Category Archives: Featured

TSU political analysts discuss impact of presidential election on US Democracy, with record voter turnout and global attention

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University political analysts say it is too early to determine the impact of the recent presidential election on the nation’s Democracy. But they say the record turnout of voters indicates that many Americans believe their “voices matter.”  

President Trump’s allegations of voter fraud and his unwillingness to concede to President-elect Joe Biden has raised questions about whether his actions have eroded trust in the U.S. Democracy. There’s also concern countries watching what’s happening in the United States may start to question the concept of a democratic government.

Dr. Brian Russell

Political scientists say Trump’s unwillingness to concede, and his claims of voter fraud, are the beginnings of democratic erosion, where a system of government remains a democracy, but the norms and values that make democracy work start to be called into question. 

“His supporters have been primed this whole election season that if the election doesn’t turn out with Trump winning, then there’s been something nefarious going on,” says TSU political science professor Brian Russell, who is highly sought after because of his expertise on the Constitution and political issues.   

The latest voting figures show Biden with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. Biden defeated him by more than six million votes in an election that had more than 150 million people vote, the most in U.S. history.

On Monday, the administrator of the General Services Administration formally designated Biden the winner of the presidential election, providing federal funds and resources to begin a transition and authorizing his advisers to begin coordinating with Trump administration officials. However, Trump still has not conceded.

“When he is questioning the process and implying that there’s been cheating going on all along, that starts to undermine our institutions. How deep does that go? I don’t know yet.”

However, Russell says one undeniable fact is the tens of millions of people that turned out to vote, which he says “is something positive” because it shows a lot of people still have faith in democracy.

Granted, he acknowledges the turnout was spurred by issues like the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, racial injustice and the economy, but they came out nonetheless. 

Dr. Learotha Williams

“That says something about our system,” says Russell. “If we had this kind of crisis and people weren’t coming out to vote, that would be suggesting that they thought the system was ultimately corrupt and their voices didn’t matter.”

History professor and political analyst Learotha Williams says the high voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election also highlighted efforts at the grassroots level to get people to vote, which he called inspiring. One person he noted was attorney Stacey Abrams, who is credited with boosting Democrats in Georgia and turning the state blue. 

Abrams, a former state lawmaker who has worked on issues related to voting rights for a decade, became a household name in 2018, when she narrowly lost her bid for governor in a contest marked by allegations of voter suppression affecting mostly black voters.

“That was a tough loss,” says Williams, an expert on voting rights, as well as African American and public history. “But it motivated her to keep going, to keep pushing, which speaks to her resiliency. She came back strong, and turned Georgia.” 

To learn more about History, Political Science, Geography and Africana Studies at TSU, visit http://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 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 graduate beats the odds, proves that determination is key to success

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Wanya Smith will be honored virtually along with hundreds of graduates at Tennessee State University’s fall commencement on Saturday. But when he envisions himself actually walking across the stage to get his undergraduate degree, following closely behind are his children, Noah, 3 and Gabrielle, 3.  

Wanya Smith wants to be a school resource management director to help struggling families. (Submitted Photo)

Smith fathered the two children during his sophomore year at TSU. For some, the responsibility of actively caring for two children and balancing that with schoolwork might be too much. But not Smith. The sixth of 10 children, he had come to college determined to earn a degree – the first in his family to achieve that feat – and nothing was going to stop him.   

It hasn’t. On Nov. 28, Smith will be among more than 700 students who will receive undergraduate and graduate degrees. The 24-year-old is graduating with honors with a Bachelor of Science degree in Family and Consumer Sciences, with a concentration in Child Development and Family Studies.  

“I am actually split between being happy and feeling like, ‘It’s about time,’” says Smith, when asked about his excitement of graduating in spite of the struggles he faced during his matriculation.   

“I have been struggling with being excited for the last couple of months knowing that graduation is approaching, because it’s taken me much longer than what it was supposed to. I do know it is a big accomplishment knowing where I am coming from, where nine times out of 10 a regular person wouldn’t be where I am, with all the adversities.” 

