TSU student leaders visit D.C. to address $2.1 billion owed

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University student leaders traveled to the nation’s capital after the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Education revealed that the university is owed over $2.1 billion by the State of Tennessee. The group met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and others to seek answers and support.

TSU SGA President Derrell Taylor and Vice President Chrishonda O’Quinn spoke briefly at one meeting to voice their concerns to congressional leaders about the revelation of the $2 billion-plus underfunding of the university.

“It is unfortunate that we have to fight this battle,” Taylor said. “But I am proud to stand before these legislators, activists, and key community figures to express how disheartening it is for students to realize how much more of an experience we could have had if we had been allocated the necessary funding.”

Taylor mentioned that despite the tremendous underfunding, students from across the country still choose TSU because of its culture and the quality of education it offers.

TSU student leaders Chrishonda O’Quinn, left, Victoria McCrae, and Derrell Taylor spoke with U.S congressman Jim Clyburn, center, in Washington, D.C. after the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Education revealed that the university is owed over $2.1 billion by the State of Tennessee.

“But if we had the resources that these surrounding institutions have, who knows what our capabilities could have been. It means a lot to be in our nation’s capital fighting for our rights.”

O’Quinn echoed his sentiments, emphasizing that this matter isn’t just impacting TSU but all underfunded HBCUs as well.

“It has also shown me the importance of being well-informed on this topic, so we can relay the information back to the students and have a stronger force when advocating in the Tennessee legislature,” O’Quinn said.

“Being here and experiencing this shows how impactful it is to advance and be informed.”

Joining them on the trip were Mister Davin Latiker, Miss TSU Victoria McCrae, Aliyah Holmes, and Dwight DeBerry. The TSU group had discussions with Congressional members including Jim Clyburn, Terri Sewell, Frederica Wilson, and Steny Hoyer so far. They also had a conversation with former CNN news anchor Don Lemon.

“Attending the CBC was such an eye-opening experience,” said McCrae, the reigning Miss TSU and Memphis native.

“We sat in rooms with and gained valuable information from some of the pioneers of African American politics. The impact that I wish to accomplish is to relay the importance of voting, learning our history, and advocating for our future!”

Latiker, Mister TSU, said that despite the circumstances, it was an honor to meet people at the capital who were advocating for the university as well.

“When we met those people, they were able to provide insight and resources that we didn’t know about, and we were able to advocate for the resources that we need,” Latiker said, emphasizing that the experience was unifying.

SGA President Derrell Taylor speaks with broadcast journalist, former CNN news anchor Don Lemon in Washington, D.C.

“It was great to witness Black excellence. The love and positive energy radiated from them and seeing that made me happy to bring this information and energy back to our campus.”

The TSU student delegation was seeking an opportunity to speak directly with officials from the USDA and the Department of Education. Aliyah Holmes, the former SGA vice president, added that while the funding shortfall covers the period from 1987 to 2020, it still affects her and current TSU students today.

“Us being underfunded for $2.1 billion continues to put us at a stagnant loss. The rest of Nashville is progressing in a positive direction, while TSU has been stagnant because we don’t have the adequate amount of funds to be able to grow.”

SGA President Taylor added that making this trip is a sign of how crucial equitable funding is for TSU and that the next step is to share the information with TSU students.

“It’s never too late to do what’s right,” TSU President Glenda Glover wants State to pay $2.1 billion owed to the University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –  The HBCU community is still reacting to the letters the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department Education sent to 16 of the nation’s governors, stating that they collectively owed their respective land-grant HBCUs $13 billion. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack cited research conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Survey (IPEDS). Tennessee State University was listed as having the largest underfunding owed amount by a state at $2,147,784,704.

President Glenda Glover

“This enormous figure of over $2.1 billion can’t be overlooked,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.

“We have been on our own journey to recoup $544 million from the State that TSU should have received, as required by law, and were not aware of an additional underfunding review by the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture prior to the release of those letters.”

In 2022, Governor Bill Lee allocated $250 million to TSU which was approved by the legislature, making it the largest one-time State investment to any HBCU. President Glover added this was the result of working closely with TN lawmakers, who conducted their own research and calculations to pay TSU nearly half of the underfunded amount.

