Tag Archives: Featured

TSU celebrates 2020 graduates with first-ever virtual commencement ceremony

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University celebrated its Class of 2020 with a historic virtual commencement Saturday. More than 700 graduates and undergraduates were honored during the program.

President Glenda Glover

TSU President Glenda Glover greeted the graduates and welcomed alumni, staff and guests watching the program livestreamed on all the major social media platforms.

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

Dr. Harold Love, Jr.

State Rep. Harold Love, Jr., a TSU alum, who brought the keynote address, told the graduates that while COVID-19 has been a hindrance to many things, they must reflect on their achievement as a successful story during this time.

“Many years from now, when we look back on 2020, we will reflect on the bright spots and good things we can point to as an indicator that COVID-19 did not completely eliminate the wonderful things of life,” said Love, who earned bachelor’s and doctorate degrees from TSU.

“In that moment, you will be able to declare that ‘yes,’ COVID-19 caused the world to change how we interact with each other, but in the midst of all of that, you graduated from college. Your gifts and graces are desperately needed to make this world a better place. Like so many before you, you heard the clarion call to enter, to learn, and to go forth to serve with an education you received from Tennessee State University. Don’t let the 24-hour news cycle cause you to have fear about what you will do next. Use that creative mind to discover cures, educate the next generation, or help someone else cope with the challenge of life.”

SGA President Katelyn Thompson

Although the delivery was different, the commencement exercises remained generally the same. The program began with a slideshow of the graduates, followed by a presentation by Student Government Association President Katelyn Thompson.

“We did it,” said Thompson, a Memphis native and double major, who received degrees in criminal justice and psychology.

“Four years ago, we took our first step as first-year students at this prestigious university. As we matriculated through our journey, we were blessed with additions to our family. Congratulations to each of you. TSU has taught us to be resilient in the face of adversity. Although we had such an abrupt stop to our day-to-day campus life, we still had the fight, the vision and the determination to accomplish this milestone.”

Tommy Evans of Belleville, Illinois, said he missed walking across the stage, but is appreciative to TSU for making sure that students received recognition another way. 

Orica Kutten received the Academic Excellence Award for the high GPA in her class.

“I’m excited, because either way, we’re being celebrated for our accomplishments,” said Evans, a criminal justice major and senior class vice president. 

Seliene Munroe Bignall, who received her doctorate in education administration, agreed. 

“I feel very, very blessed,” said Bignall of Nashville. “It has been a long journey, especially with what’s going on here and around the world.”

During the ceremony, Orica Kutten, who received her bachelor’s degree in biology, was presented with the Academic Excellence Award for achieving the highest grade point average in her class.

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

Reaction to the first-ever virtual commencement was overwhelmingly positive. One comment on Facebook described the ceremony as “a grandiloquent job.”

“I watched the virtual commencement. It was a beautiful virtual presentation,” the commenter said.

Another added, “Congratulations, it was a nice commencement, and well presented.”

For the next academic year, the University is set to reopen on August 17 under a comprehensive plan that officials say will provide additional COVID-19 safety protocols to protect the health and safety of the campus community. To learn more about TSU’s campus operation plans for fall reopening, visit www.tnstate.edu/return.

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 2020 graduates optimistic about job market, despite difficulties posed by coronavirus pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the job outlook for college graduates might seem a bit disheartening because of the financial hardship businesses are enduring, but many Tennessee State University students say they are optimistic about their future because of how TSU has prepared them.

Damyr Moore, the outgoing Mister TSU, received his degree in mass communications and integrated marketing. (Submitted Photo)

Lawrence Tommy Evans graduated in May with a degree in criminal justice. He has completed required background checks and physicals with the FBI and another with the Davidson County Police Academy, where he is seeking employment.

“My chances look good and I am keeping my hopes up,” says Evans, of Belleville, Illinois. “In criminal justice, there is always a process which I am going through, such as the background check. But beyond that, I know I am prepared after going through a very rigorous program during my four years at TSU.”

Like Evans, fellow May graduate Damyr Moore, who earned a degree in mass communications and integrated marketing, says while he has not landed a job, he is making the necessary connections and believes “something will come up soon.”

Lawrence Tommy Evans received his degree in criminal justice in May. (Submitted Photo)

“With everything going on right now, I am just trying to stay focused and prepared,” says Moore, of Atlanta, who is the outgoing Mister TSU. He is looking for employment in marketing, public relations, web design, or graphic design.

