Tag Archives: Michael McLendon

President Glover Shares Inspiring Message at 7th Annual Prayer Service

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover encouraged faith-based leaders and residents from across the city of Nashville at the 7th Annual Presidential Prayer Service to persevere in spite of storms.

“The storm will pass over,” said Dr. Glover, addressing the attendees gathered at Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church on Jan. 9. “We used to sing a song that says, ‘The storm is passing over. I can feel a peace down in my soul.'”

Glover served as the keynote speaker for the service, which featured a diverse group of spiritual leaders, some traveling from as far as Memphis to be a part of the program.

“As we start another semester, another year at TSU, we start it with prayer. We start it with thanks, and indeed, I am truly thankful to God for blessing me to lead such an amazing university,” she said.

TSU students Jaquel Maise and Ismael Turner participate in prayer service. (photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Several dignitaries and public officials shared greetings including Nashville Mayor David Briley, who spoke about TSU’s significance to the city of Nashville.

“It is pretty clear, I think, that no other institution of higher learning has created more leaders in this community than Tennessee State University,” he said. “There are thousands of engineers, teachers, business leaders and scientists that have graduated from Tennessee State University just in my lifetime that have certainly changed this city.”

Other attendees included Bishop Joseph Walker III, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church; State Rep. Harold Love, Jr.; Minister Samuel X of Muhammad’s Mosque #60; Rabbi Philip Rice of Congregation Micah; and Father Dexter Brewer of Christ the King Catholic Church.

Following Glover’s address, several ministers offered prayer regarding several areas, including peace, the global community, the Nashville community, children and youth and the TSU community.

The prayers concluded with Dr. Forrest Harris, president of American Baptist College, praying fervently for Dr. Glover as various ministers gathered around her in a display of unity and support.

Rev. Aaron X. Marble, pastor of Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church, presided over the program.

The service was followed by a breakfast in the lower auditorium of the church that was 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 more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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 Employee Wilson Lee’s Woodcarvings Featured at Nashville Airport

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Wilson Lee Jr. vividly remembers the Smithsonian Institute approaching him about his artwork as an undergraduate student at Mississippi Valley State University.

“One day I was sitting outside under a cottonwood tree, and a man walks up and says, ‘I am looking for Wilson Lee. Are you Wilson Lee?’ And I say, ‘What do you want with him?’ And he says, ‘I am a researcher from the Smithsonian Institute. I’ve already talked to his father. Now I want to talk to him about his carvings.’ So he showed me his credentials, and from there I did a show with the American Folklore Festival. All of this is while I am in college.”

Lee is director of the Tennessee State University One Stop Shop.  His celebrated woodcarvings are currently featured at the Nashville International Airport (BNA) as part of the 2018 Flying Solo Winter Exhibitions. Lee said he grew up in Greenville, Mississippi, going from his bedroom to his father’s woodworking shop where they restored antique furniture.

Wilson Lee Jr., director of TSU One Stop Shop

“We basically worked for the rich land owners in the Delta, so my upbringing was quite different from a lot of other African Americans in the Delta,” he said. “I knew the difference between walnut, mahogany, oak, pine and various fine woods at a very early age.”

That early training provided Lee with the foundational skills he has used to create a lifetime of art, such as that featured in Back to Now, the collection of his work on display at BNA.

“There is so much going on in the country now that reminds me of what I have already gone through,” he said. “So what I did for this show was select work from the late 60s and the late 70s and from 2018.”

The exhibit, which runs through February 24 in the Concourse C Waiting Lounge, features eight of Lee’s carvings, touching on topics ranging from gentrification to the spirit world. He said his work often speaks about injustice and is rooted in his rich heritage and culture.

Wilson Lee Jr.’s woodcarving, We Are One, which is featured in his collection Back to Now at the Nashville International Airport in the Concourse C Waiting Lounge.

“I have never been afraid to speak about injustice, and I’ve never been afraid to create work about injustice,” he said. “The fall out from that is that you won’t be listed in some settings. You won’t be invited to some places. But that’s just the price that you pay if you are willing to go this route.“

Mary Grissim, curator of arts at BNA, said the Flying Solo Exhibit features five Tennessee artists and will last three months.

