Category Archives: RESEARCH

Top Houston Student Chooses TSU to Pursue Career in Engineering and Robotics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Freshman Houston-native Paul Johnson, Jr., initially considered studying mechanical engineering at a university closer to his hometown.

All that changed last fall after a chance meeting with Tennessee State University Honors College Interim Dean, Dr. Coreen Jackson.

Johnson, Jr., a freshman mechanical engineering major, says he had just completed a campus visit to Texas A&M University when his father, Paul Johnson, Sr., ran into Jackson and her husband, who happened to be in town for a wedding.

“I already had a slight knowledge of who she was, but after meeting her she told me about the campus, and it caught my attention,” Johnson, Jr., said.

With Jackson’s assistance, the Johnson family scheduled a campus visit, which gave Paul an opportunity to tour Tennessee State and meet with Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering.

Paul Johnson, Jr.

“What I found out about this campus is that there are a whole lot more engineering aspects that I did not anticipate when I was looking into the university,” he said. “I got to see more about the interactions between the faculty and the students themselves, in terms of doing research and improving technology.”

Jackson, who hosted Johnson’s family when they initially visited TSU, says the younger Johnson has a bright future.

“To me he will be the next Jesse Russell,” she said, referring to the famous TSU alum who created the first digital cellular base station and is known as the father of digital cellular technology. “It may not be wireless communications, but it will be some breakthrough in something.”

Johnson, Jr., recalls having a love for engineering as early as preschool.

“When I was in preschool at church, I was the student who was messing with the Lincoln Logs and the plexi toys to make giant cars, toys and robots, and I eventually even started a little league just to have fun with the other students who wanted to build stuff,” he said.

Throughout his four years at Cyprus Woods High School, Johnson, Jr., developed his engineering skills as a member of the Texas Technology Student Association. He also participated in NASA HUNCH, a program that he says allowed him to work directly with NASA officials to help make machine parts for the international space station.

As a member of the Honors College, the 19-year-old budding robotics guru has continued to pursue his engineering passion by joining organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers (NESBE) and the Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (TLSAMP).

Paul Johnson

In September, Johnson, Jr., joined TSU President Glenda Glover in Washington, DC, along with three other students chosen to participate in the National HBCU Braintrust during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference. Top students from the nation’s historically black colleges and universities participated in the brainstrust.

Upon completion of his undergraduate studies, Johnson plans to pursue a doctorate and ultimately play a leadership role in the robots industry.

“In ten years I want to be part of or in charge of leading the whole robotics industry in terms of the consumer dynamic,” said Johnson, Jr. “There are still lingering fears that people have about dealing with robotics, but they fail to look into how robotics can help people on a grander scale.”

Jackson says she witnessed Johnson’s love for TSU when he provided live music for his classmates during freshman move-in.

“While the parents and freshman where coming in, he took that upright bass and he just serenaded the people,” she said. “He’s just an amazing young man.  He is one young man who is on his way to fulfilling his purpose, and he has found the institution that can take him there.”

For more information about opportunities in the TSU College of Engineering, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/engineering/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU College of Education Receives More Than $560,000 US Department of Education Grant for Academic Support Services

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Services) – Students in the TSU College of Education will soon receive increased academic support services, thanks to a U.S. Department of Education Title III grant of $569,250.

Dr. Jerri Haynes

The college will use the funding to develop a Global Education Student Support Services Lab intended to increase student learning across the curriculum, as well as hire new career advisors, academic coaches and a program coordinator.

“This is an exciting time for the College of Education,” says Dr. Jerri Haynes, dean of the college and principal investigator for the grant. “Our goal here is to provide support services for students to be successful in their journey to getting their degree.”

With the aim of transforming the existing curriculum lab, Haynes says the Global Education Student Support Services Lab will be student friendly, with 21st century technology. It will streamline services, integrate career planning, and increase retention. The lab will also have kiosks where students can hold one-on-one meetings with advisors, as well as docking and privacy stations where students can relax and read.

