Category Archives: FEATURED

TSU political science team tops in state competition, wins moot court challenge championship

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has the best Moot Court Team in the state.  

The TSU team earned the title of state champions recently after coming out on top in the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislative Appellate Moot Court Collegiate Challenge, or AMC3. They beat out seven other teams in the March 19-20 competition, which was held remotely due to the pandemic. 

Alexis Bryant

At the start of the competition, participating teams were given 16 case authorities totaling over 250 pages to read and prepare briefs for their arguments. Unlike previous years when all teams had the opportunity to compete in oral arguments, only the teams whose briefs were judged and scored in the top eight by actual practicing lawyers were selected to compete. The TSU team’s brief was in the top eight. 

Alexis Bryant, a senior criminal justice major; and Collin Michael Ruth, senior political science major, were among the five-member TSU team that brought home the championship. They credit hard work, team preparation and knowledge of their professor and team coach (Dr. Corey M. Barwick) for their success.  

“It was hard. The judges were hard,” said Bryant, of Portland, Oregon, who wants to become a constitutional or criminal lawyer. “My first judge asked me four questions right off the bat. But thank God, we were prepared. It was challenging but fun. The teamwork was great. I would not have been able to do it without my team, our coach and professor.” 

Collin Michael Ruth

For Ruth, 30, a non-traditional student and a Marine Corps staff sergeant, who wants to become a military lawyer, the virtual presentation made the interaction more challenging. 

“The fact that it was on Zoom, was very challenging and nerve-racking, because it is kind of hard to read people if it’s on video and not in person,” said Ruth, the father of two, who is entering his 11th year in the military. 

“Overall, we stood out because we had extremely unique arguments, having seen some of the other teams and strategies they came up with,” he said. “A lot of their arguments were similar, whereas ours were not, and that is definitely what set us apart from the generic arguments they had. But the credit goes to our coach. When it comes to studying law and case precedence, and to be able to prepare us to the level that he did, says a lot about his understanding of the law and how to read cases.” 

Senia M. Hernandez-Mapson

The TSU team also included Senia M. Hernandez-Mapson, senior urban studies and political science major; Aubrey E. Sales, junior political science major; and Maryam F. Yousuf, senior health sciences major and political science minor.  

In the competition, teams participated in four preliminary rounds of arguments, with four teams advancing to the seminal finals, including TSU, which scored enough points to advance to the final round.  

Aubrey E. Sales

For the championship, TSU faced off against last year’s champion, University of Tennessee Knoxville. Not only did the TSU team win the state championship, they won the awards for best oral argument, and the best brief with perfect scores. 

Dr. Corey M. Barwick, team coach and assistant professor of political science, said in a semester full of obstacles, where it would have been easy to “give up, check out, or slack off,” the TSU students rose to the challenge and not only performed well, but brought home a championship. 

Dr. Corey M. Barwick

“I cannot emphasize enough how much work went into securing this victory,” said Barwick, who is credited with building the current AMC3 team since his arrival at TSU in 2016. The team competed for the first time in fall 2017 and has been steadily improving since then. 

“You cannot stand toe-to-toe against teams from Carson-Newman or UT Knoxville without countless hours of preparation,” he said. “Our students put in the work, and it was all worth it. I am so proud of our team, our students, and our university.”

To learn more about the TSU Department of Political Science, 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.

Civil rights icon the Rev. Al Sharpton joins Tennessee State University as Distinguished Guest Lecturer, brings wealth of knowledge to political science

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Rev. Al Sharpton, one of the nation’s most renowned civil rights leaders and activists, will join Tennessee State University as a Distinguished Guest Lecturer for the 2021 spring semester starting in January. 

Sharpton will be a featured lecturer in the area of political science grounded in social justice during the academic term. 

TSU President Glenda Glover and the Rev. Al Sharpton at the 2019 Graduate Commencement ceremony. (TSU Media Relations)

“We are excited to have the Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights icon, serve as a distinguished guest lecturer at our university,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “His presence means our students will be able to engage with a piece of history at a time when his insight is more relevant than ever before.” 

Sharpton said his invitation to lecture at TSU is timely.

“It’s my honor to be a distinguished guest lecturer at Tennessee State University in the Spring of 2021 during such a historic time in American history,” said Sharpton. “The course I will teach will examine political science and social justice from the lens of recent cases—many of which I have directly worked on as a civil rights leader and it will look at shifting politics in the new administration relating to issues directly impacting Black communities. As a young teenage civil rights activist, I dreamt that I’d someday attend a HBCU, and as fate would have it, I am doing so as a distinguished lecturer.”

Sharpton, a community leader, politician, and minister, serves as the host of PoliticsNation on MSNBC. With more than 40 years of experience as an advocate, he has held such notable positions as the youth director of New York’s Operation Breadbasket, director of ministers for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, and founder of his own broad-based progressive civil rights organization, the National Action Network. 

