Category Archives: NEWS

Ag professor receives close to $1M to study crops’ adaptation to climate change

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A Tennessee State University agriculture professor has received close to a million dollars to conduct research that will study how crops adapt to climate change.

Dr. Jianwei Li received the $999,429 from the National Science Foundation. It will be used to study the effects of high temperatures on microbiome, or the combined genetic material of microorganisms in a particular environment, in cropland soils in Middle Tennessee.

TSU Assistant Professor Dr. Jianwei Li (from right) is pictured with his climate change lab team Visiting Scholar Jianjun Duan, doctoral student Siyang Jian, and master’s student Madhav Parajuli. (Photo by Joan Kite, College of Agriculture)

Li said there is very little data in this area, and the consequential release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which scientists say is one of the main greenhouse gases causing global warming.

“We want to increase soil fertility, productivity, and potentially reduce the carbon dioxide, greenhouse emission,” said Li of the research, which will help scientists better determine how much carbon dioxide is being emitted.

Earth’s global surface temperature last year was the fourth warmest since 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Scientists say atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are at the highest levels ever recorded.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, said the grant is “very timely.”

“The climate change is there, whether politically some of us believe it or not,” Reddy said. “It is a reality.”

Li will work on the project with co-principal investigators TSU professor Dr. Dafeng Hui, TSU associate professor Dr. Jason P. de Koff, and University of California, Irvine professor Dr. Steven D. Allison.

This fall, TSU scientists will prepare a research plot to grow the biofuel crop switch grass at the Agricultural Research and Education Center. Using a soil gas flux system, the plot will be kept heated even through winter, and soil and gas samples will be routinely collected in high frequency.

The grant also seeks to specifically train young minority students in global environmental change issues, including climate change. Each year, an undergraduate student will be selected to receive formal training for two months at the University of California, Irvine, where the student will acquire experience in molecular analysis and microbial trait-based modeling.

Li envisions the grant as seed money to help build a permanent experimental infrastructure and develop an interpretive display on climate change to educate farmers and school children throughout Tennessee.

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.

23 Second-Year Male Students Complete Rite-of-Passage Mentoring Program; Initiative Inspires Young Males to Become Better Men

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Men’s Initiative, a character and integrity building program at Tennessee State University, is implementing a series of programs aimed to inspire young male students to become better men. 

Students who participated in the inaugural Rite of Passage mentoring program covered topics such as personal responsibility, values, communications, relationship building, and health and wellness. (Submitted Photo)

Recently, 23 second-year male students completed a semester-long Rite of Passage mentoring and leadership-training program conducted by the initiative. The students were pinned and honored in a ceremony before TSU administrators, faculty, staff, students, and community members in the Performing Arts Center on the main campus. 

“The goal of this program is to help these students to matriculate and graduate here at the university,” said Frank Stevenson, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students. “We want to make sure that they are successful by engaging them in things that help them in their matriculation, as it relates to character and integrity, and understanding the principles of being responsible young men.” 

The inaugural Rite of Passage process started in January, with interest meetings for the students and a training for the 13 TSU faculty and staff mentors who helped facilitate student development. It continued with a six-week curriculum that concluded with a final challenge in the seventh week. 

According to Robert Taylor, director of the TSU Men’s Initiative, participants were trained on personal responsibility, values, communication, relationship building, health and wellness, and African diaspora history. He said the program culminated with a mentor/mentee matching ritual that will continue for 15 weeks over the summer. All 23 students are expected to return to TSU in the fall, as certified mentors. 

“The Rite of Passage portion of the Men’s Initiative engages second-year male students in a series of workshops and mentorship programs to help them to transition from boyhood to manhood,” Taylor said. “Our ultimate purpose is to increase student persistence and to help these young men understand who they are as individuals, and what their role is in the community, and how they can further that through their education.” 

Travion Crutcher, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Hunstville, Alabama, was a member of the first class that participated in the Rite of Passage training. As a graduate, he returns next semester as a mentor. 

“I have always wanted to be able to help people find their way, because when I first came here, I didn’t know where to start and someone helped me,” said Crutcher, who plays cymbals in the TSU Aristocrat of Bands.  “I just like to be that person you can ask questions.” 

