NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is partnering with FedEx to reinstitute a program that trains and develops students with top leadership skills to help them be even more competitive in the workforce.
Called “Leadership TSU,” 40 students – from freshmen to seniors – with demonstrated ability to lead, have been selected as the first cohorts of the program, which kicked off Jan. 20.
LTSU, considered the highest level of leadership training at the university, with 27 learning outcomes that have been modeled around the nation, closed out about seven years ago, according to Frank Stevenson, TSU’s dean of students.
“We are bringing it back under the same idea of developing top leaders at the university. We secured the funding and created the opportunity,” he said. “We pitched the idea to FedEx about creating an opportunity for students to learn some of their best practices, they immediately were on board.”
He said in addition to material and other support, FedEx will expose the cohorts to “some of the company’s leadership practices that fit in with what they do.” TSU faculty and national leadership training experts are also participating in the training.
A component of the training program, Stevenson said, is to connect cohorts to successful individuals and groups “to share with our students and cohorts the habits of successful people.”
For instance, on Jan. 19, TSU Board of Trustees Chairman, Dr. Joseph Walker III, and his wife, Dr. Stephanie Walker, hosted the inaugural class of LTSU at their home. Dr. Joseph Walker, pastor of Nashville’s Mt. Zion Baptist Church, is presiding bishop of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International, as well as chairman of the TSU Board of Trustees. His wife, Dr. Stephanie Walker, is a top pediatrician. They are authors of several books and publications.
“Leadership TSU is a game changer,” Bishop Walker said. “Dr. Stephanie and I were honored to host this group of extraordinary students. Their stories are powerful and their drive for success is contagious. The future looks bright and this program will be a major contributor.”
LTSU is a one-year program. To be nominated, students must maintain a minimum 2.5 grade point average. Stevenson said the current cohorts have a combined average GPA of 3.2, and were nominated by their deans, vice presidents, and the president.
“We wanted them (nominators) to identify those students who had already exhibited incredible leadership skills, and who really celebrate the best of TSU culture in terms of how they carry themselves. We asked them to also nominate those students, who in their mind, would best benefit from this training or this opportunity,” Stevenson said.
Donovan Stewart, the current Mr. Sophomore, is a member of the reinstituted LTSU. He said he is serious-minded and happy to be a part of such a diverse group of fellow students.
“It is a great feeling to be selected,” said Donovan, a nursing major from Birmingham, Alabama. “It is a great feeling to be acknowledged, not only for academics, but also leadership. And it is a good thing to get people from different backgrounds.”
As part of their initial activities, the group will visit the Tennessee State Capitol on Feb. 1 to hear about law and policy making from top elected officials, Stevenson said. In March, they will “make a social justice learning trip” to Washington, D.C.
TSU Assistant Dean of Students, Erica Gilmore, who is also at-large council member; and Tasha Andrews, director of student activities, coordinate LTSU along with Stevenson. Andrews spoke about the caliber of students in the program and why they were selected.
“As student affairs practitioners, we really understand that being a student leader goes beyond academic excellence. It is more about being well rounded and well cultivated,” she said. “We have students with 2.7 or 2.8. Some of them may have a low GPA, but they excel in other ways. It was important that we had a very diverse group. All of those students bring leadership traits that we admire and that are unique to each of them.”
Students interested in being selected for the 2020 class of Leadership TSU should contact the Office of the Dean of Students at (615) 963-2154 or firstname.lastname@example.org.