Category Archives: Athletics

Tennessee State University’s Amber Hughes Voted OVC Female Athlete of the Year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) Tennessee State University women’s track and field All-American Amber Hughes has been named Ohio Valley Conference Female Athlete of the Year for 2016-17.

The OVC office made the announcement on Wednesday, May 24.

Hughes, who won the honor after a vote by the conference’s athletic directors and sports information directors, will receive her award on June 2 at the OVC’s annual Honors Brunch at DoubleTree Nashville Downtown. It marks the 13th major OVC award for Hughes in her career.

For her career, Amber Hughes has won 26 OVC individual gold medals. (Courtesy photo)

Hughes is the second-ever TSU female student-athlete to win the award since its inception in 1981. Fellow track star Clairwin Dameus was TSU’s first female award winner when she took home the honor last year.

Throughout the year, Hughes, a senior, has been a dominant force for the Tigerbelles. During the indoor season, the Atlanta native repeated as OVC Track Athlete of the Year and OVC Field Athlete of the Year – the only student-athlete in conference history to accomplish the feat. Hughes went on to win four gold medals at the OVC Indoor Championship, as well as an individual silver, and one with the 4x400m relay team en route to Female Athlete of the Championship honors.

Continuing her indoor season, Hughes secured USTFCCCA Second Team All-America honors for the triple jump after placing 11th at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas.

Hughes continued to reel in honors during the outdoor season, winning OVC Field Athlete of the Year. At the OVC Outdoor Championship, Hughes accounted for three individual gold medals, plus one in the 4x400m relay, as well as one individual bronze. She was again awarded Female Athlete of the Championship.

For her career, Hughes has won 26 OVC individual gold medals.

She has two more opportunities to don the TSU uniform in competition. She will compete in the NCAA East Preliminary Round set for May 25-27 in Lexington, Kentucky, and hopes to qualify for the NCAA National Championships scheduled for June 7-10 in ­Eugene, Oregon.

As a whole, TSU has now had four OVC Athlete of the Year honorees: Carlos Rogers (1994 – Men’s Basketball), Charles Anthony (2005 – Football), Clairwin Dameus (2016- Women’s Track and Field), and Amber Hughes (2017 – Women’s Track and Field).

AMBER HUGHES MAJOR OVC AWARDS
2017 OVC Female Athlete of the Year (All Sports)
2017 OVC Outdoor Championship MVP
2017 OVC Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year
2017 OVC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year
2017 OVC Indoor Field Athlete of the Year
2017 OVC Indoor Championship MVP
2016 OVC Outdoor Championship MVP
2016 OVC Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year
2016 OVC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year
2016 OVC Indoor Field Athlete of the Year
2015 OVC Outdoor Championship MVP
2014 OVC Indoor Freshman of the Year
2014 OVC Outdoor Freshman of the Year

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, 25 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.

 

Grandmother of four to get TSU degree after 55 years

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Darlene Mullins always told her children to finish what they started. On May 6, the 72-year-old grandmother of four will do just that when she receives her degree from Tennessee State University after 55 years.

Mullins will be among more than 800 graduates from various disciplines at the undergraduate spring commencement in the William Jasper Hale Stadium on TSU’s main campus.

“I am really looking forward to this,” said Mullins, who is graduating with honors. “I am very excited and just overjoyed to see this day.”

John Mullins
John and Darlene Mullins will celebrate their 54th wedding anniversary in August. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

For Mullins, the journey to earn a college degree began on TSU’s campus in 1962. But just as it started, it was cut short.

“Love got in the way,” said Mullins, who celebrates 54 years of marriage in August.

She met fellow student John Mullins, a senior from East St. Louis, Illinois, who she described as dashing, handsome and “everything to behold.”

Darlene, a former Miss New Jersey and Miss Glamour runner up, had an immediate crush.

“I thought he was the finest thing walking on the campus,” Darlene told Alumni Life, a campus magazine, in 2014.

She said a courtship developed and the two were married a short time later. John stayed on and completed his college work, graduating in 1964. Darlene took on the role of caring for their home and raising a family.

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Darlene Tucker “Miss New Jersey” (’63 TSU Yearbook Photo)

But in putting her education aside, Darlene also gave up on a dream of becoming an Olympic track star as a member of the famed Tigerbelles.

