Tag Archives: Robbie Melton

TSU crossing international waters to bridge digital divide, offers STEM course to underserved high school students in Africa

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University announced Wednesday a dual enrollment partnership that gives students in west and southern Africa access to digital resources to develop their technology skills. The partnership with the African Methodist Episcopal Church will allow high school students to take a coding course at TSU to introduce or expand digital literacy on the continent. Eligible high school sophomores, juniors and seniors will have the opportunity to earn both university and high school graduation credits that will start them on the pathway to degrees in STEM.

Students participate in program at TSU’s national coding center. (TSU Media Relations)

“Tennessee State University is proud to be a part of this initiative that seeks to reach across international borders and give students an opportunity to expand their knowledge, and gain important career development skills,” said President Glenda Glover. “Coding and app design are a large part of the global workforce, and we want to help make sure people of color, everywhere, are equipped with the knowledge and skills to be competitive, and successful. These are largely high school students that have the potential to become a part of the TSU student body.”

Bishop E. Earl McCloud, Jr., of the 14th and 19th Episcopal Districts of the AME Church, presides over the partnering institutions in Africa: African Methodist Episcopal University and Monrovia College, both in Monrovia, Liberia, and Wilberforce Community College in Evaton, South Africa.

Bishop McCloud said the partnership brings hope to students and their families that see education as a better way of life, and most importantly for those with the greatest need.

“Years ago, the late President of the Republic of South Africa (The Honorable Nelson Mandela) said in his autobiography, ‘for Africans it is not a lack of ability, rather a lack of opportunity,’ when addressing the needs of African students,” said McCloud. “Tennessee State University has answered our clarion call to help provide more opportunities globally. This learning extension provides hope. It awakens the eyes of those often left out and left behind.”

President Glover and Bishop McCloud’s message of hope and the importance of access to digital literacy immediately resonated with families. In a collective statement, the partners described the reaction of one of the parents during the recruiting process.

“She walked in our office, with tear-filled eyes, telling us of how her son has always wanted to learn the computer and that his dream is to become a computer specialist, but she had never thought it would be possible because she is just a petite trader selling in one of our local markets. But she now sees it will be a dream come true. This is just one of the many dreams this program will make a reality. This is just one of the many lives this partnership has impacted.”

Participating students must be at least a sophomore in high school or in college. The online coding course is scheduled to start in the fall. Other related courses will be available provided students’ desire to continue with their educational studies through TSU.

“This partnership acknowledges TSU as a global education leader in empowering underserved populations around the world with education opportunities, the knowledge of digital literacies, the basic technical concepts and skills of coding, and the inspiration to innovate in order to be international competitors in the digital workplace,” said Dr. Robbie Melton, Vice President of the Smart Technology Innovation Center at TSU.

Dr. Johnnie C. Smith is executive director of Dual Credit/Dual Enrollment Partnerships at TSU and head of the Africa project. She said students will be provided with learning equipment and resources to ensure success.

“This is a great opportunity for international students to study at Tennessee State University,” said Smith. “I am pleased that President Glover and Bishop McCloud agreed to make this happen, and I am looking forward to expanding the TSU Dual Enrollment experience in other countries as well.”

The TSU-Africa partnership is part of the Smart Technology Innovation Center’s growing dual enrollment coding program that offers high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors the opportunity to earn college credits while enrolled in high school.

Tennessee school districts currently participating in the program include: Clarksville-Montgomery County, Cheatham County, Hamilton County, Haywood County, Jackson-Madison County, Lauderdale County, Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS), and Shelby County. Students also come from the states of Georgia, Maryland, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

The coding class is available to anyone interested in this field of study or as a one-time course. All high school students are welcome to be a part of the TSU Dual Enrollment program with course offerings from the Language Arts, STEM, and Liberal Arts. Please visit (https://bit.ly/3vnMFoO) for more information and to sign up for a class during the 2021 fall semester.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

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

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

TSU President Glenda Glover

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. S. Keith Hargrove

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Robbie Melton

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

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

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

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

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

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

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

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

TSU’s national coding hub welcomes 23 new HBCUs to be community centers as part of Apple initiative

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s national coding hub is welcoming 23 new HBCUs to be community centers as part of Apple’s Community Education Initiative. The announcement comes during Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 7-13.

The tech giant has been working with TSU for the past two years to launch and expand the school’s HBCU C2 initiative, which brings coding and creativity experiences to all 100-plus historically black colleges and universities and their communities.

Students discuss ideas at TSU’s national coding hub. (TSU Media Relations)

To date, there are eight C2 hubs across the nation, and now a total of 25 HBCU C2 centers. Stakeholders say the promotion of digital literacy, computational thinking, coding and creativity will help bring workforce development opportunities to students, faculty, and the broader HBCU communities.

“This partnership with Apple will empower our HBCUs with the knowledge and skill sets now required for the technological workforce,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Coding and app development are a growing part of the global workforce, and we want to help make sure people of color, especially our students, are equipped with the knowledge and skills to be competitive, and successful.”

Dr. Robbie Melton, associate vice president of the TSU SMART Innovation Global Center that oversees the initiative, said faculty leaders from the HBCUs will participate in Apple’s ongoing Community Education Initiative Learning Series to learn about coding and app design and development.

“As part of that ongoing professional development, educators will explore innovative ways to engage with learners using Apple’s comprehensive curriculum, which utilizes its easy-to-learn Swift programming language,” said Melton.

