Category Archives: Research and Sponsored Programs

Safe Drinking Water: TSU Student and Faculty Research Help to Keep Nation Water Supply Free of Pollutants

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JeTara Brown crawls through Mammoth Cave toward a water sampling sight. (Submitted Photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University student and faculty-led research findings are helping to keep the nation’s drinking water safe. According to reports from the recent National Cave and Karst Management Symposium in Cave City, Kentucky, two TSU graduate students and their professors presented findings on ways to improve water quality in the karst landscapes, a unique and fragile set of ecosystems that are dependent on clean stormwater recharge. Two-thirds of Tennessee has karst or karst-like landscape, including all of middle Tennessee. Their findings at Mammoth Cave have application to Nashville and the surrounding area.

Graduate students JeTara Brown and Hung Wai Ho, along with their professors in the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, partnered with federal agencies to investigate management practices that improve storm runoff from parking lots and spills in the Mammoth Cave National Park in south central Kentucky. The cave and karst systems serve as a habitat for unique ecosystems and sources of drinking water for much of the population.

According to Hung Wai, their research focused on the assessment and treatment of different pollutants in stormwater runoff in an urbanized area.

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Hung Wai Ho conducts a tracer study with Rhodamine dye in Mammoth Cave. (Submitted Photo)

“Water is a vital part of the environment but anthropogenic activities have been causing impairment to the water quality, especially in the karst regions of Tennessee and Kentucky,” Hung Wai said. “Additionally, the National Park offers a dynamic and interactive environment for us to apply our academic knowledge in a real-world situation.”

 

The research was part of an agreement among TSU, the National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Western Kentucky University Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning, to aid in understanding the transport of contaminants into the karst system.

“Over half of the U.S. population relies on groundwater as a source for water supply,” said Brown, a first-year graduate student. “Unfortunately, when it rains, contaminants can be transported into the groundwater through sinkholes and fractures that are unfiltered.  The more we understand how karst systems work, the better we can find ways to protect them.”

Dr. Tom Byl is a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey. For the last 20 years he has partnered with TSU conducting environmental research and teaching occasional classes.  Brown and Hung Wai are among the more than 150 students he has mentored.

“My students have conducted studies on a wide variety of topics, ranging from groundwater remediation to wetlands and cave systems,” Byl said. “Students bring new insight and energy to research projects.  Involving TSU students in field studies and lab research helps them understand that they can have meaningful careers in earth and environmental sciences.”

On the quality of the research, Dr. Rick Toomey, director of the Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning, said it is “incredibly” important to the science of caves.

“We have been incredibly impressed with the students Dr. Byl brings from TSU,” Toomey said. “They have been involved in helping to provide us with critical information on park management and finding interesting patterns in pure science such as water chemistry change. Their work has been very valuable and we hope it is also providing educational opportunities for the students.”

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Dr. De’Etra Young crawls through Mammoth Cave toward a water sampling site. (Submitted Photo)
Byl said as a result of the students’ “outstanding” work, Brown and Hung Wai, along with their faculty advisors, have been invited to present their research findings at the Karst Water Institute in Puerto Rico in January 2016. The students were each awarded $200 toward travel expense to the conference by the prestigious Karst Water Institute.

“JeTara and Hung Wai are great examples of our talented students at Tennessee State University,” said Dr. DéEtra Young, a faculty advisor. “As coordinator of the College of Agriculture Dean’s Scholars Program, I’m working diligently to increase research opportunities for our students. It is our goal to actively foster the academic and personal development of our students in preparation for the workforce or the many graduate opportunities available.”

“There are very few minority scientists in this very important field of cave and karst management. TSU’s Ag and Engineering colleges are trying to train and fill this gap,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences.  “Our faculty, Drs. De’Etra Young and Tom Byl, do an outstanding job in training students and the invitation they received to present at this important national meeting is a good indicator of that.”

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Educators Must Do More to Help Students, TSU President Glenda Glover Says

3-Day Honors Conference Highlights Academic Achievement; Exposes Students to Career Opportunities

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TSU President Glenda Glover receives a gift from Dr. Coreen Jackson, President of NAAAHP, following the TSU president’s keynote address at the conference. Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover has challenged educators to do more to help students who are lagging behind. At a gathering of more than 400 students during the annual National Association of African American Honors Programs conference, Glover questioned why some students do well, yet many more are failing or dropping out.

“It is time to look at the service we provide,” she said. “Our institutions of learning are full of Ph.Ds., but still many of our students are lagging in achievement. We have issues that need answers and it is going to require our very best effort if we want our children to succeed.”

