Category Archives: Featured

Tennessee State University Commencement Speaker Michael Eric Dyson Tells Graduates to Continue to Learn and Appreciate the Difference in People and Culture

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – “Receiving your degrees does not mean classes are over,” the keynote speaker at Tennessee State University’s spring commencement told more than 700 undergraduate students who received degrees in various disciplines Saturday.

President Glenda Glover and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson enter the Howard C. Gentry Complex for the 2019 Spring Undergraduate Commencement. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, bestselling author and professor of sociology at Georgetown University, said to impact the world graduates must be literate, interconnected and transformative.

“You must be ‘LIT,’” he said, attributing the acronym to the young generation’s reference to something fun, good or exciting. “You might think classes are over so you don’t have to read. But you have to be literate in the world we live in because it is important. When you go into the world as proud Tennessee State University graduates they know you come from a great place. You got to be morally and psychologically literate.”

Before Dyson gave his speech in the Howard C. Gentry Complex, TSU President Glenda Glover congratulated the graduates, parents, relatives and friends for their support.

“I applaud you for having reached this milestone,” said Glover. “Today is only a stepping stone. We thank you. We salute you.”

Dyson, also known as a preacher and radio host, has authored or edited more than 20 books dealing with subjects such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Marvin Gaye and Hurricane Katrina. He has received several awards for his literary work, including three NAACP Image Awards and the Southern Book Prize.

Graduates prepare to receive their degrees at the Spring Undergraduate Commencement. (Photo by Charles Cook, TSU Media Relations)

“You must be interconnected,” he said. “You are going into a world that ain’t reading your same book, not listening to your same culture, and not reared in your home, but you got to make a way to get along with people who don’t look like you or act like you.”

The undergraduate ceremony followed the graduate commencement also in the Gentry Complex Friday evening. Civil rights leader and activist the Rev. Al Sharpton, was the speaker.

Dyson also urged the graduates to be about change and improvement in their communities.

“That means you can’t just leave it the way you found it. You got to make something better where you show up,” he said.

More than 700 students participated in the Spring Undergraduate Commencement in the Howard C. Gentry Complex. (Photo by Charles Cook, TSU Media Relations)

Charles Alexander Hill, who received his bachelor’s degree in business, had not heard much about Dyson, but he thinks the speaker gave him and his fellow graduates “just what we needed to hear.”

“I am very prepared to face the world,” Hill said. “TSU has given me all the tools I need to succeed in my life, and the speaker was very dynamic with his words of encouragement and wisdom.”

Following his speech, Dyson was presented an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of his body of work.

Civil rights leader and activist Al Sharpton inspires graduates to keep achieving , receives honorary degree

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Civil rights leader and activist the Rev. Al Sharpton urged Tennessee State University graduates to continue to build on their achievement.

Sharpton gave the address at TSU’s graduate commencement ceremony Friday evening in the Howard C. Gentry Complex. On Saturday, bestselling author Dr. Michael Eric Dyson will address undergraduate students in the Complex. The ceremony will begin at 8 a.m.

The Rev. Al Sharpton and TSU President Glenda Glover. (TSU Media Relations)

Before Sharpton’s speech, TSU President Glenda Glover welcomed attendees and lauded the graduates.

“I applaud you for having reached this milestone,” said Dr. Glover. “Today is only a stepping stone. We thank you. We salute you.”

Sharpton, a community leader, politician and minister who serves as the host of PoliticsNation on MSNBC, challenged graduates “to be the head of your own fan club.”

“Tonight, you have shown you can achieve something,” he said. “Only you know … what you went through to get here. But through it all, you got here tonight, which proves that you can achieve something, and it proves that you can keep achieving if you use the same discipline and determination you did to graduate here tonight. You can keep going higher and higher if you push yourself to do that.”

Following his speech, Sharpton, who is a longtime friend of Dr. Glover, was presented an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, an honor he said he will always cherish.

Sharpton’s address, which was interrupted with applause several times, seemed to move the audience.

