Category Archives: Alumni

$1 million FedEx donation, scholarship awards highlight Southern Heritage Classic

Memphis, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – While the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis is a time for festivities, reunions, and football, for Tennessee State University, it’s also an opportunity to seek scholarship support for deserving students, as well as recruit some of the city’s top high school graduates. And this year’s return to the classic – after a break caused by the pandemic – was no different.

President Glenda Glover talks to Jailen Leavell, reporter with CBS affiliate WJTV Channel 12 in Jackson, Mississippi, about student achievement at TSU. Leavell is a May graduate of TSU. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

During halftime of the big match up between TSU and Jackson State University on Sept. 11, Memphis-based corporate giant FedEx, a longtime TSU partner, presented the university with a $1 million check. By the end of the four-day Classic weekend, TSU President Glenda Glover had awarded scholarships totaling $1 million to 55 Shelby County high school students to attend the university, which will also use the funds from FedEx for scholarship support and other student needs.

“Our goal has always been to attract the best and brightest, as well as help students with financial needs complete their education,” Glover said. “We are so grateful for our partnership with FedEx that has resulted in internships and employment opportunities, as well as leadership development training for our students. This donation will help many students achieve their lifelong dream of earning a college degree.” 

More than 46,000 fans packed the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium to watch the TSU Tigers take on the JSU Tigers in the Southern Heritage Classic. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

TSU ended up losing to Jackson State 38-16 in front of more than 46,000 fans at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. But top TSU graduate, Jailen Leavell, said he was not disappointed. 

“I sure would have loved for us to win the football game, but it is very pleasing to know that funds received, and efforts made at the Classic will help so many students receive their education,” said Leavell, a May communications graduate, who works for CBS affiliate WJTV Channel 12 in Jackson, Mississippi.  

Dianna Williams, CEO of Dianna M. Williams, Inc., right, presents a check for $15,000 to the Sophisticate Ladies, an auxiliary group of the TSU Aristocrat of Bands. Receiving the check are, from left, Dr. Reginald McDonald, Band Director; and Melaneice Gibbs, Coach of the Sophisticated Ladies. (Photo by Andre Bean)

“The preparation that TSU gave me was amazing. The fact that in five months of graduating I am working, that goes to show that the scholarship money, donations, and programs at the university are making a difference.” 

Tre’veon Hayes, a junior elementary education major from Memphis, who attended one of President Glover’s recruitment fairs as a high school senior, extolled Dr. Glover for continuing to use the Classic to shine a light on the needs of students from his community. 

“President Glover does everything to push students to be motivated,” said Hayes, who serves as the current Mister Junior at TSU. “I am grateful to her for her investment, which is giving somebody in my community a chance to succeed.” 

The TSU Aristocrat of Bands kicks off the halftime show at the Southern Heritage Classic. (photo by TSU Media Relations)

Also receiving a financial donation at the classic was the TSU Aristocrat of Bands. Businesswoman Dianna Williams, CEO of Dianna M. Williams, Inc., donated a $15,000 check to the AOB’s auxiliary group, the Sophisticated Ladies, to be used for immediate needs.

Following a cancellation last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Classic was seen as a clash of NFL stars featuring legendary running back and new TSU Tigers head coach Eddie George, and Hall of Fame defensive back Deon Sanders in his second year as coach of the JSU Tigers. 

But this year’s battle of the Tigers also brought out the barbecue pits, and the battle between the Aristocrat of Bands and Jackson State’s Sonic Boom of the South.  

TSU leads JSU with the most wins, 17-11, since the Classic started in 1990. 

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 eight 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 remembers former student and Freedom Rider Ernest “Rip” Patton as a fighter for justice

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Ernest “Rip” Patton, a former TSU student and member of the 1960s Nashville Freedom Riders, is being remembered as a stalwart of the civil rights movement who dedicated his life to fighting for equality and justice for people of color.  

President Glenda Glover says Patton was courageous and determined in his fight for justice.