As part of its Community Education Initiative and this partnership, Apple is supporting HBCUs with equipment, resources, and professional development to help the new centers become the pre-eminent HBCU C2 Centers in bringing coding and creativity to their communities.

In June, Apple launched a new Racial Equity and Justice Initiative focused on challenging systemic barriers to opportunity for communities of color by advancing education, economic equality, and criminal justice reform efforts.

”Apple is committed to working alongside communities of color to advance educational equity,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “We see this expansion of our Community Education Initiative and partnership with HBCUs as another step toward helping Black students realize their dreams and solve the problems of tomorrow.”

Earlier this year, TSU held a virtual HBCU C2 summit, bringing together nearly 300 educators from across the HBCU community. The goal of the program was to share best practices and hear from colleagues about workforce development, connecting with their communities, and to bring coding to students of all ages.

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

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and 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 faculty, students use online classes to continue teaching and learning amid COVID-19 pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Treveon Hayes is not letting anything stop him from completing his course work and ultimately getting his college degree – not even the coronavirus. 

Treveon Hayes. (Submitted photo)

The Tennessee State University freshman is among countless students at higher education institutions across the country who have transitioned to online learning as a precaution to contracting COVID-19. 

“It’s been an adjustment, but I have goals, and I can’t let anything stop me from reaching them,” says Hayes, an elementary education major from Memphis, Tennessee. 

Earlier this month, TSU President Glenda Glover and other university administrators held a live meeting via Zoom with over 200 student leaders to assure them that TSU is dedicated to accommodating them while they finish the semester remotely as a result of the virus. 

“We are going to do everything humanly possible to accommodate you to ensure that you succeed in spite of this very daunting challenge,” said Dr. Glover. “It is tough for everyone across the world as we face the daily uncertainties and dangers that this virus presents. We’re going to do whatever we can to ensure that you remain whole.”

TSU students say they appreciate the effort of university faculty and staff, but they acknowledge the distance learning has been challenging because of the absence of things like face to face interaction with their instructors. 

“We were able to go to their office, now it’s mainly emails,” says Rekha Berry, a senior from Mobile, Alabama, majoring in history and political science. “I definitely miss the face to face with instructors.”

Music education major Jakori Hollinger practicing at home. (Submitted photo)

Nevertheless, they are finding ways to adjust. For Hayes, who has two to four classes a day, he practices better time management.

“After class, I give myself about five minutes to use the restroom, grab a snack, then get right back to class,” adds Hayes. “I have to time manage myself. The work has to be done. No excuses.”

Jakori Hollinger, a music education major from Montgomery, Alabama, says the lack of in-person instruction has caused him to do more reading and research in order to understand certain concepts.

“Whereas, if I was sitting in front of them, they could just show me how to do it,” says Hollinger, “I could just pick it up and it would be no issue.”

However, despite the circumstances, he lauded TSU’s faculty and staff for “working with students to make this transition as easy as possible.”

On March 16, TSU was the first public university in Tennessee to transition to all online classes as a result of COVID-19.

Dr. Robbie Melton, interim dean of Graduate and Professional Studies at TSU, says prior to the coronavirus the university was exploring several types of online options for students. 

“We were already positioned to transition online when the coronavirus hit, which is why it only took us less than a week for a full transition,” says Melton. “We had the software and the tools and the training. And we had faculty training every day, including weekends, to assist the faculty in this new norm.”

Dr. Cheryl Seay is executive director of TSU’s Global Online and the lead person in helping TSU’s faculty transition to online instruction. She says sessions are held seven days a week via Zoom to address faculty questions or concerns, and she’s pleased with the participation and adjustment. 

Speech pathology grad student Jordan Robinson prepares to use a clinical simulation. (Submitted photo)

“The faculty have really stepped up to the plate,” says Seay. “They are doing everything they can to embrace this. I’m just really proud of our faculty.”

Dr. Tina Smith, chair of TSU’s Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, set up the first distance education program for the state of Tennessee in the area of speech pathology when she came to TSU in 2005. As a result, Smith says her students have had an easier time adjusting to remote learning. The biggest change she’s had to make involves the clinical component. 

“I now use clinical simulation, virtual patients,” says Smith. “Real clients, but online. We’re also using Zoom to do telehealth with our clients. That’s the new frontier for speech pathology.”

Dr. Learotha Williams, an associate professor of history at TSU, says he realizes these are difficult times for everyone, which is why he checks on the well-being of his students at the beginning of each online class. 

“I ask how each of them are doing, and what I can do to assist,” says Williams. “I also ask them to write a journal entry about how the coronavirus is impacting their lives where they live. It allows them to put their feelings on paper. And as a historian, it’s given me a wide gaze of what students are going through during this period.”

Like many students, Dr. Robert Elliott, chair of TSU’s Music Department, says he too misses the face-to-face interaction. He described the challenge of trying to virtually help a student who was playing Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” on his bass guitar. 

“I’ve got my instrument (bass guitar) in my living room, and he’s got his instrument in his living room,” says Elliott. “He told me at one point, ‘Doc, I can’t wait until we’re back in your office.’ I said me too.” 

TSU has 23 distance education undergraduate and graduate programs and will offer most of the classes online this summer. Summer sessions are scheduled to begin in late May, early June. To learn more, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/aeao/.

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.