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TSU Mourns the Loss of John Barnhill

John Barnhill
John Barnhill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU Sports Information) – Today, the Tennessee State family mourns the loss of John Barnhill, one of the greatest basketball players to compete at the University.

John Barnhill was the point guard on TSU’s NAIA 1957-59 National Championship Teams and he assisted legendary TSU alum Dick Barnett on many of his buckets. Barnhill was good around the basket too, tallying 1,253 points during his career as a Tiger.

Barnhill’s career point number ranks him 19th all-time, which is quite impressive considering the hundreds of Tigers that have played at TSU since the 62 years since he retired.

Barnhill’s ability around the bucket and the publicity of the titles made professional teams take note of him.

In 1959, the NBA’s St. Louis Hawks took a chance on Barnhill with their 11th round draft pick.

Barnhill played an average of 21 quality minutes per game for the Hawks, and tallied 8.5 points per game.

A few years later, in 1966, the Chicago Bulls were set to join the NBA. The Bulls liked what they saw from Barnhill and gained the rights to draft the guard from Barnhill’s old team.

Barnhill never played for the Bulls, as the Baltimore Bullets bought his rights from Chicago. Barnhill averaged eight points per contest with the Bullets, causing him to get drafted by the NBA’s newest team- the San Diego Rockets.

Barnhill averaged 13 points and four assists per game during his NBA career.

Following his playing career, Barnhill was an NBA assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, assisting Bill Sharman; he acted as the Lakers’ interim coach during the 1974-75 season, while Sharman’s wife was ill with cancer.

Barnhill eventually ended his career with the Indiana Pacers of the ABA in 1972, and was inducted into the Tennessee State Sports Hall of Fame in 1983.

He will be remembered as a student, player, leader, champion and a Tiger. Barnhill was 75.




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


About Tennessee State University

With nearly 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

‘Race’ comes to Tennessee State University Nov. 7-10

Play tackles controversial issues of rape, sex and race


race-poster-3-biggerNashville, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – “Race,” the latest play from Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning playwright David Mamet, makes it debut Nov. 7-10 at Tennessee State University, and will explore the questions of rape, sex and race.

Produced by the Theatre Department at TSU, the play will take place in the Cox-Lewis Theatre of the Performing Arts Center. Admission is free, however, “Race” contains adult language and is recommended for mature audiences.

Mamet’s play, which opened in December 2009 on Broadway and ran for just under 300 performances, tackles America’s most controversial topic in a provocative tale of sex, guilt and bold accusations. The story focuses on three attorneys, two black and one white, who grapple with evidence to defend a white man charged with a crime against a black woman, as well as their own personal feelings about race. The play features ethnic one-liners about guilt and shame that will provide fuel for the post-performance discussions.

“Race” playwright David Mamet is a two-time Oscar nominee, director, essayist, novelist and poet who has been a force in American theater since 1976. His works include “American Buffalo,” “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Speed-the-Plow” and “Oleanna.” Mamet has also won acclaim for numerous screenplays, including “The Verdict” and “Wag the Dog” (both nominated for the Academy Award for Best Screenplay), as well as “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and “The Untouchables.”

The play premiered in the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in 2009, featuring renowned actors Kerry Washington, James Spader, David Alan Grier and Richard Thomas. “We decided to bring this shocking play home to our campus to give our community an opportunity to discuss the continual issues of race in the U.S.,” said play director, Marc Payne.

Performances take place Nov. 7-9, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 10, at 3 p.m. Discussions will be held immediately following each performance and reservations should be made in advance by visiting (Go to “Race” – the play at Tennessee State University, and register for each night with e-mail addresses).

For more information, contact Arianna Petty at  



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



About Tennessee State University

With nearly 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

Return to Hale Stadium Adds Extra Flair to 101st Spring Commencement

The Reverend Jesse Jackson (center) congratulates Mr. TSU, Sidney Johnson (left) and Miss TSU, Danicia Hays on their successful graduation. Jackson delivered the 101st commencement address to more than 1,200 graduates May 11, 2013 at Hale Stadium. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)
The Reverend Jesse Jackson (center) congratulates Mr. TSU, Sidney Johnson (left) and Miss TSU, Danicia Hays on their successful graduation. Jackson delivered the 101st commencement address to more than 1,200 graduates May 11, 2013 at Hale Stadium. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“Keep Hope Alive,” Jesse Jackson Tells Graduates


NASHVILLE, Tenn.  (TSU News Service) – The return to Hale Stadium Saturday in a large part contributed to the massive celebration that accompanied TSU’s 101st spring commencement when more than 1,200 graduates walked across the huge stage to receive their degrees.