“Wilson’s art was selected because, one, woodcarving is not that common. We don’t see a lot of entries in that area, so his was very unique in that respect,” she said. “The quality of his work is outstanding, and what I love about this program is that of the 14 million people who pass through our airport yearly, I would say the majority of these people aren’t exposed to art. They don’t go to art museums. They aren’t hanging out in art galleries. So for many of these people, this is their first exposure to fine art.”

Grissim said one of the major purposes of featuring art in airports is to distract people from the personal challenges many of them grapple with as they travel.

Mary Grissom, curator for arts at the Nashville International Airport.

“It’s very similar to art in healthcare,” she said. “You can’t imagine going in a hospital that doesn’t have art in it because art is distracting you from the tension of why you are there, whether it’s for yourself or someone else. That’s what happens in airports. This would be a grim place if there wasn’t beautiful artwork.”

Lee said his work as an artist has paralleled his work in higher education.

“My whole mission in life was to work at an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). I wanted to do my whole tenure there,” he said. “I wanted to help these kids, so I just got my credentials, and that’s where I work. That’s where I play ball.”

Lee previously worked at TSU from 1991 until 1999 as the director of financial-aid. He has also worked at Jackson State University, Texas Southern University and Mississippi Valley State University.

Wilson Lee Jr. with his family at the Winter Flying Solo Reception at the Nashville International Airport.

“What I tell young people is, if you are passionate about something, do it. Do it when you don’t get paid. That is my philosophy,” he said. “Just keep doing it if you think that this is what you are here on Earth to do. Somebody has to leave a record; I leave a record in wood. Somebody’s got to say something about gentrification; I comment about it in wood. Somebody’s got to say something about the blues; I do it in wood.”

For more information about Wilson Lee Jr.: Back to Now and the 2018 Flying Solo Winter Exhibitions, visit www.flynashville.com.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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.

Siblings Establish Endowed Scholarship At TSU To Honor Parents

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will soon offer a new scholarship opportunity for residents of Columbia County, Georgia, thanks to Helen Young and her siblings.

The John and Adline Starks Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund, named in honor of Young’s parents, will provide financial assistance to a student from Columbia County who wishes to attend TSU.

Young, a graduate of the University of Georgia, said they chose to establish the scholarship at TSU because of positive experiences with the university.

“I have been fortunate over the last six or seven years to attend a number of the TSU scholarship galas. I’ve been able to attend some of the homecoming festivities, and actually been able to meet some of the folks who are graduates of Tennessee State, and I have been so impressed with knowing their dedication to TSU,” she said. “They have a sense of family, and they really have a caring, it-takes-a-village approach to their education of students at TSU.”

Helen Young with her daughter Georgeanna A. Young, who graduated with a master’s of public health from TSU in August 2018.

Although John and Adline Starks are not TSU alums, Young’s daughter, Georgeanna A. Young, earned a master’s of public health from the university in August. Helen said she witnessed first hand the “vested interest” Georgeanna’s professors played in her success.

“It was just overwhelming to see that kind of emphasis put on my child,” Helen said. “I think it’s just an incredible testament to the administration at Tennessee State University, as well as the alumni.”

Betsy Jackson Mosley, executive director of the TSU Foundation, said the endowed scholarship will be awarded to students beginning in 2021.

“Endowed scholarships like this one will help students for years to come. And then they also leave a legacy for family,” Jackson said. “It’s really good that particular families who have members to attend or deep connections to TSU are able to recognize their loved ones this way and know that it will always be here.”

Helen, who along with her sister Roberta integrated the Columbia County School System in the 1960s, said her parents would have been proud to be connected to the legacy of an institution like Tennessee State University.

“I know my parents would have never been able to get into the University of Georgia when they were of age to go to college because of the color of their skin,” she said. “The only options they would have had would have been a historically black university or some small community college, maybe.”

John Henry and Adline Beatrice Starks were born and reared in rural Edgefield County South Carolina. John served in the military during WWII and was a Baptist minister. Adline, a homemaker, was a devoted wife and mother who taught her children how to work hard and lead productive lives. Helen said her parents taught them to “speak up when they saw injustice and not back down in the face of adversity.”

