TSU Students Kick off ‘$1 Million in 1 Month’ Fundraising Challenge at First Annual Great Gatsby Ball

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Student Challenge to contribute to TSU’s historic “$1 Million in 1 Month” is officially underway.

Members of the Pre-Alumni Council and officials of the Office of the Alumni Relations and Annual Giving grace the red carpet at the first annual Great Gatsby Ball. (Submitted Photo)

Organized by the Pre-Alumni Council, the students used the very elegant and elaborate first annual Great Gatsby Ball in Elliott Hall on the main campus Friday evening to kick-off various programs planned to raise funds for the campaign.

“This is one of our many opportunities to give back to this institution,” said Jeffrey Thomas, Jr., a senior fashion and merchandising major from Nashville, who is also president of the Pre-Alumni Council.

TSU students are all smiles as the enjoy the evening entertainment at the Great Gatsby Ball. (Submitted Photo)

“This formal event, with live band, dinner and a host, is an opportunity to get students to meet in a formal setting, interact with alumni, and to energize them for this great campaign launched by President (Glenda) Glover.”

In a historic, long-term partnership with the Nashville Predators, TSU announced the campaign on Feb. 2 to raise $1 million during Black History Month for student scholarships. Since then, activities have included a “TSU Night” at the Bridgestone Arena, with appearances by the Aristocrat of Bands and the New Direction Gospel Choir, as well as a Big Blue Old School Concert at the Gentry Complex.

Other campaign activities include the TSU Alumni Chapter Challenge Feb. 1-7; Faculty/Staff Challenge Feb. 8-14; TSU Divine Nine Fraternity and Sorority Challenge Feb. 15-21; TSU Sunday Day of Giving on Feb. 23; and TSU College and Student Challenge Feb. 22-29.  

Dwight Beard, right, President of the Nashville Chapter of the TSU National Alumni Association, talks to two TSU students at the ball. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

According to officials, the Great Gatsby Ball, themed after the “Roaring Twenties Costumes” and fashion era, gives the university the opportunity to showcase students – how to dress up and socialize and network in a professional manner.

“It is an opportunity to teach them about being in their circle but yet dignified and representing themselves well,” said Cassandra Griggs, director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. “It’s all about branding yourself. So, having alums and students having fun together is just an exciting evening for us.”

Clara Hyde, left, and Annie Kinzer were among several TSU alums who joined students at the Great Gatsby Ball. (Submitted Photo)

Amid the pomp, glitz and glamour, fitted with a red carpet entrance, interviews and photographing, the students said the ball was something they will not soon forget, because for some, it made up for lost time.

Elijah Poston’s date missed out on her high school prom, the sophomore biology major from Cincinnati said.

“She did not have a prom experience in high school and this gave her an opportunity to dress up and be escorted like it would have been on a prom night,” said Poston, a scholarship recipient from the Cincinnati Alumni Chapter of the TSU National Alumni Association. “I am glad to be by her side at this very elegant program. This is a great cause and I am going to do all I can to help. That scholarship has helped me immensely.”

The sumptuous dinner at the ball was prepared by Nashville’s own Catering Concepts by Timothy. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

During this month, Poston is volunteering with the Honors College to call out to alumni to contribute to the $1 Million in 1 Month campaign.

Deseree Hill, a freshman social work major from Birmingham, Alabama, did not need a scholarship to come to TSU, but she is excited about helping to raise funds to keep other students in school.

“I am glad to be here tonight, have fun and at the same time help in this very worthy cause,” Hill said. 

The Julius Genius Fisher Band provides entertainment at the first annual Great Gatsby Ball. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

Among alumni at the ball was Dwight Beard, a Nashville/Davidson County businessman, who is also president of the Nashville Chapter of the TSUNAA. He described the ball as “very beautiful and elegant.”

“This is how we want to teach our students to be professional when they go to the corporate world or in their various career fields,” said Beard.  “They will be going into a lot of places like this. By them participating in this campaign teaches them to give back. This is a start, because once they leave and become successful, they will come back and give to the school that gave them their foundations.” 

 
To donate, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/1million1month or text TSU1MIL to 41444. 