Seeing the graduates’ faces in digital displays projected on two massive jumbotron screens as they receive their diplomas from TSU President, Dr. Glenda Glover and commencement speaker, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, gave parents, relatives and friends an extra thrill from the packed Hale Stadium.

Maria Ann Randall, 66, who came from Indianapolis to watch her niece, Melissa Walker, receive her degree in Arts and Sciences, said she was extra excited to be able to “actually see and hear Melissa’s name from way up in the stadium as the President gave her the degree.”

“This is really great and a good investment, and makes a proud moment even more meaningful,” said Randall, who was obviously surprised that this was the first time in more than 30 years a graduation was taking place at the stadium. “You all should do this more often.”

For Jackson, the civil rights icon, it was all business. The graduates needed to be reminded about what was expected of them, the challenges those before them faced, the possibilities that lie ahead, and making education more affordable.

“The American dream, which you pursue, is one big net, we are all in it and no one is out,” said Jackson. “The challenge is for all of us to renew our commitment and lift America from the bottom up, not just from the top down.”

Saying that there was too much wealth at the top while the middle class sank, Jackson acknowledged the current economic recovery, but added, “It is from the top down, not from the bottom up.”

“People are struggling to make ends meet; opportunities are getting fewer. As you leave from here there are some of you who will go home instead of going to work. But you must not surrender. Go out and look for more jobs and more education,” Jackson said.

Last semester, a significant number of the students, about 16,000 from HBCUs, were casualties of the federal government’s new and tighter rules governing Parent Plus Loans used by thousands of parents to help pay college costs. HBCUs lost about $166 million in Plus Loans because fewer parents were eligible to receive the government funding. TSU lost $1.6 million.

Jackson, who in the 60s marched along side Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in the fight for freedom, sees this “discrepancy” as another roadblock or government “ploy” to deny minority access to quality education.

“After 50 years since the March on Washington led by Dr. King, today, we are freer but still less equal,” said Jackson, the two-time former presidential contender, and founder and CEO of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, a multi-issue social justice organization. He referred to the “immoral war” in Iraq, violence and hate as reasons behind the inequality.

He reminded the graduates about TSU’s contribution to education for Blacks and the institution’s role in the struggle for equality.

“This was a hotbed of activity for talent,” Jackson said of TSU. “It is a monument to our struggle that we made the New South new. Segregation was more than skin deep. It was bone marrow deep and 50 years later, we’re freer but less equal.”

Asking the graduates and the audience to join him in chanting his famous “Keep Hope Alive” line, Jackson challenged the graduating class not to give up when faced with adversities.

“It is not where you came from or who you come from, but where you are going with what you have. No one here knows what you will be tomorrow, but keep hope alive,” he added, citing the 1968 Memphis, Tenn., uprising, when Dr. King went to support African-American sanitation workers who were striking for equal pay and for a union.

“Mr. (Henry) Baskin, your President, Dr. Glover’s father, was a garbage worker who, as a sanitation supervisor, was a leader in that march. So, from the daughter of a garbage worker to President of university – anything is possible, you only have to be determined. Don’t surrender; keep hope alive.”

In addressing her first commencement class since becoming president in January, Dr. Glover congratulated the graduates for their achievement, and thanked their parents, relatives and friends for the support.

“These students are out here today to celebrate their achievements because of you,” Dr. Glover said. “They could not have made it without you nudging them on and giving them the kind of support they need to be successful.”

The President, who called Jackson a friend, thanked the civil rights leader for his contribution to the movement for justice. She talked days earlier about the appropriateness of Jackson’s participation in the commencement and his speech to the students because 2013 marks 50 years since one of the civil rights movement’s defining moments.