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More than 400 students from 70 HBCUs attended the three-day NAAAHP conference at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Conference Center. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The three-day NAAAHP conference, hosted by TSU and Fisk University at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, brought together students and representatives from 70 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Under the theme, “The Audacity of Vision: Dare to Dream,” the conference features a debate, quiz bowl, model U.N., and scholarly research presentations, as well as a career and recruitment fair with representatives from medical schools, the pharmaceutical and food industries, and manufacturing companies, among others. Representatives from institutions such as Harvard University and Stanford were also at the conference seeking potential recruits for their graduate programs.

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Kroger, a Premier Platinum Sponsor, invested more than $30,000 as one of the major corporate sponsors of the conference. (Submitted Photo)

Glover called on the honor students to help bring along their fellow students who are struggling. “As our best and brightest, you too have a responsibility to encourage your fellow students. You represent excellence. You have set for yourselves a path to success, and I encourage you to continue to run until you have reached your God-given destiny,” Glover said.

Addressing the question of why many students are failing while others succeed, one educator at the conference said the problem was the lack of drive.

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Dr. Lesia Crumpton Young, TSU Associate Vice President for Research and Sponsored Programs, a keynote speaker at the conference, receives a gift from NAAAHP Board members. From left are Dr. Ray Davis, of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore; Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, of TSU; Amani Perkins, of Hampton University; Dr. Coreen Jackson, NAAAHP President; and Angela Divine, of Miles College. (Submitted Photo)

“If lagging is in relation to academic performance, what I have seen is not a decrease in intelligence but a gradual decrease in drive,” said Dr. Sabin P. Duncan, director of the Freddye T. Davy Honors College at Hampton University, who accompanied 29 students to the conference. “Perhaps it could be generational or perhaps socio-economic, but the students I see as lagging often lack drive.”

TSU honor student Mikayla Jones said many students have what she called “this grandiose dream” of making it big in life, but they forget that to reach their goals it requires hard work.

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A recruiter from Harvard University talks to students about graduate school opportunities, at the conference. (Submitted Photo)

“Many students don’t understand that they are the biggest barrier to their own success,” said Jones, a junior Health Care Administration and Planning major with a 3.9 GPA. “What you put in is what you get out, and if you really want it, then you must be ready to work hard.”

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering at TSU, co-moderated a faculty panel on “Navigating Academia for Women and Minority Faculty in STEM.” He said students are motivated by opportunities and goals.

“There is a greater chance of success when students know of opportunities complemented by an environment that nurtures and promotes students success,” said Hargrove, who has co-authored a book on the topic.

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Conference facilitators and presenters included NAAAHP Board members Ansel Brown, of North Carolina Central University, and Angeline Divine, of Miles College; and TSU’s Honors College Program Coordinator Susan West, and Associate Director, Dr. Douglas McGahey. (Submitted Photo)

The conference also included faculty presentations on such topics as “Innovative Math and Science Courses in Interdisciplinary Honors Core,” and “The Pedagogy of Diversity in the Entertainment Industry: Teaching the Business of Jazz.” Among other TSU presenters were Dr. Lesia Crumpton Young, Dr. Martens Stanberry and Dr. S. Guha.

The NAAAHP conference also attracted major corporate sponsors such as Kroger, as a Premier Platinum Sponsor, which invested more that $30,000, as well as The Ryman Hospitality Properties Foundation, ARCADIS Design and Consulting, and PSAV.

“The success of this conference has been beyond my wildest expectations,” said Dr. Coreen Jackson, president of NAAAHP and Interim Dean of the Honors College at TSU. “Having it at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Conference Center has been a wonderful experience. Our staff and administrators, including Dr. (Douglas) McGahey, the students and organizers from TSU, Fisk and all of our other institutions helped to make this all possible.”

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Honors Students Prepare for Research, Networking Opportunities at NAAAHP Conference

Students from Tennessee State University will join more than 400 top Honors students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities around the country to share their research and engage in networking opportunities during the 24th Annual Conference of the National Association of African American Honors Programs to be held Oct. 31-Nov. 3 in Nashville.

TSU, along with Fisk University, will host this year’s four-day event, which will bring together HBCU representatives at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. Under the theme, “The Audacity of Vision: Dare to Dream,” the conference will feature a debate, quiz bowl, model U.N., and scholarly research presentations.

