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lawmakers remember former state sen. Thelma Harper as a transformative legislator who ‘smashed glass ceilings’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Lawmakers and scholars say former State Sen. Thelma Harper, the first black woman to serve in the Tennessee Senate, was a trailblazer for women in politics who “smashed glass ceilings.”

Harper died April 22 at age 80. There was a week-long series of visitations and services to honor her life that included Harper lying in state at Nashville’s Metro Courthouse and the Tennessee State Capitol.

In one final visit to her alma mater, and in appreciation of the late state senator’s lifelong commitment to Tennessee State University, the university served as the backdrop for Harper’s “Celebration of Life” service in the Gentry Complex Center on May 6. President Glenda Glover, along with administrators, staff, students, faculty, alumni and the community, filed by to pay their final respect. 

“We honor the life, the legacy, the memory of one of the greatest women this nation has ever known, Sen. Thelma Harper,” Dr. Glover said at the service.

Before the event, President Glover called Harper a “fierce advocate for Tennessee State University, and a true friend. She never forgot her roots and remained committed to the values instilled in her by her parents as a public servant,” said Glover. 

Sen. Harper and TSU President Glenda Glover

“At TSU, we celebrate her life and will be forever thankful for all she did for her alma mater. If there is one individual that truly embodied the university’s motto of think, work, serve, it was Senator Harper. On behalf of the entire TSU Family, we thank you for your service.” 

A native of Brentwood, Tennessee, Harper graduated from TSU in 1978, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting. She later went into public service and spent eight years on the Metropolitan City Council. During that time, she led a fight to close the Bordeaux Landfill. The numerous protests and blockades of dump trucks led to her arrest along with her fellow community activists. This activism yielded closure of the dump and proposed legislation that enacted fair and equitable standards of landfill locations.  

In 1990, Harper, whose lively personality often matched her colorful and stylish hats, was elected to the state Senate. She simultaneously served as the 2nd District councilwoman and as state senator of the 19th District to complete her term in the city council. Harper retired from the Senate in 2018 after serving nearly 30 years, the longest serving female state senator in Tennessee history.

During her Senate tenure, Harper was an unwavering voice for women, children and the elderly, passing numerous bills to support their issues. She was also able to foster economic development within her district through the passage of amendments to state budgets that benefitted the citizens and local colleges within her district.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, who served in the Senate with Harper throughout her time in office, called her a “transformative public figure.”

“She was a fierce advocate for her constituents and the city of Nashville,” said McNally, who was on the opposite side of the political aisle as Harper, a Democrat. “She was a role model for many and greatly respected by all who served with her. She will be missed.”

Sen. Harper and Al Gore

In a video message at Thursday’s Celebration service, former Vice President Al Gore also called Harper transformative, stating she transformed “things for the better.”

“Thelma worked tirelessly to uplift the people of our beloved state,” said Gore. “The best thing that we can do to honor her is to continue her work.”  

State Rep. Harold Love Jr. said Harper’s fearlessness in speaking up for her constituents is indeed part of her legacy, but he believes she will also be remembered for being a “trailblazer for women in politics.”

“Keep in mind that when Sen. Harper became the first black female senator, that in itself challenged the status quo in the state Senate,” said Love, who is a TSU alum. “So, when young women saw her, they saw the embodiment of what can be. You don’t have to limit yourself because of your gender or your race. You can indeed be whatever God put inside of you, whatever your heart’s desire is. You can get it.”

Harper, the activist.

Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis is a Women’s Studies faculty member and dean of the College of Liberal Arts at TSU.  She noted how the nation recently watched in amazement as both seats behind President Joe Biden were occupied by women – Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – during a speech to the joint Congress.

“We felt that historic moment in 2021,” said Morgan-Curtis. “Now, imagine that those firsts as a woman and an African American are happening in 1989 (first African-American woman elected to the Tennessee State Senate) and 1983 (Harper was only the second woman of color to serve on the Metro Council). Senator Harper smashed glass ceilings with one hand while reaching back to help other women climb and earn leadership positions. In 2021, we are still seeing historic firsts, and those moments are only occurring because of iconic trailblazers such as Senator Harper.”

One woman in particular that Harper influenced was Senate Democratic Caucus Chairwoman Raumesh Akbari, a former state representative.

“Senator Thelma Harper was a trailblazing, ceiling shattering, legend,” said Akbari. “She always supported me and had a kind, encouraging or funny word. I remember when she came to my first fundraiser in Nashville. And when I was elected to the Senate, Sen. Harper called and gave me such good advice. She was a gladiator for her community, a legislative lioness that never gave up or in.”

Sen. Harper inspiring a future generation.

