Category Archives: FACULTY

TSU Engineering Students Excel in Building Transport Vehicle for Military Special Operations Forces

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Students from TSU’s College of Engineering were praised recently for their design of a special transport vehicle for the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Forces.

They were among students from nine other institutions who competed in the annual University Design Challenge last month at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

Nine students and their advisers from the TSU College of Engineering participate in the 2017 Annual University Design Challenge at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma, Tennessee. (Submitted photo)

The three-day competition, organized by the Air Force Research Laboratory, brings together different student teams from around the country to compete for top honors in a task assigned by the AFRL.

Teams were given two semesters to develop, design and build a prototype of their project for the competition that ended April 13.

The physical and mental stress of carrying heavy loads causes significant performance degradation and injury during training and while conducting military operations, according to AFRL officials.

During these missions, operators typically carry more than 100 pounds of gear, and require resupply of mission gear and equipment.

This year, the teams were to design a resupply device that operates manually, or autonomously programmed or controlled, to haul items on rough and unimproved surfaces. The device must be able to carry a minimum 350 pounds of gear, traveling two miles at a speed of 3-25 miles per hour without refueling. It must also be able to traverse narrow paths, climb steps, and navigate over rocks and log gaps.

The TSU student team designed, built and demonstrated an autonomous vehicle that met the required specifications.

“We were really happy with our performance,” said TSU team-member Charles McFadden, a mechanical engineering major, who graduated May 6. “Our team put in a lot of work. It turned out probably better than we thought we could do in that short period of time and the resources given to us.”

He said judges were very happy with the TSU design, calling their team “the best they have had from TSU.”

Dr. Landon Onyebueke, professor of mechanical engineering at Tennessee State, was one of the faculty advisers on the TSU team. He said the students’ performance was above average.

“The project actually was very good for the students,” Onyebueke said. “The design performed very well. They put a lot into it. It was a very good practice for the students.”

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of TSU’s College of Engineering, said the college has maintained a strong partnership with AFRL for more than 20 years that offers internships and helps TSU students conduct major research.

“We remain committed to this partnership and appreciate the support from AFRL, Clarkson Aerospace, and other partners in preparing our engineers for the workforce,” Hargrove said.

Other members of the TSU team were: Antony Currie, electrical engineering; Kevin Scott, electrical engineering; Larry Perdue, electrical engineering; Donald Toohey, mechanical engineering; Michael Winters, mechanical engineering; William Sanders, computer science; Ryan Brisentine, computer science; and Danielle Haik, computer science.

Dr. Fenghui Yao, professor of computer science, was the other TSU student adviser.

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.

Tennessee State University to receive nearly $500K federal grant to expand nationally recognized goat research

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will receive nearly half a million dollars from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand its research on goat meat production.

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture on May 16 announced 47 grants totaling almost $17.5 million to improve sustainable agriculture and help rural communities thrive.

Tennessee State leads the nation in research that seeks to boost goat production in the U.S., and plans to use its $496,328 grant to enhance that research.

“We’re pleased that we’re able to get funding to continue our line of investigation on meat goat breeds and their comparative performance,” said Dr. Richard Browning, the lead goat researcher in TSU’s College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences.

Nationwide, agriculture researchers say there’s a demand for goat meat because of a growing population of ethnic groups within the U.S. that consume it, not to mention an increasing number of Americans who are choosing goat over other meats, like chicken and beef, because dietitians say it’s healthier.

To meet the demand, much of the goat meat now in the U.S. is imported from other countries. But TSU’s research, which started in 2002, seeks to change that.

Emily Hayes, a TSU graduate student and research assistant, among some of the breeding does. (Photo by Joan Kite, TSU Public Relations)

“I probably give 10, 12 talks a year across the country on the research,” Browning said. “We have a lot of ethnic groups that have goat as a main part of their diet, and that’s why there’s a demand for goat meat. But we don’t produce enough here.”

TSU’s research herd is comprised of approximately 250 breeding does representing diverse sets of Boer, Kiko, Spanish, Myotonic and Savanna genetics.

Browning said the latest funding from the USDA will mainly be used to study the fifth meat goat breed recently brought into the research program.

