All posts by Lucas Johnson

TSU, UT partnership prepares Ag students for success in vet school

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) — Tennessee State University has partnered with the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine (UT-CVM) to help TSU agriculture students transition to vet school once they complete their degrees.

College of Ag Dean Dr. Chandra Reddy

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) identifies qualified TSU freshmen and immediately sets them on an academic trajectory to successfully meet the requirements for admission into UT-CVM, or other institutions of veterinary medicine.

“The MOU between TSU’s College of Agriculture and UT’s College of Veterinary Medicine provides a pathway for students majoring in animal science at TSU to get into the veterinary school at UT. We are very pleased with this new arrangement between the schools,” said TSU College of Agriculture Dean Chandra Reddy, who was instrumental in finalizing the agreement.

“It will help increase minorities in the veterinary profession and help us prepare our students appropriately for veterinary college. Health care for pets is a huge demand in society today. Many of our students are interested in the veterinary profession and we welcome this opportunity to prepare and place students in this competitive and demanding field.”

Dr. Mike Jones, director of Student Services, Diversity, and Recruitment at UT-CVM, shared Dr. Reddy’s sentiment about the TSU and UT-CVM Pre-Veterinary Emphasis (PVE) Scholars Program. 

Dr. De’Etra Young

“I’m very excited about it,” said Jones. “Veterinary medicine is considered one of the least diverse of all health care professions. We want to serve the needs of the underserved.”

The agreement between the universities began in 2016 when Jones, a UT-CVM professor of Avian and Zoological Medicine, came to TSU to speak to agriculture students in the student organization Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS). Dr. James P. Thompson, the dean of UT-CVM, sent Jones with the mission to form an agreement with TSU to recruit its students into UT’s vet college.

There, Jones met Dr. De’Etra Young, the MANRRS advisor, who works closely with TSU’s top students. For the next four years, Jones and Young worked on the MOU, which was signed in June.

“We are excited to enter this new partnership with UT-CVM,” said Young, who is now interim associate dean of Academics and Land-grant Programs at the College. “We are increasing our efforts to provide experiential learning and hands-on experiences to prepare our students for graduate studies or the workforce. This new arrangement will assist us in preparing our students appropriately for veterinary school.”

TSU sophomore Cierra Woods, pre-vet focus

Students will be notified in September if they are accepted into the program. The students will be assigned mentors — one each from TSU and UT-CVM. The mentors will work together to advise each student, monitor their progress, ensure ongoing commitment, and support other training opportunities, such as summer jobs or internships.

Assistant Professor Carollyn Boykins-Winrow teaches animal science classes at TSU and will be serving as mentor to the students selected for the program.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the students,” said Boykins-Winrow. “The students will know what to expect from UT and UT will know the preparation the student went through to get there.”

TSU junior Emmanuel Wallace is an agriculture major concentrating on food and animal sciences with a pre-vet focus.He agreed the programwill be beneficial to freshman students.

“I think it is awesome,” said Wallace, of Memphis, Tennessee. “It will tell them what classes they need to take, as well as give them the overall hands-on experience they need to be successful.”

TSU junior Emmanuel Wallace, pre-vet focus

Cierra Woods, a sophomore Ag major at TSU who also has a pre-vet focus, said she is glad students will have the opportunity to work with a variety of animals.

“People always think domestic animals, but there are so many animals you can work with,” said Woods. “I think everyone should have the opportunity to try something different.”

Both Woods and Wallace are interns in a partnership the College of Agriculture has with the Nashville Zoo to also prepare students for vet school.

For more information about the partnership and the TSU and UT-CVM program, contact Dr. De’Etra Young at (615) 963-5123 or email dyoung23@tnstate.edu.

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

NOTE: College of Ag communications specialist Joan Kite contributed to this story.

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 political analysts predict Kamala Harris selection will further galvanize young voters, spark interest in HBCUs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s selection of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris to be his running mate will not only further energize young voters, but also renew interest in historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

TSU President Glenda Glover

That’s what political analysts at Tennessee State University have to say after Biden made the announcement this week. If he wins in November, Harris would become the nation’s first female vice president, first black vice president and first black female vice president. 

Geraldine Ferraro was the first female vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket, in 1984. In 2008, Alaska’s then-governor Sarah Palin was Republican John McCain’s running mate.