“TSU has a track record of working with the State, and we look forward to a similar relationship to get the $2.1 billion in funding USDA and the Dept. of ED have also researched. TSU deserves it, our students deserve it.” 

President of the Tennessee State University National Alumni Association, Charles Galbreath

The USDA and Dept. of ED review covered a period of 33 years, from 1987 to 2020. The letter to Governor Lee acknowledges that Tennessee has made strides in providing more equitable funding for TSU but reiterates more is still needed to overcome the historic underfunding of the university. TSU alumni and students say this latest $2.1 billion speaks to the long-standing underfunding of the University but also to TSU’s resilience in being successful despite having been slighted for so long.

“I am impressed by the global impact Tennessee State University alumni have made considering how significantly and historically underfunded the University has been,” said Charles Galbreath, president of the Tennessee State University National Alumni Association.  

“I often ponder how much greater the impact might have been with greater resources. Equitable funding can only attempt to reconcile a blemished past. However, equitable funding can absolutely enhance the global contributions of future Tennessee State University students and alumni.”

President Glover was highly scrutinized by Tennessee lawmakers last year for not having enough housing for a historic freshman class of over 3,300 students. TSU housed over 4,900 students, with the use of off-campus housing that included hotels. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, the State’s other land-grant institution, used hotels for its housing overflow as well but did not face the same backlash of improper planning and inadequate leadership.

SGA president Derrell Taylor

“The State of Tennessee has two land-grant institutions. One has been allocated a tremendous amount of funding for decades, while another has had to operate with minimal apportions. However, this is not the time to issue blame or fault. It is time to come to the table with a strategic plan of action that specifically involves payment. The 33-years cited predates almost everyone at the capitol, but it’s never too late to do what’s right. Imagine how much greater TSU could be with equitable funding. The greater TSU becomes so will the State of Tennessee.”

SGA President Derrell Taylor, a business major from Memphis, believes the housing challenge and so many more infrastructure issues could have been avoided if TSU had received its fair share of funding all those years.

“I’ve been here four years and can only imagine what our campus would look like and how different the college experience would have been for me, and all the students before me,” said Taylor. 

“I would select TSU all over again without hesitation because it has been an amazing experience. The University has done so much with so little, but TSU should have never been put in this position in the first place. I should have the same advantages to be successful as my counterparts at the State’s other public institutions.”

Taylor said this includes more residence halls without community bathrooms, a new football stadium on campus, a true student center, an upgraded heating and cooling system, more computer labs throughout the campus, better technology, most importantly scholarships. So many students had to borrow money to attend TSU as the school of their choice when they could have had scholarships.

“TSU students should have what everyone else has, and we can with our right share of State funding.”

In the letter, both USDA and the Dept. ED offered to hold a workshop for the State’s Budget Office to review their calculations in detail. President Glover says she is hopeful that the State will schedule this workshop soon and invite TSU to participate.

TSU Welcomes first African American Female crew member of Air Force One                 

By Angel Higgins

Senior Master Sergeant Wanda Joell visited the TSU as a part of an Academic Lecture Series

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University had the pleasure of welcoming Senior Master Sergeant Wanda Joell as guest speaker for the “Dreams In Flight” Academic Workshop. Sergeant Joell is the first African American female to serve as a permanent Presidential crew member aboard Air Force One. Her visit to campus was a part of the John Merritt Classic 25th Anniversary Celebration.

Guest speaker Senior Master Sergeant Wanda Joell speaks at the Dreams In Flight Workshop at TSU.

Students were able to ask Sergeant Joell questions about her time in the Air Force and being a part of Air Force One, in addition to what it was like to serve 4 presidents. This included former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.

ROTC Cadet Jaiden Walker said his big takeaway from the workshop was to always be prepared for new opportunities planned or unplanned.

 “Sergeant Joell inspired me to stay prepared because it is always opportunities that we never really thought of,” said Walker, a junior majoring in political science and mass communications.   

“As long as you stay prepared, whatever opportunities do come your way, you can take advantage of them.”

The trailblazing presidential flight crew member said she hopes that the workshop inspired students to never give up and keep chasing their dreams and goals in life.

“I hope I made a difference in at least one person’s life. It was important to me to try to inspire and make a difference.” She is working on a book called, ‘Dreams in Flight’ that tells the whole story of how her career started and what she is doing now.