Dr. Graham Matthews, Associate Professor of Teaching and Learning, teaches Introduction to Early Childhood Education to students who will be among many to benefit from the Global Education Student Support Services Lab. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“Advisors and academic coaches in the lab will provide support and mentoring to students who may be struggling with licensure exams, or others who may need career advising on their chosen pathway in education,” she says. “Our psychology department will also benefit greatly, by catering to students who may be struggling academically or need extra help.”

Students in the college are excited about the news. Kayla Dawson, a freshman psychology major and a work-study student in the old curriculum lab, welcomes the new changes.

“I am in this building a lot, and usually with a lot of work to do after class. To have a place with the right resources and to be able to relax and focus, will be a great help,” says Dawson, who is from East St. Louis, Illinois. “I am a technology person, so I am just excited about the kinds of resources that will be available.”

Jaylon Jones, also from East St. Louis and a freshman criminal justice major, agrees.

“The enhancement will definitely be a wonderful thing,” says Jones, also a work-study student in the curriculum lab. “What was here before was great, but most of it was not up-to-date.”

Previously, the curriculum lab consisted of books and reading materials, which have all been removed and are being replaced with more advanced technology that was not available to students.

Debra A. Jackson, director of the COE Curriculum Lab, says the vision for the new lab is for students to be able to come in and take advantage of different media and computer resources that will enhance their learning.

“The dean (Haynes) has talked about the possibility of having kiosks where students can go in and access different things,” says Jackson. “This is a positive change where students can come and create, while being able to access things with technology, as well. I am very excited about these new enhancements.” 

The Global Education Student Support Services Lab will be completed and ready for student use January 2020, according to TSU officials. For more information about TSU’s College of Education, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/coe/

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

Mitchell Inspires Students at Second Annual Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Lecture

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Renowned cancer specialist Dr. Edith Peterson Mitchell was the keynote speaker at Tennessee State University’s second annual Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Lecture Series on Oct. 17.

Peterson is a TSU alumna and member of the university’s Board of Trustees. The event was held during Homecoming week in the Robert N. Murrell Forum on the main campus.

Student Government Association President Katelyn Thompson recognized special guests and Malcolm Finally, inaugural president of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Society, introduced Mitchell, who discussed a number of issues with the audience.

They included the decline in cancer mortality rates, the impact of Medicare on cancer disparities, and how specific cancers uniquely affect minority communities.

TSU President Glenda Glover (right) with Guest Lecturer and TSU Board of Trustee Member Edith Peterson Mitchell (left), and Student Government Association President Katelyn Thompson (center) after the Second Annual Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Lecture. (Photo by Erynne Davis, TSU Media Relations)

Mitchell also encouraged students to consider careers in health care.

“Blacks in this country make up 3.9 percent of all physicians in this country, and yet in 2013 the census showed that blacks in this country made up 15 percent of the United States population,” said Mitchell, a retired Air Force brigadier general.

The lecture series, a component of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., Institute, was established to honor Watkins, a 1966 alumnus of TSU and the first African-American to be accepted into and graduate from the Vanderbilt School of Medicine. It features prominent speakers who address areas in health care and STEM to prepare students for the medical field. The late Watkins is known worldwide for being the first surgeon to successfully implant an automatic heart defibrillator in a human patient.

“I tell my students and residents all the time, ‘Don’t forget to look through the rearview mirror and make sure you know what is behind you,’ and we know that Dr. Levi Watkins was there in that rearview mirror for us to get information and be inspired by his work,” she said.

TSU President Glenda Glover and Guest Lecturer and TSU Board of Trustee Member Edith Peterson Mitchell join administrators and special guests for a photo after the unveiling of a display case located on the second floor of the Floyd-Payne Campus Center designed in honor of Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. (Photo by Erynne Davis, TSU Media Relations)

TSU President Glenda Glover welcomed the crowd and explained the purpose of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., Institute.

“He provided a balm that would heal the hearts of men and women.  It’s a balm that will ensure the longevity of lives of men and women,” said Glover. “So he came forth with that balm from Tennessee State University, and now he has passed that on to students for the students to see and understand the value of having a scientific education.” 

