Category Archives: FEATURED

TSU unveils 500-pound bronze tiger statue on main campus as part of ‘Big Blue’ pride

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Calling it a symbol of strength and a representation of its Big Blue pride, Tennessee State University has unveiled a tiger statue on the main campus to coincide with this year’s virtual Homecoming ceremonies.

President Glenda Glover, administrators, staff, student representatives, alumni and community officials participate in the unveiling ceremony on the main campus. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

The specially commissioned bronze 6-foot long sculpture, weighing in at 500 pounds, was unveiled Oct. 23 in a virtual ceremony. Observing appropriate social distancing, TSU President Glenda Glover led student representatives, administrators, staff, alumni and community officials in an elaborate ceremony to showcase the new campus attraction. 

TSU’s renowned Aristocrat of Bands was on hand to provide entertainment.

The President acknowledges members of the AOB, student leaders and guests moments before she officially unveiled the new campus attraction. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“Today is a special day as we unveil a monument that will represent the spirit of TSU for the next 100 years,” Glover said to a round of applause. “Generations will mark their presence on this campus in front of this great tiger statue. Tigers are resilient, strong and powerful, as we are. Tigers are determined and confident as we are.” 

The Tiger, standing nearly 7 feet and mounted on a custom-made marble base, is located in front of the Floyd-Payne Campus Center across from the McWherter Circle. 

Glover congratulated the leadership of the last Student Government Association for conceiving the idea of the statue created by nationally recognized sculptor David Clark, who created Tom the Tiger at the University of Memphis.  

Outgoing SGA President Katelyn Thompson and members of her administration conceived the idea for the tiger statue. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“I want to thank our very courageous students and the student government leadership for their foresight,” she added, noting the university’s resilience during the pandemic. “This tiger statue is a symbol to the world that TSU is strong.” 

Katelyn Thompson, the outgoing SGA president, who spearheaded the project, thanked President Glover, her fellow students and the office of Student Affairs for their support in making the project a reality. 

“On this historic moment, we have waited patiently for this day. We brought this idea to the table and we all came together to create history,” Thompson said. “I want to personally thank the sculptor, Dr. Glover, Dean (Frank) Stevenson, Dr. (Tobias) Morgan, alumni, faculty and staff, but most importantly, our students. It was you who always kept pushing to keep going and continue on the legacy of tiger pride.” 

Tennessee State Sen. Brenda Gilmore, and Davidson County Council-At-Large member Sharon Hurt, two TSU alums and staunch supporters, were among officials who attended the unveiling. 

 “I just want to commend these student leaders who had the vision to even know before the pandemic that we would need a strong symbol that will represent TSU going forward,” Gilmore said. “This tiger captures the spirit of each one of you. I commend you Dr. Glover, the staff and everybody.” 

Also speaking were Grant Winrow, chair of the Homecoming committee, and Dominique Davis, the newly installed president of the SGA. 

Winrow referred to the Tiger statue as “something wonderful that will be on this campus forever.” 

“We are so excited this morning,” he said, citing the sculpture as a major achievement. “When you come here to learn and go forth to serve, this is what you get. You get people who have strived to do great things in this world.” 

Frank Stevenson, associate vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, who was charged with bringing the tiger project to fruition just before the coronavirus pandemic, also thanked President Glover and the administration for their support. He gave special recognition to individuals in Facilities Management, Student Activities, the AOB and the office of Business and Finance. 

“When the idea was advanced, Dr. Glover instructed us to ‘make it happen’ and we moved right along,” Stevenson said, lamenting the onset of the pandemic just as the project started.  

“By the time they had created the head of the tiger, we sent all of our students home after being introduced to a pandemic that this country had not seen in a hundred years. The tiger kept being developed, the sculptor kept moving forward and with nobody on campus, the tiger was delivered in a box and put in storage. We are so proud of the many people who worked to get it out here today.” 

The excitement about the tiger among students was overwhelming. At a pep rally in Hale Stadium as part of the unveiling ceremony, this is how four students described the new attraction on their campus. 

