All posts by Kelli Sharpe

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.”

“It’s never too late to do what’s right,” TSU President Glenda Glover wants State to pay $2.1 billion owed to the University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –  The HBCU community is still reacting to the letters the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department Education sent to 16 of the nation’s governors, stating that they collectively owed their respective land-grant HBCUs $13 billion. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack cited research conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Survey (IPEDS). Tennessee State University was listed as having the largest underfunding owed amount by a state at $2,147,784,704.

President Glenda Glover

“This enormous figure of over $2.1 billion can’t be overlooked,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.

“We have been on our own journey to recoup $544 million from the State that TSU should have received, as required by law, and were not aware of an additional underfunding review by the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture prior to the release of those letters.”

In 2022, Governor Bill Lee allocated $250 million to TSU which was approved by the legislature, making it the largest one-time State investment to any HBCU. President Glover added this was the result of working closely with TN lawmakers, who conducted their own research and calculations to pay TSU nearly half of the underfunded amount.


“TSU has a track record of working with the State, and we look forward to a similar relationship to get the $2.1 billion in funding USDA and the Dept. of ED have also researched. TSU deserves it, our students deserve it.” 

President of the Tennessee State University National Alumni Association, Charles Galbreath

The USDA and Dept. of ED review covered a period of 33 years, from 1987 to 2020. The letter to Governor Lee acknowledges that Tennessee has made strides in providing more equitable funding for TSU but reiterates more is still needed to overcome the historic underfunding of the university. TSU alumni and students say this latest $2.1 billion speaks to the long-standing underfunding of the University but also to TSU’s resilience in being successful despite having been slighted for so long.

“I am impressed by the global impact Tennessee State University alumni have made considering how significantly and historically underfunded the University has been,” said Charles Galbreath, president of the Tennessee State University National Alumni Association.  

“I often ponder how much greater the impact might have been with greater resources. Equitable funding can only attempt to reconcile a blemished past. However, equitable funding can absolutely enhance the global contributions of future Tennessee State University students and alumni.”

President Glover was highly scrutinized by Tennessee lawmakers last year for not having enough housing for a historic freshman class of over 3,300 students. TSU housed over 4,900 students, with the use of off-campus housing that included hotels. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, the State’s other land-grant institution, used hotels for its housing overflow as well but did not face the same backlash of improper planning and inadequate leadership.

SGA president Derrell Taylor

“The State of Tennessee has two land-grant institutions. One has been allocated a tremendous amount of funding for decades, while another has had to operate with minimal apportions. However, this is not the time to issue blame or fault. It is time to come to the table with a strategic plan of action that specifically involves payment. The 33-years cited predates almost everyone at the capitol, but it’s never too late to do what’s right. Imagine how much greater TSU could be with equitable funding. The greater TSU becomes so will the State of Tennessee.”

SGA President Derrell Taylor, a business major from Memphis, believes the housing challenge and so many more infrastructure issues could have been avoided if TSU had received its fair share of funding all those years.

“I’ve been here four years and can only imagine what our campus would look like and how different the college experience would have been for me, and all the students before me,” said Taylor. 

“I would select TSU all over again without hesitation because it has been an amazing experience. The University has done so much with so little, but TSU should have never been put in this position in the first place. I should have the same advantages to be successful as my counterparts at the State’s other public institutions.”

Taylor said this includes more residence halls without community bathrooms, a new football stadium on campus, a true student center, an upgraded heating and cooling system, more computer labs throughout the campus, better technology, most importantly scholarships. So many students had to borrow money to attend TSU as the school of their choice when they could have had scholarships.

“TSU students should have what everyone else has, and we can with our right share of State funding.”

In the letter, both USDA and the Dept. ED offered to hold a workshop for the State’s Budget Office to review their calculations in detail. President Glover says she is hopeful that the State will schedule this workshop soon and invite TSU to participate.

Tennessee State University reaches over $100 million in research awards, second among nation’s HBCUs

Continues path to obtain R1 status with record-setting external funding

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has reached a historic milestone, with the institution receiving over $100 million in research awards. The $100,031,082 million in funding is the second highest total among the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. According to TSU President Glenda Glover, the record-setting awards are a part of the University’s plan to reach R1- research status.