#TSU1million1month, @TSU1million1month

Department of Media Relations

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

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Holds Book Signing With Award-Winning Actor and Poet Rashad Rayford

Rashad Rayford

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –  Award-winning actor, poet and speaker Rashad Rayford will visit Tennessee State University on Saturday, Feb.  8, to promote his new book, “Elevate Your Vibe: Ten Ways to Grow You.”

The book signing is sponsored by TSU’s Avon Williams Library and the National Hook-Up of Black Women, Inc. It begins at 1 p.m.  in the library on the Avon Williams Campus.

Rayford, who was recently crowned Moth Story Hour Nashville Grand Slam Champion, has been featured at TEDx and on National Public Radio, as well as in the Wall Street Journal, HuffPo, and USA Today.

“This book is a tool to help us activate or sharpen the necessary attributes that we need to elevate to our highest selves,” said Rayford, also known as Rashad Tha Poet. “How can we add value to other people if we haven’t first acknowledged the value within ourselves?”

His company, Elevate Your Vibe, LLC, is a nontraditional speaking company that blends spoken word poetry, and inspirational speaking to help businesses tell more compelling and concise stories.

For information about other activities on the university’s Black History Month Calendar,  visit   http://www.tnstate.edu/pr/documents/bhm2020calendar.pdf.

Department of Media Relations

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

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Day at the Capitol a chance for lawmakers to experience university’s excellence

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee lawmakers will once again experience a wave of Tiger Blue at the state Legislature on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

Tennessee State University administrators, faculty, students and alumni will showcase the university’s research and other innovative initiatives at the annual TSU Day at the Capitol.

TSU President Glenda Glover will kick-off the event with a ceremony at 11 a.m. on the eighth floor of the Cordell Hull Building. TSU visitors will have a chance to meet with lawmakers, who will see displays from some of the school’s various colleges and departments, also on the eighth floor.

Robotics, White Dogwood trees, and research presentations will be among the university’s diverse academic offerings.

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of TSU’s College of Engineering, says TSU Day at the Capitol is “always an exciting day for TSU.”

“It allows us to display Tennessee’s investment in higher education, and the great things that are happening here at TSU,” says Hargrove.

Rep. Harold Love, Jr., a TSU alum whose district includes the university, agrees.

“With the amount of students that TSU educates every year, it’s important to let legislators know the impact of that TSU education,” says Love. “It’s always good to have universities come and advocate on behalf of themselves, but also have alums come down and validate that their degrees from Tennessee State has caused them to be where they are in their particular field.”

This year, TSU Day at the Capitol takes place during a historic, long-term partnership between the university and the Nashville Predators hockey team to raise $1 million during Black History Month for student scholarships, and more.

The Predators organization made the first donation to the campaign, as well as an additional $100,000 of in-kind assets to help spread awareness to the initiative.

Money raised from the campaign will provide both merit-based and need-based scholarships for TSU students. Approximately 500 scholarships will be awarded to students in an average amount of $2,000. About 90 percent of TSU students receive some form of financial aid.

A month of campaign activities includes the TSU Alumni Chapter Challenge Feb. 1-7Faculty/Staff Challenge Feb. 8-14TSU Divine Nine Fraternity and Sorority Challenge Feb. 15-21TSU Sunday Day of Giving on Feb. 23; and TSU Colleges Challenge Feb. 22-29.  

To donate, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/1million1month or text TSU1MIL to 41444. 

Department of Media Relations

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

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Tennessee State University, Nashville Predators kickoff ‘$1 Million in 1 Month’ campaign with ‘TSU Night’ at Bridgestone Arena

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands drumline and New Direction Gospel Choir headlined “TSU Night” at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday. The event kicked off a historic, long-term partnership between the university and the Nashville Predators to raise $1 million during Black History Month for student scholarships, and more.

TSU President Glenda Glover talks about campaign in interview before Predators’ game. (Submitted photo)

“This is an exciting night for TSU,” said TSU President Glenda Glover in a live broadcast before the Predators’ game against the Vegas Golden Knights. “This is a time to raise $1 million in one month for our students, our need-based students, our merit-based students. These are amazing students with promising careers, and we need to do our best to help them graduate and go on to make the best contributions to society.”