Historical” – Julien Dooley, senior commercial music major from Atlanta 

Prenominal” – Cameron Brown, Mass Communications major from Birmingham, Alabama 

Legacy” – Tiara Thomas – Junior Political Science major from Olive Branch, Mississippi 

Groundbreaking” – Javia Dycus, junior Health Sciences major from Indianapolis, Indiana

According to Stevenson, a naming competition opened to students, staff, alumni and the community, will be held later to come up with an appropriate name for the tiger.

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 continues Homecoming tradition with virtual coronation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University continued a Homecoming tradition with the crowning of a new Mister and Miss TSU and the royal Court. For the first time ever, the coronation was held virtually due to COVID-19 with all the usual glitz and glamour that the ceremony is noted for displaying.

President Glenda Glover

Hundreds of people — including parents, relatives, friends, fellow students and alumni — tuned in Friday night to witness the coronation of Naton Smith, Jr., and Mariah Rhodes, and their court. 

TSU President Glenda Glover congratulated the new king and queen after giving them the oath of office. Dr. William Hytche, assistant vice president of student affairs, followed the president. He charged the two students to take their roles seriously. 

“Taking on the responsibility of Mr. TSU and Miss TSU is steep in tradition, as many are looking up to you,” Hytche said. “This coronation with all of its tradition, is a time to celebrate our university and its heritage. Continue to shape our future here at TSU for those who come after you.” 

Moments before their coronation, the new Mister and Miss TSU entertained guests to a Hollywood-style stage production of “Cinderella.” Mariah Rhodes played Cinderella and Naton Smith, Jr., played the prince. (Submitted Photo)

Smith, a senior health sciences major from St. Louis, said as a student leader, his goal as Mister TSU is to continue building community and giving a voice to the voiceless. 

“I want TSU to continue being excellent and continue to break barriers,” Smith said. “During these tough times in our country and communities, it’s important for us to continue to stand together and be on one accord.”  

With a 3.2 grade point average, Smith is a member of the Honors College, and the Men’s Initiative, which focuses on character development, social engagement and mentorship for male students. He wants to become a doctor of physical therapy to work in the NBA. Eventually, Smith wants to open his own PT clinics in his community to cater to people who cannot afford health insurance.

Outgoing Mister TSU Damyr Moore and Miss TSU Jada Crisp crown the new queen. (Submitted Photo)

Rhodes, who becomes the 90th Miss TSU, is from Memphis, Tennessee. She is a senior political science major with a 4.0 GPA. She said although the university is cutting down on activities because of the pandemic, she plans to implement a number of events virtually to keep the students engaged. 

“This year is going to look different, but we are going to make sure students are part of everything,” said Rhodes. “We will be more transparent with students, making sure they are included in all decisions we make.”  

Rhodes wants to become a lawyer and eventually enter politics as an elected official focusing on education and criminal justice reform. She is the Student Court Chief Justice, an HBCU White House Competitiveness Scholar, and an honors intern with the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Dr. Tobias Morgan, assistant dean of student engagement and leadership, admonished the new king and queen to continue to uplift the spirit of the university. 

“Naton and Maria, Mister and Miss TSU, continue to shine,” he said “I am proud of you. Continue to uplift the campus community while making a distinct change because united, we all will rise.” 

Also speaking were Tiara Thomas, student trustee on the TSU Board of Trustees; and Dominique Davis, president of the SGA. 

Members of the new Royal Court are:

Mister Senior – Michael Caldwell, Mechanical Engineering – Atlanta

Miss Senior – Morgan Jackson, Health Sciences – Montgomery, Alabama

Mister Junior – Mario Eberhart, Health Management/Business – Atlanta

Miss Junior – Mallory Moore, Health Science – Birmingham – Alabama

Mister Sophomore – Widmark J. Cadet, Jr., Business Administration/Marketing – Chester, Virginia

Miss Sophomore – Kellyn Paige, Nursing – Jackson, Mississippi

Mister Freshman – Jordin Russell, Business Information Systems/Secondary Education – Huntsville, Alabama

Miss Freshman – Taryn Henry, Cardiopulmonary Science/Respiratory Therapy – Tallahassee, Florida.  

