Category Archives: Featured

TSU Forensics team named national champions, top HBCU team in the country for second consecutive year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Forensics team was recently named the overall national champions and the top HBCU speech and debate team in the country for the second consecutive year.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s HBCU National Speech and Debate Championship was held virtually Feb. 27-28. It featured 14 historically black colleges and universities. In addition to the overall win, TSU’s team walked away with 10 national championship titles, 54 total awards, and the top overall speaker in the tournament for the fourth consecutive year.

“The coaching staff and I are so proud of these students and what they were able to accomplish this season during a time like this,” said Sean Allen, a professor and TSU’s Director of Forensics.  “The switch from traveling during the year to suddenly learning to compete virtually was not an easy feat for the students nor the coaches. Not to mention, most of our practice sessions had to be done virtually. Keeping these students motivated was challenging, but they ultimately came together for their love of the activity and were able to make their best showing at the tournament to date.”

TSU sophomore Maya McClary placed first in the “Persuasive Speaking” category. She talked about the impact COVID-19 has had on prison systems, particularly the disparity in the death rate among black and white inmates. Statistics show 60 percent of inmates dying from the coronavirus are African American.

McClary said adjusting to competing virtually was challenging, but she credited coaches Allen and TSU Professor Earnest Mack with preparing the students to compete, regardless of the circumstance.

“Our coaches do a great job of making sure we’re left with little room for excuses,” said McClary, a mass communications major from Orlando, Florida. “During this pandemic, it was very difficult. But our coaches always require the best out of us. Because of our work ethic, it allowed us to do well.”

Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis, Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at TSU, said the Forensics team’s success once again “showcases TSU excellence.”

“These results demonstrate the continued commitment of our faculty and students to lift student voices and their presence in the world,” said Morgan-Curtis.

Dr. Tameka Winston, Mass Communications Department Chair and Associate Vice President at TSU, agreed.

“Our talented students continue to display excellence and I’m so proud of their hard work,” said Winston. “I had the opportunity to attend the virtual championship this year and our students represented the university and the department well. Our wonderful coaches prepared our students to consistently produce and operate on the highest level. The next goal is to earn this title in 2022 and continue to take our team and the forensics area to new heights.”

Other Forensics team members that placed top in their categories include: Trey Gibson, “After Dinner Speaking”, “Poetry Interpretation”, and “Overall Individual Speaker”; Tayneria Gooden, “Program of Oral Interpretation”; Tayneria Gooden and Kierstan Tate, “Duo Interpretation”; Trae Hubbard, “Prose Interpretation”; and Chase Garrett, “Dramatic Interpretation”.

The TSU Forensics team, which claimed first place in “Individual Event Champions” and “Overall Tournament Champions”, will end their season April 16-20 at the National Forensics Association competition, an elite national tournament where students must qualify throughout the year to compete. For the first time in the team’s history, every member of the TSU team secured a qualification to compete in the competition. 

To learn more about TSU’s Forensics team and the Department of Communications, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/communications/forensics.aspx.

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.

National Council on Teacher Quality names TSU’s teacher preparation programs among the best in the nation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service)Tennessee State University’s undergraduate and graduate elementary teacher preparation programs have been named among the top in the country for contributing to greater teacher diversity by the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Dr. Jerri Haynes

TSU’s programs are among only 21 percent of the 1,256 NCTQ evaluated across the country and among only seven programs in Tennessee to be recognized in a new NCTQ report for enrolling a cohort of future teachers that is both more racially diverse than the current teacher workforce in their state and reflects the racial diversity of their local community.

Tennessee State University’s undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program was also named among the top in the country by NCTQ for Early Reading Instruction

Dr. Jerri Haynes, dean of the College of Education, said the college is excited to receive this prestigious NCTQ recognition.

“The College of Education continues to pave the path where ‘Excellence is our Habit’ in preparing our teacher candidates in both undergraduate and graduate programs to become effective teachers and leaders in rural, urban, and metropolitan school settings,” Haynes said.

Dionna Robinson

In its report, NCTQ, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit research and policy organization, said TSU’s programs showed clear evidence of dedicated course time, as well as measures where aspiring teachers must demonstrate their knowledge of the five key components of the science of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. This, the report added, puts TSU among the fewer than one-third of programs in Tennessee and nationally to earn an “A” on this NCTQ standard.