“I came to TSU because I ran track. I wanted to go to the 1964 Olympics,” Darlene said. “Wilma Rudolph was my idol and I was on my way. I get to TSU and meet the great coach (Ed) Temple, but we bumped heads, because I had to make a choice between his track team or Mr. John Mullins.”

More than a half-century and two children and several grandchildren later, John and Darlene have remained very supportive of each other, while living in six states over the course of their marriage.

As the children grew older and family care got less, Darlene embarked on a long and successful career in retail and cosmetology.

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John E. Mullins “Mr. Esquire” (’63 TSU Yearbook Photo)

All the while, John worked for a number of corporate and government agencies before starting his own business, Lions Group, Inc., a successful marketing and advertising agency in Dallas, Texas. He said his TSU education with a degree in business gave him a good foundation to be an entrepreneur.

“I always knew I wanted to own my own business,” John said.

But as the two moved around with success at every turn, Darlene never forgot her academic aspiration.

“Something kept nagging at me,” she said. “I always told my children to make sure they finish what they started and I kind of felt it was time to live up to my own advice.”

She decided it was time to go back to school to get her degree. “John did not hesitate for one bit; he said ‘let’s go,’” Darlene said.

“I love this woman so much and always told her whenever you are ready we will go because this is something I knew she always wanted and I will do nothing to hold her back,” John said.

In July 2013, the couple moved back to Nashville to allow Darlene to return to TSU and pursue a degree in interdisciplinary studies. At times, she took as many as 20 credit hours a semester, and maintained top grades.

“My goal was to come back and finish at Tennessee State.  I didn’t know at the time how long it was going to take, I just knew I had to do it,” she said.

With the 25 credits she had accumulated before dropping out in 1963, Darlene is completing her college work in four years. A member of three honor societies, she is graduating summa cum laude.

“My graduation from college, for me, confirms that I completed what I started more than 50 years ago,” Darlene said. “I am happy.”

The Mullins’ children are Dr. John E. Mullins Jr. of Baskin Ridge, New Jersey, and Darchele Mullins Erskine of Chicago. They are the proud grandparents of Amber Mullins, Sierra Mullins, John E. Mullins III, and Brandon Forney.

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, 25 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.

‘Donor Appreciation’ Gives Scholarship Recipients Chance to Say ‘Thank You’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Leona Dunn is finally enjoying college life and stressing less about school fees. She is grateful.

“My first year in college I paid over $1,200 out of pocket from what I saved up over the summer to help me stay in college,” said Dunn, a junior communications major.

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TSU President Glenda Glover says scholarship donors help the university stay on the path of excellence. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

That experience was the beginning of some tough times for the Omaha, Nebraska, native who had just come out of foster care. She was barely able to keep up with the payment plan she had worked up, which made registering for the next semester even more difficult.

“My balance was still off,” Dunn said. “I had no one back home to help. And coming from foster care, the system doesn’t exactly just give children owned by the state full ride scholarships to anywhere even if they had an exceptional GPA and ACT score like I did.”

But thanks to some “nice people” and “great organizations,” Dunn is now worrying less about tuition and focusing more on her academics. She received financial assistance from the Links, and the Tennessee State University Women’s Center.

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Leona Dunn gave a Spoken Word rendition at the Scholarship Appreciation Program and Reception. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“With all of this help I had to come up with only $200 this year …a huge blessing. I am so grateful,” she said.

On Friday, April 7, Dunn, and fellow students who receive help through scholarship donations, had a chance to say, “Thank You.”

It was the 6th Annual Scholarship Appreciation Program and Reception, or “Donor Appreciation,” held in Kean Hall. The event, organized by the TSU Foundation, allows scholarship recipients to meet face-to-face with donors to thank them for their generosity.

TSU President Glenda Glover said scholarship donors help the university to stay on the path of excellence by ensuring that students receive quality education through their gifts.

“Because of you, our students are able to matriculate,” Glover said. “They get to come, they get to stay and they get to graduate because of your dollars. We are just so grateful.”

Donors Reception
Scholarship recipients enter Kean Hall with cheers and songs of appreciation for donors who have helped them stay in school. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

This year, nearly 280 people, including students, donors and special guests attended the program featuring songs, recognition of donors and a special toast. Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, vice president for Research and Institutional Advancement, provided remarks.

Eloise Abernathy Alexis, associate vice president of Institutional Advancement, said the program gave the students a “unique opportunity” to interact with the donors.

