one; to be among your peers and alumni toward one good cause that benefits the entire student body is just great,” said Moore. “To give my time and be able to help someone else come to school as I have been fortunate to do is really a great feeling.”

Pennyman agreed.

“I am from Atlanta, and I have been fortunate to have a few scholarships from TSU,” she said. “It was a good experience to have this telethon, which I think should be done every year because it helps to bring in more majors and more students.”

Cassandra Griggs is TSU’s director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, and co-chair of the $1 million campaign committee. She is very thankful to the many alumni who came out to make phone calls.

“They called individuals who were in their personal cellphone contacts, asking them to support TSU,  and that was very admirable,” said Griggs. “I feel very good that not only have we exceeded our goal for today, but we are going to meet our goal for the $1 million.”

Grant Winrow, a member of the campaign committee and one of the hosts of the telethon, called the day a “Big Blue Victory.”

“We went in with the idea of raising $25,000 and we more than doubled it. And that’s a phenomenal success,” said Grant, who helped organize the telethon. “This is in the last few days of our campaign, and we thought having a celebrity telethon by bringing in some of our most notable TSU influencers here to make some calls, was a great idea. It turned out very well.”

The next push to the finish line in the $1 million campaign is a celebrity courtside dining at the TSU men’s basketball game on Saturday in the Gentry Complex.

To donate, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/1million1month or text TSU1MIL to 41444. 

Department of Media Relations

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

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 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’s 2020 Spring Internship Fair Gives Students Hope for Future Job, Employment Opportunities

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – TSU students looking for internship opportunities recently got a major break when representatives from more than 40 companies came on campus for the 2020 Spring Internship Fair.

William Corneh, left, a second-year business marketing major, talks to representatives of Provider Trust about internship opportunity with the company during the summer. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Nearly 400 students from different disciplines, with resumes in hand and dressed for business, attended the fair in Kean Hall on Feb. 18, where the companies set up tents, tables and displays. The fair was organized by the TSU Career Development Center in the Division of Student Affairs.

William Corneh and KeAnna Dakwa were among the first students at the fair, stopping at tables to hear what company representatives are looking for.

“I am here hopefully trying to get my first internship,” said Corneh, a second-year business major from Atlanta, who was shaking hands with representatives of The General Insurance Company. “This is my first effort trying to land a job. I am looking for an internship in an area of business marketing and the prospects look very good.”

TSU President Glenda Glover, right, talks to Katrina Kerr, a TSU alum and recruiter for Insight. Kerr is a 1994 graduate of TSU with a master’s degree in business administration. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

For Dakwa, who had a long discussion at the Lockheed Martin table, the chance for an internship also looks promising, said the sophomore civil engineering major from Huntsville, Alabama.

“I am here looking for internships in project management, civil engineering and anything that has to do with urban planning and logistics,” said Dakwa, who interned with American Electric Power last year. “I have been talking to Lockheed Martin and other design and engineering companies to see what they have to offer, and things look very promising.”

Unlike the career and employment fairs the university’s Career Development Center hosts during the year for various employment opportunities, this fair, which is held once a year, is dedicated solely to internships.

Moses Harris IV, left, a consultant with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, greets TSU students at the internship fair. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

TSU President Glenda Glover, the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Frank Stevenson, and a host of university officials, faculty and staff, stopped by the various booths to talk with company representatives in support of the students.

All of the representatives, including the fair’s major sponsors – Nashville Predators, The General Insurance Company, Altria, and LG&E – said they were impressed with the TSU students’ presentations, outlook and approach, and that they had a very good grasp of what they were looking for.

“TSU students are very professional, very friendly. You can tell they come prepared,” said Cheryl Mabry-Shirey, HR generalist with The General Insurance Company.

She said her company is looking to recruit interns for paid positions at $20 an hour in marketing, claims and IT.