Dionna Robinson and Quinton Bolden are students in the teacher preparation program in the TSU College of Education. They are not surprised that NCTQ named their programs among the top in the nation.

Quinton Bolden

“We have amazing professors and advisors who go the extra mile to see us succeed,” said Robinson, a junior elementary education major from Huntsville, Alabama. “From the start, my advisor opened my eyes to making the right decision about my career goal, and I have not regretted it.”

For Bolden, who will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, the NCTQ recognition underscores the dedication and care “my professors show to make sure I am not only successful in the classroom but how I approach my career in the future.”

“It is very uplifting for me to know you have people who care so much for your successful development. They provide me with all the tools I need to be successful,” said Bolden, a native of Earl, Arkansas. “

With a long record of an outstanding teacher preparation in the country, TSU’s recognition by the NCTQ is only the latest accolade for the College of Education.    About two years ago, the university was recognized as the highest producer of teachers among historically black universities and colleges in the nation. A year ago, TSU received $600,000 from the Tennessee Department of Education to train educators to become assistant principals in Middle Tennessee school districts.

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

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 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 using $25,000 gift from Renasant Bank to help students succeed during pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is using a $25,000 donation from Renasant Bank to help fulfill student needs, particularly during the pandemic. Officials say the funds will go toward assisting students in need of financial support, as well as making sure they have the tools they need to complete their coursework.

In a letter, Renasant Bank said the financial donation is in support of “student emergency scholarship” at TSU, as part of its legacy of strong community service. In addition to Tennessee, Renasant serves communities in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

“TSU is grateful to Renasant Bank for its support of the institution and our students,” says President Glenda Glover. “We made a commitment to students that the university would ensure quality of student learning and their academic success during this pandemic. This gift from Renasant helps us keep that promise by providing much needed support for students as we enter the spring semester.”

Tracey Morant Adams, Renasant Bank’s senior executive vice president, says, “When the unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic began to impact our communities, Renasant made an intentional decision to redirect much of our charitable donations to support COVID relief efforts. Our support of TSU’s student emergency scholarship program demonstrates a sincere desire of community service by our company during a very critical time.”

Danielle Glenn

Currently, there are about 1,600 students living on campus, that’s about 50 percent of full occupancy. Classes are offered in hybrid, online and in face-to-face formats, including distance learning. For various reasons, many students have chosen to live on campus, stay in their dorm rooms, and complete their courses online.

Danielle Glenn, a junior criminal justice major from Atlanta, who lives on campus and takes classes online, says she is “extremely” happy that Renasant Bank is helping students “at this very critical” time.

“This is a great way to help many students stay in school,” says Glenn. “Many students are facing some real hard time, and this money will help many of them continue their education, especially during this pandemic.”

Tiant Perry, Jr.

Junior accounting major Tiant Perry, Jr., from Montgomery, Alabama, agrees.

“When I heard about the gift from Renasant Bank I was really happy because there are students on campus right now with balances that they don’t know how they are going to settle,” says Perry. “This generous donation will go a long way to help out many students on campus.”

Jamie Isabel, TSU’s associate vice president of Institutional Advancement, Corporate Relations and Foundations, says the financial gift from Renasant is an example of the bank’s commitment to the university, and the “value of corporate partners to students and the 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 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.

One year after tornado, TSU family remembers community support, help from ‘total strangers’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University may have been caught in the devastation of a tornado that hit northwest and east Nashville early last March, but the campus family also experienced an outpouring of community support and resilience in the aftermath that has fostered healing and a spirit to rebuild.

President Glenda Glover pets 1-year-old Gracie the goat, which was born the night of the tornado. Gracie’s mother survived the storm and gave birth to two kids that night. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“It was so much outpouring of love and support. People came from different places on different days,” says Dr. Glenda Glover, president of TSU. “Nashvillians stuck together, some students were on spring break and when they came back, they jumped in. We were overwhelmed with the level of love and support and care.” 

March 3 marked the one-year anniversary of the EF2 tornado that struck shortly after midnight. TSU’s Agriculture Farm took the biggest hit. Five of six structures, including research facilities, greenhouses, and a pavilion, were reduced to rubble. Two calves were killed, and several goats injured.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, Dean of the College of Agriculture, talks to a reporter from the spot where the nearly 300-seat pavilion once stood. The pavilion and several other structures were damaged. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Other parts of the main campus received damage to signs and building rooftops, as well as downed power lines, uprooted trees, and other debris. About 85 students who did not go away for the spring break were on campus, but no injuries were reported.

