TSU first-year graduate student awarded poultry industry scholarship

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – After working at a local animal hospital in Nashville years ago, Alexis McDade’s passion for the animal industry was fueled. Additionally, McDade’s recent involvement with TSU’s food and animal science program has led her to a unique career path in the poultry sector.

TSU graduate student Alexis McDade received a scholarship from the Tennessee Poultry Association based on her exceptional performance in the poultry research area.

Currently, she is a first-year graduate student at TSU, majoring in food and animal science within the College of Agriculture. She has just received a scholarship from the Tennessee Poultry Association (TPA) based on her exceptional performance in the poultry research area.

McDade expressed her gratitude for becoming a TPA award recipient. “(When) I saw the news, I was ecstatic and even got a little emotional because I know how competitive scholarships can be,” McDade said. “This was my first scholarship award in this setting, so it felt both humbling and rewarding. I’m very proud of myself.”

McDade, who has been in the animal field for eight years now, also noted that she appreciates the university’s helpful insights related to her career path. “TSU offers plenty of opportunities for students like me to gain valuable real-world experience,” she said, “which is why I’m eager to explore ways to optimize the poultry industry.”

McDade found herself captivated by the balance between science, agriculture, and animal health within the poultry industry. She was particularly intrigued by the role that nutrition played in shaping the health and productivity of poultry. “I had the pleasure of participating in Ag Day on the Hill at the Tennessee Capitol, where I met inspiring individuals from the poultry industry who motivated me to continue my hard work on my research,” she said.

Samuel Nahashon, the Department Head of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said the TPA has been awarding TSU students this scholarship for the last two years. “The scholarship that Alexis McDade received is based on her being in the poultry science research area and aspiring to be in the poultry career,” Nahashon said. He noted that McDade’s advisor within the department, Dr. P. Maharjan, did not hesitate to write a reference letter on her behalf based on how she has excelled in the field. McDade is one of 23 scholarship recipients across the state. The scholarship amount will be disclosed at an upcoming award ceremony at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

The Nashville native aims to thrive in the poultry industry and pursue a Ph.D. in poultry nutrition. She also looks forward to conducting further research on gut health within the poultry industry.

About TPA

The Tennessee Poultry Association’s mission is to be a collective voice for the integrated broiler/breeder industry in Tennessee, supporting the promotion of education, policy, and public relations for the industry’s sustenance. TPA collaborates with growers, producers, companies, educators, researchers, universities, state agencies, and agri-businesses to promote and protect the commercial poultry industry in the state.

New TSU academic affairs unit to promote student career pathways, university partnerships  

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – This month marks a fresh start for thousands at TSU, embarking on an exciting chapter as college students. Not only for first-year students but also as the university welcomes new departments this semester. This year’s move-in incorporated a collaborative effort between the newly formed unit in Academic Affairs, Academic Career Pathways and Partnerships (ACPP), Residence Life, and several Employer Partners.

TSU and Fifth Third Bank representatives during Fall move in.

With these efforts, the collaboration welcomed nearly 1,000 first-year students over the course of three days, fed 300 community volunteers during move-in, and received a $10K donation from Enterprise Holdings.

Antoinette Duke, Director of Academic Career Pathways and Partnerships, said this collaboration showcased the commitment of multiple departments and employer partners to TSU’s motto: Think. Work. Serve. “Our units exemplify a shared vision to prepare TSU students for success in the professional world,” Duke said. She noted that the Enterprise Holdings donation would be divided equally between ACPP and the Career Development Center (CDC).

“ACPP and the CDC are set to collaborate closely, leveraging their combined expertise to help incoming freshman students identify their interests, skills, and work values,” Duke said.

Kroger representatives passed out waters and snacks to volunteers during fall move in.

Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Robbie Melton, who spearheaded the new unit under academic affairs, said the ACPP would provide comprehensive support and guidance to college students and their career journeys. “The office facilitates the seamless transition between academic programs and career pathways, ensuring students make informed decisions and acquire the necessary skills and experiences for their chosen professions,” Melton said.

The donated check was presented amid move-in with hundreds of volunteers from TSU Faculty and Staff, Student Activities, Student Affairs, and employer partners. The volunteers were all provided with lunch and refreshments every day of move-in.