At-large Metro Council member and TSU alumna Sharon Hurt said Harper also left a lasting impression on her.

“Senator Thelma Harper inspired me to be my authentic self and stay grounded,” said Hurt. “Regardless of being in the male-dominated world of politics, it didn’t mean you could not look like a lady, care like a lady, and love like a lady. She always showed people they mattered, taking care of their business, but never ever failing to take care of God’s business, and her own.”

According to research conducted by the state’s legislative librarian, Harper is the first woman and first African American person to lie in state in the Capitol.

She was buried Thursday at Greenwood Cemetery following the service at TSU.   

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

Former TSU football player christion abercrombie who suffered severe brain injury walks across stage to receive degree at commencement ceremony

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Christion Abercrombie has not ceased to amaze. It was considered a miracle when the former Tennessee State University linebacker rapidly recovered from a severe brain injury and began taking online courses to complete his degree. On Saturday, Abercrombie inspired once again, as he walked across the stage to receive his diploma.

TSU President Glenda Glover. (Photo by Michael Bennett)

“I feel very happy and blessed to be graduating with my undergraduate degree from TSU,” said Abercrombie. “I thank my parents, and everybody for their prayers and support.”

He was among more than 900 graduates and undergraduates who received degrees in various disciplines during Tennessee State University’s Spring Commencement ceremonies. Earlier this month, TSU officially announced the 2021 graduation exercises would return to campus and be held in Hale Stadium following a year of virtual ceremonies because of the pandemic. The graduate ceremony was held in the stadium on Friday.

This year’s ceremonies were special because of in-person participation since the COVID-19 pandemic. But for Abercrombie and his family, there was added emotion because of all they endured before the pandemic. They received special recognition during the ceremony.

“Christion was … not expected to live,” said Frank Stevenson, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students. “Today, he is graduating, and God is good. We celebrate his life.”

On Sept. 29, 2018, Abercrombie suffered his brain injury in a game against Vanderbilt. His recovery was questionable. But gradually, he began to make progress. And eventually, he was getting around like normal. He then sought to complete what he started by taking online courses. When Abercrombie got his degree on Saturday, his mother reiterated what she’s said all along, that her son is a miracle.

Christion Abercrombie with (l to r) his mother, Staci, Michelle Miller, Marc Morial, President Glover, and his father, Derrick. (Photo by Michael Bennett)

“I knew that I would see this day,” said Staci Abercrombie. “However, I didn’t think it would come as soon as it did. So, I know that It’s all because of God.”

Staci Abercrombie said she’s grateful to TSU’s faculty and staff for accommodating her son while he finished his coursework.

“Our family feels the favor of God, to be witnessing such a blessing. Each day is a gift and we give God all the praise,” she said.  

Christion’s father, Derrick, shared his wife’s sentiment about seeing their son receive his bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies.

“It’s a great accomplishment, for anybody really, but especially for him going through what he went through,” he said. “We feel really proud.”

As she did in the graduate ceremony the day before, TSU President Glenda Glover congratulated the undergraduates on their accomplishments.

Marc Morial addresses graduates. (Photo by Michael Bennett)

“I applaud you for reaching this extraordinary milestone,” said Glover. “We salute you. We honor you.”

The keynote speaker for the ceremony was former New Orleans mayor and National Urban League President Marc Morial. His wife, CBS national correspondent Michelle Miller, spoke at the graduate commencement. Both were honored with plaques from President Glover.

Throughout his speech Morial referenced “9 minutes and 29 seconds.” During the recent trial of the police officer charged with killing George Floyd, prosecutors said he knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, correcting the 8:46 timing that had become a symbol of police brutality.

Morial asked the graduates to commit at least 9 minutes and 29 seconds each day to “make a difference.”

“We all stand on the shoulders of others,” he said. “As you leave Tennessee State University, your shoulders are strong. Your brain is trained, let your heart be tuned, to make a difference in your life and the lives of others.”

Marc Morial honored with plaque from President Glover. His wife, Michelle Miller, was also honored. (Photo by Michael Bennett)

Graduates said they enjoyed the speaker and were inspired by his message. But what they all seemed most excited about was being able to gather in person for the ceremony. 

“This specific in-person commencement symbolizes all our graduating seniors who have worked relentlessly to stick to the course this past year in every aspect,” said Dominique Davis of Danville, Illinois. The former Student Government Association president received her degree in business administration. “This moment should be celebrated, and I am most grateful administrators have remained open-minded in the entirety of graduation planning,” she said.   

Folusho E. Micah, who received his bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in cellular and molecular biology, said he feels blessed to be among those participating in an in-person graduation.  