Making it through college with mounting responsibilities of childcare for two toddlers, maintaining an off-campus apartment and schoolwork, amounted to a huge struggle that resulted in him staying longer in college, says Smith. To make it, he at times worked two full-time jobs, seven days a week overnight.   

Noah Smith helps daddy put on his graduation cap before the big ceremony. (Submitted Photo)

“I had to prepare for the kids coming and so I had to save up, and pay for my apartment, but I was not going to drop out,” says Smith. “After the children were born, I kept up having two jobs. I worked during the day at Dominos and then at night I worked as a valet downtown on Broadway. Of course, my grades started falling, I lost the only two scholarships I had, I changed major and that put me behind, but I was determined not to drop out,” says Smith, of Memphis, Tennessee.   

He says the thought of caring for two kids at such a young age did not seem so overwhelming, drawing from his experience of caring for four younger siblings, while growing up at home. Additionally, he says he surrounded himself with very caring mentors at TSU who motivated him.   

“I was mentally prepared,” he says. “I had to push on no matter the difficult days. The thought of my own two children and their future, and younger siblings looking up to me drove me to keep going and not give up or drop out.”  

Dr. Margaret E. Machara, professor of child development and family studies, who not only taught Smith, but was aware of his situation, calls the young man “an engaged student and an incredible individual.”  

“Wanya hasn’t had an easy road to achieve his degree, but even with his challenges, he’s progressed through the requirements in a determined manner,” says Machara. “He’s a proud father, who not only is making a difference in his childrens’ lives, but also looks for ways to improve conditions in the wider society. With his easy manner and mature sense of responsibility, Wanya will definitely make TSU proud.”  

George Davis, a TSU graduate and a mentor, met Smith when he (Smith) showed interest in joining Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. He describes Smith as “a resilient person.” 

“Wanya has the ability to adapt to his surrounding very quickly and very easily,” says Davis, who earned graduate and undergraduate degrees at TSU. “I really think that when Wanya encounters what others consider impossibility, he sees possibility. He always puts 100 percent in everything that he does. He is a resilient young man who can withstand a lot.” 

Smith says co-parenting is vitally important to him, and that he is actively involved in caring for his little boy and girl. For a career, Smith wants to become a school resource management director, to work exclusively with struggling families with young children, to help them get the resources they need.   

Amid his hectic college career, Smith also remained active in extracurricularactivities. Besides his fraternity, he is also a member of Hypnotize Dance Troupe, and Black Incorporated. He also helped establish Find Out Dance Troupe at TSU during his sophomore year. 

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.

Yamiche Alcindor, renowned journalist and White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour, will give the address at TSU’s virtual fall commencement Nov. 28

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Yamiche Alcindor, a renowned journalist and White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, will deliver the commencement address when Tennessee State University holds its second virtual graduation ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 28.

The fall commencement will begin at 9 a.m. and will be livestreamed on the TSU homepage (www.tnstate.edu), YouTube (www.tnstate.edu/youtube) and Facebook (www.tnstate.edu/facebook).

More than 700 undergraduate and graduate students will receive degrees in various disciplines. 

Alcindor, noted for telling stories about the “intersection of race and politics,” has directly questioned President Donald Trump a number of times on a range of issues, including the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on black people and communities of color, the protests following the death of George Floyd, and the consequences of the President’s immigration policies. 

A contributor for NBC and MSNBC, Alcindor often appears on a number of shows, including “Morning Joe,” “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” and “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd. She previously worked as a national political reporter for The New York Times, where she covered the presidential campaigns of Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont), as well as Congress. She also wrote about the impact of President Trump’s policies on working class people and people of color. 

Before joining The Times, Alcindor was a national breaking news reporter for USA Today and traveled across the country to cover stories, including the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut., the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, and the police-related protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore. 

In 2020, the White House Correspondents’ Association named Alcindor the recipient of the Aldo Beckman Award for Overall Excellence in White House Coverage, and the National Association of Black Journalists named her Journalist of the Year. She has also been honored with the Gwen Ifill Next Generation Award by Simmons University. 