TSU President Glenda Glover said Patton, who passed Aug. 23 at age 81, was unyielding and showed remarkable courage in risking imprisonment, injury and even death to ensure that blacks were treated fairly. 

“From his days as a student at Tennessee State University and throughout his life, Dr. Ernest “Rip” Patton was steadfast in his fight for equality and justice for African Americans,” President Glover said. “We remember him for his courage and determination to bring hope to past, present and future generations in our country and the world. The TSU family is deeply saddened about his passing but will remember him with great pride as an alumnus that made a tremendous sacrifice to make difference.  We send our heartfelt condolences to the Patton family on their loss.” 

Patton participated in the downtown Nashville civil rights sit-ins in 1960, a movement that eventually led to the desegregation of the city’s lunch counters and other public spaces. At 21 and a student at the then Tennessee A&I, Patton was among the first wave of Freedom Riders to arrive in Jackson, Mississippi, on a Greyhound bus to force the desegregation of interstate transportation facilities. The group was arrested upon arrival. 

Dr. Jerri Haynes, Dean of the College of Education, presents Dr. Ernest “Rip” Patton with an award in recognition of his contribution to the fight for equality and justice as a Freedom Rider. (Submitted photo)

After the group’s release from prison, Patton and 13 other students were expelled from A&I for participating in the Freedom Ride, and never got to finish their degrees.  

Nearly 47 years later, in 2008, TSU granted the students honorary doctorate degrees. The Tennessee Board of Regents initially refused to grant the honorary degrees, but then TSU President Melvin Johnson insisted that the former students’ “extraordinary achievements” were worthy of recognition.

“These degrees serve to remind this generation of a time when young people were willing to risk their reputations, careers, freedom and lives for a higher cause,” Johnson said. 

According to the Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, Patton later went on to be a jazz musician, while also remaining a vocal advocate and educator in the civil rights movement. He returned to his alma mater on occasions to talk to students about his experience as a Freedom Rider. 

Dr. Ernest “Rip” Patton occasionally returned to his alma mater to talk to students about his experience as a Freedom Rider. Here he speaks to students in the College of Education during a Black History Month celebration. (Submitted photo)

At a Black History Month celebration on February 17, 2020, the College of Education honored Patton with an award for the contributions he made to the cause for equality and justice as a Freedom Rider. 

Linda Fair, coordinator of field placement and clinical experience in the TSU Department of Teacher Education and Student Service, knew Patton for more than 45 years when they sang together in the choir at Gordon Memorial United Methodist Church. Fair was also instrumental in bringing Patton to speak to students in the College of Education. 

“Rip was passionate about speaking to young people and trying to inspire them as far as the diversity that is needed in this country and all over the world,” said Fair, whose husband, John Fair – former CEO of the Urban League – was in the movement with Patton. “His (Patton) goal was to remind young people about the history of African Americans in the United States and what they went through.” 

Dr. Ernest “Rip” Patton is survived by son, Michael (Bernadette) Patton; grandchildren, Alyxa Mae and Dante’ Andrew Patton; niece, Michelle (James) Holt; nephew, Charles (Debra) Patton; and other relatives and friends.

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 eight 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.

Annual event welcoming new TSU Tigers comes as the university records highest enrollment in five years

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Amid record enrollment, Tennessee State University recently welcomed new students for the 2021-22 academic year during a ceremony in the Gentry Complex. Previously called freshman convocation, this year’s induction ceremony featured first-time freshmen, returning sophomores, who did not have a convocation last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as transfer students. 

With females dressed in white with pearls, and males dressed in white shirts and TSU blue ties, the new students pledged to commit themselves “to serious intellectual and cultural efforts.” (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

TSU has more than 1,500 first-time freshmen, the largest class in five years. The convocation on Aug. 27 was live streamed for the hundreds of students and family members who could not attend because of university, state, and federal regulations in place due to the pandemic.