Georgetta Harris-Wyatt received a doctorate in psychology. She said Sharpton’s speech was motivational, that it “encouraged all the graduate students to see beyond where they are now.”

2019 TSU Graduate students .(TSU Media Relations)

She said Sharpton’s words inspired her even more to use her degree to help youth.

“Ultimately, I hope to work with children and adolescents in the juvenile justice system, and help them to rewrite their stories,” said Harris-Wyatt.

Sharpton is no stranger to TSU. In 2014, he came to the university to take up the cause to have TSU’s 1957- 1959 Men’s Championship Basketball Team, the first-ever to win three national titles back-to back, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

He joined university officials and staff, including President Glover, state officials, community leaders and stakeholders, as he presented his cause during a ceremony in Kean Hall.

As a result of Sharpton’s efforts and that of many others, including TSU alumnus Dr. Richard “Dick” Barnett, a member of all three teams, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced last month that the Tennessee State men’s basketball championship teams of 1957-59 will be one of 12 honorees in this year’s Class of 2019. The class will be celebrated at this year’s enshrinement festivities in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Top TSU graduate Alexius Dingle ready to soar even higher

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Alexius Dingle graduated from Tennessee State University at the top of her class, but the agricultural sciences major has even loftier goals. 

“I’m going to grad school to pursue a Ph.D. in genetics,” said Dingle, who graduated on May 4 with a 4.0 GPA.

Alexius Dingle

She was one of more than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students who received degrees in various disciplines in this year’s dual graduation ceremonies at T’SU.

Dingle was the first in her immediate family to attend college. She said she looked forward to seeing the expression on the face of her mother, who pretty much raised her by herself in the small town of Manning, South Carolina, about an hour from Columbia.

“She sacrificed so much,” said Dingle.

When she arrives at Texas A&M for her Ph.D. program, Dingle said she will be ready, mainly because of the preparation she has received at Tennessee State University, particularly the College of Agriculture.

“One thing that the College of Ag has been very good with doing is making sure that their students are exposed to research, and it’s paid research,” said Dingle, whose concentration is in biotechnology. “It’s a way for you to get exposure, put something on your resume, so you don’t leave without experience. And it also helps you financially.”

Ag professor De’Etra Young, a mentor to Dingle, said she was impressed with her maturity and assertiveness. 

“She set her goals, was extremely focused, and sought out any opportunity that was given to her,” said Young. “Her success has paid off. She will be attending Texas A&M, and she will be going from a bachelor’s to a Ph.D. program.”

Dingle said she encourages her peers, as well as incoming freshmen, to take advantage of opportunities that are available.

“Network, talk to your advisors,” she said. “They have opportunities to help you that you may not know about.”

TSU has received a million dollars from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to bolster undergraduate students’ interest in agriculture, as well as science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

In addition to scholarships, TSU officials said the funds will aid students’ professional development by allowing them to “travel to different professional conferences and meetings to gain exposure” to the latest research.  

Earlier this year, TSU President Glenda Glover surprised 20 students who visited the university with scholarship offers if they planned to major in a STEM course and have a good GPA.

To learn more about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Lays Foundation for Former TN Titans Cheerleader to Make Her Mark in Male-Dominated Sports Management Industry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Sports management is a tough business, especially if you are a female, but Ashley Danielle Allen aims to change that.

“You know, it’s a male-dominated industry,” said Allen, director of player relations with a3 Athletics, a full-service sports agency representing football and golf athletes. “You are going to have to have a little bit more just to compete with the guys.”

Ashley Danielle Allen received her master’s degree in sports administration. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Trying to have ‘a little more’ to be competitive has kept the mother of three young children busy on multiple fronts. But on May 3, Allen took a break and celebrated a major achievement. She was among nearly 250 students who received degrees when Tennessee State University held its spring graduate commencement in the Howard C. Gentry Complex. Allen received a master’s degree in sports administration.

“I am really excited about receiving my graduate degree from such a great institution,” said Allen, who earned her bachelor’s degree in business at TSU in 2008. “For a longtime, I knew I wanted to go back to school. I looked at the surrounding area for competitive programs. But TSU was kind of home for me, and I received good advice, and I am glad I listened and came here.”