A native of Miami, Florida, Alcindor holds a master’s degree in broadcast news and documentary filmmaking from New York University, and a bachelor’s in English, government and African American studies from Georgetown University. 

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.

Bank of America contributes $1M in partnership with TSU to help students complete their degrees, find meaningful employment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Bank of America is partnering with Tennessee State University and contributing $1 million, as part of an initiative to help students finish college and find employment in a competitive workforce.

TSU President Glenda Glover

The initiative is part of the bank’s recent $1 billion, four-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, and its $25 million commitment to enhance up-skilling and reskilling for African Americans and Hispanic-Latino students.

Including TSU, the nationwide initiative includes partnerships with nearly two dozen community colleges that serve predominately Black/African American and Hispanic-Latino students, public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and public Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).

“Tennessee State University is excited to be partnering with Bank of America, and for the $1 million contribution to help our students complete their degrees and secure meaningful employment opportunities in a global workforce, specifically here in Nashville, a city that has become a global leader in the healthcare, technology entertainment and hospitality industries,” says TSU President Glenda Glover. “At TSU, we strive for excellence, and this initiative will allow us to instill that mindset in students for generations to come, as we continue their professional development to be future leaders.”

“We know the best way to empower students is through education,” says Tyson Moore, Bank of America Nashville Market President. “We are excited about this partnership with TSU to equip all students, and particularly students of color, with the skills they need to get great jobs.”

Junior Tiara Thomas

Nashville Mayor John Cooper says initiatives like this will only make the city better.

“TSU is a key partner in helping us develop the type of high-tech workforce that our economy demands, so I’m grateful for opportunities like these to invest in our students’ success,” says Cooper.  

Senior Jacob Bobinger, an agricultural sciences major from Kingston Springs, Tennessee, says the initiative will definitely benefit his peers.

“Increased funding will allow for more scholarship opportunities, which will make the most direct and meaningful impact to students who are financially struggling to finish their degree,” says Bobinger. “I’m thrilled TSU will continue to offer better and better opportunities to students because of the amazing partnership with Bank of America.”

Junior Tiara Thomas, who is the student representative on TSU’s Board of Trustees, says the attention given to the University by companies like Bank of America is refreshing.

“I am very appreciative of Bank of America for investing in Tennessee State University students,” says Thomas, of Olive Branch, Mississippi. “It is great to see companies began to build relationships with HBCU’s to ensure a brighter future after graduation.”

Freshman Elise Russ of Nashville agrees.

Malik City

“As the Bank of America slogan states, ‘Life’s better when we’re connected,’” says Russ, a civil engineering major.  “I am excited to see the changes ahead with this new program, as it will help students learn how to navigate through challenges, improve communication, and be prepared for life upon the completion of college.” 

Recent TSU graduate Malik City knows firsthand what it is like to work for a top-tier company. The Nashville native and computer science major was hired by Bank of America as a software engineer and will earn $94,000 his first year, including a $10,000 signing bonus. City credits programs, like the Career Development Center at TSU, with getting him ready for the workforce.

“I feel very fortunate and very thankful to TSU for the preparation I received, which made all of this possible,” he said.  

Antoinette Duke, associate director of TSU’s Career Development Center, says she’s looking forward to working with Bank of America.

“This partnership and job initiative with Bank of America allows us to continue in our pursuit of providing the highest level of support to students entering the work force following graduation,” says Duke. “We are preparing them for the next step; we are preparing them for their careers.”

To learn more about the Career Development Center, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/careers/.

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, Publix partner to offer students free flu vaccines

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is offering free flu vaccines to all students through a partnership with Publix. On Nov. 10, nurses from Publix Pharmacy made their first campus visit to administer the vaccines. Students who signed up to be vaccinated also received a $10 Publix discount card.  

Graduate student JC DeMarko V. Burnett-Gordon gets his flu shot in Kean Hall. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Kirsten Cole, a sophomore health science major from Chicago; and JC DeMarko V. Burnett-Gordon, a second-year graduate student from Nashville, were among the first students in line to get vaccinated. 