Helen Young serves as the assistant vice president for shared services center operations at Parallon Business Solutions, a subsidiary of Hospital Corporation of America responsible for providing services in the areas of revenue cycle, group purchasing, supply chain, technology, workforce management, and consulting services.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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 Helps Students Explore Ancestry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – This holiday season, Erica Conn will get a gift from Tennessee State University she has longed to receive most of her life. Thanks to a new service being offered by the Office of International Affairs, Conn will trace her ancestry.

“I’m not sure where I am from, and my ancestry is not readily available to me because my ancestors were slaves,” she said.  “So my history for the most part is hidden.”

A senior office assistant in OIA, Conn is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at the university. When she heard OIA would be collaborating with Helix, a personal genomics company, to provide ancestry DNA testing services for TSU students and members of the surrounding community, she convinced the office to let her volunteer as a tester so she could tell other people about the product.

Erica Conn

“I just think that it is super important for African Americans, but not just African Americans, anyone and everyone, to know where they are from, who their ancestors are, and what the commonalities are,” she said. “What are the norms from the particular culture? How can they draw from those things, and how can they be better because of those things?

Mark Brinkley, director of International Education in OIA, said helping students explore their ancestry is part of TSU’s initiative to help them become more comfortable with their culture.

“Seventy percent of our student population is African-American,” he said. “The proposition of study abroad is, as we say, ‘Why don’t you go and experience another culture?’ That becomes even more challenging when our students don’t know their own culture.”

To assist students with the process of exploring their ancestry, Brinkley said OIA has developed more programs focused on visiting the continent of Africa, as well as following the African diaspora.

“It’s a historic fact that 12.5 million people of African descent left Africa in the slave trade. Ten million arrived to the Americas. Only 400,000 came to what we call the United States,” he said. “That means that this African diaspora is really immense, and almost anywhere we go, Brazil in South America, the Caribbean, there is a heavy African influence from the ships stopping their before they got to the United States.”

Brinkley said some of the study abroad experiences currently being planned include Senegal, South Africa, Denmark, Mexico and Peru.

Conn, who is awaiting her test results, said she eventually hopes to visit her homeland.

“I will solve the mystery of where I am from and who my ancestors are, but as far as getting there, it’s going to be a bit costly, so I will start working,” she said. “I am going to Africa with my church in 2020, but we know that Africa is a large continent, and I’m not sure where I am from, so the place where we are going may not be remotely close to where I am from.  But I intend to go there, and try to find out as much information as I can.”

Mark Brinkley

Brinkley, whose test revealed that he is 80 percent West African, 16 percent European, 2 percent South African and 2 percent other. said the ancestry testing helps students answer two of the three fundamental questions they ask in their programs: Who am I? How do I know? How do I interact with others?

“It was very interesting this past summer when we were in South Africa. I opened up my welcome to them by saying, ‘I’m coming back home,’ because I know who I am, and I also know how I know that,” he said.

The Office of International Affairs is located on the first floor of Holland Hall. For more information about TSU’s Study Abroad and Exchange Programs as well as ancestory testing, contact Mark Anthony Brinkley at mbrinkley1@tnstate.edu or (615) 963-7660.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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.

Bus Tour Brings Business and Community Leaders To TSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Nearly 50 Nashville business and community leaders visited Tennessee State University last week as part of the National Organization for Workforce (NOW) Diversity’s annual Diversity Bus Tour.

“The tour is to bring human resource leaders and business leaders out into the diverse communities for recruitment and advancement and engagement of their workforce,” said Jacky Akbari, president and national board chair of NOW Diversity.

She said the Diversity Bus Tour helps managers and supervisors better understand environments with which they may not have previously been familiar.

Business administration students, members of the TSU public relations office and Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering, greeted the tour participants on Nov. 8 with gift bags and brief testimonials when they arrived on the campus of Nashville ‘s only public university.

Dr. S. K. Hargrove, den of the College of Engineering with Business Administration majors Sydni Berkahlter of Cincinnati and Cordé Stewart of Nashville.

Hargrove, who serves on the board of NOW Diversity, said he believes the tour will help these professionals gain a better understanding of the impact historically black colleges and universities have on the community.

“I believe it is important that we display and share the great things that are happening at TSU to the Nashville community,” he said. “Too often many have a distorted view or perception of TSU, but our responsibility as employees is to promote the quality of education we provide and the outstanding students that matriculate at our institution. “

Akbari said for their employers to have a diverse engaged workforce population, they have to understand the culture of the students, where they come from, what they like to do and how they can contribute to the workplace.

