TSU holds vigil in remembrance of earthquake victims in Turkey, Syria

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University students held a vigil on campus to remember the massive loss of their loved ones in Turkey and Syria following the devastating earthquakes on Feb. 6.

As of Feb 18, more than 44,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands injured after magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria.

More than 44,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands injured after magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria. TSU students held a vigil on campus to remember the massive loss.

TSU students prayed with their fellow Turkish students and staff who are 6,000 miles away from home.

There are 15 Turkish students and approximately eight faculty members at Tennessee State University.

One of those students came to America from Turkey just six months ago. TSU freshman Berk Arapgirlioglu came to TSU with a music scholarship, and said he is distraught bythe great loss of victims from his country.

“People should be grateful for every second of their life … you can easily lose your loved ones in any situation,” Arapgirlioglu said. “Hopefully, all my family and relatives are okay,” he said as of Feb. 15. “But I know some friends who lost their houses.”

Berk Arapgirlioglu, left, and Tuna Kurucu. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Another Turkish immigrant at TSU, Tuna Kurucu, said he is devastated and prayed hope that his family and friends are safe.

“I feel devastated and sad,” Kurucu said. “It is the biggest disaster of this century and Turkey has declared a fourth level of emergency accepting any international help.”

Although Kurucu, who is a freshman at the university, said he is in shock about the earthquake’s impact, he is grateful for the support he has at TSU.

“I am actually happy at this moment because I feel supported by all of the TSU students, my friends and professors here,” Kurucu said during the campus vigil.

Engin Ayvaz, a Turkish native who is the Director of the Intensive English Center at TSU said the outpour of solidarity and affection across the world has touched the Turkish community.

Director of the Intensive English Center Engin Ayvaz during a local news interview at TSUs vigil held in honor of Turkey and Syria earthquake victims. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“For the past ten days its been a whirlwind of emotions for all of us,” Ayvaz said. “Thank you all for being here today, it means a lot. TSU is our home away home.”

The Executive Director for International Affairs, Dr. Jewell Winn said the local community is heartbroken.

“We will continue to keep our students, faculty and staff who have family in the region in our thoughts and prayers,” Winn said. “The international community has poured aid into the area, and we will support the endeavor through providing links to make donations.”

Weeks after the earthquake, crews are still pulling survivors from the rubble and the death toll continues to raise.

Visit the university’s official Linktree account to find links to donate for disaster relief for Turkey and Syria.

TSU, World Bank Group enter knowledge and talent-sharing alliance to benefit students, faculty

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is partnering with the World Bank Group in a knowledge and talent-sharing alliance that will provide career and research opportunities for TSU students and faculty. The World Bank Group HBCU Alliance, which also includes five other historically black colleges and universities, says the goal is to advance “a more inclusive and sustainable social and economic development” between the bank and the six institutions.

President Glenda Glover welcomes Dr. Bah-Shen Turkel Welch, Liaison of the World Bank Group HBCU Alliance. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Under the alliance, TSU students and those from the other institutions will be opened to internship and career opportunities. Faculty will receive research opportunities, as well as stipends for those interested in incorporating the bank’s content into their courses and/or project-based research and community studies.

On Feb.7, a delegation of four experts from the World Bank Group visited TSU and met with officials, students, and faculty during a gathering in the Forum. The visitors made presentations about the work of the bank and discussed the critical role TSU and the other HBCUs can play in helping the World Bank solve some of the world’s global challenges, such as extreme poverty, hunger, and promoting shared prosperity.

Nathaelle Georges

“We are happy to welcome the World Bank Group to our campus,” said TSU President Glenda Glover, who was part of the initial meeting last year to discuss the formation of the alliance. On Sept. 23, President Glover and the presidents of Claflin, Clark Atlanta, Howard, Jackson State, and Xavier Universities met in Washington, D.C., and signed the agreement. 

 “We are so happy they chose TSU as part of the alliance that consists of six HBCUs. We are very happy about this opportunity that will give our students internships, scholarships, and career opportunities in all disciplines, and expose our faculty to world-class research that will provide critical answers and solutions to some of the world’s global challenges.”

Dr. Bah-Shen Turkel Welch, liaison of the World Bank Group HBCU Alliance, thanked President Glover for her role in making the WBG-HBCU Alliance a reality.

Rashad Dawson

“We wanted Madam President (Glover) at the table. Tennessee State University is really on the move under her leadership,” Welch said. “Our goal was to identify partners who understand the mission and focus of what we are doing, and we know TSU is ready.”