“That’s one thing TSU taught me – how to be prepared for anything in the future,” adds Moore. “I am looking for anything that allows me to be creative in ways that help to further the vision of the company through bringing in fresh ideas.”

Reports show that the Class of 2020 has a particularly difficult time ahead in navigating the tough job market, made more uncertain with the outbreak. The overall unemployment rate was 11 percent in June — that number jumps to 19.8 percent for those age 20-24, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, employment and career experts say adequate preparation is always the best tool to help get a job.

Antoinette Hargrove Duke, the associate director of the Career Development Center at TSU, says in addition to helping students prepare for the job market, such as through interview coaching, internship search, and career assessments, the center uses different platforms to keep students and companies connected.

“We work with many companies and franchisees throughout the year to prepare our students through internships, co-ops, and employment opportunities,” says Duke. “We are committed to our students and will continue to prepare them for working in any corporation.”

In the last year, Duke says the Career Development Center has worked with major local and national entities, such as Lockheed Martin, the Predators, Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Braves, Innophos, Inc., The General, Nashville Soccer Club, Bank of America, and Deloitte, among many others.

Abdul Alsafri, also a May graduate, says the extra nudging from the Career Development Center has been very encouraging and helpful in his job search.

“My classroom work prepared me for the job, but the Career Development Center gave me the tools I need in looking for a job and how to make myself attractive to employers,” says Alsafri, of Saudi Arabia, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in management and information systems.

“The center gave me so many resources and links on career building. They gave me hope and I am very grateful.”

On Saturday, August 1, Evans, Moore and Alsafri were among more than 700 spring graduates honored with a 2020 Virtual Commencement.

The University is set to reopen on August 17 under a comprehensive plan that officials say will provide additional COVID-19 safety protocols to protect the health and safety of the campus community.

To learn more about TSU’s campus operation plans for fall reopening, visit www.tnstate.edu/return.

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 campus construction intended to enhance students’ living, learning; new Health Sciences Building to open in August

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With the completion of a new Health Sciences Building set for next month, Tennessee State University officials say ongoing construction projects around campus are on schedule and are intended to enhance students’ living and improve their learning environment.

President Glenda Glover

“The new projects are part of a long-term plan to improve academic programs and increase our residence hall inventory, while enhancing the overall status of the university,” says TSU President Glenda Glover. 

“We are extremely excited about welcoming our students and about the future and the new look our campus will take on with the construction. It’s been a long time coming for our students, faculty, staff and alumni.”

In March, amid the coronavirus pandemic, TSU sent students home, closed the residence halls, and asked employees to work remotely, but the construction continued. 

A rendering of the 700-bed residence hall under construction on the main campus. The project, expected to be completed in about 18 months, is estimated at $75.2 million. (Submitted Photo)

As the university prepares to reopen on August 17, officials say all of the projects are still ongoing and on schedule, but construction activities will not have any negative impact on student housing or movements.

Among the projects, the new, ultra-modern Health Sciences Building with classrooms, spaces for clinical simulations, labs and offices, will greet new and returning students when it opens in August. It is estimated at $38.3 million. A 700-bed residence hall estimated at $75.2 million, and expected to be completed in about 18 months, is under construction in the open space between Watson Hall and the Performing Arts Center. Other projects soon to be started are the Gateway Arch, Alumni House and Welcome Center, and a Field Research Organic Laboratory.

Dr. Curtis Johnson, Chief of Staff and Associate Vice President, says ongoing construction will not interrupt students’ movement around campus. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

 “These projects are going to be as less intrusive to students’ ability to move around as possible,” says Dr. Curtis Johnson, chief of staff and associate vice president at TSU. “It won’t hurt student housing. It may be noisy for them during some construction periods, but it won’t interrupt them being able to get into their residence halls or to be able to move around.”

Frank Stevenson, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students, agrees. He says every effort is being made to ensure that students are not inconvenienced in any way.

Frank Stevenson

“We will be intentional about minimizing the inconvenience to students,” says Stevenson. “We are bringing up a huge edifice that is going to be something very special, and as such, there may be a need on the part of students to make some minor adjustments in terms of that construction site.”

He says the current residence halls are ready to welcome new and returning students for the fall semester.

