Category Archives: Alumni

R&B Legend Melba Moore to Highlight TSU 2015 Homecoming Celebration

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Grammy-nominated and Tony Award winner Melba Moore is coming to the Music City. The R&B singer will be a part of Tennessee State University’s 2015 Homecoming activities. Events are October 11 – 17.

2014 Gala
President Glenda Glover and gospel legend and TSU graduate Bobby Jones, greet former TSU great and Football Hall of Fame inductee Claud Humphrey, sitting right, and his daughter, Claudia Humphrey, at last year’s Scholarship Gala in downtown Nashville. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Moore, noted for her Billboard #1 hit singles “Falling,” and “A Little Bit More,” a duet with Freddie Jackson, will have a special performance during TSU’s annual Scholarship Gala. Her performance is Friday, Oct. 16 at the Omni Hotel in downtown Nashville. Tickets are $150 and available by calling 615-963-5481.

Also, making his second straight appearance as celebrity host of the Gala is comedian, actor and entertainer Jonathan Slocumb.

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Jonathan Slocumb

“We brought in Jonathan Slocumb last year and attendees were very excited, so we decided to bring him back again,” said Dr. Sharon Peters, chair of the Scholarship Gala Committee. “This year, we are fortunate and excited to have Melba Moore to highlight the event. Her involvement takes the Gala to a whole different level in our effort to raise scholarships for our students.”

Other major highlights of the 2015 Homecoming are the parade along Jefferson Street and the football game featuring the TSU Tigers against conference rivals Eastern Illinois on Saturday. Former presidents of the TSU National Alumni Association will serve as grand marshals of the parade.

“TSU: Celebrating 100 Years of Alumni Excellence” is the theme for this year’s Homecoming. According to Cassandra Griggs, director of Alumni Relations, the 2015 Homecoming is dedicated to alumni.

“Yes, 2015 marks 100 years that our National Alumni Association has been actively engaged in ensuring the life and legacy of TSU is present for generations to come,” Griggs said. “Through the support of our alumni, we continue to see great things happen here and look forward to 100 more years of involvement and support.“

Michelle Viera, former director of Alumni Affairs and chair of the Homecoming Committee, will be among three former alumni directors receiving special recognition during this year’s celebration.

For more information on the 2015 Homecoming Celebration, visit www.tnstate.edu for a complete list of activities and ticket information.

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

In One-On-One Interview, TSU President Discusses Successes, Challenges of Her Administration

Courtesy of the Tri-State Defender

Firmly anchored in the present, Tennessee State University President – and Memphis product – Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover takes a look back to her January 2013 start and peeks forward in a sit-down exclusive with the “Tri-State Defender.”

Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover took over as president of TSU in January 2013 with a five-point plan: (1) academic progress and customer service, (2) fund raising and partnerships, (3) diversity and inclusion, (4) shared governanceand (5) business outreach.

Interview
Eloise Abernathy Alexis, the new associate vice president for Institutional Advancement, left, and President Glenda Glover talk to Karanja Kajanaku, editor of The New Tri-State Defender during an interview in the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“It’s an honor to have grown up in Memphis and then to attend TSU and then to come back as president. It’s such an awesome blessing and I don’t take that lightly. I don’t for any reason think that that is a given,” said Glover during an interview at The Peabody Hotel as the Southern Heritage Classic Weekend of activities unfolded. “I know there are expectations. You asked if there was something the alumni expected. They demand accountability and rightly so. … I am enjoying it, embracing it,” she said, tipping her hat to a quality team of administrators.

Together, and with the support of alumni, the team has managed to increase enrollment, even as enrollment at the other five Tennessee Board of Regents universities stayed the same or declined. And it has done so against the challenge presented by the Tennessee Promise initiative, which offers two years of tuition-free community or technical college to Tennessee high school graduates beginning with the Class of 2015.

Karanja A. Ajanaku: On a macro level, what do you see as the purpose of a university?

Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover: A university exists for more than one reason. It exists first to educate students, to impart the knowledge they will need to function in their daily lives in a professional arena. Then secondly, it is to improve the wellbeing, the overall well roundedness of our students. That’s what a university is for.

KAA: So coming down to the micro level and looking at Tennessee State, how well do you say you are doing?

Dr. Glover: We are doing an outstanding job of educating students. Over the years I can give you the names of TSU alums who have done well and made their marks on life. We continue to carry out our mission of serving a population that really needs us. We serve largely Tennessee students but we are open to all students who apply and meet the standards and criteria we have set for TSU and approved by our governing boards.

KAA: Coming in, you had something in your mind, like a baseball manager with a three to five year plan. A few years in, where do you see that you are relative to the plan that you came in with?

