NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will be able to help more students get a quality education after it exceeded its goal of raising $1 million at this year’s Scholarship Gala.
“We are pleased to announce that our goal of $1 million was met and exceeded in a big way,” said TSU President Glenda Glover following the Oct. 13 gala. “Alumni giving and sponsorships also increased. This means more financial support for our students.”
The gala, part of TSU’s weeklong Homecoming activities, is the biggest single event by the university to raise scholarship money. Contributions swelled from $600,000 last year to more than one million this year. Initially planned for 1,300 guests, the event was sold out with additional seats brought in.
“The scholarship gala is the most important event other than the football contest,” said Homecoming chairman Grant Winrow. “This is by far the biggest effort by the university to raise scholarship money and we are glad that not only did we raise the million, we exceeded our goal.”
Earlier this year, Glover challenged the gala committee, a subset of the Homecoming committee, to exceed previous performances.
“With that mandate,” gala chairwoman Barbara Murrell said, “We knew we had a job to do. We knew this would be a community effort. We talked to and got the cooperation of the city of Nashville, the TSU Board of Trustees, corporations, Foundation board members, National Alumni Association, the president’s cabinet, faculty, staff and students. What we ended with was an exceptional gala with a stellar group of individuals and an evening to remember.”
According to Murrell, the more than 1,300 “friends of TSU” were greeted at various intervals in the Music City Center by student musicians who entertained the attendees as they proceeded through the venue to the night’s “stellar event” in the grand ballroom.
Jasha Keller, of St. Louis, and Kayla Daniels, of Atlanta, are two scholarship recipients who helped to escort guests at the gala. They were impressed by the “elegance of the evening,” especially interacting with alumni who helped to raise funds to keep them (students) in school.
“I really loved the program, the atmosphere and that we were able to be a part of the event,” said Keller, a sophomore integrated marketing major. “Alumni were very engaging with us, letting us know, ‘this is all for you. We are invested in your education.’”
Daniels, a sophomore business administration major, added: “I really like the fact that they had two scholarship recipients speak on our behalf to let the alumni know that their scholarship dollars are going to students like us, and how grateful we are for their support.”
The gala also highlighted the contributions of a “stellar group” of honorees and grand marshals whose lives and legacies exemplify the best of TSU, most notably former TSU President Frederick S. Humphries, who was awarded a special Presidential Recognition by Glover.
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry served as Honorary Chair of the Scholarship Gala.
Other honorees were: Dr. Sterlin Adams, retired, professor and special assistant to Dr. Humphries; Dr. Evelyn P. Fancher, retired, director of libraries; Dr. Raymond Richardson, retired professor and chair of physics, mathematics and computer science; and William “Bill” Thomas, former head football coach and athletic director.
The grand marshals were: Georgette “Gigi” Peek Dixon, senior vice president and director of national partnerships, government and community relations at Wells Fargo; Alfred Gordon, vice president of operations for Frito-Lay North America; State Senator Thelma Harper, 19th District, Tennessee General Assembly; and Roosevelt “Bud” Reese, CEO of CMI Foundation.
“These are very accomplished individuals with proven track records of successes in their respective career fields,” Winrow said. “I think their selfless commitment of service and helping others is the commonality they all share.”
Prior to the Homecoming parade and football game the next day, the Scholarship Gala capped a week of activities that started with the Robert N. Murrell Oratorical Contest, followed by a gospel explosion featuring gospel singers Deitrick Haddon, Earnest Pugh and the New Direction Gospel Choir.
On Wednesday, hundreds of people — including parents, relatives, friends and fellow students — packed a jubilant Kean Hall to witness the crowning of Mr. TSU Alec Forrest, and Miss TSU Kayla Smith, and their Royal Court.
On Saturday, thousands lined Jefferson Street for the highly anticipated Homecoming parade. President Glover, joined by Mayor Barry, headed the parade that ended on the main campus. They were accompanied by other government officials, numerous floats, businesses, and visiting school bands led by the famed TSU Aristocrat of Bands and the Mr. TSU and Miss TSU Royal Court.
The week climaxed Saturday evening at Nissan Stadium when thousands of fans witnessed the TSU Tigers rally from behind, but eventually fall 21-17 to the Austin Peay Governors.
Glover described the 2017 Homecoming celebration as a “tremendous success.”
“It could not have happened without the entire Tennessee State University family working together, students, faculty, staff and alumni,” Glover said. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
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With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.