Dr. Lonnie Sharpe, director of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., Institute, presided over the program which concluded with the induction of new students into the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Society, an organization comprised of students who aspire to attend medical school.

“It was a wonderful experience to have a board of trustee member as our guest lecturer,” Sharpe said. “Based upon my input from the students, they enjoyed her talk, and they are all excited about the additional collaboration that may be occurring with her as part of a research proposal that we are partnering with her on right now.”

Denias Smith, a junior biology major and vice-president of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Society, shared a brief presentation portraying Watkins, which he delivered prior to the unveiling of a display case designed in Watkin’s honor. (Photo by Erynne Davis, TSU Media Relations)

Following the program, the university unveiled a display case on the second floor of the Floyd-Campus Center dedicated to preserving Watkin’s legacy. Prior to the unveiling, Denias Smith, a junior biology major and vice-president of the society, gave a brief presentation, portraying Watkins.

The display includes a portrait of Watkins drawn by TSU Alumnus Brandon Van Leer, a life-size manikin clothed in Watkins medical attire, an automatic heart defibrillator and a video showcasing Watkins when he became the first surgeon to successfully implant the device in 1980.

Students inducted into the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Society include Jayvonna Gambrell, president, a sophomore biology major; Mariel Liggin, secretary, a junior biology major; and Gelanni Jones, a sophomore biology major.

Students take pledge while being inducted into the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Society. (Photo by Erynne Davis, TSU Media Relations)

Other students inducted into the society include Janelle Ariosa, a senior biology major; Kalkidan Bekele, a freshman biology major; Autumn Brunson, a junior biology major; Ashli Earl, a junior biology major; Kristen Wardlow, a freshman; Lauren Graves, a freshman biology major, Larry McNary II, a junior biology major, Mohamed Mohamed, a sophomore chemistry major, Habiba Mwechiwa, a junior biology major, Alanis Onwu, a junior agricultural science major; and Tyree Pitts, a junior biology major.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU’s Linda Spears to Serve on State’s Higher Education Leadership and Innovation Team

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has selected TSU’s Linda C. Spears to serve as part of its inaugural Higher Education Leadership and Innovation Fellows program.

Spears, the associate vice president for Human Resources, will serve with 14 others on the cohort-based professional development program to cultivate the next generation of enterprise leaders in higher education. She was nominated by TSU President Glenda Glover.

“I am so honored to be nominated by President Glover and to be ultimately selected as a fellow in the inaugural Tennessee Higher Education Leadership and Innovation Fellows program,” Spears said.  “It is such an honor to represent TSU in this leadership development experience.” 

According to a THEC release, Spears and her fellow cohorts  will convene on campuses across the state to learn from experts and build extended networks. The program will facilitate individual development goals through professional assessments, one-on-one executive coaching, and mentoring networks and job shadowing experiences.

Among other responsibilities, the THEC fellows will  facilitate leadership development through self-exploration and skill training; provide  foundational principles of higher education policy and practice for exposure to all aspects of the higher education enterprise; as well as inspire  ideas and cultivate new ways of thinking to shape the emerging paradigm of post-secondary education institutions.

“Addressing the challenges currently facing higher education will require leaders that are steeped in innovation and keenly focused on student success,” said Mike Krause, executive director of THEC.  “This program will help Tennessee develop a cohort of higher education professionals ready to excel in executive positions.”

Spears said although the program is demanding, she hopes to gain more insight into the strategic operations of higher educational institutions to “prepare me for greater service and advancement opportunities.”

An operational improvement advocate throughout her career, Spears has developed a management leadership training program, introduced an electronic personnel action system, and developed many highly effective workflow processes. She hopes to bring that experience of professional development to her new role as a THEC fellow.

“This inaugural class will help to shape the future of this program,” she added. 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU Partners With Apple, Inc. to Offer Alums Free App Design and Development Course

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Technology giant Apple, Inc. has partnered with Tennessee State University to give minorities and underserved communities greater access to the field. TSU has been charged with strengthening the collaboration by offering the company’s coding curriculum to new audiences.