TSU President Glenda Glover said Biden’s announcement was a great moment for our country, African-Americans, and for women.

“Senator Harris’ selection is a full circle moment for HBCUs and African-American Greek organizations that worked tirelessly to give the black community a voice from the turn of the century, through Jim Crow and the civil rights movement, to present day,” President Glover said.

“As the president of Tennessee State University, a premiere HBCU, and as International President of AKA, in which Sen. Harris is a member, I am doubly proud of this selection. I also commend Vice President Joe Biden for his insight to bring someone of Sen. Harris’ stature to the ticket. She is intelligent, experienced, charismatic and above all qualified for the job.” 

Glover added, “African-American women have been the backbone of this country, and now an African-American woman has the opportunity to ascend to the second highest office in the nation; with the opportunity to create policies that will impact us for generations to come.” 

Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis, a Women’s Studies faculty member and dean of the College of Liberal Arts at TSU, said Harris is “historic on several levels.”

Morgan-Curtis said Harris’ selection is a continuation of the “wave of activism” during the 2018 midterm elections in which there were historic firsts for women of color. To name a few, Democrats Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim women elected to Congress, and Democrats Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids became the first Native American women elected to Congress.

Junior Tiara Thomas

TSU junior Tiara Thomas said it is inspiring to see someone who looks like her get a step closer to being the second most powerful person in the United States. 

“I think what Kamala Harris is doing for black women is what (former President) Barack Obama did for black men in America,” said Thomas, a political science major from Olive Branch, Mississippi, and the creator of TSU Votes, a social medial platform. “It gives us another crack in the glass ceiling.”

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm became the first Black American and the first woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. Now, said Thomas, Harris is standing on her shoulders.

“it’s cool to see history kind of reinvent itself,” said Thomas. “To see a black woman actually be put on the (presidential) ballot, it’s amazing.”

In the four hours after Biden announced Harris as his running mate, ActBlue, the Democrats’ main fundraising platform, reported more than $10.8 million in donations. TSU political analysts predict Harris will have a similar effect on voters.

They say her selection will not only galvanize female voters, but all voters, particularly young ones, disgruntled over continued social injustice, like the deaths of George Floyd and other black men and women due to police brutality.

“I’m always impressed with how worked up our students can get, and how they focus that on things,” said Erik Schmeller, a history professor and director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at TSU.

“National organizations are also pushing the message, that this is your opportunity to get engaged and make a difference.”

TSU Political Science Professor Brian Russell predicts Harris, an alumna of Howard University and a member of the prominent black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., will cause more young people to consider attending HBCUs, especially if Biden is elected president.

“It’s going to energize a lot of younger African-American students to look in the HBCU direction,” said Russell. “That’s going to be exciting.”

To learn more about the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/servicelearning/.

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 President Glenda Glover stresses safety in virtual Faculty-Staff Institute, says University meeting COVID-19 challenges

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As Tennessee State University reopened this week, President Glenda Glover assured employees that TSU has taken steps to make sure students and the campus community are safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

TSU President Glenda Glover

Dr. Glover spoke during a virtual Fall 2020 Faculty-Staff Institute on Monday. Students moved into residence halls on Tuesday, August 11, and officially begin the fall semester on August 17.

“Our number one issue is your safety,” said Glover. “We have built in some safeguards to ensure your safety. We’re facing external challenges like never before. I remain grateful to you for your hard work, your devotion, your dedication.”

The President referred to the implementation of a comprehensive safety plan that includes 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.

She also noted a Pandemic Task Force that has been meeting just about every day to address issues related to the coronavirus, and a Fall Course Delivery Task Force she created to help develop the best strategy for classes this fall.

Under the plan, all classes will be online for the first two weeks, and there will be both in-person and online instruction throughout the semester, which will end by Thanksgiving. Additionally, classrooms have been assessed to determine the number of students that can occupy the rooms, based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Computer labs have also been 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.

During the Faculty-Staff Institute, Dean of Students Frank Stevenson said the university is focusing on the well-being of students by offering counseling and telehealth services.

“Students will have access to speak with a doctor 24 hours, seven days a week,” said Stevenson, who is also associate vice president for Student Affairs. “We want them to be successful.”