Employer partners include Enterprise, Bank of America, Fifth Third, Dollar General, Altria, Cintas, Oracle, Kroger, RICH, and the university’s R.O.T.C. unit, all played a pivotal role in demonstrating their dedication to the university’s essence, according to Duke.

The ACPP looks forward to the career and professional development and exploration of the students as the university aims to ensure a journey tailored to their passion and aspirations.

In the new unit, Duke is working under the leadership of the assistant vice president of academic affairs, Dr. Johnnie Smith. Representatives from the CDC and residence life during the move-in event also included the newly appointed Director of the Career Development Center, Jeffrey Brown, the new Executive Director of Residence Life, Yolanda Parr, and the Associate Director of housing, Julius Proctor.

TSU holds Honors ‘Crossing Over and Induction Ceremony’ for top academic students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University recently hosted its highly anticipated ‘Honors Crossing Over and Induction Ceremony’ to induct 190 exceptional students into the prestigious TSU Honors College. The event Sunday served as a platform to recognize the outstanding academic achievements and dedication of these newly inducted students.

Dr. Coreen Jackson, Dean of the Honors College, front in blue, welcomes the new members of the college during a ceremony on the steps of the Performing Arts Center on the main campus. (Submitted Photo)

Representing TSU President Glenda Glover as the guest speaker was Chief Operating Officer Jason T. Evans, a retired Army Lieutenant General. Drawing from his own inspiring journey in the military, Evans motivated the students to continue pursuing excellence.

“Your acceptance into the Honors College is a testament to your focus, intellectual endeavor, personal growth and commitment to professional excellence, truly an impressive achievement. Each and every one of you should be proud of your outstanding accomplishments,” Evans said.

Evans also highlighted the rich history of TSU in producing trailblazers who have gone on to make significant contributions in their respective fields, urging the newly inducted students to uphold the standard of excellence set by those who came before them.

Naomi A. Dargon

One of the newly inducted students, Naomi A. Dargon, a nursing major from Atlanta, spoke about her inspiration from the ceremony.

“Being inducted motivates me more to put a lot into my work and enhance my educational journey here at Tennessee State University,” Dargon said. “His (Evans) whole speech made me more determined to finish out my educational journey.”

Brandon L. Robinson, another inductee, said becoming a member of the Honors College is a privilege “I do not” take lightly.

“I am surrounded by peers who are likeminded and have the same interest I do, which is success,” added Robinson, a business administration major from Loganville, Georgia. “Retired Gen. Evans’ address was very informational, inspiring, and very well structured to keep my attention and give me the insight into his life and allowed me to really self-evaluate.” 

Brandon L. Robinson

Evans, who recently joined TSU as COO, provided further guidance to the students, emphasizing the importance of being actively involved in campus life.

“Excellence is not confined to the classroom alone. I encourage you to become actively involved in the vibrant campus life at TSU. Participate in student organizations, engage in community service, and make connections with faculty, staff, and your peers. These experiences will enrich your time here and help you develop the well-rounded skill set necessary for success in the future,” he said.

Dr. Coreen Jackson, Dean of the Honors College, expressed her gratitude to Evans for his impactful speech, saying, “These students and I are grateful for taking this time to talk to us. As honors students, they know what’s expected of them, and you have motivated them even further to pursue excellence,” said Jackson.

For more information on the TSU Honors College, please visit https://www.tnstate.edu/honors/.

TSU alumni take the lead in shaping young minds as educators, while filling shortage

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – For Tennessee State University alumna Sa’Mariah Harding, teaching isn’t just about the subject at hand but molding the minds of future leaders. Harding graduated from TSU in spring 2023 and serves as a 9th and 10th-grade honors geometry teacher.

“I always knew I wanted to teach high school math,” said the former Miss TSU, Harding, who currently works as an educator at Valor College Prep in Nashville.

Sa’Mariah Harding graduated from TSU in spring 2023 and serves as a 9th and 10th-grade honors geometry teacher at Valor College Prep.

Amid the ongoing nationwide teacher shortage, Tennessee State University continues to produce and nurture the next generation of educators who College of Education faculty believe will shape generations to come.

“TSU definitely prepared me for this,” Harding said, emphasizing the university’s role in shaping her as an educator who can empower and mentor students. As an African American woman and an HBCU graduate, Harding emphasized the importance of mirroring the community.