“We really are excited about our students coming back. We left rather abruptly in the spring,” says Stevenson. “We miss the students in terms of the opportunity to see them on campus. We really are excited about this fall. Even though it is different, we are making sure we provide a safe environment, good experience and a quality education for the students.”

With the new construction, some previously designated parking areas are being taken up to make room for the new student housing, but Johnson says the overall plan is ensuring that no parking space is lost.

“All we have done is to relocate some parking spaces,” he says, adding, “That means that we might have to take a few more steps to get to certain locations than we did before. But we are not losing any parking. In fact, we may pick up a few more than we had before.”

Johnson says although campus may look different with all of the projects going on, students are generally excited to see positive changes around them, especially in infrastructure and the future of the university.

“It is always good when the student can say, ‘I remember what it used to be but it is better now.’ That is what we are trying to make – a better TSU,” he says.

TSU announced July 8 it will reopen August 17 under a comprehensive plan that will provide additional COVID-19 safety protocols to protect the health and safety of the campus community, along with student discounts.  

To learn more about TSU’s campus operation plans for fall reopening, visit www.tnstate.edu/return.

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 Nursing Graduate Returns Home After Fighting COVID-19 in New York, Credits University with Preparing Her

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Keisha Coleman is finally home for a well-deserved rest. For three months straight and working 13-hour shifts, the traveling nurse and Tennessee State University graduate was on the front line caring for COVID-19 patients in New York.

Keisha Coleman is taking a month off after caring for COVID-19 patients in New York. She plans to return to the front line. (Submitted Photo)

“I love my patients and I miss them but I was excited to come home,” says Coleman, a critical care nurse who worked in the intensive care units at several hospitals in New York.

“I didn’t want to leave them, but I was ready to come home just to see my family because they were home worried for me as well. My mom couldn’t sleep, she would text me late nights on the job to see if I am okay.”

Coleman always wanted to work in critical care and she says TSU prepared her well for the challenge. After earning her associate’s degree in nursing in 2017, she worked at Nashville General Hospital and St. Thomas Midtown Hospital in the Intensive Care Unit. After some time at St. Thomas, Coleman says she decided to be a traveling nurse, “and just then, COVID came.” Her first assignment was New York, one of the country’s hardest hit states.

“It was tough and scary at first, but I do think TSU prepared me well to be the nurse and strong woman I am,” says Coleman. “At some point of my assignment, instead of the usual two, I had four to five critical patients, who were sedated, on ventilators and paralyzed. It was scary when you have all of these critical patients you have to take care of.  You get to thinking about yourself, your health. Some nurses got infected. I can honestly say I was nervous about contracting the virus, but I came back home and I tested negative.”

Keisha Coleman earned her nursing degree from TSU in 2017. (Submitted Photo)

Like many healthcare workers on the front line in the early days of the pandemic, Coleman says the task was daunting – long hours, influx of patients and shortage of critically needed PPE’s, or personal protective equipment.

“From day one we were limited on PPEs that were needed to go in the rooms to take care of patients,” says Coleman. “When I got there, we had all COVID patients. When we gowned up, we had to go to multiple rooms with that one gown. Normally, we would take off that gown prior to leaving the room. Since we were so limited, we had to use the same gown in different patients’ rooms. It was so bad that at some points we had to use bleach to wipe down our gowns to reuse them. We were limited on gloves, masks and certain medications.”

Amid the shortage, Coleman says the patient load continued to climb, as hospitals ran out of space for patients and places to store the mounting number of dead people.

“After a lot of those patients died we didn’t have any rooms,” recalls Coleman. “We were putting them on the roof, in the basement and some in a tractor trailer outside. As all three places were full, we started putting bodies on a sled and just dump ice on them,” she says.

By the end of May, Coleman says things started to slow down. Some patients who had been admitted for up to three months began to get better – being able to walk, learn to talk, and breathe on their own.

“It was a good feeling,” she says. “I didn’t want to leave them, but I was ready to come home. But I am glad I went. It really was a humbling and rewarding experience. It is good to have this experience firsthand to tell my future children, and that I was on the front line helping.”

While Coleman’s situation was dire, she is one of several TSU nursing school graduates among the thousands of healthcare workers around the country responding to the influx of patients suffering from COVID-19. They’re conducting screenings, communicating to patients’ families, and above all, caring for the critically ill.

Dr. Pinky Noble-Britton, associate professor and director of TSU’s BSN program, says like Coleman, TSU nursing students are prepared to perform at the highest level of their profession in administering safe patient care.