Antoinette Hargrove Duke, Associate Director of the TSU Career Development Center, (middle in TSU blue), greets representatives of the major sponsors of the 2020 Spring Internship Fair. From left, are: Lindsey Nelson, Nashville Predators; Cheryl Mabry-Shirey, The General Insurance Company; Duke; Brooke Hartlage, LG&E; and Tyler Ridley, Altria. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“We have talked to several students who we already know are perfect fits for our company,” said Mabry-Shirey. 

Lindsey Rosen, talent acquisition specialist at Provider Trust, a healthcare compliance-based company, said her firm is also looking for people to fill internship and employment positions in marketing and sales.

“We pride ourselves on bringing in top talents,” Rosen said. “We are looking for creative and motivated people who want the opportunity to learn from our company.”

Antoinette Duke is the associate director of TSU’s Career Development Center. She said she is excited about the “overwhelming” turnout and support of the internship fair. She credits the various departments and volunteers with the success of the fair.

“These companies have shared with us that they actually have open positions to get students in for the summer,” Duke said. “Hopefully, when they leave today they will get those interviews to secure those internship positions. This really gives our students the opportunity to interact with the employers. We also want employers to use this valuable opportunity to connect with some of the brightest students. We thank our volunteers for their dedication and commitment to helping our students succeed.”

For more information on the TSU Career Development Center, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/careers/

Department of Media Relations

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

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 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.

Displays of University Excellence, Innovation, Speeches Mark 7th Annual TSU Day At the Capitol

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – State lawmakers got a taste of Tennessee State University’s excellence at the annual TSU Day at the Capitol on Tuesday.

Visitors to the TSU Day on the Capitol check out displays at the daylong event. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

More than 150 TSU students, administrators, faculty, staff and others packed a conference room on the 8th flor of the Cordell Hull Building to hear TSU President Glenda Glover kick-off the event. Before the official kick-off, lawmakers saw displays of the university’s diverse research and academic offerings, including robotics and giveaways like White Dogwood trees grown on the university farm, that has become a prized and highly requested staple during the annual visits.

“I am so pleased to see our lawmakers, along with our students, our faculty our staff, our alumni and friends. Thank you for joining us,” Glover said. “This is our seventh annual TSU Day at the Capitol. This event has become one of the institution’s most successful outreach programs. We take this opportunity to share with the lawmakers the great things that are going on at TSU, and to share with them our needs, as we continue the proud legacy of training and nurturing our future – our students.”

Before the kick-off, President Glover made courtesy visits to the offices of Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Crossville) and several key members of the Tennessee General Assembly. Student ambassadors also used the time to deliver packages of TSU mementos to the offices of lawmakers, as tokens of appreciation from the university.

Among many displays at the TSU Day at the Capitol, researchers in the College of Health Sciences demonstrate the use of the Vest Airway Clearance System, a therapy designed to assist patients who have thick secretions, such as in cystic fibrosis. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

In her speech, Glover told the lawmakers that past and future appropriations have allowed TSU to maintain its longstanding legacy of “providing education for our students.”

“Thank you for being a part of this day and for money you have given us,” she said. “However, we have some tremendous needs. So, we are here asking you to help us meet those needs. We want to improve our campus’ age-old infrastructure, we need scholarships for students, we need to make sure that electricity is in order for next year.”

Several of the lawmakers followed Glover with greetings and congratulations to TSU and its leaders for the “great work going on at TSU.”

“I appreciate you all being here today,” House Speaker Cameron Sexton said. “We are going to work well to make sure that we move Tennessee forward and keep doing the things we can agree on, such as education.”

TSU alums Sen. Brenda Gilmore, and Rep. Harold M. Love, Jr., two strong supporters of the university, promised to keep TSU at the top of the agenda.

“I am so happy to see you all up here. It means the world to me,” Gilmore said. “As you (students) walk these halls and meet the legislators, tell them about your studies and what you plan to do when you graduate. That helps us as we work hard to get your rightful funding.”