“I am really glad to get this (shot) for free,” said Cole. “I hope other schools are making this easy for their students because these are really scary times for us, especially being this far away from home.” 

For Burnett-Gordon, who lives off campus, he is also glad “TSU is stepping up” to keep its students safe. 

“There is a whole lot going on out there with COVID and everything else,” he said. “It is nice to get this out of the way, so there is no mix-up.” 

Publix Pharmacy nurses make their first campus visit to administer the free flu shots to TSU students. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

The TSU Student Health Center, which is working with Publix to administer the flu shots, strongly encourages students to take advantage of the free opportunity.

Dana Humphrey, head nurse in the Student Health Center, said based on student needs, the center will coordinate with Publix to determine dates and times for subsequent campus visits.

Ordinarily, she said it costs about $30 for a flu shot, but the university is underwriting the cost for students. The shots are also available to employees through their insurance. When being administered on campus, the vaccines are available on a walk-in basis. No appointment is necessary, but students must first check with the Student Health Center for the schedule. 

With the new surge in COVID-19, combined with the seasonal flu this winter, officials say this could put a serious strain on the health care system. Accordingly, public health experts are encouraging adults to get their flu shots to reduce the chances of hospitals being overcrowded with patients. 

“The flu season and corona could confuse people because we have probably 10 diseases that have the same symptoms as the coronavirus,” said Dr. Wendelyn Inman, a TSU professor and infectious disease expert. “It is difficult to tell if you have corona or the flu. I would advise people to go for their flu shot, so that you know that at least you have that covered.” 

Inman, who is also director of public health programs in the College of Health Sciences, was previously chief of epidemiology for the State of Tennessee. 

Dr. Carolyn Davis, TSU’s assistant vice president for student affairs, said making the flu shots available to students was just the right thing to do. 

“The health and safety of our students is always a major priority,” said Davis. “We made the vaccine free to our students to make sure they know it is available to them and right here on campus for their convenience. We are thankful to Publix for coming on our campus to administer the vaccine.” 

According to CDC guidelines, annual flu vaccination is recommended for everyone six months of age and older, with rare exceptions, because it is an effective way to decrease flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.   

For more information on the Student Health Center, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/campus_life/healthcenter_brochure%20072914a.pdf 

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.

NBA Star, TSU Alum Robert Covington credits alma mater for his success, gifts donation for new construction project

By TSU Athletics Media Relations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Houston Rockets forward Rob Covington is paying it forward to his alma mater Tennessee State University. In an announcement on Thursday, Nov. 12, the 2013 TSU graduate said the University played a major role in his personal and professional development, and now he will play a pivotal role in helping to develop its future basketball program at the “Covington Pavilion.”

TSU President Glenda Glover and university officials join Robert Covington and his family to kick off the Covington Pavilion project on the main campus. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Covington’s gift is the largest of this magnitude to an HBCU by a former athlete who was a product of its program.

“I want to thank the city of Nashville for embracing me, and Coach Brian ‘Penny’ Collins, Dr. Mikki Allen (Athletics Director), President (Glenda) Glover and the University for giving me the opportunity to do something special like this,” Covington said.

“I love my alma mater, I’m not donating a new practice facility for the recognition or because I NEED to – I am doing it because I truly WANT to. I know what the school didn’t have when I was here as a student and I want future generations of kids to have the best resources available to them, to build their futures both on and off the court. I want them to step on this campus and feel like their dreams can come true here, because mine really did.”

TSU Athletics Director, Dr. Mikki Allen, left, and President Glover congratulate Robert Covington moments after the NBA star and TSU alum announced his project during a ceremony in the Gentry Center. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Covington will fund the project, with construction slated to begin late spring in 2021. The facility will have two practice courts, locker rooms and offices for the men’s and women’s basketball programs.

“We are extremely proud of Mr. Robert Covington’s success and are grateful for his contributions to the University,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Most importantly, his success on and off the court speaks volumes about the caliber of students TSU and other HBCUs produce. We thank him, his family and the Allergic To Failure Foundation for this generous gift.”

