All posts by Lucas Johnson

TSU fall reopening plan provides additional safety protocols, fee discounts for students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University officials say they are looking forward to welcoming new and returning students back this fall. TSU will reopen under a comprehensive plan that will provide additional COVID-19 safety protocols to protect the public health and safety of the campus community, along with student discounts.  

TSU President Glenda Glover

Currently, the plan is to begin the fall semester on August 17, with all classes online for the first two weeks. Due to COVID-19, there will be both in-person and online instruction throughout the semester, which will end by Thanksgiving.

“This innovative and comprehensive plan for fall 2020 was developed in consultation with TSU stakeholders and public health officials,” TSU President Glenda Glover said Wednesday in a correspondence to TSU students, faculty and staff. 

“This pandemic is unlike any challenge we have ever faced.  All decisions have been made with the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff as the top priority.” 

With that in mind, TSU is implementing a 14-day “safer in place” policy upon arrival for all students in residence halls. The policy requires students to stay in their places of residence unless they need to perform essential activities, such as getting food, or going to medical appointments.

Aleyah Hargrove

Transfer student Aleyah Hargove, like many new students attending TSU for the first time, understands things will be different but is still looking forward to the college experience. The business major from Goodlettsville, Tennessee, believes the University is taking the right measures to keep everyone safe based on the plan. 

“I am excited to attend TSU and have the campus experience despite the pandemic,” said Hargrove. “Though it will be somewhat different, I’m confident efforts are being made to learn in a safe environment”.

Matthew Benton, a rising senior and fellow business major, said he’s decided to take all online courses. 

“I really appreciate all that the University is doing for student safety, but my parents and I have decided it is in my best interest to attend remotely,” added Benton, who is from Atlanta. 

“It was really a tough decision. I’m sad I’ll be missing out on campus life. I’ve talked with several of my friends and they have mixed feelings, and haven’t made a decision yet.”

In addition to other safety measures, such as wearing of face coverings and social distancing at all times, classrooms and buildings will be cleaned and sanitized regularly. (TSU Media Relations)

The University is also offering discounts of up to 15 percent on fees and tuition for students who take all online courses. These discounts will depend on the student’s in-state or out-of-state status. Additionally, students who choose to do so will be allowed to cancel their housing and receive a full refund of their deposit. The discounts come on the heels of the University announcing that it is freezing tuition with no increase this year.

 “I am pleased that these discounts will result in significant savings for our students during these challenging times,” said Dr. Glover, adding that the university will also continue to offer laptops and technology devices to students that need them.

In addition to a Pandemic Task Force that has been meeting just about every day to address issues related to the coronavirus, President Glover also appointed a Fall Course Delivery Task Force to help develop the best strategy for classes this fall.

Classrooms are being assessed to determine the number of students that can occupy the room, based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Computer labs are also being marked to determine the number of persons allowed to use them at the same time. Desks and high-touch surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day for classes, labs, and public areas between usage.

Other safety measures for the campus include wearing of face coverings and social distancing at all times; regular cleaning and sanitizing of buildings; temperature checks upon entering campus and randomly throughout campus; installation of shields throughout the campus; and establishment of a non-emergency COVID-19 phone line and email for reporting concerns.

The University will also work closely with the Tennessee Department of Health for contact tracing. For any positive diagnostic test results, TSU will operationalize the protocols in place, and will follow the state reporting guidelines.  A contact tracing team will be in place to identify potential secondary cases to limit the spread of infection. TSU has also established its own early contact tracing.

For athletics, the University has a comprehensive plan that outlines the safe return to training, practice and competition for student-athletes, which also complies with public health guidelines, as well as NCAA and Ohio Valley Conference requirements. Part of this plan includes a delayed opening for the upcoming football season until the end of September. The first three games of the season will not be played. The University is still reviewing information pertaining to the Homecoming game on October 10.

Earlier this week, TSU held a COVID-19 tabletop exercise that was coordinated by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The three state agencies praised the University for its level of commitment among all divisions in creating a comprehensive plan for the campus, including safety protocols, testing and tracking. 