Dr. Glover: We are on track, maybe a little bit ahead of schedule. When I came, I had a five-point vision. I knew it would take three to five years. First and foremost was student progress, make sure students are progressing as speedily as necessary through the academic system. (And) to improve the customer service as it related to students. Students who go to TSU deserve the right and opportunity and support they need to graduate. And that is our mission. To get the students the proper amount of knowledge and understanding so that when they are deposited back into the larger community, the larger world, they will be able to function and excel.

KAA: So you had plan and you come in. Did you find anything that you didn’t expect and you said, “Wow, I’ve got to adjust my plan?”

Dr. Glover: There were some things that caught me off guard. The quietness of the faculty and staff, initially there was not much communication. I’m not sure if there was some reason perhaps that they thought they might be penalized for speaking with the president, for being open and candid. So I wanted to make sure that they understood that I am here because the students are here. Whatever it takes to advance the students, I want to hear that. I want to know if there is an issue that has come up obstructing the path. We want to be open, honest and transparent. There are no hidden agendas when it comes to this administration. We are totally focused on students and making sure that students get a better life when they graduate. And the professional world they are looking for, we make sure they are ready for that. The second amazement to me …one of the rules that we have in Tennessee is that as you grow and need new buildings, somehow TSU is responsible for 25 percent of that. That was a shocker. I’ve never been in a system where the actual administration was responsible for a fourth of the funding of a facility. That was quite new, but again, once I learned the rules, I have to function within those rules and we function very well within those rules.

KAA: You get a lot of Memphis students historically. They have been trying to raise the standards here. I am curious as to what (caliber) you are receiving and what, if anything, special you have to do to help students that are sort of academically challenged.

Dr. Glover: Actually, Memphis students are no different from students across the country that we admit. We have excellent students from Memphis and we have some others who have some challenges. We want to make sure that we serve the students and service the students and meet their needs where they are. Everybody is not cut out to be an engineer major or a CPA. On the other hand, they might be cut out to be music majors. We help students find their proper pursuit and then move in that direction.

KAA: Are there any new programs or initiatives that you are bringing on board this year, or soon?

Dr. Glover
: Yes. We know that STEM and health care, those two areas, are probably hottest in the academic arena, in the professional arena…. So we combined the life and physical sciences – biology, chemistry, math, physics – so we could have a better focus on the STEM areas and keep those students who are really STEM oriented and make sure that we provide an education for them that is conducive to what they need…We have engineering by itself and put the others together.

KAA: We ran a story in our newspaper this week where a couple of HBCU graduates were really making a plea for alumni to not forgot the schools and to step up, particularly from a financial standpoint. What are you experiencing with your alumni?

Dr. Glover: I have the person with me (Eloise Abernathy Alexis, associate vice president of Institutional Advancement) who is over alumni affairs.

KAA: What are you experiencing relative to working with your alumni from a contribution standpoint? And what are you asking of them? And how are they responding?

Eloise Abernathy Alexis: Later this afternoon, we will be gathering our alumni and friends for that purpose; to say thank you to those who have been supportive of the institution. Tennessee State has a solid foundation of alumni who are connected and committed, giving of their talent and time. But also to let them know the current state of the university and the opportunities to invest even more significantly…. Corporations and foundations are asking us now, “Do the people that are closest to your institution support you?” …We know of the wonderful affinity that TSU alumni have for the university. So we are simply going to work together to make sure that love translates into gifts to the university.

KAA: Are they, the alumni, asking anything of you?

EAA: They are, meaningful engagement. They want to be connected and be able to come to events like the Southern Heritage Classic and to see us here and have access to the president. They also want to have engagement with students. TSU alumni come to campus and they get engaged in the general life of the college. They are mentors to our students.

Dr. Glover: One of our tenets was to excite the alumni. An excited alumni is a giving alumni. …I came in and led the pledge myself. …The first day I made a contribution of $50,000 because I wanted to be sure they understood my commitment. …We have an increased enrollment this year largely because of the alumni efforts. They send their own children to TSU, go out and help us recruit and tell the TSU story. We are having such a good time with this because there are six universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents system and of that six one had an increase, one stayed the same and four had a decline in enrollment. Of course Tennessee Promise, we believe, had a great effect on that. … We put together a mechanism as to how we would get around that. … I personally visited high schools and community colleges and met with Greek organizations and met with alumni around the country; asked them to help us to recruit talented students. …That’s what we did and it worked.

KAA: Tennessee State historically has been all African American. Over the years there has been a change in your population. I would like to know the breakdown. Even more, how has the change affected the idea of you being an HBCU?