Love added: “It does our heart well to see our students, faculty, staff and alumni here with us on Capitol Hill. We need your voice to move TSU. So, I encourage you to keep telling us what needs to be changed in policy.”

In an oratorical presentation, Mr. TSU Damyr Moore moved lawmakers with a call for proportionate funding for HBCUs, arguing that the matrix used to determine funding, such as retention, enrollment and on-time degree completion, are not the best indicators by which to measure HBCUs.

“I propose proportionate funding for HBCUs and PWIs, or predominantly white institutions, alike, as well as increase funding for scholarships and funding for pre-college summer bridge programs,” said Moore, a senior mass communication major from Atlanta.

Also making remarks was Katelyn Thompson, president of the TSU Student Government Association. Among other lawmakers who spoke at the ceremony were Reps. Antonio Parkinson (District 98) and Barbara Cooper (District 86), a TSU alum.

Department of Media Relations

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

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 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 Kick off ‘$1 Million in 1 Month’ Fundraising Challenge at First Annual Great Gatsby Ball

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Student Challenge to contribute to TSU’s historic “$1 Million in 1 Month” is officially underway.

Members of the Pre-Alumni Council and officials of the Office of the Alumni Relations and Annual Giving grace the red carpet at the first annual Great Gatsby Ball. (Submitted Photo)

Organized by the Pre-Alumni Council, the students used the very elegant and elaborate first annual Great Gatsby Ball in Elliott Hall on the main campus Friday evening to kick-off various programs planned to raise funds for the campaign.

“This is one of our many opportunities to give back to this institution,” said Jeffrey Thomas, Jr., a senior fashion and merchandising major from Nashville, who is also president of the Pre-Alumni Council.

TSU students are all smiles as the enjoy the evening entertainment at the Great Gatsby Ball. (Submitted Photo)

“This formal event, with live band, dinner and a host, is an opportunity to get students to meet in a formal setting, interact with alumni, and to energize them for this great campaign launched by President (Glenda) Glover.”

In a historic, long-term partnership with the Nashville Predators, TSU announced the campaign on Feb. 2 to raise $1 million during Black History Month for student scholarships. Since then, activities have included a “TSU Night” at the Bridgestone Arena, with appearances by the Aristocrat of Bands and the New Direction Gospel Choir, as well as a Big Blue Old School Concert at the Gentry Complex.

Other campaign activities include the TSU Alumni Chapter Challenge Feb. 1-7; Faculty/Staff Challenge Feb. 8-14; TSU Divine Nine Fraternity and Sorority Challenge Feb. 15-21; TSU Sunday Day of Giving on Feb. 23; and TSU College and Student Challenge Feb. 22-29.  

Dwight Beard, right, President of the Nashville Chapter of the TSU National Alumni Association, talks to two TSU students at the ball. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

According to officials, the Great Gatsby Ball, themed after the “Roaring Twenties Costumes” and fashion era, gives the university the opportunity to showcase students – how to dress up and socialize and network in a professional manner.

“It is an opportunity to teach them about being in their circle but yet dignified and representing themselves well,” said Cassandra Griggs, director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. “It’s all about branding yourself. So, having alums and students having fun together is just an exciting evening for us.”

Clara Hyde, left, and Annie Kinzer were among several TSU alums who joined students at the Great Gatsby Ball. (Submitted Photo)

Amid the pomp, glitz and glamour, fitted with a red carpet entrance, interviews and photographing, the students said the ball was something they will not soon forget, because for some, it made up for lost time.

Elijah Poston’s date missed out on her high school prom, the sophomore biology major from Cincinnati said.

“She did not have a prom experience in high school and this gave her an opportunity to dress up and be escorted like it would have been on a prom night,” said Poston, a scholarship recipient from the Cincinnati Alumni Chapter of the TSU National Alumni Association. “I am glad to be by her side at this very elegant program. This is a great cause and I am going to do all I can to help. That scholarship has helped me immensely.”