“What we saw here with TSU is that you have an administration that’s being collaborative and finding ways to mitigate the threat of COVID-19,” said Jeff Brown, a planner with TEMA and key facilitator of the tabletop. 

“They want to open campus up and I think they are taking the right precautions through communicating with each other and coming up with contingency plans on how to deal with any potential problems down the road.”

In an effort to provide outreach services to the community, TSU launched the COVID-19 Academy in May to connect residents with crucial resources.  Areas include health services, such as telehealth and telemedicine providers, food banks and pantries, as well as employment and educational resources. 

“The academy will work to bridge the health care disparity for people of color that experts say will have a lasting impact for generations to come,” said Glover. “This is being done through a holistic approach combining access to care, human services and education.” 

The University will continue to monitor the virus and make changes to the reopening plan if there is a continued surge in reported cases.

To learn more about TSU’s campus operation plans for fall reopening, visit www.tnstate.edu/return.

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU uses $200K grant to provide students financial assistance for fall 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Students interested in attending Tennessee State University this fall could get financial assistance to help with expenses. TSU is using a $200,000 grant from the Charles E. Schell Foundation for Education to help new and returning students stay in school by providing financial relief to those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

TSU President Glenda Glover

The Foundation was established as a revolving student loan program, with Fifth Third Bank as trustee. Qualifying students will receive a maximum of $2,000.

“TSU is appreciative of the collaboration with the Schell Foundation and Fifth Third Bank and their support of the university and our students,” says President Glenda Glover. “The funds will not only help our students to stay in school, but will also provide a form of relief to them and their families impacted by COVID-19 and the economic downturn we are currently experiencing.”

The foundation gave TSU $100,000 last year, but decided to double the amount this year, partly because of the hardship many students are facing as a result of COVID-19. 

“We are pleased to honor Mr. Schell’s wishes to grant these loan dollars to Tennessee State as its administration helps students with expenses on their educational journey,” says Heidi Jark, senior vice president and managing director, The Foundation Office at Fifth Third. “Part of the mission of the Foundation Office at Fifth Third Bank is continuing our clients’ philanthropic impact that provides pathways to opportunity.” 

Applicants will be required to meet the selection criteria established by the Charles E. Schell Foundation. They must be citizens of Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and states adjoining them (including Tennessee); and be between the ages of 18-25, with a minimum 2.0 grade point average. Students are also asked to sign a promissory note to repay the funds to create a revolving loan fund to benefit future TSU students.

The grant is one of several ways TSU is helping students during these unprecedented times. 

To help students interested in attending TSU, the University is temporarily waiving the ACT and SAT scores as requirements for incoming freshmen for Fall 2020, and will accept an unofficial transcript.  However, students will still be required to have a GPA of 2.5 or higher and a completed application. Students transferring from a 2-year or 4-year institution must submit an official transcript from the last college or university attended. 

Not long after TSU students began distance learning in March, President Glover and other university administrators held a live meeting via Zoom with over 200 student leaders to assure them that TSU is dedicated to helping them succeed.

TSU student Treveon Hayes, who will be a sophomore in the fall, says the University’s assistance has been motivating to him and other students.

“It’s been an adjustment, but I have goals, and I can’t let anything stop me from reaching them,” says Hayes, an elementary education major from Memphis, Tennessee. 

Other efforts by TSU to help students include: a virtual hourly-workshop on completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA; the 250-Mile Radius Tuition Rate for students from high schools in surrounding states; the HOPE scholarship for Tennessee residents; the Academic High Achiever Scholarship; the TSU Academic Work Scholarship; the TSU Building Bridge Grant, and several others.

To learn more about TSU’s financial aid programs, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/admissions/

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU alumna and Amazon Teacher of the Year Shasta Charlton inspires students to be successful

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University alumna Shasta Charlton didn’t know much about robots. But that didn’t stop the first-year teacher and her students from building and coding one, and winning $50,000 from Amazon.