“I am extremely proud to welcome you to Tennessee State University,” President Glenda Glover said, as she greeted the students, minutes before they took their pledge. “It is my honor to stand before you today, not only as your president, but as a fellow TSU Tiger. You have embarked on an incredible journey. I encourage you to do your best. The journey will not always be easy, but never give up.” 

Members of the inaugural class of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Institute were among the freshmen inducted. (Photo by Andre Bean)

Terrence Izzard, associate vice president for Admissions and Recruitment, presented the students for the induction. 

“Madam President, it is my pleasure to present these young people who have satisfied all of the requirements for admission to Tennessee State University as freshmen and students with advance standing,” Izzard said. 

With each student’s hand raised and symbolically holding a lighted candle representing “knowledge and truth,” they took the TSU Freshman Pledge. 

Naia Hooker, a transfer student, said the induction was a “totally new” experience. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Naia Hooker, a transfer junior business major from Oakland, California, said she chose TSU to be closer to family members, but the induction ceremony gave her an experience she will never forget. 

“To me, this induction means a new opportunity to be more serious and hone my craft as an outstanding student,” said Hooker, who is transferring from the College of Alameda. “This is totally new to me, but it was a good feeling to see all of my fellow students pledging to do our very best.” 

Freshman Hercy Miller, a business major from Los Angeles, said hearing all the speeches from President Glover, faculty, and student leaders made him even more excited about coming to TSU. 

Hercy Miller, left, and Victoria McCrae led the freshmen and sophomores, respectively, as they took the pledge. (Photo by Andre Bean)

“What I heard from them has given me more encouragement to be the very best,” said Miller, who will also be playing basketball at TSU. “I am a very committed person. I see TSU as a place where I can build myself as a leader and a committed student.”  

For the ceremony, females dressed in white with pearls presented to them by the TSU Women’s Center, and males dressed in white shirts and blue pants, sporting TSU-supplied blue ties. They pledged to commit themselves “to serious intellectual and cultural efforts” and to deport themselves “with honor and dignity to become better prepared to live a full and useful life in society.” 

Among students inducted were members of the inaugural class of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Institute; and Tiger PALs, a peer mentoring group, representing the sophomore class. 

Tiger PALs, a peer mentoring group. represented the sophomore class. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

In addition to student representatives, speakers at the convocation included Dr. Kimberly Triplett, chair of the Faculty Senate; Debbi Howard, director of Alumni Relations; Tasha Andrews, executive director of New Student Programs; Derrick Sanders, president of the Student Government Association; Mister TSU Mark T. Davis, Jr.; and Miss TSU Mallory Moore. 

Featured photo by Andre Bean

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 eight 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, other HBCUs featured on the #11 FedEx Toyota, part of ‘Shaping Black Futures’ initiative

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When the #11 FedEx Toyota raced around Daytona International Speedway at the Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday, Aug. 28, Tennessee State University and three other historically black colleges and universities were represented.

TSU among HBCU logos featured on #11 FedEx Toyota. (TSU Media Relations)

FedEx and NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin unveiled the car’s special paint scheme on Aug. 25. It has several unique features including an illustration of HBCU college graduates, “Shaping Black Futures” on the quarter panel, and four HBCU school logos – Jackson State University, Tennessee State University, Mississippi Valley State University, and LeMoyne- Owen College – on the rear bumper.

Hamlin made a strong showing at the Coke Zero Sugar 400. He is among the 16-driver field for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, which means HBCUs will also be in the spotlight.

In particular, the Shaping Black Futures initiative delivered by FedEx is a collective of experiential concepts that support the Black community, specifically highlighting education and career readiness.

Dating back to the early 2000s, FedEx has supported HBCUs to help cultivate the next generation of leaders. Building off its long-standing relationship, FedEx announced a new $5 million HBCU initiative in February 2021. With the donations adding fuel to the cause, the new initiative helps position FedEx as a company that is intentional about driving real benefits and opportunities for students.

When the announcement was made in February, TSU officials said they were pleased to receive the funds, which would be used to help students complete their degrees and prepare them for the workforce.