“We push them and they are expected to use whatever resources they have to their best ability,” says Noble-Britton.

Knowing that her work is critical, especially with the new surge in coronavirus cases across the country, Coleman says she plans to take another month off and then head back to helping COVID patients.

“I plan to go back and help in one of the other states, like Florida, Texas or Arizona, which are epic centers,” says Coleman. “My plan is to travel and change lives, and just to know that I made a difference.”

Coleman also plans to return to TSU to earn her BSN degree. The program is now accepting applications for Fall 2020. The Traditional B.S.N. at TSU provides an instructional environment that teaches students how to provide holistic, ethical and culturally sensitive care to clients across the lifespan. To learn more about TSU’s nursing program, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/nursing/

Department of Media Relations

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

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

TSU uses covid-19 exercise to help with Fall Reopening Plan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – With Tennessee State University planning to reopen this fall, state health and emergency management officials say the university is moving in the right direction to ensure a safe environment for its reopening plan.

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission joined TSU President Glenda Glover and other TSU officials in a COVID-19 tabletop exercise on the university’s main campus.

President Glenda Glover talks to the media about the importance of the tabletop discussion on TSU’s fall reopening plan. (TSU Media Relations)

“Today’s tabletop was very critical in our reopening plan, in that it covered areas that we need to know about, and emphasized things that we had missing in our plan,” Glover said. “It was very strategically timed today because we have to communicate something to students this week. So, this was very good, very complete and very comprehensive.”

The tabletop was coordinated by the three agencies that praised the positive level of cooperation between TSU’s administration and staff in trying to come up with a comprehensive plan for the campus, including safety protocols, testing and tracking.

Representatives from the university’s Pandemic and Fall Course Delivery Task Forces, as well as student affairs, emergency management, legal affairs, athletics, police, and academic affairs, among others, attended the workshop. (TSU Media Relations)

“What we saw here with TSU is that you have an administration that’s being collaborative and finding ways to mitigate the threat of COVID-19,” said Jeff Brown, a planner with TEMA and key facilitator of the tabletop.

“They want to open campus up and I think they are taking the right precautions through communicating with each other and coming up with contingency plans on how to deal with any potential problems down the road.

The goal of the tabletop was to identify areas in the group’s emergency response plan that needed improvement in addressing coronavirus outbreak scenarios.

Members of the university’s Pandemic and Fall Course Delivery Task Forces, representatives from student affairs, emergency management, legal affairs, police, academic affairs and others attended the workshop. Scenarios included real-life on “what-if” situations, such as positive tests in dormitories, cluster outbreaks, how to respond to COVID-19 within athletics, situations, and how to handle mass gatherings.

 Dr. Curtis Johnson, chief of staff and head of the TSU Pandemic and Fall Course Delivery Task Forces, said the tabletop exercise helped to make individuals in key areas evaluate their policies and processes.

“Today’s process put individuals who are decision-makers involved in managing those decisions in one room to talk about the what-ifs, such as ‘when this occurs,’ ‘should this occur,’” Johnson said.

“It also helped in ensuring that our policies and processes are in line with the state and federal government, the CDC, and that the university is protecting everyone as best as possible.”

The exercise also assessed the validity of TSU’s current emergency response plans; challenges posed by COVID-19; how the university coordinates responses with the campus health services; and reviewed plans to clarify lines of accountability and communication to enable timely, well-coordinated, and effective response.  This is extremely crucial as TSU continues its plans for reopening. The University has said it will move forward, but understands that those plans could change as cases increase. 

Department of Media Relations

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

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

TSU, Vanderbilt Partner with National Initiative to Bring Engineering to Tennessee High Schools

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is collaborating with Vanderbilt University in a national initiative to bring engineering to area high schools. 

Engineering for US All, or E4USA, a National Science Foundation initiative, provides a standardized educational curriculum for pre-college students to learn and demonstrate engineering principles, skills and practices. The curriculum affords students the opportunity to earn college credit at participating colleges and universities.

Under the initiative, TSU’s College of Engineering will work with students at Stratford STEM Magnet High School in a curriculum that introduces basic principles of engineering, and allows students to design and build projects through a hands-on learning experience. For the last eight years, the TSU College of Engineering has been working with Stratford in many other precollege engineering programs.