TSU alumna Shasta Charlton

Charlton, a computer science teacher and Robotics Club staffer at Whites Creek Comprehensive High School in Nashville, is a 2020 Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award recipient. She is one of 10 individuals selected from among thousands of eligible teachers to receive the prestigious award, which includes $25,000 for the school and $25,000 in school supplies.

Charlton’s ability to relate to students helped get the attention of Amazon. When her school presented she and her students with the challenge of building and coding a robot, they did not back away.

“I don’t have a computer science degree, but I went home and I buried myself in YouTube videos and read every book that I could get my hands on to make this happen for them,” recalls Charlton, who also convinced the students to start a Robotics Club. “In about six months we had a fully working coded robot, and we actually ended up winning third in the state competition. I could have easily just said no, but instead, me and my students said we were going to buckle down and figure it out.”

Amazon award recipients were chosen based on a variety of criteria, which included their commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion within computer science education, a recommendation from a school administrator, and compelling, personal anecdotes about their school and students.

While she’s thrilled to be nationally recognized by Amazon, Charlton says she’s even more excited about the number of students she’s convinced to attend TSU in just her first year of being a teacher.

“I’ve really been trying to connect my students with TSU as much as possible,” says Charlton, who graduated from TSU last year with a degree in agricultural sciences. “I have four students this year who are going to TSU to major in some form of agriculture.”

Dr. John Ricketts is an Ag professor and extension specialist at TSU who encouraged Charlton to transfer to the university and major in agriculture when she was at Nashville State Community College. He says he’s not surprised at the success she’s having after just one year of teaching.

“She was extremely motivated as a student; she’s incredibly brilliant too,” says Ricketts of Charlton, whose concentration was in agricultural education. “When she went to Whites Creek, we knew that they had a home run. And frankly, it’s a home run for TSU because she’ll be sharing the good word about Big Blue.“

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, agrees.

Students work on robot for competition. (Submitted photo)

“As a student, she was very active and passionate about her program,” says Reddy. “She is also typical of our agricultural education graduates who have been getting very high scores on the state education exams and are doing extremely well as teachers and leaders in the communities they serve.”

In 2009, Nashville State Community College and TSU formed a Dual Admission Agreement. It provided certain guarantees to students who committed to TSU early in their community college matriculation, such as priority advising and registration, as well as access to TSU’s campus.

Since then, the Tennessee Board of Regents instituted the Tennessee Transfer Pathways program, which superseded DAAs and provided guarantees to community college graduates statewide.

Dr. Sharon Peters, executive director of community college initiatives at TSU, says students at Nashville State continue to be on TSU’s radar.

“Nashville State should be our pipeline,” says Peters. “The majority of the students that leave Nashville State should be coming here, or considering us, particularly if they live in Davidson County.”

For more information about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/

For more about community college initiatives at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/commcolleges/

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU, Apple coding course gives alumni, community a chance to retool amid pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is giving its alumni and others affected by the coronavirus an opportunity to retool. The University is partnering with Apple to help those individuals learn how to code and design apps.

The “Everyone Can Code and Create” course will be offered online in the fall through TSU’s National Center for Smart Technology Innovations, which is supported by the tech giant. Scholarship applicants must show how they have been impacted by COVID-19.

Michael Davis Jr. and his wife, Keyosha, to attend coding class in the fall

Dr. Robbie Melton, the center’s director, says many people have lost their jobs or been furloughed as a result of the virus. The course gives them an opportunity to retool or gain a new skill so that they can get back into the workforce and be even more competitive, says Melton.

“TSU is the only institution that is taking what I call a comprehensive approach to help all of our stakeholders of alumni, faculty, students, staff and community,” she says. “We’re not leaving anyone out, due to the fact that COVID-19 hasn’t left anyone out.”

Michael Davis, Jr., a science teacher with Metro Nashville Public Schools, says he and his wife plan to take the class in the fall. In addition to improving his own skill set, Davis says he wants to pass what he learns on to his students.

