All posts by Kelli Sharpe

TSU hosts groundbreaking A.I. Summit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is bringing artificial intelligence to the masses. Starting June 5, 2024, the university will host the A.I. FOR ALL: Open Education Summit , at the Avon Williams Educational Site. The two-day technology event will explore the heart of innovation, with the goal of show casing how artificial intelligence is within reach for everyone.

Tennessee State University’s AI robotic dog Blue and his pup.

During the opening session, TSUs AI robotic dog Blue and his pup greeted the crowd. The AI dogs will be making appearances throughout the summit.

Some of the topics will include Ethics and Policies for A.I., A.I. Tools for Every Stage of Education, A.I. for Educational Equity, and Innovating Pedagogy with A.I.  The summit will include industry giants Google, Apple, Oracle, T-Mobile, Comcast, Amazon, and Microsoft. National speakers, panels, interactive workshops, A.I. exhibits, plus art galleries and tools will also be on display.  Prominent sponsors and partners include the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, T-Mobile Education, Merlot- Affordable Learning Solutions, and MIT-Open CourseWare. The summit is free and open to the public.

Dr. Robbie Melton, who is the Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, also serves as the Vice President for Technology Innovations and heads the TSU SMART Global Technology Innovation Center. Recently, she was appointed to the Southern Regional Education Board Commission (SREB) on Artificial Intelligence in Education. Melton’s appointment further solidifies her status as a top expert and TSU as a leading institution on artificial intelligence.

Dr. Robbie Melton welcomes the crowd to Day 1 of the A.I. For All: Open Education Summit.

“My passion lies in making A.I. accessible to everyone, amplifying voices that are often unheard, and breaking down the barriers that divide us,” added TSU’s Melton.  “Together, we can shape a future where A.I. isn’t just a tool for the few, but a force for good that enriches all of our lives.”

Over 500 people are expected to attend the summit. Dr. Melton discusses the groundbreaking summit in detail below in our Q&A interview.

Q & A with Dr. Robbie Melton

Subject: A.I. For All: Open Education Summit

What does hosting the A.I. For All Summit mean for TSU?

“Hosting the A.I. For All Summit brings visibility, reputation, and networking opportunities to TSU. It enhances the institution’s standing as a leading A.I. authority, fosters collaborations, and attracts top talent. The event facilitates knowledge exchange, showcasing TSU’s research while learning from others. The summit’s economic impact benefits local businesses and generates revenue through sponsorships. TSU assumes a leadership role, influencing A.I. policy, ethics, and research. Overall, hosting the summit brings recognition, collaboration, talent, economic benefits, and the chance to shape the A.I. landscape.”

With that question answered, what do you hope to accomplish from hosting this technology event?

“The proposed outcomes and accomplishments for the A.I. For All Summit are threefold. Firstly, to foster collaboration and knowledge exchange among experts, researchers, and policymakers, leading to innovative solutions and advancements in the field of artificial intelligence. Secondly, to inspire and empower students and young professionals by providing them with access to cutting-edge research, industry insights, and networking opportunities. Lastly, to shape the discourse on A.I. policies, ethics, and research priorities, influencing the global A.I. landscape and promoting responsible and inclusive development.”

What demographic or group has registered for the summit?

“The registered attendees for the A.I. For All Summit include educators from K-12 and higher education, policymakers, and community leaders, especially from minority serving institutions since the summit is to address A.I. for All.”

How will the summit benefit the State of TN, underserved communities, education?

“The A.I. For All Summit benefits the state of Tennessee by driving economic growth, providing educational opportunities, identifying guardrails and best practices for teaching and learning, preparing for the A.I. workforce, fostering collaborations, empowering underserved communities, shaping policies, and inspiring future innovators in the field of artificial intelligence.”

The title is A.I. for all, how does a regular, non-tech savvy individual benefit from the summit? 