TSU Director of Athletics Dr. Mikki Allen said the new facility will have an impact on the entire athletics program at the institution, but also speaks to Covington’s commitment to TSU.

“Rob and I have a shared vision for TSU Basketball becoming a nationally recognized program,” Allen said. “The fact that Rob has decided to make an investment of this magnitude accelerates this process and helps bring us closer to this vision becoming a reality.”

The President shares a moment with the Covington family near an architect’s rendering of the Covington Pavilion. Construction is slated to begin late Spring 2021. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“As the Director of Athletics, I’m extremely gracious and thankful for Rob becoming a stakeholder in helping to change the national trajectory of our basketball programs. The narrative is shifting in the landscape of college basketball recruiting in respect to HBCUs landing 5-star talent.  Through this historic gift, the Covington Pavilion will now undoubtedly put Tennessee State University in the mix.”


The Bellwood, Illinois native gave the TSU basketball  program a $75,000 donation back in April 2019, but is excited to take the program to the next level with this large monetary donation. Covington continues to have close ties to the University, and shares a special bond with Head Men’s Basketball Coach Penny Collins.

“Rob has been a beacon of inspiration for our student-athletes since he left Tennessee State University,” said Collins.

“To have a practice facility for our men’s and women’s basketball programs will be a game changer. It also shows how serious we are on taking the next step in being an extremely competitive program in the Ohio Valley Conference. Our players will be committed to making Rob proud. He has definitely set the bar for them to follow.”

Collins added, “Rob was already a legend and with this commitment he becomes iconic. His name and legacy will live on forever in the Land of Golden Sunshine.”

Alongside his family, Covington started a foundation named after his life mantra “Allergic To Failure” to give back to communities across the country. He and his family host annual givebacks throughout the year in his hometown of Chicago, Nashville and other NBA markets like Philadelphia, Minnesota and now Houston.

Covington said he made the best decision in attending TSU and is a proud graduate. 

“I made some of the best memories of my life at TSU,” he said. “Go to a bigger school? Nope. I wouldn’t change it for the world because the people who’ve had the most significant impact on my life, they wouldn’t be next to me today. It’s special to be at the forefront of something that can spark a major change as far as kids going to an HBCU and learning about black history, their culture and where they came from. Learning about your ancestors – you can’t always get that in the classroom. That’s a big thing, it’s very important.”

While the road to fulfill his dream of playing in the NBA took a tremendous amount of work, the small forward said it’s a path others at TSU can accomplish in any profession.

“I had an experience very few professional athletes had. It was life changing. I’m a walking product of a kid that went to an HBCU and created a narrative for myself. I feel like now is the time for change and progression all around. I’m in a great place to give back to the place that shaped who I am – not only as an athlete but as a man. My family and I are excited to be able to do this and to break ground on Covington Pavilion today!”

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.

New partnership offers TSU students access to free virtual telehealth service

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With the new surge in the coronavirus pandemic, TSU students who may not be comfortable leaving their room for a doctor’s visit, now have a new option – a free virtual telehealth service.

TSU President Glenda Glover

The university has partnered with myURGENCYMD, a national telemedicine firm, to provide 24-hour, seven-days-a-week virtual doctor’s visits at no cost to the university’s student population. The service connects students to doctors via phone, video and email.

“This is really a good idea for some of us who are scared to venture outside of our rooms,” said Terriana Holt, a senior human performance sports science major from Nashville. “It is also good if you have a personal medical problem. You can just talk on the phone with an anonymous person and get help.”

Fellow student Dominique Davis agreed.

“I think telehealth is really beneficial to the student body because it is very convenient,” said Davis, a senior business administration major from Danville, Illinois, who is president of the Student Government Association. “With COVID, a lot of times we don’t want to come out of our room, we just have that fear. I think this program is very, very smart.”

TSU President Glenda Glover said the partnership with myURGENCYMD is very timely “to ensure the health of our students.”