From left to right, guest speaker Senior Master Sergeant Wanda Joell, Dr. Melton, Dr. Smith and Lt. Col Cash, posing with a statue replica and picture of Air Force One and a signed photo from former President Barack Obama.

Sergeant Joell grew up in Bermuda and always dreamed of leaving the small island to see the world. She made that dream come true by joining the US Air Force when she was 22 years old. While leaving Bermuda she encountered a flight attendant boarding Air Force One and had another dream she wanted to fulfill, being a flight attendant aboard the same aircraft one day.

“I got inspired by a flight attendant when I was leaving Bermuda, and I loved her compassion towards me. She made me want to fulfill that dream.”

From that point on, Sergeant Joell started to pave a pathway to be a flight attendant aboard Air Force One. Over the span of 2 years and countless documents submitted, she finally got the call she had been waiting for, a call to see if she was a good fit by doing a test flight.

“The Chief flight attendant told me he wanted to see if I could work well and play well with the other crew members.” According to her recommendation, she passed with “flying colors” and was hired.

After 28 years and 12 days of service, Sergeant Joell decided it was time to retire. Since then, she has been a guest speaker among other things to try and inspire others to never give up and achieve their dreams.

Junior ROTC Cadet, TSU student Jaiden Walker, a Political Science and Mass Communications major, sings the Alma Mater during the Academic Workshop.

TSU ROTC Commander Lt Col Stephen Cash said the event was ideal for his cadets to see how planning and following your goals can lead to success.

“We immediately thought this was something that would be helpful for the student body and especially our University 1000, first-year students. For them to hear on how to establish then chase and achieve their goals.”

Dr. Johnnie Smith, assistant vice president of Academic Affairs, added that she was excited that TSU would get the opportunity to hear from such a dynamic individual with an amazing life story, to showcase the TSU ROTC program at the same time.

 “We are excited to have Senior Master Sergeant Wanda Joell. This is a great day for TSU, having a woman who has not only served our country but who has served under four sitting Presidents of the United States of America. TSU has one of the best Air Force ROTC programs and I think it’s a quiet kept secret that I plan on unlocking.”

Academic Affairs hosted the workshop and is looking forward to making this event a part of future John Merritt Classic celebrations.

TSU’s second largest class in history takes oath to succeed during Freshman Convocation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Class of 2027 reached an important milestone, as the institution formally welcomed the students at the annual Freshman Convocation held in Kean Hall on Sept. 18. The ceremony celebrated the arrival of the 1,784 first-time freshmen, who comprise the second-largest freshman class in the University’s history. They also have a collective grade point average of 3.4, an indication of their impressive academic prowess. 

President Glenda Glover and student leaders turn on their flashlights in solidarity with the new freshmen, symbolizing the light the students must be on campus and in the world. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

TSU President Glenda Glover, school administrators, academic deans, and members of the Student Government Association, were all present to induct the new Tigers into the TSU community.

President Glover greeted the new students with warmth and enthusiasm, encouraging them to be steadfast in their pursuit of success and to follow in the footsteps of TSU graduates who are making a positive impact on the world. She emphasized the significance of their journey at TSU, stating, “You are headed in the right direction by choosing TSU. Step up! You must remain strong in your own faith. Trust God to be strong in your life.” The president said.

Sanyla Clark

“My message to the Class of 2027 is to be strong in your commitment to success, to trust in your own faith, and to find mentors who will support and guide you. As young people, it is on you to make a difference and bear the torch of service. Welcome to Tennessee State University, where you have a strong support system to help you succeed.”

Two freshmen, Sanyla Clark from Atlanta, majoring in communications, and Samuel King from Tallahassee, Florida, pursuing a degree in psychology, embraced President Glover’s words. 

Samuel King

Clark expressed her gratitude, stating, “I am very pleased to be inducted into the Tennessee State University Class of 2027, and the president’s words made me feel so much at home.” 

King echoed her sentiments, appreciating the family-like atmosphere at TSU and the strong support system helping them succeed in their next four years.

“I really enjoy the family atmosphere at TSU. Here you really feel like you belong because of the people here supporting you. With the message that President Glover gave to us, I know that I have a strong support system around me to be successful throughout my next four years,” King said.