“We know from Dean Hargrove that TSU does have some special programs that our employers are looking for,” she said. “The STEM programs that exist here at TSU are a unique opportunity for our employers to connect with students that are ready to make an early and significant contribution. We appreciate Dr. Hargrove’s leadership in connecting us with TSU, not only in his program, but across the campus.”

Kelli Sharpe, assistant vice president of University Public Relations and Communications,  greets Jacky Akbari, president and national board chair of NOW Diversity, as the Diversity Bus Tour arrives on the campus of Tennessee State University.

The Diversity Bus Tour also included stops at Meharry Medical College, Fisk University, the Sri Ganesha Temple, the Islamic Center of Nashville, Historic Woolworth on 5th and Plaza Mariachi.

The National Organization for Workforce Diversity is a private, public and non-profit collaborative created to provide insight and leadership training to advance workforce diversity initiatives.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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.

 

For more information about International Education Week 2018, contact (615) 963-5640.

TSU Celebrates International Education Week

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Office of International Affairs at Tennessee State University kicked off International Education Week 2018 with a workshop on regional diversity and inclusive excellence, and an open house showcasing its new headquarters in Holland Hall.

The week, which began Nov. 2 and concluded on Nov. 8, featured many activities, including a study abroad fair, a panel showcasing cultural diversity, an African dance workshop, and a cultural celebration and family fun night.

Students received walk-in study abroad advisement.

“We’ll be talking to students about what they should be thinking about in pursuing a study abroad experience, not the study abroad experience specifically,” said Mark Brinkley, director of International Education in the Office of International Affairs. “Some students are beyond that. They have already done their research, and they know what experience they would like to participate in. We are talking to those students about how do you apply to that program.”

Mark Brinkley, director of International Education in the Office of International Affairs, speaks with  students about activities planned for International Education Week 2018.

Brinkley said OIA’s new office suite, which is located on the first floor of Holland Hall, provides the space they need to holistically provide international students the support they need.

“We can now better serve our international population whether they be international education, study abroad or

international students and scholars services or the new Intensive English Center,” he said.

The OIA Office has designated meditation areas where students can pray and continue to observe their culture, as well as a conference room where study abroad workshops can be held.

“Our function here is to help those incoming international students understand the historically black college and university culture, and to share their culture on a global level with the existing student base here that doesn’t get to do the study abroad.”

Daniel Bernal, an MBA student from Bogota, Columbia, said that as a transfer student, OIA helped him make a smooth transition to TSU.

“When I came here it felt more like home, and I have done well with the help of the international office,” he said. “They are very helpful compared to my previous university, so everything got taken care of.”

Bernal, a former member of the TSU Men’s Tennis Team, is the second player in the university’s history to earn All-OVC recognition, joining Lawrence Washington, who was also a Second Team All-OVC honoree in 2012. He said the academic environment at TSU has been nurturing and supportive.

“The classroom sizes are not as big compared to bigger universities, so you get more attention,” he said.

Shashamk Nautiyal, a graduate student in Sports Medicine from New Delhi, India, who was recruited to play tennis at TSU, said he also likes the academic environment at the university.

“In any department, they take care of you. They make sure they help you with whatever you need, either academic or personal or even professional. I think that is the most valuable thing,” he said. “They make sure they provide the best learning environment for you to make sure you succeed in your college career.’

Brinkley said International Week 2018 will conclude on the Avon Williams Campus with a cultural celebration and family night that will include a puppet show and international cuisines.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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.

 

For more information about International Education Week 2018, contact (615) 963-5640.

Legendary Music Producer and TSU Faculty Reflects on Memories with ‘Queen of Soul’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – On the morning of August 16, 2018, Sanchez Harley reached for his cell phone to send a comforting text message to his dear friend who was gravely ill with pancreatic cancer.

“I’m praying for you. I will always love and appreciate you,” he wrote.

Harley, a Tennessee State University Alum and legendary music producer, did not know that the 18-time Grammy Award-winning Icon Aretha Franklin would not live to respond to his message. She would die that same morning.

“The only way to describe her is she was a one and only, and there will never be another. She taught me a lot,” he said.