President Glover added, “Not only does Rev. Sharpton know American history and the role African Americans have played to shape that history, he has been an intricate piece of it as well. This will be an amazing opportunity for our students to learn from an individual who comes from the pages of the history books they are reading, and to gain knowledge directly from the source.” 

TSU sophomore Alexus Dockery, a political science major from Memphis, Tennessee, said she’s looking forward to hearing Sharpton. 

“Tennessee State University and its students have taken action to fight against social injustice,” said Dockery. “TSU students embody the meaning of call to action, which is demonstrated through our motto, “Think. Work. Serve. Rev. Sharpton understands the importance of this, and the importance of HBCUs contributing to society for the advancement of Black people.” 

Sharpton is no stranger to TSU. He gave the keynote address last year at the university’s spring graduate commencement ceremony, where he was bestowed an honorary degree in recognition of his body of work and societal impact. 

“It is an honor to welcome Rev. Al Sharpton to Tennessee State University,” said Dr. Michael Harris, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at TSU. “His lifetime commitment to public service and social justice will provide our students an exceptional opportunity to learn from a national leader. This once again demonstrates that our university is on the forefront of innovative educational excellence.” 

Dr. Kimberly Triplett, TSU’s Faculty Senate Chair, said Sharpton’s presence “will also assist in our recruitment efforts.”

“Part of our mission here at TSU is to promote academic excellence through scholarly inquiry, teaching, research, lifelong learning, and public service,” said Triplett. “Dr. Sharpton’s life work is the epitome of TSU’s commitment to its mission.” 

In 2014, he came to the university to take up the cause to have TSU’s 1957- 1959 Men’s Championship Basketball Team, the first-ever to win three national titles back-to back, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. 

He joined university officials and staff, including President Glover, state officials, community leaders and stakeholders, as he presented his cause during a ceremony at TSU. 

Sharpton’s efforts, along with many others, contributed to the TSU men’s basketball championship teams of 1957-59 being inducted into the prestigious basketball hall of fame in 2019.

To view the full bio of the Rev. Al Sharpton, visit https://bit.ly/37IyaRL

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’s Aristocrat of Bands continues University’s legacy of activism with new social justice video

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – “I can’t breathe” is the highlight of a new video just released by Tennessee State University’s world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands and students in their continued push for social justice and equality. The thought-provoking video focuses on the last words of George Floyd, the 46-year-old black man killed during an arrest by Minneapolis police in May.

Band members participate in the filming of the video at Hale Stadium. (Submitted photo)

“This video gives me and my peers the opportunity to let our voices be heard on behalf of those like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor,” said Tiara Thomas, a mellophone player in band, who came up with the idea for the video. The student trustee on the TSU Board of Trustees, Thomas is a junior political science major from Olive Branch, Mississippi, who is considered a crusader for campus voter education and registration. She is the creator and chair of the TSU Votes Student Coalition.

“While creating this video, I was filled with so much excitement and pride, especially for my community and my organization,” Thomas said, adding, “This certainly is one of the most important performances I believe that AOB will ever do.”

Tiara Thomas, Student Trustee on the TSU Board of Trustees, came up with the idea for the video. (Submitted Photo)

The video features the band’s performance of “The Bigger Picture,” by award-winning rap artist Lil Baby. A major highlight of the video occurs when the music fades into a chant of “I can’t breathe,” the three words that have become the mantra of oppression and the spark for real change. The goal of the video is to continue awareness about racial injustice, as well as support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Dr. Reginald McDonald, TSU’s director of bands, said the intent of the video is to let AOB fans and followers know “where we side in this fight” to bring attention to the issue of injustice.

“The majority of our performances are typically intended to entertain and bring joy to our listeners and viewers,” McDonald said. “This performance (video), however, is intended to open more eyes to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ fight for equality. Our goal is to educate our students and followers on the importance of getting involved, and how to protest without violence.”

TSU’s Associate Professor of African American and Public History, Dr. Learotha Williams, Jr., described the video and student activism as a continuation of a long legacy at TSU.

“As I look at our history, there is a struggle to find a period where TSU students were not involved in something,” said Williams. “We produce people that have been in the vanguard of protests. So, if you are looking at Black Lives Matter, or you are looking at current situations or protests that students are engaged in, it is consistent with the type of students that we have brought to TSU historically.”

Assistant Band Director Larry Jenkins, who arranged the music on the video, described “The Bigger Picture” theme song selection as the “’What’s Going On’ (by Marvin Gaye) of this generation.”

“It’s coming from the voice of the youth and speaking directly to the world around them through a lens they see through clearly,” Jenkins said. “After hearing the message and the musical aspects as well, it was a no-brainer that this would be the song to make this statement.”

Ashanti Mason-Chambers, who directed, produced and narrated the video and is also professor of mass communication, said she hopes the performance in the clip would do more than just entertain.

