Tag Archives: featured

Tennessee State University Alum and NASA Engineer Receives Director’s Commendation Award for Outstanding Contribution

NASA Johnson Space Center Director, Dr. Ellen Ochoa, right; and Deputy Director Kirk Shireman, left, congratulate Ron Cobbs after presenting him with the NASA-JSC Director’s Commendation Award, during a ceremony recently in the Teague Auditorium at the center.
NASA Johnson Space Center Director, Dr. Ellen Ochoa, right; and Deputy Director Kirk Shireman, left, congratulate Ron Cobbs after presenting him with the NASA-JSC Director’s Commendation Award, during a ceremony recently in the Teague Auditorium at the center. (Courtesy photo)


NASHVILLE, Tenn.
(TSU News Service) – A Tennessee State University alumnus and NASA engineer has been recognized for outstanding contribution to the agency.

Ron Cobbs, a 1989 TSU graduate with a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering and avionics chief engineer assigned to the International Space Station operations, recently received the NASA Johnson Space Center Director’s Commendation Award.

The award, the highest honor given by the NASA-JSC administrator, recognizes the center’s civil servants with “significant” contribution toward the mission and operations of the JSC.

Last year, Cobbs’ input was helpful in identifying the cause of a space suit malfunction during a spacewalk in July. Although Cobbs was not part of the official Extravehicular Mobility Unit (space suit) investigating team, he was asked to “look into” the situation because the problem “appeared to be electrical.”

Ron Cobbs, International Space Station Avionics Chief Engineer and TSU graduate, helped NASA engineers identify the cause of a serial interface issue with a spacesuit that malfunctioned during a spacewalk on July 16. (courtesy photo)
Ron Cobbs, International Space Station Avionics Chief Engineer and TSU graduate, helped NASA engineers identify the cause of a serial interface issue with a spacesuit that malfunctioned during a spacewalk on July 16, 2013. (courtesy photo)

“I discovered that the problem was a systems problem relative to operational use of the serial port on the laptop side of the suit,” said Cobbs, after investigating the problem. As a result of his findings and recommendation, the procedures for the astronauts were rewritten and retested, subsequently leading to identifying the problem.

Saying that he is “deeply honored” to receive the Administrator’s Award from NASA-JSC, Cobbs, who has been with NASA for nearly 30 years, credits his parents and his TSU preparation for his career success.

“My parents always taught me to work hard and always do the right thing,” said Cobbs, who also holds a master’s degree in Space Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. “They taught me to believe in myself, have faith and shoot for the moon.”

Shooting for the moon is what Cobbs has been doing since. As avionics chief engineer, his role is to ensure that engineers in the NASA Directorate adhere to the “right processes.” He also supports project managers during the design, development, test and evaluation of projects that require electronics and/or software for operational use.

“I also support Failure Investigation Teams whenever their failures or anomalies on the Space Station need to be resolved. I also sit on several Space Station program boards to provide concurrence representing engineering on all proposed forward plans and action that will be implemented,” Cobbs noted.

“Ronald Cobbs is a true example of an electrical engineering graduate with passion for life-long learning and professional growth,” Dr. Satinderpaul Singh Devgan, professor and head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said of his former student, when information came out about Cobbs’ spacesuit malfunction intervention.

Cobbs joined NASA at the Johnson Space Center immediately after graduating TSU. He has moved through the ranks from design engineer, systems engineer to now ISS avionics chief engineer.

“I think Ron Cobbs’ achievement at NASA is a great story,” added Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Breast Cancer Vaccine Developed by Tennessee State University Researcher and Colleagues Shows Promise in Preliminary Trial

Dr. Venkataswarup Tiriveedhi, a cancer and immunology specialist and assistant professor of Biological Sciences, works on cancer mechanism in his lab in Harned Hall at Tenessee State University. Tiriveedhi and a group of researchers from Washington University School of Medicine at St. Louis have come up with an experimental vaccine for breast cancer that appears to be safe in preliminary trials.
Dr. Venkataswarup Tiriveedhi, a cancer and immunology specialist and assistant professor of Biological Sciences, works on cancer mechanism in his lab in Harned Hall at Tennessee State University. Tiriveedhi and a group of researchers from Washington University School of Medicine at St. Louis have come up with an experimental vaccine for breast cancer that appears to be safe in preliminary trials. (photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A Tennessee State University scientist and a group of researchers from Washington University School of Medicine at St. Louis have come up with an experimental vaccine for breast cancer that appears to be safe in a preliminary trial.

