NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University took home “Campaign of the Year” honors in Home Depot’s Retool Your School- HBCU Campus Improvement competition. This was the first year for the award, which was created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Retool Your School program. TSU beat out 60 other institutions for the grant award.
“We are extremely proud to have won this top honor for campaign of the year, and are just as proud of our students, staff and alumni that mobilized efforts for TSU to have such a strong showing to get the entire university family involved,” said Tennessee State University President Dr. Glenda Glover.
TSU finished second in voting for the large institution category, but walked away with the campaign of the year award. Judges cited the overall performance of the campaign that was able to engage students, alumni and the community, as well as digital media strategies to promote voting.
Dr. Heidi Williams teaches research and technical writing in the Department of Languages, Literature and Philosophy at TSU. She turned the Retool Your School campaign into an assignment for her students.
“I had never seen students take things so seriously, and work so hard on an assignment,” Williams said. “They didn’t do it for a grade. They did it for themselves, for each other.”
Sophomore Gabrielle Davis is one of Williams’ students. She said she enjoyed working on the campaign, and is looking forward to how the win will benefit the university.
“This shines a great light on Tennessee State University,” Davis said.
Mon-Cheri Robinson, TSU’s assistant director of student activities, agreed. She helped galvanize the university’s student government leadership, as well as the sororities and fraternities, who used social media to help get the word out about the campaign, including announcements during the students’ Courtyard Wednesday activities.
“It’s all about having them see the big picture, and see how it benefits them, and the school overall,” Robinson said.
TSU alumni were motivated by National Alumni Association President Joni McReynolds, who led the charge for her alma mater on social media. McReynolds even posted a video outside of her local Home Depot store urging fellow alumni to vote.
“The TSU family, including students, alumni and friends, came together to allow us to win,” McReynolds said. “It’s good to see the Tennessee State University Tiger spirit.”
Student leaders, including SUB-G, were polled for ideas on how the administration should use the funds to make campus improvements. They ranged from landscaping, pressure washing buildings, upgrades to the recreation room, lighting for the campus amphitheater, and restoration of the courtyard and Welton Plaza. All will see a makeover with the funds.
Incoming Student Government Association President Katelyn Thompson said the win makes her proud to be a Big Blue Tiger.
“This is an outstanding accomplishment,” said Thompson, a junior majoring in criminal justice and psychology. “All of our hard work paid off.”
TSU has participated in the Home Depot program since 2014. Kelli Sharpe, assistant vice president for Public Relations and Communications, said getting the word out early and often was crucial.
“Staff put together a comprehensive social media campaign and worked to make sure students, employees, alumni and the TSU community as a whole were included on all communications regarding our campaign,” Sharpe said. “It was truly a team effort to see everyone come together for this great cause.”
Home Depot will have the final approval of the projects, which will start in the fall.
Currently, there are several major construction projects underway on TSU’s campus. They include a new Health Sciences Building, two new residence halls, and an Alumni House and Welcome Center.
Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
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 38 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.