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

A TSU BLACK HISTORY MONTH FEATURE

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

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

Don Hardin. (Submitted photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU, Meharry virtual health summit to feature top health experts Drs. Anthony Fauci and James Hildreth

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is co-sponsoring a Virtual Health Summit with Meharry Medical College on the COVID-19 vaccine and health equity. The summit will feature Meharry President and CEO Dr. James Hildreth, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to President Biden.

The summit is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 17, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time. It can be accessed at:  https://youtu.be/VThTmBxTRPM.

The summit is a continuation of TSU’s collaboration with Meharry. The two historically-black institutions recently announced a new partnership focused on establishing a pipeline of African-American doctors and dentists who will provide essential care to underserved communities. The initiative is named after one of TSU’s most distinguished graduates, Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., an internationally renowned cardiac surgeon who holds an honorary degree from Meharry. 

“We are excited to co-sponsor this summit with Meharry,” said Barbara Murrell, chair of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Institute at TSU. “It’s important for people in our community to be exposed to leading health experts who will be discussing topics that impact their lives.”

Dissemination of the vaccine in minority communities is one of the main topics Fauci and Hildreth are expected to discuss. There will also be a panel discussion on health equity.

“This virtual convening creates effective collaboration among thought leaders and medical and oral health experts to re-imagine and advance health equity toward the goal of developing a roadmap toward accessible and affordable healthcare,” according to organizers.

Dr. Wendolyn Inman is an infectious disease expert and professor and director of public health programs in the College of Health Sciences at TSU. She said events like the summit are important because they keep the public informed, especially when there’s apprehension in the black community about taking the vaccine, and its lack of dissemination into communities of color.

Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr.

“When we are not informed, unfounded fears govern our responses to productive solutions like vaccine immunizations and appropriate health care access,” said Inman.

“The “fireside chat” with Dr. Hildreth and Dr. Fauci is another way that communities of color can effectively collaborate to ensure all communities are served appropriately during this pandemic.”

Dr. Ronald Barredo, dean of the College of Health Sciences, said the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for events like the summit that focus on better healthcare in general.

“Access has always been limited when it comes to minorities,” said Barredo. “Hopefully the discussion will help lead to more equitable delivery of health care, more equitable access to health care.”

To learn more 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 to receive $1M from FedEx as part of HBCU initiative to enhance student success and access to corporate America

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service)– Tennessee State University is receiving $1 million from FedEx Corporation to help students complete their degrees and prepare them for the workforce. The funds will also provide relief support to students, faculty, and staff impacted by the pandemic.

TSU President Glenda Glover

“This is an awesome gift from the FedEx Corporation that will assist TSU in addressing some of the unique challenges our institution is facing directly and indirectly because of COVID-19,” said Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover. “We are so appreciative to the FedEx leadership for this innovative program that will disburse one million dollars over a five-year period to also address some of the long-standing issues faced by HBCU students. It is no secret that many of the challenges faced by students at TSU relate to limited funds. This partnership is a great example of public and private entities collaborating to enhance the higher education experience for African-American students.”

“With many students and families struggling right now as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, our hope is that this timely investment will help keep more students in school and provide future access to leadership, educational and employment opportunities,” said Judy Edge, corporate vice president of Human Resources at FedEx. “This contribution further deepens our commitment to creating more equitable communities by breaking down barriers to work and making a sustainable, long-term impact on underrepresented groups.”

Senior Toree Sims, Jr.

TSU is among four historically black colleges and universities that FedEx has pledged to collectively give $5 million to assist local HBCUs. The other schools are LeMoyne-Owen College, Jackson State University, and Mississippi Valley State University.

TSU senior Toree Sims, Jr., a computer science major from Louisville, Kentucky, said he appreciates FedEx’s commitment to HBCUs.

“I feel like it’s a win for both FedEx and HBCUs,” said Sims. “It shows the company’s commitment to diversity, and in ensuring HBCU students are successful.”