“We are so appreciative to FedEx leadership for this innovative program to address some of the long-standing issues faced by HBCU students,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “It is no secret that many of the challenges faced by students at TSU relate to limited funds. This partnership is a great example of public and private entities collaborating to enhance the higher education experience for African-American students.”

TSU senior Ammria Carter said she appreciates the FedEx commitment to HBCUs.

“FedEx prioritizing HBCUs during the current climate of our economy means so much to so many people,” said Carter, a political science major from Cleveland, Ohio. “I hope that this act of generosity will spark other companies to consider donating and partnering with HBCUs, especially our beloved Tennessee State University.”

This new initiative continues FedEx support of HBCUs, which includes endowed scholarships at Jackson State University, Tennessee State University and LeMoyne-Owen College; a customized career readiness program established at Mississippi Valley State University; and leadership summits in support of the Southern Heritage Classic for students at both Tennessee State University and Jackson State University, according to FedEx officials.

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 eight 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’s national coding hub welcomes 12 new HBCUs to be community centers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service)Tennessee State University’s national coding hub is welcoming 12 new HBCUs to be community centers as part of Apple’s Community Education Initiative.

The schools will become community centers for Coding and Creativity as part of Apple’s Community Education Initiative and Tennessee State University’s HBCU C2. The teaching and learning initiative is designed to empower Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to expand technology and creativity experiences within their institutions and broader communities. 

“In expanding the partnership to include the twelve new HBCUs we are on track in reaching our goal to empower all 106 HBCUs with the digital competencies and technology skill sets to meet the job demands for our global digital workforce careers,” said Dr. Robbie Melton, associate vice president of the TSU SMART Innovation Global Center.

The new schools are: Alabama State University, Clark Atlanta University, Edward Waters College, Elizabeth City State University, Florida A&M University, Harris-Stowe State University, Lane College, LeMoyne-Owen College, Lincoln University, MO, Simmons College of Kentucky, Virginia State University, and Texas Southern.

They join nearly three dozen universities across the country serving as HBCU C2 community coding centers or regional hubs. Since 2019, participating HBCUs have offered new learning opportunities to thousands of degree-seeking students and community learners and expanded their impact through partnerships with local K-12 schools, community organizations, local governments, and more. 

As part of its Community Education Initiative, Apple is supporting the institutions with equipment and ongoing professional development to become the pre-eminent HBCU C2 community center to bring coding and creativity to their communities.

Faculty and educators will learn about coding and app development, and work with Apple to identify opportunities to incorporate its comprehensive Everyone Can Code and Everyone Can Create curricula, which utilizes the easy-to-learn Swift programming language. Support from Apple also includes mobile iPad and Mac labs, opportunities for student jobs and scholarships, and funding for staff. 

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 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 eight 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.

Mother, three children enter college at TSU, promise to motivate each other

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When Tajuana Dixon-Nations graduated high school 27 years ago, she put pursuing higher education on hold to raise a family. Little did she know that one day she and her children would enter college at the same time and at the same institution: Tennessee State University.

TSU President Glenda Glover; and Terrence Izzard, Associate VP for Admissions and Recruitment, greet Tajuana Dixon-Nations and her children. From left are: Izzard, Gregory Nations, Jr., Gelon Nations, President Glover, Chantrise Dixon, and Tajuana. (TSU Media Relations)

On Aug. 18, the mother of four started classes at TSU as a freshman, along with her 18-year-old son Gelon Nations, also a freshman, who is majoring in psychology. Gregory Nations, Jr., Tajuana’s middle son and a sophomore, is transferring to TSU to join mom, little brother, and big sister, Chantrise Dixon. Chantrise is re-enrolling after dropping out of TSU a few years ago to care for a family of her own.

The family said it is all about trying to motivate each other, and because of a long history with TSU.

