Tag Archives: Featured

TSU remembers trailblazing alumna Thelma Harper as a strong, ‘unwavering’ advocate and supporter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Those who remember the late former state Sen. Thelma Harper know she’d be smiling from ear to ear right now just hearing about Tennessee State University. Her love for her alma mater was unwavering. Whether in the Senate where she fought fiercely for equitable funding for TSU, or in the community where she was a powerful voice, or at events on campus, Harper was an advocate like no other.  

TSU President Glenda Glover shares an interesting moment she had with Sen. Thelma Harper, as she pays tribute to the late former lawmaker during the Celebration of Life service at TSU. (Photo by Ashley Benkarski)

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

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

In 2018, weeks before her retirement from the state Senate, alumna Thelma Harper, third from right, participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for two new residence halls on the main TSU campus. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Harper, a Democrat and the first black woman elected to the state Senate in 1989, died April 22. She was 80. A native of Brentwood, Tennessee, Harper graduated from TSU in 1978, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting. She went on to break many glass ceilings and earned many “firsts” in history as a politician and a national figure. In all, she never forgot her TSU.

“Her commitment to Tennessee State University is measured by what we see on the campus,” said fellow TSU alum and state Rep. Dr. Harold Love, Jr. “Fighting for students to have access to great academic programs, promoting TSU equal funding – for me, that was one of the joys when I first got elected to be able to work alongside her to have TSU not forgotten about in the state budget.” 

Danielle Knight, TSU graduate and Sen. Harper’s last intern up to her retirement in 2018, says the late lawmaker inspired her so much that she has set her sight on becoming an elected official. (Photo by Ashley Benkarski)

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

Barbara Murrell, a TSU alumna and former administrator, remembers Harper as a TSU student and her rise as a state and national figure. 

“Senator Harper was a servant leader who was always available to focus on the needs of her alma mater, Tennessee State University and the community she served,” said Murrell, retired TSU vice president for student affairs. “She was respected, admired and appreciated by all who observed her willingness to accept the motto of her alma mater, think, work, serve and make it her own.”  

Sen. Harper, in one of her signature stylish hats, along with other lawmakers, joins TSU President Glover, administrators, staff and students during TSU Day at Capitol in 2018. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Danielle Knight and Marissa Faith King were Harper’s mentees when they interned at the Capitol as TSU students. They recalled the late lawmaker’s personal involvement in their development.  

“Sen. Harper helped me a lot as an intern working with her in the General Assembly,” said Knight, a 2018 TSU graduate in political science, who was Harper’s last intern up to the senator’s retirement the same year. “As a student, she impacted my life and inspired me so much working with her that I decided to become a legislator, to help people in my community as she always did.” Currently a lobbyist aid with the state and a financial services representative with a credit union, Knight’s career goal is to become an elected official.  

For King, who interned with two other lawmakers but interacted with Harper and her staff on many bills, she said the late senator taught her to be firm in a world dominated by men and competing political interests.

“She taught us as black female interns it is okay to stand your ground,” said King, a 2017 criminal justice graduate and an executive legislative assistant in the state House of Representatives. “She told me, ‘It is always necessary to have a seat at the table and make sure you’re being heard and being respected.’”  

Harper was always a major presence at the annual TSU Day at the Capitol, when a wave of TSU blue – students, administrators, faculty, staff – converged on the Capitol with displays of academic offerings and cutting-edge research. She made sure to personally invite her fellow lawmakers to see the “pride of her alma mater.”  

Frank Stevenson, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said Harper’s “consistent voice for opportunities for TSU was unmatched in the state Legislature.”  

“She never missed being a part of the Homecoming events, including being at the parade every year,” Stevenson said. “She never missed celebrating our graduation services. She was just amazing to this university and our campus community.”  

Additionally, while Harper was fighting for TSU in the Tennessee General Assembly, she was also hands-on at the university, mentoring students, especially young women about their personal choices and career goals. She served on the advisory board of the Women’s Center from the inception of the center in 2007 until her passing. She was among the first recipients of the Women of Merit and Legend Award given by the center each year to upstanding women in the community. At the 2018 WOLM awards ceremony, President Glover presented Harper with a special award for her “trailblazing years as a public servant.”  