The choir performed the national anthem, and the drumline entertained Predators’ fans before the game and throughout it.

TSU New Direction Gospel Choir performs national anthem at Predators’s game Saturday night. (Submitted photo)

Fan Kenny Scribner said he saw the Aristocrat of Bands perform at football games and was looking forward to seeing the drumline. He also thinks the partnership between TSU and the Predators is a good idea.

“Anytime you help the students it’s a good deal,” Scribner said.

TSU and the Predators announced their partnership on Thursday. The Predators organization made the first donation to the campaign, as well as an additional $100,000 of in-kind assets to help spread awareness to the initiative.

TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands drumlins performs outside Bridgestone Arena. (Submitted photo)

Money raised from the campaign will provide both merit-based and need-based scholarships for TSU students. Approximately 500 scholarships will be awarded to students in an average amount of $2,000. About 90 percent of TSU students receive some form of financial aid.

The university and the Predators will also work together on providing internships.

“With the help of the most passionate fan base in all of sports and the Nashville Predators organization, we are proud to partner with Tennessee State University on this life-changing education initiative,” Predators President and CEO Sean Henry said Thursday. “When you combine two great things – the education of the next generation with our passionate fan base, we know that strong goals seem to be more achievable, and that’s what we are hoping to do with this campaign.”

Nashville Predators promote ways to contribute to campaign. (Submitted photo)

Also Saturday night was the Big Blue Old School Concert hosted by TSU Student Affairs. Portions of the proceeds will go toward the fundraising campaign. 

A month of campaign activities includes the TSU Alumni Chapter Challenge Feb. 1-7Faculty/Staff Challenge Feb. 8-14TSU Divine Nine Fraternity and Sorority Challenge Feb. 15-21TSU Sunday Day of Giving on Feb. 23; and TSU Colleges Challenge Feb. 22-29.  

To donate, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/1million1month or text TSU1MIL to 41444. 

#TSU1million1month, @TSU1million1month

Department of Media Relations

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

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU President Glover partners with Nashville Predators to continue advocacy for student funding with “$1 Million in One Month” campaign

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University, under the leadership of President Glenda Glover, has launched an aggressive campaign to raise $1 million in one month for student scholarships beginning February 1, to kick off Black History Month. TSU, Nashville’s only four-year public institution, is teaming up with the Nashville Predators hockey team to help them reach the winning goal.

TSU President Glover pins Nashville Predators CEO Sean Henry into the TSU family. (Photo by Charles Cook, TSU Media Relations)

The funds will provide both merit-based and need-based scholarships for TSU students. Approximately 500 scholarships will be awarded to students in an average amount of $2,000. About 90 percent of TSU students receive some form of financial aid.


Today, the university held a press conference featuring President Glover, the Predators’ leadership and members of the TSU family to share information about the campaign and partnership. 


“Tennessee State University is proud to launch this campaign to give students access to the funds they need to stay in school, graduate, and achieve their dreams,” said President Glover.

TSU PresidentGlover and Predators CEO Sean Henry with campaign committee members. (Photo by Charles Cook, TSU Media Relations)

“Many students are not able to complete their degrees because of financial hardship, so these funds are very important. We’re excited to have the support of the Predators, and we look forward to contributions from our alumni, friends, and the community to support these TSU students, our leaders of tomorrow.”

February also marks the NHL’s  “Hockey Is For Everyone” initiative. Predators CEO and President Sean Henry said the team’s partnership with TSU is ideal as the university looks to provide scholarships for deserving students. And he said the organization has long-term plans for the TSU- Predators partnership beyond the $1 Million In 1 Month campaign. 

“With the help of the most passionate fan base in all of sports and the Nashville Predators organization, we are proud to partner with Tennessee State University on this life-changing education initiative,” Henry said. “When you combine two great things – the education of the next generation with our passionate fan base, we know that strong goals seem to be more achievable.”

TSU Board of Trustees student trustee Braxton Simpson talks about importance of campaign for TSU students. (Photo by Charles Cook, TSU Media Relations)

Jamie Isabel, a TSU alum and chairman of the campaign, said the entire university family can be a part of this historic fundraiser. 