Dr. Dorsha James, CEO and Chief Medical Officer of myURGENCYMD, said students will have access to board-certified physicians. (Photo by TSU TSU Media Relations)

“This is a big deal, as the safety of our students and campus community continues to be our top priority,” Glover said. “We are thankful and grateful to this company for seeing the need and coming in to help us protect the health of our students during this time.”

Dr. Dosha CEO and chief medical officer of myURGENCYMD, said under the partnership, TSU students will be able to speak with board-certified physicians who can determine the best course of treatment, and may save the student from unnecessary emergency room visits and enormous costs.

“I created this company with students in mind,” said James, a 15-year veteran emergency medicine physician. “A large number of students come to the ER because they have limited options to see a doctor. This is especially true nights and weekends when student clinics are closed.”

Dr. Dorsha James, right, and some of her staff, set up a display in Kean Hall on the main campus with information on the services myURGENCYMD provides. Accompanying Dr. James were Courtney Johnson, Director of Campus Engagement, a TSU alum; and Brandon Mimms, member of the Student Engagement Team. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Officials said the telemedicine service allows students to request and consult with doctors for conditions such as cold and flu symptoms, sinus problems, respiratory infections, allergies, STDs, urinary tract infections, and many other non-emergency illnesses. Use of myURGENCYMD also provides electronic records that allow the Student Health Center to view all of the students’ telehealth visits.

“With the ability to keep track of telemedicine visits, we are able to ensure that all of our students, off and on-campus, receive appropriate follow-up and care,” said Dr. Ivan Davis, director of Student Health Services.

Frank Stevenson, TSU’s associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, said this is a “unique opportunity for us to provide some extended health services for our students.”

“Students now have 24/7 access to health experts that will help them navigate any issues they may have,” Stevenson said. “It is available to all of our students. We are excited about that.”

Dr. Carolyn Davis, assistant vice president of student affairs, added that the university needed an “adjunct” to care for students when campus health providers were not available.

“MyURGENCYMD’s telemedicine service filled that need and also allowed us to offer telemedicine services to our students who may be taking online courses and don’t live near campus,” she said.

For more information on student health services at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/healthcenter/

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.

Tennessee State University, Meharry Medical College Announce New Partnership to Create Pipeline of African American Physicians, Dentists Through Accelerated Program

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University (TSU) and Meharry Medical College, two historically Black academic institutions in Nashville, today announced a new 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. 

TSU President Glenda Glover

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the need for greater commitment to eliminating health disparities among African American communities and to advance health equity among all underserved populations. The newly created Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Institute/TSU/Meharry Accelerated Pathway Program seeks to address both of those issues.

The historic agreement will recruit, select and support the medical education of a cadre of African American students who are interested in becoming physicians or dentists. The overriding goal is to increase the number of African American trained health care providers who will stay and work in minority communities that have the greatest burden of health care needs.

“African Americans continue to be underrepresented in medical schools,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “This partnership will help level the playing field, and give them better opportunities that they so deserve. We look forward to working with Meharry Medical College to produce African American physicians, and dentists, who will serve the communities that need them most. Even more, we’re so proud to have the initiative named after the esteemed Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., one of our own. He was a game changer, and so is this partnership.”

Dr. James E.K. Hildreth, President and CEO at Meharry Medical College, said the announcement is “significant for many reasons.” 

“We remain committed to training more Black doctors who will go on to serve in minority communities, and this partnership will provide more opportunities for Black students,” said Dr. Hildreth. “I am especially delighted about this partnership, as Dr. Watkins was a key mentor throughout my medical training and blazed the trail for me and countless other minority students who had been told there wasn’t a place for us within the medical community. I hope this new program will honor Dr. Watkins’ memory by continuing to prepare the way for minority students interested in medicine.”   

The accelerated program seeks to reduce the amount of time it takes students to enter medical school. The traditional four-year Bachelor of Science degree will become a three-year program—students will spend three years pre-med at TSU before going on to study medicine or dentistry at Meharry. The result is total completion in seven years, instead of the customary eight years. 

Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr.