“This is so beneficial for me as an educator because I can share this with my students,” says Davis. “It’s so important that they learn this.”

His wife, Keyosha, is a stay-at-home mother with their seven children, three of  whom have special needs.

“When my husband told me about this opportunity, I thought, this could help me finish my degree where I can be at home with my kids, and I can also teach them,” says Keyosha, who currently has an associate’s and is planning to get her bachelor’s at TSU. “I can teach my 8-year-old, who loves STEM.”

TSU and Apple launched the “Everyone Can Code and Create” initiative last year through the university’s National Center for Smart Technology Innovations. Another initiative offered by the Center is a dual enrollment program with three major school districts in Tennessee that offers high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to earn college credits while enrolled in high school.

Dr. Robbie Melton, director of TSU’s National Center for Smart Technology Innovations, assists youth learning to code. (TSU Media Relations)

“We are positioned to provide coding and creativity on site and online, for high school students to have a pathway to our computer science and “Everyone Can Code and Create” curriculums at TSU,” says Melton.

Here’s a list of some online programs at TSU for Fall 2020, beginning with the coding courses:

            PROFESSIONAL STUDIES-DEVELOPMENT

  • Apple Part I: ‘Everyone Can Code & Everyone Can Create’ – App Design and          Prototype Development
  • Apple Part II: ‘Everyone Can Code & Everyone Can Create’ – Advanced App Prototype Design
  • The Rise of eSports and Gamification in Higher Education

            UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS

  • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Criminal Justice
  • BS in Health Information Management
  • BS in Interdisciplinary Studies

GRADUATE CERTIFICATE PROGRAMS

  • Graduate Certificate in Applied Geospatial Information Systems
  • Graduate Certificate in Educational Technology
  • Graduate Certificate in Health Administration and Planning

GRADUATE PROGRAMS

  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership with concentrations in: Higher Education Leadership and Pre K-12 Administration
  • Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in Instructional Leadership with concentrations in: Licensure and Non-Licensure
  • Executive Master of Business Administration (Hybrid)

For information about more programs, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/online/.

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU using $50,000 grant from Regions to continue helping students succeed during pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is using a $50,000 grant from Regions Bank to purchase additional digital devices to ensure students have the tools they need to complete their coursework as a result of COVID-19.

TSU President Glenda Glover

In March, TSU students had to transition to remote learning because of the coronavirus. The University purchased laptops and tablets for those students who needed them. TSU is planning to resume classes on campus in the fall, but has an alternate plan that includes students continuing to learn remotely if there’s a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“TSU is grateful to Regions Bank for their continued support of the institution and our students,” says President Glenda Glover. “We committed to students that the University would ensure quality of student learning and their academic success during our transition to online instruction because of COVID-19. This gift from Regions helps us keep that promise by using the funds to provide much needed devices for students as we prepare for the fall.”

Tim Warren, head of information technology at TSU, says the Regions grant provides much needed relief to students facing hardships as a result of the virus.

“TSU has a large amount of technology on campus for students, but some of them don’t have internet access or computers at home,” says Warren. “These laptops and hotspots allow the students to stay connected and complete assignments like they were on campus.”

TSU freshman Nakailah Shields-Robinson says the laptop she received has been very useful. She says she wasn’t sure what she was going to do when her computer crashed. 

“I have an iPad, but that’s not really good either,” says Shields-Robinson, a criminal justice major from St. Louis, Missouri. “So, when the laptop came, it’s been helping me write my papers.

TSU junior Joyvon Dickerson, a human performance and sports science major from Chicago, says she’s grateful for the laptop the university gave her. 

“It’s kind of hard trying to write a five-page paper off your phone,” says Dickerson. “It’s nice to be at a school that cares about its students in this way.” 

Latrisha Jemison, a senior vice president at Regions Bank, says the company is committed to helping students succeed.