This fall, Harley has returned to TSU as an adjunct professor in the Department of Music to teach students some of the valuable lessons he learned from the “Queen of Soul” and other wisdom he has accumulated during his journey in the music business.

Aretha Franklin with Sanchez harley and Jerry Parries, former president of the Tehillah Music Group. (Photo submitted)

“I was working on a duet with her and Karen Clark-Sheard, and I was trying to get them tight on a particular line, and she said to me, ‘Sanchez, perfect is not perfect.’ And I thought about that and taking it to the next level. Taking it to the next level means that you discover what feel is,” he said. “The definition of feel is the amount of imperfection. It’s the imperfection in something that creates the feel, because if it’s perfect, it doesn’t feel good… You really arrive as a producer when you figure out what of and how much of the bad you need to include in something for it to be good.”

Although he entered TSU on a music scholarship as a bass clarinetist and performed with the instrument in the symphonic band, Harley also played saxophone in the TSU jazz band and in the Aristocrat of Bands. He said that during his career he has worked in several capacities, including arranger, producer and coordinator of live events.

Harley credits Tennessee State for playing a major role in preparing him to work with music greats like Shirley Caesar, George Clinton, Rufus, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Kirk Franklin, The Temptations and Patti Austin.

“While at TSU I started arranging music for the marching band under Dr. Greer,” he said. “A lot of those experiences, just getting up and standing in front of the band over in the music building, prepared me to stand in front of musicians on Music Row.”

He said some of the most important traits a music producer must have are a great ear, objectivity and the ability to recognize a great song.

“I told my class in our last meeting, you can take a great song and a poor artist and a poor performance, and win most of the time. But you can take a great artist with a great performance and a poor song and almost never win. It’s all about the song,” he said.

Dr. Robert Elliot, head of the Department of Music, said Harley has visited the department as a guest speaker prior to this semester, but wanted to do more for his alma mater.

Sanchez Harley with Aretha Franklin and his late mother, Sarah Harley, at Franklin’s annual revival in Detroit in 2010. (Photo submitted)

“He wants to give back to his university, and his university definitely wants him here with us. The students have just plugged in to him in a big way,” Elliot said. “He’s got this history of having worked with performers and doing production in the studio. Too often the thing that is left out of all that instruction is how to get the best performance out of an artist. Well, he’s done that for decades, and he is bringing those skills in to teach our students how to do the same thing.”

Harley said the course he is teaching this fall, Introduction to Music Production, is a course Elliot gave him the freedom to design.

“I find that many young producers have a misconception about what production is. They don’t really understand all of the things that are involved administratively. It’s more than administrative; it’s technical. It’s psychological—being able to get the best performances from your people. It’s accounting. It’s organization. It’s tact. It’s so many things,” he said. “I designed an Introduction to Music Production course to give individuals who are inspiring to produce some background of all of those things.”

Elliot said the university is proud to have Harley as part of its faculty.

“We say that ‘Excellence Is Our Habit’, and this is just one more bit of proof of just how much that excellence has been the habit at TSU for over 100 years, and it is going forward.”

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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.

Top healthcare executive Credits TSU for Playing Major Role in His Success

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Since childhood, Tennessee State University alumnus Jonathan E. Watkins has carried a certain air of distinction that has set him apart from his peers. His high school health sciences teacher, Lovell Cartwright, recalls how his classmates confided in her how much they could depend on the promising young scholar.

“What was impressive to me about Jonathan was that the students brought him to me when we were preparing to take a trip,” said Cartwright, who for 19 years took African-American youth like Watkins and his peers on trips to visit historically black colleges and universities. “We needed another person to go on the trip, and I said to the students, ‘Whoever you bring on this trip, you have to pick someone who won’t get in trouble.’ All of them said, ‘If he get’s in trouble, we’ll all go home because we know he won’t do anything wrong.’ They had that much confidence in him.”

Watkins, who was named chief executive officer of Broward Health Imperial Point (BHIP) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida this past April, said it was Cartwright’s HBCU tour that introduced him to Tennessee State.