TSU junior Ammria Carter agreed.

“FedEx prioritizing HBCUs during the current climate of our economy means so much to so many people,” said Carter, a political science major from Cleveland, Ohio. “I hope that this act of generosity will spark other companies to consider donating and partnering with HBCUs, especially our beloved Tennessee State University.”

Junior Ammria Carter

This new initiative builds on the longstanding relationship between these HBCUs and FedEx, which includes endowed scholarships at Jackson State University, Tennessee State University and LeMoyne-Owen College; a customized career readiness program established at Mississippi Valley State University; and leadership summits in support of the Southern Heritage Classic for students at both Tennessee State University and Jackson State University, according to FedEx officials.

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 students, faculty excited about historical knowledge the Rev. Al Sharpton will bring as Distinguished Guest Lecturer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – It is rare to be able to interact with a living historical figure. But that’s what students and faculty at Tennessee State University experienced on Feb. 3 when the Rev. Al Sharpton, one of the nation’s most renowned civil rights leaders and activists, began as a Distinguished Guest Lecturer for the semester.  

Sharpton will be a featured lecturer in the area of political science grounded in social justice. His lectures will be via Zoom each Wednesday through April.  

The Rev. Al Sharpton speaks to students in virtual lecture. (Submitted photo)

“Not only does the Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights icon, know American history and the role African Americans have played to shape that history, he has been an intricate piece of it as well,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “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.”  

Sophomore Alexus Dockery

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. 

His activism allowed him to walk among other civil rights icons, like Jesse Jackson and A. Phillip Randolph. He also brought attention to high profile cases in New York, such as the Howard Beach incident in December 1986 in which three African-American men were assaulted in the Howard Beach neighborhood of Queens by a mob of white men. Later that month, Sharpton led 1,200 demonstrators on a march through the streets of Howard Beach. His role in the case helped propel him to national prominence.

Junior Gelanni Jones

Sophomore Alexus Dockery is a political science major from Memphis, Tennessee. She said it’s only fitting that Sharpton should be at TSU because of the university’s rich history in the fight against racial injustice, such as students’ participation in the Freedom Rides and sit-ins during the civil rights movement. In 2008, the university honored 14 TSU alums who were beaten and arrested during the Freedom Rides with honorary degrees.

“TSU students embody the meaning of call to action, which is demonstrated through our motto, ‘Think. Work. Serve,’” said Dockery. “Rev. Sharpton understands the importance of this, and the importance of HBCUs contributing to society for the advancement of Black people.”  

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

Gelanni Jones is a junior majoring in biology at TSU. However, he said Sharpton, because of his historical significance, should appeal to all students, regardless of their major.  

“The statement that he makes by just being himself, is exciting to have at TSU,” said Jones, a Cincinnati, Ohio, resident. “He’s a civil rights icon at an HBCU that I attend.”  

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

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.

How TSU connected with Apple and became a global coding hub for HBCUs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover had a vision of bringing coding and creativity experiences to all the nation’s historically black colleges and universities and their communities. About two years ago, she, along with a team of community and administrative leaders, traveled to California to discuss the idea with Apple. The tech giant liked it.

TSU President Glenda Glover

“We shared our vision and our mission of empowering all the HBCUs with the digital literacy skills of coding,” says Dr. Glover. “We saw where the world was changing, which meant the workplace was changing, and a need for us to change the way we prepare HBCU students so they can be more competitive in the workforce.”

In July 2019, TSU launched the inaugural HBCU C2 Presidential Academy through its newly established Global SMART Technology Innovation Center. More than a dozen HBCUs were involved, and Apple provided equipment, professional development and training.

Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted about the initiative: “Anything is possible when people come together with a shared vision. Thank you to @TSUedu for your leadership and enthusiasm in bringing coding to your community and HBCUs nationwide!”

That vision has continued to grow. Under TSU’s Global SMART Technology Innovation Center, there are now eight regional hubs, and community coding centers at 26 HBCUs. At least 20 HBCUs are on a waiting list.