“I said yes immediately to President Glover when she asked me to chair the one million dollar, one month campaign that will provide financial assistance to help students to continue their education,” Isabel said. “It’s one of the most important responsibilities of an alumnus, and that is you give back to students following in our footsteps, and for them to pay it forward when their time comes.” 

TSU National Alumni Association President Joni McReynolds agreed with Isabel. She said she knows firsthand how beneficial the campaign will be because of the requests she receives from students about funding.

TSU and Predators mascots. (Photo by Charles Cook, TSU Media Relations)

“I get calls, I get emails at the beginning of every semester with students asking me as the president of the National Alumni Association, do I have any resources,” McReynolds said. “So I know the campaign will totally benefit the students of Tennessee State University that are needing additional scholarship money.”

TSU junior Joycelyn Barney of Atlanta said she has personally experienced some financial hardships and understands just how important it is to have funds available to help students in need.

“Students come to college to better themselves, to make a difference in their families,” said Barney, a health sciences major. “So it’s really hard when you can’t go, or have to come back home, because you don’t have the money.”

 Dr. Glover is not only a strong advocate for TSU’s students, but also those attending the nation’s other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

 She has a track record of raising millions, in a short amount of time for the institutions.

 As international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, President Glover has successfully led the sorority in raising one million dollars in one day for two consecutive years as a part of their HBCU for Life: A Call To Action Initiative. The initial funds were disbursed to 32 of the 106 HBCUs to establish an endowment. The second round of the disbursement of funds will take place during the summer to 32 more HBCUs.

TSU cheerleaders provide some spirit. (Photo by CharlesCook, TSU Media Relations)

The $1 Million in 1 Month campaign will officially start February 1, with a slate of activities including a TSU Night with the Predators and the Big Blue Old School Concert that night hosted by TSU Student Affairs. Portions of the proceeds will go toward the fundraising campaign.

A month of activities will include the TSU Alumni Chapter Challenge Feb. 1-7; Faculty/Staff Challenge Feb. 8-14TSU Divine Nine Fraternity and Sorority Challenge Feb. 15-21; TSU Sunday Day of Giving on Feb. 23; and TSU Colleges Challenge Feb. 22-29.  

To donate, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/1million1month or text TSU1MIL to 41444. 

#TSU1million1month, @TSU1million1month

Department of Media Relations

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

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Receives Funding to Train 49 Aspiring Assistant Principals in Middle Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s College of Education has received a $300,000 grant to train 49 aspiring assistant principals in Middle Tennessee school districts.

Dr. Jerri Haynes, Dean of the College of Education, says the college has developed a special program of study to train the aspiring school leaders. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The funding from the Tennessee Department Education will be used to conduct a one-year, master’s degree-level training for cohorts from the region, including four of the state’s largest school systems – Metro Nashville Public Schools, Rutherford County Schools, Sumner County Schools and Clarksville-Montgomery County School System.

“This is an opportunity that Tennessee State University is certainly proud to receive,” said Dr. Jerri Haynes, dean of the College of Education. “It is a further recognition of the quality of our programs. It helps to increase our enrollment and helps fill the void or shortage of assistant principals, especially minorities.”

According to Haynes, participants in the program are teachers in their various systems who show leadership potential and have been selected by their superintendents or principals to take part in the training. All courses in the program, which is from June 2020 to June 2021, will be offered online. When completed, participants will receive professional licensure as educational leaders.

“We have developed a special program of study for this project,” Haynes said. “We are going to provide them the theory and application, as well as internships and on-the-job training. They will receive university mentors, and we will work to identify mentors at their schools where they work.”

Dr. Eleni Elder, left, Professor of Educational Leadership, holds discussion with graduate students in her school finance class. The course is part of the curriculum for the aspiring assistant principal training program. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Dr. Kirmanj Gundi is the interim chair of the COE’s Department of Educational Leadership. His department will be primarily responsible for conducting the training, which he called a “remarkable opportunity.”