The sumptuous dinner at the ball was prepared by Nashville’s own Catering Concepts by Timothy. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

During this month, Poston is volunteering with the Honors College to call out to alumni to contribute to the $1 Million in 1 Month campaign.

Deseree Hill, a freshman social work major from Birmingham, Alabama, did not need a scholarship to come to TSU, but she is excited about helping to raise funds to keep other students in school.

“I am glad to be here tonight, have fun and at the same time help in this very worthy cause,” Hill said. 

The Julius Genius Fisher Band provides entertainment at the first annual Great Gatsby Ball. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

Among alumni at the ball was Dwight Beard, a Nashville/Davidson County businessman, who is also president of the Nashville Chapter of the TSUNAA. He described the ball as “very beautiful and elegant.”

“This is how we want to teach our students to be professional when they go to the corporate world or in their various career fields,” said Beard.  “They will be going into a lot of places like this. By them participating in this campaign teaches them to give back. This is a start, because once they leave and become successful, they will come back and give to the school that gave them their foundations.” 

 
To donate, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/1million1month or text TSU1MIL to 41444. 

#TSU1million1month, @TSU1million1month

Department of Media Relations

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

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 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 Funding to Train 49 Aspiring Assistant Principals in Middle Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s College of Education has received a $300,000 grant to train 49 aspiring assistant principals in Middle Tennessee school districts.

Dr. Jerri Haynes, Dean of the College of Education, says the college has developed a special program of study to train the aspiring school leaders. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The funding from the Tennessee Department Education will be used to conduct a one-year, master’s degree-level training for cohorts from the region, including four of the state’s largest school systems – Metro Nashville Public Schools, Rutherford County Schools, Sumner County Schools and Clarksville-Montgomery County School System.

“This is an opportunity that Tennessee State University is certainly proud to receive,” said Dr. Jerri Haynes, dean of the College of Education. “It is a further recognition of the quality of our programs. It helps to increase our enrollment and helps fill the void or shortage of assistant principals, especially minorities.”

According to Haynes, participants in the program are teachers in their various systems who show leadership potential and have been selected by their superintendents or principals to take part in the training. All courses in the program, which is from June 2020 to June 2021, will be offered online. When completed, participants will receive professional licensure as educational leaders.

“We have developed a special program of study for this project,” Haynes said. “We are going to provide them the theory and application, as well as internships and on-the-job training. They will receive university mentors, and we will work to identify mentors at their schools where they work.”

Dr. Eleni Elder, left, Professor of Educational Leadership, holds discussion with graduate students in her school finance class. The course is part of the curriculum for the aspiring assistant principal training program. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Dr. Kirmanj Gundi is the interim chair of the COE’s Department of Educational Leadership. His department will be primarily responsible for conducting the training, which he called a “remarkable opportunity.”

“When we became aware of the grant through Dr. Haynes, we had less than 10 business days to come up with a winning proposal,” Gundi said. “We were successful, thanks to our leadership and a remarkable team.  Getting this grant is another opportunity for TSU to go out there and put its name out. We have an outstanding state-approved licensure program, we have great faculty.”

Current TSU students in the educational leadership program talked about the strength of the curriculum and how beneficial it would be in developing the leadership skills of the aspiring assistant principals.

“This program helps build character because it offers a lot of field experiences where we go and directly talk to people and observe what they are doing,” said Pragati Natraj, a first-year graduate student from India majoring in instructional leadership. “We have practical experience, and gaining that knowledge and seeing what leaders are already doing in the field help us reflect on what we should do.”

Bridney Jones, who’s also pursuing her master’s degree in educational leadership, agreed.

“I believe this course will benefit the new cohorts by giving them strong hands-on and practical experience they will need as leaders,” said Jones, of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Dr. Terrance McNeil, assistant professor of educational administration and coordinator of the training program, said the partnership with the state gives TSU a great opportunity to “take an active role” in training principals.