She said the focus of the alliance is internships and career and exposure to World Bank Group knowledge sharing between personnel and faculty in a “symbiotics “relationship. “This gives students and faculty an option for research while giving students the capacity to see other careers,” she said.

Nathaelle Georges, a biology major from Atlanta; and Rashad Dawson, a business administration major with a concentration in human resources, were among several students who attended the World Bank Group presentation. Before the briefing, neither one had heard much about the World Bank and its work.

Stevan Jackson, Senior External Affairs Officer of the World Bank Group, makes a presentation before student and faculty in the Forum. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“These experts being on our campus today opened my eyes into the World Bank and about career choices in a place I never thought of,” said Georges, a sophomore. “As someone who wants to go into the medical field, some of the things they talked about align well with my career goals.”

Dawson, a freshman from Milwaukee, added, “Absolutely, I am open to seeking career opportunities with the World Bank.  With my concentration in human resources, I think they would be a perfect fit for me.”

Dr. Mohamed Kanu, professor of public health and associate dean of the College of Health Sciences, teaches a course in global health. He said “there is a lot of interest” in what the World Bank is offering, especially with opportunities abroad.

“Students want to explore beyond the shores of the United States,” he said. “What I want to do is to have an opportunity to write or apply for a grant through the World Bank that will allow me to involve my students so that I can take them to places outside of the U.S. to see the prospects and possibilities that are out there.”

Earlier, Dr. Arlene Nicholas-Philips, campus representative for the World Bank Group HBCU Alliance, said the university attaches great importance to the visit of World Bank Group delegation, and the benefits students and faculty will gain through the alliance.

‘We prepare you (students) for the world and we help to open your minds and hearts to the level of impact you can make globally,” Nicholas-Philips said. “We hope that by the end of the presentation today, your minds will be opened to the many possibilities and opportunities this alliance offers.”

Other members of the World Bank Group delegation who spoke or presented at Tuesday’s program were: Stevan Jackson, senior external affairs officer; Sophie Rabuku, senior executive assistant; and Dr. Mary Oluseyi Zackius-Shittu, senior human resource business partner.For more information on the World Bank Group HBCU Alliance, contact Dr. Arlene Nicholas -Philips at (615) 963-7427.

A Black History Month Exclusive: TSU to host world-renowned, Oscar award-winning production designer Hannah Beachler

As the first African American woman to win an Oscar for production design, Beachler’s projects include Marvel’s Black Panther films, along with Beyoncé Knowles- Carter’s Lemonade, Black Is King and On The Run Tour II.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –  As Tennessee State University continues to observe Black History Month, the University is pleased to announce the upcoming visit of Oscar winning and trailblazing production designer Hannah Beachler. TSU students will learn about Beachler’s road to success and her experiences, as she defied the odds while redefining the art of production design in Hollywood and around the world. TSU will host A Conversation of Excellence with Hannah Beachler, Tuesday, February 21, 2023, at noon in the Robert Murrell Form in the Student Center. The event is free and open to all students.

“TSU is excited to welcome Ms. Hannah Beachler to our campus and it comes at a most ideal time, as we join the nation in celebrating the monumental and global impact that so many African Americans have made to society,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.

“This is a special and unique moment for the University to be able to give our students exposure to an internationally acclaimed artist, who is African American and female. Our students can’t help but to be inspired and see themselves in her.”

In 2019, Beachler became the first African American woman to be nominated and win an Academy Award for Best Production Design for her designs and visuals on Marvel’s Black Panther. She has also collaborated with global icon Beyoncé Knowles-Carter on several projects, including the visual album LemonadeOn The Run Tour II and the highly acclaimed visuals for her musical film Black Is King in 2020.

Beachler is the first ever female production designer of a Marvel film franchise and has been responsible for multimillion-dollar art budgets. After becoming an academy award winner, she returned to Marvel for its highly anticipated sequel, Marvel’s Black Panther Wakanda Forever. The Black Panther franchise box office receipts have grossed over $2.1 billion worldwide to date. She is also an art director, known for her work in the 2016 film Moonlight and The Lion King in 2019.

Previously, the Ohio native has collaborated with filmmaker Ryan Coogler on Creed, the spinoff from the Rocky film series starring Michael B. Jordan. Her many credits also include Academy Award winning director Steven Soderbergh’s No Sudden Move, Todd Haynes’ docu-narrative feature film Dark Waters and The Collaboration, an unreleased film directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah.