“In the classroom, proper representation matters,” she added.

Dr. Janet Finch, the Dean of the College of Education, said she anticipates producing even more quality educators throughout the country as TSU continues its reputation as a leading HBCU in producing educators, including teachers, counselors, and executive educators.

Quamane Graham

“I want to make sure we have people that assimilate the world,” Finch said. “We have established great partnerships with school districts across the State, so we can support them in identifying well-qualified teachers.”

Quamane Graham, a junior from Florida studying at TSU, plans to teach high school biology in Nashville after college. Graham was accepted into the Teacher Education Certification program this summer and will be able to teach grades 7-12 post-graduation. 

“I want to show young Black males that you can go to college and be a teacher,” he said. “That it is achievable to do so.” Graham said he is grateful for the tools provided within the College of Education that prepared him up for success.

“I would not be in the Teacher Education program if it wasn’t for the Global Student Success Lab,” he said, which is located on TSU’s main campus. “The staff worked day and night with me to make sure I had the resources to pass my Praxis test. They were very resourceful.”

Dr. Janet Finch

The global lab is an academic center geared toward encouraging interested students to become educators and provides additional support in the areas of education and psychology.

Dean Finch also highlighted the impact TSU education graduates are having “in our own backyard.” Historically, this is particularly true for metro Nashville and the State, where over 50% of district leaders across Tennessee are TSU education graduates. 

Dr. Adrienne Battles, the director of Metro Nashville Public Schools, is a TSU alumna who Finch taught. She also highlighted Dr. Shanna L. Jackson, the first Black female president of Nashville State Community College, being a TSU alumna. Both Dr. Battles and Jackson graduated from the Educational Leadership program in the College of Education.

Dr. Rhonda Stewart, who is the global student success lab director, said the environment is a supportive academic center geared toward welcoming interested students with open arms and providing additional support in the education and psychology field.

In 2022 , Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona visited TSU and praised the University for its pipeline to the classroom teacher’s initiative to help eliminate the shortage. Tennessee State Certification data shows that 325 students graduated from TSU’s college of education, between 2019 to 2022, and of that total, 87% are currently employed in their field, throughout schools in Tennessee.

In 2020-21, there were 155 TSU graduates who finished their teacher training. Out of that number, 137 are still working as teachers, approximately 88%. According to Dr. Rajah Smart, assistant dean and director of the college’s assessment and accreditation program, there was a slight increase for 2021-2022. Dr. Smart reports that of the 118 students who finished their teacher training, 89% are currently teaching.  

Sa’Mariah Harding teaches a student honors geometry at Valor College Prep.

A recent report by the Tennessee State Board of Education further revealed how TSU graduates are impacting Tennessee classrooms. It found that nearly all the teachers who graduated from TSU and started teaching in 2020, have a second-year retention rate of 96%.

Dr. Finch stated that the nationwide teacher crisis is real, but TSU’s College of Education is committed to addressing the crisis by continuing to produce quality educators dedicated to changing world through the TSU motto think, work, serve.

Tennessee State University reaches over $100 million in research awards, second among nation’s HBCUs

Continues path to obtain R1 status with record-setting external funding

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has reached a historic milestone, with the institution receiving over $100 million in research awards. The $100,031,082 million in funding is the second highest total among the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. According to TSU President Glenda Glover, the record-setting awards are a part of the University’s plan to reach R1- research status.

“I applaud our Research and Sponsored Programs division for the implementation and continuation of a robust program that speaks to TSU’s commitment to changing the world through our research,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “We understand that a significant increase in research expenditures is the key metric to obtain the R1 designation, the highest research classification for institutions.”

Anthony Thai

Some of the funding will focus on innovations in renewable energy, sustainable technologies, and global food security. University officials believe these research efforts will continue to transform lives and shape the future of TSU students.

“The aim of research in general is so that research will have a societal impact across the board from a local, state, regional and national level,” said Dr. Quincy Quick, associate vice president of Research and Sponsored Programs.

“All of the research that was awarded from the Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences to all the awards in the College of Agriculture will have a huge impact.”

In 2021, TSU’s external research funding was just over $70.7 million and has increased by 34% since then. This includes an $18 million United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) NEXTGeneration grant awarded to the College of Agriculture that helped to propel TSU to the new record setting total.  