“I can document that right now we have impacted 14,000-plus HBCU students and 5,000-plus community people (including faculty, staff, students and the community),” says Dr. Robbie Melton, associate vice president of TSU’s Center.

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove is dean of the College of Engineering at TSU and a coding trainer.

“We are well on our way to impacting and expanding our HBCU reach to more institutions and communities, to promote the value of coding and using creativity tools for software development,” says Hargrove. “And we can’t wait to see the amazing things they will do with these new skills.”  

Statistics show 67 percent of tech companies are made up of less than 5 percent of black employees. In Tennessee, information technology employment grew by nearly 3,800 net new jobs in 2019.

At TSU, the university is giving its alumni and others affected by the coronavirus pandemic an opportunity to retool. In a continued partnership with Apple, it’s helping those individuals learn how to code and design apps through an “Everyone Can Code and Create” course offered online.

Michael Davis, Jr., a science teacher with Metro Nashville Public Schools, says he and his wife took the course and it was very beneficial. In addition to improving his own skill set, Davis says he wants to pass what he learns on to his students.

“This is so beneficial for me as an educator because I can share this with my students,” says Davis. “It’s so important that they learn this.”

Dr. Robbie Melton

Melton says the pandemic has helped reveal the importance of having digital skills.

“The pandemic has helped us realize the world is now digital and connected,” says Melton. “In order to function, regardless of your career discipline, you have to have digital literacy and skills to be competitive.”

Last month, TSU announced its partnership with Propel Center, a new global campus headquartered in Atlanta that will support innovative learning and development for the 100-plus HBCUs.

Apple and Atlanta-based Southern Company are investing $25 million to build the Propel Center, which will be based at the Atlanta University Center, the nation’s largest consortium of HBCUs including Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College. Nearly 8,000 students are enrolled across the complex.

Students from participating schools will access Propel Center’s online digital learning platform from anywhere, and will also have access to the 50,000 square-foot center, equipped with state-of-the-art lecture halls, learning labs, and on-site living for a scholars-in-residence program.

To learn more about TSU’s HBCU Cinitiative, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/hbcuc2/.

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 students, fellow sorority members inspired by Vice President Harris and impact on HBCUs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Members of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated chapter at Tennessee State University say they are proud to see Kamala Harris, a fellow member and HBCU grad, become vice president of the United States, but they’re even more excited about the attention she brings to historically black colleges and universities.  

TSU President Glenda Glover

Harris was sworn in at a star-studded inauguration in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday with former Vice President Joseph Biden Jr., now the 46th president of the United States. Harris is an alumna of Howard University, an HBCU.

“Senator Harris’ swearing in is a full circle moment for HBCUs and African-American Greek organizations that worked tirelessly to give the black community a voice from the turn of the century, through Jim Crow and the civil rights movement, to present day,” said AKA International President and CEO Dr. Glenda Glover, who is also president of TSU. “Vice President Harris’ ascension to a successful, dedicated public servant is a direct correlation to the philosophy HBCUs and our Black Greek organizations impress upon our students.”

Tiara Thomas

Before the inauguration, Glover announced that the service organization would declare Wednesday, January 20, 2021 as Soror Kamala D. Harris Day. 

“Like so many of you, I am simply beaming with pride as we witness the inauguration ceremony of a HBCU graduate, member of the Divine Nine, and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Kamala D. Harris, to the Office of Vice President of the United States,” said Glover. 

Junior Tiara Thomas, a member of TSU’s Alpha Psi Chapter of AKA and student representative on the university’s Board of Trustees, said she was “overwhelmed with emotions” when Harris was sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.  

Jeia Moore

“I am joyful to see a black woman elevate to such heights, especially during these racially divided times,” said Thomas, a political science major from Olive Branch, Mississippi. “VP Harris has done for little black girls what President (Barack) Obama was able to do for little black boys. Vice President Harris has broken the concrete ceiling for girls like me aspiring to succeed in politics. I could one day be the next Kamala Harris.” 