“This project is targeting the Savanna goats, which is one of the newer breeds that the industry is looking at as a possible source of improved animal performance,” Browning said.

He said the research is shared with producers, farmers, to help them be more effective in their goat production.

“The other part of this project is to train producers in the detection and management of internal parasites,” said Browning, adding that TSU will be working with goat researchers at Alabama A&M University.

Delicious dish of goat meat at Jamaicaway restaurant in Nashville. (Photo by Courtney Buggs, TSU Media Relations).

Goat meat is naturally lean, meaning it is much lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, having a naturally higher HDL count (the good cholesterol) and a naturally low LDL count (the bad kind of cholesterol), according to the National Kiko Registry. It is also lower in calories than other meats, like beef, and is easier to digest.

Dr. Sandria Godwin is a family and consumer science professor at TSU, as well as a registered dietitian. She has worked with Dr. Browning to produce goat meat recipes.

“It is definitely a healthier choice,” Godwin said.

Heritage Foods USA is an online butcher based in Brooklyn, New York, that supports farmers who raise livestock, including goats. Its cuts are sold to customers in all 50 states, as well as carried in 130 restaurants from New York City to Los Angeles.

The company is an advocate for more U.S. production of goat meat.

“Goats are environmentally low-maintenance and easy to raise,” said Patrick Martins, co-founder of Heritage Foods. “Goat is actually the most widely consumed meat in the world – and America is slowly learning what the rest of the world already knows – that goat meat is delicious, lean, versatile, healthy, and sustainable.”

To learn more about Tennessee State University’s goat research, visit: http://www.tnstate.edu/faculty/rbrowning/.

 

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.

 

Tennessee State University holds open house for new Executive MBA program

Nashville, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s College of Business held an open house on May 11 to showcase its new Executive MBA program.

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Dr. Millicent Lownes-Jackson, dean of TSU’s College of Business, speaks to open house attendees. (Submitted photo)

The event, which had a strong turnout, took place at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville. The hotel will also serve as the program’s weekend residency.

“TSU’s Executive MBA Program enhances the vibrancy of the Nashville area’s graduate education tapestry by offering an affordable, convenient, accredited, business curriculum for busy business professionals who desire to catapult their careers to a higher level of success,” said Dr. Millicent Lownes-Jackson, dean of the College of Business. “In one short year, EMBA program participants will acquire critical business knowledge, along with readily applicable global business and leadership strategies, that will enable them to make an immediate and profound impact.”

The 12-month program, which starts in the fall, is delivered in a hybrid format consisting of both in-person and online course offerings. Program participants also have the opportunity to spend 10 days studying outside the United States to broaden their understanding of global leadership.

Frederick Cawthon of Nashville was among those who attended the open house. The 48-year-old, who works in product management, had a daughter to graduate during TSU’s undergraduate commencement earlier this month, and another is a TSU sophomore seeking a degree in business.

unspecified-3While he likes the idea of keeping TSU in the family, Cawthon said the university’s EMBA program is appealing because he believes it will make him more competitive in the workforce.

“It’s an opportunity to network, to become more knowledgeable, more talented; to raise the bar,” Cawthon said.

Dr. Steve Shanklin is one of the program’s instructors. He will be teaching a managerial and decision-making course that he said provides a quantitative and qualitative assessment of good decisions.

Shanklin believes Nashville businesses will benefit from TSU’s EMBA program, as well as the participants.

“Every small firm in town, every medium-size firm, and even those that are world-class operations in our city,” Shanklin said, “they’re strengthened by having stronger people with better decision skills and a dedication to the Nashville area. TSU plays a big part in that.”

Jim Schmitz, area president for Regions  Bank, agreed.

“Tennessee State University’s Executive MBA program will strengthen Nashville’s workforce by providing participants with the knowledge to be even better business leaders,” Schmitz said.

Dr. Mark Hardy, TSU’s vice president for academic affairs, said the program’s instructors are top-notch.

“We believe that with the caliber of individuals who will be teaching, the program is going to be very exciting,” he said.

 For more information about the EMBA program, visit www.tnstate.edu/mba.