Sterlin Sanders, director of user services at TSU, examines laptop to go to student. (Submitted photo)

“Regions Bank is a longtime community partner with Tennessee State University, and, together, we are determined to build on the progress that TSU students have made toward earning their degrees and reaching their goals,” says Jemison, a Regional Community Development and Partnership manager. “The pandemic is creating a tremendous challenge, and there’s no denying this is a very difficult time. But by working together, we can help education move forward, and TSU will continue to connect students with opportunities to build a better tomorrow.”

Jamie Isabel with advancement and university relations at TSU says the grant from Regions is an example of the bank’s commitment to the University, and the “value of corporate partners to students and the University.”

For more on TSU operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU exceeds 2019-2020 goal with more than $54 million in research awards

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has exceeded its research awards’ goal with more than $54 million from various funding agencies and sponsors. TSU officials say the amount is even more impressive considering faculty are continuing to receive awards despite financial hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

TSU President Glenda Glover

With a month still to go in the fiscal year, the university has so far received $54.2 million, which exceeds its 2019-2020 goal of $50 million. TSU is on pace to go beyond the most the university has received, which was $54.5 million in 2016.

“This is a true testament to the hard work and tenacity of our faculty and staff, particularly as we navigate the financially rough waters caused by COVID-19,” says TSU President Glenda Glover. “A crucial cornerstone of an institution’s success is measured through its research.” 

Dr. Frances Williams, associate vice president for Research and Sponsored Programs at TSU, agrees.

“TSU faculty and staff have continued to participate in scholarly activities and find success even during the pandemic as they have continued to submit proposals and receive new grant awards,” says Williams. “These grant awards provide substantial resources to the university to support the performance of cutting-edge research, student scholarships, student and faculty development and training, capacity and infrastructure development, as well as outreach to the community.” 

Some of the top awards are:

  • $11.4 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to Dr. Kimberly Smith, director of TSU’s Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences, for the “Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA).”
  • $999,999 from the National Science Foundation to the multi-disciplinary investigator team from the Colleges of Engineering and Agriculture (Drs. Frances Williams (PI), Lin Li, Richard Mu, Ying Wu, and Suping Zhou) for the “Enhancement of Research Infrastructure for Advanced Functional Materials for Biotechnology Applications.” 
  • $855,604 from DHHS to Dr. Margaret Whalen, professor in the College of Life and Physical Sciences, for the “MMC, VICC & TSU Partnership in Eliminating Cancer Disparities.”
  • $752,632 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Dr. De’Etra Young, College of Agriculture professor, for the “TSU 1890 Scholarship Program: Training and Mentoring the Next Generation of Leaders in Food and Agricultural Sciences.”
Dr. Frances Williams

Faculty members say the awards not only further place TSU – a Carnegie R2 designee – in the national spotlight, but helps to create a pipeline of outstanding workers for a competitive workforce.

Dr. Kimberly Smith says the grant from DHHS will allow TSU to continue to serve as the professional development hub for the state as it relates to child development and early childhood training. 

“One thing that makes TECTA (Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance) so unique is that we work with early childhood professionals to strengthen the workforce within the state for childcare,” says Smith.

Carmen Davis says without help from TECTA, she would not have been able to open her three-star childcare company, Ms. Carmen’s Precious Moments.

“I was working full-time and going to school, and I couldn’t afford to do both,” says Davis, who started her business in 2007. “TECTA came in to offset the price, which allowed me the opportunity to go and achieve my CDA (Child Development Associate) through their grant and their funding.”

Dr. De’Etra Young, who is also interim associate dean of academics and land-grant programs in TSU’s College of Agriculture, says the funding she received will be used to “encourage students to pursue and complete baccalaureate degrees in the food and agricultural sciences and related fields.”

Carmen Davis, owner of Ms. Carmen’s Precious Moments (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

John Barfield is director of engagement and visibility for Research and Sponsored Programs. He says the university has brought in more than $250 million in awards over the last five years.

“Our reaching $50 million with a month to go in our fiscal year is a testament to the hard work and efforts of our faculty,” says Barfield. “Dr. Glover has made research a priority for Tennessee State University and her steady leadership at the helm of TSU has contributed to creating a culture of research.”