In addition to her master’s degree, Allen, who previously wanted to be an NFL agent, is also pursuing a law degree at Nashville School of Law. She has more than 10 years of experience in professional sports – from being an NFL cheerleader to managing player relations.

“I decided to get my master’s because I thought I wanted to be an NFL agent, and in order to be an agent you needed to be a lawyer or have a master’s degree,” said the Nashville native.

At a3 Athletics, she helps NFL and PGA players with community relations regarding activities off the field. Among them, currently, she is conducting 10 football camps for such players as Kevin King of the Green Bay Packers, Terrell Dean of the Arizona Cardinals, and Cameron Irving of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Ashley Allen was a cheerleader for the Titans from 2008-2009. (Submitted photo)

“I put on their camps and handle any appearances throughout the off season, and any appearance efforts they want to do throughout the season. A lot of the players are really focused on the game during that time,” said Allen, who also coaches the Tiger Gems at TSU. “I really love helping kids. Seeing the kids’ faces from hosting camps for players just makes me very happy.” Her children – two girls and a boy, ages 14, 7 and 4 – travel with her to the camps.

Before going into sports management, Allen was a former Titans cheerleader. After two years with the Titans in 2009, she stepped down, but stayed active with the alumni association, later handling media relations for the group.

“We worked together with the coach in terms of tryouts and other events throughout the year. I networked as much as I could, but I did not want to cheer anymore. At that point, I decided that I actually wanted to do something in the management role, especially as an agent,” said Allen.

Ashley Allen is the Director of Player Relations with a3 Athletics sports agency. (Submitted photo)

That’s when she says she decided to pursue her master’s degree, and subsequently, law school. She started work at a law firm, whose owner was also a sports agent. Allen says she would like to one day negotiate contracts for players.

“That’s my favorite in law – contract law – which is what my intention is in the long run with my law degree,” she said.

Allen said she also wants to give back to her alma mater for all she has received from TSU.

“The relations I built being in sports for over 10 years have really helped me, and I can use that as leverage for my institution,” she said. “As a way of giving back, I would love to help the university more once I leave, like seeking internship opportunities for TSU students with my agency. I love to teach, even if I have to go get my doctorate. I would love to come back and teach.”


Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Graduate School Celebrates 75 Years And Unveils New Marketing Initiatives

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University School of Graduate and Professional Studies recently had a special program commemorating its 75th anniversary.

Dr. Robbie Melton, dean of the Graduate School, said the program on May 1 at the Avon Williams Campus downtown provided an opportunity to recognize two former deans who made significant contributions to the school, as well as showcase the school’s “next evolution.”

The late Dr. Camelia Taylor, who served in many administrative positions at TSU including interim dean of the Graduate School, and Dr. Helen Barrett, who served as the school’s dean from 1998-2008, were honored during the event, which was a precursor to the graduate school commencement ceremony on May 3. 

The school also paid homage to Martha Williams Wheeler, the first graduate student at Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State College to earn a master’s degree.

Melton said the graduate school is excited to recognize these women of impact, as well as celebrate 75 years of conferring degrees.  She said the school’s innovation will continue under its new theme, “Everyone can code, and everyone can create,” which is indicated by TSU C².

Dr. Robbie Melton

 “This theme reflects our new delivery systems hybrid online and on ground formats that incorporates technology, innovation, social media tools and our new global outreach to targeted communities nationally and internationally, and it permeates throughout our entire programs, courses and curriculum,” Melton said. “To reach the global market we must have the entire process online, including student services, courses, library services, mentoring, etc.  Everything must be online.”

According to Melton, many of the marketing ideas that will be shared at the program stem from a research project conducted by doctoral students in a marketing class taught by Dr. Eric Vogel, graduate director for the Higher Education Doctoral Students

“Instead of doing hypothetical, we did a problem-based action research project in which the class had the task of finding ways to increase graduate enrollment through marketing,” Melton said. “The class will present marketing research and strategies to enhance the graduate school and all graduate programs”

Minzi Thomas, a student in Vogel’s class who is pursuing her Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership, was one of five students who shared strategic ideas focused on areas such as research, digital marketing, recruitment and enrollment, international groups, and finance.