“To have spent the past four years working so hard toward this moment and it be virtual would have been a huge let down,” said Micah, of Nashville. “Being able to walk across the stage in my cap and gown makes all those sleepless nights feel worth it.” 

Jamontrae Christmon of Franklin, Tennessee, said he got little sleep leading up to graduation day.

2021 TSU graduates. (Photo by Michael Bennett)

“I was so happy to be able to graduate in person,” said Christmon, who received a degree in criminal justice. “I was like a kid on Christmas Eve, just wondering what I’m going to get, what the next day will be like.”

Those attending the ceremonies were required to wear masks and practice social distancing. Adults were strongly encouraged to have been vaccinated.

Graduate Jayla Barnes of Franklin said she felt safe during the ceremony and commended TSU for its detailed attention to safety on the campus in general. 

“I noticed all the COVID-19 checkpoints, and every building you enter you have to have your temperature taken, just to name a few things,” said Barnes, a communications major. “I think they’ve done a fantastic job of keeping people safe.”

The graduates said they’re pleased at the high number of freshmen that are coming behind them in the fall, and they encourage all students currently enrolled to return to TSU.

Christian Bond of Nashville has this advice for them all.

“Don’t let anyone or anything get in the way of your dreams, because with God, family, and love, nothing can stop you,” said Bond, a single mother who received a degree in biology and plans to become a doctor. “Take advantage of all the opportunities you are presented and make lifelong connections. You won’t regret it.” 

To view the 2021 Spring Commencement Program booklet, visit https://bit.ly/3udosRq.

Note: Featured photo by Michael Bennett

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

CBS national correspondent Michelle Miller delivers Spring Commencement address, calls TSU graduates ‘survivors’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 200 graduate students received degrees in various disciplines on Friday at Tennessee State University’s Spring Commencement ceremony in Hale Stadium, the first in-person ceremony in over a year.

TSU President Glenda Glover. (Photo by Michael Bennett)

Earlier this month, TSU officially announced the 2021 graduation exercises would return to campus and be held in the stadium following a year of virtual ceremonies because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The undergraduate ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, May 1, at 8 a.m. and will also be in the stadium. Former New Orleans mayor and National Urban League President Marc Morial is the keynote speaker. The ceremony will also be livestreamed: www.tnstate.edu/livestream.

“I applaud you for having reached such an extraordinary milestone,” TSU President Glenda Glover told the graduates Friday. “This is your day. And we will make the most of it, for tomorrow you step into the advanced TSU world as the servant leaders you have been trained to be. The servant leaders you’ve been called to be.”

CBS national correspondent Michelle Miller, the wife of Morial, was the keynote speaker at the graduate ceremony. Miller, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, has reported on numerous stories of national and international importance. She joined “CBS This Morning: Saturday” in 2018. Her work regularly appears on the “CBS Evening News,” “CBS This Morning” and “CBS Sunday Morning.” She has also appeared as a correspondent on “48 Hours.”  

Miller, who was honored by TSU for her body of work, told the graduates not to be disheartened by failure. She told them of the time she was fired from her second job, but that she bounced back and now has a successful career.

“Failure is an option, because only through failure can you succeed,” said Miller. “My toughest times have taught me that I’m a survivor. So are you. You’ve done everything that you set out to do, because you’re here. You survived … an unpredictable year.”

Michelle Miller. (Photo by Michael Bennett)

She then cited one of her favorite quotes by Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Quinetta Yvette Bartley, who received her doctorate in education leadership, said Miller’s speech was encouraging.

“I liked the part where she said she failed, but got up and kept going,” said Bartley. “That was very inspirational because in a lifetime, you’re going to fall, and it’s a learning experience at that point. I saw myself in her speech.”

While Bartley enjoyed Miller’s speech, she and the other graduates relished being able to walk across the stage and not have to watch the ceremony virtually. Those attending the ceremonies were required to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Adults were strongly encouraged to have been vaccinated.

Friday’s graduate ceremony was extra special for Alexis Gant, who received an M.Ed. in human performance and sports science with a concentration in exercise science. She missed her undergrad ceremony at Georgia Southern because of a track meet.

“On top of this being the first time in over a year that we’re having in-person commencement, I’m really excited,” said Gant, who is the throw coach for TSU’s track and field team. “It’s my first time walking ever.”

After graduation, Gant will walk right into a new job she already has lined up, and she credits TSU for that.

TSU 2021 graduates. (Photo by Michael Bennett)

“I do believe that TSU has prepared me. I’ve had some great professors,” said Gant. “But I also feel it’s just the environment of TSU that’s prepared me. Because coming from a PWI (predominantly white institution), it’s a completely different playing field. And I feel like now that I’ve gotten to experience both worlds, I definitely will be able to work with multiple ranges of clientele. I’ve made more friends at TSU than I have at my alma mater, and that’s crazy.”

