Category Archives: NEWS

Tigerbelles Claim Fourth OVC Outdoor Championship

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (TSU Sports Information) – The Tigerbelles took to the track for the final event of the 2015 Ohio Valley Conference Championships needing a victory and a little help to claim the team title for the first time since 2008. The Tennessee State women’s track program has been historically known for its sprinters and most importantly, the relay teams.

Amber Hughes, Diera Taylor, Christian Pryor and Kayla Pryor continued the tradition as they teamed up for the 4×400 relay and crossed the line first in a time of 3:44.96. The fourth outdoor championship was captured for TSU as Austin Peay finished two seconds ahead of Eastern Illinois, who entered the final event 2.5 points ahead of the Tigerbelles.

“I am so excited right now,” said head coach Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice. “These young ladies stepped up and got it done. We are down in numbers, but the numbers we had showed out against the larger squads. I am so proud to be a Tigerbelle.”

TigerbellesTennessee State finished 128.5 points and was followed by Eastern Illinois with 127, Austin Peay at 119 and defending champions Southeast Missouri with 105.5.

Cheeseborough was named Women’s Coach of the Year as she collected her eighth title, four outdoor and four indoor, as the head of the Tigerbelles.

The two-day event had many delays due to lightning and heavy rains. Despite the delays, TSU still managed to claim seven events and 23 scoring finishes.

Hughes led the way as she claimed four top finishes and broke a 29-year old record. The sophomore broke the tape in 13.27 in the 100-meter hurdles to erase a OVC Championship mark which had been around since 1986.

Hughes also claimed the top spot in the 200-meter dash (23.66) and the triple jump (12.90m/42-04.00). The Atlanta, Ga., product was also a member of the 4×100 relay team that placed third.

Clairwin Dameus won the heptathlon for the second consecutive year as she amassed 5,396 points. The total was three points shy of her OVC record of 5,399 set in 2014.

Dameus continued her busy weekend as she finished second in the long jump with a leap of 6.16m (20-02.50) and placed sixth in the 400-meter hurdles (1:04.35). The junior was also a member of the third place 4×100 team.

Freshman Kayla Pryor and sophomore I’mani Davis recorded the final two individual championships for the Tigerbelles. Pryor claimed the title in the 400-meter hurdles in a time of 1:00.18, while Davis won the high jump as she cleared the bar in her second attempt at 1.73m (5-08.00).

Davis, a member of the Lady Tigers basketball team, became the first athlete in TSU history to be a part of OVC championships teams in two separate sports. The Tulsa, Okla. native is a two-year starter with the Lady Tigers and just completed her first season with the Tigerbelles.

The Flying Tigers finished sixth on the men’s side with 34 points. TSU had eight scoring finishes led by Quamel Prince. The sophomore broke a record in the 800-meter run that was set in 1976. Prince finished in 1:48.41, besting the previous record by 0.63 seconds. The would-be record-setting run was spoiled by Ephraim Dorsey of Eastern Illinois who out-leaned Prince by .26 seconds to claim the honors.

Prince joined forces with Jason Griffin, Jakeenan Guthrie and Theodore Nicholson to finish in 3:18.84, good for fourth, in the 4×400 meter relay.

 

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 45 undergraduate, 24 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 Alum Judge Curtis L. Collier to Receive the 2015 American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Sixth Circuit

judge_2938
The Honorable Curtis L. Collier

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Honorable Curtis L. Collier has been selected to receive the prestigious 2015 American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the Sixth Circuit. The award will be presented May 14, at the Sixth Circuit’s Annual Judicial Conference in Detroit by Chief Judge R. Guy Cole Jr., and Judge Pamela L. Reeves. Collier is only the second judge from Tennessee, the second African-American and the second District judge to receive the award.

A native of Arkansas, Collier earned a B.S. degree in chemistry from Tennessee State University in 1971, where he was an Air Force ROTC scholarship recipient. Collier received his J.D. in 1974 from Duke University.

Collier is a Senior U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee, and was nominated to the post by President William J. Clinton in 1995. Previously, Collier served as Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney in charge of the Chattanooga Branch Office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the district.