 

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 finishes what she started, gets TSU degree after 55 years

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

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Darlene Mullins at undergraduate commencement ceremony. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

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

“I am very excited and just overjoyed to see this day,” said Mullins, who graduated with honors.

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 John Mullins, a senior from East St. Louis, Illinois, who she described as dashing and handsome, “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.

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.

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 company 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.”

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

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 finish what she started. She returned to TSU and pursued a degree in interdisciplinary studies, sometimes taking as many as 20 credit hours a semester, and earning 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.

 

Graduates say goodbye to TSU, hello to jobs awaiting them

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Nationally syndicated radio personality Tom Joyner helped Tennessee State University showcase its excellence on Saturday.

Glover Joyner photo
TSU President Glenda Glover presents radio personality Tom Joyner with a tribute to his great aunt, Jane Elliott Hall, who has a building named in her honor at TSU. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Joyner, host of The Tom Joyner Morning Show, delivered TSU’s undergraduate commencement address. More than 800 students received degrees in various disciplines at the spring ceremony in the William Jasper Hale Stadium on the main campus.

Joyner, who has long been a proponent of historically black colleges and universities, credits his mother and great aunt, Jane Elliott Hall. Elliott, who started TSU’s cafeteria program in its early days, has a building on campus named in her honor.

Joyner encouraged the graduates to “choose a cause and commit to making a change.”

“If I leave you with anything this morning, it’s to do what you can, and everybody can do something,” he said.

Mr. TSU Jordan Gaither, of Atlanta, was among Saturday’s graduates. Gaither said he met Joyner last year at the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis, Tennessee, and that Joyner’s hard work ethic is inspirational.

“He’s definitely one of the hardest working people in the business,” said Gaither, who is majoring in exercise science with a minor in mass communications. “Radio is something I’m into. I’d like to be a radio personality one of these days.”

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.

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Class of 2017 celebrates. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

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 students graduating from five Tennessee community colleges will receive full scholarships to attend TSU.

“I established the Tom Joyner Foundation because I wanted to continue showing love to HBCUs,” Joyner said. “Schools like TSU make it easy to do.”

Students say the Tom Joyner partnership and other TSU initiatives – like the Career Development Center and the Women’s Center – have helped prepare them for the workforce, as well as find jobs.

Gaither, who has an internship lined up with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and will be working with an NBA basketball team this summer, is one of a number of TSU graduates who have jobs waiting for them.

Maya Davis of Nashville, a computer science major, and electrical engineering major Cametria Weatherspoon of Memphis, will both be working for Lockheed Martin.

“Having a job after I graduate is a blessing,” Weatherspoon said. “I’m excited.”

While some students have jobs lined up, Joyner joked that for others, they may be asked when they are going to start making money.

Tom Joyner gives gift to graduate
TSU Undergraduate Commencement speaker Tom Joyner gives gift to graduate. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“The answer is today,” he said, “I am going to give each graduate $5. Some will invest and may save it and put it with other Graduation money. Keep in touch and let me know what you did with it. But whatever you do with it, make it count.”

Also celebrating were TSU’s Class of 1967, who returned as Golden Vintagers. These alumni walked across the stage for a second time, receiving certificates recognizing their 50-year milestone.

Georgia native Alvin Hinkle, an accomplished attorney now residing in Columbia, South Carolina, returned for the Vintagers celebration.

“When I was on campus in 1967 it was during the Civil Rights era and there was a lot of activity,” said Hinkle, who was president of the Student Senate at the time. “I wanted to come back and see people I haven’t seen in 50 years. It’s good to be back.”

Vintagers
TSU’s Class of 1967 returns as Golden Vintagers. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

The evening before, graduate commencement participants received words of wisdom from Congressman Jim Cooper in TSU’s Howard C. Gentry Complex.

Cooper, who represents Middle Tennessee in the U.S. Congress, said before the event that he was “excited to honor Tennessee State University’s graduate class,” and that the “world is ready for their knowledge and leadership.”

Taking Cooper’s words to heart, graduate George Davis will put his TSU education to work at the U.S. Department of Agriculture where he has secured employment. Davis received a master’s in agricultural science with a concentration in data analysis and business management.