Graduate Mason McIntosh also credits TSU and his instructors for much of his success.

“TSU prepared me by getting me in front of the right people,” said McIntosh, who is also getting an M. Ed. In HPSS. “I’ve had great internship experiences because of TSU.”

Mason plans to pursue a doctorate in Kinesiology at Auburn University, where he’s pretty much been given a full ride. He’s also received offers from two other schools with top Kinesiology programs. Mason would eventually like to become a strength conditioning coach at the collegiate or professional level.

Note: The feature photo is by Michael Bennett

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

Top sports science grad aspires to become collegiate or pro strength conditioning coach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Since he was 12 years old, Mason McIntosh has strived to be in the best physical condition. On April 30, the 23-year-old will graduate with a M. Ed. in human performance and sports science that will allow him to help others be their fittest.

Mason McIntosh in his element. (Submitted photo)

McIntosh will be among more than 900 graduates and undergraduates receiving degrees in various disciplines during Tennessee State University’s Spring Commencement ceremonies. Earlier this month, TSU officially announced the 2021 graduation exercises would return to campus following a year of virtual ceremonies because of the pandemic. The graduate ceremony, that will include McIntosh, will be Friday, April 30, at 4 p.m. in Hale Stadium. The undergraduate ceremony will be the next day at 8 a.m. in the stadium.

Growing up, McIntosh says his father encouraged him to stay in shape. He started lifting weights at age 12, and that sparked an interest in good conditioning.

“When I was looking for things to study in high school, I studied how to improve the body,” recalls McIntosh. “How the body works when it comes to the science behind it and how it functions at an athletic and sports level. I figured that’s what I’m passionate about, so why not study what you love? I like fitness. Why not master it and go to school for it?”

McIntosh, a Chicago native, played football for two Illinois high schools: Warren Township in Gurnee and Grayslake North in Grayslake. He played the positions of running back and safety at both schools. He would later attend Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he played safety and outside linebacker.

However, his sophomore year at Carthage he suffered a knee injury during the last game of the season that ended his aspiration to play professional football. He began to re-evaluate his future.

McIntosh says he’d always explored the possibility of attending a historically-black institution. So, when his dad moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 2016, McIntosh followed him and set his sights on TSU. He transferred there his junior year and began to excel academically almost immediately.

In 2019, McIntosh earned a bachelor’s in HPSS with a concentration in exercise science, which will also be the case when he gets his M.Ed. He graduated with a 3.5 GPA when he got his BS, and he’s expecting a 3.8 or higher when he graduates April 30.

McIntosh’s instructors say he’s an exceptional student with a diligent work ethic.

“In 25 years as a department chair, no student has done better at the graduate level,” says Dr. James Heimdal, HPSS chairman. “First to arrive and last to leave every day; not afraid of hard work and long hours. Mason represents the best TSU has to offer.”

Dr. Robert Cochrum, an assistant HPSS professor and mentor to Mason, agrees.

Mason McIntosh. (Submitted photo)

“Most graduate students wait to be given a task, but Mason goes out of his way to ask if there is more he can do or more he can help you do,” says Cochrum. “I find this is a rare quality for people his age and/or younger students in a master’s program. I fully expect Mason to continue to grow and have a positive personal and professional influence on many people and organizations throughout his career.”

Mason credits TSU and his instructors for much of his success.

“TSU prepared me by getting me in front of the right people,” he said. “I’ve had great internship experiences because of TSU.

Mason plans to pursue a doctorate in Kinesiology at Auburn University, where he’s pretty much been given a full ride. He’s also received offers from two other schools with top Kinesiology programs. Mason would eventually like to become a strength conditioning coach at the collegiate or professional level.

CBS News anchor and reporter Michelle Miller will serve as the Friday evening commencement speaker for the graduate ceremony. Former New Orleans Mayor and National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial will be the undergraduate guest speaker on Saturday. Those planning to attend the TSU 2021 Spring Commencement Ceremonies are required to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Adults are strongly encouraged to have been vaccinated. Tickets are also required to attend. For more information about commencement, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/records/commencement/. The university will also livestream both events on Friday and Saturday. Visit (www.tnstate.edu/youtube) to watch.

To learn more about the Department of Human Performance and Sports Science, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/hpss/.

For more information about TSU’s 2021 Spring Commencement, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/records/commencement/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU student says professors going the extra mile are behind her success as an upcoming graduate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When Christian Bond walks across the stage on May 1 to receive her biology degree, the determined future doctor says she will be thankful to some special professors at Tennessee State University who helped her reach this major milestone in her life. Bonds remembers a period where she struggled and needed guidance. She believes those tough times make receiving her degree even more rewarding. 