Collier spent the early part of his career in the office of the U.S. attorney in New Orleans, Louisiana, eventually rising to become Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division and Chief of the General Crimes Unit. He was an adjunct professor of trial advocacy at Tulane University Law School. He also has taught at the Department of Justice National Advocacy Center at the University of South Carolina and at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

He served active duty in the U.S. Air Force as a captain in the Judge Advocate General’s Department, fulfilling various roles at postings in Georgia, the Philippines, and California. Collier litigated approximately 30 cases before Courts-Martial or administrative boards.

Collier is a member of the Justices Ray L. Brock Jr. and Robert E. Cooper American Inn of Court, as well as his respective local, state and national bar associations. He serves on the Criminal Law Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States and the Federal Judicial Center’s District Judge Education Advisory Committee.

The American Inns of Court Professionalism Awards are awarded in participating federal circuits, to a lawyer or judge whose life and practice display sterling character, unquestioned integrity, and dedication to the highest standards of the legal profession and the rule of law. The award is presented at the circuit’s judicial conference and recipients will be recognized in October at the 2015 American Inns of Court Celebration of Excellence at the Supreme Court of the United States.

 

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 45 undergraduate, 24 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.

Graduation Fulfills Dreams for Many as Nearly 1,000 Receive Degrees at TSU’s 2015 Spring Undergraduate Commencement

Glover Wharton
President Glenda Glover and Commencement Speaker, Mayor AC Wharton, march in the procession during the Spring 2015 Undergraduate Commencement in Hale Stadium

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Michaiah Hinds’ greatest gift for graduating college at Tennessee State University today was for his 82-year-old grandmother to see him go across the aisle to receive his degree.

“When I was in the fourth grade my grandmother told me she wouldn’t be around when I graduated from high school,” said Hinds. He did not only prove his grandmother wrong by graduating high school, the Milwaukee native received a bachelor’s degree with honors as a double major in Computer Science and Mass Communications. He has already been accepted to study theology at Wake Forest University in the fall.

Grandma
Michaiah Hinds proved his grandmother, 82-year-old Wilma Weddle wrong by graduating from college while she is still alive, something she said wouldn’t happen before he graduated high school. Sitting behind, left, is Michaiah’s father Mark, and another relative who came for his graduation.

“I feel joy and blessed to still be here and see him complete college,” said Wilma Weddle, a retired nurse, who led a team of more than 30 people from Milwaukee, including Hinds’ parents and other family members and friend sporting specially designed T-shirts and carrying a congratulatory banner to cheer on Hinds. “Michaiah has always been a good boy who believes in himself just as we taught him when he was growing up.”

For Hinds, the commencement message about “being yourself” was a refresher, as Memphis Mayor AC Wharton, a TSU alum and renowned lawyer told the graduates that the key to success is having confidence and believing in oneself.

“With the advent of modern technology such as social media, there is too much distraction that has taken away our capability to pay attention to each other, and appreciate our own abilities because of gadgets that have taken away our sense of personal touch,” Wharton said. “I am not against technology, but sometime we need to leave our machines and give our full attention to someone who means something to us.”

On his emphasis to “be,” Wharton called on the nearly 1,000 students receiving degrees in TSU’s first undergraduates-only commencement in Hale Stadium to learn to adapt to the changing times and circumstances around them.

“Some of you may have changed majors several times, or life may not have panned as you planned, but you must learn to adapt by being creative, assertive and determined and believing in yourself,” said Wharton, who is in his second term as mayor of Memphis, one the nation’s thriving and fastest growing cities. “Fight to be the best in you than trying to be someone else. Believe in a better world by believing in the possibilities of today. You can be the difference in all the problems that is going on across the nation.”

Lewis
Outgoing Student Government President Markeil Lewis receives thunderous applause as he is acknowledged by President Glover as an outstanding student and leader.

For Wharton, speaking at TSU’s spring commencement is a “homecoming.” TSU is where he got his start in higher education, earning a bachelor’s degree with honors in Political Science in 1962. He did not miss on the opportunity to congratulate Memphis native and TSU President Glenda Glover, referring to her as “the best president” Tennessee State University has ever had.

“You are doing a remarkable job here at our alma mater. Congratulations for being a great leader at this institution,” Wharton said.

Earlier, the president welcomed Mayor Wharton, and congratulated the graduates for their achievement.

“I applaud you for achieving this extraordinary milestone in your life,” President Glover said. “You have endured and in the process you have increased your resources for success. Do not forget to thank your parents, relatives, friends and those who were there to see you through this journey.”