Officials estimate total damage to the campus to be about $20 million.

However, amid the scars of what was lost or destroyed, one thing that has stood out is the volunteerism displayed by people from all walks of life. When asked what they remembered most about the tornado and the aftermath, faculty, staff, and students noted the general outpouring of support from total strangers.

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, Dean of the College of Engineering, right, led a team of faculty, staff, student and community volunteers to remove debris. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Jeia Moore arrived in Nashville from her spring break a few days after the storm hit.  

“It was sad to see my campus like that because so much student work had been lost,” says Moore, a junior information systems major from Memphis, Tennessee. A year later, however, Moore is impressed with how the university has been able to pull through, even with the onset of the coronavirus at the same time. 

“TSU, we are not going to be down too long. We are going to come back,” says Moore. “I am just happy that we are still able to function like we never missed a beat.” 

Volunteers from all walks of life signed up to help with the cleanup effort after the tornado. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Bryce Daniel, a junior health sciences major from Fort Worth, Texas, was in his dorm room in Hale Hall when the storm hit. Hale Hall was not affected, but the sight of the destruction on the other side of campus was too overwhelming for Daniel to ignore. 

“I immediately felt I needed to give back and help my campus recover,” says Daniel, who’s part of “Generation of Educated Men,” or GEM, a social and educational student group. The group mobilized and was among the first volunteers to join the cleanup effort on the Ag farm. 

Members of Generation of Educated Men, a campus group of TSU students, were among the first volunteers to join the cleanup effort. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“I was glad to be safe and blessed to still have all of my things. So, it was just natural to go and give back to help clean up my campus,” says Daniel. 

Some renovations on the main campus are either completed or ongoing. As for the Ag farm, TSU officials say discussions with state and federal agencies and insurance underwriters are ongoing, and construction should start soon and be completed by year’s end.  

“Effort to reconstruct is slower, complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. But we are moving along, it might take some time, but we will get there,” says Glover. 

Debris was thrown about in every corner of the Ag farm in the aftermath of the tornado. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

On the learning aspect, she says it’s been a grueling year, because things are at a slower pace. How students are taught changed drastically, with teaching and learning now about 85 percent virtual.  

“We have some aspects that are not virtual, and we do require in-person learning, so we want to make sure that is taken care of,” says Glover. “Once COVID has run its course, we believe that we will be moving at a faster pace.” 

Dr. Curtis Johnson, associate vice president and chief of staff, heads the reconstruction effort at TSU. He says recovery will take time, but the main concern is making sure teaching and research are not affected.

As the days went by, more volunteers showed up to lend a hand in the cleanup. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“We look forward to rebuilding a better campus,” says Johnson. “We expect our rebuilding to have better structure, better technology. ”

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture, agrees, saying the goal is to “make sure all of our buildings and research facilities are much better and much stronger.” 

On the show of support, Frank Stevenson, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, says in the aftermath of the storm he saw a campus community determined to bounce back, “not only to represent Tiger pride, but the city of Nashville strong.” 

“Our students, faculty, staff, everyone put the gloves on, rolled up their sleeves and were committed to making our campus continue in the space of beauty,” says Stevenson. 

GEM member Derrick Sanders, a junior secondary English education major from Cincinnati, Ohio, who drove into Nashville the next morning amid the destruction, says “it felt so good to see people come together for the enhancement of TSU.”

“I saw people from the community, people from different churches, even students giving out anything they had to help. It just felt good to know that we are a family, and we can help each other,” says Sanders. 

NBA star, TSU alum Robert Covington awards $25K scholarships to two student athletes at his alma mater

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Two Tennessee State University student athletes will each receive a $25,000 scholarship thanks to NBA star and TSU alum Robert Covington.

He made the announcement during the recent NBA All-Star weekend in Atlanta. The scholarship recipients are Nashville, Tennessee, junior Micahlea Njie (VB) and Michael Thompson (track), a junior from Miami, Florida.

Covington graduated from Tennessee State University in 2013 with a degree in Exercise Science while finishing his college basketball career ranked seventh on Tennessee State’s all-time list in both scoring (1,749 points) and rebounding (876). 

The Portland Trail Blazers forward is currently the only NBA player to have graduated from an historically black college or university. Covington sported a TSU jersey when he competed in the All-Star skills competition.