According to a study published in Clinical Cancer Research, Dr. Venkataswarup Tiriveedhi, assistant professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, and his colleagues found that the experimental vaccine, Mammaglobin-A, was “overexpressed” in 40 to 80 percent of primary breast cancers.

Also known as MAM-A, the vaccine prompted CD8 T-cells to track and eliminate the MAM-A protein, noted Tiriveedhi. To determine the efficacy and safety of the experimental drug, he said they conducted a phase I trial involving 14 patients diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.

“The side effects from the vaccine after one year were minimal, and included rashes, tenderness, and mild flu-like symptoms,” added Tiriveedhi, who specializes in cancer and immunology.

By the one-year mark, the study revealed, roughly 50 percent of the patients showed no sign of disease progression. By comparison, only 20 percent of a similar group of 12 patients showed no signs of disease progression one year out.

The researchers, however, stressed the need for a larger and longer study, to prove the current preliminary evidence prior to its use in all breast cancer patients. They theorized that “these promising results” from initial studies could be applied not only to prevent cancer progression but also to prevent the development of breast cancer in women.

“The current one (study) is a small Phase-I trial mainly aimed at testing the safety (does no harm). But we have also found this vaccine to be highly effective against the disease. The next step is to go for larger Phase II/III studies with a higher cohort of breast cancer patients and rigorously test for efficiency, dosing, clinical outcomes, cancer stage specificity, etc.,” noted Tiriveedhi, who holds MD and Ph.D. degrees.

He called the study a “promising move forward” that is not just restricted to breast cancer, but one that can be employed in “similar strategies” to treat other cancers such as lung and colon cancers.

“The MAM-A DNA vaccine is safe, capable of eliciting MAM-A–specific CD8 T-cell responses, and preliminary evidence suggests improved PF,” the researchers concluded.

Dr. Tiriveedhi, who came to Tennessee State University about a year and half ago, started the study, “Safety and Preliminary Evidence of Biologic Efficacy of a Mammaglobin-A DNA Vaccine in Patients with Stable Metastatic Breast Cancer,” with his colleagues at Washington University before leaving to join the faculty at TSU.

 

 

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

To Succeed, Learn to Keep Pace with Fast-Changing World, TSU Commencement Speaker Tells More than 500 Graduates

IMG_5696
President Glenda Glover presents a plaque of appreciation to Shannon A. Brown, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resource and Diversity Officer at FedEx Express, who served as the keynote speaker for the fall commencement at TSU.


NASHVILLE, Tenn.
(TSU News Service) – Saying that today’s fast-changing world requires people who can adapt, Tennessee State University fall commencement speaker told nearly 500 graduates Saturday that to be successful they must be ready to “run when the sun comes up,” to keep pace.

“Today’s reality is that the world is changing faster,” said Shannon Brown, senior vice president and chief human resource and diversity officer at FedEx Express. “Economies and their enterprises are moving at a very fast pace and people who are slow to adapt will be left behind.”

Brown, recognized by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the “100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America,” paralleled his remarks to the “gazelle” and the “lion” in Christopher McDougal’s book, “Ready to Run,” where the gazelle must outrun the fastest lion or be killed, or the lion must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve.

“It doesn’t matter whether you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be running,” said the FedEx executive, who, in 30 years, worked his way from a package handler to become one of the top executives at the world’s largest express transport company.

He said in a fast-track world with constant technological advances and changes that have revolutionized all aspects of industry and human thinking, people who are slow to catch on and prepare for the future will be left behind.

He applauded the graduates for their determination to complete their university journey, urging them to use that same determination to press their way forward.

“As you enter this fast changing world, surround yourselves with good mentors; they can help you make the transition from one environment to the other; don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone; and commit to being lifelong learners,” Brown told the graduates.

The Memphis, Tennessee, native who said his job as the highest ranking human resource and diversity officer at FedEx is to keep employees engaged and satisfied, named charisma, individual consideration, intellectual stimulation, courage, dependability, flexibility, judgment and respect for others as “time-tested” leadership principles that will keep them competitive in their chosen fields.

“It is about believing that every individual brings value to the table; and do not forget to give back to the community,” Brown added.