Moments before the coronation, the evening was kicked off with a Hollywood-style stage production of “Cinderella.” Backed by a beautiful cast including members of the royal court, Rhodes played Cinderella and Smith played the prince. Alicia Jones, former Miss TSU, played Cinderella’s fairy godmother. 

In place of the traditional Homecoming, TSU this year held a weekend of activities Oct. 23-25 under the theme, “Essentially TSU – We’re In This Together!” Other events during the weekend included a virtual scholarship gala, a homecoming tradition, and a Gospel Brunch hosted by TSU alum Dr. Bobby Jones, known in many circles as the Ambassador of Gospel Entertainment. 

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 provides transportation for first-time student voters as election nears

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is continuing its GOTV (get out the vote) student initiative and has partnered with a private foundation to help students who want to vote early.  

The University’s Office of Student Affairs partnered with the Andrew Goodman Foundation to provide free transportation for students from Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee, to go home and early vote. The Andrew Goodman Foundation provided funding for transportation and food for students. 

The bus load of students, who are all registered first-time voters, left the TSU campus early on Saturday, Oct. 24, and returned later that evening after the students cast their ballots.

Kaya Johnson

Tennessee law requires that an individual voting for the first time must appear in person to vote early at either the county election commission office or at a satellite voting location. A large number of TSU students come from Memphis.  

Kaya Johnson, a freshman biology major, said this election is very crucial and she is glad TSU is helping to make sure students’ voices are heard.  

“It makes me feel like they really care about making sure our votes are counted,” Johnson said. “I don’t think a lot of schools are doing it. Voting for the first time, I am a little nervous, but I feel like I will choose the right person.”   

Fellow student Barrington Stanford, a sophomore aeronautical and industrial technology major, agreed.  

Barrington Stanford

 “To cast my vote for the first time, it is a blessing,” he said. “The fact that TSU is really stepping up and making sure that effort is made to get us to vote early really means a lot.”  

Students from Memphis are the second largest student population on campus.

Dr. Andre Bean, director of the TSU Men’s Initiative, who is coordinating the bus trip, said the goal is not only to get the students to vote, but to have a positive experience as first-time voters.  

“We just wanted to make sure that the students are able to get back home and vote early,” Bean said. “We wanted to make sure these students, especially with their requiring to vote in person, have an opportunity to vote.”  

Students will leave campus Saturday morning heading to Memphis, and will return after everyone has voted.

Inspired by slain ‘60s civil rights activist Andrew Goodman, the Andrew Goodman Foundation works to make young voices and votes a powerful force in democracy. The group supports youth leadership development, voting accessibility, and social justice initiatives on campuses across the country. 

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 joins billion-dollar esports industry, new program prepares students for jobs as game creators, innovators

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is among a growing number of HBCUs that are getting into the billion-dollar industry of competitive video game playing, or esports. 

Dr. Robbie Melton works with students in a coding program provided through TSU’s SMART Global Technology Innovation Center. (TSU Media Relations)

Historically black colleges and universities say it’s not all about fun and games, and believe esports is a steppingstone to jobs and internships for students. TSU has launched esports classes, and joined esports organizations and leagues that will allow students to improve their gaming skills, as well as network with tech companies. A starting salary in esports management is around $67,000.

 Dr. Robbie Melton is TSU’s associate vice president of the SMART Global Technology Innovation Center and dean of Graduate and Professional Studies. She says “esports crosses every major academic area.” 

 “Problem solving, creativity, curiosity, coding, math. When you play esports, all of a sudden you are into what we call high level critical cognitive skills,” says Melton, who teaches an online course called, The Rise of esports and gamification in higher education. “You’ve got to think, you’ve got to anticipate, you’ve got to now pose strategies. That’s what we call the peak of education. That’s what we want all of our students to do in whatever they’re doing.”

