NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With graduate enrollment in agricultural sciences at Tennessee State University more than tripled in five years and an influx of new Ph.D. faculty topping more than 25 in just three years, University officials are celebrating the addition of new facilities to accommodate this “phenomenal” growth.
Today, TSU President Glenda Glover, joined by Dean Chandra Reddy, Chancellor John Morgan, of the Tennessee Board of Regents, and other University officials, federal and state stakeholders and elected official, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for three new buildings on campus.
The buildings, with a combined price tag of more than $12 million, were funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
The centerpiece of the new facilities is the 25,000 square-foot Agricultural Biotechnology Building, the first new building constructed at the University in nearly eight years. It contains more than 12 state-of-the-art labs for cutting-edge research, including DNA synthesis and chromatography analysis. The building will also house and support primarily agricultural research, and provide working space for more than 20 new Ph.D.-level scientists, as well as administrative offices.
The other two facilities, called the Agricultural and STEM Education and Training Center, and the Agricultural Research Support Building, are located on the University farm.
“Tennessee State University is preparing students who are ready for the workforce,” said a very upbeat President Glover, as she thanked the USDA, the TBR, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and other stakeholders for their support in making the buildings a reality.
“This is such a wonderful opportunity. With these facilities, our students will benefit tremendously by engaging in cutting-edge research in food safety and security, and by expanding their knowledge in their quest for excellence,” the President added.
For Dean Reddy, he said research funding in the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences has tripled to couple with climbing enrollment on the undergraduate and graduate levels.
“This dedication and these buildings memorialize the ongoing transformation in the college over the last five years,” Reddy said. “We have multiplied every useful metrics during this time, be it student enrollment, research funding and outreach.”
He said the college has integrated academics with research and outreach and extension, established faculty focus groups to provide intellectual leadership to their programs, as well as created new opportunities for students to get involved in research and outreach.
The need for continued investment in agriculture and the food sciences is tremendous, he said, reminding the gathering about the expected growth in human population and the risk of climate change and its effect on food crops, and the impact of food on “our” overall health and wellbeing.
“To address these fundamental problems, our research is focusing on developing crops and products for health, for climate change, for energy, and ultimately alleviate the problems facing the world today and in the future,” added Reddy.
TBR Chancellor Morgan, who described the dedication as very significant, also thanked the USDA, President Glover, Dr. Reddy and other stakeholders for their support.
“This is very significant because it reflects the commitment of this University to excellence and to producing students who are capable and ready for the workforce anywhere in the country and the world.”
While the dedication of the new facilities was the focus of today’s ceremony, a presentation by a TSU student received tremendous cheers from the audience, and caught the attention of several speakers and stakeholders with job offers for the Agricultural Sciences major from Chicago.
Kourtney Daniels, a sophomore with a 4.0 GPA, serving as a TSU Student Ambassador, had only to give the welcome remarks, but her “very eloquent,” three-minute presentation drew praises even she did not expect.
“I was just being myself; I did not expect to have such an impact,” said Daniels.
Others also participating in today’s dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony were: Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Mark Hardy; State Representative Brenda Gilmore, a TSU alum, who has championed many causes on the state and national levels for her alma mater; and Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner, Julius Johnson.
State Representative Harold Love Jr.; Archie Tucker, assistant director of the Mid South Area for the USDA’s Agricultural Research Services; Steve Gass, of the Tennessee Department of Education; Dr. Roger Sauve, superintendent of the Agricultural Research and Education Center at TSU; and Ron Brooks, associate vice president for Facilities Management, also took part in the dedication.
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With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.