Today’s ceremony was a culmination of TSU’s 2015 Dual Commencement Exercises. On Friday, the University held its first graduate commencement, at which more that 300 received advanced degrees, including master’s, education specialist degrees, Ph.Ds., and Ed.Ds.

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 45 undergraduate, 24 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.

NAACP Leader Tells TSU Graduates to be Change Agents as More Than 300 receive Advanced Degrees

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 300 students received advanced degrees Friday during Tennessee State University’s first graduate commencement, but not before hearing a strong appeal from the leader of one of the nation’s top civil rights organizations calling on the graduates to be agents of change.

“By completing your education and achieving at this level you have prepared yourselves to be the hopes and dreams of tomorrow’s generation,” said Dr. Roslyn M. Brock, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “Society cannot now hand you anything that you cannot handle.”

Brock Glover
Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover presents a plaque to Dr. Roslyn M. Brock in appreciation of Dr. Brock’s “inspiring” address at the University’s first Graduate Commencement Friday.

Brock, the youngest person to lead the 106-year-old civil rights organization, said the current wave of issues facing the nation will only be solved with everyone involved and playing their part.

“Our nation and communities are faced with economic imbalance, issue of race, unemployment and hunger. It is incumbent on you to recognize and ensure that all Americans have access to quality education, jobs and a fair legal system,” Brock said. “Become proactive and not reactive in addressing the issues going on in the country.”

Saying that success is achieved “by us helping one another,” Brock akin her remark to an African parable of a migration of a herd of elephants trying to cross a river, where the bigger elephants line themselves in the form of a bridge to help the smaller elephants get cross.

“So too as you have succeeded, do not forget to get back in the water to help somebody make it to the other side. Never forget that life is about others,” Brock told the graduates, adding, “The future is in your hands; you are going somewhere, don’t stop now.”

Earlier, before address the graduates, the NAACP leader extolled the “remarkable leadership” of President Glenda Glover, describing her as an “extraordinary woman doing great things at Tennessee State University.

“This is a remarkable woman who is doing great things at this university and molding students who are exemplifying the Tennessee State University motto of “Think, Work, Serve,” she said.

Brock’s remarks highlighted the first part of a dual 2015 spring commencement ceremonies. On Saturday, Memphis, Tennessee, Mayor AC Wharton, will give the commencement address when nearly 1,000 undergraduate students receive their degrees during a ceremony in Hale Stadium.

Those graduating Friday received master’s degrees; education specialist degrees, and doctorate degrees including Ed.D., and Ph.D.

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 45 undergraduate, 24 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 to Host Defense Department Center of Excellence on Cyber Security

University to be part of $5 million multi-institution grant

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Since the 1970s, the area of cyberspace has developed into a constant evolving system of internet-based technologies that could cripple the nation and the U.S. military.

TeamAFRLGlobeIllustrationNo longer is the battle confined to a geographical area. Military commands at every level now face threats from cyberspace of potential attacks that can cause serious damage to the military’s infrastructure, such as hacking into systems to introduce malware, malicious hardware and crashing networks.

Now, in an attempt to counter cyberthreats from other countries, the U.S. Defense Department will develop a new strategy on how to respond to foreign threat with, Tennessee State University at the forefront by helping reduce the potential risk stemming from cyber attacks.

To counter future threats to the nation’s military capabilities, the Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded a $5 million collaborative grant to three universities, including TSU, to establish a Center of Excellence in Cyber Security. Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University are the other members of the five-year cooperative team.

The Center, according to the AFRL, will advance the research capabilities of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority-Serving Institutions. It will also contribute to the education of students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, and provide additional research opportunities for faculty.

“The Center of Excellence will respond to the Department of Defense’s demand for analysis, detection and response technologies to protect the cyber infrastructure,” said Dr. S.K. Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering. “The Center will further enhance TSU’s research capacity in cyber security.”

The research objective of the grant, made on behalf of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, is to create a Center of Excellence to develop a big data analytics enabled Cyber Analysis, Simulation and Experimentation Environment (CASE-V) to enhance situational awareness and decision-support capabilities for cyber defense and training.