“The USDA/NIFA grant isn’t just a financial fortune, but it is a transformative opportunity that will propel TSU to new heights and academic excellence,” Dr. Quick added.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture, right, with Dr. John Ricketts, left, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Sciences with the College of Agriculture, is the principal investigator for the NEXTGENeration Inclusion Consortium for Building the “Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Human Sciences Pipeline (FANHP)” grant funded by USDA/NIFA for $18 million.

Quick also received a $2,970,000 grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, adding to the total. The award will be used for the renovation of Harned Hall in the College of Life and Physical Sciences, which houses (13) research labs and (2) teaching laboratories.

“We have hit the highest total in grant awards in the institution’s history. This puts TSU in the upper echelon of research funding among HBCUs.”

Quick, who is leading the R1 designation effort, says the goal is to ultimately reach $150 million in total grant awards within the next five years. TSU has had record awards in three of the last four years, $54 million (2019-2020); $70.7 million (2020-2021); and over $100 million (2022-2023).  

The R1 status is the highest research designation, under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning. The designation would mean more doctoral programs, research initiatives and funding for students and the university. Currently, TSU is one of only 11 HBCUs with an R2 designation under the category of “high research activity.”

TSU’s Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences and the College of Agriculture received a total of $65.9 million awards of this year’s total.

Here are the top awards received in 2022-23: 

  • Dr. John Ricketts – College of Agriculture, $18,000,000 (USDA NIFA)
  • Dr. Kimberly Smith- RSP, $10,444,445 (TN Department of Human Services)
  • Dr. Andrea Tyler – Title III, $10,254,498 (Department of Education) 
  • Dr. Quincy Quick – RSP, $5,000,000 (Department of Energy) 
  • Dr. Quincy Quick –RSP, $2,970,000 (National Institute of Standards and Technology)
  • Dr. Karla Addesso – College of Agriculture, $2,479,982 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Melanie Cantu – College of Agriculture, $2,016,694 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Rebecca Selove – RSP, $1,772,784 (National Institutes of Health) 
  • Dr. Deo Chimba – College of Engineering, $1,611,168 (Dept. of Transportation) 
  • Dr. Margaret Whalen – RSP, $1,255,618 (National Institutes of Health) 
  • Dr. Roy Sonali – College of Agriculture, $1,158,373 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Jianwei Li, College of Agriculture, $1,118,709 (USDA) 

TSU celebrates legacy students with special pinning ceremony

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dr. Carolyn Baldwin Tucker, a two-time Tennessee State University graduate, had a special moment last night when she pinned her grandson, Josiah Jones, as he begins his journey as a legacy student at TSU this semester. Tucker, an author and retired Davidson County council member, received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from TSU and sees her grandson’s enrollment as a continuation of their family legacy. Tucker’s husband and two children are graduates of TSU.

Dr. Carolyn Baldwin Tucker ’69, pins her grandson Josiah Jones, as her husband, Jesse F. Tucker ’70, and daughter, Attorney Susan Tucker Jones ’96 ’97, look on. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“Tennessee State University provided me the means to achieve the things that I have achieved,” Tucker said. “I came here in 1965 as a freshman. TSU laid the foundation for me, and I am glad that my grandson is here to continue that legacy.”

Josiah Jones, a business administration major, and his grandmother, participated in the TSU Legacy Pinning Ceremony, organized by the Office of First-Year Students. The ceremony honored students with immediate family members who are TSU graduates.

TSU President Glenda Glover, along with Chief Operating Officer Jason T. Evans, and Debbi Howard, director of Alumni Relations, were among the officials who spoke at the event.

President Glover greets students and family members at the Legacy Pinning Ceremony, as Dr. Tasha Carson, Assistant Vice President of First-Year Students, looks on. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“It is a privilege to greet you on this occasion set aside to honor our legacies,” Glover said. “We pay tribute to those who attended TSU and those who had the thought to send their sons and daughters back to TSU. They have carried the spirit of Tennessee State in their hearts and kept it and passed it down to their children. When a family leaves a legacy, it means giving something back that will be valued, treasured for the next generation, those coming behind us.”

During the ceremony, TSU’s legacy students took part in the reading of the Legacy Creed, pledging to uphold the legacy of those who came before them and maintain the scholastic standards and mission of ‘Think, Work, Serve.’ They also vowed to forge their own path of greatness.