Taylor said in addition to the Rite of Passage, the Men’s Initiative, which is funded by Title III, also includes success coaching, where teams of coaches work with the students to make sure that they are taking advantage of all of the resources that are available to them. There is also the Men’s Empowerment Zone, Taylor said. 

“Empowerment Zone, which we are creating on the second floor of Boyd Hall, focuses on improving the actual physical environment for the students,” Taylor said.

When it is completed, Taylor said the empowerment zone will include a gym with equipment to help the men stay in shape, as well as upgrade the barbershop. He said a computer lab is also being developed in partnership with the Career Development Center, and there will be a conference center where students can do online interviews with potential employers.

For more information on the Tennessee State University Male Initiative, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/mancenter/

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.

Ag officials hope tariffs not long term

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University agriculture officials say they hope President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods is not long term.

Last month, Trump announced that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would go up from 10 percent to 25 percent. The U.S. has also begun investigating whether $300 billion of other Chinese goods could be subject to tariffs.

And last week, the president announced a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican goods, starting June 10, if that country does not substantially halt illegal immigration across the border.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, said the tariffs are affecting producers, and that federal government subsidies may not be enough to help farmers who have to take out loans to make ends meet.

Trump unveiled a $16 billion bailout last month for farmers hurt by the trade war.

“It’s very unfortunate that agriculture gets caught in this crossfire,” Reddy said. “It’s not good for us, not good for the rest of the world. Hopefully this is short term.”

Finis Stribling is an area extension specialist and coordinator of the New Farmer Academy at TSU. He and a friend have a farm that grows cotton, corn, soybeans and rice, and they’re feeling the effect of the tariffs.

However, Stribling noted that vegetable farmers are not really affected right now, because they can set their prices.

“It just depends on what part of agriculture you’re in, whether it’s the vegetable market, the livestock market, or the grain market,” he said.

Farm groups have warned the White House against proposed new tariffs on Mexico, saying they could trigger retaliatory trade actions from Mexico and again impede exports to one of the top markets for U.S. crops and meat.  

The National Pork Producers Council, a trade group, estimated that tariffs over the last year from Mexico and China so far have cost U.S. pork producers $2.5 billion.

Despite the trade war, there is still interest in farming. Currently, more than 50 prospective farmers from across the country are participating in TSU’s New Farmer Academy, which covers topics like hydroponics and irrigation, farm equipment selection, and organic production.

Brian MacDonald travels from Orange County, California, to attend the seven-month class that meets the third Monday in each month. He said he’s aware of the effect tariffs are having on farmers, but he’s not letting it discourage him from becoming an organic farmer.

“I have this dream of owning a farm,” said MacDonald, who is a retired president and chief financial officer for an electronics company. “It’s a dream I’ve had for the last couple of years.”

For more information 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.

Office of Emergency Management participates in campus preparedness exercise

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State’s Office of Emergency Management recently participated in an exercise to better prepare the university for an emergency event.

Besides the OEM, the exercise on May 23, which simulated a bioterrorism attack, involved the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Tennessee Department of Military, and the 45th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team.

“There are simple steps that everyone can take to prepare themselves and their loved ones for emergencies: be informed, make a plan, build a disaster supply kit, and get involved through opportunities that support community preparedness,” said Dr. Curtis Johnson, chief of staff and associate vice president for administration.

“By gathering supplies to meet basic needs, discussing what to do during an emergency with your family in advance, and being aware of the risks and appropriate actions, you will be better prepared for the unexpected and can help better prepare your community and the country.”

Last year, TSU was selected to host the Best Practices in Higher Education Emergency Management Conference.

TSU, the first HBCU selected to host the conference, was recognized for its unique urban-agriculture and cutting-edge emergency preparedness initiatives that have earned the university many accolades, including a Storm Ready designation.

As a result of the recognition, TSU was presented with the Best Practice Trophy at the 2017 conference, and subsequently selected to host the one in 2018.

Please visit https://www.ready.gov, or call 1-800-BE-READY, to learn more about preparedness activities.

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.

Homelessness to higher Ed: Memphis teen who graduated valedictorian and received more than $3M in scholarship offers, finds a home at TSU

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover traveled to her hometown of Memphis last week, she had one goal in mind:  Bring back Tupac Moseley.