“She was very helpful and diligent in supporting women’s and student scholarship,” said center director Seanne Wilson. “She was one of the first to provide seed money and scholarship dollars to start the center. She mentored some of the young ladies on professional development, and really just gave them access to her.”  

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

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

Tennessee State University announces new student leaders for 2021-22 after second virtual election

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University‘s Student Government Association has a new group of officers for the 2021/2022 academic year, and for the second time in the institution’s history, the campaigning and elections were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Mister TSU Mark T. Davis, Jr., and Miss TSU Mallory Moore

The new student leadership, including a Mister TSU and a Miss TSU, was announced by the Student Election Commission earlier this month during Tiger Fest, after weeks of campaigning.  

TSU President Glenda Glover, along with staff from the Office of Student Affairs, congratulated the new officers when the election results were announced. 

Derrick Sanders, Jr., SGA Executive President

Derrick Sanders, Jr., a senior English major from Cincinnati, was elected executive president, while Jevaria Jefferson, a senior biology major from Memphis, Tennessee, was elected executive vice president. 

Birmingham, Alabama, native Mallory Moore, a senior health science major, won the coveted crown as the new Miss TSU. Mark Davis, as the new Mister TSU, will escort her. Davis, of Cincinnati, is a junior mass communications major. 

Frank Stevenson, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, described the new officers as a “dynamic group” of student leaders.

Jevaria Jefferson, SGA Executive Vice President

“They were each very strategic in sharing their platforms during the campaign,” Stevenson said. “Student leadership at TSU is not accidental but very intentional, and this group proves that in practice.” 

Sanders, who becomes the 81st administration executive president of the SGA, said he wants to be the “voice for the unheard, the eyes for the overlooked, and the heart for the discouraged.” He said his vision for the university embodies a “marketable TSU; academic excellence and affordability; recruitment, retention and resolution; community outreach; and honoring and highlighting all Tigers.”

“I want TSU to be the premier HBCU through proper planning and progressively developing the institution’s growth in enrollment and visibility,” said Sanders, who previously served as freshman class president, university ambassador, and a Tiger tour guide. His Generation of Educated Men student organization was among the first volunteer groups to help with the cleanup after the March 3, 2020 tornado that hit the TSU campus.

“With this vision, aligned with the passion of the Tigers who stand with me, we can take Tennessee State University to higher heights,” Sanders added.

Mallory, the new Miss TSU, said she sought the crown to do MOORE – Making Opportunities Open to Retain Excellence – for TSU. 

“It is our turn to continue the legacy of scholarship, leadership and service,” Mallory said. “Becoming Miss TSU is like a dream. I am so excited to put in the work for my illustrious institution.” 

Dr. Tobias R. Morgan, assistant dean of Student Engagement and Leadership, congratulated the new student leaders and thanked the Student Election Commission under the chairmanship of Akiliyiah Sumlin, for the very efficient way the process was conducted. Sumlin is a senior agricultural sciences major from Langston, Oklahoma. 

“Sumlin has been a true leader within SGA and the SEC branch since her freshman year,” Morgan said. “We are beyond thankful for her service and dedication.” 

Following is the list of the new Miss TSU court and other members of the SAG: 

Mister. Senior – Shaun Anderson 

Miss Senior – Destiny Pennington 

Senior Class President – Jayden Perry 

Senior Class Vice President – Cedrick Waters 

Senior Class Secretary – Dominique Wallace 

Mister Junior – Treveon Hayes 

Miss Junior – Sa’Mariah Harding 

Junior Class President – Coreyontez Martin 

Junior Class Treasurer – Johndylon Jeffrey 

Mister Sophomore – Alexander Brooks 

Miss Sophomore – Anasia Strickland 

Sophomore Class President – Aliyah Holmes 

Representatives-At-Large 

Kenneth Rolle 

Tanya McNeal 

Maya McClary 

Kassidy Johnson 

Jai Lewis 

Skye Green

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 participate in Model United Nations conference, say forum gave insights on future careers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Two Tennessee State University political science students with interests in law say a recent Model United Nations conference they attended gave them better insights for their future career goals. 

Kimora Reeves and Maya Weaver, both sophomores from Knoxville, Tennessee, participated in the Southern Regional Model UN conference March 26-28. They represented the nation of Jamaica. 