“We send out postcards, letters and notes to donors to show our appreciation for their gifts, but this is the moment when donors and students really get to come together face to face to give and receive appreciation,” Alexis said.

Dr. Darlene Harris-Vasser, assistant director of Donor Relations, coordinates the reception each year. She said it is exciting to see the joy on donors’ faces when they meet the students in person.

“They are just so elated to see all of those students speaking about their educational goals, future plans and how their (donors’) contributions are making it possible for them to achieve their goals,” Harris-Vasser said.

The Women’s Center, one of the donors that offered Dunn financial assistance, develops and sponsors programming that enhances the skills of women and assists in their development as scholars and professionals.

According to Seanne Wilson, director of the center, Dunn approached the center to inquire about assistance.

“As Leona is a huge supporter of the Women’s Center and its events, the center was happy to assist her with the request,” Wilson said.

In appreciation, Dunn wants to give back to help others.

“Hopefully I want to have my own endowed scholarship when I become an alumna to help others and give back for the help I received,” she said.

For information on how to support the TSU Foundation or make a scholarship donation, please go to http://www.tnstate.edu/foundation/.

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, 25 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 Student Government Association Announces New Officers for 2017/2018 Academic Year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University‘s Student Government Association has a new group of officers for the 2017/2018 academic year.

The new student leadership, including a Mr. TSU and a Miss TSU, was announced by the Student Election Commission Friday, April 7, during a ceremony in the university’s Amphitheater.

TSU Campus
President Glenda Glover and reigning Miss TSU Alicia Jones, right, congratulate incoming Miss TSU Kayla Smith. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

TSU President Glenda Glover, along with staff from the Office of Student Affairs, was on hand to congratulate the new officers when the election results were announced.

JerMilton Woods, of Memphis, a rising senior majoring in Performance and Sports Sciences, was elected the new SGA president, while Justus Watson, a senior Agricultural Science major from Atlanta, is the new SGA vice president.

Memphis native Kayla Smith, a rising senior Health Sciences major, is Miss. TSU. Alec Forrest, as the new Mr. TSU, will escort her. Forrest is a senior accounting major from Jackson, Tennessee.

“We are excited about the potential for these new student leaders and the impact they will be making on the student body,” said Alex Atkinson, assistant dean of Student Engagement and Life.

Following is the list of the new Miss TSU court and other members of the SGA. 

Mr. Senior – Andrew Crawford from Nashville – a rising senior Health Science major

Mrs. Senior – Daniellle Perry from Stone Mountain, Georgia – a rising senior, Child Development major

Senior Class President – Marquis Austin from Cincinnati, Ohio – a rising senior Business Administration major

Junior Class President – Prudencio Logan from Stone Mountain, Georgia – a rising junior Mass Communication major

Junior Class Secretary – Elyse Long from Harrison Township, Michigan – a rising sophomore Biology: Pre-Med major

Mr. Junior – Darien McGhee from Memphis, Tennessee – a rising Junior Mechanical Engineering major

Miss. Junior – Brandi BeCoats from Brentwood, Tennessee – a rising Junior Health Science major

Sophomore Class President – Makayla McCree from Detroit, Michigan – a rising sophomore Political Science major

Sophomore Class Vice President – Donald Thompson from Cincinnati, Ohio – a rising sophomore Finance and Economics major

Sophomore Class Treasurer – Ryan Smith from Atlanta, Georgia – a rising sophomore Economics and Finance major

Mr. Sophomore – Jonathon Hammock from Anderson, Indiana – a rising sophomore Finance major

Miss Sophomore – Sierra Holmes from Orlando, Florida – a rising sophomore Fashion Merchandising major

Representative At Large

  1. Shelby Davis from Waldorf, Maryland – a rising sophomore Biology: Pre-Med major
  1. Denisha Adewole from Nashville – a rising senior Biology major
  1. Sunnisha Stephenson from St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands – a rising Junior Criminal Justice major.
  1. Darren Evans from St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands – a rising Junior Civil Engineering major
    Department of Media RelationsTennessee State University
    3500 John Merritt Boulevard
    Nashville, Tennessee 37209
    615.963.5331About Tennessee State UniversityWith 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, 25 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.

Nearly 800 Students, Parents Attend 2017 Spring Preview Day at Tennessee State University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Spring Preview Day 2017 at Tennessee State University was a huge success.