That expansion includes providing TSU alums the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of app design and app development for free. Computer Applications for Educational Leaders is being offered through the TSU School of Graduate and Professional Studies, and is accepting applications now.

The course supports the university’s mission to provide life-long learning opportunities to the TSU alumni.

“This course is the first of its kind to address an individual’s working and learning style where they can take the course on-ground, online, hybrid or at the Apple Store,” said Dr. Robbie K. Melton, Tennessee State University’s dean of Graduate and Professional Studies and program director for the coding initiative.

Dr. Melton also says the curriculum is structured to provide onsite instruction for groups of 10 or more wherever they are located.

That scheduling flexibility is what attracted Dr. Jeffery Norfleet, associate dean of Academic Services at Trevecca Nazarene University.

Dr. Jeffery Norfleet (Photo Submitted)

“I like to learn virtually because it just works with my time and my schedule,” said Norfleet, who received his undergraduate degree from TSU in Humanities in 2008 and his master’s in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in educational technology in 2010.

“There are apps out their for everyone. Apps out there that will help you with your personal life, your professional life, and your spiritual journey,” he said. “We may not be coding experts as far as the ‘IT’ side is concerned, but from your basic line of work and employment, you can utilize this skill set to benefit the community in which you live.”

Norfleet, a Clarksville-native who served as saxophone section leader with the Aristocrat of Bands while at TSU, said he believes efforts like this one will strengthen the university’s relationship with its alumni.

Jeffery Norfleet marching with the Aristocrat of Band as an undergraduate student at Tennessee State University. (Photo Submitted)

“I think this will begin to open up doors where students can see that they may have walked away with one major or one type of master’s, but the resources that the school wants to pour back into them will give them the opportunity to continue to develop their professional skill set as well as their personal skill set,” he said.

“It also encourages them to give back to the university, because these opportunities don’t come free at most places. “

Sheron B. Doss, who secured a bachelors degree in Social Welfare from TSU in 1976, is proving you’re never too old to learn, and said courses like this one are important for seniors.

“At our age, we assume we are too old to learn, but why shouldn’t we learn now,” said Doss, who was recently accepted into the doctoral program for Administration Management in Pre-K and Higher Education at TSU.

Sheron B. Doss (Photo Submitted)

“We are living longer, and we have got to be there rather than depend on our children and grandchildren. It makes communicating and living so much easier.”

Melton said the HBCU C2 initiative puts TSU on the forefront of embracing STEM, and she credits the university’s partnership with Apple with being key to its success. She said TSU employees as well as Tennessee high school students are also eligible to take the free course.

“Apple provides an approach to introduce coding and creativity in a nonthreatening manner,” she said. “You have children coding. You have seniors coding, and the fact that we have over 200 people from high school to senior citizen centers wanting to code and create is phenomenal.”

The push comes on the heels of the university’s July launch of HBCU C2 “Everyone Can Code and Everyone Can Create”, a national initiative supported by Apple, Inc., which seeks to bring coding experiences to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and underserved communities.

“Apple is encouraging us to offer more academies because of the result from the academy this summer in which five of the apps that were designed are now being tested on campuses,” said Melton.

“We got a call from the Department of Labor because they received word from other constituents about the excitement, not just in Tennessee, but throughout all HBCUs regarding our transformation attitude regarding STEM careers,” she added.

Doss, who found out about the class during registration, said she took Melton’s Microcomputer Technology in Primary and Elementary Schools course in 2017. She encourages all alums to take advantage of the free learning opportunity.

“I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what level or what age, just start,” she said. “Just look at it, and I guarantee you that something in the course during the duration of the class will make you happy, will make you glad, and if you are like me, it will excite you.”

TSU hosted the inaugural HBCU C2 Presidential Academy July 14-19 through its newly established National Center for Smart Technology Innovations. Leaders of 14 historically black colleges and universities – including Tennessee State – from across the country came away from the Academy with knowledge and skills in coding and app development from Apple’s comprehensive coding curriculum, which utilizes its popular Swift programming language.