To learn more about Research and Sponsored Programs at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/research/.

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU and Mt. Zion cut hunger for 10,000 Nashville families hit hardest by COVID-19 with grant from Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Over 10,000 Nashville families can put more food on their tables today because of a generous grant donation from the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation. The funds were made available through a partnership between Tennessee State University and Mt. Zion Baptist Church that grew out of Ms. Winfrey’s strong desire to help Nashville. 

Ms. Winfrey, a Big Blue alum, said TSU President Glenda Glover and Bishop Joseph Warren Walker III of Mt. Zion were recommended to her because of their great work in the community. Particularly in the case of President Glover, Ms. Winfrey said representatives with Apple suggested she connect with Glover and TSU, which has a successful coding partnership with Apple.

The tech giant is also in partnership with Ms. Winfrey, who recently spoke with local and national print outlets during a Zoom meeting to announce the $2 million grant to TSU and Mt. Zion to help the families in need.

“Everybody was already connected. I felt like I was in good hands,” said Ms. Winfrey, adding that she brainstormed with Glover and Walker on how to get help “directly to the people.”

“I was honored to receive Ms. Winfrey’s call, and even more touched by her concern for underserved communities in her home city of Nashville deeply impacted by COVID-19,” said Glover, who was a classmate of Ms. Winfrey. “A vast majority of the families benefitting are single heads of households experiencing job loss or a substantial cut in hours. The university, along with Mt. Zion, is extremely proud to have assisted with such a monumental humanitarian effort with our alumna, Ms. Winfrey.” 

“We are deeply grateful to Ms. Winfrey, who has such a heart for Nashville and asked us to help her develop a method for getting relief to the most vulnerable people as fast as possible,” said Walker. “In response, we convened an extensive network of religious, civic and business leaders who have direct knowledge of individuals and families in this city whose lives have been devastated by the confluence of disasters that have hit Nashville in 2020.” 

NashvilleNurtures, the collaboration between TSU and Mt. Zion, brought together a coalition of African-American churches and community organizations to assist in helping the city’s most at need individuals. In addition to the coronavirus, a tornado that struck parts of Nashville near TSU in early March left many families homeless. 

One beneficiary is LaWanda Jackson. She said the gift card was “truly a blessing” because her work hours had been reduced and she was still displaced by the tornado. “I honestly did not know what my next meal was going to be,” said Jackson. “The card was right on time. I’m thankful to everyone who played a part in me getting it.” 

Single mom Janice Easley was overjoyed to receive the $200 Kroger gift card. The mom of six and housekeeper said her hours had been cut as well, and she worried about having enough food available with her children out of school. 

“I was down to my last food and didn’t have anything,” said Easley. “I thank Ms. Oprah Winfrey. She didn’t have to do it but you came through. It’s a blessing.” 

Glover said, “The gratitude and appreciation expressed to Ms. Winfrey, TSU and Mt. Zion has been overwhelming. Along with single parents, we’ve been able to help people who are crucial to the city’s tourism industry; the men and women that wait tables, hotel check-in, and small business owners suffering financial loss. As a college president, I see first-hand how this virus has affected every aspect of daily living, financial, operational and of course educational.” 

Ms. Winfrey said she was compelled to help because of how African-American communities are being disproportionally affected by the virus. She voiced her concern about the lack of access to healthcare, leading to a larger number of deaths and the economic toll on communities of color.

“The reason I’m talking about it is because there is going to be a need for people of means to step up, and you got those people right here in Nashville,” said Ms. Winfrey. “I mean, this thing is not going away. Even when the virus is gone.”

Agreeing with Winfrey, Glover said it was important that TSU continue to help families as they face uncertain futures due to the devastating impact of the virus and that’s being done with the newly created COVID-19 Academy at the university.

“TSU has established the COVID-19 Academy to continue outreach to the Nashville community as it recovers from the pandemic,” said Glover. “The academy will work to bridge the health care disparity for people of color that experts say will have a lasting impact for generations to come through a holistic approach combining access to care, human services and education.” 