Dr. Glover: TSU will always be an HBCU. I don’t want people to panic and say, “Oh they are admitting so many non-African Americans.” We’ve always had our doors opene, our arms wide open to students who met our standards. When students in Tennessee could not get into the University of Memphis, Vanderbilt or UT, we never had a prejudice of that sort that kept out students. We’ve always had an admission policy that was inclusive. …Having said that, non-African Americans see the value that they get, there is a value proposition they see. For less money they can get the same quality education. That’s what people are seeing. (About) 12 percent of our students are international students. That is tremendous growth. The African-American population is about 70 percent. I think the white population appears to be about 18 percent. And we embrace all students. …

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Receives $447,000 Federal Grant to Mobilize Students Across 10 HBCUs in MLK Day of Service Activities

Students plant
A group of TSU students plant trees as part of their assignment during a community service day in metro Nashville. (Submitted photo)
Linda
Dr. Linda Guthrie

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University students will be part of newly established collaborations that will engage more than 50,000 student volunteers and stakeholders, and 17,000 community members in service activities during the observance of the MLK Day holiday. This is the result of a $447,000 grant that the TSU Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement received from The Corporation for National and Community Service to undertake programs geared toward the Day of Service held each year across the nation in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The total amount of the grant is a combination of federal and matching funds.

Established in 1993, the CNCS is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through different programs each year. The funding is intended to mobilize more Americans to observe the MLK Federal Holiday as a day of service in communities. The goal is to encourage those who serve during the holiday to make a long-term commitment to community service, and to bring people together to focus on service to others.

Davis
Shirley Nix-Davis

According to Shirley Nix- Davis, director of the Youth Empowerment Program- College Access Now at TSU, and one of the project directors for the grant, the funding will be used to implement a one-year Spread the Service Mini Grant Competition through collaboration with the Center for Service Learning and the HBCU Coalition, beginning in October.

“The project seeks to align the missions of HBCUs and The Corporation for National and Community Service’s mission with MLK Jr.’s legacy to invest in community solutions, create collaborations that value diversity, and improve educational outcomes for the economically disadvantaged,” Nix-Davis said.

Tequila M. Johnson
Tequila M. Johnson

Tequila Johnson, project assessment coordinator in the CSLCE, who along with Nix-Davis procured the grant, said the project will bring together about 10 HBCUs in the southeast region through community service and capacity building initiatives that strategically address disaster services, economic opportunity, education, and capacity building. TSU students, who participate in several service activities as part of course requirements, and area community participants, will be integral to the implementation of the project, Johnson said.

Last year, through 156 community partnerships, 4,013 TSU students logged a total of 47,316 hours in the classroom and in various activities around the metro Nashville area. Many students say the experience has given them a better outlook on life.

“The Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement has allowed me to connect with the community in many capacities throughout my collegiate career,” said Jalen Hussey, a senior Computer Science major from Memphis, Tennessee. “As a mentor for the YEP/CAN (Youth Empowerment College Access Now Program), I have had the opportunity to assist young at-risk males with college access and academic success. This experience has instilled a commitment to service within me.”

Dr. Linda Guthrie, director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement, said the MLK Day of Service connects students with their community by challenging them to think critically about issues going on around them.

“Tennessee State University has a long history of service to others, which is central to the institution’s mission and academic curriculum,” Guthrie said. “Our students come to TSU with the expectation to serve. They often find opportunities to do that through day-ofservice events, community organizations or in the classroom. Through events such as this our students have the opportunity to not only serve, but to create and lead projects that change their lives and the lives of others. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to engage several HCBUs in service.”

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Alumni, Supporters Step Up in A Big Way; President’s Challenge Tops $12 Million in Giving

Memphis Reception
A cross section of alumni, supporters and staff attended the President’s Reception in the ballroom of the Case Management Inc. headquarters in Memphis. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – At the Sept. 12 Southern Heritage Classic where Tennessee State University trounced archrival Jackson State University 35-25, fans were cheering the TSU Tigers to victory on the football field, while others, especially alumni, were celebrating the “good news” about financial support to their alma mater.

At the President’s Reception the night before, hosted by Dr. Glenda Glover as part of the Southern Heritage Classic festivities, the TSU leader reported that alumni and fans’ financial giving to the university has topped $12 million since she launched the President’s Challenge January 2013, just days after taking over as president. Saying that she would lead by example, Glover presented a check for $50,000 and challenged each alumni chapter to “match my gift or follow my lead in giving to TSU.”

Memphis Reception-2
Eloise Abernathy Alexis, the new associate vice president for Institutional Advancement, left, and President Glenda Glover talk to Karanja Kajanaku, editor of The New Tri-State Defender during an interview in the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Since the challenge, which ends Sep. 30, the university has raised $12,446,000 with the Alpha Theta Network Chapter contributing nearly $260,000; Beta Omicron Chapter nearly $183,000; the Nashville Chapter nearly $146,000; the Memphis-Shelby Chapter nearly $138,000, and several other chapters bringing in almost $100,000 each. Glover reported that nine chapters and several clusters had contributed $50,000 or more in giving by June 30.