Jonathan Watkins. (Photo submitted)

“Healthcare administration and planning isn’t a field that every undergraduate program has. So when I started to look at where the programs were, leaving to go out of state was going to be a significant struggle and burden on my family,” he said. “Because of Mrs. Cartwright’s HBCU tour, we discovered that TSU did indeed have a program which fit in line with my desire to attend an HBCU. “

As CEO of BHIP, Watkins oversees a 200 acute care hospital and is responsible for leading the organization’s overall administration.   BHIP offers medical-surgical inpatient care, behavioral health services, as well as outpatient services.

Watkins, who secured his undergraduate degree at TSU in healthcare administration and a master’s degree in public administration, said attending TSU prepared him for the vigorous road ahead.

“TSU played a vital part in preparing me. Between the internship that is required, the connections that the program allowed me to make and the guest lectures, I would say I got a realistic perspective and view of healthcare administration from my professors during my time at TSU,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

He credits professors like the late Dr. Richard Enoch, former chair of the Department of Health Administration, and Dr. Rosemary Theriot, professor and chair of the Department of Public Health, Health Administration and Health Sciences, with providing him the guidance he needed to continue on his path to success.

Theriot recalled Watkins as the ideal student. “He seemed to be very serious and he took his academic work quite seriously,” she said. “He always submitted whatever assignments that were do on time, and he didn’t ask for any extra consideration.”

In spite of his leadership responsibilities and hectic schedule, Watkins makes time to give back to his alma mater by mentoring students and serving on the department of Public Health, Health Administration and Health Sciences Advisory Board at TSU. He encourages students to take a serious look at healthcare as a profession.

“There isn’t a degree that a student can graduate from college with that I don’t think the healthcare industry has an opportunity or role that he or she could fulfill,” he said. “Everything ranging from marketing and communications to engineering, to medicine. It ‘s not limited — even students who decide to major in law. We have a huge legal team, a compliance team, that we trust and value.”

Theriot said TSU has one of the oldest programs in healthcare administration in the Southeast at the undergraduate level. She said it has been accredited by the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA) since 1976.

“We have several students who have been quite successful as far as employers hiring our students,” said Theriot. “We have been approached by a number of healthcare agencies about partnering with them to place our students as interns and within their respective agencies. We have those same kinds of agreements with a number of health facilities throughout Tennessee and outside of Tennessee.”

Prior to becoming CEO at BHIP, Watkins served as chief operating officer of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals in Oakland, California. He also served as vice president of clinical operations and COO of Medical North Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. He was named the 2013 National Association of Health Services Executive Young Healthcare Executive of the Year, and is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Cartwright, who Watkins said is “one of the best teachers the Memphis City School System ever employed,” shared her favorite memory of Watkins as a high school student. “I had very strict rules and one day he walked into my classroom wearing sunglasses. I said, ‘Why do you have on sunglasses in my classroom?’ He replied, ‘Ms. Cartwright, my future is so bright I’ve got to wear these glasses.’”

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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 Inaugural Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Lecture Features Accomplished Microbiologist George Hill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University recently held its inaugural Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., Homecoming Lecture on its main campus in the Robert N. Murrell Forum.

Dr. George C. Hill, who formerly served as head of the Levi Watkins, Jr., M.D. Professor in Medical Education Chair at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, provided the talk on Oct. 18, encouraging students to persevere in spite of skeptics.

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

“You too can be exactly like Dr. Watkins. If he were here today he

Dr. George C. Hill

would show you that it is just an example of what Tennessee State University produces,” said Hill, an accomplished molecular biochemist. “Less than 10 years after Dr. Watkins graduated from Vanderbilt, in February 1980, he assisted in putting the defibrillator in a patient.”

Hill, distinguished professor emeritus and past vice chancellor at Vanderbilt University, shared old photographs of Watkins as well as insights about the life of a man who transformed the educational landscape for African-American students pursuing careers in the medical field.

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

“We established this institute to assist students who aspire to attend medical school. We established this institute for students to join the pre-med society. We established this institute to provide leaders from around the world,” she said. “We established this institute to provide scholarships for students for their education here at TSU. “

TSU President Glenda Glover gives greetings at the inaugural Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., Lecture.

Glover thanked the Watkin’s family for donating $500,000 to fund the institute.

“We thank Dr. Annie Marie Garraway for your contribution to carry out the vision of the genius himself, Dr. Levi Watkins Jr.,“ she said.

Dr. Garraway is Watkin’s sister. She and her husband, Ira Deep, along with Watkin’s cousin, Beverly Sheftall, attended the lecture.