Dr. Sachin Shetty
Dr. Sachin Shetty

The Center will have a satellite site at TSU, headed by Dr. Sachin Shetty, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He will operate specific task orders with the Cyber Security Laboratory within the TIGER (TSU Interdisciplinary Graduate Engineering Research) Institute, located in the Research & Sponsored Programs Building.

“The Center of Excellence will develop analysis, detection and response capabilities to counter future advanced persistent threats plaguing the DoD cyber infrastructure,” said Shetty. “In addition, the Center will also develop a Live-Virtual-Constructive test bed to conduct cyber planning and training activities, as well as enable increased synergistic research collaboration with government, industry and HBCU partners.”

This is the second award TSU has received from the AFRL to study the development, discovery and integration of warfighting technologies to support air, space and cyberspace forces with the Department of Defense. In November 2013, the College of Engineering received a multiyear grant worth nearly $2 million to study power sources for air and space vehicles, and to study how to intelligently adapt communications and networks to provide friendly forces unfettered and reliable communications during joint forces operations.

 

 

 

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 45 undergraduate, 24 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’s Tiffany Steward Named Maxine Smith Fellow of the Tennessee Board of Regents

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tiffany Bellafant Steward, director of New Student Orientation and First-Year Students at Tennessee State University, has been named a Maxine Smith Fellow with the Tennessee Board of Regents. As a Maxine Smith Fellow, Steward will have the opportunity to experience how decisions are made at the TBR senior administrative and governing board levels.

Tiffany Steward
Tiffany Steward

The fellowship, established in 2002 as a TBR central office Geier initiative, is designed to provide African-American TBR employees the opportunity to participate in a working and learning environment that enhances work experience and career development. The objective is to increase the academic and professional credentials of the fellows, as well as help to increase the number of qualified applicants from underrepresented groups for senior-level administrative positions at TBR institutions.

“It is a great honor to be selected as a Maxine Smith Fellow to represent Tennessee State University,” said Steward, who was nominated by TSU President Glenda Glover.  “This opportunity will prepare me for future career aspirations in higher education and help to impact student success on my campus.”

Dr. Maxine Smith, a pioneer in the civil rights movement in Tennessee, after whom the fellowship is named, was executive secretary of the Memphis Branch of the NAACP from 1962 to 1995. In 1971, she became the first African American to be elected to the Memphis Board of Education. In 2003, Dr. Smith and former President Bill Clinton received the prestigious Freedom Award by the National Civil Rights Museum.

“I thank President Glover for nominating me for this prestigious professional development program,” Steward said after receiving her fellowship.

Other former TSU Maxine Smith Fellows are Dr. Cheryl Green, assistant vice president for Student Affairs; and Tiffany Cox, director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, who were members of the Classes of 2014 and 2013, respectively.

 

 

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 45 undergraduate, 24 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 Spring Commencement Ceremonies to Feature Two Prominent Speakers

NAACP Chairman Roslyn Brock and Memphis Mayor AC Wharton to Inspire Graduates

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The dual spring commencement exercises at Tennessee State University will feature two prominent national figures who will speak to the 1,312 undergraduate and graduate students receiving degrees in various disciplines.

Roslyn M. Brock
Roslyn M. Brock

Roslyn M. Brock, chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, and the youngest person to lead the 106-year-old civil rights organization, will give the keynote address at the graduate commencement ceremony in the Gentry Complex at 5 p.m., Friday, May 8.

On Saturday, May 9, at 9 a.m., the Mayor of Memphis, Tennessee, TSU alumnus and renowned lawyer AC Wharton, will address undergraduate students during their commencement in Hale Stadium.

At the graduate commencement, Brock is expected to talk to the graduates about leadership, coping in the workplace, and a vision for the future. Named in Essence magazine’s list of the “40 Fierce and Fabulous Women Who are Changing the World,” Brock is a Diamond Life Member of the NAACP. She has served the organization in various leadership positions starting as a Youth Board Member representing the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

As vice chairman of the NAACP Board Health Committee in 1988, she championed the creation of a standing health committee to advocate for quality, accessible and affordable health care for vulnerable and economically challenged communities.

An expert grant writer, Brock has secured millions of dollars in philanthropic support for the NAACP. From 1999-2010, she chaired the NAACP’s National Convention Planning Committee, in which role she instituted fiscal policies that resulted in the Annual Convention becoming a profit center for the Association.