AKA member Jeia Moore is a junior from Memphis majoring in business information systems. She said the fact that Harris graduated from an HBCU shines a spotlight on the 100-plus historically-black institutions.  

“It shows that despite their struggles, HBCUs prepare students for success,” said Moore. “As an HBCU student at TSU, I’m ready for what comes after graduation.”  

Ammria Carter

AKA member Ammria Carter agreed.  

“It speaks volumes to how prepared you can be after attending an HBCU,” said Carter, a junior political science major from Cleveland, Ohio. “Vice President Harris has inspired me to work even harder.” 


When Biden selected Harris to be his running mate, TSU Political Science Professor Brian Russell predicted Harris would cause more young people to consider attending HBCUs if she became vice president.  


“It’s going to energize a lot of younger African-American students to look in the HBCU direction,” said Russell. “That’s going to be exciting.” 

In a virtual address to TSU’s faculty and staff on Tuesday, Glover said she is among HBCU leaders who have personally met with Biden and Harris to discuss ways to help HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions. Glover said the Biden-Harris administration has pledged $70 billion to the institutions, including $20 billion that will help them increase research facilities they need to compete with larger universities.  

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 President Glover lauds employees’ dedication, stresses campus safety in Spring 2021 Faculty-Staff Institute address

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover on Tuesday thanked the institution’s employees for their dedication amid the pandemic, and re-emphasized that safety is a priority for the entire campus family.

TSU President Glenda Glover

“Our number one issue right now is your safety,” said Dr. Glover in a virtual address to the Spring 2021 Faculty-Staff Institute. “We are still working our way through the most unprecedented crisis of our time. I commend you on how you have responded to this crisis. We will not hesitate to protect the safety and the health and the welfare of our students, faculty and staff.”

She said the university is sticking with a comprehensive plan that was put in place last semester and was effective. Like last year, there is a 14-day “safer in place” policy upon arrival for all students in residence halls. Online classes begin Jan. 25 for two weeks. The majority of the classes will continue online, with some in-person and hybrid instruction. Students receive a 15 percent discount for enrolling in all online classes. The semester will conclude with a commencement ceremony on May 1.

Other safety measures for the campus include wearing of face coverings and social distancing at all times; regular cleaning and sanitizing of buildings; temperature checks upon entering campus and randomly throughout campus; and use of shields throughout the campus. There’s also a non-emergency COVID-19 phone line and email for reporting concerns.

Before Glover’s address, Dr. Michael Harris, Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, as well as the chairs of the Staff and Faculty Senates, also lauded employees for their commitment during these unprecedented times, and provided words of encouragement.

“This too shall pass,” said Harris. “We will get through it by working together. That is the key.”

Dr. Kimberly Triplett, the Faculty Senate chair, echoed his sentiment.

“We face many uncertainties, but I’m sure we will come together to move this university forward,” said Triplett. “We can only do this together.”

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering, said he’s pleased with measures TSU has taken to keep the campus safe.

“The university has ensured the safety and well-being of its students and employees throughout this challenging health crisis,” said Hargrove. “It is important that we adhere to the protocols put in place, and practice a behavior that allows us to continue to instruct, learn, serve, and operate as an institution.”

Despite its challenges, Glover also noted the university’s successes, like first-year enrollment being up over 1,600 freshmen, and establishment of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute, a partnership with Meharry Medical College to create a pipeline for early entry into medical college.

She also pointed out that, to date, TSU has received more than $59 million in grant and research awards. TSU ranks in the top five historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in receiving research funding, and is the top HBCU in receiving funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“They have a respect for us; how we have handled their money in the past,” said Glover.

She also noted that she is among HBCU leaders who have personally met with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, a Howard University alumna, to discuss ways to help HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions. Glover said the Biden-Harris administration has pledged $70 billion to the institutions, including $20 billion that will help HBCUs and MSIs increase research facilities they need to compete with larger universities.