“The A.I. For All Summit benefits regular, non-tech savvy individuals by promoting awareness and understanding of artificial intelligence’s impact on society. It provides insights into ethical considerations, potential opportunities, challenges, and offers the opportunity to learn how to use A.I. tools, empowering individuals to engage with and leverage A.I. technologies, even without technical expertise.”

There are some big tech names associated with the summit; who are they and what are their roles? 

“The A.I. For All Summit is supported by notable tech names such as Hewlett, Oracle, Microsoft, T-Mobile, Comcast, Code.org, BrainPOP, Adobe, SendSteps, and MIT. They play various roles, including providing resources, expertise, sponsorship, and collaboration to drive the success of the summit and advance the field of artificial intelligence.”

How significant is this for TSU? 

“The A.I. For All Summit is a significant event for TSU, with its high attendance of over 500 participants and a waiting list. The global live streaming amplifies its reach and impact, positioning TSU as a leader in fostering A.I. education, collaboration, and innovation on a global scale.”

Will Blue be a part of the summit and other interactive displays and demonstrations can attendees expect? 

“The A.I. For All Summit will feature Blue, the robotic A.I.-coded dog, highlighting the transformative capabilities of A.I. in education and business. Additionally, attendees can experience groundbreaking technologies like life-sized holograms, the first A.I. wearable Pin and glasses, and A.I. tools spanning various educational and business disciplines.”

Special Announcement for the A.I. for All Summit:

“We are thrilled to announce the upcoming launch of the TSU A.I. Applied Educational Research Center under our SMART Technology Innovation Center, in August 2024. This pioneering initiative aims to curate cutting-edge A.I. tools and best practices for teaching, learning, research, and workforce preparedness. With a specific focus on addressing underrepresented groups, the center will drive inclusivity and equity in A.I. education. By harnessing the power of A.I., we strive to empower learners, educators, and researchers with transformative resources, fostering innovation and bridging the digital divide. Join us in shaping a future where A.I. transforms education for all.”

Melton named to  AI board, continues TSU’s role as tech leader

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –  Tennessee State University is pleased to announce that Dr. Robbie Melton is a member of the Southern Regional Education Board Commission (SREB) on Artificial Intelligence in Education. Dr. Melton, who serves Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, is also the Vice President for Technology Innovations and heads the TSU SMART Global Technology Innovation Center. Melton’s appointment further solidifies her status as a top expert and TSU as a leading institution on artificial intelligence.

“In this transformative era of artificial intelligence, it’s personal for me,” shared Dr. Melton. “As a member of the Southern Regional Education Board Artificial Intelligence Commission, I’m committed to ensuring that no one is left behind, and to eliminating the digital divide.”  

The two-year SREB commission brings together leaders in education and business “to chart a course for how AI is used in classrooms and how to prepare a workforce that is being transformed by technology,” outlined in an April 19 press release from the commission. The commission’s first order of business is to review research and industry data regarding AI and to hear from education experts like Melton. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who chairs the commission, presided over the group’s first meeting on May 1.

“When used correctly, AI is a powerful tool capable of reshaping our education system,” according to McMaster in the April press release. “By working together, we can overcome the challenges that AI presents and harness its power to ensure our students are prepared for the workforce of the future.”  

Members, from each of SREB’s 16 states, include leadership from governors’ offices, state education and workforce agencies, K-12 educators and leaders, postsecondary faculty and leaders, and business executives, managers and engineers. TSU’s Melton represents Tennessee along with Lizzette Reynolds, Commissioner of Education with the Tennessee Department of Education and Steven Gentile, Executive Director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. Brad D. Smith, president of Marshall University in West Virginia and former Silicon Valley CEO, co-chairs the commission. 

“Learning to lean into the discoveries AI technology will develop in the future excites me,” said Smith, in the same press release. “We’re given the challenging, yet promising opportunity of preparing students for a digital world with evolving opportunities in life, employment and contribution.” 