“When we became aware of the grant through Dr. Haynes, we had less than 10 business days to come up with a winning proposal,” Gundi said. “We were successful, thanks to our leadership and a remarkable team.  Getting this grant is another opportunity for TSU to go out there and put its name out. We have an outstanding state-approved licensure program, we have great faculty.”

Current TSU students in the educational leadership program talked about the strength of the curriculum and how beneficial it would be in developing the leadership skills of the aspiring assistant principals.

“This program helps build character because it offers a lot of field experiences where we go and directly talk to people and observe what they are doing,” said Pragati Natraj, a first-year graduate student from India majoring in instructional leadership. “We have practical experience, and gaining that knowledge and seeing what leaders are already doing in the field help us reflect on what we should do.”

Bridney Jones, who’s also pursuing her master’s degree in educational leadership, agreed.

“I believe this course will benefit the new cohorts by giving them strong hands-on and practical experience they will need as leaders,” said Jones, of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Dr. Terrance McNeil, assistant professor of educational administration and coordinator of the training program, said the partnership with the state gives TSU a great opportunity to “take an active role” in training principals.

“We at TSU believe that we have a great program that can prepare principals in a very unique manner, given our history of educator preparation,” McNeil said. “We already do a great job with educators and all-around teachers, but when you start talking about principals, you are talking about the ability to create leadership and policies that can be implemented for the betterment of the students.”

TSU’s College of Education, which has been recognized as the highest producer of teachers among HBCUs in the nation, has had a long relationship with the Tennessee Department of Education for many years. In October, the college received more than a half million dollars from the department’s Title III program to develop a Global Education Student Support Services Lab to increase student learning across the curriculum.

In 2017, TSU was one of only four applicants out of 18 to receive the Tennessee Innovation in Preparation grant, or TIP. The grants are designed to support an increase in the development of a diverse educator workforce, an increase in the production of educators in high-demand licensure areas, and promote collaboration to improve educator preparation in literacy.

For the assistant principals’ training program, Dean Haynes congratulated the following committee members for their hard work in coming out with a successful proposal that made the grant possible: Dr. Heraldo Richards, associate dean; Dr. Trinetia Respress, assistant dean; Dr. Gundi, department chair; and faculty members: Dr. Carole De Casal, Dr. Eleni Coukos Elder, Dr. McNeil, and Dr. Darren Kennedy.

For more information on programs in the College of Education, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/coe/.

Department of Media Relations

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

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU recruits students at Battle of the Bands College Fair, Aristocrat of Bands makes record 9th appearance

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University recruiters got a chance to talk to some of the nation’s brightest high school students at the Honda Battle of the Bands College Fair in Atlanta on Saturday.

Numerous students stopped to talk to TSU officials who had a booth at the event that was attended by high school students from across the country. For TSU’s world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands, it was a record ninth time that the marching band has been invited to the Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase.  

Aristocrat of Bands performs for 9th time at Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase. (Submitted photo)

“We are really glad for this recognition our band continues to receive with this record appearance,” said Dr. Reginald McDonald, TSU’s director of bands. “This is a huge recruitment tool for the university because typically at this event, not only do we have people who are extremely fond of HBCU bands, you also have high school kids from all across the nation that attend.”

This time, the band arrived at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a newly donated, wrapped 53-foot trailer carrying the members’ equipment.

Named by The Undefeated recently as the Best HBCU Marching Band in America, the AOB joins only the Marching Storm of Prairie View A&M, and the Grambling State University Tiger Marching Band for the most appearances at the Honda Invitational, the nation’s premier showcase for HBCU marching bands.

In addition to the new trailer, the Best Band ranking, and the Honda Invitational, the AOB enjoyed a stellar year of achievements and accolades last year, and is looking forward to even more in 2020.

In April, during the NFL Draft in the Music City, the AOB were featured on the nationally syndicated ESPN sports talk show, First Take, and the band received a shout out from pop star Lizzo for the band’s rendition of her “Truth Hurts” medley. In January, percussionists from the band performed in the Rose Parade. They were also featured performers at the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons’ 2019 home opener.

For more information on the TSU Aristocrat of Bands, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/aristocratofbands/.