As part of the induction ceremony, President Glover instructed the students to turn on the flashlight of their cell phones and raise them as a symbol representing the light they must be on campus and in the world.

New freshman class leaders join in singing the Alma Mater during the induction ceremony. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

During the ceremony, TSU’s Chief Operating Officer, Jason T. Evans, emphasized that the university’s leaders and faculty were dedicated to supporting the students. 

“The leaders that you see here seated at the platform along with their staffs are here to ensure your wellbeing and that you receive the support you need to be successful,” stated Evans.

Dr. Robbie Melton, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, urged the students to aim for excellence in their academic pursuits, promising to assist them in achieving their doctoral degrees.

Other notable speakers at the Freshman Convocation included Dr. Tasha Carson, Assistant Vice President for First-Year Students, Darrell Taylor, Student Government Association President, Miss TSU Victoria McCrae, and Mister TSU Davin Latiker.

TSU to Participate in Amazon’s Career Choice School Fair, Strengthening Partnership

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is thrilled to announce its participation in Amazon’s Career Choice School Fair, as part of the ongoing partnership between the university and Amazon. The fair is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 27 at Nashville International Airport. It will provide TSU representatives with the opportunity to showcase the institution and its offerings, as well as give Amazon employees the opportunity to make course selections or career choices.

President Glenda Glover

Earlier this year, TSU joined forces with Amazon to offer college courses to the company’s hourly employees as part of the Career Choice program tuition assistance program. The program is an integral part of Amazon’s commitment to invest $1.2 billion in upskilling over 300,000 employees by 2025. TSU’s participation in the Career Choice School Fair solidifies its dedication to providing accessible educational opportunities and nurturing the career growth of Amazon employees.

TSU now joins the growing list of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) participating in the program, becoming the only HBCU in Tennessee to be included in the Career Choice network. This partnership will enable TSU to train and educate hundreds of Amazon employees, enhancing their job skills and opening doors for career advancement.

“We are delighted to see our existing relationship with Amazon expand into this exciting new partnership,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “By providing training and education through the Career Choice initiative, TSU aims to equip Amazon employees with the necessary skills to thrive in their careers. With our dedicated faculty and staff, we are committed to the success and graduation of these employees.”

The Career Choice School Fair is scheduled for Sept. 27 at Nashville International Airport and will provide TSU representatives with the opportunity to showcase the institution and its offerings. Located in downtown Nashville, TSU is conveniently positioned to deliver its world-class programs to Amazon employees. With nearly 30,000 employees in Tennessee and the addition of fulfillment centers and a downtown office bringing over 5,000 tech and corporate jobs to Nashville, TSU’s involvement in the Career Choice program will have a significant impact on the local community.

Jason T. Evans, TSU’s Chief Operating Officer, highlighted the fair as a major opportunity to demonstrate the university’s renowned programs and offerings. “This is a chance for Amazon employees to witness the excellence in our business information, computer science, supply chain, health sciences, and finance programs,” said Evans. “We eagerly anticipate this collaboration and the opportunities it will bring.”

Dr. Verontae L. Deams, from TSU’s Enrollment Management, expressed the university’s readiness to fully represent itself at the Career Choice School Fair. “We are fully prepared to make the most of this opportunity,” stated Deams. “Partnering with Amazon aligns with TSU’s commitment to contribute to workforce development and provide opportunities for professional growth and development.”

Since its launch in 2012, Amazon Career Choice has partnered with hundreds of schools across 14 countries to support employees’ career success. To date, over 130,000 Amazon employees have participated in the program. TSU’s Assistant Vice President of Institutional Advancement, LoLita Toney, who serves as the liaison for the partnership with Amazon, emphasized that the Career Choice benefit addresses the financial barrier faced by many students pursuing a college degree.

“We are honored to be selected as an Amazon partner,” said Toney. “Together, TSU and Amazon are creating lasting positive impacts on individuals and their families by providing educational opportunities. We are excited about this collaboration and eagerly await the arrival of Amazon associates to join the Big Blue family.”

Amazon employees interested in Career Choice are encouraged to visit the dedicated portal and complete a TSU application.

Visit the Amazon Career Choice at TSU: https://www.tnstate.edu/amazon/index.aspx

For the TSU application, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/admissions/apply.