From left, Debbi Howard, Director of Alumni Relations, Jason T. Evans, Chief Operating Officer, and President Glenda Glover applaud participants at the pinning ceremony. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Talia Talley, a health science major from Birmingham, Alabama, expressed her gratitude for her father, Anthony Talley, pinning her as a legacy student. She, along with other speakers at the pinning ceremony, thanked their parents for encouraging them to attend TSU and for passing down the vision and values they gained from their experiences at the university.

“I am truly honored to be a legacy student at TSU,” Talia said. “My father always speaks so highly of his experience at TSU, and it’s wonderful to see his legacy live on. I am grateful for the vision my dad had in encouraging me to attend the same institution that gave him his foundation.”

Talia Talley receives her pin from her father Anthony Talley ‘97.  (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Dr. Tasha Carson, assistant vice president of First-Year Students, thanked her staff, Student Ambassadors, and the office of Alumni Relations for their help in organizing the pinning ceremony. She recognized Jefferey Thomas on his vision for the Legacy Ceremony, now in its third year.

TSU freshman move-in begins for the class of 2027

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Aria Obay, an aspiring fashion merchandizing major, has fulfilled her long-time dream of becoming a Big Blue Tiger at Tennessee State University. As a legacy student, following in the footsteps of many family members, including her mother, Obay was part of the first group of students to participate in Freshman Move-in on Monday. The day marked the beginning of an exciting new chapter for incoming students as they checked into their dorm rooms and gained access to key resources such as meal plans, IDs, and parking permits.

Aria Obay, left, and her mother Terri Obay, help the incoming freshman move her belonging in the new residence hall. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Choosing TSU was an easy decision for Obay, who expressed her fascination with the university and its renowned fashion program.

“Most of my family members went here, and I have an interest in going into fashion. TSU has a great fashion program. So, the decision was easy, besides, I wanted to go to an HBCU,” Obay said.

Deaderick Jones is a TSU alum and the author of the book “Peace Like Never Before.” He dropped off his son, Josiah Jones, at TSU, expressing his happiness that his son is attending the same institution that helped him “break the barrier” as the first in his family to earn a college degree.

Deaderick Jones, left, a TSU graduate and author, drops off his son Josiah Jones on the first day of Freshman Move-in. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“I grew up here in the project and the first in my family to even think about college,” said Deaderick, whose book is about overcoming the odds. “For me, it was breaking the barrier, and I am making sure I instill that in my son.”

Deaderick’s son, Josiah, a business administration major from Nashville, is coming to TSU on a full scholarship.

Coinciding with the start of Freshman Move-in, August 14-16, TSU President Glenda Glover announced her retirement after 11 years as the first female president of the university. President Glover made the announcement during the annual fall faculty staff institute and later held a press conference with several faculty, staff, alumni, and community members. Reflecting on her accomplishments, which included securing record research funding, doubling the university’s endowment, student success, and infrastructural improvements, President Glover expressed her desire to make a larger impact on the national stage. She emphasized her commitment to addressing vital issues such as protecting access to education and fighting for social justice.

A TSU student moves luggage to helps incoming freshmen settle in their new dorm rooms. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“I am immensely honored to have had the privilege of serving as President of Tennessee State University for the past 11 years. This institution holds a special place in my heart, and it has been a remarkable journey working alongside our dedicated faculty, staff, and students in advancing the mission of TSU,” Glover said.

“I am eternally grateful for the support and accomplishments we have achieved together. As I embark on this new chapter, I remain committed to fighting for access to education and addressing the pressing issues our nation faces. TSU will always hold a special place in my heart, and I have faith that it will continue to thrive and uplift future generations.”

Melanie Curry, a chemistry major, middle, her mother Mary-Annie Curry, and father Dominic Curry, unload Melanie’s belonging at the new residence hall after an early morning ride from Memphis. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

The retirement announcement caught many by surprise, including incoming students and parents who were on campus for drop-offs.

Melanie Curry, an incoming student from Memphis, who encountered the president during visits to TSU, expressed her support for President Glover’s decision.

“It is going to be weird not seeing her around campus. But if she feels this is the best decision for her, I support her regardless,” Curry said.”