She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the George Washington University, the American Public Health Association; American College of Health Services Executives; Association of Healthcare Philanthropy; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and The LINKS Inc. Brock holds a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Union University, a master’s degree in health services administration from George Washington University, an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and a Master of Divinity degree from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University.

She is currently the vice president for Advocacy and Government Relations for Bon Secours Health System, Inc., in Marriottsville, Maryland.

Mayor AC Wharton
Mayor AC Wharton

On Saturday, undergraduate students receiving their degrees will hear words of encouragement and how to cope in the changing word from a man who has achieved many “firsts” in his lifetime, and as mayor of one of America’s thriving and fastest growing cities. A lawyer for nearly 45 years, Wharton is in his second term as mayor of Memphis, having previously served for two terms as the first African-American elected mayor of Shelby County, Tennessee. He is known for initiating a number of programs that have reduced crime, improved city services, enhanced quality of life, and created new good-paying jobs for Memphians. Under Wharton’s leadership, Memphis is part of national conversations about cities, including the Obama White House, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Brookings Institution, CEOs for Cities, and the Mayor’s Institute of Civic Design.

Under Wharton’s leadership Memphis is reinvesting in safe and vibrant neighborhoods, creating jobs and prosperity of all, giving every child a fair start in life through early childhood development, and a high-performing government that fights crime and inefficiency.

For Wharton, speaking at TSU’s spring commencement is a “homecoming.” TSU is where he got his start in higher education, earning a bachelor’s degree with honors in Political Science in 1962. He later entered the University of Mississippi Law School, where he was one of the first African-American students to serve on the Moot Court Board and the first African-American to serve on the Judicial Council.  He graduated with honors in 1971, and three years later, he became the first African-American professor of law at University of Mississippi, a position that he held for 25 years.

At this year’s spring commencements, 925 graduating seniors will receive bachelor’s degrees, while 387 students will receive graduate degrees. Among those receiving advanced degrees are eight Ph.Ds., nine Ed.Ds., and 35 Doctors of Physical Therapy. Eleven others will receive education specialist degrees, and 32 will receive graduate certificates.

 

IF YOU GO:

Friday, May 8, 5 p.m.
Graduate Commencement
Gentry Complex

Saturday, May 9, 9 a.m.
Undergraduate Commencement
Hale Stadium

 

 

 

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 45 undergraduate, 24 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.

27 TSU Students Graduate from Newly Formed Nashville Collegiate Citizen Police Academy

Training Discusses Trust, Brutality, Racism and Need for Continued Dialogue

Mayor
Mayor Carl Dean addresses graduates of the first class of Nashville’s Collegiate Citizen Police Academy, held at Tennessee State University. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Graduation came a little early last night for 27 Tennessee State University students …but not from college. The students are part of Nashville’s first class of a newly formed Collegiate Citizen Police Academy organized by the Nashville Metro Police Department.

Mayor Carl Dean, Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson, TSU Police Chief Anthony Carter, and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Michael Freeman, were on hand to congratulate the graduates, who underwent five weeks of learning the intricacies of police work. The training also gave the students the opportunity to discuss trust, issues of brutality and racism with officers.

Before the training, like many in the wake of mounting allegations and suspicions of police abuse targeted at African Americans, 21-year-old Tyler Ellis, held some very strong opinions. But he always wanted to get a behind-the-scene feel of actual police intervention and reaction beyond what is usually portrayed on television.

Ellis
Tyler Ellis receives his certificate from Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson, and TSU Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Michael Freeman. The junior Criminal Justice major said the training was an eye-opener for him when it came to actually understanding what police officers face each day. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“What we usually see is very disturbing,” said Ellis, a junior Criminal Justice major from Waterbury, Connecticut. “In many cases that’s the result, but I like to also understand what the police officer was faced with in the beginning. This training gave us new insights into what officers go through daily, and that what we usually see on television many times changes the perspectives on what actually happened.”

Calling the academy very timely, Mayor Dean thanked TSU President Glenda Glover, and Reverend Frank Stevenson, who came up with the idea of the Collegiate Citizen Police Academy, for allowing the program to take place with TSU students on the campus.