“Since it is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, since [Rev. Jackson] is a notable icon of the entire civil rights movement, I thought it was just proper for him to encourage the students,” Glover said. “That march was about employment and economics, the same issues that graduates are confronting today. Fast-forward 50 years and we have Rev. Jackson to talk to us.”




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



About Tennessee State University

With nearly 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

Young Kurdish Immigrant Beats Near Insurmountable Odds to Earn University Education, American Dream

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Ghariba Babiry is a classic American dream story.

Coming to the United States 15 years ago without understanding a word of English, no prior schooling, and soon to receive a college degree,  …with a potential teaching job in tow, that’s quite an accomplishment.

“It’s all still a dream,” she said.

For the young Kurd, it all started at about age 14 when she, her father, mother and three younger siblings had to flee the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein. They left their Kurdish homeland in northern Iraq for a new life in the U.S.

They landed in Nashville, Tenn.- a totally different culture and way of doing things.

“This was all a new experience and yet my siblings and I were required to cope and succeed amid some serious challenges,” Babiry said.

But challenge, for Babiry, was an understatement.  It was an awakening.

“For my first time ever in a classroom, I was thrust into the eighth grade at Cameron Middle School, with no understanding of English and totally dumfounded,” she said. “I had a separate interpreter with me in class about three hours a week to guide me through the instructions while the teacher was teaching. Worse yet, at 14 years of age, I was the oldest in the class but understood the least. This was very difficult. I tried to give up several times.”

Thanks to Babiry’s very persistent parents, she hung in there through the daily struggle of trying to complete class assignments – almost always the last to finish.

“My mother was constantly on me not to give up. ‘Never give up; don’t be illiterate like me; I can’t even write my own name,’ she would say,” Babiry added.“For my father, all he wanted me to think about was school. ‘I’ll provide you with everything I can after all I came to America for you, so that I can give to you what I did not have the chance to do in Kurdistan,’ he would say.”

The persistence, struggle and what seemed to Babiry then as harassment, paid off through developmental courses -in middle school, high school, community college. …and now Tennessee State University.

On May 11, she will be among more than 1,000 graduates who will receive their degrees when Tennessee State University holds its spring commencement at Hale Stadium.

She will be the third among her siblings to receive a college degree since arriving in the U.S. Two younger brothers, one in Mechanical Engineering and the other in Nursing, have also graduated from TSU. Her youngest sister is pursuing a nursing degree at Middle Tennessee Sate University.

“The idea of graduating May 11 is very surreal because I have been through so much and there were many times that I was not sure I would get through the Praxis exams,” said Babiry, who will receive her degree in Early Childhood Education. “It is even more special to know that my parents will finally see me graduate after many years of hard work. I am thankful to Allah the almighty for their support and for giving me the strength and some very important people who understood my situation and encouraged me along the way.”

While Babiry tries to forget the painful past, she is reminded of “teachers who treated me badly because I did not understand like the other students” did.

“I have made a promise not to do that to my students. Instead, I will be like those who did everything they could to make sure I fit in, understood and treated me with respect and not like I was a burden. A kind word and a little encouragement go a long way; believe me,” she said, giving recognition to some of her TSU professors, especially Dr. Graham Matthews, her senior advisor.

“I had some good teachers, but Dr. Matthews, Ms. (Deborah) Bellamy (also at TSU), and Dr. Tammy Lipsey (Reading Clinical Coordinator for the Metro School System) are heaven sent,” she said. “They were never too busy to make sure I was doing the right thing.”

In addition to her degree, Babiry has completed all certifications required for teaching, with the exception of the English Language Learners Certification or endorsement required to teach in the schools in her area. She should get that certification soon, she said.

She is currently a student teacher at Haywood Elementary School in Nashville.

“I am really enjoying student teaching. I love seeing my students’ faces every day and helping them,” said Babiry, who also worked as a substitute teacher with the Metro School System. “I have a heart for children.  Like many immigrants, I have experienced many hardships in my life, and I am certain that because of my experience, I will be the best role model for my students.”

Babiry seeks no pity, even though it took her seven years to complete her college work, including two years off to focus on passing the Praxis, which she attempted 13 times before finally passing, and spending her first two years of college taking ELL classes and developmental course, she feels stronger.