“I am hoping to change the dynamics for my family, to ensure a good future for all of us,” said Tajuana Dixon-Nations, of LaVergne, Tennessee, who is majoring in business. “This was a decision we made when my youngest son talked about taking a year off after high school. I said, ‘That’s not going to happen; Gelon needs to be in school.’ So, all of us decided to rally around him.”

A TSU admissions counselor, left, talks to Tajuana Dixon-Nations and her children about enrollment at the university. (TSU Media Relations)

Gregory, who is transferring from Middle Tennessee State University where he is majoring in business, and big sister Chantrise, said they also want to keep an eye on their younger brother.

“Right then I decided it was a perfect time to go after my dream of going to college to better myself, and at the same time stay close to my children as an encouragement, especially to my youngest,” said Tajuana, an enrollment specialist with Metro Nashville Public Schools. “I always wanted to attend TSU. It’s a dream come true for me. Many family members came to this university.”

Through the intervention of TSU President Glenda Glover, Tajuana and her children have secured the necessary assistance to help finance their education. They will all receive financial aid. Gregory and Chantrise will benefit from special incentives offered to transfer and returning students.

“It is exciting when an entire family wants to attend Tennessee State University,” said President Glover, who met the mother and her children as they interacted with admissions and financial aid counselors in Kean Hall. “We are glad that financial aid was available to make it possible to get their balances paid so they all can come and finish their degree. We are excited about this.”

Terrence Izzard, associate vice president for Admissions and Recruitment, said educational advancement is a “family affair.” He congratulated Tajuana and her children for the team effort to better themselves.

“Educational advancement is one of the most dynamic ways for upward mobility,” Izzard said. “To have this family join us this fall is really an honor and a momentous opportunity for them to be uplifted through education.”

For Gelon, the new freshman, the thought of coming to school with his mom never crossed his mind. “That’s crazy,” Gelon said, when he found out. “I didn’t even know she was coming. It was surprising, but I was excited, because we might be able to help each other. I am glad my sister and brother are also here.”

Chantrise, who is returning as a business major, said she is glad to see her brothers in school, and it gives her “a special feeling” to see their mother taking the time to pursue her education.

“Being the oldest, I wanted my little brothers to make more out of themselves; I had to get them down here,” said Chantrise, who has two kids of her own. “Our mother has been there for us. She put her life on hold for us and I am just so happy not to just see her in school, but right by our side. I also need to set an example for my own children.”

Gregory added that he has great expectations for the family, especially with “mom working along with us.”

“I am glad that she encouraged me to transfer to be here on the same campus with her,” Gregory said. “Now, she has the chance to go back and take care of what she missed out on. For my little brother, I didn’t want him to sit out. So, I said I will transfer to be with him.”

Tajuana’s eldest son, Ta Juan Dixon, serves in the Tennessee National Guard. She said she will do most of her classes online, to keep up with her job, as well as stay near her husband, Gregory Nations, Sr.

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 eight 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 offering course on history of HBCUS and their global impact

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is offering a course on the history of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and their impact around the world.  

Dr. Learotha Williams, TSU history professor who will teach HBCU course.

The course starts this fall and is available to undergraduates and graduates. It provides a chronological and thematic study of the history of HBCUs in the United States from 1837 to the present, paying close attention to the ways they have influenced the social, economic, political, and intellectual life of African Americans in the U.S. and the impact their graduates have had on Modern America and the world.

“Along with President Glenda Glover, the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs is excited to have initiated the effort to bring this course to fruition,” said Dr. Michael Harris, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. 

“This course offers students deep insight into the success of HBCUs and their impact on American society. HBCUs are the pillar of educational excellence, key institutional anchors for neighborhoods and communities, and foundational to the academic experience of African Americans.”

There are more than 100 HBCUs in the United States. They have pretty much always maintained a degree of popularity. But more attention was undoubtedly given to them when former U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a graduate of Howard University, began her run for vice president of the United States. And the spotlight on HBCUs has remained now that Harris has become the second most powerful person in the world.