Kimora Reeves

Model UN is a simulation where students represent countries at the United Nations and attempt to solve global issues dealing with security, education, healthcare, and many other issues, said Dr. John Miglietta, a TSU professor of political science and student advisor. The conference builds research and public speaking skills, as well as negotiating skills. 

Reaves, who wants to become a civil rights attorney, attended the conference for the second time. She said she learned things that could be helpful in her future career goal. 

“I really appreciate these conferences because they help prepare me for engagements like the career I want to pursue,” said Reaves, who served on the commission on narcotic drugs, which dealt with issues on illegal narcotics, drug addiction and the impact on young people. 

“It is paramount to have confidence, great public speaking, and efficient writing in this field and the Model UN has given me the opportunity to put these skills to action.” 

Maya Weaver

For Weaver, who wants a career in international relations and law, she said preparing for this conference took a little more time because she wanted to make sure “I had educational and concrete ideas” that others could agree on. She served on the General Assembly Fourth Committee, which dealt with expanding access to relief programs for Palestine refugees in the Near East, and retraining peacekeepers to better adapt to their expanded mandates. 

“Both topics sparked strenuous, insightful, and difficult conversations and debates,” said Weaver. “The discussions were on what should be done and how it would be beneficial in the long run. So, Model UN is the best platform for me to begin learning and building the necessary skills to accomplish my career goals.”  

Reaves and Weaver credit their team advisor for getting them well prepared to participate at the highest level in the conference. 

“We appreciate Dr. Miglietta especially for taking his time to ensure that we, as delegates, were prepared and overall understood the process,” said Reaves.   

TSU has participated in the Model UN for nearly 20 years, but this was the first time it was held virtually because of the pandemic.

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.

 

National Urban League President Marc Morial and journalist wife michelle miller to deliver TSU commencement addresses

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University spring commencement ceremonies will return to the campus as live events with National Urban League President Marc Morial, and CBS national correspondent Michelle Miller delivering the keynote addresses. 

The former New Orleans mayor is the guest speaker for the undergraduate ceremony on Saturday, May 1 at 8 a.m. He follows his award-winning journalist wife Miller who will speak on Friday, April 30 at the graduate event beginning at 4 p.m. Both graduations are scheduled for Hale Stadium. 

Dominique Davis, SGA President and Future Educator and Public Service Practitioner

Graduates are looking forward to hearing the speakers. But they are also excited that they will get to see them in-person. The 2020 spring and fall commencement ceremonies were held virtually because of the pandemic. 

“I am very excited and appreciative for the in-person commencement that will take place on the first of May 2021,” says Dominique Davis, president of the Student Government Association, who will receive her BS degree in business administration, with a concentration in supply chain management.  

“Although, I too will be walking the stage, this isn’t just about me. This specific in-person commencement symbolizes all our graduating seniors who have worked relentlessly to stick to the course this past year in every aspect. This moment should be celebrated, and I am most grateful administrators have remained open minded in the entirety of graduation planning.”  

Folusho E. Micah, Future Medical Doctor

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

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

University officials estimate nearly 1000 graduate and undergraduate students will receive degrees in various disciplines.  

Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, the nation’s largest historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization, is a leading voice on the national stage in the battle for jobs, education, housing, and voting rights equity. He is expected to inspire graduates on his stance on issues surrounding the direction of the nation amid the current political and social climate.  

Recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans by Ebony Magazine, Morial served as a highly successful and popular mayor of New Orleans, as well as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, and the University of Pennsylvania.  

Miller, an Emmy award-winning journalist, joined “CBS This Morning: Saturday” in 2018. Her work regularly appears on the “CBS Evening News,” “CBS This Morning” and “CBS Sunday Morning.” She has also appeared as a correspondent on “48 Hours.”  

At CBS News since 2004, Miller has reported on many stories of national and international importance. She provided extensive coverage of protests surrounding police misconduct and indictments including: the deaths of George Floyd (and his funeral), Travyon Martin, Michael Brown and the trial of George Zimmerman.   

Miller’s many prestigious journalism awards include an Emmy for her series of reports on the National Guard’s Youth Challenge Academy, an Edward R Murrow Award for her coverage of a day care center stand-off in New Orleans, and the Alfred I. duPont – Columbia Award for her team coverage of the Newton, Connecticut, shooting. 