TSU hosts Aristocrat of Bands parade to celebrate historic Grammy win 

Tennessee State University is hosting a parade celebration in honor of the Aristocrat of Bands historic Grammy win!

The AOB made history as the first collegiate marching band to win the music industry’s highest honor for Best Roots Gospel Album, The Urban Hymnal, at the 65th annual ceremony on February 5.

The public is asked to help celbrate the Grammy award-winning marching band this Friday at noon with a parade celebration. 

The parade will began at the TSU entrance (28th Avenue & Jefferson.)

Along with the AOB, President Glenda Glover, Nashville Mayor John Cooper, State Representative Harold Love Jr. State Senator Charlane Oliver and Councilperson Brandon Taylor will be present.

Students inspired, seek opportunity during 2023 TSU Day at the Capitol

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University turned the State Capitol blue for the 2023 TSU Day at the Capitol. Students, staff, administrators, alumni and faculty got a chance to speak with lawmakers and showcase many of TSU’s excellent academic programs. 

The University’s day at the capitol included nearly 100 TSU students, like TSU freshman Kindall Miller, who volunteered by delivering gift bags to lawmakers. What Miller didn’t expect was to visit the capitol for the first time ever and leave with a huge opportunity. 

TSU freshman Kindall Miller and Senator Brent Taylor

“I met Senator Brent Taylor and he was very kind …  saying he would be excited to work with me in the Fall,” Miller said. Taylor’s assistant followed up and gave the Alabama native an internship application for an opportunity to work in their office at the capitol next semester. Miller, who is studying social work manifested this internship opportunity as she hopes to one day become a legislation policy analyst, she said. Miller also noted that she enjoyed TSU President Glenda Glover speech during the kick-off event.

 “This has become one of the university’s most successful outreach programs as we take the opportunity to share with lawmakers the great things that are taking place at TSU,” President Glover said. From groundbreaking research projects to major campus infrastructure, Glover talked about how pristine the university programs are and thanked lawmakers who have been present and continue to provide for TSU every day.

“We take a little and produce the greatest people in the world.”

TSU President Glenda Glover said the Dat at the Capitol is an opportunity to share with lawmakers the great things that are taking place at the university.

During the event students also listened to inspiring words from freshman Senator Charlane Oliver, State Representatives Harold Love Jr. and Antonio Parkinson, TSU alumna Sandra Hunt and student trustee on the TSU Board of Trustees Shaun Wimberly Jr.

Senator Oliver said she is proud of TSU students and their academic journey so far.

“I want to congratulate each and every one of you for making it to where you are in life as a Black student,” Oliver said. “If you look around, it’s not too many of us up here. We need to see you more. Walk with that true blue pride today in the halls of power.”

Students, staff, administrators, alumni and faculty gathered for the 2023 Day at the Capitol.

While Senator Oliver gave the students encouraging words, TSU alumnus Harold Love Jr. told everyone that his alma mater is a leading university to train and transform society. “One of the goals of the day on the hill is to let legislators know what is going on at your university,” 

Love told the students. “Let them know about the great work, your classes, professors, and what needs there may be to help make your institution better to go from a R2 to R1 level.”

A key part of TSU’s day on the hill was the opportunity to showcase the university’s diverse research and academic offerings, TSU junior Davin Latiker, said his Day at the Capitol was a great experience and that he admired seeing African American lawmakers and alumni represent.  

TSU students got a chance to showcase many of the university excellent academic programs. 

“Seeing senators and representatives work behind the scenes and witness how much they care about the students meant a lot to me,” said Latiker, a junior mass communication major from Chicago.”

“My favorite part was seeing my fellow peers excitement and being in the presence of people who make a difference. This can be my reality.”

This year marks the 8th celebration of the Day at the Capitol. The community hasn’t attended a TSU Day at the Capitol since early 2020, due to the pandemic. 

TSU goes solar with new power charging stations for mobile devices

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University students can now enjoy the outdoors and charge their personal electronics at the same time thanks to three solar-powered charging stations that have been installed on campus. 

Two of the stations are located outside of the New Residences Hall while the third station is located at the Gentry Center Complex. The university said solar charging stations play an essential role in promoting sustainability and providing access to clean renewable energy.

One of the three solar-powered charging stations located at Gentry Center.

Saniya Granberry, a freshman who lives in the New Residence Hall, said she is excited about the solar-powered seating areas as this addition will continue to build a sense of community. “These stations can benefit the campus by allowing students to interact with one another while charging their phones instead of having to go to their room,” Granberry of Nashville said.