SREB will develop recommendations for Southern states to lead in three areas, using AI in teaching and learning, K-12 and postsecondary, developing related policies in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and preparing students for careers in AI.  The states include Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

“We need to be proactive now, because AI is fundamentally shifting the classroom and the workplace,” said SREB President Stephen L. Pruitt. “The Commission will bring us together for a roadmap on preparing students for this world in which AI is a reality.”  

Melton’s appointment comes ahead of her leading a major TSU AI event. On June 5-7, TSU will host the A.I. FOR ALL: Open Education Summit. The event will address Ethics and Policies for AI, AI Tools for Every Stage of Education, AI for Educational Equity, and Innovating Pedagogy with AI, along with other topics. The summit will include industry heavyweights Google, Apple, Oracle, T-Mobile, Comcast, Amazon, and Microsoft. National speakers, panels, interactive workshops, AI exhibits, plus art galleries and tools will also be on display. Some of the prominent sponsors and partners include the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, T-Mobile Education, Merlot- Affordable Learning Solutions, and MIT-Open CourseWare. The summit is free and open to the public.

“My passion lies in making AI accessible to everyone, amplifying voices that are often unheard, and breaking down the barriers that divide us,” added TSU’s Melton.  “Together, we can shape a future where AI isn’t just a tool for the few, but a force for good that enriches all of our lives.”

To attend the TSU AI Summit please email [email protected] or call 615.963.7113.

Media interested in covering this event should contact TSU Media Relations at [email protected] or call 615.963.5331. 

TSU’s Tasha Carson designs HBCU course for the Univ. of South Carolina

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Dr. Tasha A. Carson is bringing the ‘HBCU experience’ to the University of South Carolina in a groundbreaking college course. The National Resource Center at the University of South Carolina recently named Dr. Carson as their newest instructor for The HBCU Experience from a Student Affairs Perspective course that runs from June 3 – 28.  Carson, who also designed the curriculum, currently serves as the assistant vice president of First-Year Students in the division of Student Affairs.

“I feel extremely blessed to have been chosen to create and teach this course on historically Black colleges and universities at the University of South Carolina,” said Carson.

“As a three-time HBCU grad, who was just a first-generation college student from the Southside of Chicago, I work every day with a conscience that I wouldn’t be who I am today had it not been for the lessons, values, and education I received at an HBCU.”  

Designed for higher education practitioners and student-support service providers, the course will explore the unique role of student affairs professionals at HBCUs. It will provide an in depth look into understanding the staff and student experience. The courses examine the history, culture, and impact of HBCUs on education and its critical role in American history and society.

“The HBCU culture and history means so much to me and I am passionate about helping others see the treasure that is entrenched in the very fabric of our institutions,” Carson added.

Dr. Jamil Johnson, associate Director of Research and Grants, said USC is pleased to welcome Dr. Carson and her expertise in the field, especially as the country begins to learn more about HBCUs. Johnson added that he looks forward to seeing how this unique course will benefit students and the university.

“We had an exceptional number of outstanding candidates, and I am confident that her experiences and background will serve as an enormous benefit to the students (participants) who enroll in the course.”

Dr. Carson will explore theoretical perspectives and practical approaches to serving the HBCU student population through frameworks related to academic success, advising, mentoring, student support, and student engagement. Professionals from all over the country will be able to take the course and receive continuing education units (CEU), to provide a critical professional development opportunity. The course starts this summer and allows individuals to learn on their own schedule within specified deadlines.

“I am not only a representation of the HBCUs that I attended but I am also a representative of the HBCUs that I have had the honor to serve,” explained Carson.  

“I look forward to sharing some of the amazing work that we are doing, here at Tennessee State University, with colleagues across the nation as we continue to rise as a model of student-centeredness for others to see.”

To find out more about the course please visit here.