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Chase Richard

Chase Richard, a sophomore from Little Rock, Arkansas, will be among the students who plan to present research at the conference. He has worked with mentoring support and collaboration from TSU professor, Dr. Michael Ivey, on research focused on the feeding behaviors of sea anemone, for nearly two years.

“I will be sharing how sea anemones react to different stimuli in their environments and how it affects physiological factors such eating habits,” Richard said of his research. The 4.0 Biology major plans to pursue further studies toward his goal of becoming a medical doctor specializing in neuroscience. He is currently active with the TSU Chapter of the American Medical Student Association.

This is not the first time Richard has made conference presentations. He also presented research at the 2015 Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (TLSAMP) Conference, geared toward increasing undergraduate retention and graduation rates of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors. Additionally, he participated in TSU’s annual University-Wide Research Symposium last April. NAAAHP attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about his research finding on Saturday, Oct. 31, 7:30 p.m.

“I wanted to meet other people and gain more experience in researching and building on my presentations,” he said. “After this semester, I will probably go more in-depth with studying sea anemones and their reproduction stages.”

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Anthony Moreland

Also joining the NAAAHP conference will be TSU student Anthony Moreland, a sophomore from Knoxville, Tennessee. With a 3.5 GPA, Moreland is also a Biology major who plans to go into the field of dentistry with a concentration on oral surgery. Moreland said he wanted to be involved in the NAAAHP Conference, which brings together Honors students, faculty, staff and professionals, as a volunteer as a way to expand his network.

“I wanted the opportunity to meet other Honors students from the different schools and get to know some new people,” Moreland said.

Founded in 1990, the NAAAHP addresses the “specific” needs of honors education for African-American students. Dr. Coreen Jackson, interim dean of TSU’s Honors College, was elected to head the organization as president last October.

Among a few conference highlights include:

  • Presidential Address – Dr. Coreen Jackson, President, NAAAHP Saturday, Oct. 31, 3:30 p.m.
  • Inspirational Address – Dr. Glenda Glover, President, Tennessee State University
    Sunday, Nov. 1, 10 a.m.
  • Career Fair and Graduate Expo
    Monday, Nov. 2, 9 a.m.-Noon
  • Awards Banquet – Dr. Bobby Jones, gospel artist and host of Bobby Jones Gospel, BET Network; and representatives for title sponsor, Kroger Co. through the African American Association Resource Group
    Monday, Nov. 2, 7 p.m.
    Tickets: $75

“We are extremely excited to be working with TSU and Fisk to bring this conference to Nashville,” Jackson said. “We expect this conference to be one of NAAAHP’s biggest and best because of the various elements we are bringing together. We invite businesses, corporations and graduate schools to participate in the various fairs showcasing some of the best and brightest students in the nation.”

For more information or questions on the 2015 NAAAHP Conference, contact Patricia Grace at (615) 730-1829.

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Tennessee State University joins Consortium to Improve the Nation’s Cyber Security in Energy Delivery Systems

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will participate in a five-year, $28.1 million U.S. Department of Energy initiative to improve computer/communication networks for energy delivery systems like power grids and pipelines, the agency announced recently.

TSU researchers will join a consortium of 11 universities and national laboratories led by the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign to improve the resilience and security of the cyber networks. These networks serve as the backbone of the infrastructure that delivers energy to the nation – known as energy delivery systems – for the electric power, oil and gas industries.

Dr. Sachin Shetty
Dr. Sachin Shetty

The university will receive $930,000 to conduct studies in security risk assessment, software-defined networking, robust control systems, and detection and classification of the impact of attacks on cyber-physical systems. TSU researchers will also design controller procedures to protect against specific attack categories.

Dr. Sachin Shetty, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a cyber security and networking systems expert, will lead the effort as project director. He will be assisted by Dr. L.H. Keel, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, as co-PI.

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Dr. L.H. Keel

“The security of critical infrastructure, such as power grids, oil and gas refineries, nuclear power reactors and pipeline operations has attracted tremendous attention,” Shetty said. “There is growing awareness in the industry to safeguard cyber and physical resiliency and move beyond cyber security to ensure the nation’s energy delivery systems can operate in the presence of attacks caused by adversarial actions.”

The DOE has determined that the cyber network that supports many important functions within energy delivery systems is vulnerable to disturbances, Shetty added. He said the Cyber Resilient Energy Delivery Consortium (CREDC) is intended to identify and perform cutting-edge research and increase the resiliency of energy delivery systems. This includes helping industry identify reasons for investing in technology that increases cyber resiliency in EDS; developing, validating, and verifying high-impact solutions in partnership with industry advocates; and making developed solutions commercially available through development of open-source communities and licensing arrangements.