Thomas, a Memphis-native who teaches public speaking at Nashville State Community College and works as a reconnect navigator with the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, said the composition of Vogel’s marketing class is perfect for this project.

“It’s really a unique experience and a unique opportunity because a lot of students in the class actually work in the graduate school. What you have is students who work in the graduate school and students who are enrolled in the graduate school coming up with a marketing plan to increase enrollment and increase engagement on social media and other additional marketing strategies,” she said.

Minzi Thomas

Thomas, whose presentation focused on digital marketing, said the class is excited about launching the #TSUSONASHSVILLE social media campaign.

“The whole premise of that is that while Nashville is experiencing all of this growth from gentrification, Tennessee State is still very much a part of that rich cultural aspect of Nashville, and it doesn’t matter how big Nashville gets, that’s not going to change,” Thomas said.

During Melton’s tenure as dean she has incorporated numerous technological strategies to advance the graduate school.

“We have reorganized and brought in technology enhancements and tools to automate the graduate school in terms of admission using GradCAS, in terms of curriculum improvement using Curriculog, in terms of automating a searchable graduate catalogue using Actualog, becoming a paperless environment through the use of DocuSign, and conducting our graduation audit using DegreeWorks,” she said.

Thomas, whose research topic explores gentrification and its impact on North Nashville, said Melton’s leadership plays a great role in the graduate school’s current success.

“Dr. Melton continues to ignite a fire underneath us.  Every time you think you have done the best that you can do, she always says or does something that lets you know that you can do or be better.  It can be done,” she said. “She makes you feel like it is possible, and when you think it is possible, that’s when you continue to try to reach your greatest potential.”

For more information about the TSU School of Graduate and Professional Studies, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/graduate/ .

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Graduates look forward to workforce thanks to TSU preparation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A number of graduates in Tennessee State University’s spring commencement will go right into the workforce once they get their degrees. And they have TSU to thank.

“Tennessee State University has definitely prepared me professionally,” says T’Anna Williams, a computer science major headed to Northrop Grumman. “It’s really awesome having a job lined up after I graduate. That’s one less stress.”

More than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students will receive degrees in various disciplines in this year’s dual graduation ceremonies.

The graduate commencement ceremony is Friday, May 3, at 5 p.m. in the Howard C. Gentry Complex, where Civil Rights leader Al Sharpton will give the keynote address. The undergraduate ceremony will take place the following day in Hale Stadium at 8 a.m. Bestselling author Dr. Michael E. Dyson is the speaker.

Williams says part of her success is due to the nurturing attitude of the administration and faculty at TSU. The Nashville native says they’re always looking for ways to help students grow, like bringing in dynamic, motivational speakers like Sharpton and Dyson.

“If you’re willing to learn and put in the effort, they’re willing to help,” says Williams of TSU’s faculty.

Graduating senior Alexis Clark agrees. The mass communications major from writes for the student newspaper, The Meter. She credits her experience at the newspaper with preparing her for an internship at The Tennessean, one of the state’s top newspapers, when she graduates.

“It was probably the best experience I had at TSU,” says the St. Louis native. “The networking and the connections I’ve made through The Meter have brought me to what I’m doing today. “

Most of the students who have jobs lined up say the university’s Career Development Center helped them find employment, and prepped them for it.

“The Career Development Center serves as the bridge between education and employment for the students,” says Charles Jennings, Jr., director of the Center/Division of Student Affairs. “We provide services and programs that allow students to apply the knowledge that they gained in the classroom toward meaningful internship and employment opportunities.”

Jennings says the Center also has onsite conferences that let students interact with the university’s employer partners, like Bank of America, Boeing, Google and IBM.

Electrical engineering major Tarence Rice of Detroit says it’s partly because of opportunities at the Center that he has job offers from Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Texas Instruments.

“They helped me get in contact with employers, and get the exposure to build me up to be able to interview for some of these top companies,” says Rice.