“It allows students to charge their devices while completing their assignments outside. Overall it is extremely convenient and encourages students to get some Vitamin D.”

Dr. Curtis Johnson, associate vice president and chief of staff, said these environmental friendly stations are beneficial and give students more flexibility. “As we talk about becoming more of a pedestrian campus, we understand that students have resource needs,” Johnson said. “So putting these charging stations and connectivity points throughout the campus gives the students more flexibility so they don’t have to congregate in one location.”

Saniya Granberry charges her phone at a solar-powered station outside of her TSU dorm. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Johnson said the university is working toward installing more solar-powered charging stations across campus. The seating areas were donated to the university by Coca-Cola and Aramark.

Tennessee State University’s AOB becomes first marching band to win Grammy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s marching band is now known as the Grammy-award winning Aristocrat of Bands! The AOB made history as the first collegiate marching band to win the music industry’s highest honor for Best Roots Gospel Album, The Urban Hymnal, at the 65th annual ceremony.

AOB is also featured on Spoken Word Artist and Poet, J. Ivy’s album The Poet Who Sat By The Door, that won a Grammy as well. 

“We congratulate our students, Dr. Reginald McDonald, Professor Larry Jenkins, and the band staff for this amazing accomplishment as we continue to write history and prove why the Aristocrat of Bands is the best marching band in nation,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.  

Walking the Grammy red carpet and accepting the award on behalf of TSU and the band were the album’s co-executive producers, l-r: TSU alum platinum recording artist Aaron ‘DUBBA-AA’ Lockhart, assistant band director Larry Jenkins, and TSU alumni, two-time Grammy award-nominated songwriter and artist Sir the Baptist

“It is quite appropriate that this historic moment in our institution’s history takes place during Black History Month, highlighting the accomplishments of great African American scientists, educators, civil rights and social justice leaders, innovators, visionaries and the trailblazing musicians of our Aristocrat of Bands.”

Dr. Reginald McDonald, AOB band director, said being the first college band in the nation, leading amongst HBCU bands is a ‘surreal’ moment that all universities can be proud of.

From l-r, AOB members Celeste Boykin, Curtis Olawumi and Logyn Rylander in Los Angeles at the 65th annual Grammy award ceremony. (Photo submitted)

“It is a true testimony to how HBCUs with tremendously less resources find ways to educate and overcome enormous obstacles,” McDonald said. “The lesson for our students is that hard work, dedication, determination, perseverance and faith always win.”

The album also features TSU’s New Direction Gospel Choir along with acclaimed gospel artist Jekalyn Carr, Fred Hammond, Kierra Sheard, J. Ivy, John P. Kee, Louis York and more. 

New Direction Gospel Choir’s powerful vocals are heard on “Dance Revival,” a track that lift the spirit and soothe the soul.

The internationally acclaimed gospel choir has been featured on BET’s Sunday Best, toured Europe with a command performance at the Vatican hosted by the Pope Francis.   

L-r: The Urban Hymnal was executively produced by, Assistant band director professor Larry Jenkins, AOB Band Director Dr. Reginald McDonald, platinum recording artist, TSU alum Dubba-AA, Grammy award-winning songwriter and artist Dallas Austin and two-time Grammy award-nominated songwriter and artist Sir the Baptist

Walking the Grammy red carpet and accepting the award on behalf of TSU and the band were the album’s co-executive producers, assistant band director Larry Jenkins, TSU alumni, two-time Grammy award-nominated songwriter and artist Sir the Baptist, and TSU alum platinum recording artist Aaron ‘DUBBA-AA’ Lockhart. Grammy award-winning songwriter and artist Dallas Austin also co-produced the album.

Jenkins thanked every student who worked hard to make the dream a reality.  

“Thank you to the best band in the land, Tennessee State University AOB. Thank you to all of our amazing students. Your hard work and dedication created the pen that allowed you to write your own page in the history books. We made history, but it is also February, so we also made Black history.”

AOB students gathered for the historic Grammy watch party. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

It was just as exciting on the TSU campus as hundreds of students, including band members, waited anxiously for the category and announcement.

The Grammy watch party erupted when the band’s name was read as the winner.

Emotions couldn’t be put into words when the award winner for the Best Roots Gospel album was finally announced. 

There are more than 280 AOB members. Chelsea Flournoy, a music education major who plays the trombone for the band, jumped for joy with her fellow classmates. 