Christian Bond

“There was a period where I lacked motivation and considered dropping out,” says Bonds. “But professors in the classes that I was having difficulties assisted in getting me through the challenging time. They allowed me to make up work, helped me study, and made sure I understood the work.”

Bond will be among more than 900 graduates and undergraduates receiving degrees in various disciplines during Tennessee State University’s Spring Commencement ceremonies. Earlier this month, TSU officially announced the 2021 graduation exercises would return to campus following a year of virtual ceremonies because of the pandemic. The graduate ceremony will be Friday, April 30, at 4 p.m. in Hale Stadium. Bond will participate in the undergraduate ceremony the next day at 8 a.m. in the stadium.

The Nashville native and transfer student says TSU overall has prepared her to pursue her goal of becoming a doctor of osteopathic medicine, and that her professors were with her every step of the way as she juggled being a full-time working student and mom. 

One of those professors was Dr. Orville Bignall, associate professor of physics.  

“She indicated that she had the strongest desire to complete the course but would need additional help and this would be around her work schedule,” recalls Bignall. “I promised her that I would do all in my power to ensure that she got help and support for the course. She never disappointed me in holding up her end of the bargain. I am glad that she had the temerity to ask for help and the grit and perseverance to make this a successful outcome.” 

Dr. Michael Ivy, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, says he was impressed with Bond’s “capability to multi-task regarding care for her son,” now two years old.  

“Undoubtedly, this TSU student has a commendable work ethic,” says Ivy. “In addition, she was undaunted by any science or health-related course undertaking compared to other students enrolled in my science classes.” 

In the case of her son, Khari, Bond says when he was younger one of her professors even assumed the role of babysitter to ensure she participated in a class assignment.   

“When Christian’s (babysitting) plans fell through she called me and told me she was afraid she would have to miss the presentation, but I told her it was okay if she brought him with her to class,” says Dr. Tyrone Miller, assistant professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. “He was a joy to have in the class and several students took turns holding him before her presentation. When I held him, I started rocking him while I was listening and talking, and he ended up falling asleep in my arms.” 

Bond says her overall college experience has been a great one and strongly believes it’s because she attended TSU, an HBCU institution. During her time at TSU, she joined the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr Pre-Med Society, Sigma Alpha Pi-The National Society of Leadership and Success, Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society, Golden Key International Honour Society, Psi Chi-The International Honor Society in Psychology, and the Alpha Psi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.  

Christian Bond and her son, Khari

Following graduation, Bond says she intends to take a gap year to study for the MCAT and travel with her son. She plans to attend the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in the 2022-2023 academic school year. Once completed, her new profession will allow her to work in partnership with patients to help them achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health education, injury prevention, and disease prevention.

And for those coming behind her, Bond has this advice.  

“Class of 2025, enjoy your time at Tennessee State University, but remember your goals and stay the course. Don’t let anyone or anything get in the way of your dreams, because with God, family, and love, nothing can stop you! Take advantage of all the opportunities you are presented and make lifelong connections. You won’t regret it. Welcome to Big Blue!!” 

CBS News anchor and reporter Michelle Miller will serve as the Friday evening commencement speaker for the graduate ceremony. Former New Orleans Mayor and National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial will be the undergraduate guest speaker on Saturday. Those planning to attend the TSU 2021 Spring Commencement Ceremonies are required to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Adults are strongly encouraged to have been vaccinated. Tickets are also required to attend. For more information about commencement, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/records/commencement/. The university will also livestream both events on Friday and Saturday. Visit (www.tnstate.edu/youtube) to watch.

To learn more about the Department of Biology Sciences and the Dr. Levi Watkins Institute, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/biology/ and https://www.tnstate.edu/watkins/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

Tennessee State University names former All Pro TN Titan and Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George Head Football Coach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Looking to take the program to the next level, Tennessee State University has named Eddie George as head football coach. TSU director of athletics Dr. Mikki Allen made the announcement Tuesday as George was introduced to the Tiger family. 

New TSU head football coach Eddie George (center) with President Glenda Glover and Athletics Director Mikki Allen. (Photo by Emanuel Roland)

“Eddie George has been a winner in every facet of the game, and we look forward to him bringing that same commitment to our players and having it translate into winning on and off the field,” said Allen. “We are excited to have him join us and lead the next chapter of our storied football program.” 

“I am excited about being named head coach at Tennessee State University,” said George. “I thank Dr. Glover, Dr. Allen, and each of you for the confidence you have placed in me.”

“All I have done has prepared me for this moment, whether that’s my football career, my entrepreneurial endeavors, my acting career.”