Moseley had recently graduated valedictorian of his class at Raleigh-Egypt High School, and received $3 million in scholarships, all while homeless his senior year. This hands-on treatment didn’t go unnoticed by the shy teen. 

President Glenda Glover presents Tupac Moseley with his full-ride scholarship letter. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“For the president herself to drive down to one of the schools to actually assist a student personally, one-on-one, to take him or her up there for a visit, it’s just mind blowing to me,” said Moseley, who will major in engineering.

Dr. Glover personally led a team of senior university officials to Memphis and presented Moseley with a full-ride scholarship, including housing and a meal plan. 

 “Tupac is not homeless anymore,” Glover said to the throng of media representatives and a cheering crowd assembled in the school cafeteria during a celebration for the teen. “He now has his own room with a meal plan with all the necessary amenities to help him continue his success as an academically talented student. That’s what we do. We are an HBCU, we care about our students. It is in our DNA that we can see a student with this much potential and talent and see what we can do to assist him even before he starts his academic journey.”

President Glover and Tupac Moseley answer reporters’ question at a press conference in Memphis. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Moseley’s remarkable story of perseverance and success amidst homelessness and poverty has made national headlines. The 18-year-old became homeless in his senior year after his father died and the family could not afford the mounting bills. They moved to a campsite for the disadvantaged. In the midst of the hardship, the Memphis native found a way to stay focused in school, and “staying on top of everything that came his way in class work,” his high school principal said. He graduated with a 4.3 grade point average.

“Tupac is an amazing individual with excellent math knowledge,” said principal Shari Meeks.   “He has taken the highest-level math here that we offer. He has attained college credits. He took a statewide dual credit challenge test in pre-calculus and passed it. He could have gone to any school in the nation. I think TSU will have an asset in Tupac. He is awesome and revered by his classmates – he helps them, he tutors them.”

Tupac Moseley blows the candles on his pre-birthday cake at a send-off reception Raleigh-Egypt High School hosted for the incoming TSU freshman. His birthday was May 23. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

 At a sendoff reception for Moseley in the principal’s conference room, the standing room only audience included state and county Who’s Who, such as State Rep. Antonio Parkinson (District 98), who was instrumental in the TSU/Moseley talks; and Dr. Joris M. Ray, superintendent of Shelby County Schools.

Parkinson described Moseley as the “best and brightest talent that has ever been produced in Shelby County.”

“This is just the culmination of a lot of things that’s been going on,” Parkinson said about the reception. “Losing his father, homelessness, that was just too much for anyone. What we have done is just pull resources together to make sure that we provide the stability for him and Tennessee State University was part of the strategy to create that stability for one of our best and brightest talents.”

Superintendent Ray was thankful for the support system at the school – principal, teachers, counselors.

“This young man is a testament of being very resilient and strong,” Ray said. “I am so proud of his hard work, dedication, and he defied the odds with a great support system here at school that helped him to overcome and achieve in the midst of turmoil. I am so proud of Tupac, what he has done here, what he has done for our city and school district.”

As a way of telling his story and helping others facing hardship, Moseley created his own T-shirt based on his quote, “Your location is not your limitation.” He earned 50 scholarships worth a total of $3 million. He said he is majoring in engineering “because I love the smiles I get after helping people with tech issues.”

Moseley is not coming to TSU alone. Two other fellow graduates, including his best friend, Brandon Fontaine, also received scholarships and will attend TSU with him. President Glover included them in the trip back to campus on Wednesday as well. Fontaine is considering majoring in business management or mechanical engineering. The other student, Natoriya Owens, who wants to pursue a career in entrepreneurship, will major in theater arts with a minor in business.

President Glover added that this is what makes HBCUs so special for African Americans, and particularly first-generation college students and communities of color.

“This is the type of hands-on, special attention TSU provides our students, and especially those with unusual circumstances. It also speaks to the holistic approach and nurturing that HBCUs provide to students. Tupac is a prime example of the role TSU and other HBCUs play in addressing the total needs of our students.” 

Tennessee State University is currently accepting students for the fall and have scholarships available for qualified students who want to major in STEM. 

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.