The grant to NashvilleNurtures was a part of the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation’s $12 million COVID-19 Relief Fund. The grants support organizations in Ms. Winfrey’s “home cities” of Nashville, TN; Chicago, IL; Milwaukee, WI; Baltimore; and Kosciusko, MS that are helping underserved communities currently experiencing a disproportionate impact from the pandemic.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU planning to start classes in the fall, created task force for additional safety measures and best practices

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is planning to start classes in the fall, but under additional safety protocols to protect the public health and safety of its students and employees.

In addition to a Pandemic Task Force that currently meets every day to address COVID-19 related issues, TSU President Glenda Glover is appointing a Fall Course Delivery Task Force to help develop the best strategy for classes this fall.

“We are evaluating and developing operational safety measures, best practices, and academic related logistical options to prepare for the return of students in the fall with the focus on the health and safety of the campus community,” President Glover said recently in a correspondence with TSU faculty and staff.  

“These measures will include the ongoing cleaning of campus facilities, the use of larger classrooms and hybrid in-person and online course presentations, and the implementation of appropriate social distancing standards.”

While the plan is to open as planned for the fall, TSU officials said that will change if the threat of COVID-19 resurfaces.

Meanwhile, like most higher education institutions across the country, TSU’s students completed the semester online and the majority of the university’s employees continue to work remotely.

TSU has also postponed or cancelled all in-person events until further notice. Several events are occurring virtually as arranged by the respective divisions of the university.

Whether students are on campus or not, TSU has taken steps to meet their needs. For those students who needed digital devices to complete their online coursework for the semester and summer, the university provided them with more than 40 laptops and tablets.

Last month, TSU students received housing and meal refunds, and the university is currently using millions of federal dollars to help with student expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic. The university has distributed the funds as emergency financial aid grants to students.

Graduate students will receive a one-time grant of $500. Undergraduate students who are not PELL Grant eligible will receive $600, and undergraduate students who are PELL eligible will receive $800. 

TSU students say they appreciate the university’s effort to accommodate them, especially their instructors, but they acknowledge the distance learning has been challenging because of the absence of things like face to face interaction with their instructors. 

“We were able to go to their office, now it’s mainly emails,” says Rekha Berry, a senior from Mobile, Alabama, majoring in history and political science. “I definitely miss the face to face with instructors.”

Nevertheless, they are finding ways to adjust. For Treveon Hayes of Memphis, Tennessee, who has two to four classes a day, he practices better time management.

“After class, I give myself about five minutes to use the restroom, grab a snack, then get right back to class,” adds Hayes, an elementary education major. “I have to time manage myself. The work has to be done. No excuses.”

Jakori Hollinger, a music education major from Montgomery, Alabama, says the lack of in-person instruction has caused him to do more reading and research in order to understand certain concepts.

“Whereas, if I was sitting in front of them, they could just show me how to do it,” says Hollinger, “I could just pick it up and it would be no issue.”

However, despite the circumstances, he lauded TSU’s faculty and staff for “working with students to make this transition as easy as possible.”

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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.

TSU Offering Full Scholarships to High School, Community College Graduates Majoring in Agricultural Sciences

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is making college more affordable for high school and community college graduates looking to major in food and agricultural sciences.  The College of Agriculture will use its portion of a $14 million federal grant to provide full and partial scholarships to undergraduate students.

The funding is made possible through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s 1890 Scholarship Program, authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. 

TSU President Glenda Glover says the University is extremely pleased to receive this funding that comes at a critical time for students.  

“Many students and their families have incurred additional expenses because of COVID-19, and this funding will allow us to retain and bring academically talented students to the university to be a part of our outstanding agriculture programs,” says President Glover. 

“We are thankful to Congress for providing funding to TSU, and particularly Congressman David Scott, the 1890 scholarship bill sponsor; the Tennessee Congressional Delegation, and U.S. Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue for making this happen.” 

TSU’s portion of the funding is approximately $752,000. Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, says this will fund full-ride scholarships for at least 20 freshmen and community college graduates per year for the next four years. 