“We hope through this program and many others we have collaborated on, people will know that in Nashville, we have a strong relationship with our institutions,” Dean said. “Nashville is not perfect but it is through programs like this that we can have an honest dialogue about how we move on. This program has made the TSU neighborhood and Nashville a better place.”

Police Chief Anderson described the training as “the kind of dialogue” that has helped Nashville keep away from the kinds of disturbances with police and citizens across the nation.

“We are accountable for one another,” he said. “We are not perfect. This kind of program is so valuable for our community and country.”

As a follow-up to their training, the graduates have been assigned to the various police precincts across the city, where they must complete ride-along duties over the next two months, according to Metro Police Sgt. Mitch Kornberg, who coordinated the training along with Sgt. Raymond Jones.

“These graduates are not police officers and are not given any police duty,” Kornberg said. “The ride-along is an opportunity to work with officers on shifts to give them a better understanding of what officers do. This helps them to see things differently and understand that things are not always what they appear.”

Stevenson
Reverend Frank Stevenson, a local pastor and the director of Strategic Populations in the Office of Student Affairs at TSU, talks to the media about what prompted him to come up with the idea of the Collegiate Citizen Police Academy. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The idea for the Collegiate Citizen Police Academy is the brainchild of Reverend Stevenson, pastor of St. Luke Primitive Baptist Church and director of Strategic Populations in the Office of Student Affairs.

“I wanted to establish a forum that would bring young black men together with police in the wake of the protests and outrage that stemmed from allegations of racially motivated police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri, New York City and beyond,” Stevenson said.

He joined forces with the Reverend Enoch Fuzz, pastor of Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church to bring the idea to Police Chief Anderson, who right away embraced it and in a few weeks, the academy was underway.

Along with Ellis other graduates included: Nawaf Aldosari, Tevin Cannon, Mark Clear, Jamarius Cooper, Anthony Daniels, Oluwatolin Emonowa, Zach Eskew, Byron Fisher, Haggaikiah Futch, Ryan Gammon and Kadarrious Greene. Also graduating were Jamaul Greenlee, Malik Hayes, Rico Hunt, James Jefferson, David Jenkins, Davis Washington, Jalen Moore, Christopher Penilton, Justin Roberson, James Scott, Vantorius Stewart, Dominique Thomas, Lebron Worthington, Derion Munn and Quiadell Cousin.

Also making remarks at the ceremony were Dr. Freeman, Chief Carter and the Reverend Fuzz.

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 45 undergraduate, 24 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.

Colleagues, Friends Reflect on Levi Watkins Legacy

Tennessee State University holds memorial service Monday, April 27

 

Dr. Levi Watkins (courtesy photo)
Dr. Levi Watkins (courtesy photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Word of the death of one of the most prominent cardiac surgeons in the world sent a shock wave of emotions throughout the medical community when Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., passed from a massive heart attack April 11. Watkins was 70.

Dr. Watkins, a TSU alum, was not only a renowned surgeon, but also a civil rights and political activist who broke through racial barriers. He was the first African American admitted to Vanderbilt Medical school, the first surgeon to successfully implant an automatic heart defibrillator in a human patient, and a civil rights pioneer who helped fling open medical school doors to hundreds of students who had been excluded — as he had once been — because they were black.

TSU Dr Glenda Glover Fam Port 090513
Dr. Glenda Glover

“Dr. Watkins changed the world with his passion for medicine,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “He not only impacted the field of medicine, but he also inspired African-Americans to become doctors as he broke down the color barrier at two of the nation’s leading medical institutions. TSU will always remember his service to others, professional achievements, and dedication to his alma mater. He leaves a tremendous legacy that will surely inspire our students and others that follow in his footsteps.”

Born in Parsons, Kansas and the third of six children, Watkins made his way to Nashville by way of Memphis, Tennessee, to attend then Tennessee A&I State University where he majored in biology. Watkins was listed in the Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges, was the president of the Student Council from 1965-66, and national vice president of Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society. He was a member of the Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Society, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and the University Counselors.

Upon hearing the news of the passing of his friend of more than 50 years, Richard Sinkfield, now a lawyer in Atlanta, said he was greatly saddened and shocked, but privileged and blessed by his life, and times they shared.

RICHARD-H-SINKFIELD1
Richard Sinkfield

Sinkfield, who graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from TSU, first met Watkins during his freshman year when the fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, considered Watkins for membership.