“Applaud yourselves for this groundbreaking moment in alumni giving,” Glover said, as she thanked those gathered for their support. “We are not done yet. We still have Sept. 30 to make gifts toward the President’s Challenge. We will celebrate the success of the challenge during Homecoming activities.”

Memphis Reception-8
President Glover receives a check for $10,000 from Doug Sanborn, manager of Community Affairs at Miller Coors, as a donation for student support. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

She thanked several individual alumni present for their support, including Bud Reese, a TSU graduate, who donated $30,000 last year from his Case Management Inc. Foundation for student support. She also recognized CMI and its management for hosting the President’s Reception.

Glover applauded the TSU Foundation team, including the staff of the Office of Institutional Advancement, Board members and “all who help each and every day to make this kind of effort possible.” She introduced Eloise Abernathy Alexis as the new associate vice president for Institutional Advancement.

Glover said while the SHC weekend of activities and frenzy about the game was the talk of the town around Memphis, the annual gathering is also an opportunity to talk about scholarship, recruitment, student achievement and giving to the university.

Memphis Reception-9
Hundreds of TSU fans cheer on their team Saturday at the Southern Heritage Classic in the Liberty Bowl. More than 48,000 spectators watched as TSU trounced Jackson State University 35-25 for their fourth straight victory over JSU. (Photo by John Cross)

“As president of Tennessee State University, I take great pride in our student-athletes, cheerleaders and the band members who compete and perform in the Southern Heritage Classic game and the many other students who attend,” Glover said. “We feel it is important that in the midst of fun, food and football, we take time to gather here in Memphis to check in on one another about the well-being of TSU and the students we serve.”

On Thursday evening, the Memphis native was presented with a special gift at the Classic VIP Party hosted by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.

“It always gives me a special good feeling and pleasure to welcome Dr. Glenda Glover, one of our own, who is making a big difference as president of Tennessee State University,” Wharton said.

Glover also met with several news organs for one-on-one interviews about the direction of TSU and the university’s role in ensuring quality higher education for all.

At the half-time show of the Southern Heritage Classic, attended by more than 48,000 fans, a representative of Miller Coors  presented President Glover with a check for $10,000 for student support.

The win in Saturday’s game, the fourth consecutive, improves TSU to 15-11 in the Southern Heritage Classic.

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Late TSU President Celebrated for Brilliance, Love of Students and Commitment to Black Higher Education; Laid to Rest After Nashville Service

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – In a packed memorial service in Poag Auditorium Sept. 2, speakers remembered former Tennessee State University President James A. Hefner for his brilliance, love of students and his “undying” commitment for quality black higher education.

“He won the respect of his colleagues and peers because he was smart and fearless as an educator, who wanted the best for his students,” said TSU President Glenda Glover, who referred to the late former president as a friend and mentor.

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Dr. Fred Humphries, former president of TSU and President Emeritus of Florida A&M University, was a longtime friend of Dr. Hefner. Humphries described his friend as “a very serious person.” (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Glover was one of more than seven current and former university presidents who attended the service to pay tribute to their fallen colleague. They joined family members, friends and other dignitaries, including U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper in a standing-room only ceremony featuring traditional African drumbeats, songs and video presentations of Hefner’s views on HBCUs, black economic empowerment and family.

Tributes from across the nation from friends, schoolmates, former colleagues and acquaintances referred to Hefner as a skilled educator who was “serious and all about business.”

“He had a good mind and he cultivated it so others could benefit,” said former classmate and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, who attended college with Hefner at North Carolina A&T University. Jackson’s tribute was read at the ceremony.

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Dr. Ivan Davis, director of Student Health Services, left; Dr. Nebraska Mays, former distinguished professor of Education, and vice chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents: and Dr. Thomas Martin, former vice president of Student Affairs, served at TSU during Dr. Hefner’s tenure. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Hefner, the sixth president of TSU, who led the institution 14 years from 1991-2005, died from cancer Aug. 27 at his home in Brentwood, Tennessee. He was buried in Nashville Sept. 3 after funeral services at Christ Church Cathedral. Hefner was 76.

When asked recently how he would like to be remembered, Hefner said, “As an educator who cared about black higher education and the welfare of students.”

Former colleagues saw him as one who would do whatever it took to make sure students mattered the most.

“He was a very serious person,” said former TSU President and President Emeritus of Florida A&M University, Dr. Fred Humphries. “He was about making his life mean something, and about keeping alive the good works of HBCUs.”

Dr. Everett Freeman, former president of Albany State University and president of Community College of Denver, worked with Hefner at TSU and at Jackson State University, where the late leader served as president before coming to TSU.

He named football, the school band, education and family as Hefner’s biggest passions.

“But his ultimate concern was to make sure students mattered most,” said Freeman, who served as Hefner’s executive assistant at TSU.