“I applaud our Research and Sponsored Programs division for the implementation and continuation of a robust program that speaks to TSU’s commitment to changing the world through our research,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “We understand that a significant increase in research expenditures is the key metric to obtain the R1 designation, the highest research classification for institutions.”

Anthony Thai

Some of the funding will focus on innovations in renewable energy, sustainable technologies, and global food security. University officials believe these research efforts will continue to transform lives and shape the future of TSU students.

“The aim of research in general is so that research will have a societal impact across the board from a local, state, regional and national level,” said Dr. Quincy Quick, associate vice president of Research and Sponsored Programs.

“All of the research that was awarded from the Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences to all the awards in the College of Agriculture will have a huge impact.”

In 2021, TSU’s external research funding was just over $70.7 million and has increased by 34% since then. This includes an $18 million United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) NEXTGeneration grant awarded to the College of Agriculture that helped to propel TSU to the new record setting total.  

“The USDA/NIFA grant isn’t just a financial fortune, but it is a transformative opportunity that will propel TSU to new heights and academic excellence,” Dr. Quick added.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture, right, with Dr. John Ricketts, left, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Sciences with the College of Agriculture, is the principal investigator for the NEXTGENeration Inclusion Consortium for Building the “Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Human Sciences Pipeline (FANHP)” grant funded by USDA/NIFA for $18 million.

Quick also received a $2,970,000 grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, adding to the total. The award will be used for the renovation of Harned Hall in the College of Life and Physical Sciences, which houses (13) research labs and (2) teaching laboratories.

“We have hit the highest total in grant awards in the institution’s history. This puts TSU in the upper echelon of research funding among HBCUs.”

Quick, who is leading the R1 designation effort, says the goal is to ultimately reach $150 million in total grant awards within the next five years. TSU has had record awards in three of the last four years, $54 million (2019-2020); $70.7 million (2020-2021); and over $100 million (2022-2023).  

The R1 status is the highest research designation, under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning. The designation would mean more doctoral programs, research initiatives and funding for students and the university. Currently, TSU is one of only 11 HBCUs with an R2 designation under the category of “high research activity.”

TSU’s Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences and the College of Agriculture received a total of $65.9 million awards of this year’s total.

Here are the top awards received in 2022-23: 

  • Dr. John Ricketts – College of Agriculture, $18,000,000 (USDA NIFA)
  • Dr. Kimberly Smith- RSP, $10,444,445 (TN Department of Human Services)
  • Dr. Andrea Tyler – Title III, $10,254,498 (Department of Education) 
  • Dr. Quincy Quick – RSP, $5,000,000 (Department of Energy) 
  • Dr. Quincy Quick –RSP, $2,970,000 (National Institute of Standards and Technology)
  • Dr. Karla Addesso – College of Agriculture, $2,479,982 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Melanie Cantu – College of Agriculture, $2,016,694 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Rebecca Selove – RSP, $1,772,784 (National Institutes of Health) 
  • Dr. Deo Chimba – College of Engineering, $1,611,168 (Dept. of Transportation) 
  • Dr. Margaret Whalen – RSP, $1,255,618 (National Institutes of Health) 
  • Dr. Roy Sonali – College of Agriculture, $1,158,373 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Jianwei Li, College of Agriculture, $1,118,709 (USDA) 

Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover announces retirement, going where voice is need

Glover, a 1974 TSU graduate, was appointed president by the TN Board of Regents in 2013.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Saying she was surrounded by 1,000 of her closest friends, Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover announced earlier that she will retire following the 2023-2024 academic year. Glover first shared her plans during the annual TSU Faculty Staff Institute that marks the beginning of the new academic year.  She later shared that same news during a press conference.

“After almost 11 years and having reached nearly every objective and goal I set for myself and TSU, as the leader of this great institution, my beloved alma mater, I stand before you to announce my retirement as President of Tennessee State University, at the end of the spring semester 2024. It was a decision that did not come too easily, and it was not made lightly. My voice is needed now on a more national platform.” 

President Glenda Glover announces that she will retire following the 2023-2024 academic year during a press conference at TSU.