Department of Media Relations

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

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

NASA engineers share opportunities with TSU students during campus visit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University students learned about opportunities with NASA when Kennedy Space Center engineers visited the campus on Jan. 28.

The engineers provided an informal student Q&A in the Forum of the university’s Floyd Payne Campus Center, and discussed the agency’s Artemis mission and internship opportunities.

TSU senior Tahmadiyya Dawson talks to NASA engineers about opportunities with the agency. (Photo by Lucas Johnson, TSU Media Relations)

“With the Artemis program, NASA will land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before,” according to the agency’s website.

Stacie Turner is a NASA engineer, as well as a strategy and collaboration manager with the agency. She said it’s important for young people, especially minorities, to know about the opportunities that are available.

“We think that they are going to be the folks that are going to take over and do the exploring, and the development of all of NASA’s new technology,” said Turner.

TSU senior Tahmadiyya Dawson of Little Rock, Arkansas, said talking to the engineers and learning about the Artemis mission was inspiring.

“This has been very beneficial,” said Dawson, who plans to graduate in May with a degree in chemistry. “They have tons of opportunities. So it makes me happy to know that I can have a job once I graduate.”

Antoinette Hargrove Duke, associate director of TSU’s Career Development Center, said the NASA engineers are aware of the talent TSU has to offer.

“They say in 2024 they want to have a female on the moon, and we hope it will be someone from here,” said Duke.  

Last year, more than 200 students in grades K-8 from Davidson County and surrounding areas took part in a NASA-funded, one-day STEM education workshop at Tennessee State University.

Called “Dare to Dream STEM Saturday,” the workshop engaged students in scientific experiments, and engineering design processes, such as robotics, coding, drones, virtual reality, flight simulation and math games.

The TSU College of Education, in partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools, hosted the workshop under the Minority University Research Education Project, or MUREP, a NASA program at the university.  

For more information about the Tennessee Minority University Research and Education Project at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/murep/about.aspx.

To learn more about NASA’s Artemis program, visit https://www.nasa.gov/specials/artemis/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

New Nashville Civil Rights Documentary Features TSU Alums

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When Tennessee State University Alum Tanya Coplen Gray approached her high school classmates about producing a short documentary to commemorate their 50th year high school anniversary, Gray had no idea how important the project would become.

“This short film was done as a labor of love.  We did this out of love for one another, and that’s really critical to me, to make sure people understand that is how it got started,” says Gray, who graduated from TSU in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in social work and a minor in sociology. 

Gray, along with her Cameron High School classmates Deborah Majors Bell and Ida Venson Currie, serve as executive producers of  “The Past Is Prologue: The Cameron Class of 1969,” an award-winning documentary that recounts a significant, but largely-forgotten, chapter of Nashville’s civil rights struggle that happened during the late-1960s.

Featured are (l to r)Tanya Coplen Gray, Ola Hudson, Deborah Majors Bell, Ida Venson Currie, Mark Schlicher (Photo Submitted)

The film, which was produced and directed by Nashville filmmaker Mark Schlicher, and co-produced by Lisa Venegas, will air on Nashville Public Television, WNPT Channel 8 Sunday, February 16, at 10:30 p.m., and Wednesday, February 26, at 9:00 p.m..

In spring 1968, during a volatile period for race relations in Nashville and throughout the United States, all-black Cameron high school lost a high-profile basketball tournament game to Stratford, a mostly-white school. A spontaneous protest and scuffles broke out afterward, as many upset Cameron fans believed that the game had been unfairly officiated in favor of Stratford.

In response, school authorities barred Cameron High School from all athletics for an entire year, while Stratford received no sanctions. In response to the punishment, parents, students, and supporters in the community protested, marched in the streets, and enlisted famed civil rights attorney Avon Williams, Jr., to champion their cause in federal court, making it part of his long-running school desegregation lawsuit.

Currie, who secured a bachelor’s degree in English Education from TSU in 1974, says former Cameron Principal O.R. Jackson, marshaled the school’s faculty and staff to find ways for Cameron High School seniors to enjoy their final year in spite of the punishment.