Because of the preparation it provides students, TSU officials say the university is poised to produce strong candidates for Amazon’s new executive operations center, which is expected to bring about 5,000 jobs to the Nashville area.

“As the only public university in Nashville, Tennessee State University stands uniquely poised to support these corporate giants, their employees, family members of the employees, and the businesses that support them with highly-skilled human capital, workforce training opportunities, research partnerships and more,” says TSU economics professor Dr. Achintya Ray.

For more information about TSU’s Career Development Center, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/careers/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands Thrills NFL Draft Watchers with Performance on ESPN’s ‘First Take’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Football fans across the nation who tuned into ESPN Friday morning to watch the NFL Draft in the Music City got a taste of the thrilling sound of the world-renowned Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands.

The AOB, known worldwide for their melodious musical renditions and marching prowess, were the featured guest entertainers on the nationally syndicated ESPN sports talk show, First Take, with popular hosts Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman and Will Cain.

Stephen A. Smith, host of ESPN’s First Take, interacts with members of the TSU Aristocrat of Bands following the band’s performance on the popular sports talk show. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Diehard TSU fans, friends and supporters were among the hundreds who made up the studio audience at Nissan Stadium. Daryl Rice and Brad Strode were among them.

“This is a very big deal,” said Rice, a former Flying Tiger and a 2015 graduate of TSU. “I am Big Blue true and true. I am a big First Take fan and to be able to see my fellow alumni and our band on live television and on this huge stage is an amazing experience.”

Strode, a 2015 graduate who also ran track for the Tigers and a big Fist Take fan, did not know the AOB were performing at the show until he saw the group enter the stadium.

“I was just so excited to see my school’s marching band,” Rice said. “It is always a great feeling when you see your fellow Tennessee State students in the house. It is even more exciting to see that my HBCU is here on this big stage with outstanding representation. I am just very proud.”

Daryl Rice, left, and Brad Strode, two TSU graduates, were among hundreds who saw the Aristocrat of Bands perform on First Take, the popular ESPN sports talk show. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

To kick of the show, hosts Smith, Kellerman and Cain joined band members in their opening rendition of “I am so glad I go to TSU.” The band also entertained audience members during commercial breaks with such favorite songs as “Aristocrat Opener” and “Best Band.” 

Band Director, Dr. Reginald McDonald, said it is a “huge deal” anytime the university has an opportunity to be exposed to this type of audience, whether nationally or internationally. He is thankful to the university administration for the support.

“This goes beyond recruitment for the university,” said McDonald, who added that he had less than 36 hours to prepare the band for their appearance. “It was all made easy because of the support of (TSU) President (Glenda) Glover, who immediately gave us the greenlight. We realize this is an opportunity for the world to see TSU.”

Julien Dooley, the AOB drum major, said coming to TSU has just opened him to so many opportunities. He called his mom, sister and girlfriend and friends in his hometown of Atlanta to tune in.

“One thing that I really like about the AOB is that the opportunities are plentiful,” said Dooley, a rising senior majoring in commercial music, who McDonald recruited a day after his graduation from Southwest DeKalb High School in his native Atlanta. “Since coming here, I have seen nothing but benefits like from going to the White House (to perform for the Obamas), to a studio session with (Emmy winning) music Professor Larry Jenkins, to being handpicked to do the NFL Draft on national television. I think anything with the AOB name on it is purely amazing.”

Dooley’s fellow band member, Tiara Thomas, also a rising senior majoring in political science, said she watches First Take every morning, but actually appearing on the show “was extra special.”

“I am really excited for this experience because it is something I watch at home every morning,” she said. “It is big to have an HBCU. We work really hard to brand ourselves and to get opportunities and exposures like this for our university. I am just really excited.”

Band members, along with TSU President Dr. Glenda Glover, graced the NFL red carpet the day before as a part of opening Draft Day ceremonies.

“I am so proud that our students, as band members, are included in a once-in-lifetime experience in their own backyard like the NFL Draft,” said President Glover. ”Our inclusion in the NFL Draft experience from the Draftville promotional video to opening ceremonies, and now an appearance on a nationally syndicated sports show speaks to our institution’s importance and notoriety not just in Nashville, but also across the country.”