Leaitrice Medina
President Glenda Glover congratulates Leatrice Medina for receiving the Academic Excellence Award. The award is given to a graduating senior with the highest GPA of 4.0 among her classmates. Medina received her degree in Psychology.

TSU President Glenda Glover, herself a Memphis native, thanked Brown for what she called, “a thought-provoking” speech, and congratulated the graduates for their accomplishment.

“You have endured and prepared yourself to reach this goal which may have seemed unattainable, but you stuck with it,” Dr. Glover said. “You must always remember that you did not accomplish this goal all by yourselves. There were parents, relatives, friends and mentors who helped you along the way. Remember to thank them.”

More than 500 graduates received degrees in various disciplines at the ceremony in the Gentry Center Complex. Among officials who attended the program was Dr. Wendy Thompson, vice chancellor for Organizational Effectiveness and Strategic Initiatives, at the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Tennessee State University, Neighborhood Groups Sign Collaborative Agreement to Provide Help for Aging Population

President Glover makes remarks minutes before the signing of the MOU in Jane Elliott Hall. Joining the president are Michael Harris, dean of the College of Public Service and Urban Affairs, left; Jim Shulman, Executive Director of the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability; President Glover; State Representative Harold Love Jr.; and Van Pinnock, of the Footprint Collaborative. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)
President Glover makes remarks minutes before the signing of the MOU in Jane Elliott Hall. Joining the president are Michael Harris, dean of the College of Public Service and Urban Affairs, left; Jim Shulman, Executive Director of the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability; President Glover; State Representative Harold Love Jr.; and Van Pinnock, of the Footprint Collaborative. (photos by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – In a partnership that addresses the needs of the aging population, Tennessee State University and a group of neighborhood organizations have formed a collaborative initiative that combines teaching and learning, research and service aimed to enhance the lives of seniors.

Called the TSU Footprint Collaborative, the initiative’s goal is to help seniors and organizations connect to the University’s many resources by matching their needs with the institution’s expertise and service.

In an agreement signed Thursday between TSU and the neighborhood groups, the University, through its Center on Aging Research and Education Services in the College of Public Service and Urban Affairs, will develop lifelong learning programs that include classes on civic education and duties, oral history, technology and community gardening.

According to the agreement, these services and programs, which are a result of several months of studies of seniors’ care and needs in the neighborhoods, and meetings, will begin in January 2015.

Calling the agreement a “holistic approach in addressing the needs of the growing baby boomer population,” TSU President Glenda Glover, said meeting the needs of the aging population is a local, regional and national challenge that requires immediate attention.

The president’s concern and the need for TSU to play a leading role is backed by a recent NIH report, The 2030 Problem: Caring for Aging Baby Boomers, that calls on healthcare providers, institutions and universities to ensure accessible care for the nearly 61 million projected seniors by 2030.

“This agreement puts the University in the forefront – where it should be – to help eliminate issues facing our aging population,” Dr. Glover said, pointing to TSU’s more than 25-year experience, through CARES, in addressing “elder abuse.”

She commended the effort of the late State Rep. Harold Love Sr., whose vision on the issue of elder abuse was helpful in bringing the community and the University together to develop “a more comprehensive and strategic agenda” that not only addresses the various needs of the aging population, but also helps to find “practical solutions.”

President Glenda Glover and Van Pinnock, of the Footprint Collaborative, signed the Memorandum of Understanding at a ceremony in Jane Elliott Hall on the main campus Thursday, as University, state and local officials, as well as representatives of the various neighborhood groups watch.
President Glenda Glover and Van Pinnock, of the Footprint Collaborative, signed the Memorandum of Understanding at a ceremony in Jane Elliott Hall on the main campus Thursday, as University, state and local officials, as well as representatives of the various neighborhood groups watch.

“Tennessee State University’s efforts over the past year with our Footprint Collaborative members helped us to develop a framework for today’s announcement and memorandum of understanding,” the president said.

Neighborhood groups joining TSU in the Footprint Collaborative are College Hill, Hadley Park and Tomorrow’s Hope, all within close proximity of the University.

Van Pinnock, who signed the agreement on behalf the Collaborative, along with Dr. Glover, called the event an “exciting day for the community,” noting TSU’s history as an “HBCU in the forefront of initiatives” that enhance the lives of seniors in the community.

“I am just excited to be a part of this endeavor,” Pinnock said. “We are thankful to Dr. Glover and Tennessee State University for this initiative.”