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A TSU staffer talks to visiting parents and students about admission opportunities at the university. (Submitted photo)

The Office of Admissions and Recruitment organized the one-day event on Saturday, April 8, to give high school juniors and seniors from across the nation an opportunity to see the campus during springtime, as well as acquaint them with the university’s offerings and admission processes.

Nearly 800 students, parents and family members from 15 states — including Michigan, Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and Indiana — attended Spring Preview Day.

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Hundreds of parents and students attending Spring Preview Day also toured the campus and met with academic departments. (Submitted photo)

TSU President Glenda Glover, accompanied by recruitment staff, welcomed the visitors in Kean Hall, where the various colleges and academic departments set up tents and tables displaying materials from their various departments.

According to organizers, visitors later toured the campus, met with academic departments, and received informational materials.

“We had high expectations for Spring Preview 2017 and we were not disappointed,” said Everett D. Jolley, director of recruitment. “It was a busy day for the admissions staff and representatives from the colleges. Several students who had turned in all their information were admitted on the spot.”

Jolley said Spring Preview was started several years ago as a “junior preview day,” to give juniors a jumpstart on recruitment, but it has “slowly turned into a day for seniors as well to complete their admission requirement.”

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, 25 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.

Nationally syndicated radio host Tom Joyner to Deliver Spring Commencement Address at Tennessee State University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Nationally syndicated radio personality Tom Joyner will deliver Tennessee State University’s undergraduate commencement address on May 6.

More than 800 students will receive degrees in various disciplines at the spring ceremony in the William Jasper Hale Stadium on the main campus. The ceremony begins at 8 a.m.

Congressman Jim Cooper will deliver the graduate commencement address on May 5 at 5 p.m. in the Howard C. Gentry Complex, also on the main campus.

Joyner, host of the nationally syndicated radio program, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, is a graduate of Tuskegee University. An entrepreneur and philanthropist, Joyner is a champion of historically black colleges and universities. His foundation, the Tom Joyner Foundation, supports HBCUs with scholarships, endowments, and capacity building enhancements.

Since its creation in 1997, the foundation has raised more than $65 million to help students stay in school. Last year, the foundation selected TSU to be a “school of the month.” Under the designation, the foundation awarded scholarships to students throughout the month and featured TSU’s accomplishments on Joyner’s weekly morning program.

Also last year, the foundation entered into a partnership with TSU to help students interested in science, technology, engineering and math. Under the partnership, Memphis, Tennessee, students graduating from five Tennessee community colleges will receive full scholarships to attend TSU.

The Tom Joyner Foundation will provide 75 percent of the scholarship funds, and the rest will come from the NSF funded Tiger Teach Initiative and TSU’s Office of Community College Initiatives.

On a personal note, Joyner is not a stranger to TSU. His mother was raised at then Tennessee A&I State College by his great aunt, Jane Elliott Hall, after whom the Jane Elliott Building is named.

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, 25 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 President Glenda Glover says university focused on student success, no longer a ‘school of last resort’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – TSU President Glenda Glover says the university is focused on student success, and is no longer a “school of last resort.”

logoThe president was part of a panel of educators, community and business leaders that spoke at a Black History Month luncheon on Feb. 8 organized by Cable Nashville, a leadership organization for women’s professional advancement.

The theme of the event was “Leadership Vision in Challenging Times.” Besides Glover, the panel featured the presidents of Nashville’s other historically black higher education institutions: Fisk University, Meharry Medical College, and American Baptist College.

Glover said, as an HBCU, Tennessee State has always opened its doors to all students, even those rejected by other institutions. But she said the university has shifted its focus “exclusively” to student success.

“Excellence remains our top priority, but we can’t be the school of last resort,” Glover said.

In October, Glover announced that TSU is raising its admission standards and enhancing student success initiatives to increase retention and graduation rates. Beginning this fall, all students must have a 2.5 GPA and a 19 on the ACT for admission to TSU. The previous admission scores were 2.25 or a 19 on the ACT for in-state students, and a 2.5 or 19 ACT for out-of-state students.

“The day is over when you can call and say, ‘I have a good student with a 1.9 GPA and has promise,’” Glover said. “Well, this may not be the time you want to apply to TSU. We are raising standards because I believe that quality attracts quality.”

Janet Rachel, a member of Cable and a 1977 graduate of TSU, attended the luncheon. She said she fully supports Dr. Glover’s “bold” decision on student success and the spike in admission standards.