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering, called the partnership with the CREDC part of his college’s “strategic initiative” to train and educate a more diverse workforce in cyber security.

“The Cyber Resilient Energy Delivery Consortium will respond to the Department of Energy ‘s demand for detection, analysis, monitoring, and risk assessment technologies to protect energy delivery systems,” Hargrove said.  “It also will further enhance TSU’s capacity in cyber security.”

As part of an outreach effort, during the study, TSU will also focus on enhancing curriculum to incorporate EDS cyber security and cyber-resiliency issues, Shetty said. “The (TSU) team will focus on workforce development at undergraduate and graduate levels to provide a pipeline of well-trained engineers for these sectors.”

In addition to TSU and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, the consortium includes research experts from Argonne National Laboratory, Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Rutgers University, University of Houston and Washington State University.

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Late TSU President Celebrated for Brilliance, Love of Students and Commitment to Black Higher Education; Laid to Rest After Nashville Service

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – In a packed memorial service in Poag Auditorium Sept. 2, speakers remembered former Tennessee State University President James A. Hefner for his brilliance, love of students and his “undying” commitment for quality black higher education.

“He won the respect of his colleagues and peers because he was smart and fearless as an educator, who wanted the best for his students,” said TSU President Glenda Glover, who referred to the late former president as a friend and mentor.

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Dr. Fred Humphries, former president of TSU and President Emeritus of Florida A&M University, was a longtime friend of Dr. Hefner. Humphries described his friend as “a very serious person.” (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Glover was one of more than seven current and former university presidents who attended the service to pay tribute to their fallen colleague. They joined family members, friends and other dignitaries, including U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper in a standing-room only ceremony featuring traditional African drumbeats, songs and video presentations of Hefner’s views on HBCUs, black economic empowerment and family.

Tributes from across the nation from friends, schoolmates, former colleagues and acquaintances referred to Hefner as a skilled educator who was “serious and all about business.”

“He had a good mind and he cultivated it so others could benefit,” said former classmate and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, who attended college with Hefner at North Carolina A&T University. Jackson’s tribute was read at the ceremony.

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Dr. Ivan Davis, director of Student Health Services, left; Dr. Nebraska Mays, former distinguished professor of Education, and vice chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents: and Dr. Thomas Martin, former vice president of Student Affairs, served at TSU during Dr. Hefner’s tenure. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Hefner, the sixth president of TSU, who led the institution 14 years from 1991-2005, died from cancer Aug. 27 at his home in Brentwood, Tennessee. He was buried in Nashville Sept. 3 after funeral services at Christ Church Cathedral. Hefner was 76.

When asked recently how he would like to be remembered, Hefner said, “As an educator who cared about black higher education and the welfare of students.”

Former colleagues saw him as one who would do whatever it took to make sure students mattered the most.

“He was a very serious person,” said former TSU President and President Emeritus of Florida A&M University, Dr. Fred Humphries. “He was about making his life mean something, and about keeping alive the good works of HBCUs.”

Dr. Everett Freeman, former president of Albany State University and president of Community College of Denver, worked with Hefner at TSU and at Jackson State University, where the late leader served as president before coming to TSU.

He named football, the school band, education and family as Hefner’s biggest passions.

“But his ultimate concern was to make sure students mattered most,” said Freeman, who served as Hefner’s executive assistant at TSU.

Other current and former presidents who paid tribute to Hefner were: Dr. John Wilson, Morehouse College; and Dr. Robert Johnson, Clark Atlanta University. Also sharing tributes was former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, as well as well as former students David Winslow, Tennessee State; Thomas Scott, Morehouse; and Robert Scott, Jackson State.

Under Dr. Hefner’s leadership, TSU saw some of its most significant growth. He managed the end of the Geier desegregation case, in which TSU received an Endowment for Educational Excellence to support scholarship opportunities for exceptional students. He kicked off the university’s first capital fundraising campaign to increase TSU’s endowment, and saw the completion of the new Performing Arts Building, the final building in the $112 million capital improvements project which funded the construction of eight new facilities and renovations of existing structures on campus. See Brief Snapshot of Accomplishments.

Dr. Hefner’s long-standing career as an academician and executive administrator also included teaching and serving as research associate at Harvard University, Princeton University, Clark College, Florida A&M University, Benedict College and Prairie View A&M University. After retiring from TSU in 2005, he accepted a non-resident fellowship at Harvard University in the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African-American Research and served as Visiting Distinguished Professor of Economics and Presidential Leadership at Texas Southern University.