Other current and former presidents who paid tribute to Hefner were: Dr. John Wilson, Morehouse College; and Dr. Robert Johnson, Clark Atlanta University. Also sharing tributes was former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, as well as well as former students David Winslow, Tennessee State; Thomas Scott, Morehouse; and Robert Scott, Jackson State.

Under Dr. Hefner’s leadership, TSU saw some of its most significant growth. He managed the end of the Geier desegregation case, in which TSU received an Endowment for Educational Excellence to support scholarship opportunities for exceptional students. He kicked off the university’s first capital fundraising campaign to increase TSU’s endowment, and saw the completion of the new Performing Arts Building, the final building in the $112 million capital improvements project which funded the construction of eight new facilities and renovations of existing structures on campus. See Brief Snapshot of Accomplishments.

Dr. Hefner’s long-standing career as an academician and executive administrator also included teaching and serving as research associate at Harvard University, Princeton University, Clark College, Florida A&M University, Benedict College and Prairie View A&M University. After retiring from TSU in 2005, he accepted a non-resident fellowship at Harvard University in the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African-American Research and served as Visiting Distinguished Professor of Economics and Presidential Leadership at Texas Southern University.

Dr. Hefner earned degrees at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, where he obtained his bachelor’s in business administration. At Atlanta University, he received a Master of Economics, and then went on to earn a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

He is survived by his wife, Edwina Hefner; three sons: Christopher Hefner of St. Petersburg, Florida, Jonathan Hefner, M.D. and his wife Katrina of Atlanta, David Hefner, Ed.D. and his wife Tasha of Marietta, Georgia; 11 grandchildren; two brothers-in-law and a sister-in-law; and a host of other family and friends.

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Words of Remembrance Honoring the Life of Dr. James A. Hefner, Sixth President of Tennessee State University

Dr. Glenda Glover
President
Tennessee State University
“Dr. Hefner devoted his entire adult life to serving others and expanding educational opportunities to all. As educators, we have lost a visionary and one of the best leaders to ever serve this great institution. He loved inspiring students and challenging them.”

Dr. Stephen H. Kolison, Jr.
Associate Vice President of Academic, Faculty and Global ProgramUniversity of Wisconsin System
“Dr. Hefner talked about the future. He was very respectful and inclusive, and I liked that about him. He was also a very kind and approachable fellow who cared about the student and believed in high quality.” 

Mr. Wilson Lee
Director, Center for Extended Education
Tennessee State University

“Dr. Hefner always demanded the best and excellence from students as well as faculty and staff member. He taught me how to be humble to students. He was compassionate but at the same time very strong and goal-oriented. He had charisma and demonstrated dedication to the staff and students. In my opinion, he was a model president, especially to HBCUs.”

Mr. Thomas Martin
Former Vice President of Student Affairs
Tennessee State University
“Dr. Hefner was a strong advocate for positive student experiences academically and athletically.  During his tenure as President of Tennessee State University, he awarded countless academic scholarships and created “honor hall’ residential living accommodations among his many supportive initiatives.  He had an outstanding relationship with students.”

Dr. Nebraska Mays
Former Distinguished Professor of Education, Tennessee State University
Former Senior Vice Chancellor, Tennessee Board of Regents
“His leadership still was one of inclusion. I knew him to be a consummate academician and he was respected as an outstanding academician. He had a positive influence on and a respect and understanding of the faculty. What made Dr. Hefner so effective was that he came through the ranks of academics – from a faculty member to department chair to provost and then president.”

Dr. Jacqueline Mitchell
Professor and Director of Interdisciplinary Programs
Tennessee State University
“A Commitment to Excellence…that sums Dr. Hefner up. He lived by this and really wanted to put students first and he did that by exhibiting excellence. He also put into place opportunities for others to achieve excellence. He didn’t believe in 2nd class status. He meant to bring Tennessee State University to a level equal or superior to any school, anywhere. He was a trailblazer.”

Ms. Michelle Viera
Assistant Vice President of Conferences and Events
Tennessee State University
“As president, he truly believed in ‘students matter most,’” she said. “He encouraged them to keeping running and never give up and to be their best. He shared that story so often that the students began to join in with him when he told it.”

Mr. Homer Wheaton
Former Vice President, University Relations and DevelopmentTennessee State University
“Dr. Hefner was the kind of leader who would let you do what you could do to make a contribution – all he wanted to see was results. He respected people for what they did and was very complimentary of people who did a good job. The fact that he would turn you loose and let you do your work, made it so gratifying to work for him. I appreciated him so much.”