State Rep. Harold Love Jr., himself an advocate for senior care, who was among many federal, state and local officials to witness the signing, also stressed the growing need for better and improved care for the aging population, as advocated by his late father.

“More of our seniors need assistance more than ever before, and I am glad Tennessee State University is leading the way in this endeavor,” Love added.

Also making comment at the ceremony was Jim Shulman, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, who pointed to the state’s dismal rankings in the arrears of smoking cessation, physical inactivity, food insecurity, and many other ailments that affect the national population, especially seniors.

“We need to improve in these areas to ensure a better quality of life for our aging population,” Shulman said. “Anything we can do for our seniors that improves their living standard is important.”

Dr. Michael Harris, dean of the College of Public Service and Urban Affairs, acknowledged the work and individuals in making the Collaborative a reality.

“Dr. Glover should be commended for her vision that made this all possible,” Harris said. “It was a team effort involving CARES, the Department of Sociology and Social Work, and many others in our college including students. Our goal is to find ways to connect academic knowledge with community needs through programs that improve the quality of life for the aging population in Tennessee.”

Students, faculty, staff joined many seniors from the community for the signing in Elliott Hall.

Other officials present were: Devin Stone, assistant director of communications in the Department of Human Services; Norma Powell, deputy executive director on aging programs in the Area Agency on Aging and Disability; and Dr. Consuelo Wilkins, executive director of MeHarry-Vanderbilt Alliance.

 

 

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Tennessee State University Engineering Students Participate in “Hack Nashville”

Myron Sallie, a junior Architectural Engineering mojor, conducts a soldering experiment during Hack Nashville, an event that brought computer programmers and coders together to collaborate on innovative products during the course of a weekend.
Myron Sallie, a junior Architectural Engineering major, conducts a soldering experiment during Hack Nashville, an event that brought computer programmers and coders together to collaborate on innovative products during the course of a weekend. (courtesy photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Students from Tennessee State University recently had the opportunity to hunker down with other like-minded “techies” and programmers from throughout the city to build products, share coding skills and participate in real-world programing exercises.

Billed as Hack Nashville, the event drew more than 300 participants who took part in the gathering November 7-9 where computer programmers and coders came together to collaborate on innovative products during the course of a weekend.

“So much innovation is coming out of these events,” said Dr. Sachin Shetty, assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and one of the team leaders. “This was a great opportunity for our students to apply concepts they learn in the classroom to real-world applications. It was a tremendous boost to show the students exactly what they are capable of accomplishing.”

Hackathons have been around since the late 1990s and have sometimes been called a hackday or codefest where “hackers” meet other hackers, team up according to skill and interest, then collaborate and show off their final product. This is the sixth event hosted in Nashville since 2012 where organizers provide developers and designers a place to come together in a completely organic, unrestricted environment to create.

Shetty and co-team leader, Dr. Tamara Rogers, associate professor of Computer Science, helped prepare the engineering and computer science students compete in the cognitive exercise to develop solutions to real-world problems.

“We worked with other universities in the area to garner more student participation and interest in the event that has traditionally not been opened to students,” added Shetty. “Our students then came up with some unique concepts to demonstrate.”

A 10-member team of TSU students developed two projects at the event.  One project dealt with addressing the problem of controlling any software on a computer without using a keyboard or mouse, called a gesture-free recognition system.

The solution involved using the hands to interact with software on the computer. The team developed a system that used an armband to act as a sensor to control any program.

For example, the armband could enable hands-free audio mixing by altering pitch and volume of musical tones in any type of computer software by simply waving the hands.

Another team developed a low-cost mobile robot that teaches design principles, simple machines, and energy transfer to students in 5th and 6th grades.

“This opportunity was important to our students because it showed them what they are learning in the classroom has real-world applications and can be used to benefit and impact society,” said Shetty. “It also boosted their confidence knowing they have the skills, knowledge and ability to use this experience and take it to the next level and become marketable in any industry.”

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering, agrees, noting the hackathon itself offered a taste of real-world experience to students who are just used to specific assignments from instructors.

“It is important we continue to challenge our students in the classroom and laboratory to enhance their critical-thinking skills, and, at the same time, promote team-based learning while they are students,” Hargrove said. “This will make them more competitive when they graduate and enter the workforce.”

