Category Archives: FACULTY

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.

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.

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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.

Move-In Day at TSU Brings Fun, Excitement but Mixed Feelings for Parents, Families

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Faculty, staff and student volunteers help cart new students and their belongings during Freshman Move-In Day at TSU (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – If the traffic snarls and congestion in all directions to the TSU campus Aug. 19 didn’t get your attention, the circuslike atmosphere with hundreds of parents, students and volunteers hurling in suitcases, refrigerators, widescreen TVs and other items of convenience was surely a sight to behold.

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Volunteers wearing blue T-shirts marked “VOL-UN-TEER” or “JUST MOVIN’ IN,” swarm cars to unload new students’ belongings as they and their families arrive on campus. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Music could be heard from the dorm buildings as volunteers including staff, alumni and students, slicked with sweat and wearing blue T-shirts marked “VOL-UN-TEER” or “JUST MOVIN’ IN,” with golf carts in tow, swarmed cars and started unloading belongings, and anything else a college freshman might need for a first year away from home.

For many, freshman Move-In Day is an exciting and nerve-racking time when children leaving the nest arrive on campus for the first time, while parents help their children settle in their residence halls.

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First-time freshman and Psychology major Caylun Chatmon, left, from Memphis, gets help from his family as he arrives to check in his room in Watson Hall. His dad, Montreal Holmes, mother Michele Holmes, older brother Curtis Chatmon, and 6-year-old little brother Jamarison Holmes made the trip to make sure the new freshman was situated. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Michele Holmes was one of those enjoying the day as she and her husband, Montreal, helped her middle son, Caylun Chatmon, settle in his room in Watson Hall.

“Although I have been through this before, it is sad to see him go,” said Michele whose eldest son, Curtis Chatmon, a sophomore at Lane College, was also lending a hand along with 6-year-old little brother Jamarison Holmes. “He (Caylun) was our baby for a little while, but I am OK; he is prepared and I want him to be successful.”

Caylun Chatmon, from Memphis, Tennessee, plans to major in Psychology, and joined more than 1,300 other first-time freshmen, who received keys to their rooms as part of Freshmen Move-In Day.

“I will miss home but I am ready; I know that to be successful, I just need to keep my head straight and stay focused,” said Caylun, who was later seen taking in the sights on the other side of campus. “It’s very diverse here; I see a lot of different kinds of people and there’s a bunch of different activities to help you.”

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More than 1,300 first-time freshmen, accompanied by parents and other relatives, checked into their residence halls on Move-In Day at TSU. (Photo by Courtney Buggs, TSU Media Relations)

For the next few days before classes begin on Monday, the new students will participate in activities such as an open house where they will learn about their colleges and academic departments; “Playfair,” where they get to meet their classmates; attend a motivational lecture; and a pep rally to show their school spirit as freshmen.

During move-in, students, staff, faculty and alumni were not the only ones who made the day fun. Representatives from several area businesses and organization were on site with tents giving out free food, drinks and paraphernalia. WTST, The Blaze, TSU’s student-run radio station, was also in the mix providing music and entertainment.

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 President Glenda Glover Announces Creation of Two New Colleges in State of the University Address

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover gave an upbeat assessment of the state of the university Monday announcing the addition of two new colleges for the coming academic year, but said much work needs to be done in the areas of retention and graduation.

At 60 percent, the 2013-2014 first-time freshman retention rate showed a 1 percent increase over the previous academic year. The 2015 graduation rates are still pending, but she said a 1 percent increase in graduation in 2014 is not where the university wants to be.

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Faculty and staff listen as President Glenda Glover gives her State of the University address in Kean Hall Monday. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“We have to do better than that,” Glover said as she announced several new initiatives to improve retention and college completion. “We must do everything possible to help students do better and make them want to stay and graduate. This is fundamental to why we are here not to mention that graduation and retention are key to our funding.”

President Glover announced the addition of the College of Life and Physical Sciences, acting upon recommendations from faculty and students with the approval of the Tennessee Board of Regents. The new college brings all of the STEM degree courses under one umbrella. The new college will include biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics, the only non-degree program.

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Dr. Lonnie Sharpe is the dean of the newly created College of Life and Physical Sciences at Tennessee State University. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Dr. Lonnie Sharpe, a long-time TSU professor and Massie Chair of Excellence, has been named interim dean of the College of Life and Physical Sciences. Sharpe is also the executive director of the Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, which recently won a $987,000 National Science Foundation award to increase the number of minority students who earn Ph.D., in STEM education.

Glover also announced the elevation of the TSU Honors Program to a college level program. Like all the other academic units, the Honors College will exist as an equal collegiate unit within the university structure, with a dean reporting to the vice president for academic affairs.