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

A BRIEF SNAPSHOT OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF FORMER TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT JAMES A. HEFNER

  • Positioned Tennessee State University as a premier institution of higher learning.
  • Kicked off the university’s first-ever “Students Matter Most” capital campaign in 2001.
  • Occupied the Thomas and Patricia Frist Chair of Excellence in Entrepreneurship, a $1.2 million endowed chair at Tennessee State University.
  • Established the $1.5 million Chair of Excellence in Banking and Financial Services in the College of Business, and a $1.5 million Samuel P. Massey Chair of Environmental Sciences.
  • Renovated nearly every building on the institution’s main and downtown campuses, and supervised the construction of eight new buildings including the Floyd-Payne Campus Center, the McWherter Administration Building and the Performing Arts Building.
  • Dedicated the TSU Olympic Plaza featuring a more than 45-foot tall sculpture entitled, “The Olympian,” honoring the university’s 58 Olympians and their 30 medals – 16 gold, eight silver and six bronze.
  • Increased the TSU endowment from $500,000 to more than $25 million (through fund-raising and settling a federal Consent Decree).
  • Established two of the nation’s top honor societies, Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi, at Tennessee State University.
  • Fostered total enrollment growth at the university to an all-time high of 9,100 students.
  • Led growth in research from $7 million at the time he arrived at TSU to more than $41 million in 2004, positioning TSU with the highest research productivity among all Tennessee Board of Regents institutions.
  • During his presidency, Tennessee State University was listed in S. News & World Report’s “Guide to America’s Best Colleges” for 11 consecutive years (1994-2005).
  • From 1991-2004, TSU won two OVC championships in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball, and four OVC Championships in women’s track.Department of Media Relations
    Tennessee State University
    3500 John Merritt Boulevard
    Nashville, Tennessee 37209
    615.963.5331

    About Tennessee State University

    With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Tennessee State University Family Remembers the Legacy of Former President, Dr. James A. Hefner

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dr. James A. Hefner, who served as president of Tennessee State University for 14 years, has died. He was 76. In honor of his life, the university will hold a memorial service Wednesday, Sept. 2, 6:30 p.m. in the Thomas E. Poag Auditorium on the university’s main campus. Funeral services are scheduled Thursday, Sept. 3, 1 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, located at 900 Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Those who knew Dr. James A. Hefner described him as a strong academician and an individual who encouraged and appreciated excellence. (File Photo)

Dr. Hefner made his way to TSU in April 1991 after ending a seven-year presidency at Jackson State University in Mississippi. Prior to Jackson State, he served as provost of Tuskegee University in Alabama. His passion for academic excellence and student success concluded at one of his alma maters, Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University), where he as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs until his death.

“The Tennessee State University family sends its deepest condolences to the Hefner family,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Dr. Hefner devoted his entire adult life to serving others and expanding educational opportunities to all. As educators, we have lost a visionary and one of the best leaders to ever serve this great institution. He loved inspiring students and challenging them.”

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Dr. Hefner’s focus on nurturing minds was not limited to college students. Here he interacts with children during a special program in Nashville. (File Photo)

Those who knew Dr. Hefner described him as a strong academician and an individual who encouraged and appreciated excellence. While president at TSU, his focus on ensuring faculty and staff put students first was evident in the slogan, “Students Matter Most,” which became a part of the culture on campus during his tenure.

Homer Wheaton, a former vice president of University Relations and Development, said Dr. Hefner was a “real good person,” adding that he was a brilliant man who was very academic-focused and results-driven.

“When Dr. Hefner first came to TSU, he promoted me to vice president. It was something completely unexpected for me,” Wheaton said. “He had heard about my relationship with alumni and students, and offered me an opportunity to move up.

“Dr. Hefner was the kind of leader who would let you do what you could do to make a contribution – all he wanted to see was results. He respected people for what they did and was very complimentary of people who did a good job. The fact that he would turn you loose and let you do your work, made it so gratifying to work for him. I appreciated him so much.

Dr. Hefner’s push for excellence came from humble beginnings in rural Brevard, North Carolina, where he began to develop a love for learning at an early age. According to a profile article by former TSU history professor, Dr. James Haney, Hefner’s family had no books in their home. He was taken under the wing of his elementary principal who invited him to her home to read her encyclopedias.”

“For eight years,” said Dr. Hefner at the time, “while I was in elementary school, I would stop at her house on the way home and I would read the encyclopedia.”

He made no apologies for being intelligent, and earned his place as valedictorian of his elementary class, salutatorian of his high school, and then soon received scholarship offers to a number of higher education institutions, including Duke University. He ultimately chose to attend the historically black university, North Carolina A&T State University.

Wilson Lee, director of TSU’s Center for Extended Education, recalls his first encounter with Dr. Hefner when applying for a job at Jackson State University. He said he happened to meet and interview with the former president by chance and knew immediately that he wanted the “best around him.” Wilson was hired there by Dr. Hefner and also joined Dr. Hefner when he assumed the presidency at Tennessee State University in 1991.

“He listened more than anything else and you didn’t have to go through a second person, you could talk directly to him,” Lee said. “He recruited and built a team of people to work with him at TSU – people he had known throughout the years and people who were experts in their fields. He was a model president to me.”