“This was all because of the difficulty with the English language,” she said. “But I am thankful I stuck with it. I am stronger, more confident, and with my education, I am ready to face the world.”

TSU Students’ Spring Break Projects Help Provide Comfort for Three Florida Families

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Spring break is the time when college students usually flock to the beaches, hang out at parties or just lay back and forget about school for a while.

But for a group of Tennessee State University students, spring break was a time to get their hands dirty to make life better for some less fortunate members of society. As a result of their hard work, three lucky families in Daytona, Fla., now have homes they can be proud of.

As part of a Student Activities “alternative spring break” program, and in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, about 45 students helped to rebuild and remodel homes in three economically hard-hit communities in Daytona.

Although this was an entirely Student Activities initiative, it was made so much easier with the encouragement, and personal financial and material support of TSU President Glenda Glover, who contributed $3,000 cash, and paid for gasoline to fuel the busses that transported the students to Florida.

“This clearly showed leadership and eagerness for the success of her students,” said Zachariah Williams, an Aeronautical and Industrial Technology major from New Orleans, about Dr. Glover’s contribution. “With our experience in the past, I was surprise that she did not only donate gas for the shuttles, but actually made a personal cash donation to make it easy for students to experience such a life-changing event.”

Referring to the students as “great ambassadors” of the University’s “Think, Work, Serve” motto, Dr. Glover said community service is an integral part of college life that students are introduced to as soon as they arrive on campus.

“As a University president, it is a moment of pride when students want to go above and beyond to help others,” she said. “It literally warmed my heart to know that these students would spend a part of their spring break volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.”

Last year, Tennessee State University students provided more than 20,000 hours of service to the Nashville community, with an estimated value of nearly $400,000. While this year’s numbers are still being calculated, TSU students continue to participate in a number of community service activities.

The SGA’s “Mr. TSU,” Sidney Johnson, a founding member of the I AM project, one of the organizers of the Daytona trip, said the idea of the rebuilding and remodeling plan was based on one of his organization’s core values of targeting freshman students to help them “foster the qualities that the ideal TSU man/woman possesses.”

“The idea of an alternative spring break was introduced at TSU to give students a sense of community while gaining meaningful experiences for their resumes or portfolios as they prepare to enter the real world,” said Johnson, a senior Supply Chain major from Memphis, Tenn. “This is not new; other universities offer the choice of an alternative spring break to engage students in meaningful hands-on activities, and the Daytona projects were good examples.”

Dr. Clarence Ball, Professor of Communications, who accompanied the students, said he was impressed by their (students) commitment and dedication to the projects.

“They show a high level of leadership and commitment that made the work so much easier and helped us to complete the projects in a very short time,” said Dr. Ball. “I was really surprised at how much the students liked and enjoyed helping those families.”

Also helping on the projects were members of the TSU Pep Club. Together, the students did landscaping, painting, refinishing, as well as some carpentry and masonry work.

To be sure, the trip was not all work and no play. They had fun visiting Universal Studios in nearby Orlando, took in the beaches, and visited Bethune Cookman University campus, also in Daytona.

The students were so impacted by their Florida experience, especially in helping to make life more comfortable for the three families in Daytona. Participants were all, “Yes,” and “Of course,” when asked if they would participate in another Alternative Spring Break. They left Daytona with a sense of achievement knowing that through their effort, three families now have a safe and sturdy place to sleep.

Submitted by:
Courtney Mickens, Sophomore Communications major

College of Engineering Partners with Boeing to Further Research of Aircraft Systems

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – The College of Engineering at Tennessee State University is continuing a decade-long partnership with the Boeing Company when it was recently announced that Boeing would provide nearly $600,000 worth of funding for the College to help address some of the aircraft challenges facing the company.

Boeing recently approached the College about additional capabilities of the faculty, receiving three research projects to help solve some key issues within the organization, with each project having the potential for continuous funding after the first year. The three projects complements the renewal of the Boeing Aircraft Seat Design Project of $280,000, with a total funding award of $589,000.00.