TSU announces ‘We Are One’ 2023 homecoming celebration

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With the theme of “Through Resilience and Perseverance, We Are One,” Tennessee State University proudly announces homecoming 2023 is October 8-14.  Homecoming kicks off the with the annual Robert N. Murrell Oratorical Contest and Gospel Explosion on Sunday, Oct. 8 to start the weeklong celebration. In addition to the big game between fellow HBCU Norfolk State University and the TSU Tigers, major events will include Mister and Miss TSU Coronation along with the Royal Court, the scholarship gala, the legendary Jefferson Street parade, and numerous alumni and student activities. 

President Glenda Glover

“This year’s theme embodies the spirit of solidarity and unity that defines the university and its local community, said TSU President Glenda Glover. ” There’s no homecoming like a TSU homecoming. We have planned for a celebration that will welcome thousands of alumni back home to our campus, their campus.”

President Glover added that she is pleased to have TSU alumni, former faculty and administrators to serve as the grand marshals and honorees the homecoming. 

The Grand Marshals leading this year’s parade include former Senator Brenda Gilmore, state government administrator Dr. Turner Nashe, and Tennessee Tribune publisher and civil rights activist Rosetta Miller-Perry. The honorees are longtime educator and administrator Dr. John Cade, legal maestro-turned-community leader Sammy Comer, and retired TSU Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and English professor Dr. Gloria Johnson.

Grammy award-winning Aristocrat of Bands during homecoming in 2022 welcoming alumni, family and friends to TSU.

The Special Presidential Honorees, distinguished as lifetime achievement luminaries, include civil rights leader Dr. Xernona Clayton, ambassador and gospel music advocate Bobby Jones, the chair of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Institute, Dean Barbara Murrell, and former long-time director of Field Services and Extension, and director of Financial Aid Homer Wheaton.

TSU students will continue to benefit from homecoming with the Annual Scholarship Gala, TSU’s signature fundraising event. It will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 13, at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Nashville. TSU homecoming Chair and director of strategic planning Grant Winrow said the gala gives alumni and supporters a chance to party with purpose and give back. 

Grant Winrow

“This is our biggest opportunity to let the world know how TSU has been a presence amongst colleges and universities across the country with our historical accomplishments and achievements,” Winrow said. “We have some of the most illustrious alumni who have stepped foot on this campus.”

Referring to this year’s honorees and grand marshals, Winrow said this is a selection to be very proud of.

“We have an unprecedented number of honorees this year. They are the epitome of dedicated service to the university.”

Student Government Association President Derrell Taylor said this year’s theme is impactful. “It’s a great opportunity to emphasize that we are one. We are part of the same product, goal, and mission,” Taylor said. “It’s meaningful because it is one of the most anticipated moments of the year. Students are excited to be able to put on their flyest outfits and attend some of the best events of the year.” 

Derrell Taylor

Taylor also noted how this is his last homecoming as an undergraduate student and Dr. Glover’s last homecoming as an active president. “This is our president’s final victory lap. It will be nice to see everyone come home and give her her flowers.” 

President Glover announced her retirement in August. 

Director of Athletics Dr. Mikki Allen said homecoming is all about the community honoring the past, celebrating the present, and investing in the future of Tennessee State University. “Homecoming is much more than a single event. It’s a celebration of history, culture, community, and the enduring legacy of Tennessee State University,” AD Allen said.  

“We know a major part of the celebration will be the football game. We’re excited to play Norfolk State University and I know Coach George will have our team ready to perform at a high level.”

Dr. Mikki Allen

The 2023 homecoming will also feature the now Grammy award-winning Aristocrat of Bands, who will be a major highlight of the TSU homecoming parade. Thousands are expected to line up and down Jefferson Street, hours before the big game, to see the trailblazing band. The parade route is from 14th and Jefferson Street to 33rd and John Merritt Boulevard.  

For more information on all the events for the 2023 TSU Homecoming, visit www.tnstate.edu/alumni/homecoming/

TSU continues to revolutionize farming with 19th annual expo

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –  For nearly two decades, Tennessee State University has provided vital resources to the State’s small farmers. One of the major resources is the TSU Small Farm Expo. The event is dedicated to supporting small-scale farming, along with providing sustainable practices and agricultural education.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, the dean of the college of agriculture expressed the university’s commitment to the event.