Officials say COVID-19 safety protocols will be strictly enforced on Friday and Saturday. Each graduate will be provided a total of six tickets for guests – 4 to Hale Stadium, and 2 to the Gentry Center, which will serve as the overflow destination. Individuals entering each location must present the appropriate ticket and successfully pass a temperature check.  On Saturday, each location will open at 6:30 a.m. Graduates and their guests are strongly encouraged to arrive early to go through the required protocols.

For updates on commencement, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/records/commencement/.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU alum and longtime public policy practitioner receives top American Society for Public Administration award

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dr. Cliff Lippard, a Tennessee State University alum and top graduate of the university’s public administration program, is the recipient of the 2021 Donald C. Stone Practitioner Award by the American Society for Public Administration, or ASPA.

Dr. Cliff Lippard

Presented by ASPA’s section on Intergovernmental Administration and Management, the award recognizes outstanding practitioners for their contributions to intergovernmental relations and management.

Lippard, executive director of the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, holds MPA and Ph.D. degrees from TSU. He was nominated for the award for his leadership of the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations and strong support for research and program evaluation of the federal system. The award will be presented at the ASPA national conference on April 12.

“I see this honor as another validation of the work that my team at TACIR and our commission members do to analyze and find solutions to the tricky public policy problems faced across jurisdictions and levels of government here in Tennessee,” Lippard said, crediting TSU for the preparation he received.

“The faculty and students of TSU and its public administration program have not only given me the skills necessary to be an engaged, effective public servant, they have also helped shape my belief that the academic community functions best when it is just that, a community. TSU is an integral part of my community,” he said.

Dr. Michael Harris, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, was previously the dean of the College of Public Service.

“Dr. Lippard represents the hard work, dedication, and innovation we expect of College of Public Service graduates at TSU,” Harris said. “Recognition by ASPA is a true reflection of the leadership of CPS graduates serving in the public sector and the amazing faculty. Congratulations to Dr. Lippard!”

Dr. Elizabeth Williams, interim dean of the College of Public Service, said, “This award demonstrates TSU graduates’ power to effectuate positive change in the world. The College of Public Service celebrates Cliff Lippard as a leader who thinks, works, and serves.”

A longtime public policy practitioner, Lippard serves as an adjunct professor in the MPA program, and as president of the TSU chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha, the national honor society of public affairs and administration.

TSU’s College of Public Service offers graduate degrees and certificate programs in public policy and administration, as well as degrees in social work, urban studies, and professional studies.

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 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 alumna Debbi Howard rejoins university as new director of alumni relations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University alumna Debbi Howard has returned to her alma mater as the new Director of Alumni Relations after nearly 30 years with the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Debbi Howard

Howard, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, and lifetime member of the Tennessee State University National Alumni Association, and the President’s Society, earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from TSU in 1994. She also holds a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Before assuming her new role at TSU on March 1, Howard spent 26 years as a civil/structural engineer with TDOT. During that time, she maintained active relationships with TSU by participating in events to increase alumni awareness and engagement, as well as outreach campaigns to raise funds for deserving students.

“I am excited about the opportunity to work with Debbi Howard,” says Jamie Isabel, TSU’s associate vice president of Institutional Advancement, Corporate Relations and Foundations. “She brings a fresh new set of eyes, and her exposure and experience will be a great benefit to Tennessee State University alumni. I am quite sure she will do great at solidifying and strengthening TSU’s alumni base.”

With a long lineage of more than 20 family members who have attended TSU, Howard says she is glad to be back to serve.

“I’m extremely excited and honored for the opportunity to be able to come back to my prestigious alma mater, Tennessee State University, to serve as your new director of alumni relations,” says Howard. “My goal is to not only recommence all of the wonderful traditions and alumni engagement events that are currently in place, but to galvanize our alumni base by creating partnerships, community engagement opportunities and incorporating exciting, innovative ideas and events that alums would enjoy and be proud of.”

In her other roles with the TSUNAA, Howard is co-chair and committee member of TSU’s Alumni Greek Society, and executive board member and event planner for the TSU Alumni Deltas (Absolutely AX) Greek Affinity Chapter.