Dr. Hefner earned degrees at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, where he obtained his bachelor’s in business administration. At Atlanta University, he received a Master of Economics, and then went on to earn a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

He is survived by his wife, Edwina Hefner; three sons: Christopher Hefner of St. Petersburg, Florida, Jonathan Hefner, M.D. and his wife Katrina of Atlanta, David Hefner, Ed.D. and his wife Tasha of Marietta, Georgia; 11 grandchildren; two brothers-in-law and a sister-in-law; and a host of other family and friends.

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Tennessee State University Family Remembers the Legacy of Former President, Dr. James A. Hefner

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dr. James A. Hefner, who served as president of Tennessee State University for 14 years, has died. He was 76. In honor of his life, the university will hold a memorial service Wednesday, Sept. 2, 6:30 p.m. in the Thomas E. Poag Auditorium on the university’s main campus. Funeral services are scheduled Thursday, Sept. 3, 1 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, located at 900 Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Those who knew Dr. James A. Hefner described him as a strong academician and an individual who encouraged and appreciated excellence. (File Photo)

Dr. Hefner made his way to TSU in April 1991 after ending a seven-year presidency at Jackson State University in Mississippi. Prior to Jackson State, he served as provost of Tuskegee University in Alabama. His passion for academic excellence and student success concluded at one of his alma maters, Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University), where he as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs until his death.

“The Tennessee State University family sends its deepest condolences to the Hefner family,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Dr. Hefner devoted his entire adult life to serving others and expanding educational opportunities to all. As educators, we have lost a visionary and one of the best leaders to ever serve this great institution. He loved inspiring students and challenging them.”

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Dr. Hefner’s focus on nurturing minds was not limited to college students. Here he interacts with children during a special program in Nashville. (File Photo)

Those who knew Dr. Hefner described him as a strong academician and an individual who encouraged and appreciated excellence. While president at TSU, his focus on ensuring faculty and staff put students first was evident in the slogan, “Students Matter Most,” which became a part of the culture on campus during his tenure.

Homer Wheaton, a former vice president of University Relations and Development, said Dr. Hefner was a “real good person,” adding that he was a brilliant man who was very academic-focused and results-driven.

“When Dr. Hefner first came to TSU, he promoted me to vice president. It was something completely unexpected for me,” Wheaton said. “He had heard about my relationship with alumni and students, and offered me an opportunity to move up.

“Dr. Hefner was the kind of leader who would let you do what you could do to make a contribution – all he wanted to see was results. He respected people for what they did and was very complimentary of people who did a good job. The fact that he would turn you loose and let you do your work, made it so gratifying to work for him. I appreciated him so much.

Dr. Hefner’s push for excellence came from humble beginnings in rural Brevard, North Carolina, where he began to develop a love for learning at an early age. According to a profile article by former TSU history professor, Dr. James Haney, Hefner’s family had no books in their home. He was taken under the wing of his elementary principal who invited him to her home to read her encyclopedias.”

“For eight years,” said Dr. Hefner at the time, “while I was in elementary school, I would stop at her house on the way home and I would read the encyclopedia.”

He made no apologies for being intelligent, and earned his place as valedictorian of his elementary class, salutatorian of his high school, and then soon received scholarship offers to a number of higher education institutions, including Duke University. He ultimately chose to attend the historically black university, North Carolina A&T State University.

Wilson Lee, director of TSU’s Center for Extended Education, recalls his first encounter with Dr. Hefner when applying for a job at Jackson State University. He said he happened to meet and interview with the former president by chance and knew immediately that he wanted the “best around him.” Wilson was hired there by Dr. Hefner and also joined Dr. Hefner when he assumed the presidency at Tennessee State University in 1991.

“He listened more than anything else and you didn’t have to go through a second person, you could talk directly to him,” Lee said. “He recruited and built a team of people to work with him at TSU – people he had known throughout the years and people who were experts in their fields. He was a model president to me.”

Under Dr. Hefner’s leadership, TSU saw some of its most significant growth. He managed the end of the Geier desegregation case, in which TSU received an Endowment for Educational Excellence to support scholarship opportunities for exceptional students. He kicked off the university’s first capital fundraising campaign to increase TSU’s endowment, and saw the completion of the new Performing Arts Building, the final building in the $112 million capital improvements project which funded the construction of eight new facilities and renovations of existing structures on campus. See Brief Snapshot of Accomplishments.