TSU Director of New Farmer Academy and Small Farms, Finis Stribling III

“This is the very purpose of why we exist,” Reddy said. “As a land-grant institution, we want to support the producers.” 

The event drew over 250 attendees, including more than 60 university students, and featured workshops, engagement speakers, and farmers.

Finis Stribling, III chaired this year’s Small Farm Expo and noted that one of those small farmers is Danielle Buyton. Buyton was recognized as the 2023 TSU New Small Farmer of the year and received $3,000 to support her farming efforts. 

“We started this expo about 19 years ago to showcase what TSU is doing in relation to small farms,” Stribling said.

Aria McElroy, a senior agricultural science major with a concentration in environmental science, was among the dozens of students who attended the expo.

Dr. Reddy trying a bitter melon beverage at one of the food crop tables during the Small Farm Expo at TSU.

“After I graduate in May, I would love to work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and get a strong foundation of what conservation is like and how I can bring that to private and public land.”

Aria, an 1890 Farm Bill scholar, also highlighted the significance of seeing Black farmers and landowners.

“It’s really good for TSU to have this event. Just seeing black farm and landowners in this space is great.”

In addition to chairing the expo, Stribling is the director of the academy. He is also a third-generation farmer and established the academy to support beginner small farmers across the country.Stribling noted how the New Farmer Academy graduates play a pivotal role in expanding the small farming community to sustain production in our ecosystem.

During the Small Farmer recognition program, Danielle Buyton, was announced as the 2023 TSU New Small Farmer of the year and received $3,000 in total to support her farming efforts. 

“We are here to showcase research relevant to small farms across Tennessee,” he said.

Stribling added that Buyton is also a graduate of the TSU New Farmer Academy, the only academy of its kind in the State that has graduated over 530 farmers from across the country.  

Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher was one of several state officials who attended the expo and praised the New Farmer Academy, reaffirming the importance of supporting small-scale farming and sustainable agriculture practices. 

“It’s one of the best training programs for new farmers and beginning farmers in the United States. It’s been so impactful,” Hatcher said.

Aria McElroy

“It’s one of the most worthwhile programs we need to get behind. It’s going to make a difference in the interests of people.”

Reggie Marshall is a small farmer working to have an impact and credits TSU for his success. Marshall is also one of the first graduates of the TSU New Farmer Academy established in 2014. As he walked and greeted others at the expo he reflected on the important work the TSU College of Agriculture is doing for small farmers across the state.  

“In order to make these small farms viable, we need programs like the New Farm Academy because it walks you through every phase of getting started,” he explained.

Sydney Wyche

The Expo featured speakers from local, state and federal levels, and provided workshops on topics such as urban agriculture, hemp research, organic agriculture, vertical gardening, bee keeping, food demonstrations, food crop production, and more.

TSU student, Sydney Wyche, a sophomore from Huntsville, echoed Aria’s sentiments regarding how beneficial the event was. Sydney attended the Expo to learn more about the agricultural companies and opportunities available.

“I am looking for internships and trying to find new connections,” Wyche said.

Dr. Emmanuel Omondi, Assistant Professor of Agronomy and Industrial Hemp Extension Specialist during the Small farm expo.

“I wanted to learn more about the agricultural companies. From the medicine you take to what you eat, agriculture is connected to everything.”

In addition to being a resource, the expo serves as a platform to bring small farmers together and as well as extension agencies from across the state.  

TSU shines at the 34th Southern Heritage Classic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – It was a Tennessee State University takeover in every sense of the word as the City of Memphis turned TSU blue for the 34th Annual Southern Heritage Classic (SHC). Simmons Bank Liberty Bowl Stadium was also filled with excitement following head coach Eddie George and the Tigers’ thrilling victory over the University of Arkansas Pine-Bluff 24-17.  The win culminated a weekend of events highlighting the special connection between the University and the Bluff City.

The 34th Annual Southern Heritage Classic, located at the Simmons Bank Liberty Bowl Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee, held an attendance record of 32,518. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee state university)

This year’s classic also held a deeper significance for TSU ever since President Glenda Glover announced her retirement in August. “It’s an exciting win,” President Glover said. “There’s nothing like coming back to your hometown, being with your friends and family. Knowing that this is my last time to win in this stadium as president of TSU makes it all the more special.”