 

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Tennessee State University Installs Cutting-Edge Technology in Pursuit of Teaching and Research

Researchers at Tennessee State University are using state-of-the art technology, such as this new 3-D printer, to develop educational course content and research projects. TSU acquired the printer as part of a three-year Capacity Building Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate the impacts of urbanization on rural communities and agriculture operations in Williamson County, Tennessee. (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)
Researchers at Tennessee State University are using state-of-the art technology, such as this new 3-D printer, to develop educational course content and research projects. TSU acquired the printer as part of a three-year Capacity Building Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate the impacts of urbanization on rural communities and agriculture operations in Williamson County, Tennessee. (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. Researchers are using the latest technology to create artificial organs, prosthetics, jewelry and even automobiles…all with the help of a three-dimensional printer.

Now researchers at Tennessee State University are looking for ways to use this state-of-the-art technology to print everything from high-resolution models to detailed prototypes.

Dr. George Smith, assistant professor of Landscape Architecture and Extension Specialist in the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences, is currently developing new research projects and educational course content to take advantage of the MakerBot Replicator 2 three-dimensional printer. The equipment was purchased with funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as part of a three-year Capacity Building Grant to investigate the impacts of urbanization on rural communities and agriculture operations in Williamson County, Tennessee.

Smith, who holds degrees in Regional Planning and Environmental Design & Rural Development, has high hopes for the potential of 3-D printers and other new technologies embraced by the college.

“3-D printers and other emerging technologies are evolving as powerful research and educational tools,” Smith said. “They have numerous benefits to both students and researchers across many disciplines, including engineering, agriculture, math, biology, geology, health science, and the arts.”

The 3-D printer, which uses a renewable, nontoxic bioplastic made from corn, includes sophisticated printing software that works in tandem with design tools to allow users to produce high-resolution prototypes and models up to 410 cubic inches. According to Smith, this technology will empower TSU students, and foster improved learning and engagement.

“3-D printing allows students to visually comprehend a concept or theory by creating a physical, three-dimensional translation,” Smith said. “Most importantly, this allows us to physically interact with these concepts, manipulating working parts and making accurate adjustments so we can continuously improve on the original.”

Not only is the goal to develop educational content based on 3-D printing applications, said Smith, but the technology will also be used to deliver workshops beginning January 2015 for stakeholders in Williamson County. The workshops will train participants on the impacts of urbanization, including increased flooding and degradation of soils, and water quality in the county.

“A few of the participants will have training in mapping, design, construction and terraforming for remediation purposes,” added Smith. “However, the 3D printers will facilitate this educational process regardless of past training in these areas.”

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

 

 

 

 

Tennessee State University Alumna and Longtime Media Expert Named Executive Vice President at RLJ Entertainment

Traci Otey Blunt
Traci Otey Blunt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Traci Otey Blunt, a 1990 cum laude graduate of Tennessee State University, has been named executive vice president of marketing and corporate affairs at RLJ Entertainment Inc., a premier independent owner, developer, licensee, and distributor of entertainment content and programming.

In her new role, Blunt will oversee the company’s marketing, public relations and investor relations, as well as the promotion of the newly launched RLJE Urban Movie Channel, a digital channel that will feature urban-themed movies showcasing drama, documentaries, comedies, horror and stage plays.

For the last six years, Traci served as senior vice president of corporate communications and public affairs at The RLJ Companies, the holding company of RLJ Entertainment. Prior to joining RLJ Companies, the veteran media, political, and public affairs specialist served as a deputy communications director to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential campaign.

In announcing Blunt’s appointment, the founder of RLJ Companies and Chairman of RLJ Entertainment, Robert L. Johnson, said she has proven to be an invaluable executive in promoting and executing the business goals and objectives of The RLJ Companies.

“I believe appointing her (Blunt) to RLJE as Corporate EVP to perform these functions, as well as focus heavily on the marketing and promotion of UMC is an ideal fit,” said Johnson, who is also founder of Black Entertainment Television. “I am confident that with Traci joining the RLJE management team, her expertise will be beneficial to the company as a whole and help our strategic launch of UMC.”

Blunt, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from TSU, serves on several boards, including Malaria No More, ColorComm, and the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials Foundation. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

“This job is every job I’ve ever had all rolled into one,” Blunt once said upon her appointment as senior vice president at The RLJ Companies. “I always say that I’m never going to leave.”