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

university kicks off Draft Day with luncheon for NFL moms

Professional Football Players Mothers Association visit TSU

President Glenda Glover addresses members of the Professional Football Players Mothers Association at a luncheon she hosted for the group in the TSU Executive Dining Room. (Photo by Erynne Davis, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – About 25 members of the Professional Football Players Mothers Association, comprising mothers of current and former professional players, were treated to lunch by TSU President Glenda Glover on the first day of the NFL Draft last week.

“I am so happy to see all these mothers of the NFL players who have either played or are currently playing,” said Glover, who had the luncheon in TSU’s Executive Dining Room. “Draft Day is always fun and exciting, and we are glad you selected to share that excitement with us. We know that without you there will be no sons playing in the NFL. By them playing, they have allowed your families to impact others by giving back to the community and changing so many lives in a positive way.”  

Connie Alexander was among the group that visited TSU. Her son, Ronald Grant Alexander, who graduated TSU in 1994, played 11 years in the NFL, including a Super Bowl win with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also played for the Arizona Cardinals, and the Carolina Panthers before retiring with the New York Giants.

Connie said she had to make the trip to TSU because of her son’s special connection to the institution.

“For us, TSU is home, even though we are from Pittsburgh,” Connie said. “Whenever he is involved in something he always tries to put TSU in there; that’s how much he loves this school.”

For Robin Dunlap, whose son, King Dunlap, V, was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles from Auburn, returning to TSU was a special treat. She is a TSU graduate. She met and married her husband, King Dunlap IV, who played for the TSU Tigers from 1965-1969. He played for the Baltimore Colts.

“Coming back to my school along with these wonderful women was very special,” Robin Dunlap said. “I am very proud to host these lovely ladies at my alma mater. And I am glad to be with them here today, because they are such powerful individuals.”

Michelle Green is president of PFPMA. She said visiting TSU was fulfilling the association’s main objective, which is to provide advice and support to families of players entering the National Football League.

Green is the mother of former NFL offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, who played in the league 12 years and won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.

“We want to be there as a support system for them, because we were there in that position at one time,” said Green, adding that the association also does a lot of community charity work. “It’s a different world once you cross over and go into the NFL. You’re entering a whole new game, and only those in it understand it.”

Barbara Murrell, a senior member of President Glover’s administration, is credited with organizing the NFL mothers’ visit and tour.

The mothers’ visit to TSU was just part of the university’s participation in the NFL Draft. TSU’s famed Aristocrat of Bands was in a promotional advertising the Draft, and was part of the Draft entertainment. The following morning, the band appeared on ESPN’s sports talk show First Take.

Also attending the luncheon for the NFL mothers were TSU Board of Trustee Member Debra Cole, former State Sen. Thelma Harper, Monica Fawknotson, executive director of the Metro Sports Authority,  and Vivian Wilhoite, Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County property assessor.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, premier historically-black land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU’s graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus boasts a top-notch Executive MBA Program. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU claims Home Depot’s Retool Your School top honor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University took home “Campaign of the Year” honors in Home Depot’s Retool Your School- HBCU Campus Improvement competition. This was the first year for the award, which was created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Retool Your School program.  TSU beat out 60 other institutions for the grant award.

“We are extremely proud to have won this top honor for campaign of the year, and are just as proud of our students, staff and alumni that mobilized efforts for TSU to have such a strong showing to get the entire university family involved,” said Tennessee State University President Dr. Glenda Glover.

TSU finished second in voting for the large institution category, but walked away with the campaign of the year award.  Judges cited the overall performance of the campaign that was able to engage students, alumni and the community, as well as digital media strategies to promote voting.

Dr. Heidi Williams teaches research and technical writing in the Department of Languages, Literature and Philosophy at TSU. She turned the Retool Your School campaign into an assignment for her students.

“I had never seen students take things so seriously, and work so hard on an assignment,” Williams said. “They didn’t do it for a grade. They did it for themselves, for each other.”