It was also special because it was the world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands’ first appearance at the classic since winning a Grammy earlier this year. The band was the highlight of the classic parade, bringing back childhood memories for TSU senior Oryanna Davis. Davis is a current cheer coach of the Little Tigers and has attended every SHC since birth.

TSU senior and cheer coach, Oryanna Davis, takes a selfie with the Little Tigers at the annual SHC.

“I’ve been to every Classic in my 21 years,” Davis, a Memphis native, said.

The TSU business administration major said her favorite part of the Classic every year is witnessing the Aristocrat of Bands (AOB) dominate the halftime show. She also mentioned that another highlight is being a part of the annual Orange Mound Classic parade with support from her family, friends, and former teammates. Davis was a part of the TSU cheer team for two years before becoming a Little Tigers coach.

TSU’s world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands dominates the halftime show against UAPB.

“I am around the people I love and doing what I love,” she said. “So being able to support the university and also have people around me support me is special.”

Hundreds of people lined the route to see the floats and participants in the annual parade, including President Glover, AOB, TSU student leaders, and local bands from across the Mid-South filling the streets. You could hear Davis’s family cheering her on from the parade’s sideline. Davis’s mother, Janine Jolliffi, said it takes a village to raise and educate children, emphasizing that the heritage of the classic is more than just a football game or a parade.

“It’s an all-out community event,” the Memphis native said. “We want to cheer for them, support them, and see them succeed. Not only in the parade, but we also want to cheer them on in education as well.” Davis’s younger brother, 14-year-old Omari Jolliffi, said their family has always been a part of TSU, even before his sister enrolled.

Oryanna’s family, including her mother Janine, and brother Omari, cheering her on from the Orange Mound parade’s sideline during SHC.

“The parade is a great thrill and rush I look forward to every year,” Omari said. He also stated that he plans to follow in his sister’s footsteps and graduate from TSU with hopes of becoming a veterinarian.

The classic means more than the action on the field for TSU.  It is also a significant effort in recruiting young students like Omari. West Tennessee, North Mississippi, and specifically Memphis are fertile grounds to recruit top high school students.

Director of Admissions LaMar-Octavious Scott, speaks with future TSU Tigers during the Classic College and Career Fair at Liberty Park in Memphis.

The TSU Office of Enrollment Management and Student Success spoke with many future Tigers during the Classic College and Career Fair at Liberty Park in Memphis. LaMar-Octavious Scott, the director of admissions, said the college fair was an outstanding experience as local high school students were eager to learn how to become a part of the Tiger family. 

“Not only was this a great way to promote the institution, but to be able to put the students in the front seat to their future,” Scott said. “It’s a great level of exposure that often helps meet the student’s expectation of wanting to attend an HBCU.”

Scott revealed that the office of enrollment had forged powerful connections with community leaders, igniting a surge in exposure through collaborative partnerships and initiatives. As the fair unfolded, there were over 2,650 students in attendance, more than 100 student inquiries, and 20 who were granted on-the-spot admissions.

SGA leaders were a part of the annual Orange Mound Classic parade cheering with a crowd of hundreds before the SHC football game.

Attendance for the football game was 32,518 with UAPB as a first-time opponent. With additional events such as the Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium tailgate, the Penny Hardaway Memphis District Golf Classic, and the Classic concert starring Gladys Knight, the 34th annual Southern Heritage Classic will be one to remember. 

TSU President Glover honored with key to the City and Classic Win

By Kelli Sharpe, Alexis Clark

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With the promise of a win, the 34th Southern Heritage Classic was the perfect sendoff for Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover. This year’s classic marked Glover’s eleventh and final one as president of her alma mater. The Memphis native announced her retirement in August.

President Glenda Glover was joined by SHC founder Fred Jones, Memphis Mayor Strickland, and members of the TN Black Caucus after being honored with a key to the city.

President Glover was honored with special presentations from Mayor James ‘Jim’ Strickland and classic founder Fred Jones during the 2023 Classic Coaches’ Luncheon held in Memphis. The luncheon was also highlighted with the vow of a win by TSU head football coach Eddie George.

“She is going to retire next year, and I want to send her off with a victory,” Coach George said. “That is the goal.”

George then thanked Dr. Glover for giving him the opportunity to lead the TSU Tigers and assured her that he would bring home the championship title. The coach and team fulfilled that promise with a 24-17 victory of the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff.