Despite the pandemic, Glover noted that the University “remains in sound financial condition.” She said first-year enrollment is up, as well as graduate student enrollment. The University’s endowment has also continued to grow, with an increase of more than $20 million since 2014.

The President also highlighted a new $38.3 million state-of-the-art Health Sciences Building scheduled to open sometime this month on campus.

“History will judge if we came together and did all we could to secure a strong future for our University, while building on its past,” Glover said.

Lecture halls receive thorough cleaning. (TSU Media Relations)

Dr. Kimberly Triplett, TSU Faculty Senate chair, said she’s optimistic about the year ahead.

“These are challenging times for the University due to the global coronavirus,” said Triplett. “But it’s my hope as we come together as a collective body … we will continue to make progress and continue to move the University forward for our students.”

To further assist students, the University decided to freeze tuition this year and offer discounts of up to 15 percent on fees and tuition for those who take all online courses. These discounts will depend on the student’s in-state or out-of-state status. Also, students who choose to do so will be allowed to cancel their housing and receive a full refund of their deposit.

Since students transitioned to remote learning in March as a result of COVID-19, TSU has made sure that they have digital devices, such as laptops, to successfully complete their coursework. TSU officials reiterated during the FSI meeting that going forward they will continue to make sure students have what they need, as well as faculty.

Dr. Cheryl Seay is executive director of TSU’s Global Online and the lead person in helping TSU faculty who may need assistance with online instruction. She said sessions are held seven days a week via Zoom to address faculty questions or concerns, and she’s pleased with the participation and adjustment. 

“The faculty have really stepped up to the plate, and shown their commitment,” said Seay. “They are doing everything they can to embrace this. I’m just really proud of our faculty.”

Additionally, the University is giving its alumni and others affected by the virus an opportunity to retool by 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 this fall through TSU’s National Center for Smart Technology Innovations, which is supported by the tech giant.

“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,” said Dr. Robbie Melton, the Center’s director and head of TSU’s Global Online program. “We’re not leaving anyone out, due to the fact that COVID-19 hasn’t left anyone out.”

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

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

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 political analysts say pandemic sets stage for historic 2020 General Election, predict strong turnout by young voters

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Young people, galvanized over social injustice, are predicted to have a strong turnout in the General Election in November, Tennessee State University political analysts say. Their strong voting numbers are expected in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Junior Tiara Thomas

Brian Russell, a political science professor at TSU, says the deaths of George Floyd and other black men and women due to police brutality is one main example of injustice that has energized young people to seek change, particularly in the case of elected officials.

“Think about how many people have gone out on the streets and protested,” says Russell. “That shows that people are motivated to do something, to make change.”

“When young people do come out in high numbers, things happen that don’t usually happen,” adds Russell. “Think about in 2008 when President (Barack) Obama was elected. That was an election when more young people than normal came out to vote.”

Russell says COVID-19 will affect voter turnout to some degree, but he doesn’t expect it to dampen the fervor to vote he’s seeing in young people around the country. TSU History Professor Erik Schmeller agrees.

“I’m always impressed with how worked up our students can get, and how they focus that on things,” says Schmeller, who is also the director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at TSU.

“National organizations are also pushing the message, that this is your opportunity to get engaged and make a difference. Vote.”

Junior Tiara Thomas of Olive Branch, Mississippi, is among a number of students at TSU who are heeding that directive, and encouraging others to do the same. The political science major is the creator of TSU Votes, a social media platform that makes students aware of voting dates, what’s happening nationally in politics, as well as works with other voter advocacy organizations to ensure students stay informed.

“Not voting for my generation is not an option,” says Thomas, who also has a podcast that allows students to express their views about politics in general. “And I try to make sure that my peers know that.”

Russell Waters, a junior from Huntsville, Alabama, works with Thomas to spread awareness about voting. When students return in the fall, he says he plans to have flyers ready with election information, such as election deadlines, and using mail-in ballots if necessary.

Junior Russell Waters

“We’re really focusing on the General Election,” says Waters, a computer science major. “It’s a very important election. So, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing until Election Day.”

TSU students are not alone in their effort to make sure people vote. President Glenda Glover and TSU were recently selected by The General® Insurance to participate in Shaquille O’Neal’s social media challenge to encourage voter registration for the 2020 General Election.