Michael Davis Jr., and his wife, Keyosha, who is taking coding classes at TSU. (submitted photo)

 TSU is a charter member of the Black Collegiate Gaming Association. HBCUs in the association commit to making Black esports more than an extracurricular activity by offering academic esports classes.

 Melton says the curriculum at TSU focuses on how esports connect with traditional forms of education. She also hopes students will be motivated to consider the entrepreneurial side of esports, such as actually designing and creating games. 

 While many Black teens are gamers, this stat doesn’t seem to translate to those who hold jobs in the gaming industry. An estimated 83 percent of Black teens play video games, while 68 percent of video game creators are of European or Caucasian descent, according to data from the International Game Developers Association.

 Michael Davis, Jr., a high school teacher in Nashville, is taking the esports course at TSU. He says he’s been inspired to learn “to create the game,” and not just play it. He wants his students to do the same. 

Tiffany Obiogbolu. (submitted photo)

 “I tell them about TSU, and its esports program,” says Davis. “I tell them they should consider TSU for what it has to offer that the other schools here in town don’t have.” 

Collegiate StarLeague (CSL), with some 2,000 schools and 100,000 players, recently announced a partnership with the HBCU Esports Alliance (HEA) to start a 16-team HBCU esports league to begin competition in early 2021. TSU is with the HBCU eSports League, which is powered by Cxmmunity and Amazon’s Twitch.

 “That’s just phenomenal,” says Tiffany Obiogbolu, who is taking the TSU esports course. “Esports is a great bridge between various industries and where technology will continue to go. Being able to solve real world problems through a video game aspect, will provide a multitude of results.”

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 students, faculty present research at virtual Honors College TED Talk

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University students and faculty from various disciplines presented research this week at a virtual TED Talk organized by the Honors College.

Dr. Coreen Jackson

The event on Tuesday was held via Zoom this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, there was still strong attendance from the campus community to hear topics that included cancer research, mental health, prison reform, the coronavirus pandemic, and the foreign market exchange. There were also two oratorical presentations.

“Although we greatly miss the in-person contact and collaboration, we appreciate the opportunity to still host this intellectual gathering and sharing of ideas,” said Dr. Coreen Jackson, interim dean of the Honors College. “People still get to witness how TSU is preparing students in science, technology, business, humanities, and the arts.”

Senior Anesha Walker of Nashville was one of the presenters. A biology major, her discussion was on the “Evaluation of Neutrophil Infiltration in Irradiated Tissues.” She enjoyed the opportunity to share her work.

Senior Anesha Walker

“The TED talk is a spotlight on TSU students that really highlights the achievements and hard work that is put in while trying to excel academically,” said Walker. “It is also a way for students to obtain new information and possibly gain an interest in a new subject.”

Russell Waters, who presented in a previous TED Talk at TSU, was a virtual attendant this year. The junior political science major said the presentations can also serve as a confidence booster for students.

“I used to be afraid of public speaking, but I’m not anymore,” said Waters, of Huntsville, Alabama. “The TED Talk experience boosted my self-esteem. Now I’m comfortable presenting. It’s really helped me in meetings.”

Dr. Frances Williams, associate vice president for Research and Sponsored Programs at TSU, reminded faculty and students of the resources available at the university to help them with their proposals and research.

Junior Russell Waters

“I would like to thank Dr. Jackson and the Honors College for facilitating the virtual honors TED Talk,” said Williams. “This is a wonderful event and is aligned with the university’s focus on faculty, staff and student scholarship, which is evidenced by TSU’s R2 Carnegie designation.”

To learn more about the Honors College, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/honors/

For more information about Research and Sponsored Programs, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/research/rsp.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 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 students get ‘Dream Space’; virtual ribbon-cutting highlights university, industry commitment to excellence

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dream of an initiative that puts smart devices in students’ hands and gives them a space to learn, explore and play all at the same time. Through a partnership with Vulcan Materials Company and its visionary The Yard initiative, students at Tennessee State University now have that opportunity with an all-new Dream Space. 