“Coaching is a full commitment, a duty of service. I take that seriously. I’ve done a lot of soul searching and due diligence. The more I thought about it, I got more and more excited about it. It was like picking up an old guitar or getting back on a bike, it’s familiar but in a different capacity.”

“It’s exciting. I’m going to be innovative, creative and fun.” 

President Glenda Glover called it a great day for the university and looks forward to working with Eddie George as he sustains a successful football program. 

“For decades, TSU has always made bold and strategic hires within our athletic programs that laid the foundation for our storied success in sports,” commented Glover. “Eddie George, with the resources he will bring to TSU, is the right choice and investment for the future of the TSU football program and the TSU community.” 

The celebrated former NFL star will make an announcement regarding his coaching staff in the coming days. 

George played college football for The Ohio State University and won the Heisman in 1995. That season, his senior year, George rushed for a school record 1,927 yards and 24 touchdowns, an average of 148.23 yards per game, while also catching 47 passes for 417 yards and another score. He left Ohio State second in school history in career rushing yards (3,768) and third in rushing touchdowns (44). The Philadelphia native finished with 4,284 all-purpose yards, 45 touchdowns, and a 5.5 yards per carry average. 

In 1996, George was the first-round draft selection of the then-Houston Oilers. He won the NFL Rookie of the Year award that same year and was the Oilers/Titans’ starting tailback through 2003, never missing a start. He made the Pro Bowl four consecutive years (1997–2000), and assisted the Titans to a championship appearance in Super Bowl XXXIV, where he scored two touchdowns in the loss to the St. Louis Rams 23-16. 

Eddie George addresses questions from media at Tuesday’s press conference. (Photo by Emanuel Roland)

George is only the second NFL running back to rush for 10,000 yards while never missing a start, joining Jim Brown. Only Walter Payton (170) started more consecutive regular season games than George’s 130. 

In 2004, George signed a one-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys where he started eight games and finished the season with 432 yards and four touchdowns. He officially retired in 2006. 

George’s career totals include 10,441 rushing yards, 268 receptions, 2,227 receiving yards, and 78 touchdowns (68 rushing and 10 receiving). 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

Legislative committee says TSU could receive more than $540 million in unmet land-grant agreement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service)– Tennessee State University could be due more than a half-billion dollars because of years of unpaid land-grant matches by the state. A joint legislative committee that met Monday to discuss the issue said the university could receive between $150 million and $544 million, dating back to the 1950s.  

“We are pleased with the findings of the land-grant study committee and excited about the possibilities of what this means for the University,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.  “TSU will be made stronger and more vibrant, which benefits all of Tennessee.”  

State Rep. Harold Love, Jr., a TSU alum, is chairman of the joint committee. It was under his leadership that the probe began with the goal of having the state calculate how much money was not given in accordance with the land grant and then try to make up for it.    

“Today’s meeting was a very crucial step in the committee’s work to investigate the funding arrearage amount for Tennessee State University,” said Love. “It is my hope that we can put a plan in place to address this in the very near future.” 

TSU and the University of Tennessee Knoxville are the two land-grant institutions in Tennessee and have agricultural programs that are funded largely by the federal government. The land-grant designation comes with the stipulation that the state would also match a yearly monetary grant from the federal government. In TSU’s case, the state did not match the funds dollar-for-dollar for decades. 

“This is not TSU versus UT, instead this is about rectifying a problem that has existed and persisted for decades where TSU, as an HBCU, did not receive funding from the state as directed by state and federal law,” added Glover. “Unfortunately, somewhere in the process our funding was channeled to other areas instead of coming to the university, while UT, the state’s other land grant institution received their funding and much more.”  

President Glover recalled a comment that was made to “let bygones be bygones” and said that cannot stand.  

“It’s never too late to do what’s right,” she said. “We’ve had students leave due to lack of funds, TSU was prevented from implementing innovative programs to be more competitive in recruiting, and not to mention the cost of lost opportunity.”

The committee is scheduled to continue meeting to determine the amount TSU will receive and how it will be dispersed.    

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

Rapper, songwriter Moneybagg Yo endorses TSU on social media platform, promises to send his daughter to the HBCU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The daughter of Demario DeWayne White Jr., the popular rapper and songwriter better known as Moneybagg Yo, is just 12 years old, but he already knows where he wants her to get a degree: Tennessee State University.

The Memphis, Tennessee, native recently endorsed the school on his social media platform, with more than six million followers, and promised to send D’Mya White to TSU, when she is ready for college. The first tweet about the artist’s endorsement and the announcement that his daughter is coming to TSU received nearly half a million views.  