Recent reports from the Association of American Medical Colleges show the growth of Black or African-American medical school applicants, matriculants and graduates lagged behind other groups, despite increasing efforts by colleges and institutions to create a diverse physician workforce. The proportion of Black medical students who identified as African American or Black grew from 5.6 percent in 1980 to 7.7 percent in 2016. That’s a substantial increase, but still short of the 13.2 percent in the general population.

The late Dr. Watkins is known worldwide for being the first surgeon to successfully implant an automatic heart defibrillator in a human patient at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

He was also a pioneer in civil rights at Johns Hopkins University. He fought to diversify the medical staff and student ranks at the hospital. His legacy of recruiting and mentoring minority students helped to change the landscape of the medical profession.

“In the nation and around the world, COVID-19 has revealed even more the need to eliminate health disparities among African Americans and to advance health equity,” said Barbara Murrell, the chair of the Institute. “TSU and Meharry are responding by providing an accelerated pathway to prepare African American physicians and dentists to serve underserved communities. It’s only fitting that the program is named for Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr., who was a pioneer in advocating for more African American physicians and health equity.”

Students participating in the pathways program will be those with the highest academic preparation and quality. Requirements for admission will be based on a 3.5 grade point average, a score of 1300 on the SAT (two components) or a 29 on the ACT. Mentoring, tutoring and coaching will be crosscutting elements of the program, as will be career and professional guidance for all students involved.

“This partnership between TSU and Meharry will definitely increase the number of African American physicians and dentists,” said Dr. Nolan McMurray, interim dean of TSU’s College of Life and Physical Sciences. “And it will address the health disparities affecting the African American community, not only locally, but globally.” 

The Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Institute is projected to welcome the first cohorts in the fall of 2021-22.

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 using technology, innovative incentives to curb coronavirus spread among students and staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – College campuses across the country are using creative ways to battle the latest surge of the coronavirus. At Tennessee State University – with one of the lowest number of cases among Tennessee colleges – officials are using technology and offering incentives to students to help curb the spread of the virus among the campus population. 

Healthcare personnel say students are proactive and anxious about coming into the health center to register to be tested for the coronavirus. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

The university has stepped up its rapid testing, encourages students to do more contact tracing using a new software, and has set up electronic temperature checks around campus. Tigers Mask Up, an initiative that offers students discount cash coupons for observing proper protocols, has also been introduced. Additionally, the university encourages free discussion of the virus among students and staff. 

“It is not a taboo to talk about cases and persons who are experiencing symptoms. The open discussion helps,” says Dr. Curtis Johnson, chief of staff and head of the TSU Coronavirus Pandemic task force. 

He says the Tigers Mask Up initiative, introduced by the task force, is intended to recognize the efforts of students who go the “extra mile” to ensure compliance. 

TSU introduces a mobile app for contact tracing among the campus population.

“The task force monitors what’s going on and makes recommendations to modify activities when necessary or initiate efforts to move us ahead, and so far, our efforts are paying off,” Johnson says. 

A New York Times survey of more than 1,700 colleges and universities shows more than 214,000 cases and 75 deaths (mostly college employees) since the pandemic began, with Tennessee colleges accounting for 6,540 of those cases.  Since TSU reopened for the fall with hybrid learning, the university has reported less than 75 cases, with mostly mild to no symptoms and no hospitalization. 

Johnson and others attribute TSU’s low number to the university’s vigilance with testing and students’ overall cooperation with protocols put in place to keep them safe. The TSU Student Health Center is averaging between 50-100 students who come in per day to be tested. 

Tigers Mask Up initiative recognizes the efforts of students who go the “extra mile” to ensure compliance. 

Dana Humphrey, head nurse of the Student Health Center, says testing is going very well and students are very open to coming in to get tested. 

“The kids are really engaged and trying to come and get tested,” she says. “They are proactive and really anxious about follow-ups and making sure they are healthy.” 

Frequent testing is widely encouraged among the student population. In fact, the Aristocrat of Bands, and all sports program on campus have made testing mandatory for their members. Band members are required to test once a week if they live on campus, and twice a week if they live off campus. Members of all sports programs are required to test once a week. 