L TO R: Mark Schlicher, student extras, and Shelena Walden at Cameron High School (Photo Submitted)

“He knew we were not going to be coming to the stadium on Friday night for football games. We were not going to be going to the gym in the afternoon for pep rallies prior to the games. So he brought the vision to the teachers, ‘Let’s do something for this senior class because they are hurting in certain areas,’” says Currie, a retired commercial insurance product developer and healthcare manager. “Mr. Jackson made sure we had our pep rally’s on Friday afternoons, even if we didn’t have a game to attend. He also orchestrated our senior class trip to Washington, D.C. during spring break, which served as yet another memorable diversion to the suspension.”

Bell, a graduate of the Metropolitan School of Practical Nursing at Vanderbilt Hospital and a retired licensed practical nurse, says in spite of the security and assurance they received from parents and community members, the unfair punishment left a lasting impression on their class.

“At the time, we were all young. We had no idea what a big deal this was. We lived in a neighborhood where we had a lot of black support, like our parents and our teachers,” says Bell. “Once this happened, that’s when I really found out that I was considered a second class citizen.”

Schlicher says the documentary, which was funded in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission THRIVE program, needs to be viewed by a broad audience because of its historical significance.

Featured are (front row, l to r) Aaron Finley, Fletcher Moon, Tamiko Robinson Steele, Shawn Whitsell (back row, l to r) Co-Producer Lisa Venegas, Mark Schlicher, Shanika Gillespie, camera operator Keevan Guy at Seay-Hubbard UMC upstairs meeting room. (Photo Submitted)

“It was an honor to be able to do the 25 or so interviews that were done with class members and with teachers, to learn the story and share it in a way that honored the struggle and the triumph that the Class of ’69 went through and the place they have in the civil rights struggle in Nashville,” says Schlicher, whose work as director or cinematographer has been shown nationally on PBS, the Smithsonian Channel, Lifetime, and TBN.

After receiving rave reviews from classmates following the film’s initial viewing, and subsequently winning “Best of Tennessee” at the 2019 International Black Film Festival, the group realized the film could serve a larger purpose.

“We want to put this documentary in every public library and to be able to hand it to school systems,” says Gray, a retired licensed clinical social worker.

They believe the documentary will spark important conversations about education, policy, neighborhoods and equity, as well as bring awareness.

Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Enoch Fuzz agrees. He plans to air the film at Kingdom Café, located at 2610 Jefferson Street, on February 1, at 8:00 a.m. during One Nashville, a breakfast gathering he initiated two years ago to bring people with resources, information and awareness together to help progressive projects like “The Past Is Prologue” succeed.

Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Enoch Fuzz (Photo Submitted)

“I was very touched by the story that these people told, and I know that it could benefit some of the people in Nashville. There are some good people in Nashville who want to understand race relations,” says Fuzz.

He says One Nashville gatherings, which are held every month on first and third Saturdays, have attracted leaders from throughout the city including the mayor, vice mayor, secretary of state, public defender and city council members.  He says some attendees are looking for meaningful projects to support, while others come seeking assistance.

“I was having people call me everyday with different needs, and I said these people need to meet one another. So rather than me meeting with everybody differently everyday, I came up with the concept of getting everyone in the same room,” says Fuzz.  “One Nashville gets people from all over the community in the same room.”

Mary Jackson Owens, the Cameron alum who told Fuzz about the project, hopes the film can garner financial support, so young people can learn about this almost forgotten moment in Nashville’s civil rights struggle.

“It hasn’t been talked about in 50 years. It’s time to have a conversation about it, and tell people about the history,” she says. “A lot of our children don’t know anything about being in an all-black school and the loyalty that we have for Cameron.”

“The Past Is Prologue: The Cameron Class of 1969,” also features TSU alum Ola Hudson and TSU Associate Professor and Head Reference Librarian Fletcher F. Moon.  Hudson, who graduated from TSU with a bachelor’s  degree in Vocational Home Economics in 1951 and a master’s degree in 1953, taught at Cameron High School from 1955 until 1971.  Moon, who portrayed his father, Rev. J.L. Moon, in the documentary, has worked at TSU for 36 years. 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Kicks off Dual Enrollment Program with Apple Smart Technology Partnership

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – High school students looking to get an early start on college now have a home at Tennessee State University.