“The opportunity for academia and industry to collaborate to solve industrial problems makes the company more competitive, and enhances the quality of our engineering programs for students and faculty,” said Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, Dean of the College of Engineering.

The three research projects the college will be involve in include using artificial intelligence for the development of aircraft propulsion controls; developing resilient control mechanisms to mitigate cyber attacks in engineering embedded systems; and developing mathematical models for energy harvesting and storage.

“These grants represents the dedication of the faculty for research, and their commitment to enhance the programs in attracting students to the College of Engineering,” added Hargrove. “Our 10-year relationship has resulted in the hiring of graduates, student internships and co-ops, and research projects that develops faculty expertise and student knowledge.”

This is the second grant in as many months received by the College of Engineering. Back in September, several faculty members from the Department of Mathematical Sciences were recipients of a $300,000 research grant to promote research in applied mathematics and curriculum development. The grant was the result of a collaborative proposal submitted by the faculty members and funded by the National Science Foundation.

TSU’s Department of Mathematical Sciences Receives $300K Research Grant

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Several faculty members from the Department of Mathematical Sciences in the College of Engineering at Tennessee State University are the recipients of a $300,000 research grant to promote research in applied mathematics and curriculum development.

The grant is the result of a collaborative proposal submitted by the faculty members and funded by the National Science Foundation.

The project entitled “New Curriculum and Undergraduate Research in Applied Mathematics at TSU” is under the direction of Drs. Dorjsuren Badamdorj, Ghan Bhatt, Patricio Jara, Sandra Scheick, and Martene Stanberry, and will develop a new applied mathematics program and increase interdisciplinary undergraduate research activities in STEM fields at TSU.

“This grant represents the dedication of the faculty for research, and their commitment to enhance the curriculum in attracting students in mathematical sciences,” said Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, Dean of the College of Engineering.

The goal of the project is to develop and implement an applied mathematics program, which is designed to fill the gap between mathematics and other STEM areas, and includes four objectives:

  • To develop new applied mathematics courses and curriculum,
  • To institutionalize a new concentration in applied mathematics for the B.S. in mathematics,
  • To enhance the educational and research experiences of STEM students through, classes, summer workshops, and seminars in applied mathematics, and
  • To increase the amount of mathematics majors at TSU by 10 percent.

The three general components of the project are curriculum development, a university wide seminar series, and summer research workshops. As a part of the curriculum development, at least five new courses in applied mathematics will be developed, implemented, and integrated into the existing mathematics curriculum. The main objective is to equip STEM students with a strong background of fundamental mathematical tools enabling them to specialize or diversify as opportunity and initiative allow.

New technologies will be available to enhance the teaching and research capacity of the University, including a state-of-the art computer laboratory with parallel computing capabilities. The seminar series will expose the entire undergraduate population to various interdisciplinary research topics in STEM fields in order to motivate students to pursue STEM majors and careers by providing a challenging and exciting seminar series through selected motivational speakers. In addition, students will learn about internship and career opportunities.

The summer research workshops will be held at TSU and will be offered to undergraduate students in STEM departments at TSU and other HBCUs.

The five-week long research program will be divided into two main components; training and research.

Three weeks will involve training and will consist of in-depth lectures necessary to understand the proposed research topic and to provide hands-on training on computer software. The last two weeks will give students and opportunity to work in teams and on proposed research projects under the supervision of the organizing mentors.

Read more on the College of Engineering and the educational and research opportunities.

33 Future Scientists, Engineers Complete 5-Week TSU STEM Summer Program

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Thirty-three prospective college freshmen, with interests in agricultural sciences, biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics and engineering, Friday completed a five-week summer residential institute at Tennessee State University, intended to give them a head start on their college work.

The students, all recent high school graduates from Tennessee and some from as far as Texas, Illinois and Michigan, participated in the combined Engineering Concepts Institute (ECI) and the HBCU-UP/STEM Rising Freshman Summer Institute, funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant.

Describing the program as a “boot camp” for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) majors, Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, Dean of the College of Engineering, said it was intended to improve the students’ chances in college as well as give them a jump-start on their course work.

“Studies have shown that students who participate in pre-college programs have a much higher chance of graduating from college than those who don’t,” Hargrove said, referring to the students as “unique with a higher potential to be successful in their academic career.”