RLJ is the holding company for 13 diverse business entities ranging from automotive, private equity, financial services, to sports and entertainment.

 

 

 

 

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Business Incubation Center Builds Entrepreneurs Through Start-ups and Small Business Development

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Clinton Gray III, Derrick Moore and Emmanuel Reed wanted to turn their three-man moving company into a thriving business, but they didn’t know how.

They turned to the Nashville Business Incubation Center at the TSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, for help.

The three former college roommates, who dreamed up their moving business idea while still in school at TSU, only had a rented truck and the “grandiose” dream to build a successful moving company like no other.

In 2010, the NBIC stepped in, providing access to business expertise, networking opportunities, mentoring and consulting relationships, and office space for the business start-up.

Moore_Reed
The three former college roommates, who dreamed up their moving business idea while still in school at TSU, only had a rented truck and the “grandiose” dream to build a successful moving company like no other. Now, Clinton Gray III (not pictured) , Derrick Moore (left) and Emmanuel Reed have turned their three-man moving company into a thriving business with an expected revenue projection of $1.6 million by the end of the next business cycle. (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)

In three and a half years, since moving into the center, The Green Truck Moving Company has more than doubled sales each year, growing from three employees and a rented truck, to 30 employees and seven company-owned moving trucks. For a business that started with an initial $3,000 investment, the company’s revenue projection is $1.6 million by the end of the next business cycle, according to Gray, who, as director of marketing, is the front man for the company.

“We wouldn’t be halfway where we are today if it wasn’t for the incubation center,” said Gray. “We have outgrown two previous spaces and have had to move to another. From 500 square-feet when we first came here, we are now occupying a 2,000 square-foot area.”

The incubation center offers management and technical assistance to small businesses for up to five years through classes, programs, onsite mentoring, one-on-one business counseling and peer support.

Angela Crane-Jones, director of the Nashville Incubation Center
Angela Crane-Jones, director of the Nashville Incubation Center (photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations) 

“Our goal is to increase an entrepreneur’s or startup’s likelihood of success by orchestrating connections to coaching, capital, customers, resources and talent,” said Director Angela Crane-Jones.

She said since its establishment in 1986, the NBIC has provided “a well-rounded entrepreneurship and incubation platform” for local businesses. NBIC embraces diversity with a focus on microenterprises: minority, veteran and women owned businesses.

“In the past five years NBIC’s clients have generated over $44.1 million in sales and created 253 new jobs,” Crane-Jones said.

Last year, NBIC clients reported a combined 21 percent increase in sales to close the year at nearly $17 million, while creating 64 new jobs for the Nashville area.

“When they come in, we assess their idea or business growth potential,” Crane-Jones said. “We help them to understand the core functions of human resources, accounting, marketing, legal and operations.”

This way, she said, they can be held accountable to be sure they are hiring the right people, reinvesting their profits into the company, have access or a path to obtain capital, and building sustainable business relationships.

These core values of accountability, reinvestment and sustainability have been a key reason why NBIC start-ups have been successful, and many beat the odds while others floundered under the weight of the recent economic downturn, said Crane-Jones.

U-Kno Catering, a professional catering service and cafeteria food service contractor that prides itself on offering fine cuisine and quality service at an affordable price, knows well the benefit of abiding by the NBIC’s core values.

During the recent recession, while other companies and businesses were struggling and reporting losses, U-Kno Catering, which joined the incubation center in 2008, was maintaining a comfortable profit margin, says owner Brenda Odom, a TSU graduate.

“With the help of the center, we made it a point to reinvest our profits, found a better way to market our business using QuickBooks to track sales, expenses and create invoices instantly,” added Odom, who has more than 20 years experience in the catering and food service industry.

She started the company seven years ago looking to fill a Middle Tennessee market in search of a dependable, fast and quality food service entity with its origin “right here.” There is every indication that Odom has hit her stride. From an initial 1,000 square feet, her business now occupies 2,000 square feet of space at the incubation center.

Among U-Kno Catering’s clients are such notables as Vanderbilt University, Deloitte, Allstate, and NES (Nashville Electric Service), which according to Odom, needed a substantial security bond to sign a contract with the catering service.

“We did not have the bonding, but the incubation center stepped in and provided a letter of guarantee to the bank to help us secure the contract, and bond in less than 30 days,” Odom said.