A TSU student helps another move their belongings into Wilson Hall during Freshman Move in day. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

TSU officials expressed their gratitude for President Glover’s exceptional leadership while expressing their sadness about her departure. Chief Operating Officer Jason T. Evans, who oversees enrollment management, welcomed the new students and their parents and commended President Glover for her outstanding contributions to the university.

“We warmly welcome all the new students and their families to TSU. We are excited to embark on this journey with you and provide the support you need to excel academically and personally,” Evans said.

There was no shortage of help on Monday as TSU staff, students and alumni jumped in to help move luggage or provide direction as the the new Tigers arrived on campus. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“President Glover has been an exceptional leader, and we commend her for her tireless efforts in advancing TSU. We are sad to see her go, but we are grateful for the foundation she has laid for the university’s future success.”

Frank Stevenson, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, acknowledged President Glover’s attentive approach to students’ needs, referring to her as a mother figure to the TSU community.

“President Glover’s announcement may have surprised many of us, but her legacy of care and dedication to our students will forever be remembered. She has truly been a motherly figure, always attentive to the needs of our students,” Stevenson said.

“We extend a warm welcome to all the new students joining our TSU family. Know that we are here to support you, guide you, and help you make the most of your college experience.”

Classes for the new academic year at TSU will begin on August 21.  Faculty and staff are actively preparing to provide engaging and meaningful learning experiences for the students.

TSU equipped with new mindset, focused on exceptional customer service

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As Tennessee State University prepares for the new academic year, staff members are embracing a new mindset after participating in an all-day campus-wide customer relations training Wednesday. Led by industry experts and experienced professionals in customer service, the training aimed to better equip staff to serve their clients, specifically students.

President Glenda Glover reminds faculty and staff that customer service is about creating an excellent experience and inclusiveness that honors the TSU brand. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Isabelle Langham, Sterlin Sanders, and Greg Robinson, who hold key positions at TSU, expressed their appreciation for the timely training and its ability to help them better serve both internal and external customers.

Langham, the Executive Director of Student Success, commented, “This training is important, especially before the start of a new academic year because it helps us define and identify the needs of our customers.”

Sanders, Assistant Chief Information Officer, added, “This training has been transformative. It offered highly beneficial information and practices that will enhance the overall customer service experience at TSU. This training will support the university brand that ‘Excellence is Our Habit’.”

The training provided valuable insights into effective communication strategies and handling inquiries. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Robinson, the Chief of TSU Police and Assistant Vice President, shared his excitement about the insights provided during the training, stating, “I was very pleased and excited about their reiteration of some of the same things we have talked about at this university from the standpoint of public safety.”

The training, which follows the establishment recently of the Customer Relations Office under the oversight of Chief Operating Officer, retired Army Lt. Gen. Jason Evans, engaged participants in interactive discussions and hands-on activities. It provided valuable insights into effective communication strategies, timely handling of inquiries, personalized support, empowering TSU employees to consistently deliver exceptional customer service.

More than 100 employees from various departments across campus attended the training in the Health Sciences Building. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

At an opening ceremony on the main campus, TSU President Glenda Glover expressed her satisfaction with the participation and commended COO Evans for engaging the services of the industry-leading Moran Consulting firm for the training. President Glover emphasized the significance of customer service in the higher education setting, noting that students are not just customers but also the products of the institution.

“We are happy that these experts are here to work with us and carry us through this process as we become better communicators and better customer relations individuals. Customer service and customer relations are more than just answering the phone, listening to complaints, and solving problems. It is about creating an excellent experience and inclusiveness that honors the TSU brand.”

Jessica Powell is the new Assistant Vice President for Customer Relations.

COO Evans added, “My hope is that this will be the beginning of an ongoing initiative to have the highest level of customer service for our students, faculty, and staff.”

Jessica Powell, Assistant Vice President of Customer Relations, expressed her hopes that the training offered concrete steps for employees to interact with customers at the highest level, both internally and externally. Over 100 employees from various departments across the campus attended the training, demonstrating a commitment to providing exceptional customer service to the TSU community.

TSU opens new Customer Relations Office to enhance student experience

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The TSU Customer Relations Office is up and running, and recently held a campus-wide training session. The newly established office’s primary goal is to provide exceptional service and support to students, faculty, staff, and other key stakeholders. Customer Relations is led by Assistant Vice President Jessica Powell, who brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the role. 