State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, who served as guest speaker at the closing ceremony, told the students that “America needs you” to fill the gap created by the shortage of manpower in the STEM areas.

“If our nation must succeed in technology, engineering, math and science, then you must prepare yourselves for the challenges of the 21st century by being the best at whatever you do, and more focused and determined to achieve at your very best,” she told the students.

The lawmaker lauded the parents for “steering your children in this” direction.

“They could have been somewhere else,” she said. “But you saw it fit to support their dreams by ensuring that they engaged themselves in something more meaningful that will not only enhance their college work, but also ensure their success in life.”

She added, “Making the grades must come along with other responsibilities. Be civil minded. Participate in voting or someone who does not have your interest at heart will decide your fate.  Volunteer, that’s one way of getting to where you want to go. Emulate people who are going somewhere. And above all, believe in God as you face the forces in your life.”

Future cardiologist Matthew Kennedy, 18, a recent graduate of Cane Ridge High School in Antioch, Tenn. (with 3.8 GPA), said not only did the program prepare him “for what’s ahead,” Gilmore’s speech provided an added motivation for him.

“This summer program gave me a strong academic boost in math, physics, chemistry and computer science,” said Kennedy, who plans to major in biology at TSU. “The speaker also has made me even more determined.”

Dr. Orville Bignall, Associate Professor of Physics and one of the instructors in the ECI/STEM summer program, is not surprised that participants are motivated and feel more confident.

“This program provided the students with the basic tools they need to be successful,” he said. “It took out the fear usually associated with physics, and gave them the tools to navigate the tough science courses.”

According to Dee Green, Coordinator of the ECI and HBCU-UP/STEM Summer institutes, all but three of the students who participated in the program have already committed to attend TSU for the fall semester.

“We hope to get the others to commit by the time school opens,” she said.

TSU leads consortium of colleges to China

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – The U.S. college population is about 18 million students.  Reported by the Institute of International Education in 2009-10, only about 270,604 participated in any type of study abroad program. These students take advantage of learning not only outside the classroom…..but outside their country of residence.  Their educational experience is enriched by a more global perspective, lifestyle appreciation in the U.S., respect for other cultures and people, and indeed become better decision makers in their respective disciplines.

Students from Tennessee State University recently returned from a study abroad experience to China.  Now recognized as the second largest economy on earth, it was a returning summer visit to this populous country with an amazing ancient history, a nationally directed plan for economic growth, and several industrial enterprise zones that serve as a catalyst for rapid development and urbanization.

TSU led an entourage of five universities (TSU, University of Memphis, Dyersburg, Pellissippi, and Volunteer State Community Colleges) on a four-week study abroad experience as part of the Tennessee Consortium of International Studies, commonly known as TnCIS. The participants were a highly diverse group in gender, race, and academic disciplines.

The first week established a basic level of learning in the language and culture of China. Instructors guided the students through credit earning courses in Sociology, Philosophy, and Logistics & Manufacturing, while being engaged in a foreign environment to complement the knowledge content of their coursework.  The intense curriculum had students immersed in a cultural environment to learn about Chinese history, relationships, international business, and competitive technologies through industry and plant visits.  Thus, several state universities have also established international initiatives on their campuses and abroad.  Within the Tennessee Board of Regents system, the University of Memphis and MTSU have innovative programs with countries in Asia, Europe, and on several other continents.

However, according to the Institute of International Education, almost 80 percent of the U.S. study abroad participants are white and include a large majority of females.  The 8th Conference Forum on Education Abroad has issued a call for more student diversity in study abroad programs, and is encouraging more programs like TnCIS to reach out to community colleges and four-year colleges to diversify the pool with more welcoming strategies that may traditionally hinder some groups from an international experience.

Expanding international education in “all” disciplines can help invite more students and promote awareness of the employment value and marketability of a study abroad experience.  Providing financial support and student organizations are excellent tools for advocating the benefits of international travel.

As Tennessee State University celebrates a century of existence and educating thousands of graduates, its mission of “Think-Work-Serve” extends beyond the shores of the United States with service learning activities, multi-cultural immersion, and providing a value-added education through its study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa.  Though African Americans composed less than 5 percent of the 270,604 students that participated in a study abroad experience in 2009-10, TSU has responded to the call by the Forum on Education Abroad to recruit more underrepresented groups for international travel.