The #MyStartingFive challenge was launched by SHAQ and Boston Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum, alongside the national, nonpartisan non-profit organization, When We All Vote, whose mission is to increase voter participation in elections. The organization, launched by co-chair and former First Lady Michelle Obama in 2018, seeks to educate eligible voters on the power of their voice and their vote, and take action. Participants in the challenge will nominate five people to register and pledge to vote in November’s election via the When We All Vote #MyStartingFive voter registration portal: whenweallvote.org/mystartingfive.

To learn more about the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/servicelearning/.

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 grad student receives doctoral degree after 17 years, credits having ‘grit’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When Seliene Munroe Bignall decided to write her doctoral dissertation on the concept of “grit”, she probably didn’t realize how true to life her journey would be. After nearly 20 years to get her degree, Bignall was among the hundreds of Tennessee State University graduates honored in a 2020 Virtual Commencement on Aug. 1.

“I feel very, very blessed to be completing my doctoral studies,” said Bignall, who is getting her doctorate in education administration. “It has really been a long journey.”

Seliene Bignall

Bignall worked as a campus crime prevention counselor at TSU for almost 10 years. She started her doctoral program in TSU’s Department of Educational Leadership in 2003, taking night classes at TSU and a couple of classes during the summer. But she decided to take a break in 2010 because she felt she was neglecting her family, particularly her daughter, who was about to be a junior in high school.

“One night I came home and she stayed up for me,” recalled Bignall. “She said, ‘mom, I don’t get to see you at all anymore.’ It broke my heart. The next day I went in to see my advisor and I told her I am going to take a break. I will always need my child, way more than I will need an advanced degree.”

After a few years, Bignall returned to TSU and continued to pursue her degree. She says she decided to make “grit” the topic of her dissertation after watching her husband, Dr. Orville Bignall, a physics professor at TSU, encourage his students to complete their degrees – to not give up.

“I saw how my husband nurtured students, and encouraged them to finish,” said Seliene Bignall, adding that her husband was a motivating factor in her doctoral completion. “Many of them don’t.”

So, she decided to focus on what it takes for African American students in particular to qualify and complete programs, like Engineering, and she chose the concept of grit, or perseverance.

Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis is chair of TSU’s Department of Languages, Literature and Philosophy. She said Seliene Bignall, who is currently a counselor at a Nashville elementary school, is living justification of her dissertation topic.

Seliene Bignall and her husband, Dr. Orville Bignall. (Submitted photo)

“Seliene didn’t need the textbook definition because she defines grit every day,” said Morgan-Curtis. “I firmly believe that it took her so long to finish this degree because she puts herself last. Every day she gives to others: to her students, to her family, to the students who become her family. And it was only when she decided that the degree would allow her to do and be more and show the students that it could be done, that she took and made the time to complete the degree.”

Whether in college or aspiring to be, Bignall said she wants all students to know that they can be successful. And if they are doubtful, she will share her journey.

“And I will tell that person one word – grit. Never give up,” said Bignall.

TSU is a leader in helping educators pursue degrees in educational leadership. In June, the University received the other half of a $600,000 grant to train educators to become assistant principals in Middle Tennessee school districts.

Officials said the effort is part of a longstanding collaborative partnership between the university, the Department of Education and K-12 systems aimed at attracting more qualified applicants for positions in school leadership.

“Tennessee State University is taking the lead in the state’s assistant principal training program, as a further recognition of the quality of our programs,” said Dr. Jerri Haynes, dean of the College of Education. “Through this program we are helping to fill the void or shortage of assistant principals, especially minorities.”

To learn more about TSU’s Educational Leadership program, visit https://bit.ly/2DfCiNq.

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 honors spring graduates with 2020 Virtual Commencement on Aug. 1

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The pandemic is preventing Tennessee State University from having a traditional graduation, but graduates say they will still be thrilled when they are recognized virtually on Saturday, Aug. 1. 

TSU President Glenda Glover

The University’s 746 spring graduates are being honored with a 2020 Virtual Commencement at 9 a.m. CDT. The ceremony will be live streamed on the TSU homepage (www.tnstate.edu), YouTube (www.tnstate.edu/youtube) and Facebook (www.tnstate.edu/facebook).