“Needless to say, that we are excited about this course on the history of HBCU’s,” said Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at TSU. “It is important to recognize and promote the rich history and impact of HBCUs.”

In the course, students explore the historic role that HBCUs have played in the development of the communities where they are located and the intimate relationship they cultivated with the residents of those spaces over time.

“I am excited about taking a scholarly look at these institutions,” said Dr. Learotha Williams, a history professor at TSU who is teaching the course. “I hope to provide a better understanding of the role of HBCUs in American society. Not only that, but the national and international impact they’ve had, particularly the individuals and social movements they’ve produced.”

To learn more about HIST 4325, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/history/.

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 eight 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.

More than 1,300 first-time freshmen move into residence halls at TSU, biggest enrollment increase in five years

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Khalil Davidson dreamed of attending a historically black college or university. But not just any HBCU. The Falls Church, Virginia, native set his sights on Tennessee State University, and now he’s a Big Blue Tiger.

TSU President Glenda Glover, and Frank Stevenson, Associate VP for Student Affairs, tell a local reporter that everything is being done to ensure adequate accommodation for the record number of new students. (TSU Media Relations)

On Aug. 10, the incoming freshman, his dad Edward Davidson, Jr., and little brother Chaz Thomas, packed the family car – with all of Khalil’s belongings in tow – and made the nearly 10-hour trek to Nashville to check the business major into his dorm room at TSU. Also, on the trip were sister Aasia Davidson and cousin, Mason Scott. 

“I am excited,” Khalil said, as he received the keys to his new residence in Watson Hall. “I always wanted to attend an HBCU because of the culture, and TSU’s good business program just stood out. It was an easy decision.” 

Incoming freshman Khalil Davidson, second from left, arrives at TSU, fulfilling his dream of attending an HBCU. He was accompanied by his father, Edward Davidson, left; sister Aasia Davidson; cousin Mason Scott; and little brother Chaz Thomas, front left. (TSU Media Relations)

It was move-in day at TSU, when first-time freshmen began checking into their residence halls. This year, TSU saw a big increase in enrollment, as more than 1,300 first-time freshmen – the highest in recent years – moved in. The move was held over three days to ensure adequate spacing due to the pandemic. The high enrollment posed an unprecedented demand for housing, but the university said it had completed nearly 97 percent of requests, and all students would have housing by the beginning of classes on August 16, or shortly afterward.  

TSU President Glenda Glover, who was on hand greeting students, parents, and relatives, called the influx an “exciting time” for the university. 

Curtis Ford, left, leads a large group of family members to drop off his daughter, J’da (second from left), who will major in communications. (TSU Media Relations)

“It is a historical moment for us to see so many first-year students and returning students,” said Glover, who helped students unload their luggage. “We are glad that we have arrived at such a monumental place in TSU’s history. We can assure all parents that their children are in good hands.”

J’da Ford, of Memphis, Tennessee, checked into Wilson Hall accompanied by a large group of family members that included her grandmother, father, mom, big sister, and a little sister.

“TSU has a great performing arts program, and I always wanted to stay close to home,” said Ford, who will major in communications. “I have a few relatives that have come here, and I know a lot of alumni who spoke highly of the school. Although I am a little nervous about leaving home, I am excited to be here.”

Yvette Mood, of Charlotte, North Carolina, consoles her younger daughter, Makayla Mood, who is sad about her older sister, Amere’ Eadie (in the back), going away for college. (TSU Media Relations)

Curtis Ford, J’da’s father, said he is not nervous about his daughter leaving home. 

“We like to kick our birds out of the nest so they can fly,” he said. “I trust that she will do well.” 

Also checking into Wilson Hall was Amere’ Eadie, who made the overnight drive from Charlotte, North Carolina, with 7-year-old sister Makayla Mood and their mother, Yvette Mood, sharing the ride.

Like many of the new freshmen, Eadie said she chose TSU because of the HBCU culture. And, that message was clear, as she and her mother sported T-shirts with TSU blue and bold “HBCU” inscriptions. 