Graduates of accelerated program headed to medical school 

Samantha Altodort and Jaden Knight are the first graduates of the university’s accelerated medical program and will enter Meharry Medical College in the summer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University reached a major milestone when the undergraduate class of 2024 walked the stage on May 4. Among the nearly 600 students were Samantha Altidort and Jaden Knight, the first cohort from the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Accelerated Pathway program to graduate. The two joined a prestigious list when they introduced retiring TSU President Dr. Glenda Glover, as the keynote speaker for TSU’s undergraduate commencement. The honor is given to the student with the highest GPA. For Samantha and Jaden, both 4.0 graduates and biology majors, they shared this coveted rite of passage. 

Samantha Altidort and Jaden Knight, center, with Dr. Levi Watkins Institute, Meharry Medical College representatives during the first cohort’s graduation celebration.

“I was thrilled and deeply honored to introduce President Glenda Glover as the keynote speaker,” said Knight, a first generation college student who is on his way to Meharry Dental School.   “It felt like a full-circle moment for me, starting from my first day on campus at Hale Hall, where I met President Glover. Her warm welcome and the unexpected joy of meeting the president in such a casual setting left a lasting impression.”

Jaden and Samantha set on stage and listened as President Glover presided over her final commencement and delivered the keynote address.

 “There will be those who will tell you that it can’t be done, that it won’t be done,” Glover said.  The crowd erupted with applause when she went on to say, “Don’t be discouraged by these dream assassins. If you want to kill your big dream, tell it to a small-minded person.”

The Memphis native and retiring president encouraged graduates to stay grounded in faith and that they could match and surpass the talent of anyone in any field.

TSU students make history as the first graduating class of the TSU Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Accelerated Medical and Dental program.

“During the times that I have heard President Glover speak, she has always shared a word that reminds students to keep the faith, persevere, and trust God, commented Samantha. “As a woman of faith myself, I am encouraged by her words and comforted knowing that TSU has been led by someone who has put her faith first.”

 Samantha, a Nashville native who will enter Meharry School of Medicine this summer, and Jaden, a Dayton, OH native, are a part of the first graduating class from the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Medical and Dental Accelerated Pathway Program. They said introducing President Glover at her final commencement was the ideal way to cap off their historic moment. President Glover established the accelerated medical and dental program with Meharry Medical College four years ago and accepted the first applicants a year later.

“When I first came to TSU, as part of the inaugural cohort of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute Accelerated Pathway program, President Glover was there in Hale Residence Hall welcoming us,” recalled Adltdort, who parents attended TSU.  “Three years later, I am a graduate and she was my keynote speaker at commencement. I am grateful for the role that President Glover has played in helping establish the program that supported me during my undergraduate career.”

Jaden added that he was grateful for the president’s vision to begin the program.

Samantha Altidort, along with the entire first cohort received graduation stoles during the program’s celebration.

“Under her leadership, the accelerated program that has profoundly shaped my career was established. Without her vision and dedication, I would not be where I am today. I can never fully express my gratitude to her but introducing her at graduation felt like a meaningful gesture of my appreciation. President Glover is an extraordinary leader, whose accolades are as vast as her intelligence. As she prepares to retire, I am confident that her impact will continue to resonate not just at TSU but also around the world.”

TSU established the Dr. Levi Watkins Medical and Dental Accelerated Pathway Program in 2021 through a partnership with Meharry School of Medicine and Meharry Dental School. Since its inception, TSU has admitted four cohorts into the program. Samantha, along with 12 of the program’s first graduates, will go to medical school in various fields. Jaden is the sole dental student. The future internal medicine doctor and dentist agreed that they look forward to a new journey that will lead to their ultimate goal and will be forever grateful to TSU and President Glover.

To learn more about the program, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/watkins/.

TSU President Glenda Glover to receive 2023 Inspire Change Changemaker Award from Tennessee Titans, NFL

Dr. Glover to be presented award by Titans for social justice advocacy Dec. 17 at Nissan Stadium

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Dec. 15, 2023) – Tennessee State University is pleased to announce that President Glenda Glover will receive the 2023 Inspire Change Changemaker Award from the Tennessee Titans. President Glover is being recognized for her exceptional work in pursuit of social justice. The long-time educator and HBCU advocate will be honored at the Titans Inspire Change game, at Nissan Stadium, on Sunday, Dec. 17 for her exceptional work in TSU’s pursuit of social justice.