In November, he gifted TSU with a donation for a construction project to enhance the university’s basketball program. The facility, to be called the “Covington Pavilion,” will have two practice courts, locker rooms and offices for the men’s and women’s basketball programs.

The gift is the largest of that magnitude to an HBCU by a former athlete who was a product of its program. During the announcement of the gift, Covington talked about the impact of attending TSU, an HBCU.

“This university (TSU) has molded me, gave me the foundation and helped me play with a chip on my shoulder,” he said. “I wouldn’t change it for nothing. 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. “

This year, as part of NBA All-Star 2021, the league and the players’ association  committed more than $2.5 million in funds and resources toward HBCUs.

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.

Future surgeon, entrepreneur sets sight on Tennessee governor’s mansion, wants to level playing field

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Denias Smith has big dreams. He wants to become a surgeon, own a business, and eventually become the first black governor of Tennessee. 

Denias Smith

“I want to level the playing field and create equal opportunities for everyone,” says Smith, a senior pre-med student majoring in biology. “It is not so much about making history, but a way of increasing representation for people from low-income housing like me.” 

A transfer student in his sophomore year, Smith says he came to TSU to fulfill a yearning to attend a historically black college or university. He says growing up in his hometown of Bolivar, Tennessee, he did not know much about HBCUs and how nurturing they are until he started reading about TSU on social media – the strong academics and student life. 

“I am a first-generation college student. I ended up attending a predominantly white institution,” says Smith. “I didn’t feel I was being nurtured as a black student. At TSU, I saw students doing their own thing. They were holding down their academic duties. They were being student leaders.” 

Smith says he was in awe of what he saw going on at TSU. “I said, wow, I can do that. I told my mom I was going to transfer. It was a quick decision, and I don’t regret it,” says Smith. “Here I am today growing as a student – academically, and as a student leader. I have grown to love myself because of the environment I am in.” 

With help from TSU schoolmates, Denias Smith, second from left, organized a protest in his hometown to bring awareness about police brutality and other injustices following the death of George Floyd.

At TSU, Smith has adjusted well and proven to be an overall outstanding student, with high leadership skills. He has remained on the Dean’s List since coming to TSU. He is a National Society of Leadership and Success inductee; member of Collegiate 100 Black Men of Tennessee State University; secretary of the National Professional Advancement for Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers; and the Tennessee Louise Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, where he recently presented a research paper. Smith is also the current president of the highly respected Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Society, a pre-medical and pre-dental society at TSU. 

Dr. Keon Vercruysse, associate professor of chemistry, teaches Smith and also serves as the faculty advisor for the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Society. Vercruysse describes his young protégé as a dedicated and accomplished student, who takes his academic duties very seriously. 

“Denias is a friendly and sociable person with a diverse mix of skills that will serve him well in his current and future academic endeavors,” says Vercruysse. “In his capacity as president (of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Society), he has shown his potential as a leader and as someone that looks beyond his own interests.” 

A social justice advocate, Smith played a key role last summer in organizing a peaceful protest following the death of George Floyd. With help from fellow TSU schoolmates, he organized a protest in his hometown to bring awareness about police brutality and other injustices following Floyd’s death. He remembered the moment his plan gained city-wide support. Local law enforcement, the mayor of Bolivar, and other elected officials participated.

“I had finished talking to my mom about my plan, made a social media post, and went to bed. The next morning, I got a call from the mayor and a radio personality saying they would back me up 100 percent,” Smith was quoted as saying to a local CBS affiliate. 

On his future career, Smith says his goal is to become a plastic surgeon, and eventually get into politics. 

“That’s what I am working toward now,” says Smith. “My dream is to own a surgery center. As time goes on, I plan to be a politician. My long-term goal is to be governor of Tennessee. I am all about creating opportunities for people who look like me.”

Smith is a graduate of Bolivar Central High School, where he was an academic standout.

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 honors best and brightest students at first virtual Honors Day Convocation; speaker donates $50K to Alma Mater

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University recently recognized its best and brightest students with the university’s first-ever virtual Honors Day Convocation. More than 2,100 students with grade point averages of 3.0 or higher were recognized on March 2 for academic excellence.

President Glenda Glover

Among the honorees were 400 President’s List scholars. These are students who have maintained 4.0 GPAs throughout their matriculation.

Damyon J. Thompson, a 2003 TSU graduate and chief of staff to the general manager of IBM’s Automation Division, was the keynote speaker. Thompson was a member of the Honors College at TSU.