Howard replaces Cassandra Griggs, who served in the position for eight years, and left TSU recently after serving the university in different positions for 25 years.

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 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.

National Council on Teacher Quality names TSU’s teacher preparation programs among the best in the nation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service)Tennessee State University’s undergraduate and graduate elementary teacher preparation programs have been named among the top in the country for contributing to greater teacher diversity by the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Dr. Jerri Haynes

TSU’s programs are among only 21 percent of the 1,256 NCTQ evaluated across the country and among only seven programs in Tennessee to be recognized in a new NCTQ report for enrolling a cohort of future teachers that is both more racially diverse than the current teacher workforce in their state and reflects the racial diversity of their local community.

Tennessee State University’s undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program was also named among the top in the country by NCTQ for Early Reading Instruction

Dr. Jerri Haynes, dean of the College of Education, said the college is excited to receive this prestigious NCTQ recognition.

“The College of Education continues to pave the path where ‘Excellence is our Habit’ in preparing our teacher candidates in both undergraduate and graduate programs to become effective teachers and leaders in rural, urban, and metropolitan school settings,” Haynes said.

Dionna Robinson

In its report, NCTQ, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit research and policy organization, said TSU’s programs showed clear evidence of dedicated course time, as well as measures where aspiring teachers must demonstrate their knowledge of the five key components of the science of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. This, the report added, puts TSU among the fewer than one-third of programs in Tennessee and nationally to earn an “A” on this NCTQ standard.

Dionna Robinson and Quinton Bolden are students in the teacher preparation program in the TSU College of Education. They are not surprised that NCTQ named their programs among the top in the nation.

Quinton Bolden

“We have amazing professors and advisors who go the extra mile to see us succeed,” said Robinson, a junior elementary education major from Huntsville, Alabama. “From the start, my advisor opened my eyes to making the right decision about my career goal, and I have not regretted it.”

For Bolden, who will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, the NCTQ recognition underscores the dedication and care “my professors show to make sure I am not only successful in the classroom but how I approach my career in the future.”

“It is very uplifting for me to know you have people who care so much for your successful development. They provide me with all the tools I need to be successful,” said Bolden, a native of Earl, Arkansas. “

With a long record of an outstanding teacher preparation in the country, TSU’s recognition by the NCTQ is only the latest accolade for the College of Education.    About two years ago, the university was recognized as the highest producer of teachers among historically black universities and colleges in the nation. A year ago, TSU received $600,000 from the Tennessee Department of Education to train educators to become assistant principals in Middle Tennessee school districts.

To learn more about 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 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 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 using $25,000 gift from Renasant Bank to help students succeed during pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is using a $25,000 donation from Renasant Bank to help fulfill student needs, particularly during the pandemic. Officials say the funds will go toward assisting students in need of financial support, as well as making sure they have the tools they need to complete their coursework.

In a letter, Renasant Bank said the financial donation is in support of “student emergency scholarship” at TSU, as part of its legacy of strong community service. In addition to Tennessee, Renasant serves communities in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

“TSU is grateful to Renasant Bank for its support of the institution and our students,” says President Glenda Glover. “We made a commitment to students that the university would ensure quality of student learning and their academic success during this pandemic. This gift from Renasant helps us keep that promise by providing much needed support for students as we enter the spring semester.”

Tracey Morant Adams, Renasant Bank’s senior executive vice president, says, “When the unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic began to impact our communities, Renasant made an intentional decision to redirect much of our charitable donations to support COVID relief efforts. Our support of TSU’s student emergency scholarship program demonstrates a sincere desire of community service by our company during a very critical time.”

Danielle Glenn

Currently, there are about 1,600 students living on campus, that’s about 50 percent of full occupancy. Classes are offered in hybrid, online and in face-to-face formats, including distance learning. For various reasons, many students have chosen to live on campus, stay in their dorm rooms, and complete their courses online.

Danielle Glenn, a junior criminal justice major from Atlanta, who lives on campus and takes classes online, says she is “extremely” happy that Renasant Bank is helping students “at this very critical” time.

“This is a great way to help many students stay in school,” says Glenn. “Many students are facing some real hard time, and this money will help many of them continue their education, especially during this pandemic.”

Tiant Perry, Jr.