The Changemaker Award recognizes individuals in each NFL team market who make a difference in their communities across Inspire Change’s four focus areas: education, economic advancement, police-community relations and criminal justice reform. For decades, Dr. Glover has been transforming the HBCU student experience for the benefit of thousands of students and the state of Tennessee at large under the Inspire Change Education pillar.

“I am honored to be recognized as the Tennessee Titans 2023 Inspire Change Changemaker,” said President Glenda Glover. “Historically Black Colleges and Universities are home to so many diverse, gifted and brilliant students who have the ability to make a difference globally. TSU is proud to partner with the Tennessee Titans in preparing students to go out into the world and to change it for the better.” 

Glover is the first female and alumna to serve as president for TSU. Under her leadership, the university has experienced a significant increase in enrollment, alumni fundraising, research dollars and academic offerings. Pres. Glover is a certified public accountant, an attorney, and one of two African American women to hold the Ph.D-CPA-JD combination in the country. In 2022, President Joe Biden appointed Dr. Glover to serve as Vice Chair of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

“For decades, Dr. Glover has worked tirelessly to provide truly transformative change not only for students and administrators at Tennessee State University, but also for community leaders across our state and nation,” said Adolpho Birch III, Titans Senior Vice President and Chief External and Legal Affairs Officer. “The Titans have a longstanding and meaningful relationship with TSU, and Dr. Glover continues to be the ideal partner, friend, and most of all, teacher. We are truly proud to honor her as our Inspire Change Changemaker for 2023.” 

In addition to receiving special recognition at the Inspire Change game, Dr. Glover will receive a $10,000 donation from the NFL Foundation, which she will donate back to Tennessee State University.

For more information on the 2023 Changemaker recipients, visit NFL.com/causes/inspire-change/changemakers.

TSU featured in Coca-Cola commercial

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – If you’re a college football fan you might have seen Tennessee State University featured in the “Scream,” Coke Zero Sugar television commercial. The national spot highlights passionate fans cheering for their respective college teams. TSU is the only historically Black institution (HBCU) in the beverage advertisement.

“The Tennessee State University family is proud to have been selected for the Coca-Cola commercial, allowing us to be showcased in households, across the country and around the world on a national platform,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.

“We are honored that this corporate giant included TSU in the campaign and for the attention it is bringing our institution. We have been committed to elevating our brand, and being a part of the commercial continues that effort.”

The TSU scene has five students gathered in a dorm room displaying the University’s athletics logo, while watching the game from a laptop wearing TSU gear and face paint. Coca-Cola said the concept was to show that being an active fan is hard work. The 60-second spot can be seen during nationally televised collegiate games and shows fans watching their college teams live in the stands, on television, livestreaming, or listening on the radio. 

“It is exciting to see TSU Athletics included in this new spot airing during college football season,” said Dr. Mikki Allen, director of TSU Athletics. “Coca-Cola has been an outstanding partner for our programs and I appreciate their commitment for continuing to advance HBCUs.”

To watch the “Scream,” Coke Zero Sugar commercial visit https://youtu.be/ZurOAPr5pdY

TSU’s Grammy award-winning band to make historic appearance in Chicago Thanksgiving parade

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Grammy award-winning Aristocrat of Bands will make another historic appearance when they march in the 2023 Chicago Thanksgiving Parade. The AOB, as the band is fondly called, will be the first band from a historically black university (HBCU) to participate in the “Windy City” parade that begins at 8 a.m. CST. For Chicago native band members, the appearance has a special meaning to perform in front of the home crowd of their families and friends.

Marshun David Mcgee, Jr.

“As a native of Chicago, doing the Thanksgiving parade is not only nostalgic but an important part of my life,” said Marshun David Mcgee, Jr.

“I remember doing the parade when I attended Thornton Township High School in Harvey, IL. This parade is known for its uplifting spirits.”