In particular, the College of Engineering at TSU has sponsored several engineering students with foreign visits to Brazil, Germany, Korea and China over the last few years. More minorities are participating in these programs, but these numbers can be increased by more engagement by HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) and recruiting at majority institutions.

Creating and expanding study abroad programs through partnerships with international universities, faculty exchanges, scholarships, and organizations that promote global experiences, are strategies to further provide all Tennessee college students with a quality education that rivals other states, and positions us with a larger residential workforce pool of global-educated employees.

TSU Alumna Returns as Fortune 500 Executive-on-Loan

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Patricia Brewer Hairston has landed a “rare” opportunity to give back to her alma mater. The 1977 graduate of Tennessee State University, an executive at Corning Incorporated, a Fortune 500 company, will be working at TSU for one year as an “executive-on-loan” funded by Corning.

As the Corning executive-on-loan, Hairston will work closely with TSU leadership to advance the goals of the Supply Chain Management Program and other leadership initiatives at the institution. “This is an opportunity that I cherish,” Hairston said. “I always wanted to give back to Tennessee State University, and this is certainly a way to do so in a more meaningful way.”

Hairston, director of Global Transportation and Trade Compliance at Corning, currently chairs the TSU Supply Chain Management Program Governing Board, a leadership group of nine leading Fortune 500 companies that collaborate and work with the University to review curriculum, lead research, and develop students for future leadership in supply chain management. She has been a member of the board since 2006.

TSU President, Dr. Portia Holmes Shields, called Corning “a forward-thinking company” for assigning Hairston to TSU where she can have a direct impact on the development of future supply chain management professionals. “We are thrilled to see her return to us so capable and a more strengthened graduate with a level of technical and executive expertise that can only be helpful to Tennessee State University,” she said.

According to Hairston, Corning, the world leader in specialty glass and ceramics, has already hired two TSU students and hires interns from the supply chain program annually. “I appreciate the support of Corning for its foresight and the partnership with Tennessee State University, which is ensuring that TSU graduates are well trained and ready for the workforce.  We see the supply chain management program as a pipeline to recruit the best and brightest from this university, and I am glad to be a part of this effort.”

Hairston, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Architectural and Civil Engineering from TSU, said her assignment has been a “valuable” experience that has given her the opportunity to reconnect with her alma mater. She was particularly thankful to Dr. Festus Olorunniwo, chair of the Department of Business Administration at TSU, for his effort in getting her back to TSU.

“We first met at a supply chain conference,” Hairston said. “When he realized that I was a TSU graduate, he invited me to join the Supply Chain Board, which I did not give much thought to at the time, but he insisted and followed up with calls and I finally agreed to join. Since then, I have attended every board meeting except for two because of previously planned engagements. Overall, this has been a very rewarding experience.”

Dr. Olorunniwo described Hairston as “an experienced and dedicated professional with a strong commitment” to give back to TSU. “As chair, she has ably led the body in ensuring the growth of this program, and has helped in proving internship and job placement opportunities for our supply chain students,” he said.

Hairston, who will also work with the president of TSU in an advisory capacity, has received high commendation from the Vice President of University Relations and Development, Dr. William Nelsen, with whom she has been working closely. “TSU is very fortunate to have an executive of her caliber and qualification to be assigned to this institution,” he said. “We look forward to her leadership on important projects that would advance this university.”

At Corning, where she has been since 1999, the TSU-trained engineer has held several key positions, including director of International Procurement and Transportation, leading and facilitating the growth of Corning’s outsourced manufacturing capability in Asia. Before that she served as director of Global Strategic Sourcing, where she led a $3.1 billion company spending initiative, while instituting other cost-cutting measures. Prior to joining Corning, Hairston worked for Westinghouse as manager of international procurement, commodity centers manager, and as the IT procurement manager.

Hairston is in her third year as chair of the Tennessee State University Supply Chain Management Program Governing Board. The Mobile, Ala., native is married to Robert J. Hairston. They have five children.