Master P’s son, Hercy Miller, left, declined offers from notable division one schools to play basketball at TSU. (Black Enterprise)

The university also made headlines last week when another rapper, Master P, announced his son, Hercy Miller, was committing to play basketball at TSU. 

“This is great and exciting news for Tennessee State University,” says Miss TSU Mariah Rhodes, who forged a relationship with Moneybagg Yo when the celebrity endorsed her candidacy for the Miss TSU crown late last year.    

That relationship paid off in a big way recently when the TSU Office of Admissions and Recruitment considered hosting their first in-person open house – since the pandemic – and were looking for a celebrity to endorse their effort on social media. The team reached out to Moneybagg Yo, who did not only offer his endorsement, but agreed to meet the TSU group in his hometown.    

“We were just so elated that he agreed to actually meet our team in person,” says Dr. Carjamin Scott, TSU’s director of Admissions and Recruitment. “It’s one thing to get someone to host on social media, but quite another to be able to meet an artist in person.”     

The TSU team that met with Moneybagg Yo and his family included Miss TSU, the Aristocrat of Bands, and representatives from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment. (Submitted photo)

On March 19, the TSU recruitment team, accompanied by Miss TSU and members of the university’s Aristocrat of Bands – with gift items provided by TSU students – met with Moneybagg Yo and his family. It was his daughter’s birthday. The band performed for the family, including a happy birthday song for the artist’s daughter. The visit also included photo sessions with the rapper, a tour of his music studio, and lunch at Slim and Husky’s paid for by Moneybagg Yo.    

According to Scott, the interactions with the musician, best known for hit albums like, “Reset,” “43va Heartless,” and “Time Served,” was played on social media and immediately garnered nearly 3,000 shares.    

“His tweet, ‘I want her to go to the college, come to play happy birthday, #Big 12 Daddy luv u Myaaa!! Thank U TSU’ received an instant hit with 446,715 views,” says Scott.    

 “What this endorsement says to others is that if Moneybagg wants to send his daughter to Tennessee State University then that is a good school. That brings an increase in enrollment,” says Scott. “Mariah has been a great help with our recruitment effort since becoming Miss TSU. She has played her role very well, and we are thankful.”    

For Rhodes, she says engaging celebrities was part of fulfilling her agenda when she took on the crown with the goal to be different amid the pandemic, which curtailed or limited many traditional student activities and events.   

“When a celebrity endorses something, more people are prone to move in that direction,” says Rhodes. “It was a great thing for Moneybagg to endorse me as Miss TSU, but I think to endorse TSU is an amazing thing.”   

Moneybagg’s daughter is still a few years away from coming to TSU, but Dominique Davis, president of the Student Government Association, believes the land of golden sunshine is the place for her.   

“It made my heart smile knowing Moneybagg Yo‘s daughter has such a strong love for our beloved HBCU at a young age,” says Davis. “TSU is an institution designed to help cultivate and breed successful leaders. I have no doubt Miss De’Mya will flourish and make an impact when she decides to attend TSU in the near future.”    

For information on admission and recruitment at TSU, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/admissions/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU clinics give students opportunity to engage in real-world professional experience while serving the community

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The pandemic has not stopped Tennessee State University’s clinics from caring for people in the community and providing real career experience for those interested in healthcare as a profession.

The College of Health Sciences has three clinics that provide services free of charge or based on the ability to pay. They are the Tiger Community Rehabilitation Clinic, Dental Hygiene Clinic, and Speech Pathology and Audiology Clinic. All three are continuing to provide service to the campus community, as well as people in the surrounding Nashville community.

The Tiger Community Rehab. Ctr. is the first student-run PT/OT clinic at a historically black institution. (TSU Media Relations)

“The three clinics offered through the College of Health Sciences are platforms not only for students to immerse themselves in their professions through faculty-supervised clinical instruction, but also for students and faculty to provide no- or low-cost care to the various communities they serve,” said Dr. Ronald Barredo, dean of the College of Health Sciences.

Dr. Rick Clark is assistant professor of physical therapy at TSU and director of the Tiger Community Rehabilitation Clinic, the first student-run physical therapy/occupational therapy clinic at a historically black institution.

Clark said the services of the Rehabilitation Clinic, as well as the other clinics, is more important now than ever.

“I think what we’re doing is absolutely so very, very needed,” said Clark, who was in the military for 25 years and ran multiple clinics. “With COVID-19, people are kind of confined to their homes, not getting out and being as active. We’re able to get them in and start getting them on that path to recovery, better health.”

Clark said the clinic mainly handles cases like knee injuries, shoulder pain, and lower back pain. The more serious cases are referred out to physical and occupational therapy clinics in the area.