Under Dr. Hefner’s leadership, TSU saw some of its most significant growth. He managed the end of the Geier desegregation case, in which TSU received an Endowment for Educational Excellence to support scholarship opportunities for exceptional students. He kicked off the university’s first capital fundraising campaign to increase TSU’s endowment, and saw the completion of the new Performing Arts Building, the final building in the $112 million capital improvements project which funded the construction of eight new facilities and renovations of existing structures on campus. See Brief Snapshot of Accomplishments.

In 1997, Dr. Hefner hired Michelle Viera to lead the Office of Alumni Relations. Viera, who is now assistant vice president of events management and conference services, said Dr. Hefner had a way of making alumni feel special.

“He treated them [alumni] like VIPs regardless of their background,” Viera said.

She said she fondly remembers Dr. Hefner’s stories of encouragement. One, in particular, that he repeated often was the African parable of “The Lion and the Gazelle.”

“As president, he truly believed that ‘students matter most,’” Viera continued. “He encouraged them to keeping running and to never give up and to be their best. He shared that story so often that the students began to join in reciting it with him when he told it.”

Dr. Jacqueline Mitchell also enjoyed a great working relationship with Dr. Hefner, who appointed her special assistant for the Geier Consent Decree. Mitchell now serves as professor and director of Interdisciplinary Studies at TSU.

“Dr. Hefner was on a true wave length of excellence. He didn’t believe in second class status and strived to bring Tennessee State University to the level equal or superior to any school, anywhere,” Mitchell said.

“It was because of Dr. Hefner that Tennessee State was able to receive $4.1 million in reoccurring funds from the state of Tennessee,” said Dr. Stephen H. Kolison, Jr., associate vice president of Academic, Faculty and Global Programs with the University of Wisconsin System. Kolison spent 10 years at TSU serving in the capacities of research director and funding dean in Agricultural and Environmental Research.

“The College of Agriculture at TSU made some significant strides in receiving funding from the state. The Agriculture Information Technology Center and the Biotechnology Building were conceived while working with Dr. Hefner. I give tremendous credit to Dr. Hefner for being willing to engage with the state and not giving up,” he continued. See more Words of Remembrance Honoring the Life of Dr. Hefner.

Among Dr. Hefner’s extensive awards and honors include an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Marlboro College in 1999, and an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree from The University of the South. He was co-author and editor of the book, Public Policy for the Black Community: Strategies and Perspectives in 1976, and wrote and published more than 50 articles in the areas of employment practice and labor-force participation rates of minorities.

Dr. Hefner’s long-standing career as an academician and executive administrator also included teaching and serving as research associate at Harvard University, Princeton University, Clark College, Florida A&M University, Benedict College and Prairie View A&M University. After from retiring from TSU in 2005, he accepted a non-resident fellowship at Harvard University in the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African-American Research and served as Visiting Distinguished Professor of Economics and Presidential Leadership at Texas Southern University. He was also a former member of the board of regents at the University of the South and the board of trustees at Morehouse College where he was the Charles E. Merrill Professor of Economics and chair of the Department of Business and Economics.

Dr. Hefner earned degrees at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, where he obtained his bachelor’s in business administration. At Atlanta University, he received a Master of Economics, and then went on to earn a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

He is survived by a wife, Edwina Hefner; three sons: Christopher Hefner of St. Petersburg, Florida., Jonathan Hefner, M.D. and his wife Katrina of Atlanta, Georgia, David Hefner, Ed.D. and his wife Tasha of Marietta, Georgia; 11 grandchildren; two brothers-in-law and a sister-in-law; and a host of other family and friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that condolences be made in support of the James. A. Hefner Scholarship Award – named in his honor at Tennessee State University and Morehouse College for outstanding students. For more information, contact the TSU Foundation at (615) 963-5481.

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

 

Tennessee State University Mourns Death of Former President James A. Hefner

“We have lost a visionary and one of the best leaders to serve this great institution.” – President Glenda Glover

NASHVILLE, Tenn.– The Tennessee State University family is saddened to announce the death of Dr. James A. Hefner, the sixth president of the University. He died early Thursday morning surrounded by family in his Brentwood home following a long illness. Dr. Hefner was 76. Hefner served TSU as president from 1991-2005.

In a statement on the passing of Dr. Hefner, Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover said:

“The Tennessee State University family sends its deepest condolences to the Hefner family. Dr. Hefner devoted his entire adult life to serving others and expanding educational opportunities to all. As educators, we have lost a visionary and one of the best leaders to ever serve this great institution. He loved inspiring students and challenging them.”

The university’s progress during Dr. Hefner’s tenure was unprecedented. While President of Tennessee State University, Dr. Hefner transformed TSU into a top-tier research university. He was deeply committed to TSU’s land-grant mission. He pursued programs and efforts that aligned the resources of the university with the needs of students. His legacy will serve the university, the nation and the world.