In 1997, Dr. Hefner hired Michelle Viera to lead the Office of Alumni Relations. Viera, who is now assistant vice president of events management and conference services, said Dr. Hefner had a way of making alumni feel special.

“He treated them [alumni] like VIPs regardless of their background,” Viera said.

She said she fondly remembers Dr. Hefner’s stories of encouragement. One, in particular, that he repeated often was the African parable of “The Lion and the Gazelle.”

“As president, he truly believed that ‘students matter most,’” Viera continued. “He encouraged them to keeping running and to never give up and to be their best. He shared that story so often that the students began to join in reciting it with him when he told it.”

Dr. Jacqueline Mitchell also enjoyed a great working relationship with Dr. Hefner, who appointed her special assistant for the Geier Consent Decree. Mitchell now serves as professor and director of Interdisciplinary Studies at TSU.

“Dr. Hefner was on a true wave length of excellence. He didn’t believe in second class status and strived to bring Tennessee State University to the level equal or superior to any school, anywhere,” Mitchell said.

“It was because of Dr. Hefner that Tennessee State was able to receive $4.1 million in reoccurring funds from the state of Tennessee,” said Dr. Stephen H. Kolison, Jr., associate vice president of Academic, Faculty and Global Programs with the University of Wisconsin System. Kolison spent 10 years at TSU serving in the capacities of research director and funding dean in Agricultural and Environmental Research.

“The College of Agriculture at TSU made some significant strides in receiving funding from the state. The Agriculture Information Technology Center and the Biotechnology Building were conceived while working with Dr. Hefner. I give tremendous credit to Dr. Hefner for being willing to engage with the state and not giving up,” he continued. See more Words of Remembrance Honoring the Life of Dr. Hefner.

Among Dr. Hefner’s extensive awards and honors include an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Marlboro College in 1999, and an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree from The University of the South. He was co-author and editor of the book, Public Policy for the Black Community: Strategies and Perspectives in 1976, and wrote and published more than 50 articles in the areas of employment practice and labor-force participation rates of minorities.

Dr. Hefner’s long-standing career as an academician and executive administrator also included teaching and serving as research associate at Harvard University, Princeton University, Clark College, Florida A&M University, Benedict College and Prairie View A&M University. After from retiring from TSU in 2005, he accepted a non-resident fellowship at Harvard University in the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African-American Research and served as Visiting Distinguished Professor of Economics and Presidential Leadership at Texas Southern University. He was also a former member of the board of regents at the University of the South and the board of trustees at Morehouse College where he was the Charles E. Merrill Professor of Economics and chair of the Department of Business and Economics.

Dr. Hefner earned degrees at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, where he obtained his bachelor’s in business administration. At Atlanta University, he received a Master of Economics, and then went on to earn a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

He is survived by a wife, Edwina Hefner; three sons: Christopher Hefner of St. Petersburg, Florida., Jonathan Hefner, M.D. and his wife Katrina of Atlanta, Georgia, David Hefner, Ed.D. and his wife Tasha of Marietta, Georgia; 11 grandchildren; two brothers-in-law and a sister-in-law; and a host of other family and friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that condolences be made in support of the James. A. Hefner Scholarship Award – named in his honor at Tennessee State University and Morehouse College for outstanding students. For more information, contact the TSU Foundation at (615) 963-5481.

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expo Highlights TSU’s Growing Agricultural Outreach as Officials Recognize Tennessee’s Top Small Farmers

University Holds Position for “Biggest Extension Network” Among HBCUs 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Highlighting its broad Cooperative Extension program that now touches more 50 counties in the state, Tennessee State University Thursday recognized four individuals as the “top small farmers” in Tennessee. The recognition, which also included the presentation of the “Small Farmer of the Year” award, marked the conclusion of the 2015 Small Farms Expo that brought together more than 400 agricultural experts, farmers, students and officials from across Tennessee and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Farmers1
Tennessee 2015 Top Small Farmers are, from left, Steve Malamatos, “Alternative Enterprise”; Ken Drinnon, “Innovative Marketing”; Trent McVay, “Most Improved Small Farm”; and Christopher Mullican, “Best Management Practices.” Ken Drinnon received the “Small Farmer of the Year” award. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“These individuals are the ‘best of the best’ in farming in Tennessee,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, as he presented plaques to Ken Drinnon, a beef cattle producer in Cheatham County, recognized for “innovative marketing; and Trent McVay, a vegetable and cattle grower in Shelby County, recognized for “most improved small farm.”