TSU head football coach Eddie George thanked Dr. Glover during the coach luncheon and assured Dr. Glover that he would bring home the SHC championship title.

“It’s my last classic as the president of Tennessee State University, but I will be here every year,” Glover said.

Mayor Strickland declared Friday, September 8 as “Glenda Glover Day” to the delight of the luncheon crowd. The announcement was met with cheers and even longer applause as he presented her with a key to the city.  President Glover received a standing ovation as she made her way to the stage.

“She has been an incredible partner with the city on this game and in other ways for the last 11 years at TSU,” Mayor Stickland said. 

Classic founder and longtime friend Fred Jones followed Mayor Strickland with the 2023 Classic Founder’s Award presentation for Glover to a standing ovation as well. “It is my pleasure to recognize President Glenda Glover, a native daughter of Memphis and good friend of mine, who has excelled at every level,” said Jones.

“Dr. Glover’s impact in higher education is felt everywhere, from the White House to the State Capitol, corporate board rooms to classrooms, and especially here at the classic.”

Head coach Eddie George, President Glenda Glover and Athletics Director Mikki Allen

President Glover left no doubt that she would return for next year’s classic in her hometown, forever remaining a proud TSU Tiger.

“I am honored to receive this recognition from Mayor Strickland and Mr. Fred Jones,” Glover told the crowd. “Memphis will always be considered home, where I got my start. Serving as TSU president is an honor of a lifetime. We have been able to accomplish so much with your continued support. The City of Memphis, Southern Heritage Classic and my entire TSU family have been with me and my administration every step of the way.”

The classic luncheon also featured UAPB Head Coach Alonzo Hampton, along with guest speaker and Arkansas native Keith Jackson, a former college football and NFL standout.

TSU’s Zakiya Hamza Receives BlueCross BlueShield Scholarship

By Angel Higgins

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University senior ZaKiya Hamza is one step closer to achieving her dream of becoming a nurse practitioner.  The nursing major was recently awarded the BlueCross Power of We Scholarship. A video, two essays, and two recommendation letters later, Hamza joined five other students, from across the State, in receiving the $10,000 scholarship.

“I was ecstatic when I found out and I’m very grateful for the BlueCross BlueShield Power of We Scholarship,” said Hamza.

ZaKiya Hamza

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation, in partnership with the National Association of Health Services Executives Memphis Chapter, honored six students for their remarkable contributions to community service, leadership, and academics.

The scholarship was founded in 2013 by the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation to address the historic lack of opportunity and health inequities that minority groups suffer, particularly underrepresentation in the medical industry. Since then, the scholarship program has assisted more than a dozen deserving individuals in pursuing degrees in nursing, medical technology, pharmacy, and other professions.

Hamza, a Nashville native, chose nursing because she enjoys working with others and helping people. When asked her thoughts on being a part of the TSU School of Nursing, Zakiya explained, “I am grateful to be a part of the School of Nursing and hope to see this program continue to grow”. 

She also said she was grateful for the support she received from Professor and Interim Bachelor of Science in Nursing Director Dr. Shaquita Bonds. After that it took about four months to hear back and once accepted she had to go through a round of interviews.

“I found out about this scholarship thanks to my professor who announced it in class, and the nursing program sent mass emails for scholarships to apply as well.”

Dr. Courtney Nyange, executive director of nursing and professor, expressed what it means for the School of Nursing the excitement that comes along with a TSU student receiving such an honor.  

“The focus of the School of Nursing is on the preparation of the next generation of nurses through a learning environment that promotes excellence in education, scholarship, and collaborative practice in diverse communities locally and globally,” added Nyange.

“Nursing faculty and staff are invested in the success of our students who envision themselves in the helping and healing arts. We are grateful for the awarding of the Power of We Scholarship to our nursing student, Zakiya Hamza and are excited about what the future holds for her in the nursing profession.”

Zakiya added that receiving the scholarship will help her immensely with nursing school costs, while being able to focus solely on her education because nursing school is a full-time job. In addition to furthering her career as a nurse practitioner, she plans to own and operate her own clinic.

The next application cycle will open later this fall. For more information about the Power of We Scholarship vist BCBSTNews.com/Scholarship