President Glenda Glover

Uniquely located in the Floyd Payne Campus Center, and equipped with Apple TVs, iPads, multiple monitors with camera systems, ideation resource tools and eco-furniture, the set-up in the Dream Space allows students to achieve collaborative learning.

 “I am just super excited about this Dream Space; it is awesome,” said Destiny Pennington, a junior public relations major from Detroit, at the virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new innovation center.

Mister TSU Naton Smith and Miss TSU Mariah Rhodes cut the ribbon to the Dream Space. (TSU Media Relations)

Fellow student Jeffrey Reed, a freshman business administration major from St. Louis, Missouri, was equally elated.

“Just imagine a place where you can sit right on campus and interact with CEOs from anywhere and gain knowledge about the professional world. This a great opportunity for students at this university,” Reed said.

President Glenda Glover recently led a host of university administrators, Vulcan officials, and student leaders in a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony, highlighting TSU’s commitment to support student ideas, scholarships and internships. The president described the Dream Space as “a major, positive investment in our students.”

“When you invest in TSU, you are investing in our best and brightest,” she told Vulcan Materials Company and its partner, The Yard.

“I would like to personally thank you for helping TSU to continue to empower tomorrow’s generation today. The Dream Space Reveal today would not have been possible without your generous contribution.  We recognize your commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity. We welcome your commitment to our students.

Darren Hicks, Vice President of Human Relations, Vulcan Materials Company, speaks at the virtual ribbon-cutting.

Last year, Vulcan Materials Company announced plans to support academic excellence programs at historically black colleges and universities. The company partnered with The Yard and built “a unique relationship” with HBCUs in the Southeast, including TSU. The company said Dream Space connects tech, talent and culture to advance innovation, infrastructure and inclusion, as well as a way for students to achieve academic success through technology and virtual learning to become entrepreneurs and successful employees. 

As part of the initiative, Vulcan and The Yard also launched the “Pitch Competition, as a pipeline for HBCU “students to go from classroom to boardroom.” The competition allows students to submit and defend innovative ideas. The winning idea is pitched to companies and industry leaders.

Erskine ” Chuck” Faush, Cofounder and Chair of The Yard, interacts with a Pitch Competition participant in the Dream Space. (TSU Media Relations)

Darren Hicks, vice president of human relations for Vulcan materials Company, who led a team to TSU last year, said through the partnership with The Yard, Vulcan made a commitment to create opportunities for students through scholarships and internships.

“When we visited Tennessee State University last year, we all confirmed that the talent that exists at TSU must also become part of our Vulcan family,” Hicks said. “So, we are all excited to be a part of launching our second season with students here in our Pitch Competition. We are excited to be here as part of the unveiling of the Dream Space, and we look forward to strengthening the relationship with TSU.”

Four TSU student participants in the Pitch Competition display gift items from Vulcan Materials Company and The Yard. They are, from left, Jeffrey Reed, Destiny Pennington, Tredarius Lassiter and Davin Latiker. (TSU Media Relations)

Erskine “Chuck” Faush, cofounder and chair of The Yard, said the goal of the Dream Space is to create and invest in students with physical spaces to encourage and empower global learning. He said the $1 million commitment from Vulcan Materials to fund student ideas and collaboration, scholarships, internships, career placements and Dream Spaces are supporting local communities and global economies.

“Thanks so much for allowing us to be a part of the TSU family. This is the place where excellence lives,” Faush said. “We are really happy and moved to be a part of the next generation of leadership. Our goal is classroom to boardroom.”

The Yard Cofounder and Chair Erskine “Chuck” Faush, left, presents a check for $10,000 to TSU officials to support Pitch Competition student winners. The officials are: Frank Stevenson, Associate VP for Student Affairs; Dr. Curtis Johnson, Chief of Staff and Associate VP; and Terrance Izzard, Associate VP for admissions and recruitment. (TSU Media Relations)

He said the Pith Competition, which started last year, has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships and grants. Six TSU students participated in the Pitch Competition Oct. 8, with ideas ranging from app development for critical needs, to innovative ways to improve campus life, like a cybercafé. The top three winners were: Widmark Cadet, first place, $4,000; Tredarius Lassiter, second place, $2,500; and Destiny Pennington, third place, $1,500.