For more information about enrolling in EDAD 6100: Computer Applications for Educational Leaders course, contact Deborah Chisom at dchisom@tnstate.edu or call (615) 963-7390.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

Top TSU Student Pursues Dream in Medical Field, Credits ‘Family’ Atmosphere for Choosing University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Alanis Onwu says all it took for her to decide to come to Tennessee State University was a visit to President Glenda Glover’s home.

Alanis Onwu

“I immediately fell in love with the family atmosphere I experienced and decided right then that this is where I want to be,” says Onwu, an agricultural sciences biotechnology major, who is in her junior year.

An academic standout and graduate of Nashville’s Lead Academy, Onwu came to TSU on a High Achiever Academic Scholarship with a full ride, but still had other options. On arriving on campus, and as a high achiever scholarship recipient, Onwu was invited to the Presidential Scholars’ Reception for highly recruited students, at the president’s residence.

“That reception changed everything,” says Onwu. “President Glover, the faculty, staff and other students there made us feel so much at home; it felt like a close-knit family, and where I wanted to be.”

In more than two years at TSU, Onwu, a Nashville native, who wants to be a medical doctor, says she made the right decision.

“I have been exposed to so many opportunities. There are so many programs, so many clubs to get involved in. There is something for everyone,” she says.

Maintaining a near 4.0 GPA, Onwu has made the Dean’s List every semester since coming to TSU. She is a member of the Honors College, the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program, and an active participant in the Students Opportunities for Advancement in Research Skills, or SOARS, where she is engaged in research on ways to reduce risk factors and mortality rate of breast cancer in African American women. Onwu is also the president of the African Student Association on campus.

As part of her interest in medicine, and to help accelerate her career journey, Onwu over the summer shadowed doctors in the Meharry Pediatrics Clinic. That experience, she says, has increased interest in becoming a doctor for children.

“First, I wanted to do internal medicine, but now that I have been shadowing doctors and pediatricians, I am really interested in pediatrics. I didn’t think I’d like it at first, but being around them (pediatric doctors) I have really grown to love the practice.”

Onwu’s enthusiasm for learning and her eagerness to be the best have been noticed by her professors – one in particular, who classified Onwu as one of the best students he has had in more than 20 years of teaching.

“She is right at the top of the class,” says Dr. Michael Ivy, professor of biological sciences, who taught Onwu anatomy and physiology. “Compared to other students, she was always prepared, never late. She was dependable. Her assignments were excellent. In addition to her class time, I never had to worry if she was going to miss something. Compared to all of the students I have taught in more than two decades, she ranks in the top 5 percent.”

Outside classwork and other extracurricular activities, Onwu also engages in community affairs and humanitarian work. In December, she launched “The Enugu Education Empowerment Movement,” that collected supplies for more than 50 school children in the Udi Village of Enugu State, Nigeria.

“I wanted to start this movement because in this specific location in Nigeria, many families cannot afford to buy their children school supplies,” says Onwu. “I wanted to make sure more children had the essential tools to be successful while getting an education.”

She is thankful for all TSU has made possible for her to pursue her dream, and encourages others thinking about TSU that “the decision should be easy.”

“I feel anyone thinking about TSU should come, see what it is, try to get involved, take what they like, and they definitely will find something interesting here,” says Onwu.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU President Glover welcomes employees back with message of continued teamwork, student success and accreditation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – “Our decisions must be about the welfare of the students. We are here for the students. We are here on behalf of the students,” President Glenda Glover said as she officially kicked off the fall semester for the university on Aug. 12.

TSU President Glenda Glover, left, welcomes Dr. Belle Wheelan, President of SACSCOC during the Fall Faculty Staff Institute. (Photo by Erynne Davis, TSU Media Relations)

Glover’s opening message continued with service to students during the faculty and staff gathering, held to commence the start of each academic school year.  

“We have an awesome responsibility to challenge minds, to change lives, and to ensure the future. Everything we do must be done with that in mind,” she said.