In another move, the president announced the change in the name of the College of Public Service and Urban Affairs to the College of Public Service, while Early Childhood Education is moved from the College of Agriculture to the College of Education.

“The recommendations for these changes have been reviewed by us and found to be appropriate and sound academic steps, and with the approval of the Tennessee Board of Regents, we are implementing them,” Glover said.

On other institutional achievements, the president touted recent national accolades TSU has received, such as the no. 1 ranking among the Top 10 HBCUs that Produce Teachers; no. 1 among Most Affordable Colleges Online in Tennessee; and no. 34 of the 100 Most Affordable Universities. She also spoke about the university’s expanded marketing campaign through billboards, social and print media promoting its programs, offerings, community college and distance learning initiatives.

Glover announced upgrades in dining with the adding of Starbucks on the main campus and POD and coffee shop on the Avon Williams campus, which received a rousing chant of approval. A 2-percent across-the-board salary increase retroactive to July was also announced.

With nearly 1,400 new freshmen expected, Glover called on faculty and staff to “join hands” in making sure the new students receive all the support necessary to make their fall freshman move-in Tuesday successful.

“Let all of us show up and give our new freshmen and their parents a rousing TSU welcome during the freshman move-in tomorrow,” Glover said.

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.

Eloise Abernathy Alexis, Longtime Development Expert, Named Vice President for Advancement at TSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover has announced the appointment of Eloise Abernathy Alexis as the new associate vice president for Institutional Advancement. Alexis will serve as the University’s chief advancement officer providing strategic advocacy and leadership for alumni relations, annual giving and development.

“We are delighted to welcome Eloise Alexis to TSU in her new role as associate vice president for Institutional Advancement,” President Glover said. “She is an accomplished advancement professional with a wealth of campaign experience. Her successful career in alumni engagement, maximizing fundraising and outreach efforts and developing a culture of giving will advance TSU’s vision and priorities.”

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Eloise Abernathy Alexis has extensive experience in constituency relations, campaign execution, program development, giving and volunteer management. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

With more than 20 years of experience in advancement and development roles, Alexis previously served as vice president for college relations at Spellman College, where she served in various capacities for nearly 24 years.

“It is an honor to have been chosen to lead the development efforts at Tennessee State University,” said Alexis, a Nashville native with a long list of family members who attended TSU. “TSU has always been central to Nashville, the nation and the world in research, academics and scholarship. I look forward to working with the alumni, Foundation and donors who are integral to the university’s success. It will be a particular pleasure to work with the talented people in advancement; they have played such a large part in TSU’s growth over the years.”

Alexis has extensive experience in constituency relations, campaign execution, program development, giving and volunteer management.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Spelman College and a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from Vanderbilt University. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, where she is an appointee to the CASE Commission on Alumni Relations and served on the CASE District III Board. Her civic and social memberships include Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, The Chautauqua Circle, Kiwanis Club, and the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College.

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 Wellness Center Makes Fitness Fun for Faculty, Staff and Students

Center Plans Aug. 31 Open House to Introduce New Programs,           Activities    

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The Ralph H. Boston Wellness Center, located in a 3,304 square-foot facility, is part of the TSU administration’s effort to promote fitness and healthy habits for faculty, staff and students. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With a facelift and tons of new equipment and added activities, the Ralph H. Boston Wellness Center at Tennessee State University rivals any commercial fitness center in the city, and the TSU facility is free to users.

For Alexis Warner, that’s a big draw. “It is very convenient, you don’t have to pay membership, just show your ID and get a free workout,” said the senior Mass Communications major from Memphis, Tennessee, who visits the center about four times a week while attending summer school.

The center, which is opened to students, faculty and staff with university IDs, sees about 300 users a day, and that number is expected to go up with the new equipment and a new look in this school year, according to center coordinator Felicia Sweatt.

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Alexis Warner, a senior Mass Communications major from Memphis, Tennessee, visits the Wellness Center about four times a week. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“We are here Monday through Sunday about 12 hours on the average a day, and there is never a shortage of students, faculty and staff coming to the wellness center,” Sweatt said.

The redesign is part of the vision of Dr. Michael Freeman, associate vice president for Student Affairs, who rejoined the university about a year ago, according to Gerald Davis, director of the Wellness Center.

“The moment Dr. Freeman came on board he immediately saw the need to do something to make sure students not only had a first-rate facility to work out in but one that was safe for their use,” Davis said, adding that this is the first major renovation since 2003.

“We have been using some creative means to keep it (the center) going, but Dr. Freeman was able to find the money and we are very thankful to him and the administration,” Davis said.