Kristian Davis, a freshman biology major from Birmingham, Alabama; and Terriana Holt, a senior human performance sports science major, have tested a combined 15 times. Davis was positive on her first test and went into mandatory quarantine. She says she came into contact with someone who was positive. Davis has since been cleared. 

“I have been tested six times,” she says. “I tested positive and went into isolation for two weeks. The staff was really nice, making sure I had everything I needed. I am glad TSU is making sure we are safe.” 

For Holt, a member of the AOB, where she plays the trumpet, the experience with frequent testing “is no sweat,” she says. 

“I really don’t mind because it is for my health and for the health of my fellow band members and the health of the school in general,” says Holt, who has tested nine times. “I see it as just a precaution.” 

Frank Stevenson, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, says students who test positive for COVID-19 are placed in an area identified as IQ, or isolation and quarantine zone where they receive “round the clock” service, including a health professional, meal service delivered three times a day, laundry service, and medication if needed. 

“We have had great success managing students who have tested positive in providing a safe and comfortable space for them to be in while they go through their time period mandated by the CDC,” says Stevenson. “We’ve had a couple of students who were taken to the hospital for checkup, but none have been admitted or hospitalized. For the most part, 95 percent of the students that we’ve encountered have had very mild to no symptoms.” 

Dr. William Hytche, assistant vice president of students affairs, manages activities in the IQ zone. He says students with positive cases are put in quarantine, while those who have been exposed or have been around someone who is positive, are put in isolation. Those in isolation are given a resting period to see if they develop the virus. In either case, a student stays in the IQ zone for a minimum of 10 days. To be released, Hytche says a student must be tested and produce two negative results over two days. 

“Students in the IQ zone have access to medical staff and must give a daily report of how they feel,” says Hytche. In addition to help with the student’s physical health, mental health services are also available. 

“If a student feels like, “The walls are closing in on me’, we get the university counselors involved who contact the student and evaluate their situation,” ‘Hytche says.

For updates or information on TSU’s COVID-19 protocols, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/return/ 

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 to honor its veterans during virtual program, recognize United States Colored Troops

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will honor its veterans with a special virtual program on Nov. 11, despite the pandemic.

The University’s annual Veterans Day program is usually an in-person tradition, but the coronavirus changed that this year, as it has all of TSU’s activities. However, organizers of the virtual program next Wednesday say they expect it to be as spirit-filled as it has in past years.

 The United States Colored Troops Memorial, Nashville National Cemetery

“Despite COVID, we are going to maintain those traditions that are important to our culture, our community, and our nation,” says Dr. Evelyn Nettles, associate vice president for Academic Affairs at TSU. “It is important for us to always remember those who served and protected our democracy.”

Lt. Col. Nick Callaway, commander of the University’s AFROTC Detachment 790, is this year’s keynote speaker.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to recognize the veterans who are currently or were previously employed at the university,” says Callaway. “I also applaud TSU for taking the opportunity to recognize the brave men of the United States Colored Troops. Their fight for freedom in our country’s darkest hour should not be forgotten.”

The United States Colored Troops were regiments of African American soldiers raised by the Union Army during the American Civil War.  These troops – who made up about 10 percent of the fighting force in the Union Army – included free African Americans from the North and South, and men who lived their lives as enslaved persons before the war began. By the war’s end, the USCT were a part of the 180,000 African Americans who fought for the Union Army during the Civil War.

“For them, the war was a struggle for liberty, one in which they forced the nation to redefine its notions of freedom and equality under the law,” says Dr. Learotha Williams, a veteran and TSU history professor.

The United States Colored Troops Memorial, located in the Nashville National Cemetery, recognizes the service of the 20,133 black men who voluntarily served in the Union Army in Tennessee during the American Civil War.

To access the program on Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 10:30 a.m. Central, visit https://zoom.us/j/96163866960?pwd=QkV0cXZGZzVOUkNReng5NHUyVksvUT09

Meeting ID: 961 6386 6960

Passcode: 812522

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.