“You’ve got to seize every opportunity that you get,” said Davis, a Memphis native. “Having a job lined up just shows me how hard I’ve worked.”

Altogether, 1,067 TSU graduates – 266 grad and 801 undergrad – participated in the commencement ceremonies. Of the undergrads, 128 got degrees in nursing, 56 in criminal justice, 51 in business administration, and 50 in health sciences.

Student Government Association president Aarian Forman is one of the business administration majors who graduated. The Danville, Illinois, native said his experience at TSU has prepared him to be a “leader in the world.”

“TSU has made me think on a different level,” Forman said. “I was challenged to not just think on a local or national scale, but on a global scale.”

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.

 

Congressman Jim Cooper urges TSU graduates to vote, give back to university

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Congressman Jim Cooper lauded Tennessee State University graduates for their hard work, and urged them to do two things: vote and support the university.

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TSU graduate students wait to receive their degrees. (photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Cooper, who represents Middle Tennessee in the U.S. Congress, gave the address at TSU’s graduate commencement on Friday in the Howard C. Gentry Complex on the university’s main campus.

TSU President Glenda Glover provided greetings to the graduates and their families and friends before Cooper spoke.

“This is your day,” she said. “Today we honor you for reaching this significant milestone.”

Cooper echoed President Glover’s sentiment.

“This is truly a special occasion,” Cooper said. “It’s the culmination of years of hard work; it’s the demonstration of true excellence. Our nation needs such excellence.”

Cooper also appealed to the graduates to vote and give back financially to TSU.

“These two things are basically free,” he said. “Voting doesn’t cost you anything. Giving a small sum to your alma mater doesn’t really cost very much at all. But participation in both are essential.”

Cooper said before the event that he was “excited to honor Tennessee State University’s graduate class,” and that the “world is ready for their knowledge and leadership.”

Taking Cooper’s words to heart, graduate George Davis will put his TSU education to work at the U.S. Department of Agriculture where he has secured employment. Davis received a master’s in agricultural science with a concentration in data analysis and business management.

He’s among a number of TSU graduates – both grad and undergrad – who have jobs lined up.

“You’ve got to seize every opportunity that you get,” said Davis, a Memphis native. “Having a job lined up just shows me how hard I’ve worked.”

Nationally syndicated radio host Tom Joyner will give the address at TSU’s undergraduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6, at 8 a.m. in the William Jasper Hale Stadium, also on the university’s main campus.

“I’m so honored to speak to these graduates,” Joyner said in a statement. “I know these TSU Tigers have put in plenty of sweat – and yeah, tears – so they can go out and change the world.”

Altogether, 1,067 TSU graduates – 266 grad and 801 undergrad – will participate in Tennessee State’s spring commencement ceremonies. Of the undergrads, 128 will get degrees in nursing, 56 in criminal justice, 51 in business administration, and 50 in health sciences.

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 Receives $35,000 Grant to Provide Learning Support for Incoming Freshmen

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has received a $35,000 grant to help incoming freshmen who may need to do a little brushing up on math, reading and writing.

The one-week residential Summer Completion Academy is made possible through the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Student Engagement, Retention, and Success Grant. About 160 students in the academy will have the opportunity to satisfy learning support requirements prior to their first semester of enrollment.

The program will run over two sessions between June 25-30, and July 16-21, 2017. Students participating in the program have already been accepted to TSU.

“Our focus for the grant is to work with students who are at risk,” said Tiffany Bellafant Steward, interim director of Academic Success Services and Learning Support Centers. “These are students who are not prepared for college-level work who would go into our learning support areas of math, reading and writing.”

She said participants will receive learning support such as additional lab sessions, extra days in class, as well as “engagement activities,” including pre- and post-tests to measure their achievement level.

“We are thrilled to be in a position to offer a program like this to students, which could take up to three classes off their fall schedule,” Steward said.

Sabrina Brown, associate director of Academic Success, is the Project Director for the Summer Completion Academy.  She can be reached at 615-963-2144.

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.

Late TSU Graduate Honored with $100,000 Scholarship Endowment for Business Majors

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Gloria Ross White graduated from Tennessee State University in 1976, but she never really left.