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering, says providing the E4USA course allows the university to expose more students to career opportunities in engineering and “the preparation needed.”

“It also allows TSU to collaborate with multiple high schools, teachers, and recruit students to TSU and to STEM fields,” says Hargrove, who serves on the Engineering Advisory Board at Stratford. “Students will get a head-start for those interested in academic careers in engineering and are eligible to receive academic credit at a university.”

The Engineering for US All initiative was launched across the country early this academic year as a pilot with Vanderbilt and four other universities paired with high schools in their states to enroll students in E4USA’s free, design-based introductory engineering course.

In the 2020-2021 academic year, TSU, MTSU and the University of Tennessee will work with Vanderbilt University to move the program into Metro Nashville’s Stratford and Glencliff High Schools, Rutherford County Schools’ Riverdale High, and Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga.

Ronald Glenn, an incoming freshman, who was part of the TSU pre-college engineering program at Stratford during his freshman, junior and senior years, says adding the E4USA course will be great for the program . He says it helped him develop a strong foundation in engineering.

“I enjoyed working with TSU professors during those years,” says Glenn, of Nashville, who will major in architectural engineering.   “The program helped me get a head-start on my college work.” 

According to the E4USA website, the program fills a current gap in engineering education training by recruiting high school teachers of all disciplines. No prior engineering experience is required to become an E4USA teacher. 

“High school teachers are trained and supported by engineering colleges with curriculum and laboratory resources,” says Hargrove.

In this pilot year, E4USA has reached more than 400 students, including several seniors who plan to study engineering and have been accepted to colleges. In the coming year, it is anticipated that E4USA will reach over 2,000 students across 14 states and territories.

 For more information on the TSU College of Engineering, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/engineering/

Department of Media Relations

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

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

New TSU, Nashville Opera Partnership to Expose TSU Music Students to Real-World Musicians and Artists

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University music majors with dreams of performing with some of the best entertainers in the world, may actually be a step closer to making that a reality thanks to a new partnership between the university and the Nashville Opera.

The joint venture, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, will launch a digital masterclass series in performance, music industry and arts management. 

Led by the Nashville Opera, working professionals will present masterclasses that bring real-world musical artists to TSU students. The university will also lead in coordinating with other historically black colleges and universities to participate in the virtual educational experience.

Isaiah Batey

Isaiah Batey, a senior vocal music major and opera singer, is excited about learning from “the best in the business.”

“This is just the kind of opportunity I am always looking for,” says Batey, a Nashville native who wants to be a professional singer “traveling around the world and sharing my talent.” Inspired by opera singers like Luciano Pavarotti, Renee Fleming and Jessye Norman, Batey says the new partnership will give TSU students like him the opportunity to learn from professionals who are actually in the music industry.

“To have these people work with us college students who are trying to get to where they are professionally, technically and vocally, is just so fulfilling,” says Batey, a graduate of the Nashville School of Arts, who currently sings with the Concert Chorale of Nashville and the William Crimm Singers, a group organized by TSU music instructor William G. Crimm.

Dr. Robert L. Elliott, professor and chair of the TSU Department of Music, says the new joint venture is a continuation of the long-standing partnership with the Nashville Opera that will better position TSU and other HBCU students for success in a digital, virtual world upon graduation.

“This partnership will provide new and different experiences for our students, and facilitate learning at multiple universities,” says Elliott.

An NEA release says the Nashville Opera will receive $25,000 to fund the digital masterclass series with TSU beginning September, and will be free to the public through livestreaming.

“We are deeply grateful for this support from the National Endowment for the Arts,” says John Hoomes, Nashville Opera CEO and artistic director. “It helps us do the important work of creating more equity in our art form.”

The Nashville Opera’s relationship with TSU spans more than a decade and includes such activities as presentations of masterclasses, free student tickets to performances, and Opera 101 lectures for the Department of Music.

For more information on the music program at TSU, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/music/

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 Board of Trustees welcomes New student trustee, Approves Flat Tuition and Fees for 2020-21 Academic Year

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University Board of Trustees on Thursday welcomed Tiara Thomas as the new student trustee selected by President Glenda Glover, and officially announced freezing tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Attorney Andre Johnson will serve a two-year term.

Also taking his seat for the second time was Attorney Andre Johnson as the newest full voting board member appointed by Gov. Bill Lee. Johnson attended his first board meeting on March 12. He will serve a two-year term.