Her remarks followed the welcome by Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Alisa Mosley; Dr. Geoffrey Burke, chair of the Faculty Senate; and Staff Senate Chair Tequila Johnson, all of whom told faculty and staff they play a role in the success of TSU.

The customary State of the University Address also touched upon the past year of successes and challenges. Hundreds of employees attended the annual event to get an update on those year-long initiatives.  A main topic included the university’s recent sanction by its accrediting body.

“Tennessee State University remains a fully accredited institution,” Glover told faculty and staff. 

TSU was placed on a one-year probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS COC), for failing to comply with one of 25 accrediting standards, which involves student outcome for educational programs.

A special highlight of the Faculty Staff Institute was the appearance of the President of SACSCOC, Dr. Belle Wheelan, who explained the role of the commission and further assured the gathering that TSU is not in danger of losing its accreditation.

“It is a pleasure for me to be here today,” Wheelan said. “My challenge is to help you understand the accreditation process and to believe within your heart, as I do in my heart, that TSU is going to be alright. I assure you, she (President Glover) has pulled every resource together, both human and fiscal, and you all are going to fix this. I assure you, this time next year, you will be fine.”

Glover discussed a “plan of action” to address the issue. Corrective steps taken so far under the plan include the following:  university has retained a nationally known firm with expertise on accreditation matters; hired a full-time director of assessment and accreditation to guide the process internally; as well as a communication/reputation management firm.

Glover introduced Charlise Anderson, a longtime assessment and institutional effectiveness expert, as the new director in charge of accreditation matters.

“We are 100 percent confident that TSU will do all that is required to prepare and submit the documentation that is necessary to remove us from probation,” Glover said. “We are fixing this and fixing it now.”

Glover also announced progress and challenges in other areas including, recruitment, retention, graduation, campus safety, customer service, but said ensuring student success remains “the key reason we are all here.”

On a major achievement, Glover informed the university of TSU’s recent partnership with tech giant Apple, and the hosting of the inaugural HBCU C2 Presidential Academy last month.

“TSU is now a National Center for Smart Technology Innovations that will bring coding and creativity opportunities across HBCU campuses,” Glover said. “TSU will be the hub for all 104 HBCUs to come here and code and create.

Dr. Robbie Melton, interim dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, and the initiative’s main facilitator, was recognized for spearheading the effort that made the partnership possible. Dr. Melton then presented the TSU-trained code and creative team members.

The University is offering the coding course for free to employees. The institute culminated with lunch on the lawn.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

New Tennessee State University Smart Technology Center Introduces Area Youth to Coding, Creativity

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has launched the first community “Everyone Can Code and Create” initiative for youth on its Avon William Campus.

Thirty students from Camp Zion, a summer program at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, participate in “Everyone Can Code and Create” at TSU. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

The initiative, which debuted July 23, is part of the newly established National Center for Smart Technology Innovations, created through the HBCU C2 Presidential Academy to bring coding and creativity opportunities to students across HBCU campuses, as well as Nashville students.

The exercise was for youth between ages 6 and 14. More than 30 students participating in Camp Zion, a summer program at Mt Zion Baptist Church, attended the workshop.

They experienced hands-on coding and creativity using iPads, robotic Sphero balls, and more.

Dr. Nicole Arrighi, professor of teaching and instruction at TSU, instructs middle school students in coding and creativity. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Eighth-graders Harmony Kennedy and Devin King were among those who attended. They said the exercises opened their eyes to technology they never knew existed.

“Coding is really cool,” said Kennedy, from Grassland Middle School in Franklin, Tennessee, who wants to either be a psychologist, a singer or an actress. “I like how you program and interact with technology to be able to one day change the future for good.”

For King, who wants to be a football player, he thinks coding will be very helpful in how he manages his career as an athlete.

“It (coding) is something I have been dreaming about,” the Joelton Middle School student said. “This is technology that certainly will help me on my journey in the sports world.”