The success of the NBIC, according to its director, has been largely due to its vision as “the best place to grow a small business,” supported by the University leadership and a Board of Directors including individuals with proven business abilities and keen leadership skills.

Dr. Ruthie Reynolds, executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development. (photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)
Dr. Ruthie Reynolds, executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development. (photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Although TSU President Glenda Glover – a CPA herself and former dean of a business school – joined the University just two years ago, immediately upon arrival saw the need to make the center more responsive to the needs of the business community and the university. She established the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, with an executive director, to serve as an umbrella overseeing the functions of the incubation center, and the Small Business Development Center in the College of Business.

The goal of establishing the CEED was twofold, said Executive Director, Dr. Ruthie Reynolds, also a CPA and a longtime business professor.

“Being so aware of the business world, President Glover wanted a better coordination of the entrepreneurial efforts at the University, as well as begin an interdisciplinary approach to entrepreneurship,” said Reynolds.

She said CEED was created to expand the focus of educating and preparing students for positions within corporations to raising student awareness of self-employment as career alternative.

“By bringing the incubation center and the SBDC under one umbrella, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development endeavors to nurture and encourage entrepreneurial spirit in the students, faculty and staff and the local community,” added Reynolds.

According to Crane-Jones, this coordination of effort has worked well for the incubation center. Although admission to the center is opened to all, she said 27 percent of the new entrepreneurs and startups are either current or former TSU students.

Graduates of the center are making their marks in business and industry.

Take for instance Zycron, started at the center about 23 years ago, is now an industry leader in information technology services, providing client-specific solutions in health care, energy and utilities. It has five offices across the U.S., Latin America and England serving a broad client base.

But while this sounds good, Gray, of The Green Truck Moving Company, says it takes a lot of work to make it all happen.

“Starting a business is not easy, which is why access to business experts and affordable office space that the incubator program offers is so vital,” he noted. “It takes a lot of energy, a lot of will power and a little bit of luck thrown in to succeed.”

And Gray, Moore and Reed know too well what hard work and perseverance can do. Just as they dreamt, they built a moving company like no other…. a real “green company.” Their company trucks run on biodiesel, a cleaner form of fuel, and for every move, the company plants two trees, “which helps beautify our communities as well as clean up our earth’s atmosphere.”

Now, that’s like no other!

 

 

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

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 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Renowned Activist Takes Up Charge to Have TSU Championship Team Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame

The men's basketball team (pictured) from TSU won their second NAIA championship in 1958. The team went on to win a  unprecedented third straight  championship in 1959.
The men’s basketball team (pictured) from TSU won their second NAIA championship in 1958. The team went on to win a unprecedented third straight championship in 1959.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Reverend Al Sharpton is widely known for taking up the fight on behalf of the underdog in his pursuit of justice and equality. Sharpton’s stance on an array of issues has taken him across the country and around the world.

Now, he is on his way to Tennessee State University. His cause, to have TSU’s 1957- 1959 Men’s Championship Basketball Team, the first-ever to win three national titles back-to back, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Thursday night, Sharpton will be joined by University officials and staff, including President Glenda Glover, state and local officials, community leaders and stakeholders, as he presents his cause during a ceremony in Kean Hall on the TSU main campus beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Shortly before the ceremony, Sharpton will address the media during a press conference in the Athletics Lobby, also in Kean Hall, at 6:15 p.m.

Sharpton became friends with TSU alumnus Dr. Richard “Dick” Barnett, a member of all three teams, and was compelled by the achievements of Barnett and his teammates. They were the first in collegiate history to win three consecutive national championships, and the first historically black institution to win a title. Despite Texas Western, the team depicted in the movie “Glory Road,” being recognized as the first all-black starting five to win a college national title, TSU won their title nearly a decade earlier.

Both men believe it is time for the team to become a part of basketball history, and that the University is the perfect place to begin the campaign for the hall of fame. Sharpton will also address other current social issues.

In 1957, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament became the first tournament to have seeded teams, making it the first to have an upset. The unseeded TSU Tigers had four upsets in the tournament, with the most important victory being over Southeastern Oklahoma State in a 19-point blowout (92-73), thus winning the school’s first NAIA Championship. With the win, Tennessee State became the first historically black institution to win a collegiate basketball national championship.