In her address, Glover said TSU is scheduled to receive an additional $12.5 million this semester under the HBCU provision of the CARES Act. Last year, TSU received $7.2 million in general CARES Act funding, with an additional $16.2 million under the HBCU provision.

The federal relief funding will be used primarily for scholarships and technology devices, which the university has been providing students to assist them with distance learning. 

“What TSU is doing is great,” says Alexus Dockery, a sophomore from Memphis, Tennessee, majoring in political science at TSU. “It will allow students to get the support they need, and further advance their education.”

To view TSU’s operational guidelines during COVID-19 and more, visit http://bit.ly/37DPoAY.

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.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris expected to have generational impact, say TSU president and others

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover and other members of the TSU family say U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and what she has the potential to achieve will impact generations to come. 

TSU President Glenda Glover

The world tuned in to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to see the inauguration of Harris and Joseph Biden Jr., who became the 46th president of the United States.  

“Words cannot express how proud I was seeing Kamala Harris, an African-American woman and HBCU graduate, sworn in as vice president of the United States. This is a great day for our country, historically black colleges and universities, and for all of us!” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “African-American women have been the backbone of this country, and now an African-American woman has ascended to the second highest office in the nation; with the opportunity to create policies that will impact us for generations to come. I particularly look forward to legislation that will enhance TSU as a premiere institution and our entire HBCU family.”  

Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis

Harris is now the nation’s first female vice president, first black vice president and first black female vice president.  

“From this day forward, it will be normal for a woman to be the vice president of the United States, for a black person to be vice president of the United States, and for a citizen of Asian descent to be vice president of the United States,” said Samantha Morgan-Curtis, a Women’s Studies faculty member and dean of the College of Liberal Arts at TSU.  

“When we watched Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color to sit on the Supreme Court, swear in Kamala Harris as the vice president of the United States, we recognized that representation matters and works. This lesson is as important for young men, as it is for the young women.” 

Senior Dominique Davis

Dominique Davis, the president of TSU’s Student Government Association, agreed.  

“Vice President Harris’ victory is exactly what the world needed to see transpire, especially African-American women,” said the senior business administration major from Danville, Illinois. “For far too long, African-American women have been underrepresented. However, Vice President Harris, along with many other power houses, have certainly began to shift that reality. I have faith that Vice President Harris will guide and elevate America as we continue to navigate through these unprecedented times.” 

Dr. Learotha Williams, a history professor at TSU, said some now ask the question: Is Vice President Kamala Harris the most powerful woman in world history?  

Dr. Learotha Williams

“If one can make the argument that the United States—for reasons good and bad—is the most powerful nation in human history, then her place as vice president, as the last voice in the room before the president makes an important decision, and her position, which is but a metaphorical and physical heartbeat from the presidency, then the answer is yes,” said Williams. “Her position and the power associated with it are not titular or ceremonial, they are real.”  

Dr. Robert Elliott, head of TSU’s Department of Music, said he realized Harris’ impact on future generations while talking to his granddaughters – 9 and 10 – at breakfast before the inauguration was televised.  

“One told me, ‘This is like the first time in the history of the world that we will have a woman vice president,’” recalled Elliott. “The other said, ‘Yeah, and in four or eight years, maybe we will have the first woman president because all of the ones before were men.’ It is great to see these young girls feeling empowered and believing that there are no limits to what women can do or be.” 

Dr. Robert Eilliott and his granddaughters, Chloe (l), Leah (r).

Other women before Harris to seek the position of president or vice president include Shirley Chisholm, who in 1972 became the first Black American and the first woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. Geraldine Ferraro was the first female vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket, in 1984. In 2008, Alaska’s then-governor Sarah Palin was Republican John McCain’s running mate. 