Summer camp students from Mt. Zion Baptist Church team together to code and create at TSU. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

On July 19, TSU launched the HBCU C2 Presidential Academy, which is supported by tech giant Apple. Leaders of 14 historically black colleges and universities – including Tennessee State – from across the country went away from the Academy with knowledge and skills in coding and app development from Apple’s comprehensive coding curriculum. As part of the initiative, TSU is also working with Metro Nashville Public Schools, Motlow State Community College and the Metropolitan Nashville Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. to expand coding opportunities to other students in the community.

According to Dr. Robbie Melton, TSU’s interim dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, and the initiative’s main facilitator, the youth camp is part of “an academy that starts from pre-school to the work world.”

“So, today we have Mt. Zion, next week we are going over to Hadley Park with their summer camp, and then start with Metro Public Schools, where we will have coding classes in the afternoons and on the weekends,” Melton said. “So, TSU is positioned to create and code everywhere you are with whatever group or population.”

She said the Camp Zion participants went through a series of creative activities using garage band and iPads to learn how to code robots, spheros, drones and other items.

“This will help them with their reading, writing and all of their school subjects across the board,” Melton said.

Dr. Nicole Arrighi, professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, was among those who facilitated the youth initiative. Using the Garage Band, an application for the iPad, she helped the students in one session develop drum beats and “rap names” for themselves.

“The exercise gave them (the students) the opportunity to see how they can use their creativity to use an informal coding,” Arrighi said. “In this particular setting, the coding is in the layout of actual beats to actually make their own ring tone.”

For more information on TSU HBCU C2 go to http://www.tnstate.edu/hbcuc2/

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

Williams Named Associate Vice President For Research And Sponsored Programs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dr. Frances Williams has been appointed associate vice president for research and sponsored programs.  Williams is currently the associate dean for graduate studies and research in the College of Engineering.

Frances Williams

In her new role, Williams will provide oversight of TSU’s research enterprise, including management of research grants and contracts, strategic research initiatives and partnerships, proposal development, and TSU’s Centers of Excellence.

“I am excited for the opportunity to serve the university in this capacity,” said Williams, who is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering, and director of the Center for Micro-, Nano-, and Bio-technology Research at Tennessee State University. “I look forward to working with the TSU family to expand our research and sponsored activities and to foster strategic partnerships for growth.”

John Barfield, TSU director of engagement and visibility in the Division of Research and Institutional Advancement, said he is encouraged by Williams’ appoint because of her vast research experience.

“Dr. Williams is an experienced researcher who has gone through every gamut of what it means to be funded and is known nationally for her research.  She also has a good sense of what research administration takes because she has worked on these projects over the years.  So to have somebody who has that experience and has also been the associate dean in the College of Engineering and understands the faculty side of it, I expect her to take off and take us in new directions.”

A veteran researcher and university administrator, Williams previously served as the director of the Center for Materials Research at Norfolk State University as well as the director of Norfolk State’s Micro- and Nano-technology Cleanroom, a premiere research facility for fabricating micro- and nano-scale devices.

Williams has extensive publications, and holds a patent in the areas of advanced materials and devices, biosensors, and nano- and micro-electromechanical systems processing and devices. She has received grants totaling over $15 million as a principal investigator or co-principal investigator.

For her contributions in teaching, scholarship, and service, she has received various awards including the 2018 STEM Innovation Award at the 32nd Black Engineer of the Year Awards (BEYA) STEM Global Competitiveness Conference.  In 2013, she received the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) Outstanding Faculty Award (the highest faculty award given out by the state).  She was named an “Emerging Scholar” by Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine in 2012.  She was also awarded Norfolk State’s top distinguished faculty award, the University Award of Excellence in 2010.

Williams holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU students benefit from Regions Bank and Cheekwood Partnership providing summer jobs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – This summer Tennessee State University is providing paid internships for TSU students thanks to a partnership with Cheekwood Estate and Gardens and Regions Bank.

According to Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, these internships are part of the college’s initiative to increase its number of student internships with industry partners.

“This is a great investment by Regions Bank in our students,” said Reddy.  “We place a lot of importance on these internships.  Historically, we used to send a lot of students to the different governmental agencies. Now we are branching out to a lot of industry partners. This summer we have almost forty students across the country in different organizations and companies doing internships.”