John King (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“I cried tears of joy,” Flournoy said. “We worked so hard, long nights recording this album to make it perfect, and the perfect way got us a Grammy. I was confident in this album, we made history!” 

TSU senior John king, who plays the cymbal, said he was very confident in last night’s win before the announcement. “I saw the vision,” King said. “Being a part of this journey and seeing this being accomplished, it motivates me and it gives me hope.” 

Listen to The Urban Hymnal album on all music streaming platforms such as Apple Music, YouTube, and or Spotify.  

TSU’s Road to the Grammys: AOB game changing album brings Black History Month full circle, adds mystic to Music City and beyond

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Gospel music has the power to inspire change, unite communities, and serve as a voice for the marginalized. Oftentimes, the concept behind a soul stirring song or project can be just as profound. As the case for Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands Grammy-nominated album. It all stated from an idea written on a napkin. 

In February 2022, Professor Larry Jenkins, assistant band director for the Aristocrat of Bands, met with Sir The Baptist to brainstorm ideas about what’s next for the world-renowned AOB.

L-r : The Urban Hymnal was executively produced by, Assistant band director professor Larry Jenkins, AOB Band Director Dr. Reginald McDonald, platinum recording artist, TSU alum Dubba-AA. Grammy award-winning songwriter and artist Dallas Austin and two-time Grammy award-nominated songwriter and artist Sir the Baptist

The two-time Grammy award-nominated songwriter and artist liked everything Jenkins shared during their meal. In this musical meeting of the minds, the concept for the album was born on a napkin from a Mexican restaurant. 

“It just hit me, we should do a whole album,” Jenkins said to Baptist.

His response: I was waiting on you to say that.

Fast forward a year later, Baptist is a TSU alumnus and AOB is going to the Grammys after being nominated for their 10-track album The Urban Hymnal in the Best Roots Gospel Album category. They are the first collegiate band in the history of the Grammys to receive a nomination. 

Jenkins, who is a co-executive producer of the album, said this accomplishment will change the trajectory of Nashville’s Music City reputation. 

“You have an HBCU band doing an album … which is something that has never been done to this capacity,” Jenkins said, noting that this opportunity was a cultural shift. “I hope this sparks another resurgence of the impact and importance of music. Not just Nashville, but north Nashville and Jefferson Street and how legendary this air is here.”

Jenkins is referring to the historic aspect of Jefferson Street and its longevity of cultural African American music. Not even a mile away from TSU, is the reason why Nashville has been coined as, ‘Music City.’

The Urban Hymnal album cover. (Photo by Garrett Morris)

The Fisk Jubilee Singers, founded in 1871, performed in front of Queen Victoria. A performance that established Nashville as a musical hub and contributed to the city’s reputation as a center of musical excellence. 150 years after being founded, the Jubilee Singers won their first-ever Grammy Award in 2021.

“We call Jefferson Street the Grammy mile,” Jenkins said. And AOB being nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Gospel Roots, the same category as Fisk Jubilee Singers, isn’t a coincidence. “Being a mile away from each other with so much history being packed into the biggest musical organization on both campuses is amazing.”

TSU alum Aaron ‘DUBBA-AA’ Lockhart, a platinum recording artist, and one of the executive producers for the album, said this award will mean more to just the university. “This is a cultural award for Nashville in itself. This will solidify Black music in the city,” Lockhart said.  

“Starting off at Fisk and ending off with TSU … this is something the culture needs.” Lockhart said he looks forward to honoring this award for ‘the roots that birthed us,’ and ‘being able to pass the torch,’ to future music students, AOB members and beyond.

Music education in many schools and institutions often prioritize the study of Western classical music, something that may result in a lack of cultural relevance and diversity in music. AOB band director, Dr. Reginald McDonald, who is also a co-executive producer for the album, said there is rich musical history and R&B moguls that orientated right in the heart of north Nashville.

TSU drum major, trumpet soloist Curtis Olawumi during a Fall 2022 performance. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“There is more to the city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee than country music,” McDonald said. “For Tennessee State University’s AOB to have produced an album to tie together two of the biggest music genres within the African American community, (gospel and HBCU marching bands) is extremely significant,” he said.

“You start bringing awareness and bringing on the Black music scene.”

Currently, there are more than 280 AOB members. Bringing a Grammy back to Tennessee will be yet another one of the Aristocrat of Bands historic accolades, and a great way to kick off Black History Month.

The Grammys will take place this week, Sunday, Feb. 5, at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California. Listen to The Urban Hymnal album on all music streaming platforms such as Apple Music, YouTube, and or Spotify.