“I believe that at the core of helping blacks succeed is not just education but quality education,” said Rachel, who is the talent acquisition manager for diversity relocation and career navigation at Vanderbilt University. “I am really glad about what I am hearing from Dr. Glover. I hope the alumni will step up and become more engaged and more involved.”

The other HBCU presidents on the panel were Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, Meharry Medical College; Dr. Forrest E. Harris, Sr., American Baptist College; and Frank Sims, Fisk University.

Susan Allen Huggins, president and CEO of Cable, said it was important to bring the HBCU presidents together because of the partnership and the important role their institutions play in the community in terms of diversity and molding minds.

“We (Cable) were founded because of our strong understanding of and belief in the importance of diversity and inclusion,” Huggins said. “The Nashville community wouldn’t be what it is without these historically black institutions and the tremendous contributions they are making.”

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, 25 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 Graduate is New Mr. Clean

Courtesy: The Tennessean

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State graduate Mike Jackson cleans up pretty well.

So well in fact, that he was selected to replace the iconic cartoon character Mr. Clean.

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Mike Jackson is also featured in a limited edition  Mr. Clean Calendar. (Courtesy photo)

The folks at Procter & Gamble decided that after 59 years on the job the powerful-looking Mr. Clean, with his white pants, skin-tight T-shirt and single golden earring needed some time off.

So they held a contest to find a fill-in, and Jackson, who graduated from TSU in 2003, was selected from hundreds who submitted audition videos to fill Mr. Clean’s white shoes.

Jackson made his debut during the activities surrounding Super Bowl LI in Houston.

“I’m a big football fan so being at the Super Bowl is pretty incredible,” said Jackson, who spent the week on radio row in his Mr. Clean garb doing interviews for the product. “I was really excited when I heard that would be my first duty as Mr. Clean. I can’t wait to see what else they have in store for me the rest of the year.”

A 30-second Mr. Clean commercial aired during the Super Bowl. It was the first time the product has had a Super Bowl spot.

Jackson played high school football in Atlanta and attended every TSU home game while he was there, which included an undefeated regular season his freshman year.

“It was great following TSU because we had really good teams,” said Jackson, who majored in marketing and now works in sports marketing.

Jackson was joined on radio row throughout the week by Denver Broncos linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who was tabbed the “black Mr. Clean” last year when he appeared on “The Tonight Show” because of his clean-cut appearance after the Super Bowl.

Ware has been associated with Procter & Gamble in the past.

Not only is Jackson muscle-bound with a slick bald head, much like the original Mr. Clean, but he also offers diversity to the brand.

Jackson also is featured in a limited edition Mr. Clean calendar.

TSU Hosts 90th Birthday Bash for Former Administrator Homer R. Wheaton

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University had a birthday bash for one of its noted sons: Homer R. Wheaton.

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TSU President Glenda Glover was among former colleagues, students, friends and family of Homer Wheaton, who packed Jane Elliott Hall Auditorium to honor the former TSU administrator. (Submitted photo by Grant Winrow)

Under the theme, “Everybody Loves Mr. Wheaton,” the university hosted a formal reception in a packed Jane Elliott Hall Auditorium on Dec. 9 with family, former colleagues, students and friends to honor the man many refer to as “an instrument of change.” Wheaton turns 90 on Dec. 19, which TSU has declared Homer Wheaton Day.

“The fact people feel this much about me to hold such a wonderful reception in my honor is just a great feeling; I am just grateful,” said Wheaton, surrounded by his wife, Vesta; son, Kevin; and daughter Rise Wheaton Pope, and their families.

“This institution has made such a tremendous contribution to the life that I ended up having. I never would assume that I would have had the life that I had, to be able to meet and help a lot of people to achieve success. This is something I feel good about. I have a very strong commitment to helping people.”

Over a span of nearly 50 years, Wheaton served TSU as director of Field Services and Extension, special assistant to former TSU President Walter Davis, director of Financial Aid, and vice president of University Relations and Development.

As part of the Dec. 9 celebration, the university launched the “$90 For Ninety Scholarship Fundraiser” in support of Wheaton’s continued philanthropic endeavors at the institution.

TSU President Glenda Glover, a TSU alum, touted Wheaton’s generosity, which she said made it possible for her to stay in school when her parents could not afford her semester tuition. She referred to Wheaton as a “servant leader and legend at TSU, who is caring, trustworthy and giving.”