“While we recognize the importance of a traditional commencement for our students and their families, we must balance it with the associated risks at this time of COVID-19,” says TSU President Glenda Glover. “This decision was not easy because our graduates have earned the honor of participating in a traditional commencement. But on Saturday, though virtual, we will celebrate them with the same Big Blue spirit as if they were in person.” 

Senior Tommy Evans of Belleville, Illinois, says he will miss not walking across the stage, but is appreciative to TSU for making sure that students receive recognition another way. 

“I’m excited, because either way, we’re being celebrated for our accomplishments,” says Evans, a criminal justice major and senior class vice president. 

Seliene Munroe Bignall, who is getting her doctorate in education administration, agrees. 

“I feel very, very blessed,” says Bignall of Nashville. “It has been a long journey, especially with what’s going on here and around the world.”

While they will miss the traditional graduation, students say they understand that because of the coronavirus, safety comes first. They also laud their soon-to-be alma mater for what it’s doing to make the campus safe for students coming after them. 

In March, as a result of the virus, like other higher education institutions around the country, TSU sent students home to finish the semester and employees began working remotely. The University immediately began a deep cleaning and sanitizing of the campus. 

Evans was among some of the students who remained on campus through the end of the semester, and says he was impressed with steps the University took to make the campus safe.  

“They did a very thorough cleaning,” says Evans. “I felt very safe.” 

The University is set to reopen on August 17 under a comprehensive plan that officials say will provide additional COVID-19 safety protocols to protect the health and safety of the campus community.

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

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 uses national coding hub to help Apple deepen partnerships with HBCUs, bridge technology gap in underserved communities

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is helping Apple deepen its existing partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities by using its national coding hub to reach even more HBCUs, allowing them to expand coding and creativity opportunities to their own communities.  

TSU President Glenda Glover

Apple announced it is adding 10 more HBCU regional coding centers that will serve as technology hubs for their campuses and broader communities. This effort is part of Apple’s Community Education Initiative, designed to bring coding, creativity, and workforce development opportunities to learners of all ages. TSU now serves as the national hub for training and providing support to educators from these institutions.

“Tennessee State University is proud to be a national hub for this great initiative, as we give HBCU students and their communities access to an opportunity to expand their knowledge and gain important workforce development skills,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Coding and app development are a growing part of the global workforce, and we want to help make sure people of color, especially our students, are equipped with the knowledge and skills to be competitive, and successful.”

The tech giant has been working with TSU for the past two years to launch and expand the school’s HBCU C2 initiative, which brings coding and creativity experiences to all 100-plus HBCUs. 

Ten HBCUs, which have been working alongside Apple and Tennessee State University for the past year, will now become hubs to promote coding in their broader communities: Arkansas Baptist College, Central State University, Claflin University, Dillard University, Fisk University, Lawson State Community College, Morehouse College, Prairie View A&M University, Southern University at Shreveport, and Tougaloo College. Apple expects to double the number of HBCU partners by the end of this summer, expanding the network of schools offering coding, creativity, and career pathway opportunities.

Dr. Robbie Melton is TSU’s associate vice president of the SMART Global Technology Innovation Center and dean of Graduate and Professional Studies. She is also a champion of the HBCU C2 initiative. She is proud of what the program has already accomplished, and sees unlimited potential for the future. 

Tennessee State University’s Dr. Robbie Melton has been working alongside Apple for the past two years to bring coding and creativity to HBCU peer institutions, with goals to reach every HBCU. (TSU Media Relations)

“In two years, I want all HBCUs to be coding and creating,” said Melton. “In two years, you’re going to see many more people of color entering the STEM workforce — and in two years we’re going to double the number of Black women in technology through this program.”

 Each hub is designed to create a multiplier effect, building capacity at the HBCUs that extends beyond the campus through partnerships with local K-12 schools, community partners, local governments, and other community stakeholders. Melton views the added regional hubs as a key element of the program’s holistic approach. 

“A hub is a core of empowerment that goes beyond the campus,” said Melton. “It’s about going into the community, into the home, into businesses so that when people code, it becomes part of their lives and it’s helping them solve big problems. This initiative is going to help those who have been broken through COVID-19, broken through racism — and it’s going to empower them through knowledge and skills.”