“I wanted to expand and know where I was from and not just stay in a bubble my whole life,” said Eadie, who will major in criminal justice. “For TSU, after looking at some things online and doing some research, it looked like just the place I want to be.” 

President Glover hangs out with a group of student volunteers helping with the new freshman move-in. (TSU Media Relations)

Eadie’s mom, Yvette Mood, said she knows her daughter has a great future and is ready to see her pursue her dreams. “She is ready. She is determined and driven, so I know she will do well,” said Mood. 

But little sister Makayla Mood was not having any of it. She was not ready to see her sister leave. “I am sorry she is leaving,” she said, nearly sobbing.

Despite the pandemic, which disrupted many of the university’s academic, cultural, and social activities, officials are excited about the increased enrollment and normal return to educational activities. The university will be open and fully operational for the fall 2021-22 academic year, with continued enforcement of federal and state health and safety regulations. 

Frank Stevenson, associate vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, said, “This is a really exciting time to have this level of uptick of students who are ready to be back on campus. We have a lot of things planned for the campus and I think our first-time freshmen are going to see the energy and excitement of this campus.”

Terrence Izzard, associate vice president for Admissions and Recruitment, added: “Today begins the journey for one of the largest classes in the history of the university. We know they will leave a legacy here at TSU.”

Many volunteers, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni helped with the move-in by unloading and loading luggage, manning water stations, directing traffic, and performing other activities to ease the newcomers’ transition. Churches, vendors, and TSU partners like Fifth Third Bank, Turner Construction, the Army National Guard, Predators, Regions Bank, and American Job Center, set up tents and tables to give out snacks, water, and other goodies. 

For more information on admissions at TSU, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/admissions/.

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 eight 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.

Baxter International Inc. awards full scholarships to TSU students aspiring to be doctors

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Two Tennessee State University freshmen aspiring to be doctors have been awarded full scholarships that will also cover their medical school costs, thanks to Baxter International, Inc.

Camille Haskins of King George, Virginia, and George Pickens IV of Miami, Florida, found out at an announcement at TSU on Monday that the global medical products company had awarded them full rides. Haskins and Pickens, both biology pre-med majors, are scholars in the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., initiative.

Last year, TSU and Meharry Medical College announced a partnership focused on establishing a pipeline of African American doctors and dentists who will provide essential care to underserved communities. The initiative is named after one of TSU’s most distinguished graduates, Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., an internationally renowned cardiac surgeon who holds an honorary degree from Meharry. 

“This is great,” said TSU President Glenda Glover following the announcement. “We want to have more people in the profession who look like us, who can go into the various neighborhoods, and work and assist, and hopefully save lives.”

The scholarship recipients said the awards are life-changing.

“I’ll be able to graduate not only debt free from undergrad, but debt free from medical school,” said Haskins. “This will definitely assist me in my career, and I am so grateful once again to everyone, TSU, Meharry, and Baxter International for this.”

Pickens also expressed gratitude, and said the scholarships will allow he and Haskins to add to a field in need of more Black doctors.

“Right now, it’s a disproportionate amount of whites in the medical field,” said Pickens. “Just me being able to help reverse that statistic means the world to me.”

Also at the announcement were Terrence Izzard, associate vice president for Admissions and Recruitment; Linda Witt, senior associate vice president for development at Meharry; and Barbara Murrell, chair of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Institute.

“We’re excited that Baxter International has chosen to support the Institute,” said Murrell. “We have some outstanding young people who have outstanding credentials. We’re so lucky to have them, and we look forward to what they will do in the future.”

Witt, a TSU alum, echoed that sentiment.

“The financial aid just levels the playing field for these students,” she said. “We look forward to having other companies look at this model, and also be a part of this process.”

Last month, Baxter announced that TSU and Meharry were among three historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) that would receive part of $1.2 million to support Black students pursuing health and science degrees and ultimately help expand the pipeline of Black healthcare professionals.