“We created the Pitch Competition, Leadership Talks and Dream Spaces so employers can experience first hand how talent, connectivity and collaboration drive growth,” Faush said, as he presented the Vulcan check to the university for $10,000 to support the student winners at TSU.

Terrance Izzard, associate vice president for Admissions and Recruitment; Dr. Curtis Johnson, chief of staff and associate vice president for administration; and Ashley Daniel, chief engagement officer The Yard/FSE, worked with Vulcan Materials and The Yard to coordinate the setup of the Dream Space.

Izzard described the Dream Space as a place for students to share ideas, collaborate around entrepreneurship opportunities, and educational and professional development.

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 planning historic virtual Homecoming celebration amid pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University may not be having a traditional Homecoming this year because of the pandemic, but its Big Blue spirit will still shine through another way – virtually.

TSU’s world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands performs during halftime of the 2019 Homecoming game. (TSU Media Relations)

For 2020, TSU has planned several virtual events Oct. 23-25 under the theme, “Essentially TSU – We’re In This Together!”

“Every aspect of our lives has changed considerably since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic from earlier this year,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “TSU’s ongoing commitment in prioritizing the health and safety of the campus has led us to host an abbreviated schedule of events to celebrate and reflect.”

Here are some of the planned events:

Friday, Oct. 23

  • Tiger Statue Unveiling Ceremony at 10 a.m. CDT
  • Founders Day Program at 10:30 a.m.
  • In the spirit of tradition, a Virtual Pep Rally, “Big Blue Spirit Day”, at noon. Senior football players will be saluted, and there will be a special social-distance performance by TSU’s world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands.
  • First-ever virtually elected Royal Court for the Mister and Miss TSU Coronation at 7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 24

  • Virtual scholarship gala titled, “An Evening of Jokes and Jazz!” Veteran comedian, Jonathan Slocumb, will host the event featuring TSU alumni trumpeter Melvin Miller and award-winning saxophonist Jazmin Ghent.
  • TSU will recognize some of its alumni who are essential, front line workers and first responders. There will be special acknowledgement of dedicated TSU employees, who keep the University safe and operating effectively during the pandemic

Sunday, Oct. 25

  • The virtual celebration will conclude with a Gospel Brunch at 1 p.m., hosted by TSU alum Dr. Bobby Jones, known in many circles as the Ambassador of Gospel Entertainment.
  • Noted alumni clergy, Rev. Dr. Judy Cummings and Rev. Dr. Tony Evans, will round out the program.

Tiara Thomas, student trustee on TSU’s Board of Trustees, said even though this year’s homecoming will not be traditional, she and her peers are still looking forward to the events.

“I believe all students and alumni alike can agree that our love for TSU is unconditional,” said the junior from Biloxi, Mississippi. “We will not allow COVID-19 to silence our celebration of our beloved TSU and all of its excellence. The Homecoming committee has worked hard to virtually capture the traditions of Homecoming Week.”

“We may not be celebrating in person, but we wanted to host some events to still keep our students and our alumni community engaged,” said Grant Winrow, 

Homecoming chairman and special assistant to President Glover.

Winrow said he hopes alumni and other supporters of the University who traditionally make the trip to Nashville will use those travel funds for a “scholarship of your choice” at TSU.

“Please give a portion of those monies that you would spend coming here to the TSU Foundation,” said Winrow, who offered a glimmer of hope for next year.

“I think that 2021 will be our year to come back stronger than ever before, in the Big Blue spirit of tradition,” he said.

For more information about the TSU Foundation, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/foundation/.

To see the Homecoming activities, visit https://www.youtube.com/user/TSUMedia.

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 Aristocrat of Bands committed to 100 percent voting, band director and members urge everyone to do the same

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands has a message for fellow HBCU bands and anyone else who will listen, vote! 