Sophomore Gabrielle Davis is one of Williams’ students. She said she enjoyed working on the campaign, and is looking forward to how the win will benefit the university.

“This shines a great light on Tennessee State University,” Davis said.

Mon-Cheri Robinson, TSU’s assistant director of student activities, agreed. She helped galvanize the university’s student government leadership, as well as the sororities and fraternities, who used social media to help get the word out about the campaign, including announcements during the students’ Courtyard Wednesday activities.

“It’s all about having them see the big picture, and see how it benefits them, and the school overall,” Robinson said.

TSU alumni were motivated by National Alumni Association President Joni McReynolds, who led the charge for her alma mater on social media. McReynolds even posted a video outside of her local Home Depot store urging fellow alumni to vote.

“The TSU family, including students, alumni and friends, came together to allow us to win,” McReynolds said. “It’s good to see the Tennessee State University Tiger spirit.”

Student leaders, including SUB-G, were polled for ideas on how the administration should use the funds to make campus improvements. They ranged from landscaping, pressure washing buildings, upgrades to the recreation room, lighting for the campus amphitheater, and restoration of the courtyard and Welton Plaza. All will see a makeover with the funds.

Incoming Student Government Association President Katelyn Thompson said the win makes her proud to be a Big Blue Tiger.

“This is an outstanding accomplishment,” said Thompson, a junior majoring in criminal justice and psychology. “All of our hard work paid off.”

TSU has participated in the Home Depot program since 2014. Kelli Sharpe, assistant vice president for Public Relations and Communications, said getting the word out early and often was crucial.

“Staff put together a comprehensive social media campaign and worked to make sure students, employees, alumni and the TSU community as a whole were included on all communications regarding our campaign,” Sharpe said. “It was truly a team effort to see everyone come together for this great cause.”

Home Depot will have the final approval of the projects, which will start in the fall.

Currently, there are several major construction projects underway on TSU’s campus. They include a new Health Sciences Building, two new residence halls, and an Alumni House and Welcome Center. 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Members of the Professional Football Players Mothers Association to attend luncheon, tour TSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Members of the Professional Football Players Mothers Association will visit Tennessee State University this week while they’re in the Music City for the NFL Draft.

On April 25, the first day of the Draft, TSU President Glenda Glover will host a luncheon and tour for the mothers of current and former professional football players.

Michelle Green is president of PFPMA. She said she’s looking forward to visiting TSU, as well as fulfilling the association’s main objective, which is to provide advice and support to families of players entering the National Football League.

Green is the mother of former NFL offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, who played in the league 12 years and won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.

“We want to be there as a support system for them, because we were there in that position at one time,” said Green, adding that the association also does a lot of community charity work. “It’s a different world once you cross over and go into the NFL. You’re entering a whole new game, and only those in it understand it.”

Member Sandra Atkins agreed. Her son is Geno Atkins, a defensive tackle who is in his tenth year with the Cincinnati Bengals. She said her advice to parents whose sons enter the NFL is, “continue to be a parent.”

“The bright lights start shining even brighter than they did in college, and some parents become fans and let their kids get away with things,” Atkins said. “Still, tell them what they need to know. If they listen, they listen; if they don’t, that’s fine. At least you were the parent and you did your job.”

The mothers’ visit to TSU is just part of the university’s participation in the NFL Draft. TSU’s famed Aristocrat of Bands is in a promotional advertising the Draft. And on April 27, Tigers linebacker Christion Abercrombie will announce the fifth-round pick for the Tennessee Titans.

Abercrombie made national news last season when he suffered a life-threatening injury in a football game against Vanderbilt University. Doctors didn’t think he’d survive. But Abercrombie has made a miraculous recovery since the Sept. 29 incident. On April 13, he attended the annual Blue and White scrimmage game at TSU.

Also, TSU alum Ed “Too Tall” Jones will announce the pick for the Dallas Cowboys. The defensive lineman, who appeared in three Super Bowls with the Cowboys, was their No. 1 overall pick in the 1974 NFL Draft.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.