The TSU senior went on to explain how the parade all began.

“Starting in 1934, the purpose was to uplift those from The Great Depression. Seeing that we are currently getting over a pandemic, it is an honor to perform with the Aristocrat of Bands as the first HBCU collegiate band to attend. As a psychology major and music minor, it is my goal to uplift everyone’s spirits through music!”

Jibril Robert Lee

Fellow band member Jibril Robert Lee said while he’s marched in several parades, this will be his first nationally televised parade.

“As a first-year graduate student studying data science, this will without a doubt be a moment my family will look back on for years to come.”

“Not to mention the legacy that TSU has allowed me to build while I walked across the stage this past May with my bachelors in Computer Science,” Lee added.

The Chicago Thanksgiving parade is rated the number two best Thanksgiving Parade in the country by TimeOut.

Holiday favorite “This Christmas” will be one of the songs AOB will perform. Dr. Reginald McDonald, director of bands, said this is a fitting way to close out 2023.

“This has been a remarkable year for the Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands,” McDonald said.

“From being the first collegiate band to win a Grammy, to our second live performance at the White House within seven years, and to conclude our year with a historical performance in the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade, as the first HBCU band, is truly a humble experience.”

 The long-time educator said he has been at TSU for 23-years, while teaching for over three decades.

“Teaching beyond the classroom has always been one of my goals. The opportunities of 2023 have been incredible teaching moments”

The 2023 Chicago Thanksgiving Parade route is on State Street from Ida B. Wells Drive to Randolph Street. TSU alumni outside of the Chicagoland area can watch the band on the national broadcast on Pluto TV, from 8 am – 11 am CST on November 23, Thanksgiving morning.

Former CNN anchor guest speaker for TSU fall commencement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will hold its fall commencement Saturday, December 9, 2023, at 9 a.m. in the Gentry Center Complex. Nearly 700 students will walk the stage to receive their degrees during the ceremony. This year’s speaker is award-winning journalist and former CNN anchor Don Lemon. Lemon anchored the long-running CNN primetime program, Don Lemon Tonight as well as CNN This Morning.

“I was honored to get the invitation from President Glenda Glover to be the guest speaker for this important milestone in a student’s life,” said Lemon.

“I look forward to sharing parts of my journey and what I’ve experienced as a journalist, in hopes of inspiring the class of 2023 to leave their mark on the world. Make it a better place for human beings, as they embody the TSU motto of think, work, serve.”

Lemon has won a variety of distinguished awards for his work which has spanned nearly three decades, including an Edward R. Murrow award, multiple Emmys and a Peabody award, among others. In addition to CNN, Lemon has served as an anchor and correspondent at the NBC and MSNBC television networks, as well as at local stations in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and St. Louis. 

His work as a journalist includes countless global breaking news stories from the anchor desk, as well as on location. He has covered the war in Ukraine, for which he received a Peabody award in 2022. Also, the death of Osama Bin Laden, the inaugurations of the 44th and 45th Presidents of the United States, the school shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Newtown, Connecticut, and the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, George Floyd and Tyre Nichols. He joined CNN as a correspondent in 2006.

Commencement will include 328 undergraduate students and 324 graduate students. University officials encourage graduates to arrive one hour before the ceremony due to parking. While masks are not required, this is flu season and everyone is asked to exercise caution.

TSU fall commencement will also be live streamed from the University’s YouTube channel at www.tnstate.edu/livestream

VP of Student Affairs Frank Stevenson elected chairman of the Metro Hospital Authority Board

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is pleased to announce that Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Frank Stevenson has taken the helm of Nashville General Hospital (NGH) and leadership of the Metro Hospital Authority Board. VP Stevenson was elected board chair at the October meeting. In his new role, he continues to embody TSU’s commitment to service. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to be a part of the communities that border the campus and the city as a whole.