NASA ‘Dare to Dream’ STEM Education Workshop Engages 200 Students in Robotics, Flight Simulation, Math Games

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 200 students in grades K-8 from Davidson County and surrounding areas recently took part in a NASA-funded, one-day STEM education workshop at Tennessee State University.

A parent participates with her children in an activity at Dare to Dream STEM Saturday. (Submitted Photo)

Called “Dare to Dream STEM Saturday,” the workshop in April engaged students in scientific experiments, and engineering design processes, such as robotics, coding, drones, virtual reality, flight simulation and math games.

 The TSU College of Education, in partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools, hosted the workshop under the Minority University Research Education Project, or MUREP, a NASA program at the university.  

Led by TSU undergraduate STEM students and MNPS teachers, the workshop included a Family Engagement component that allowed parents to engage their children in the various projects.

A student controls a robot using a tablet. (Submitted Photo)

“Dare to Dream STEM Saturday was designed to celebrate minority innovators in science, technology, engineering and math,” said Dr. Trinetia Respress, director of the TSU MUREP project and interim assistant dean of Assessment and Accreditation in the COE. “It was very rewarding to see students and parents engaged in brainstorming in various activities.”

Among some of the activities, students used an engineering process to build a structure that could handle a load, by testing factors affecting the strength and stability of the structure. Using a template, the students also created a rocket that they launched from a soda straw.

Shaliyah Brooks, a junior English major, from Atlanta, was one of the TSU students who led the workshop. As a technology specialist for the workshop, she exposed the students to  robots through demonstrations on how they work, using devices such as parents’ personal phones or tablets.

A mother and daughter celebrate as they complete an activity at the workshop. (Submitted Photo)

“I definitely think that the students were excited to be there,” Brooks said. “They got a chance to play all day and in a way that was educational. They were very hands-on working with their parents.”

For more information on the Tennessee Minority University Research and Education Project at TSU, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/murep/about.aspx

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.

Future Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Beats the Odds, Grateful to TSU for Opportunities

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – From the 5th grade, Christian Bond always had an interest in biology and how the human body works

“I remember being in a human anatomy class in the 10th grade and just being fascinated with how the various mechanisms are put in naturally,” says Bond, a top rising senior majoring in biology. “That has always been interesting to me. So, I wanted to further my education in science to understand the biology of the body.”

Christian Bond

And Bond is well on her way.  Her goal is to become a doctor of osteopathic medicine, which focuses on health promotion and disease prevention.

“First, I wanted to be a neurosurgeon or a pediatric doctor, but I know for sure now I want to do osteopathic medicine,” says Bond, a transfer student from Alabama State University. “That is just a more holistic approach on medicine versus prescribing pills and things like that. I want to be able to figure out what other factors play into an illness and other ways to heal.”

At TSU, Bond is a member of the Honors College, with a 4.0 grade point average. She is also a member of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Pre-Med Society, the Golden Key International Honor Society, and Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society.

The second of three children from Chris and Traci Bond, of Nashville, Christian Bond has had a few bumps in the road that would have derailed some students’ career. But not this Nashville native, a high achieving student all her college years.

The mother of a 6-month-old boy, Bond got pregnant while in her sophomore year at ASU. She came back home for family support and never allowed her pregnancy to hold her back. She enrolled at TSU a few weeks later, and never missed a day of class work.

“It was during my sophomore year while home on spring break when I found out that I was pregnant. I stayed home for three weeks past spring break,” says Bond. “I went back to Alabama State, but right away decided it would be best if I came home for support that would help me further my education because I was halfway there as a sophomore.”

Professors and fellow students are amazed at Christian’s work ethic, sense of ambition and perseverance.

Dr. Tyrone Miller, associate director of the Honors Colleges, teaches an honors leadership class during Maymester, an accelerated summer program that Christian attends. He describes her as a highly responsible and dependable person who stays on top of her work and an example to her fellow students.

“Christian is definitely a thinker, she is thoughtful, and definitely a person who wants and strives to be better,” says Miller. “I think she is setting a great example to the rest of our students and her baby.”

Christian says her family has a long tradition with TSU.

“All of my family from both sides graduated from TSU,” she says. “I have come in contact with professors who really care about my success and really devoted to helping me move to that next level.  Most of my professors let you know about opportunities or societies or organizations on campus to help you stay active. I want to leave a mark here.”