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 famed Aristocrat of Bands to be part of Biden, Harris inauguration celebration

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands will be part of the “We Are One” virtual celebration for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

The celebration on Tuesday, Jan. 19, is an evening hosted by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which will celebrate and honor the Black community and African Diaspora. The event will feature performances and speeches from distinguished guests, including TSU President and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated International President and CEO, Dr. Glenda Glover.

The celebration will be live-streamed from 8:00-9:30 PM Eastern (7:00-8:30 Central) at https://bideninaugural.org/watch/. It will also be broadcast

AOB participates in Battle of the Bands. (Submitted photo)

on Urban One, Revolt TV, and the Instagram pages of HBCU Grad, NowThis News, The Source, The Shade Room, BET, TheGrio TV, Daily Kos, Watch The Yard, Blavity, and on NBC Peacock’s The Choice.

“The Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands is very excited to be a part of the inauguration celebration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris,” says Dr. Reginald McDonald, TSU’s director of bands. “In the midst of a very challenging year, our band program continues to display the excellence of Tennessee State University.”

McDonald says the band submitted four videos for inauguration organizers to include in the celebration, and that footage from the videos will be used in some capacity.

Band member Tiara Thomas says the band’s inclusion says a “lot about the elite nature of the Aristocrat of Bands.”

“Although virtual, this is one of multiple appearances the AOB has made in Washington, D.C. over the years,” says Thomas, a political science major from Olive Branch, Mississippi. “However, I feel this one is as monumental as the performance for President Obama, because we are celebrating a fellow HBCU graduate, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris,“ a Howard University alumna.

Former President Barack Obama greets AOB band members during their visit to the White House in 2016. (TSU Media Relations)

In 2016, during the administration of President Barack Obama, the band was invited to Washington, D.C. to celebrate the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The band performed on the south lawn of the White House, the first HBCU band to perform for the Obama administration at the White House.

The AOB was the first band from a historically-black university invited to march in the inaugural parade for President John F. Kennedy. One of the students who marched in that parade was Edward L. Graves, who became director of bands from 1979 to 2014 (retired).

The AOB also returned to Washington, D.C. in 1993 and 1997 for the Inaugural Parades of President Bill Clinton.

To learn more about the AOB, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/aristocratofbands/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU students participate in virtual Joint Day of Service to honor legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University students and their peers from other area higher education institutions did not let the pandemic stop them from honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The students participated in a virtual MLK Joint Day of Service on Jan. 18. Before the coronavirus, students would gather at one of their schools before being bused to various locations throughout Nashville to volunteer as part of the special day.

This year, once students register, they had a choice of four nonprofit organizations to virtually learn about the entities, how they are faring during the pandemic, and how to volunteer with the nonprofits. A short service activity followed with a reflection on the students’ experiences.

Besides TSU, participating schools included Fisk University, Meharry Medical College, Belmont University, Trevecca Nazarene, Lipscomb University, Vanderbilt University, and Nashville State Community College.

“All of the schools agreed that despite the pandemic, students needed the opportunity to honor the legacy of MLK in a virtual setting through service,” said Dr. Erik Schmeller, director of the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at TSU. “Given the racial and political upheavals of the last year and more recently, we felt the Dr. King quote, ‘Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve,’ was particularly relevant and serves as our theme this year.”

Volunteers organize classroom at Harvest Hands Community Development as part of last year’s MLK Joint Day of Service. (TSU Media Relations)

The organizations participating this year were Greater Nashville Regional Council, Turnip Green Creative Reuse, Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet Elementary, and Project Transformation.

TSU junior Brittanie Pruitt, a nursing major from Covington, Tennessee, said community service is critical, particularly amid the current pandemic.

“It’s definitely important to give back; everybody needs a helping hand,” said Pruitt. “You might need help one day.”

On Jan. 16, TSU’s Honors College joined the Interdenominational Ministers’ Fellowship in a Virtual Nashville MLK Day Youth Symposium. The theme was “Moving the Movement: Honoring Our Past, Present and Future.

For more information about TSU’s Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/servicelearning/.

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.