“While we love providing that (entertainment) for people, it’s deeper than that this time,” Mason-Chambers said. “We want to spark conversation, positive action and reiterate the need for change in a society that continues to dehumanize and execute black people.”

Kevin Allen, a member of the AOB Media Team, was a producer of the video.

To see the video, go to https://www.dropbox.com/s/xo0ukewizsxqvgu/TSUICantBreatheDONE.mp4?dl=0

Credit: Featured photo courtesy of Jovon Wilson @jovonwilson

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 recognizes fall 2020 graduates with second virtual commencement, more than 700 honored

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University recognized hundreds of fall graduates through its second virtual commencement ceremony on Saturday. More than 700 undergraduates and graduates were honored during the program, held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

President Glenda Glover

Yamiche Alcindor, a renowned journalist and White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, delivered the keynote address. Before her speech, TSU President Glenda Glover greeted the graduates and welcomed alumni, staff and guests watching the program livestreamed on all the major social media platforms. 

“It is my distinct honor and privilege to extend heartfelt congratulations to you,” Glover said. “I applaud you for having reached this extraordinary milestone in your academic career. It does not matter how long it took you, you are being honored today because you are graduating. You have endured. We honor your sacrifice. You have overcome obstacles, you have multiplied your talent, you increased your resources.” 

Yamiche Alcindor

Alcindor, noted for telling stories about the “intersection of race and politics,” and directly questioning President Donald Trump on race issues and the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on black people, encouraged the graduates to pursue their life’s passion and purpose, stay the course no matter the setback, and learn to do the right thing even when no one is watching. 

“Be assured that as you receive your degrees today, you are already fulfilling your ancestors’ wildest dream. Continue to strive and walk in that reality,” Alcindor said. “Make a career of doing that thing that drives you. Maybe you are graduating without a job or without the job you thought you would get. Maybe you are graduating with a lot of student loans and you are anxious about what comes next. Give yourself space to develop and focus on putting one foot in front of the other.” 


A contributor for NBC and MSNBC, who often appears on shows like “Morning Joe,” “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” and “Meet the Press,” Alcindor told the graduates to brace themselves for setbacks as they pursue their various careers, citing her own experience early on as a young journalist. 

“When I started my career in journalism, the setbacks came very quickly, and they will come for you too,” she said. “Each of you will experience moments when people will challenge the very premise of your very existence and your pursuits. Maybe some will criticize your career choices, condemn whom you choose to love, demean your cultural background. I say, press forward.” 

Jay Bobinger, who received his undergraduate degree in agricultural sciences, talked about his TSU preparation that he said will propel him into a very bright future. 

“In my experience at TSU, I found a campus faculty that set me up for success in the workforce with patient and intentional mentorship and connecting me to resources to achieve my goals,” said Bobinger, who is from Kingston, Tennessee. “I once read that life makes way for those who know where they are going, and I would say the same is true at TSU.” 

Julien Dooley, who graduates with a degree in commercial music, entertains fellow graduates with a rendition of “Escalondo” by noted classical guitarist and composer Jaime Zenamon.

Cydney Smith, of Nashville, who received a bachelor of science degree in public health, was equally optimistic about the future. 

“I owe Tennessee State University for the endless memories and learning experiences that have happened to me in these past years,” Smith said. “The staff and professors, that I grew close to, pushed me constantly to excel in school work even when I thought I would not see the finish line.” 

At Today’s graduation, Jason Archer was presented with the Academic Excellence Award for achieving the highest grade point average in his class. 

Like in the past, deans of the various colleges presented candidates to President Glover for the conferring of degrees, as the graduates’ names scrolled across the screen. 

Among those presented for conferring of degrees were four university administrators who received their doctorate degrees in education leadership. They included Dr. Arlene Nicholas-Phillips, executive assistant to the president and liaison to the TSU Board of Trustees; Dr. Phyllis Danner, director, Research and Sponsored Programs; Dr. Anita McGaha, director of disability services; and Dr. Corrine S. Vaughn, director, Research and Sponsored Programs. 

During the ceremonies, several past TSU graduates made appearances with words of congratulations and encouragement for the graduates. Among them was Olympic gold medalist Ralph H. Boston. 

Julien Dooley, a member of the Honors College, who received his bachelor of science degree in commercial music, entertained his fellow graduates with a rendition of “Escalondo” by noted classical guitarist and composer Jaime Zenamon.

To see video of the virtual commencement, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PH8iqdqMHM&feature=youtu.be

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

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

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

Dr. Brian Russell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Learotha Williams

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

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

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

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

To learn more about History, Political Science, Geography and Africana Studies at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/history/

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU graduate beats the odds, proves that determination is key to success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

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

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

TSU President Glenda Glover

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

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

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

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

Junior Tiara Thomas

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freshman Elise Russ of Nashville agrees.

Malik City

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

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

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

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

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

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

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU, Publix partner to offer students free flu vaccines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

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

By TSU Athletics Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.