Also receiving plaques were Steve Malamatos, who owns a poultry processing business in White County. He was recognized for “alternative enterprise,” and Christopher Mullican, a beef cattle producer in Sumner and Davidson Counties, who also runs a non-profit therapeutic service for children and soldiers with disabilities.  He was recognized for “best management practices.”

Drinnon, who owns 82 acres of farm land and leases another 60 acres, where he runs a freezer beef business selling wholesale or retail to local restaurants, received the “Small Farmer of the Year” award.

“It is quite a humbling experience to receive this award,” Drinnon said. “My family and I are very thankful to this university and the state for not only working with farmers but also recognizing our contributions in such a public manner. We try to do the best to do a very good job.”

Candidates for recognition were nominated by either their extension agents, government agents or officials in each honoree’s county.

Reddy1
Dr. Chandra Reddy, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, talks to a reporter minutes before the opening of the Expo. He says that TSU now has the “biggest extension network” of all HBCUs in the nation. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

According to Reddy, the recognitions and awards are an indication of TSU’s expansive outreach across the state in helping small farmers recognize their own potential and hone their skills through research, and introduction to new farming techniques, equipment and production methods.

“This annual Expo, now in its 11th year, is a way for Tennessee State University and our partners on the federal and state levels to recognized the role farmers and agriculture play in the state and the nation,” Reddy told reporters earlier.

As the nation celebrates the 125th anniversary of 1890 Morrill Act that created the second land grant system that include Tennessee State University, Reddy announced that TSU now has the “biggest extension network” of all HBCUs in the nation. He said in seven years TSU’s extension program has grown from 10 counties to more than 50.

“This is quite an achievement that could not have been possible without the support of our TSU leadership under President Glenda Glover, and partners like UT-Knoxville (University of Tennessee), the USDA, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and all of the agencies represented in the state,” Reddy said.

He attributed the success of the Cooperative Extension Program to the workers under the leadership of Dr. Latif Lighari, associate dean for Extension.

“We are grateful to Dr. Lighari for his leadership, and his team for the work they are doing, and for ensuring another successful Expo,” Reddy added.

Natalie
Natalie Owens, Extension Agent and Food and Nutrition Education Program specialist in Shelby County, demonstrates how to prepare nutritious blueberry crumble without artificial ingredients. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

At Thursday’s Expo, visitors, including students, saw exhibits, displays and new discoveries that not only showcased the impact of agriculture and its future in the state, but also the educational potential of the University and the level of research it conducts.

kids
Elementary and middle school students prepare to go on a farm excursion during the Expo. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Organized by the Cooperative Extension program along with several agencies and institutions, the 2015 Small Farms Expo exhibited a biodiesel fuel production unit that farmers can use to turn crops into fuel for their equipment, a greenhouse emission reduction system for field crops, community gardening, meat goat production and genetics, beekeeping demonstration, and 4-H and adult agriculture.

Workshops included organic vegetable production techniques, pesticide handling and safety, food preservation, and soil and plant tissue sampling, among others.

Lighari, who has headed the Expo since its inception, recognized his fellow organizers, the various farm managers and research leaders, small farmers, schools and students for their participation.

“Your input and participation made this event very successful,” Lighari said. “We thank you and especially the small farmers who are the lifeline of what we do.”

Other speakers included TSU Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Mark Hardy; Associate Vice President for Research and Sponsored Programs, Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young; State Rep. Harold Love Jr.; Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson; and Dr. Tim Cross, dean of Extension at the University of Tennessee.

Other TSU partners, Expo organizers, agencies and sponsors present were the Tennessee Farm Bureau, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Farm Service Agency, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency.

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

21 Incoming Freshmen, Rising High School Seniors Get Exposure to Cutting-edge Research During Summer Program

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – From studies in understanding hypersensitive response of tobacco plants to comparing DNAs in chickens and Guinea fowls, 21 incoming college freshmen and rising high school seniors spent their summer receiving exposure to real-world scientific work and cutting-edge research.

Kayla
Kayla Sampson, an incoming freshman, presents her research on “Understanding hypersensitive response of tobacco plants to elf-type and GFD-labeled strains of Erwina tracheiphilia.” (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The students, from Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, Indiana and Georgia, spent five weeks at Tennessee State University engaged in various laboratory and field experiments under the mentorship of university professors and scientists. Their finished works were presented as scientific papers and research results during a standing-room only audience of parents and guests in the Ferrell-Westbrook Complex on TSU’s main campus on July 2.