AOB band members (l to r) Don Jones, Tameria Cole and Kayla Jenkins.

Dr. Reginald McDonald recently hosted a workshop with fellow band member Tiara Thompson on absentee voting to educate the band on how to ensure their ballots are counted for the Nov. 3 presidential election, and to register those who weren’t. 

“We’re committed to getting 100 percent of our membership registered to vote,” said McDonald. “In 2020, you need to vote like your life depends on it.” 

Thomas, a junior Political Science major and serves as the student trustee on the University’s Board of Trustees, was the main organizer and presenter of the voting workshop. Prior to the band’s event, she facilitated “The TSU Tiger’s Guide to Absentee Voting Virtual Seminar,” which was hosted by TSU Football Coach Rod Reed for his players. Since the seminar, the entire football team, including players and coaches are now registered. 

“I was really inspired by the football team’s leadership in getting 100 percent of their players registered to vote,” said Thomas. “I didn’t want to stop with the football team. I wanted to hit the next biggest group on campus, which is the AOB. I just think that anytime you wear a Tennessee State uniform that you are automatically viewed as a leader. And I feel like right now it’s important for our Tennessee State University community student leaders to actively vote,” and encourage others to do the same. 

In 2018, only 34 percent of the campus actively voted, said Thomas, who has been a crusader on campus for voter education and registration.   

Tiara Thomas

“As trustee this year, my goal is to double that turnout, if not 100 percent,” said the Olive Branch, Mississippi, native.    

AOB drum major Julien Dooley said many students realize the importance of this year’s presidential election, in particular. 

“A lot of my friends are very knowledgeable of who they’re voting for, and the importance of it,” said Dooley, a senior from Atlanta. “The things we want to happen depend on who gets in office.” 

Visit this link (https://bit.ly/3nAkKP4) to hear a special message from Dr. McDonald and the AOB.   

For information on deadlines for early voting, mail-in voting, and absentee ballots, visit the website of the Secretary of State in your state.  

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.

Future university president wants to even the education playing field for African American children

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tiara Thomas’ career goal is to be an authority on educational policy in the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that African American children are getting their fair share of learning opportunities. And, Tennessee State University is giving her the foundation to achieve her goal.

Tiara Thomas

“Our education system is very unfairly stacked up against African American children and that needs to change,” says Thomas, a top political science student at TSU. “Real change comes from the laws and policies that our government leaders are writing. So, If I really want to change something, I need to be at the table.”

Coming to TSU, says Thomas, is the first step toward her career goal, and fulfills a lifelong dream of becoming a Tiger. TSU was the only school she applied to after high school. Her father, Frederick Parson, came to TSU, and just like Tiara, he played in the band as a member of the world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands. He played saxophone and she plays the French horn.

“I have been around TSU my whole life. My dad graduated from TSU and he was also an Aristocrat,” says Thomas. “So, growing up with me being close to the band, I just knew that’s what I wanted to be a part of. TSU was the only school I applied to. I just knew that this is where I was supposed to be.”

A native of Olive Branch, Mississippi, Thomas says she craved the HBCU experience after attending and graduating from predominantly white schools all her early life. An academic standout and member of her school band at Desoto Central High, she says coming to TSU has made a big difference in her life.

“I feel like being here I am with family. I don’t feel like I am away from home,” says Thomas. “I am in the band, and I am doing something I love to do. I travel, I meet people and have experiences I have never had before. That’s something I feel only TSU could give me.”

In addition to feeling at home, Thomas maintains a strong academic competence, exhibits outstanding leadership, and has an engaging personality among her fellow students, faculty and staff. With a near 4.0 grade point average, she is an honors student, the chair and creator of the TSU Votes Student Coalition, and the 2019-2020 Director’s and Students’ Choice MVP award recipient, an honor given by the band director in recognition of outstanding leadership.

In June, Thomas’ outstanding college career reached a major milestone when she was selected the student trustee on the TSU Board of Trustees. She became only the third student to get the coveted post since the board was reconstituted nearly four years ago.