“We at TSU believe that we have a great program that can prepare principals in a very unique manner, given our history of educator preparation,” McNeil said. “We already do a great job with educators and all-around teachers, but when you start talking about principals, you are talking about the ability to create leadership and policies that can be implemented for the betterment of the students.”

TSU’s College of Education, which has been recognized as the highest producer of teachers among HBCUs in the nation, has had a long relationship with the Tennessee Department of Education for many years. In October, the college received more than a half million dollars from the department’s Title III program to develop a Global Education Student Support Services Lab to increase student learning across the curriculum.

In 2017, TSU was one of only four applicants out of 18 to receive the Tennessee Innovation in Preparation grant, or TIP. The grants are designed to support an increase in the development of a diverse educator workforce, an increase in the production of educators in high-demand licensure areas, and promote collaboration to improve educator preparation in literacy.

For the assistant principals’ training program, Dean Haynes congratulated the following committee members for their hard work in coming out with a successful proposal that made the grant possible: Dr. Heraldo Richards, associate dean; Dr. Trinetia Respress, assistant dean; Dr. Gundi, department chair; and faculty members: Dr. Carole De Casal, Dr. Eleni Coukos Elder, Dr. McNeil, and Dr. Darren Kennedy.

For more information on programs in the College of Education, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/coe/.

Department of Media Relations

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

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 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.

New Nashville Civil Rights Documentary Features TSU Alums

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When Tennessee State University Alum Tanya Coplen Gray approached her high school classmates about producing a short documentary to commemorate their 50th year high school anniversary, Gray had no idea how important the project would become.

“This short film was done as a labor of love.  We did this out of love for one another, and that’s really critical to me, to make sure people understand that is how it got started,” says Gray, who graduated from TSU in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in social work and a minor in sociology. 

Gray, along with her Cameron High School classmates Deborah Majors Bell and Ida Venson Currie, serve as executive producers of  “The Past Is Prologue: The Cameron Class of 1969,” an award-winning documentary that recounts a significant, but largely-forgotten, chapter of Nashville’s civil rights struggle that happened during the late-1960s.

Featured are (l to r)Tanya Coplen Gray, Ola Hudson, Deborah Majors Bell, Ida Venson Currie, Mark Schlicher (Photo Submitted)

The film, which was produced and directed by Nashville filmmaker Mark Schlicher, and co-produced by Lisa Venegas, will air on Nashville Public Television, WNPT Channel 8 Sunday, February 16, at 10:30 p.m., and Wednesday, February 26, at 9:00 p.m..

In spring 1968, during a volatile period for race relations in Nashville and throughout the United States, all-black Cameron high school lost a high-profile basketball tournament game to Stratford, a mostly-white school. A spontaneous protest and scuffles broke out afterward, as many upset Cameron fans believed that the game had been unfairly officiated in favor of Stratford.

In response, school authorities barred Cameron High School from all athletics for an entire year, while Stratford received no sanctions. In response to the punishment, parents, students, and supporters in the community protested, marched in the streets, and enlisted famed civil rights attorney Avon Williams, Jr., to champion their cause in federal court, making it part of his long-running school desegregation lawsuit.

Currie, who secured a bachelor’s degree in English Education from TSU in 1974, says former Cameron Principal O.R. Jackson, marshaled the school’s faculty and staff to find ways for Cameron High School seniors to enjoy their final year in spite of the punishment.

L TO R: Mark Schlicher, student extras, and Shelena Walden at Cameron High School (Photo Submitted)

“He knew we were not going to be coming to the stadium on Friday night for football games. We were not going to be going to the gym in the afternoon for pep rallies prior to the games. So he brought the vision to the teachers, ‘Let’s do something for this senior class because they are hurting in certain areas,’” says Currie, a retired commercial insurance product developer and healthcare manager. “Mr. Jackson made sure we had our pep rally’s on Friday afternoons, even if we didn’t have a game to attend. He also orchestrated our senior class trip to Washington, D.C. during spring break, which served as yet another memorable diversion to the suspension.”