The 1958 Men’s NAIA Division I Basketball Tournament saw defending champions Tennessee State return as the #3 seed. The team’s closest win came in the championship finals against the #1 seed and tourney favorite Western Illinois (85-73). With the win, the Tigers became only the third team to have back-to-back championships. That year, Coach John McLendon was selected “Coach of the Year,” while player Dick Barnett received the “Chuck Taylor Most Valuable Player Award.”

With back-to-back NAIA Championships, Tennessee State entered the 1959 Men’s Division 1 Basketball Tournament as the top seed. The team had an opportunity to accomplish a feat no other team had done, win a third consecutive title. TSU breezed through the tournament. The finals pitted the Tigers against #3 seed Pacific Lutheran University. Again, Tennessee State prevailed beating Pacific Lutheran 97-87 to capture the title. It was the first time any school had won three tournaments in a row. Barnett received his second “MVP Award.”

The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame recognized the team last spring during its annual ceremony. They were honored for Significant Historical Achievement.

Barnett will appear with Sharpton during the ceremony in Kean Hall. The community event is free and open to the public.

 

 

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

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 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Signs Reverse Transfer/Dual Admission Agreement with Dyersburg State

DyersburgStateCCNASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has made it easier for transfer students from Dyersburg State Community College to receive the associate degree they may lack prior to enrollment at TSU.

Under a Reverse Transfer agreement signed between the two institutions October 15, students who transfer to TSU without first completing their associates degree, will now have the opportunity to use credits earned toward a bachelors degree for completion of their two-year degree. This is the first time this type of agreement has been signed between TSU and a partnering community college.

Staff from TSU and DSCC were present Oct. 15 to sign a Reverse Transfer and Dual Admission agreement between the two  institutions, including: (seated) Dr. Teri Maddox, Interim Vice President, DSCC; Dr. Karen Bowyer, President, DSCC; Dr. Kay Patterson (standing) Dr. John Ricketts, program leader in Agriculture Education, Associate Professor; Mr. William Joslin, Site Coordinator, Department of Community College Initiatives; Dr. John Hall, Associate Professor of Agriculture & Leadership Education; Dr. Sharon Peters, Executive Director of Community College Initiatives. (courtesy photo)
Staff from TSU and DSCC were present Oct. 15 to sign a Reverse Transfer and Dual Admission agreement between the two institutions, including: (seated) Dr. Teri Maddox, Interim Vice President, DSCC; Dr. Karen Bowyer, President, DSCC; Dr. Kay Patterson (standing) Dr. John Ricketts, program leader in Agriculture Education, associate professor; William Joslin, site coordinator, Department of Community College Initiatives; Dr. John Hall, associate professor of Agriculture & Leadership Education; Dr. Sharon Peters, executive director of Community College Initiatives. (courtesy photo)

According to Dr. Sharon Peters, director of the Community College Initiative Program at TSU, the agreement builds on partnerships already established with other community colleges around the state. It also helps support community college degree completion, a key component in the Drive to 55 campaign launched by the state of Tennessee that ensures at least 55 percent of Tennesseans have a certificate or degree beyond high school by 2025.

“This helps students attending the University complete their associates degree while pursuing a baccalaureate degree,” said Peters. “While we encourage our students to earn their four-year degree, we understand that students take multiple routes to completing their education. This way, they would have an associates degree which could help them in the job market or career progression.”

The agreement also creates a Dual Admission track that establishes a formal pathway for DSCC students to accumulate academic credits toward an Agricultural Science degree at TSU.

TSU’s Agricultural Sciences major includes concentrations in Agricultural and Extension Education, Food Bioscience and Technology, Agribusiness, Plant and Soil Science, Animal Science, and Biotechnology.

“Agriculture is a major industry in northwest Tennessee and this dual admission agreement is a keystone of the partnership,” added Peters. “We are excited to provide additional education opportunities while providing more choices for aligning associate degrees with bachelor’s degrees through our College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences.”

The agreement with Dyersburg State comes on the heels of an agreement with Southwest Tennessee Community College last month, which now brings the total number of agreements between TSU and community colleges across the state to seven, and along with DSCC and STCC, includes Volunteer State, Nashville State, Columbia State, Chattanooga State and Motlow State Community Colleges.

The partnerships with community colleges, such as DSCC around the state, help students transfer seamlessly to the University to complete a four-year degree. Under the Community College Initiative, students have more options to move them along through their educational career.

 

 

 

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

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 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.