Last month, Apple launched a new Racial Equity and Justice Initiativefocused on challenging systemic barriers to opportunity for communities of color by advancing education, economic equality, and criminal justice reform efforts.

”Apple is committed to working alongside communities of color to advance educational equity,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “We see this expansion of our Community Education Initiative and partnership with HBCUs as another step toward helping Black students realize their dreams and solve the problems of tomorrow.”

TSU held a recent virtual HBCU Csummit, bringing together nearly 300 educators from across the HBCU community. The goal of the program was to share best practices and hear from colleagues about workforce development, connecting with their communities, and to bring coding to students of all ages.

To learn more about TSU’s HBCU Cinitiative, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/hbcuc2/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded 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 program helps address shortage of special education teachers in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is using a $375,000 grant from the state Department of Education to address the need for more special education teachers across the state.

The SPED Endorsement Program allows certified teachers within Tennessee to receive their special education endorsement at no cost to them or their school district. At least 70 teachers are scheduled to take the online course in the fall.

“The College of Education plays a critical role in addressing special education teacher vacancies across Tennessee by providing a pathway for current teachers to add special education endorsements at no cost,” said Dr. Jerri Haynes, dean of the College of Education.

“TSU has a history of preparing educators in K-12 settings. It has been preparing educators since 1934 and is a leader in higher education, pioneering education, and preparing teachers. A lot has changed since then, but our commitment to training educators remains the same.”

Statistics show a need for special education teachers in Tennessee. The National Center for Education reports that 12.1 percent of the state’s student population has an Individualized Education Program, below the national average of 13 percent. In its analysis of the ability of each state to meet the needs of its students with disabilities, the U.S. Department of Education rated Tennessee as “needs assistance.”

The program at TSU will allow an educator to become the teacher of record for instruction, and develop and implement Individual Education Programs (IEP) for the Special Education Interventionist K-8 endorsement. Participants will receive services at no cost for tuition or fees. Also, TSU will cover the cost of one administration of the Licensure Assessment(s) associated with the endorsement through the grant funds. 

Dr. Judith Presley is the program’s coordinator. She said program participants are enthusiastic.  

“Several students have contacted me and expressed their excitement to have the opportunity to be a part of the program and the benefits of receiving the training,” said Presley.

Brady Risner of Collinwood, Tennessee, is among those enrolled to take the course in the fall, and she’s grateful for the opportunity.

“I was thrilled to be accepted,” said Risner, a second-grade teacher at Collinwood Elementary. “I’ve always had a soft spot for children with special needs. I taught in a transition class before, where there were struggling students, and it really opened my eyes to see that I have a passion for that.”

Nicki Hartsfield, who is also enrolled this fall, said she realized she wanted to become a special education teacher after being a special Ed assistant.

“I found out about the (TSU) program through our central office,” said Hartsfield, who is currently a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher at Leoma Elementary School in Leoma, Tennessee. “This gives me another opportunity to help kids.”

The grant is the latest TSU has received from the Tennessee Department of Education in the last year. In June, the University received the other half of a $600,000 grant to train educators to become assistant principals in Middle Tennessee school districts.

Officials said the effort is part of a longstanding collaborative partnership between the university, the Department of Education and K-12 systems aimed at attracting more qualified applicants for positions in school leadership.

“Tennessee State University is taking the lead in the state’s assistant principal training program, as a further recognition of the quality of our programs,” said Haynes. “Through this program we are helping to fill the void or shortage of assistant principals, especially minorities.”

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

Department of Media Relations

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About Tennessee State UniversityFounded 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 fall reopening plan provides additional safety protocols, fee discounts for students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University officials said they are looking forward to welcoming new and returning students this fall. TSU will reopen under a comprehensive plan that will provide additional COVID-19 safety protocols to protect the 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,” Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover said July 8 in a letter 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 said that, based on the plan, she believes the University is taking the right measures to keep everyone safe. 

“I am excited to attend TSU and have the campus experience despite the pandemic,” Hargrove said. “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,” said 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 students’ 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 who can occupy each 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 campus safety measures include required 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 follow the protocols in place and adhere to 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, and also complies with public health guidelines and NCAA and Ohio Valley Conference requirements. Part of this plan includes a delayed opening for the upcoming football season, set for 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.

On July 8, 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 of reported cases in Davidson County and the State of Tennessee.

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.