Before Thompson’s keynote speech, TSU President Glenda Glover congratulated the honorees for their achievements. She challenged them to further develop their talents “to be the leaders you have been chosen to be.”

Daymon J. Thompson

“Honors Day is more than personal recognition; it is a challenge to soar even higher,” Glover said. “As honors students, we will depend on you to research challenges and issues and to develop solutions that will remake our university. Whether it is the COVID pandemic, or racial injustice, it is you our honorees who must contribute to finding a path that leads to solutions to the threats that we currently face.”

Thompson, who earned two bachelor’s degrees – computer science, business information systems – from TSU, started his remarks with a $50,000 donation to the university’s Enterprise Computing program, on behalf of him and his sister, Shari D. Thompson, a 2006 TSU graduate and member of the Honors College. A high industry demand area, the enterprise computing initiative was launched at TSU in 2014 to help prepare students to compete for high-paying enterprise internships and jobs.

Kerrington Powell received the Dr. McDonald Williams Award for Academic Excellence.

Speaking on “Promoting academic excellence, breaking paradigms, and transforming growth leaders in the new decade,” Thompson told the honorees that to succeed they must have growth mindset, be technologically inclined, and have an executable plan. He said the world is filled with people with fixed mindset, who are afraid of challenges or failure, and those with growth mindset who embrace change, challenges and see failure as a chance “to pivot” and learn from their mistakes.

“At age 29, I took and chance to advance my career and took a job in a foreign country where I knew no one, I did not understand the culture, but I am glad I did. It paid off,” said Thompson, who engages with business unit leaders to execute the direction of the 7,000-person, $5 billion IBM division.

Meleena Warters

“I embraced the challenge and the change because, I said, ‘you know what, if I can learn and grow from this, it will really set me up when I return home.’ And it did although with challenges. I had a growth mindset, I said let me jump in, let me embrace the change, let me go across the world and see what happens,” Thompson said. “In the midst of COVID-19, the social justice reckoning of 2020, economic uncertainty, and the massive amount of debt students are facing every day, we have to hit the ground running. We have to keep our focus ahead.”

Meleena Warters and Larry McNary, Honors College scholars, were among the students recognized at the virtual convocation. They are inspired and are very grateful for the recognition given for their academic achievements.

L:arry McNary

“I know it takes a lot of work to be on the honor roll or on the Dean’s List, but to have your peers, the who institution and speakers come out and congratulate you on a personal level is really very important and feels good,” said Warters, a junior mass communications major from Brentwood, Tennessee, with a 3.9 GPA.

McNary agreed.  “This is about recognizing the hard work that students put in, and that means a lot,” he said. “I feel grateful and supported to be a part of something like that.” McNary, who is from Memphis, Tennessee, will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He has a 3.7 GPA.

Among those also recognized were Honors College Scholars, those on the Dean’s List, members of the university-wide Honor Societies, Student Leadership Award recipient, the top graduating seniors, and the recipient of the Dr. McDonald Williams Scholarship for Academic Excellence.

Dr. Michael Harris, interim Vice President for Academic Affairs; Dr. Coreen Jackson, interim dean of the Honors College; and other senior officials participated in the convocation.

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.

Nashville businessman honors mother’s memory with $50,000 scholarship for students at TSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Nashville businessman and community activist Jerry L. Maynard II recently presented Tennessee State University with a check for $50,000 to establish a scholarship in his late mother’s honor for students in financial need.

The Shirley Ann Coates Student Government Association Scholarship will support student scholarship and leadership development at the university to promote his mother’s legacy of caring, according to Maynard. He made the presentation during a ceremony in the Floyd Payne Campus Center.

Jerry L. Maynard II says the gift to TSU students is to promote his late mother’s legacy of caring. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“We are giving a $50,000 scholarship award to TSU, specifically for students in need to matriculate, but also to prepare them for leadership skills and training,” Maynard said. “I think that’s the best way to honor my mother who passed away a year and half ago.”

Neither Maynard nor his mother attended TSU, but the longtime businessman said “President (Glenda) Glover and Tennessee State University have been a beacon of hope for students,” which made the decision easy on how to use the funds to honor his mother.

In the ‘90s, Shirley Ann Coates, a pastor, opened and operated a daycare center in her local church, charging a “very nominal rate” to help working women who could not afford the average $125 a week to care for their kids.