The former Miss ROTC remained involved with her alma mater through her Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and helping students to stay in school until her death in a car accident in 1984.

Described as a fun-loving person with a kind heart who embraced everyone she came across, White’s family is determined to keep alive her legacy of helping others.

Her sister, Cathy Ross, of Germantown, Tennessee, has established a $100,000 endowment at TSU in her (White) honor.

The Gloria Ross White Endowed Scholarship in Business will benefit first-generation college students from underrepresented populations. Recipients must major in business with a minimum 2.5 grade point average. Students pursuing a master’s degree are also eligible.

“She would want to live on by encouraging education and supporting students at TSU,” said Ross, a retired FedEx executive. “I have always believed in the power and benefit of education that was instilled in me by my parents, and my sister also believed in that.”

Although Ross did not attend TSU, she said the university has been very good to her sister and her family. Many relatives attended TSU, she said.

“My sister and I know TSU’s legacy of helping needy students, so I thought of setting up this endowment in her memory. This is something that will be useful for them (students), as well as for the college and the rest of the world,” Ross said.

Betsy Jackson Mosley, executive director of the TSU Foundation, said the university is grateful to Cathy Ross for the endowment.

“As she honors her sister’s memory, she is giving the gift of education to deserving students,” Mosley said.  “The legacy of Mrs. Gloria Ross White will live on forever at TSU through the many students who will benefit from this generous scholarship fund.”

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.

Community Health and Wellness Fair at TSU promotes healthy lifestyle

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 30 vendors from across the city participated in the Community Health and Wellness Fair at Tennessee State University on April 21.

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TSU President Glenda Glover (center) with health fair participants from Meharry Medical College and TSU’s Dental Hygiene Department. (photo by Courtney Buggs, TSU Media Relations)

The event, which was free to the public, was a partnership between TSU, the DP Thomas Foundation for Obesity, Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s HIV Vaccine Program, and the Turnip Truck, a natural foods grocer in Nashville.

All the vendors set up in Kean Hall on the university’s main campus had some connection to health care and wellness.

“It’s important that vendors from around the area come here and show what it means to participate in healthy lifestyles,” TSU President Glenda Glover said. “We want to go over some of the preventive measures; precautionary actions. Prevention is the heart of public health.”

Among its offerings, the fair provided information on weight loss management and nutrition, as well as fitness demonstrations and health screenings, including hypertension, glucose and cholesterol. There was also an opportunity for attendees to sign up for insurance.

William Ligon and his niece, Jada Smith, drove from Gallatin, Tennessee to attend the health fair. Smith, who is currently attending a community college, plans to enroll in Tennessee State’s nursing program next year.

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William Ligon and his niece, Jada Smith (left), drove from Gallatin, Tennessee, to attend health fair. (photo by Courtney Buggs, TSU Media Relations)

“I’ve always liked to be able to help out people in need,” Smith said. “I like to care for people.”

Both Ligon and Smith said they enjoyed the health fair.

“This is great,” Ligon said. “We need more of this.”

Along with the Nashville vendors, several Tennessee State programs and departments participated. They included the TSU Nursing School, the Agriculture Department, the TSU Center for Aging, the TSU Wellness Center, and TSU’s Dental Hygiene Department, which has a full service campus clinic that averages about 600 patients a year, many of whom are from the surrounding community.

Dr. Gary-Lee A. Lewis, head of TSU’s Dental Hygiene Department, said he hopes the fair will help increase that number “with the linkages that we make with the community.”

“It’s a mutually beneficial experience for both our students and value for the community,” Lewis said. “It showcases all aspects of health to the community.”

Vic Sorrell is the community engagement coordinator for the Vanderbilt HIV vaccine program, which provided HIV testing and HIV prevention education and information at the fair.

“This is an ideal way for our community to collaborate on reaching the goal of zero new HIV transmissions by the year 2020, according to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy,” Sorrell said.

Ivan Davis Sr., director of Student Health Services at TSU, said the university plans to host many more health fairs.

“We’re just trying to give people access,” Davis said. “Some people don’t know where to begin to get health access.”

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.