The scholarships are part of Baxter’s Activating Change Today initiative to advance inclusion and racial justice.

“The lack of diversity in healthcare is a longstanding and multifaceted problem, one that we are focused on helping to address,” said Verónica Arroyave, senior director of Global Community Relations at Baxter. “Creating opportunities that support and empower Black students to pursue medical and scientific careers is one way we can help drive positive change, and we are proud to partner with respected organizations like Meharry, Morehouse, and Tennessee State to expand this effort.”

To learn more about the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Institute, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/watkins/.

NOTE: Pictured in featured photo are (l-r) George Pickens Jr., Linda Witt of Meharry, TSU President Glenda Glover, Institute chair Barbara Murrell, and Camille Haskins.

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 eight 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.

President Glover applauds employees for university’s continued success amid pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover on Monday lauded employees for TSU’s continued success despite challenges caused by the pandemic. For instance, its research funding of more than $70 million is the highest in school history.   

TSU President Glenda Glover

This semester’s Fall 2021 Faculty and Staff Institute was held in a hybrid format.  Some faculty and staff attended in-person, while the entire program was also live streamed.   

“We appreciate how you have responded to this crisis,” said President Glover, who was in-person. “Thank you for making the adjustments in your personal lives to meet the needs of our students. This is a historic year in the life of TSU.  Yes, there are some difficulties, but … despite this pandemic, we continue to move forward. We will continue to do it together, as one TSU.”  

Faculty Senate Chair Kimberly Triplett shared a similar sentiment.   

“Even though we are under challenging times, we are moving forward providing one of the greatest services of all, and that is to educate the minds of students who will continue to impact change,” she said.   

Early in her presentation, Dr. Glover highlighted steps the university is taking to make sure employees and students are safe, like continuing to closely monitor COVID-19, the Delta variant, and any other emerging variants.   

TSU officials announced a few months ago that the university will be open and fully operational for the fall 2021-22 academic year, with continued enforcement of federal and state health and safety regulations. All students, faculty, staff and other campus community members are asked to wear face coverings while indoors, and social distancing will continue to be stressed. Classes start Aug. 16.   

Faculty are being asked to be prepared to change to online operations during the fall semester if pandemic conditions require it. They are also asked to have both in-person and online office hours to minimize added in-person interaction.   

TSU officials are also strongly stressing vaccinations for all employees and students, with on-campus vaccinations each day for the first four weeks. Additionally, the university is offering incentives for individuals that can show proof of receiving a full COVID-19 vaccination. Students can receive a gift card up to $150, while employees get $100.

Regarding enrollment, Glover noted there would be a slight increase, and that first-year enrollment is up for both undergraduate and graduate students. She also pointed out the announcement TSU made last week that is paying off account balances of students returning this fall using federal funds from the CARES Act also resulted in an enrollment boost.   

One of the main highlights of Glover’s presentation was the university’s record-breaking research funding of more than $70 million for fiscal year 2020-2021. TSU ranks in the top five historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in receiving research funding.   

“This increase in research awards received shows the commitment of our faculty, staff, and students to their scholarly activities,” says Dr. Frances Williams, associate vice president for Research and Sponsored Programs. “These efforts demonstrate the university’s research competitiveness, which is also evidenced by TSU’s Carnegie Classification as an R2: Doctoral University.”   

Also noted in the presentation is that TSU’s endowment and reserves have climbed to an all-time high, and that the university is expected to receive $150 million to $540 million in accrued land grant funds. Discussions are continuing with state lawmakers to determine an exact amount.   

Campus construction was also highlighted, such as the recently-opened new Health Sciences Building, and the current construction of two new residence halls scheduled to open in fall of 2022.   

Despite the challenges, TSU officials said they are optimistic about what lies ahead.   

“We’ve always prevailed, we’ve always moved forward,” said Dr. Michael Harris, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “The reason is because of each one of you sitting here today.”  

For more information on COVID-19 and campus operations, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/covid19/.