Dominique Davis, President of the Student Government Association, says many students will reap the benefit of Maynard’s generosity. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“So, my mother opened a daycare and charged $35 a week so the working woman, especially single mothers, could go to work and still be able to provide daycare for their children,” Maynard said. “She took a loss, but she did so because she wanted women to feel proudful by going to work and providing for their kids. That’s the type of woman she was. So, with this gift, Michelle Ann, Michael and David (Maynard’s siblings), we stand together and we honor my mother, and also honor TSU.”

In receiving the check, Student Government Association President Dominique Davis thanked and congratulated Maynard and his family for the donation.

“This endowment will provide much needed help to our students over the next several semesters,” Davis told Maynard. “Many students here will reap the benefit of your generosity. TSU is indebted to you, and we do not take your act of kindness lightly.”

Frank Stevenson, TSU’s associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said Maynard has always been a supporter of TSU.

“To now have Mr. Maynard make this level of financial commitment to our students, and putting it in the hands of student affairs and the SGA to find fellow students who are in the most need, is an amazing opportunity,” said Stevenson. “So, we are excited, our students are excited. We are also excited that Jerry is challenging other alumni, businesses in the community to step up and support this wonderful institution.”

To find out how to establish a scholarship or to make a donation, please visit https://www.tnstate.edu/foundation/.

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 joins nation’s first quantum education and research initiative through partnership with tech giant IBM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University says it looks forward to students being on the cutting edge of technology in the fields of finance, digital manufacturing and military affairs now that the institution is a member of the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center. TSU announced today that it has joined the nation’s first quantum education and research initiative for historically black colleges and universities. The aim of the center is to help students and faculty build skills in quantum computing and increase diversity and inclusion in the field.

TSU President Glenda Glover

“With the creation of Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and aerospace designing just to name a few, quantum computing has quickly become an emerging technology,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “The IBM-HBCU Quantum Center partnership helps TSU prepare our students and faculty to be innovators in this field. It is an absolute game-changer when we consider our current climate and how research could lead to new discoveries in medicine and drug development.”

TSU is one of 10 newly added institutions that comprise the 23 HBCUs that have joined the Center to date. As part of the initiative, TSU will have access to IBM quantum computers on the cloud, as well as opportunities for joint collaboration on research, education, and community outreach programs.

“IBM’s priority in launching the Center is to support and facilitate quantum research and education for HBCU faculty and students as part of the growing quantum workforce,” said Dr. Kayla Lee, Product Manager for Community Partnerships, IBM Quantum. “We’re proud to continue building on the momentum of the founding institutions and looking forward to collaborating with Tennessee State University to build a quantum future.”

Established in September 2020, the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center is a multi-year investment designed to prepare and develop talent at HBCUs from all STEM disciplines for the quantum future. It emphasizes the power of community and focuses on developing students through support and funding for research opportunities, curriculum development, workforce advocacy, and special projects. 

Junior Jeia Moore

Jeia Moore, a junior from Memphis, Tennessee majoring in business information systems at TSU, said she’s glad the university is now part of the Center.

“IBM has opened opportunities for me, my peers, and my university,” she said. “Having a firsthand experience of the nation’s first quantum initiative for HBCUs will allow me to grow and develop in the computing world. I am grateful to see companies invest in me, my peers, and Tennessee State University.”

IBM continues to deliver on the Center’s goal to build a sustainable quantum research and education program by increasing the number of black students educated in Quantum Information Science and Engineering (QISE), strengthening research efforts of faculty at HBCUs in QISE, providing opportunities for scholarships, fellowships and internships, and empowering HBCUs to lead in the quantum workforce and broader black communities. The 25 HBCUs participating in the Center were prioritized based on their research and education focus in physics, engineering, mathematics, computer science, and other STEM fields.

“Tennessee State University is proud to be invited to partner in the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center,” said Dr. Michael Harris, Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at TSU. “This partnership will provide our faculty and students with excellent opportunities to pursue research and specific tasks in quantum and its impact on computing, a leading technology guiding fields across business and industry.”

Iris Ramey, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at TSU, agreed.

“Our students and faculty are anxious to begin the high level of research and learning that the Center will require,” said Ramey. “We are grateful to IBM for this opportunity.“

For more information about the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center, read HBCU Center Driving Diversity and Inclusion in Quantum Computing.