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Wellness Center Director Gerald Davis, left, demonstrates the proper use of weight bars, to ensure maximum workout benefit. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

New elliptical equipment, including upright and recumbent bikes, as well as several new top-of-the-line treadmills and other cable machines spread out across the 3,304 square-foot facility are for cardio workout. New curl and weight bars adorn the strength and power lifting area. And Davis said, by Labor Day, the center plans to replace all of the bulky CRT (Cathode ray tube) television sets with five new bigger flat screen TVs.

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Tré Tate, a senior Exercise Science major from Columbia, Tennessee, says that coming to the Wellness Center helps him relieve stress and to meet new friends. He has been visiting the center since his freshman year. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“I really like the changes they have made in the center,” said Tré Tate, a senior Exercise Science major from Columbia, Tennessee, who has been a frequent visitor since 2011 as a freshman. “I love to workout, it helps me relieve stress, and I have made a lot of friends in this place. It is nice that they have made these improvements which will definitely encourage more students to come.”

Davis added, “The changes we have made in the center are the kinds of enhancements patrons have been asking for. It (the changes) helps them enjoy their workouts better.”

He said to accommodate patrons who want workouts with entertainment value but don’t have free time during the evening hours, the center has introduced midday classes that include yoga and salsa that are drawing a large number of people.

With new students and a new academic year, the Wellness Center will host a free open house from 5 – 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 31. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to stop by to see what the facility has to offer.

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A student, right, presents his university ID to Wellness Center Coordinator Felicia Sweatt, as all users must do upon entering the facility. Center Director Davis, and Building Activity Supervisor David Griffin also help with greeting guests. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“The open house will include tours, demonstrations of several fitness classes being offered during the fall semester, including kickboxing, hip pop, boot camp and total body workout for extreme fitness,” Davis said.

The Wellness Center is open Monday through Thursday 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.; and Sunday 1-5 p.m.

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 Computer Science Program Filling Critical Need for IT Professionals with Advanced Training

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – High-performance computing and bioinformatics, and cyber security and networking are two of the fastest growing areas in the information technology industry, but few universities are offering advanced degrees with these unique concentrations to meet the demand of students and professionals seeking career advancement or employment. But Tennessee State University has joined a handful of institutions that have answered the call.

Last fall, the University began offering a Master of Science in Computer Science degree with a focus on providing training that is on the cutting-edge. TSU is the only public higher education institution in Nashville offering the M.S. degree in Computer Science.

According to Dr. Ali Sekmen, chair and professor of the Department of Computer Science, the new degree program is also suitable for students who intend to pursue a doctoral degree in Computer Science or related fields. He added that courses are scheduled in the evenings to accommodate working IT professionals.

shutterstock_59508448Sekmen said students could complete either the high-performance computing and bioinformatics, or cyber security and networking concentrations by pursuing a non-thesis option that requires 33 hours of coursework, or the thesis option that requires completion of 27 hours of coursework and a thesis. The thesis option is strongly recommended for students who intend to pursue a doctoral degree, he said.

“The demand for high performance computing (HPC) in industry and research has significantly increased in recent years,” Sekmen said. “HPC has become a dominant paradigm due to the rapid developments in computer architecture such as multi-core, multi-processer, graphic process units.”

Additionally, Sekmen said the global bioinformatics market has been growing in “double digits” with increased demands in medicine, healthcare, and life sciences.

“HPC and bioinformatics are driving the medical industry’s search for novel systems that will result in innovative therapies. As a result, it is highly important that TSU, as with many other universities, begin to provide opportunities for students to pursue this area of expertise,” Sekmen said.

Although enrollment in the TSU program has doubled initial projections since it started a year ago, it is still a small part of the huge demand. According to the 2013 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the computer science job-opening forecast for 2010 through 2020 is 2.4 times larger than the number of computer science graduates. There will be about one million more jobs than students by 2020.

Between 2010 and 2012, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security increased its cyber-security workforce by 500 percent, but the agency’s demand for more expertise in these critical areas remains very high, with a grim outlook. The U.S. is not producing enough people with the right skills set to make progress in the search for more cyber-security trained experts. When it comes to compensation, Sekmen said Computer Science is among the highest-paid fields in science, technology, and engineering, and the U.S. Department of Labor projects that it will continue to be one of the fastest growing occupations for the near future.

“Employers seek professionals with strong skills in programming and software systems, and development, areas that are strongly emphasized in our Master of Computer Science degree program,” Sekmen added.

For more information on the M.S. in Computer Science program contact Dr. Tamara Rogers at trogers3@tnstate.edu or (615) 963-1520.