Reddy said Regions Bank is providing $25,000 this year for student salaries. 

Daiva Wilson, a senior Agriculture major with a concentration in biotechnology who interned with Cheekwood last summer, said her experience at Cheekwood was eye-opening.

Daiva WIlson

“I’d never been to a botanical garden before, so just seeing the garden was a benefit,” said Wilson, who serves as an intern with USDA this summer.  “Also, I was able to see how the gardeners work with one another. They actually create such a beautiful display for members and people who visit the garden.”

Wilson’s internship at Cheekwood focused on horticulture.  She said she worked with the plant team and had the opportunity to experience the entire Cheekwood garden.  She credits Dr. De’Etra Young, assistant professor of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, with helping her secure the internship.

“The TSU College of Agriculture is really big on students presenting their goals. We have the Dean’s Scholars Program, and students with a 3.0 or higher are partnered with a mentor, which is usually a professor who does research in the lab,” she said. “Dr. Young pretty much says if you are a dean’s scholar, you should have an internship every summer.”

Young said the Cheekwood internships focus on three areas: education, horticulture and aboriculture.

“The role that I play is actually recruiting students and then internally vetting them before we send them over to Cheekwood, and then Cheekwood has their own application and interviewing process,” Young said. “For me, I believe that the experience for our students is hands-on experience that compliments what we are teaching in the classroom.”

Daniel Shaw, a senior Agribusiness major from Lamar, Arkansas, said he enjoys being a summer intern at Cheekwood.

“I am doing maintenance at the garden, like weeding, watering and planting.  Earlier on, we were transitioning from the spring annuals to the summer annuals, and we briefly started doing some plant identification for a daylily collection they have,” he said.

Shaw, who is also considering a career in environmental sciences and was introduced to the opportunity by Young, said he thinks the internship will give him leverage with future employers.

“It shows that you can be committed to something. Hopefully other people are going to be able to see your work ethic and put in a good word for you,” he said.

Shaw and fellow TSU student Jenna Jones, an education major at TSU, began their summer internships at Cheekwood in mid-May and will work through late July. 

TSU students Steve Osborne (left), an Agriculture Sciences major with concentration in Environmental Sciences and Davia Wilson(right), an Agriculture major with a concentration in Biotechnology, with Cheekwood Plant Collections Manager Shanna T. Jones (center) during their summer internship at Cheekwood in 2018.

Although the Cheekwood internship has existed since 2017, it has had multiple funders. This year Regions Bank is playing an instrumental role in the partnership. 

“Regions has longstanding relationships with both Tennessee State University and Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, said Senior VP and Regional Community Development and Partnerships Manager Latrisha Jemison with Regions Bank. “This is an ideal partnership that allows us to invest in a successful program with very talented students. TSU students complete the internship with workforce ready skills and go on to acquire employment in the horticultural profession.”

Reddy said TSU President Glenda Glover initiated the partnership.

“We have been sending out students as interns, and they have been paying the students for internships during the summer and during the regular semester for some time,” he said. “We are interested from an environmental perspective, with regards to botany and understanding the plants.  From their perspective, it is for beauty and environment.” 

He said faculty from the College of Agriculture have also played a role in the partnership.

“Our faculty have been trying to provide technical assistance on some basic things, like how to grow plants hydroponically, and how to take care of the ornamental plants,” he said.  “So there are student internships and faculty support for the public who come to Cheekwood Gardens.”

Peter Grimaldi, vice president of gardens and facilities at Cheekwood, said the internships provide students with an experience that includes a combination of direct service, working in the garden along with Cheekwood’s permanent professional staff, and project-based work.

“Public Horticulture includes the full spectrum of horticulture, and the opportunities at our operation pretty much include bits and pieces of almost any professional opportunity you can seek out in the green industry,” he said. “The interns have been very impressive, the students themselves, and if they are in anyway a representation of the young professionals that TSU is sending out into the workplace and the community, and they are, then that’s something the university should be proud of.”

Grimaldi said the botanical garden plans to have two additional internships this fall.

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

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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