Christian says she looks forward to graduating next May, then on to medical school.

“I have taken full advantage of opportunities here at Tennessee State University and I cannot wait to see where they will take me and my baby,” says the future doctor of osteopathic medicine.

For enrollment and other student success programs at TSU, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/emss/

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 Summer Bridge Program Receives $80,000 in Funding to Provide Learning Support for Incoming First-Time Freshmen

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A TSU summer bridge program that helps first-time freshmen brush up on math, reading and writing, has received an $80,000 boost from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

The Summer Completion Academy, a rigorous one-week program designed to ensure student success, will use the grant to give 300 students in the academy the opportunity to satisfy learning support requirements prior to their first semester of enrollment.

The program will run over two sessions between June 23-29, and July 14-20, 2019. Students participating in the program have already been accepted to TSU for the fall semester.

“Our focus for the grant is to work with students who are at risk,” said Tiffany Bellafant Steward, assistant vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Success. “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.

According to Steward, the academy, now in its third year, has a “huge” success rate.

“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.

Tyren Griffin, a business administration major, now in her second semester at TSU, participated in the SCA as an in-coming freshman. She said the program helped her be better prepared for her college work.

“I really enjoyed my SCA experience,” said Griffin, a Chicago native. “In addition to helping me be better prepared for my academic work, the program definitely benefited me because I was able to get to know people that had similar goals for success.”

For more information on the Summer Completion Academy, go to https://bit.ly/2vWQkgj.

Information on other summer programs at TSU is available at http://www.tnstate.edu/events/camps.aspx

Tennessee State University’s World-Renowned New Direction Choir to Be Featured Guest on BET’s ‘Sunday Best’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – They have performed for the Pope, and have been called the best college choir in the nation, but if you think you have seen the best of the TSU New Direction Choir, think again.

New Direction Choir Director Justin Butler, right, leads the group during taping of of their upcoming appearance on BET’s Sunday Best. (Submitted Photo)

The world-renowned choir has been selected to appear as featured performer on BET’s hit show “Sunday Best,” a reality television gospel music singing competition series.

The choir will appear in an episode of the show which airs this fall. They will perform gospel hits selected by the show’s producers. On May 9, the group spent the day taping their upcoming performance in the Tyler Perry Studio in Atlanta.

“We are just excited and grateful,” said Justin Butler, director of New Direction, who called the invitation a “total surprise and a wild moment.”

He said one of the producers of Sunday Best (Torrance Glenn) “called us out of the blue” and said he had been following New Direction for a long time, and when he needed a choir to perform behind the contestants, the TSU group “instantly” came to mind.

The choir performs at one of its many concerts during the European tour. (submitted Photo)

“It was a wild moment. We didn’t know we had impacted someone all the way in New York,” Butler said. “He just said, ‘I need you all as guest performers for this episode and I need you here’ by this time. He said he felt we would be the best to perform on the show behind the contestants.”

Kedrick Noel, a junior music education major from Memphis, is president of New Direction Choir. He said he got the call from Butler about the opportunity to appear on BET.

“It is just amazing. We are beyond grateful and blessed to have this opportunity to perform on BET Sunday Best,” Noel said. “It was just a blessing how everything worked out. The school was one hundred percent behind us, the choir was one hundred percent behind us.”

Last winter, New Direction spent 31 days touring and performing in different cities across Europe. The group held 24 concerts, including an appearance in the Vatican, where they met and performed for the Pope.

Concert goers cheer on the TSU New Direction Choir during a performance on the group’s recent European tour. (Submitted Photo)

“That was another wild moment,” said Butler. “The people were so excited to see us. They treated us like we were rock stars. The red carpet was laid out for us everywhere we went.”

In 2015, New Direction was voted the “Nation’s Best Gospel Choir ” with a $15,000 prize, when they took their final bow at the National College Choir Explosion in Louisville, Kentucky.

“It was overwhelming to see our students come out and work so hard,” primary group advisor Deborah Chisom, said at the time. “Even though I was not on stage with them, seeing them so excited was just very fulfilling.”

For more information on the TSU New Direction Gospel Choir, go to http://tnstatenewsroom.com/archives/tag/new-direction-choir

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.

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.