Under his leadership, Tennessee State University saw marked physical, infrastructural and academic improvement, including the implementation of a $112 million capital improvement plan. The improvement was part of the Geier agreement that attempted to end race-based disparity in higher education funding in Tennessee. Several new buildings were constructed, including the Floyd-Payne Student Campus Center, the Ned McWherter Administration Building and the Performing Arts Center.

He was viewed as the students’ president and enrollment reached an all-time high of 9,100 students, an achievement that has only been recently achieved during the 2014-2015 academic school year. The TSU endowment also experienced remarkable growth from $500,000 to more than $25 million (through fund-raising and settling a Federal Consent Decree). He positioned Tennessee State University as a premier institution of higher learning.  TSU was listed in U.S. News & Worlds Report’s “Guide to America’s Best Colleges” for 11 consecutive years (1994-2005).

Dr. Hefner occupied the Thomas and Patricia Frist Chair of excellence in entrepreneurship, a $2.3 million endowed chair at Tennessee State University.  He also established two other endowed chairs of excellence at Tennessee State. An advocate and proponent of African American intellectual achievement throughout his career, Dr. Hefner established two of the nation’s top honor societies, Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi, at Tennessee State University and Clark Atlanta University.

After retiring as president of Tennessee State University in 2005, Dr. Hefner was a non-resident fellow at Harvard University in the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research; Visiting Distinguished Professor of Economics and Presidential Leadership at Texas Southern University; and most recently as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Clark Atlanta University, where he worked diligently as he fought cancer up until the very end.

When recently asked how he wanted to be remembered, Dr. Hefner said: “As an educator who cared about black higher education and the welfare of students.”

He earned his undergraduate degree from North Carolina A&T University, his master’s degree in economics from Atlanta University, and his doctorate in economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“My father lived a life of service to historically black colleges and universities and the students who attend them,” said Dr. David Hefner, the youngest son of Dr. Hefner and a 1993 graduate of Morehouse College. “He was an intellectual disciple of W.E.B. DuBois – a Fisk University graduate – in that he believed in the liberation that academic excellence promised to those who lived a life of service to the African American community, to truth and to humanity. So his legacy is a living one because there is still much work to do. And my father serves as an example of what service to HBCUs looks like, and we celebrate his life and legacy.”

TSU will be the site of a memorial service on Wednesday, September 2, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in Poag Auditorium of the Davis Humanities Building. A reception will follow immediately afterwards in the Ferrell-Westbrook Building (the Barn). The funeral service will take place on Thursday, September 3, at 1 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, 900 Broadway, downtown Nashville.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting memorial gifts be made to the Dr. James A. Hefner Scholarship Foundation in his honor to the Tennessee State University or Morehouse College Development Offices. You may reach the TSU Foundation at 615-963-5481, for Morehouse 404-215-2660.

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU, State Flags Fly at Half-Staff on Campus in Honor of Late Former President James A. Hefner

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University and State of Tennessee flags are flying at half-staff on the TSU campus in honor of the institution’s sixth president, Dr. James A. Hefner, who passed Aug. 27 at his Brentwood, Tennessee home surrounded by family. He was 76. Both flags will remain lowered until Thursday,  Sept. 3 following Dr. Hefner’s burial.

James Hefner1
Dr. James A. Hefner positioned Tennessee State University as a premier institution of higher learning. (File Photo)

Dr. Hefner took over the helm at TSU in  1991 and served the university until 2005. He was regarded as the students’ president and enrollment reached an all-time high of 9,100 students, an achievement that has only been recently achieved during the 2014-2015 academic school year. The TSU endowment also experienced remarkable growth from $500,000 to more than $25 million (through fund-raising and settling a Federal Consent Decree). He positioned Tennessee State University as a premier institution of higher learning.  TSU was listed in U.S. News & Worlds Report’s “Guide to America’s Best Colleges” for 11 consecutive years (1994-2005).

After retiring as president of Tennessee State University in 2005, Dr. Hefner was a non-resident fellow at Harvard University in the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African-American Research; Visiting Distinguished Professor of Economics and Presidential Leadership at Texas Southern University; and most recently as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Clark Atlanta University, where he worked diligently as he fought cancer up until the very end.

TSU will be the site of a memorial service on Wednesday, Sept. 2, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in Poag Auditorium of the Davis Humanities Building. A reception will follow immediately afterward in the Ferrell-Westbrook Building (the Barn). The funeral service will take place on Thursday, Sept. 3, at 1 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, 900 Broadway, downtown Nashville.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting memorial gifts be made to the Dr. James A. Hefner Scholarship Foundation in his honor to the Tennessee State University or Morehouse College Development Offices. You may reach the TSU Foundation at 615-963-5481, for Morehouse 404-215-2660.

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.