Fellow students, staff and faculty members talk about Thomas’ outstanding academic and leadership abilities.

Dr. Kyle Murray, assistant professor of political science, says since entering TSU as a freshman, Thomas has exemplified excellence in study skills, professionalism, and the quality of her academic work.

“Tiara is passionate about the field of education in general with an eye toward making educational institutions and practices better,” says Murray. “I have no doubt she will make a lasting impact wherever she chooses to apply her tenacity and resolve. She is a student of impeccable character, and wise beyond her years, who will undoubtedly go on to do great things in this world.”

About her goal to help change the education landscape for African American children, Thomas says as a “straight A student” all her school years, she has been able to see “a little bit more than the regular student”

“I know that our educational system needs to be changed. I know there needs to be an equal playing field for all students, whether black or white,” says Thomas.

When all is accomplished, Thomas’ last wish is to be a university president.

“I want to be a president at an HBCU, preferably TSU,” she says.

If all current successes and accolades are any indication, Thomas may well be on her way.

For more information on the TSU Political Science program, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/history/polisci.aspx

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 receives $6M federal grant to lead global research on beetle that attacks trees

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has received a $6 million federal grant to lead a nationwide team of researchers in the development of new tools to manage a woodboring beetle that attacks trees. The grant’s directors in TSU’s College of Agriculture say the research could have a global impact.

Dr. Karla Addesso

The funds were awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture and will focus on the flatheaded borer, or Flatheaded Borer Management in Specialty Crops.

“These borers cause serious damage to the nursery industry, and sometimes a single borer can kill or severely weaken a small tree,” says Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture. “Researchers will develop new tools for managing woodborers that attack trees in nursery, landscape, nut and fruit orchard systems. I am delighted and proud of our team that is leading this national effort.”

Dr. Jason Oliver

Karla Addesso, associate professor of entomology, is the project’s director. Entomology Professor Jason Oliver is co-director. Both are in the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at TSU’s Otis L. Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.   

Altogether, Drs. Addesso and Oliver will lead 24 researchers, including three more from TSU: Drs. Fulya Baysal-Gurel, Anthony Witcher and Prithviraj Lakkakula. The others are from the University of Tennessee, Rutgers University, North Carolina State University, Clemson University, University of Georgia, USDA-ARS-Byron, University of Florida, Texas A&M, University of California and Oregon State University.

Besides Tennessee, researchers say the flatheaded borer is becoming a problem in places like Florida, California, Oregon and Texas. And with the use of the grant, they’re hoping to confirm their pest status in other states, like North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture

“This beetle attacks trees everywhere,” says Addesso. “Current climate issues are causing them to be more problematic.”

Oliver says the flatheaded borer genus Chrysobothris also occurs on other continents in the world, “so project outcomes that improve management of Chrysobothis species in North America could have implications for management in other parts of the world.”

Researchers say some of their objectives with the four-year grant include: cost benefit assessments of flatheaded borer management strategies and risk analysis to guide producers in decision-making; identifying factors that make trees susceptible to attack; and evaluation of new insecticides that have recently entered the market to fight flatheaded borers.

TSU grad student Axel Gonzalez

“More environmentally friendly biological options like entomopathogenic nematodes have not been investigated at all with this borer group, and that is one aspect of this project,” says Oliver.

Additionally, researchers say the project will provide training to several graduate students, which will prepare them to either pursue further advanced degrees or to work in the field of entomology. The Entomological Society of America presently has about 5,000 members. 

One of those graduate students is Alex Gonzalez, who is currently pursuing a master’s at TSU in agricultural sciences, with a focus on entomology. However, the recent grant award has enticed him to pursue a Ph.D. and continue his studies in entomology, particularly on woodborers like the flathead.  

Flatheaded borer

“I can work long-term studying these insects,” says Gonzalez, who is originally from Honduras. “It’s an honor to have this research at TSU. We will have data that will be beneficial to the whole agricultural section.”

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

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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.