“This is a full circle moment for me because I remember my mother carrying me in her arms to Nashville General to get treated for an injury that resulted in getting stitches,” Stevenson recalled.

“It is also important to represent Tennessee State University in the communities we serve. I am honored to take on this significant role at Nashville’s public hospital. Just as I believe individuals should have access to a quality education the same holds true for access to quality healthcare.”

Stevenson has served the board for the past eight years and has also served as the chair of the finance committee for the past four years.

In addition to his executive management position at TSU, Stevenson also serves as the advisor of the New Direction Gospel Choir and Leadership TSU.

“Service is a major part of the student experience here at TSU. What better way to make a favorable impression on our students than to exemplify what it means to serve others.”

Stevenson holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin and a Master of Public Administration from Murray State University. He is currently completing the Doctoral Program at Trevecca Nazarene University. Stevenson recently served as executive director of a local charter school and executive deputy director for the Tennessee Office of Minority Health. He also serves on the boards of the Nashville Predators Foundation Board, The Tennessee Historic Commission and South Nashville Youth Football League.

NGH is Nashville’s first community hospital and first opened its doors in 1890. Today, the hospital sees nearly 60,000 patients annually. 

TSU student leaders hurt, disappointed over of $2.1 billion underfunding, call on Atty. Ben Crump

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University student leaders said their emotions ran the gambut from disbelief, hurt, to disappointment following the announcement that the State of Tennessee underfunded their university by a reported $2.1 billion. The top five leaders believed the next best step was to seek advice from a legal heavyweight to discuss the underfunding crisis. Those top five, Derrell Taylor, student government association president, Chrishonda O’Quinn, executive vice president, Shaun Wimberly, Jr., student trustee, along with Mister and Miss TSU Davin Latiker and Victoria McCrae, called on Attorney Ben Crump.

TSU student leaders spoke with U.S congressman Steny Hoyer in Washington, D.C. after the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Education revealed that the university is owed over $2.1 billion by the State of Tennessee.

“Attorney Ben Crump is a notable activist and is nationally recognized for his advocacy within African American communities,” said SGA President Taylor.

“It was imperative for Ben Crump to visit our campus, as this issue has escalated to a national level, and should be addressed on a larger platform.”

On October 3, Attorney Crump came to TSU, at the invitation of the student leaders, and spent the day with them to discuss the underinvestment of TSU. He and the students shared details of their meeting during a press conference.

“If the state refuses to provide the owed funds, students and alumni will have to do what is best for TSU, and these students are adamant about their next steps to address this unjustifiable inequity,” Crump, a renowned Civil Rights, said.

“Correcting this egregious funding discrepancy can ensure that our HBCUs thrive and that the students they educate reach their full potential is an urgent priority.”

O’Quinn, the SGA vice president, and a business major said Crump’s presence conveyed a message of support from the prominent attorney.

“The current students take this matter seriously and will not back down, and that we will do what it takes to make sure the underfunding issue remains national and will not die down. Attorney Ben Crump was also needed because the student leadership wanted additional support and guidance on this issue.”


Taylor, a business major as well, and Memphis native added that the Crump visit inspired him even more to work to” right this wrong.”

“Overall, Attorney Crump inspired me to stand up and speak up for what I know is right. He encouraged us all to be intentional about receiving a quality education, and he has provided me with the confidence to inspire other students as well. I feel this is incredibly unfortunate, as I have seen history repeated in a variety of forms. It is my hope that these wrongs are corrected with our state legislature, and moving forward, we don’t have to experience the feeling that our education is not as valuable as our counterparts.”

O’Quinn reflected on hearing about the initial announcement regarding the billions in underfunding and her optimism also following Crump’s visit.  

“It is quite unbelievable and simply isn’t right. This has continued to happen for no other reason than the color of our skin. Any other reasoning for this occurring, in my opinion, is false. And the idea of whether we receive the 2.1 billion should not be a discussion. The numbers say enough.”

“I hope the other students feel as empowered as I did when Attorney Ben Crump spoke with student leadership.”