The board made it official that there will be no increase in tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year. The “Tiger Tuition Freeze” recommendation, put forward by President Glover to keep fees flat for undergraduate and graduate students, was also accepted unanimously.

Johnson, who will serve on the Academic Affairs and Student Affairs Committees, is a senior partner with the law firm of Manson Johnson Corner. A Tennessee native, Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from Howard University. He also earned an MBA from TSU. His bar admissions include the Supreme Court of Tennessee, and the United States District Court for the Middle Tennessee District.

Tiara Thomas, from Olive Branch, Mississippi, is the new Student Trustee.

Thomas, the new student trustee, is a junior political science major with a 3.95 grade point average. She is a native of Olive Branch, Mississippi. The very active student is a member of the Aristocrat of Bands, and serves as the executive chair of the TSU Votes Student Coalition. With a goal to work for the U.S. Department of Education, Thomas plans to further her education after college to pursue a career in educational policy. She will serve a one-year term.

Thomas replaces Braxton Simpson on the Board of Trustees. A top-agricultural sciences major, Simpson served two one-year terms on the board.

Bishop Joseph Walker III, chairman of the Board of Trustees, described Simpson as an outstanding member of the Board.

“We want to thank her for her tremendous service to the Board of Trustees,” Walker said. “We certainly appreciate her talent and commitment. She has been an important member of our Academic Affairs Committee. On behalf of the Board we want to thank you so much. You represented everything that TSU exemplifies, not only on campus, but all around the country.”

In early June, President Glover, in consultation with the board, announced the tuition freeze saying that her administration would not seek a hike in fees because it would cause a burden on students.

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the current economic downturn would pose an additional hardship for our student population and their families,” Glover said. 

On Thursday, the board agreed with the President and unanimously approved the measure.

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.

Future Lawyer, Politician Sets Sights on Becoming Agent of Change for Justice, Says TSU Opened Doors to Opportunities

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Mariah Rhodes always wanted to be a “change agent,” to fight the injustices she saw growing up in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. And Tennessee State University is giving her the opportunity to make a difference.

Mariah Rhodes

“I witnessed many wrongful convictions and disparities in education while growing up as a child in Memphis,” says Rhodes, a top political science student at TSU. “I knew right then that I wanted to be a change agent because the injustices and disparities affected my family, friends and many others.”

To accomplish her dream, Rhodes says she set her sights on becoming a lawyer and eventually entering politics as an elected official focusing on education and criminal justice reform. Coming to TSU, therefore, was no accident, she says, because the university was centrally located in the “political capital” of the state, with some of the best schools, and it is closer to home.

“I am a mama’s girl. I am really closed to my mother. So, a college for me had to be three hours away or less so I can quickly get back home in case of an emergency,” says Rhodes, the older of two children raised by their single mother.

Mariah Rhodes participates in student convocation as a member of the Student Government Association. (TSU Media Relations)

“Second, as a political science major, I was looking for a school that offered the best opportunity that I can get for my future and my career. And, the state capitol is located in Nashville. Then I started looking at campus life and I fell in love with TSU. There are so many events, so many opportunities for minorities.”

Saying that coming to TSU was the best choice, the former academic standout at Power Center Academy High School graduated fourth in her class with a 3.93 grade point average and received more than $3.8 million in scholarship offers.

Mariah Rhodes, with her sister, Brianna Mason, left, and mother Denise Woods, received more than $3.8 million in scholarship offers when she graduated Power Center Academy. (Submitted photo)

“I had many opportunities to go to many other schools with full academic scholarships. I chose TSU because that was the best place that was home to me,” she says. “The family atmosphere – people willing and ready to help. The professors, advisors motivate me. Once they see that you are trying, they will take you under their wings, and that’s something I will always be grateful for.” 

Rhodes has adjusted well and proven to be an overall outstanding student. Advisor and professor, Dr. Kyle Murray, refers to Rhodes as “one of the top students in the Political Science degree program at TSU.”

“Mariah has thrived in the program and set an outstanding example of discipline and leadership among her peers,” says Murray, assistant professor of political science. “ Not only is Mariah one of the top current Political Science majors, her natural leadership skills have been exemplified by her service on the Student Court, and as TSU’s official ambassador to the White House HBCU Summit.”