Junior accounting major Tiant Perry, Jr., from Montgomery, Alabama, agrees.

“When I heard about the gift from Renasant Bank I was really happy because there are students on campus right now with balances that they don’t know how they are going to settle,” says Perry. “This generous donation will go a long way to help out many students on campus.”

Jamie Isabel, TSU’s associate vice president of Institutional Advancement, Corporate Relations and Foundations, says the financial gift from Renasant is an example of the bank’s commitment to the university, and the “value of corporate partners to students and the university.”

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and 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.

One year after tornado, TSU family remembers community support, help from ‘total strangers’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University may have been caught in the devastation of a tornado that hit northwest and east Nashville early last March, but the campus family also experienced an outpouring of community support and resilience in the aftermath that has fostered healing and a spirit to rebuild.

President Glenda Glover pets 1-year-old Gracie the goat, which was born the night of the tornado. Gracie’s mother survived the storm and gave birth to two kids that night. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“It was so much outpouring of love and support. People came from different places on different days,” says Dr. Glenda Glover, president of TSU. “Nashvillians stuck together, some students were on spring break and when they came back, they jumped in. We were overwhelmed with the level of love and support and care.” 

March 3 marked the one-year anniversary of the EF2 tornado that struck shortly after midnight. TSU’s Agriculture Farm took the biggest hit. Five of six structures, including research facilities, greenhouses, and a pavilion, were reduced to rubble. Two calves were killed, and several goats injured.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, Dean of the College of Agriculture, talks to a reporter from the spot where the nearly 300-seat pavilion once stood. The pavilion and several other structures were damaged. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Other parts of the main campus received damage to signs and building rooftops, as well as downed power lines, uprooted trees, and other debris. About 85 students who did not go away for the spring break were on campus, but no injuries were reported.

Officials estimate total damage to the campus to be about $20 million.

However, amid the scars of what was lost or destroyed, one thing that has stood out is the volunteerism displayed by people from all walks of life. When asked what they remembered most about the tornado and the aftermath, faculty, staff, and students noted the general outpouring of support from total strangers.

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, Dean of the College of Engineering, right, led a team of faculty, staff, student and community volunteers to remove debris. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Jeia Moore arrived in Nashville from her spring break a few days after the storm hit.  

“It was sad to see my campus like that because so much student work had been lost,” says Moore, a junior information systems major from Memphis, Tennessee. A year later, however, Moore is impressed with how the university has been able to pull through, even with the onset of the coronavirus at the same time. 

“TSU, we are not going to be down too long. We are going to come back,” says Moore. “I am just happy that we are still able to function like we never missed a beat.” 

Volunteers from all walks of life signed up to help with the cleanup effort after the tornado. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Bryce Daniel, a junior health sciences major from Fort Worth, Texas, was in his dorm room in Hale Hall when the storm hit. Hale Hall was not affected, but the sight of the destruction on the other side of campus was too overwhelming for Daniel to ignore. 

“I immediately felt I needed to give back and help my campus recover,” says Daniel, who’s part of “Generation of Educated Men,” or GEM, a social and educational student group. The group mobilized and was among the first volunteers to join the cleanup effort on the Ag farm. 

Members of Generation of Educated Men, a campus group of TSU students, were among the first volunteers to join the cleanup effort. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“I was glad to be safe and blessed to still have all of my things. So, it was just natural to go and give back to help clean up my campus,” says Daniel. 

Some renovations on the main campus are either completed or ongoing. As for the Ag farm, TSU officials say discussions with state and federal agencies and insurance underwriters are ongoing, and construction should start soon and be completed by year’s end.  

“Effort to reconstruct is slower, complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. But we are moving along, it might take some time, but we will get there,” says Glover. 

Debris was thrown about in every corner of the Ag farm in the aftermath of the tornado. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

On the learning aspect, she says it’s been a grueling year, because things are at a slower pace. How students are taught changed drastically, with teaching and learning now about 85 percent virtual.  

“We have some aspects that are not virtual, and we do require in-person learning, so we want to make sure that is taken care of,” says Glover. “Once COVID has run its course, we believe that we will be moving at a faster pace.” 

Dr. Curtis Johnson, associate vice president and chief of staff, heads the reconstruction effort at TSU. He says recovery will take time, but the main concern is making sure teaching and research are not affected.