“My fraternity brothers determined Levi would be a prime candidate for Student Council President three years before he would be eligible to run as a junior,” Sinkfield said. “He was selected to run and I was privileged to be a part of his campaign team. I placed his name in nomination for president of the student council at the convention, and Levi was elected.”

Their paths would continue to cross throughout the next five decades, even serving together as members of the Board of Trust at Vanderbilt University. Sinkfield said that Watkins was remembered at its most recent meeting shortly after his death, for his history-making admission to Vanderbilt Medical School, his pioneering contributions to the practice of cardiology and the leadership that he provided on the Board of Trust as Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, among other things.

But for all his accolades, Sinkfield added that Watkins never mentioned his own accomplishments, but maintained a laser like focus on issues related to civil and human rights and diversity.

“He was a very humble man,” Sinkfield said. “Our lives are much improved by the life that Levi lived.  We must be diligent to carry on his passion for excellence and the betterment of all humanity.”

Obie McKenzie
Obie McKenzie

Obie McKenzie, managing director of BlackRock Inc., another classmate while Watkins attended Tennessee State, remembered his friend and fraternity brother as “a great man and inspiration to many.”

“I kept thinking about my old friend and seeing his ‘then” lean frame at a lectern when we were back at Tennessee State many years ago and he was student body president,” said McKenzie. “An inspiration, I would also become SGA president. The world was a better place because he was here. My heart will miss him.”

Barbara Murrell, who returned to TSU in 1965 as Director of Student Activities after graduating in 1960, remembered her lifelong friend, as a humble and giving man.

Barbara Murrell
Barbara Murrell

“Dr. Watkins established the Robert N. Murrell (her husband) Scholarship fund in 1986 and had consistently supported it financially over the years,” she said. “He was a dear friend and he will be missed by all.”

After graduating with honors and at the urging of one of his biology professors at the University, Watkins applied and made history at Vanderbilt University, where he became the first African-American to study and graduate from the school with a medical degree. It was an experience he described over the years as “isolating and lonely,” but would be the first of many milestones. He learned he was accepted at Vanderbilt from a headline in a Nashville newspaper, and was still the only black enrolled there when he graduated in 1970.

Dr. John Tarpley, professor of Surgery and Anesthesiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, remembered his friend and colleague when they first met in 1966 as two of 54 students going through medical school. Tarpley recalled how it wasn’t easy for Watkins as he broke down yet another barrier as the first African-American student admitted to the school.

Dr. John Tarpley
Dr. John Tarpley

“Levi was an excellent student,” said Tarpley. “ His initial year was not so easy, in part, because of taunts he on occasion received in the dorms. He dealt with any discrimination there and elsewhere; he earned the respect of all at the medical school including faculty and students.”

After graduating from Vanderbilt, Dr. Watkins started a general surgery residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1970, where he became the first black chief resident of cardiac surgery. He left Baltimore for two years to conduct cardiac research at Harvard Medical School before returning to Johns Hopkins.

In 1980, Watkins gained renown for implanting the first automatic heart defibrillator in a patient suffering from repeated, life-threating episodes of ventricular fibrillation, or irregular heartbeats. Such a procedure now is commonplace, saving untold lives annually.

“His spirit lives on in the three million patients around the world whose hearts beat in a normal rhythm because of the implantable defibrillator,” said his brother, Donald Watkins, according to a statement posted on the American Heart Association website.

Watkins received honorary degrees from Morgan State University, Spelman College, Meharry Medical College, and Sojourner-Douglass College. He was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to the medical field.

He received the Thurgood Marshall College Fund award for excellence in medicine in 2010.In 2013, Watkins retired from John Hopkins after four decades.

He is survived by brothers Donald V. Watkins Sr., and James Watkins, sisters Annie Marie Garraway and Doristine L. Minott, and several nieces and nephews.

Tennessee State University will hold a memorial service on Monday, April 27 at the University. The service takes place at 10 a.m., in the Forum Auditorium of the Floyd-Payne Campus Center. General parking will be at the Gentry Center Complex with shuttle service provided.

Following the service, a showing of Dr. Watkins performing the first surgery of the automatic implantable defibrillator at Johns Hopkins from the Discovery Channel will be available for viewing.

 

 

Department of Media Relations

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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 45 undergraduate, 24 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.