Bell, a graduate of the Metropolitan School of Practical Nursing at Vanderbilt Hospital and a retired licensed practical nurse, says in spite of the security and assurance they received from parents and community members, the unfair punishment left a lasting impression on their class.

“At the time, we were all young. We had no idea what a big deal this was. We lived in a neighborhood where we had a lot of black support, like our parents and our teachers,” says Bell. “Once this happened, that’s when I really found out that I was considered a second class citizen.”

Schlicher says the documentary, which was funded in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission THRIVE program, needs to be viewed by a broad audience because of its historical significance.

Featured are (front row, l to r) Aaron Finley, Fletcher Moon, Tamiko Robinson Steele, Shawn Whitsell (back row, l to r) Co-Producer Lisa Venegas, Mark Schlicher, Shanika Gillespie, camera operator Keevan Guy at Seay-Hubbard UMC upstairs meeting room. (Photo Submitted)

“It was an honor to be able to do the 25 or so interviews that were done with class members and with teachers, to learn the story and share it in a way that honored the struggle and the triumph that the Class of ’69 went through and the place they have in the civil rights struggle in Nashville,” says Schlicher, whose work as director or cinematographer has been shown nationally on PBS, the Smithsonian Channel, Lifetime, and TBN.

After receiving rave reviews from classmates following the film’s initial viewing, and subsequently winning “Best of Tennessee” at the 2019 International Black Film Festival, the group realized the film could serve a larger purpose.

“We want to put this documentary in every public library and to be able to hand it to school systems,” says Gray, a retired licensed clinical social worker.

They believe the documentary will spark important conversations about education, policy, neighborhoods and equity, as well as bring awareness.

Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Enoch Fuzz agrees. He plans to air the film at Kingdom Café, located at 2610 Jefferson Street, on February 1, at 8:00 a.m. during One Nashville, a breakfast gathering he initiated two years ago to bring people with resources, information and awareness together to help progressive projects like “The Past Is Prologue” succeed.

Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Enoch Fuzz (Photo Submitted)

“I was very touched by the story that these people told, and I know that it could benefit some of the people in Nashville. There are some good people in Nashville who want to understand race relations,” says Fuzz.

He says One Nashville gatherings, which are held every month on first and third Saturdays, have attracted leaders from throughout the city including the mayor, vice mayor, secretary of state, public defender and city council members.  He says some attendees are looking for meaningful projects to support, while others come seeking assistance.

“I was having people call me everyday with different needs, and I said these people need to meet one another. So rather than me meeting with everybody differently everyday, I came up with the concept of getting everyone in the same room,” says Fuzz.  “One Nashville gets people from all over the community in the same room.”

Mary Jackson Owens, the Cameron alum who told Fuzz about the project, hopes the film can garner financial support, so young people can learn about this almost forgotten moment in Nashville’s civil rights struggle.

“It hasn’t been talked about in 50 years. It’s time to have a conversation about it, and tell people about the history,” she says. “A lot of our children don’t know anything about being in an all-black school and the loyalty that we have for Cameron.”

“The Past Is Prologue: The Cameron Class of 1969,” also features TSU alum Ola Hudson and TSU Associate Professor and Head Reference Librarian Fletcher F. Moon.  Hudson, who graduated from TSU with a bachelor’s  degree in Vocational Home Economics in 1951 and a master’s degree in 1953, taught at Cameron High School from 1955 until 1971.  Moon, who portrayed his father, Rev. J.L. Moon, in the documentary, has worked at TSU for 36 years. 

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 39 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 Kicks off Dual Enrollment Program with Apple Smart Technology Partnership

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – High school students looking to get an early start on college now have a home at Tennessee State University.