“Wheaton’s name rings success among students,” Glover said. “His name is synonymous with student success. So, today is indeed a special moment in the history of our institution, as we pay tribute to a man who epitomizes love for TSU. He has touched the lives of so many.”

As director of financial aid, Wheaton did not only help thousands of students secure funding to attend TSU, he personally helped students to thrive and succeed, said Grant Winrow, special assistant to President Glover and director of special projects.

Winrow said Wheaton’s “tough love” helped him stay on track as a student at TSU.

“Mr. Homer Wheaton is the definition of a legend in higher education,” said Winrow, who spearheaded the effort to honor Wheaton. “He is legendary in the sense of how many people he’s impacted.”

Gospel legend Dr. Bobby Jones, a TSU alum and former professor, was among those who paid tribute to Wheaton.

“I have known Homer Wheaton for years because we worked at the same institution,” Jones said. “I had to come to show my support today.”

While Wheaton will always be known for supporting and encouraging students to stay in school, many credit him for his sense of persuasion that led to the recruitment of legendary football coach John Merritt, and subsequently placed TSU on the world map for its winning ways.

It is reported that when Merritt would not accept President Davis’ offer of the coaching position, Davis gave Wheaton the assignment of influencing the coach to accept. With Homer’s intervention, Merritt did not only accept the offer, but along came Joe Gilliam, Sr., and Alvin Coleman, Sr., as part of Merritt’s staff. Gilliam and Coleman would become legends themselves.

“Influencing John Merritt to accept the position of head football coach at the university is one of my favorites stories,” Wheaton said in a 2006 interview for TSU Alumni Life magazine. “During the next 20 years that Merritt was our football coach, we did not have a single losing season. He won many national championships and established records with respect to the number of players drafted by the NFL.”

To contribute to the Homer R. Wheaton Scholarship Fund, visit: http://www.tnstate.edu/alumni/wheaton.aspx.

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, 25 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.

101-year-old former TSU cheerleader Burnece Brunson makes ABC World News Tonight’s ‘Person of the Week’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Burnece Walker Brunson’s popularity is almost as impressive as her age.

The 101-year-old Tennessee State University alumna, who was a member of the then-Tennessee A&I College cheerleading squad in 1934, was ABC World News Tonight’s “Person of the Week” on Oct. 21.

“She’s still cheering; proving to us all what it means to be forever young,” said David Muir, the anchor of ABC World News Tonight, and Person of the Week host.

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TSU President Glenda Glover introduces Ms. Burnece Walker Brunson at the Scholarship Gala during Homecoming. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Brunson was co-grand marshal at the 2016 TSU Homecoming earlier this month. During the festivities, a film crew shot footage for a PBS special on HBCUs, and Brunson was included.

When asked in a recent interview about her longevity, Brunson quipped: “I just keep on breathing.”

A native of Mount Pleasant, Tenn., Brunson moved to Chicago for a better education. There, she got her first taste of cheerleading while in high school.

“It fulfilled my desire to stay physically active since there were not many sporting activities for girls during those days,” she said.

After high school, Brunson decided to attend TSU (A&I College) in 1933. The following year she joined the cheerleading team.

In 1936, Brunson received her teaching certificate and eventually went back to Chicago and earned a bachelor’s degree from the Chicago Teacher’s College, and a master’s degree from the National College of Education in Evansville, Ill.

While in Chicago, Brunson was the first female hired there to serve as a lifeguard.

Brunson would later return to Tennessee and make Nashville her home; the place where she developed unforgettable collegiate memories.

Brunson shared some of those memories at this year’s TSU Homecoming, where she was honored at several events, including a scholarship that was established in her name.

“She’s a very educated, and devoted person,” said Kevin T. Davis, president of the TSUNAA Alumni Cheerleaders. “We just felt that we needed to honor her in that way.”

Brunson’s son, Boyce, said he’s sure many people looked forward to seeing his mother; and gleaning her wisdom.

“After you have aconversation with her, you realize she’s not just 101 years old, but she has 101 years of experience that is valuable even in today’s world.”

Brunson has tried to spread that wisdom in one of about a dozen books she’s written, including Food for Thought: Nourishment for the Soul, which gives tips on how to navigate life’s challenges.

When asked what advice she would give people today, especially youngsters, she smiled, then replied:

“Do the right thing, in every way.”

To see the ABC News Person of the Week segment, visit goo.gl/tkUYm7.