Dr. Robbie Melton, TSU Associate Vice President for Smart Technology and Innovation, conducts a coding class at Kenwood High School in Clarksville, Tennessee. (Submitted Photo)

Through its National Center for Smart Technology, the university has launched a dual enrollment program with three major school districts in the state that offers high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to earn college credits while enrolled in high school.

Participating school districts are Clarksville Montgomery County School System, Metro Nashville Public Schools, and Shelby County Schools.

Jalen Driskell and Larry Perry, 12th graders from Shelby County’s Trezevant High School in Memphis, are excited about the opportunity to earn early college credits. The two were among 130 students also from Pearl Cohn High, and Clarksville’s Kenwood High School, who participated in the Apple Coding class last fall as part of the dual enrollment program.

Officials from the TSU Office of Smart Technology and Innovation join faculty and staff of Kenwood High School to kick off the TSU-Apple-Kenwood Coding initiative. (Submitted Photo)

“I learned a lot from the initiative, especially working as a team,” said Driskell, who hopes to major in engineering after high school. “Being enrolled allows me to move ahead in receiving my college credits and to do better with time management.”

For Perry, he said the coding class was a lot of fun and increased his interest in doing more college work.

“Coding allowed me to gain the experience with talking to others versus typing,” he said. “Receiving this college credit allows me to be prepared for my future.”

Dr. Robbie Melton, TSU’s associate vice president for Smart Technology and Innovation, said with the Apple partnership, TSU has created an amazing opportunity for high school students to start coding and creating.

“All over the state, as well as all over the country, students are interested in coding and creativity,” said Melton. “With this dual enrollment program, it is unique in the fact that students across the state of Tennessee can now embrace the skills of coding and creativity through dual enrollment. We are positioned to provide coding and creativity on site and online, for high school students to have a pathway to our computer science and “Everyone Can Code and Create” curriculums at TSU.”

Dr. Johnnie C. Smith is the executive director of the TSU Dual Enrollment Partnerships. She said students who participate in the program must meet the TSU admission’s requirement. They must be beginning juniors with a GPA of 2.75 or better, and must have recommendations from their principals or guidance counselors to participate. In addition to the Apple coding curriculum, she said the program offers general education courses, as well as engineering and English composition. The courses are offered onsite and online.

“Like all other schools in the state, we are going after courses we know will count in different schools, like general education courses,” Smith said. “We are targeting students within the state of Tennessee. They will gain college credits to get a jump start on college and also use those credits to meet their high school requirements for graduation. We are really excited about the possibility of what this program can do at the institution.”

Some of the teachers whose students participated in the fall 2019 program said it was very beneficial and definitely makes the whole dual enrollment initiative more interesting.

“This program benefited our students by giving them the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of coding and inspired them to create something unique for a problem in their community,” said Abraham Wolfe, a high school AP Physics and Robotics teacher in the Clarksville Montgomery County School System.

Quanita Adams, a high school math teacher with Metro Nashville Public Schools, said, “The students enrolled in DE Coding this semester have tapped into a world that they may have not experienced elsewhere and produced amazing products in a short time.”

Herbert Vannostrand, a high school computer science teacher with the Shelby County Schools, agreed.

“The Apple Coding curriculum provided my students with a clear, concise, up-to-date and fun program to learn the Swift programming language, as well as bringing relevant up-to-date information about how coding can affect change in their lives,” Vannostrand said. “I recommend this program to any computer science teacher and I am ready to teach the course again next year.”

Dual enrollment is just one of many initiatives undertaken in the last year under the TSU-Apple partnership. In July, TSU launched HBCU C2 “Everyone Can Code and Create,” a national initiative supported by Apple, which seeks to bring coding experiences to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and underserved communities. To date, TSU has impacted 32 HBCUs with the HBCU C2 Initiative. Also, in July, TSU launched the first community “Everyone Can Code and Create” initiative for youth on its Avon Williams Campus. The initiative is also part of the National Center for Smart Technology Innovations.

Department of Media Relations

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

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