Dr. Robbie Melton, TSU Associate Vice President for Smart Technology and Innovation, conducts a coding class at Kenwood High School in Clarksville, Tennessee. (Submitted Photo)

Through its National Center for Smart Technology, the university has launched a dual enrollment program with three major school districts in the state that offers high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to earn college credits while enrolled in high school.

Participating school districts are Clarksville Montgomery County School System, Metro Nashville Public Schools, and Shelby County Schools.

Jalen Driskell and Larry Perry, 12th graders from Shelby County’s Trezevant High School in Memphis, are excited about the opportunity to earn early college credits. The two were among 130 students also from Pearl Cohn High, and Clarksville’s Kenwood High School, who participated in the Apple Coding class last fall as part of the dual enrollment program.

Officials from the TSU Office of Smart Technology and Innovation join faculty and staff of Kenwood High School to kick off the TSU-Apple-Kenwood Coding initiative. (Submitted Photo)

“I learned a lot from the initiative, especially working as a team,” said Driskell, who hopes to major in engineering after high school. “Being enrolled allows me to move ahead in receiving my college credits and to do better with time management.”

For Perry, he said the coding class was a lot of fun and increased his interest in doing more college work.

“Coding allowed me to gain the experience with talking to others versus typing,” he said. “Receiving this college credit allows me to be prepared for my future.”

Dr. Robbie Melton, TSU’s associate vice president for Smart Technology and Innovation, said with the Apple partnership, TSU has created an amazing opportunity for high school students to start coding and creating.

“All over the state, as well as all over the country, students are interested in coding and creativity,” said Melton. “With this dual enrollment program, it is unique in the fact that students across the state of Tennessee can now embrace the skills of coding and creativity through dual enrollment. We are positioned to provide coding and creativity on site and online, for high school students to have a pathway to our computer science and “Everyone Can Code and Create” curriculums at TSU.”

Dr. Johnnie C. Smith is the executive director of the TSU Dual Enrollment Partnerships. She said students who participate in the program must meet the TSU admission’s requirement. They must be beginning juniors with a GPA of 2.75 or better, and must have recommendations from their principals or guidance counselors to participate. In addition to the Apple coding curriculum, she said the program offers general education courses, as well as engineering and English composition. The courses are offered onsite and online.

“Like all other schools in the state, we are going after courses we know will count in different schools, like general education courses,” Smith said. “We are targeting students within the state of Tennessee. They will gain college credits to get a jump start on college and also use those credits to meet their high school requirements for graduation. We are really excited about the possibility of what this program can do at the institution.”

Some of the teachers whose students participated in the fall 2019 program said it was very beneficial and definitely makes the whole dual enrollment initiative more interesting.

“This program benefited our students by giving them the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of coding and inspired them to create something unique for a problem in their community,” said Abraham Wolfe, a high school AP Physics and Robotics teacher in the Clarksville Montgomery County School System.

Quanita Adams, a high school math teacher with Metro Nashville Public Schools, said, “The students enrolled in DE Coding this semester have tapped into a world that they may have not experienced elsewhere and produced amazing products in a short time.”

Herbert Vannostrand, a high school computer science teacher with the Shelby County Schools, agreed.

“The Apple Coding curriculum provided my students with a clear, concise, up-to-date and fun program to learn the Swift programming language, as well as bringing relevant up-to-date information about how coding can affect change in their lives,” Vannostrand said. “I recommend this program to any computer science teacher and I am ready to teach the course again next year.”

Dual enrollment is just one of many initiatives undertaken in the last year under the TSU-Apple partnership. In July, TSU launched HBCU C2 “Everyone Can Code and Create,” a national initiative supported by Apple, which seeks to bring coding experiences to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and underserved communities. To date, TSU has impacted 32 HBCUs with the HBCU C2 Initiative. Also, in July, TSU launched the first community “Everyone Can Code and Create” initiative for youth on its Avon Williams Campus. The initiative is also part of the National Center for Smart Technology Innovations.

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.

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? Who 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.