Jessica Powell, Assistant Vice President of Customer Relations

“I am excited about leading this department,” said Powell, who has a long line of family members who attended TSU. 

“In addition to having the professional background that is going to be needed to make meaningful changes, this job is also deeply personal for me. Every day, I’m coming in to make improvements on a university that means so much to the family members I love and working to make changes to better the university so that it can continue to have a positive impact on students for years to come.” 

Working with Powell in the Customer Relations Office are Dr. Seneca McPhee, assistant director, and Ciera Walker, customer relations coordinator.

Dr. Seneca McPhee, Assistant Director of Customer Relations

Shaun Wimberly, Student Trustee, spoke highly of the initiative and highlighted its potential impact on the student body.

“As a student, I believe that the establishment of the Customer Relations Office will greatly contribute to student success and satisfaction,” he said. “It demonstrates TSU’s commitment to understanding and addressing the needs of its students.” 

Frank Stevenson, Vice President for Student Affairs, described the opening of the Customer Relations Offices as a “gamechanger.” 

“The Customer Relations Office aligns perfectly with our mission to provide comprehensive support services that foster student success and personal growth. By centralizing and streamlining communication efforts, we are better equipped to address the diverse needs of our students and ensure their overall well-being throughout their academic journey at TSU.”

Ciera Walker, Coordinator of Customer Relations

The university’s new Chief Operating Officer, retired Army Lt. Gen. Jason Evans, who provides oversight for customer relations, expressed his enthusiasm for the establishment of the office.

“Regardless of whether we are public servants or in the military, or as servants of the state, we are serving someone. That someone is our customers, our customers are the students primarily, and we also have other key stakeholders,” Evans said. 

The Customer Relations Office is in the Floyd-Payne Campus Center on the main TSU campus. 

TSU announces Chief Operating Officer to lead strategic efforts

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is pleased to announce retired Army Lieutenant Gen. Jason T. Evans as the institution’s Chief Operating Officer (COO). In his role as COO, Evans will provide strategic leadership and oversight for enrollment management, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the newly established Customer Relations Office, and the TSU Police. Evans was introduced to the TSU campus community during the 2023 Fall Faculty Staff Institute.

Retired Lt. Gen. Jason T. Evans led complex organizations at every level of the U.S. Army in his 40 years of military service. (Photon by Aaron Grayson)

“The Chief Operating Officer and Customer Relations Office are both new to TSU and will play vital roles in helping to enhance the delivery of services to our students and their families,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.

“Gen. Evans’ commitment to excellence and his expertise are ideal for this role, as I look to him to strengthen TSU’s enrollment management process, advance our IT infrastructure, and implement customer relations.”

With a distinguished military career that spanned four decades, Evans brings a wealth of command and staff leadership experience to TSU.  He has held various senior executive positions that include leading complex organizations at every level of the United States Army. This culminated with his selection as the Army’s first Deputy Chief of Staff, G9 (Instillations) where he was responsible for providing the best military advice to Army Senior Leadership for budget management of an $18 billion portfolio, policy, and regulatory guidance for 141 camps, posts, and stations Army-wide.

“I am deeply committed to advancing the university’s strategic initiatives and finding innovative solutions to the challenges we face in enrollment management, technology, customer relations, and the university police. I look forward to working with the dedicated professionals at TSU to provide a world-class educational experience for our students and contribute to the continued success of the university.”

As the COO, Evans will work closely with senior university administrators, faculty, staff, and external stakeholders to streamline and optimize enrollment management, enhance the university’s IT capabilities, and cultivate positive and lasting relationships with students, parents, and community members.

” I feel honored to have the privilege and opportunity to serve such a storied institution of excellence. I see this as a similar opportunity I had in the Army, enabling an institution for young people to be successful,” Evans said.

A native of Baltimore, Evans was born into the military life. His father spent 30 years in the Air Force.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and master’s degrees in business administration and national resource strategy. The decorated veteran holds many awards and accolades, including the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Parachutist Badge, and the Army Staff Identification Badge.

Evans and his wife, Machelle, of 39 years, are the parents of three adult children and four grandchildren. 

The COO’s office is located in the Floyd-Payne Campus Center on the main campus.