“We want to make a difference in the lives of our patients, which is really what our goal is,” said Clark.

All the clinics, like the university as a whole, adhere to strict protocols to make sure that everyone is safe amid COVID-19.

“We have adjusted how we operate to make sure everyone is safe during the pandemic, but have not changed our quality of care,” said Amber Oliveri, a first-year graduate student from Ellicott City, Maryland, in the Master’s of Occupational Therapy Program.

“It’s been a challenge, but we’ve managed to keep all of our students, faculty and staff safe during the pandemic,” said TSU Professor Gary-Lee Lewis, head of the Dental Hygiene Clinic.

The Dental Hygiene Clinic provides service to close to 600 patients a year. (TSU Media Relations)

The clinic recently restarted in-person patient visits and provides services like cleanings, cancer screenings, and general patient education about good hygiene.

Before the pandemic, the dental clinic provided service to nearly 600 patients a year, including faculty and students, as well as the Nashville community.

Dental Hygiene major Cleopatra Peden acknowledged the pandemic has caused some of her peers in the program to reconsider their major. But the senior from Gallatin, Tennessee, is unwavering.

“The pandemic is not going to affect me continuing in this career,” said Peden. “Yes, there are safety concerns right now. But people still need dental care, they need us. And it just makes me want to help them that much more.”

Dr. Tina Smith is head of the Speech Pathology and Audiology Clinic. She said the audiology part of the clinic is not seeing patients right now because of the pandemic. However, she said the Department of Speech Pathology is using telepractice, or teletherapy, which has allowed first-year graduate students to continue seeing patients since the pandemic first started last year.

Matthew Norcia is a first-year grad student from Owensboro, Kentucky, majoring in Speech and Language Pathology. He said the transition to teletherapy was challenging initially, “especially for those of us who are having clients for the first time.”

“But with an extreme work ethic, we have been able to handle the adversity and continue to address the needs of each client and further develop their speech and language skills,” said Norcia. “Overall, this experience has been enlightening and beneficial as teletherapy may become a normal form of treatment even after the pandemic is over. Being able to continuously provide for the community through these trying times has been such a rewarding experience and we look forward to continuing our work.”

Speech Pathology’s telepractice allows students to continue seeing patients during the pandemic. (TSU Media Relations.)

The Tiger Community Rehabilitation Clinic is now located in the university’s new state-of-the-art Health Sciences Building, which has classrooms, spaces for clinical simulations, labs and offices. The Speech Pathology and Audiology Clinic is on TSU’s Avon Williams Campus near downtown Nashville, and the Dental Hygiene Clinic is in Clement Hall on the main campus. Students usually get top jobs in their fields upon graduation because of the real-world experience they receive at the clinics

Averie Conn recently received therapy at the Tiger Clinic and is glad she did.

“I have been having some neck and upper back pain that was interrupting my function and participation in some of the activities I want and need to be able to do,” said Conn. “The students and their supervisor who treated me helped reduce not only the pain I was having on the day I visited the clinic, but the days following as well. They were very helpful in talking me through what clinical signs and decisions they were making, and broke down the next steps I should take in a logical and easy-to-understand way.”

Conn said the Tiger Clinic, as well as the others offered at TSU, are “invaluable to the community.”

“Some of the barriers to accessing healthcare are the lack of public knowledge about how and where it is accessible, and how much the service is going to cost,” she said. “Unfortunately, many people are willing to live in discomfort, pain, or with other clinical symptoms simply because healthcare is not easily accessible or affordable.”

Hours of operation for the Tiger Community Rehabilitation Clinic are Fridays 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Health Sciences Building, Room 212). To make an appointment call: 615-815-4359, 615-963-7184 or email: TSUTigerClinic@gmail.com.

Services for the Speech Pathology and Audiology Clinic are currently being provided on Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. through telepractice. To make an appointment call: 615-963-7072.

The Dental Hygiene Clinic is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Hours of operation during the pandemic: On-site – Mondays and Wednesdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.    
Remote: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
To make an appointment call: 615.963.5791 or email:DHClinic@tnstate.edu 

For more information about TSU’s College of Health Sciences, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/health_sciences/clinics.aspx.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU Foundation selects six new board members

The Tennessee State University Foundation recently selected six individuals to be on its Board of Directors.

The new members are Robert Blalock, Valerie Love, Roosevelt Luster, Lesia Riddick, Reginald Shareef, and Laron Walker. All are alumni of TSU.

The mission of the Foundation is to promote and support literary, scientific, educational, scholarship, research, charitable and development purposes and goals at the university.

Established in 1970, the Foundation is the official 501©(3), non-profit charitable organization for Tennessee State University.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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