USDA 1890 Scholar Kristin Day

“Food supply and security are major concerns for our nation right now, and the College of Agriculture has nationally recognized programs, and now these scholarship dollars help students wanting to pursue degrees in these areas,” says Dr. Reddy.  

“We are excited about this opportunity to recruit and fund outstanding young people in agriculture.” 

Senior Kristin Day, a USDA 1890 Scholar, says more than anything the scholarship provides students financial relief so they can focus on completing their degree.

“It helps relieve the burden of funding for college, and gives you an opportunity to just focus on your school work and developing your passion,” says Day, an agricultural sciences major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “It’s a great program that students need to take advantage of.”

Jonathan Alford, an agricultural sciences major and also an USDA 1890 Scholar at TSU, agrees. 

“The scholarship not only allows students to enhance their skills and learn new things about agriculture, but get an even better understanding of why it’s needed in the world,” says Alford, a junior from Nashville. 

Dr. De’Etra Young is interim associate dean of academics and land-grant programs in TSU’s College of Agriculture. She says the scholarships help create a pipeline of outstanding workers for the global workforce.

USDA 1890 Scholar Jonathan Alford

“Our scholarship program seeks to encourage students to pursue and complete baccalaureate degrees in the food and agricultural sciences and related fields,” says Young. “This will lead to a highly-skilled food and agricultural systems workforce.” 

Undergraduate students, with the required GPA, must pursue degrees in the following areas: Agribusiness, Agriculture Leadership, Education and Communication (ALEC), Biotechnology, Environmental Sciences, Food and Animal Sciences, and Food and Nutritional Sciences (Dietetics).

To learn more about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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.

TSU provides emergency grants to students from CARES Act funding

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will use $7.2 million in federal aid to help students and support institutional needs as a result of COVID-19.  

The funds are being provided to TSU as part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The university has received $3.6 million, the first half of the allocation, which is specifically for student expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the pandemic. The university has distributed the funds as emergency financial aid grants to students. The remaining amount will be released later and is reserved for institutional use to cover costs associated with significant changes due to the coronavirus.

Human Performance and Sports Science major Maddison Metcalf says she will use the money to enroll in summer school. Metcalf received her emergency funds on Monday.

“This was unexpected, but very much needed,” says Metcalf, a rising TSU senior. “I had an old laptop and the online class load added more wear and tear to the device. I used the money saved for summer school to help me get another one.” 

Fellow rising TSU senior Matthew Benton is putting his money away for the upcoming semester. “The funds went directly into my savings to help me pay for the fall semester,” says Benton. The business major from Atlanta adds that he wants to make sure all expenses are covered for his final year at TSU.

“The university is attempting to assist as many students as possible that have been impacted by Covid-19,” says Chase, TSU’s vice president of business and finance. 

“Qualifying undergraduate students, graduate students, PELL eligible students, and those experiencing hardships as a result of the pandemic will receive financial support.”

The funds will help students cover “those unplanned expenses,” adds Chase, that have occurred as a result of the pandemic. 

Graduate students will receive a one-time grant of $500. Undergraduate students who are not PELL Grant eligible will receive $600, and undergraduate students who are PELL eligible will receive $800. 

This funding is separate from refunds or financial aid students have received from the university. Last month, TSU students received housing and meal refunds.  

“Each student has her or his own unique challenges as a result of Covid-19,” says Chase. “These funds are flexible and allows them to be used in a way that best suits the students’ individual needs.”

Terrence Izzard, associate vice president of admissions and recruitment at TSU, says “finances play a major role in a student’s ability to enroll, persist, and graduate from college.” 

“TSU is committed to doing all we can to help students remain in school,” says Izzard. “Funding from the CARES Act is certainly helping us keep talented students enrolled.” 

The university will use the second half of the allocation to enhance online learning and other expenses associated with new campus operation measures implemented because of COVID-19. Summer sessions are 100 percent online. They started May 4 and run through August 6.

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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.