Currently TSU Student Court Chief Justice, Rhodes is an HBCU White House Competitiveness Scholar. She is an honors intern with the U.S. Department of Justice. Although numerous, her extracurricular activities clearly exhibit her quest for knowledge and to be the best. With a 4.0 GPA, Rhodes is a member of the TSU Honors College, Golden Key International Honor Society, a graduate of the TSU Collegiate Police Academy, and president of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity International, among others.

“Mariah is a natural born leader, academically talented and committed to inspiring her peers,” says Frank Stevenson, associate vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, one of the people Rhodes credits with her success at TSU.

“She is the essence of Tiger perfection,” adds Stevenson.

Rhodes’ proven leadership skills and desire to bring out the best in others have followed her from her days at Power Center Academy. At TSU, she mentors fellow students. A former vice president of Modern Distinctive Ladies, a girls’ mentoring program , Rhodes is still actively engaged in the program.

“I love to help because I know how difficult it can be sometimes, besides many have helped me, and I am so grateful. I am just trying to give back, and I look forward to doing even more in my future career,” says Rhodes. After college, Rhodes says there is a “strong chance” she may stay in Tennessee for law school.

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

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State 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 program is helping 101 educators from the state’s largest school districts achieve their dream of becoming assistant principals

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University College of Education has received another $300,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Education to train an additional 51 aspiring assistant principals in Middle Tennessee school districts. This brings to 101 the total number of individuals to be trained in the one-year program.

Dr. Jerri Haynes

“Tennessee State University is taking the lead in the state’s assistant principal training program, as a further recognition of the quality of our programs,” says Dr. Jerri Haynes, dean of the College of Education.”

“This is an opportunity the university is certainly proud to receive. Through this program we are helping to fill the void or shortage of assistant principals, especially minorities.”

Dr. Eleni Elder, professor of educational leadership, is one of the leads on the Aspiring Assistant Principals’ Program. (TSU Media Relations)

Last January, the college received $300,000 to begin the training of the first group of 49 aspiring assistant principals. Officials say this is part of a longstanding collaborative partnership between the university, the state agency and K-12 systems aimed at attracting more qualified applicants for positions in school leadership.

The funding from the Tennessee Department Education will be used to conduct a one-year, master’s degree-level training for cohorts from the region, including four of the state’s largest school systems – Metro Nashville Public Schools, Shelby County Schools, Rutherford County and Clarksville. In May, the first cohort took one course during Maymester, an accelerated summer program. To catch up, the new group will take two courses during next year’s Maymester to finish the program at the same time.

Dr. Terrance McNeil, assistant professor of educational administration and coordinator of the training program, says to have the ability to have “such a large influence” on what happens next across the state in terms of educational leadership is a tremendous opportunity for the College of Education.

“We have taken the lead in the state in terms of this initiative,” says McNeil. “What that mean is that we have the rare opportunity to prepare the next generation of principals in cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Education, and that really makes us happy from the professional standpoint.”

TSU students in the educational leadership program contacted in January said the strength of the curriculum would be helpful in developing the leadership skills of the aspiring assistant principals.

“This program helps build character because it offers a lot of field experiences where we go and directly talk to people and observe what they are doing,” said Pragati Natraj, a first-year graduate student from India majoring in instructional leadership.

Bridney Jones, who’s also pursuing her master’s degree in educational leadership, agreed.

“I believe this course will benefit the new cohorts by giving them strong hands-on and practical experience they will need as leaders,” said Jones, of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

According to Haynes, participants in the program are teachers who have been selected by their superintendents or principals to take part in the training. All courses in the program, which is from June 2020 to June 2021, are offered online. When completed, participants will receive professional licensure as educational leaders.

“We have developed a special program of study for this project,” says Haynes. “We are going to provide them the theory and application, as well as internships and on-the-job training. They will receive university mentors, and we will work to identify mentors at their schools where they work.”

Dr. Latasha Lang, an adjunct faculty, who is one of the instructors in the program, says to be able to be taught by people who have experience as principals or assistant principals is a “wonderful opportunity” for the trainees.

“For those that are aspiring to become assistant principals, this is an excellent way to get information about what actually occurs in the school building,” says Land, who also currently serves as a high school assistant principal. “The program offers the opportunity to discuss scenarios, to be able to ask questions, and get information on things that have actually occurred. I am very excited about this.”

For more information about the Aspiring Assistant Principals Program and other graduate-level programs  in the in the College of Education, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/coe/.

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.