As the days went by, more volunteers showed up to lend a hand in the cleanup. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“We look forward to rebuilding a better campus,” says Johnson. “We expect our rebuilding to have better structure, better technology. ”

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture, agrees, saying the goal is to “make sure all of our buildings and research facilities are much better and much stronger.” 

On the show of support, Frank Stevenson, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, says in the aftermath of the storm he saw a campus community determined to bounce back, “not only to represent Tiger pride, but the city of Nashville strong.” 

“Our students, faculty, staff, everyone put the gloves on, rolled up their sleeves and were committed to making our campus continue in the space of beauty,” says Stevenson. 

GEM member Derrick Sanders, a junior secondary English education major from Cincinnati, Ohio, who drove into Nashville the next morning amid the destruction, says “it felt so good to see people come together for the enhancement of TSU.”

“I saw people from the community, people from different churches, even students giving out anything they had to help. It just felt good to know that we are a family, and we can help each other,” says Sanders. 

Future surgeon, entrepreneur sets sight on Tennessee governor’s mansion, wants to level playing field

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Denias Smith has big dreams. He wants to become a surgeon, own a business, and eventually become the first black governor of Tennessee. 

Denias Smith

“I want to level the playing field and create equal opportunities for everyone,” says Smith, a senior pre-med student majoring in biology. “It is not so much about making history, but a way of increasing representation for people from low-income housing like me.” 

A transfer student in his sophomore year, Smith says he came to TSU to fulfill a yearning to attend a historically black college or university. He says growing up in his hometown of Bolivar, Tennessee, he did not know much about HBCUs and how nurturing they are until he started reading about TSU on social media – the strong academics and student life. 

“I am a first-generation college student. I ended up attending a predominantly white institution,” says Smith. “I didn’t feel I was being nurtured as a black student. At TSU, I saw students doing their own thing. They were holding down their academic duties. They were being student leaders.” 

Smith says he was in awe of what he saw going on at TSU. “I said, wow, I can do that. I told my mom I was going to transfer. It was a quick decision, and I don’t regret it,” says Smith. “Here I am today growing as a student – academically, and as a student leader. I have grown to love myself because of the environment I am in.” 

With help from TSU schoolmates, Denias Smith, second from left, organized a protest in his hometown to bring awareness about police brutality and other injustices following the death of George Floyd.

At TSU, Smith has adjusted well and proven to be an overall outstanding student, with high leadership skills. He has remained on the Dean’s List since coming to TSU. He is a National Society of Leadership and Success inductee; member of Collegiate 100 Black Men of Tennessee State University; secretary of the National Professional Advancement for Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers; and the Tennessee Louise Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, where he recently presented a research paper. Smith is also the current president of the highly respected Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Society, a pre-medical and pre-dental society at TSU. 

Dr. Keon Vercruysse, associate professor of chemistry, teaches Smith and also serves as the faculty advisor for the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Society. Vercruysse describes his young protégé as a dedicated and accomplished student, who takes his academic duties very seriously. 

“Denias is a friendly and sociable person with a diverse mix of skills that will serve him well in his current and future academic endeavors,” says Vercruysse. “In his capacity as president (of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Society), he has shown his potential as a leader and as someone that looks beyond his own interests.” 

A social justice advocate, Smith played a key role last summer in organizing a peaceful protest following the death of George Floyd. With help from fellow TSU schoolmates, he organized a protest in his hometown to bring awareness about police brutality and other injustices following Floyd’s death. He remembered the moment his plan gained city-wide support. Local law enforcement, the mayor of Bolivar, and other elected officials participated.

“I had finished talking to my mom about my plan, made a social media post, and went to bed. The next morning, I got a call from the mayor and a radio personality saying they would back me up 100 percent,” Smith was quoted as saying to a local CBS affiliate. 

On his future career, Smith says his goal is to become a plastic surgeon, and eventually get into politics. 

“That’s what I am working toward now,” says Smith. “My dream is to own a surgery center. As time goes on, I plan to be a politician. My long-term goal is to be governor of Tennessee. I am all about creating opportunities for people who look like me.”

Smith is a graduate of Bolivar Central High School, where he was an academic standout.

Department of Media Relations

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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.