“These students are really the best we have recruited in the seven years of the Summer Apprenticeship Program,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, referring to the USDA-funded program intended to expose students to the many career opportunities in agriculture, bio- and environmental sciences.

Kayla Sampson, an incoming freshman from Jackson, Mississippi, who wants to major in biotechnology, said the summer programs gave her a better understanding of her career choice.

“Although I have always wanted to go into biotechnology, I came here not knowing much about it,” said Sampson, who will attend TSU this fall. “This Summer Apprenticeship Program has really opened my eyes and fueled my interest. The mentors and program coordinators were very helpful and encouraging.”

Carey
Kobe Leonard, left, Paige Madison and Arthur Carey present their combined research on “Sustainable seafood.” (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

From Ivori Scheley, an incoming freshman, whose dream is to engage in groundbreaking research, to Christopher Green, also an incoming freshman with an interest in biotechnology and environmental science, many of the future scientists say their month-long interaction with each other and college professors was an eye-opener for their future careers.

“Biotechnology is certainly where the money is, which makes it a very enticing career choice,” said Green. “I also see animal science as another potential career choice.”

Green
Christopher Green, an incoming freshman with interest in biotechnology and environmental science, presents on “Comparison of pectobacterium caratovora strains for virulence detection.” (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

According to William F. Hayslett Sr., coordinator of the Summer Apprenticeship Program, the objective of the program is to dispel the “myth” that agriculture is farming. “Our goal here is to make students aware of the academic programs in the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences and the many career opportunities available to its graduates.”

Reddy, who is dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, encouraged the students to consider careers in STEM and agricultural sciences, as “lucrative” areas for employment.

“Here at TSU we offer a variety of opportunities in agribusiness, environmental sciences and many other areas that are in high demand,” he said.

Boykin
Terrell Boykin, with a focus on mite prevention, presents his research based on “Greenhouse practices.” (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

He thanked parents for encouraging their children to enter the program, adding that the program offers a “positive” avenue for youths to spend their summer in experiential learning. “It is also intended to give community college and recent high school graduates the opportunity to learn values essential for environmental stewardship at the local, state and national levels,” Reddy said.

Other students who participated in the program were: Malaika Greer, Jasmine Stringer, Kevonte Askew, Amarius Daniels, Demetria Hayes, Asia Hooper, Darrius Lawson, Devinn Pauley, Sydnie Davis and Arthur Carey. Also participating in the Summer Apprenticeship Program were: Kobe Leonard, Paige Madison, Terrell Boykin, CheKenna Fletcher, Isiah Cunningham, Whitney ‘Abbey’ Anderson, Shakarah Nelson and Darian Majors.

Each of the students who participated in the residential program received a $1,000 stipend.

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.

Tennessee State University Professor Wins Prestigious American Society of Agronomy Award

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A Tennessee State University professor, noted for his mobile biodiesel demonstration to farmers across the state, has won the prestigious American Society of Agronomy Early Career Professional Award for 2015. Dr. Jason de Koff, assistant professor in the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, was recognized for outstanding contribution to the field of agronomy in education and research.

The award will be formally presented at the ASA’s awards ceremony during the scientific society’s annual international meeting Nov. 15-18 in Minneapolis.

“I am very honored to win this award,” de Koff said. “Receiving this kind of acknowledgement means I am making important contributions in my field.”

FEATURED_Biodiesel mobile UnitDe Koff, now in his fifth year at TSU, has received more than $1.3 in grant funding as principal investigator and co-PI. His responsibilities in extension and research focus on using switchgrass and winter canola for bioenergy production. He is a research-focus group leader for 20 faculty members, and serves as assistant program leader in the Cooperative Extension Program at TSU. As a state extension specialist, he has developed a series of workshops, videos, factsheets and a mobile demonstration for on-farm biodiesel production.

“Dr. Jason de Koff is very deserving of this ASA award,” said Dr. Samuel N. Nahashon, interim chair of the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at TSU. “He is one of our outstanding faculty who is well-rounded in teaching, research and outreach. He has developed courses, secured funding and established an excellent program in bioenergy, an effort that is benefitting our students and stakeholders.”

The ASA Early Career Professional Award, which comes with a $2,000 honorarium, recognizes young professionals who have made outstanding contributions in agronomy within seven years of completing their final degree.

De Koff received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2008. He came to TSU in 2010 after post-doctoral work with the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

“I plan to continue my efforts in extension, research and teaching to enhance opportunities for both TSU students and Tennessee farmers,” de Koff said.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 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.