Dr. Lonnie Sharpe, director of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., Institute, said the university was honored to have Hill as the event’s featured lecturer.

“Dr. Hill is well renown in his field,” Sharpe said. “The students got to see someone of color who has done very well in terms of looking at diseases and trying to find cures for them. He has done a great job in terms of trying to get students to go into the medical field.”

The event also featured the induction of 19 students into the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Society, an organization comprised of students who aspire to attend medical school.

Students recently inducted into the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Society with members of the Watkin’s family and organizers of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., Institute.

“We are trying to enhance the education of our students by getting more of them to go into medical fields,” said Sharpe, who serves as interim dean of the College of Life and Physical Sciences. “Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., did a great job in terms of being an example for our students, so we are looking forward to many more of our students attending graduate school and following in his footsteps.”

TSU alum Brandon Van Leer showcases his portrait of Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. which was unveiled during the program.

Barbara Murrell, a 1960 alumna of TSU, was the director of Student Activities in 1965 when Watkins served as president of the student government association president.

“Levi started his preparation for his journey here at Tenneseee State Univeristy in the ‘Land of Golden Sunshine by the Cumberland fertile shore,’” she said.“To us he was Levi. To the world he became a a renowned cardiac surgeon, a game-changer, an unrelenting advocate for the disenfranchised, a drum major for justice and a history maker.”

In addition to the lecture series, the institute also consists of a pre-med society and an endowed scholarship.

Students inducted into the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Society include Malcolm Finlay, president, a senior, biology/psychology major; Hitesh Vaishnav, vice-president, a senior, chemistry major; Christian Bond,secretary,  a junior, biology/pre-health major; and Anthony Moreland, treasurer, a senior, biology major.

Other students inducted into the society include Farah Ismail, a junior, chemistry major; Danielle Borlay, a senior, biology major; Joshua Borlay, a freshman, biology major; Autumn Brunson, a sophomore, biology major; Tyona Caldwell, a senior, chemistry major; Ashli Earl, a sophomore, biology major; Sahra Gabure, a sophomore, chemistry major; Jayvonna Gambrell, a sophomore, biology major, Cameron Holifield, a senior, chemistry major; Sara Jamal, a senior, chemistry major; Kimberley Laporte, a sophomore, biology major; Rodney McCracken, a freshman, biology major; Larry McNary II, a sophomore, biology major; Aliyah Muhammad, a junior, biology/pre-med major; and Habiba Mwechiwa, a sophomore, biology major.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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 Scholarship Gala Features Legendary Jazz Musician Roy Ayers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Scholarship Gala will take place on Friday, Oct. 19, at the Music City Center.

The event, which begins at 7 p.m., will be preceded by a 6 p.m. reception featuring the TSU Jazz Collegians and the TSU String Orchestra. Nationally renowned actor and comedian Jonathan Slocumb will host the annual fundraising event, which will conclude with a concert featuring legendary jazz artist Roy Ayers.

“The Homecoming Scholarship Gala serves as Tennessee State University’s signature fundraising event,” Gala chairs Cassandra Griggs and Iris Ramey said in a statement. “It provides an opportunity for the university to partner with alumni, friends, employees, corporations and organizations to raise annual and endowed scholarship dollars for the outstanding students at TSU.”

The gala provides critical funds necessary to meet the significant need for student scholarships and ensures access to the relevant academic programs required to successfully educate and prepare students for the global marketplace.

This year, the gala will recognize a “stellar group” of honorees and grand marshals, including ‘Waffle House Hero’ James Shaw, Jr., who received national acclaim after he disarmed a Waffle House shooter in April. Shaw will receive a Special Presidential Recognition.

Other honorees are: Dr. Calvin Atchison, retired vice president of Development/Foundation; Dorothy Lockridge, retired vice president of Student Affairs; and Coach James Bass, retired health professor and swimming coach.

The grand marshals are: Robert Covington, NBA player with the Philadelphia 76ers; Dr. Richard Lewis, member of TSU Board of Trustees and owner of Lewis & Wright Funeral Directors; and Delorse Lewis, former executive director of TSU Development/Foundation.

For more information about the gala and how to donate, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/gala/.

To find out more about TSU’s overall Homecoming this year, https://bit.ly/2wYtjJG.

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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.