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 alum who designed, constructed National Museum of African American Music continues as industry trailblazer, promotes student success by giving back

A TSU BLACK HISTORY MONTH FEATURE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When Don Hardin drives by the National Museum of African American Music, the Tennessee State University alum can’t help but smile, proudly. That’s because the firm he owns managed the design and construction of the facility, and he credits TSU with giving him the tools as a young college student to make it happen. 

“I love the Blue and White,” said Hardin, who graduated in 1990 with a degree in architectural engineering. “TSU is a part of me. I strive to be excellent.”  

Don Hardin. (Submitted photo)

However, a seed of determination and success was planted in Hardin by his mother before he came to TSU. She raised Hardin and his three other brothers by herself. He said her tough love is what they needed growing up in a low-income part of Nashville.  

“My mother worked hard; she set standards for us,” said Hardin. “She kept us out of trouble. She had strict rules that didn’t seem fair at the time, but it turned out to be a good thing because some of the guys who were free to run the streets didn’t turn out so well. All of my brothers are doing well, and it’s because of her upbringing.” 

Hardin said his math teacher at Maplewood High School was also a major influence in his life. He said the teacher recognized his talent and arranged for him to visit TSU and its College of Engineering his senior year. The Big Blue won him over, and he enrolled at TSU in fall 1983.  

Because he also enjoyed art, Hardin decided to major in architectural engineering, where he met Dr. Walter Vincent, Jr., who at the time was head of the Architectural Engineering Department. Vincent also noticed Hardin’s drive and talent, and took him under his wing.  

“He was a very engaging guy,” recalled Hardin of Vincent. “He was always encouraging us to get out of Nashville and take trips to places like Chicago to study buildings.”  

Vincent passed away on Nov. 30, 2020, at the age of 89. But Hardin said he will never forget the advice and encouragement Vincent gave him that would eventually cement his career in his chosen field.  

Hardin said it was tough to get internships in architectural engineering. However, his peers in electrical and mechanical engineering were getting job opportunities. Hardin said he went to Vincent to change his major, but the professor talked him out of it.  

“He said, ‘If you stick with it, it’s going to pay off.’” Hardin recalled him saying. “So instead of giving him a change of major form, I tore it up and decided to stay with architectural engineering.”  

And he’s glad he did. Vincent was right. When Hardin graduated, he had three job offers. The one he selected took him out of town for about 10 years. But he returned to Nashville and eventually started his own company, the Don Hardin Group, which hit its 20-year mark this year.  

TSU alumna Lisa Johnson majored in architectural engineering at the same time Hardin did. She said the small group that made up their major was close knit, and that they encouraged one another. Johnson said she was one of four women in the program at the time, and that Hardin was like a brother to her.

Don Hardin, son Donald III (center), and wife Tracy, CFO of the Don Hardin Group. (Submitted photo)

“Don is a good guy, gracious, and hard-working,” said Johnson, who is a construction manager. “Him having this business that he has today, I’m not surprised.”

Hardin and his team have been players in some of Nashville’s largest projects, including the Music City Center, Hospital Corporation of America, Nissan North America, the First Horizon (Baseball) Park, and of course, the National Museum of African American Music that officially opened downtown last month.  

Hardin said what he enjoyed most about the National Museum of African American Music project was the number of other African American businesses involved in the construction.  

“We’re proud of what we did,” said Hardin. “What we’re even more proud of is the fact that a lot of other African Americans got involved in something that represents us.” 

Both Hardin and Johnson said they’re glad they stuck with architectural engineering, and they encourage aspiring engineers to consider the field because opportunities in it have grown over the years.

“There are more programs offered,” said Johnson. “It’s still not as common as civil, mechanical and electrical, but it has become more known.”

Regardless of the major, Hardin said students should contact alumni in their field, or an area of study they’re considering, for support.

 “TSU students need to continue to reach out; press us for opportunities,” said Hardin, whose firm offers an internship to college students.

And he added this advice to them, words that were also told to him years ago.  

“Know that you can achieve whatever you set out to do,” he said. “You can do it. You can be excellent.”  

Hardin is a member of the TSU Engineering Alumni Association, and the Omega Psi Phi Rho Psi Alumni Chapter of TSU.

To learn more about the Don Hardin Group, visit http://donhardingroup.com.

For more information about TSU’s College of Engineering and architectural engineering, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/engineering/index1.aspx

NOTE: Feature photo of Don Hardin at First Horizon Park courtesy of the Nashville Business Journal

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.