Those goals and objects were prominently displayed behind her as she spoke to a crowded room of TSU supporters and reporters. SGA President Derrell Taylor, a Memphis native like President Glover, said it is disheartening moment but exciting at the same time to reflect on all the great things she has accomplished and all the ways she continues to lead the University into excellence.

“I believed that every time TSU had a major accomplishment, we just began to work on the next one or improved more and I appreciate that and believe that is what it takes in a leader,” said Taylor, a business major.

“Dr. Glover has led this institution to understand how to compete globally. Ultimately, I’m disappointed that as students we are uncertain of what the future holds, but I’m very confident that she will do an excellence job in making the transition as smooth as possible to benefit students.”

Having led the institution for over a decade, President Glover said it was more than a full circle moment to serve as president of her alma mater.

83rd SGA president Derrell Taylor, Chrishonda O’Quinn, SGA vice president, Victoria McCrae, Miss TSU, Davin Latiker, Mister TSU, student trustee on the board of trustee, Shaun Wimberly, hugs President Glenda Glover after announcing Monday that she will retire following the 2023-2024 academic year.

“Serving as President of Tennessee State University has been the honor of a lifetime. Words cannot express the emotions I have as I stand before you this morning. TSU prepared me for every accomplishment I have achieved throughout my career. This is where I got my start, where the seeds of excellence were sown for a young teenager from south Memphis who aspired to change the world.”

Known as the national expert and leader for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Glover has guided TSU through a decade of excellence while overcoming challenges and celebrating significant milestones and accomplishments. This includes using her influence to bring national figures to the TSU campus.

“We have elevated the brand, the reputation, and the legacy; and ensured that TSU is on a nationwide platform by increasing the national visibility of this university. TSU is being discussed in rooms where it has never been discussed before. This recognition helped us recruit even more students, not only from Tennessee but from around the country.”

President Glover’s accomplishments are a source of pride for TSU alumni.

TSU President Glenda Glover with college deans, board of trustee members, faculty, after the annual Faculty Staff Institute

“Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover serves her alma mater with tenacity,” said Charles Galbreath, president of the Tennessee State University National Alumni Association.


“For over a decade, Dr. Glover has successfully positioned, protected, and promoted Tennessee State University on international platforms. I am encouraged to see a daughter of the Civil Rights Movement wield the wisdom and power of that era, fighting the good fight for today’s injustices. I admire Dr. Glover’s grace under pressure and her humility when praised. Dr. Glenda Glover is a global trailblazer, and her influence will live for generations to come at our beloved alma mater.”

In her announcements, she thanked students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community leaders for their support.

“I am merely retiring from the presidency of Tennessee State University. Wherever my door may be, it will always remain open to the students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and the Nashville community. I will continue to advance educational opportunities, ensuring fairness, equity, and justice for African Americans and people of color, women, and those often left behind.”

Shaun Wimberly, the student representative to the TSU Board Trustees, commented that it is Glover’s leadership and focus on helping others that he will always remember.

“Our president has served my beloved school and its surrounding community diligently for over a decade. To myself and to many she is the definition of a servant leader. It’s bittersweet to see her go, but it is even more exciting to see where her path may lead next. I couldn’t have picked a better time to come to TSU. Thank you, President Glover.”

President Glover graduated from TSU in 1974 and went on to have a stellar career in the corporate sector and higher education. She is one of a few women to hold the CPA, Ph.D., JD combination.

President Glenda Glover Decade of Accomplishments at TSU

  • Moved TSU Moved TSU into the R2-high research category, one of only 11 HBCU in R2 category
  • Expanded internships and permanent placement for students
  • Established essential new degree programs at undergraduate and graduate levels
  • More than doubled TSU endowments from $45 million to over $100 million
  • Significantly increased grant funding with all-time high of over $100 million in 2023
  • Increased the national visibility of TSU
  • Noted as the national HBCU leader among and others in higher education
  • Implemented plan to move TSU from R2 to R1, the highest research category offered
  • First HBCU to establish a national technology and innovation center
  • Established the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr Institute and Accelerated medical program with Meharry Medical College
  • First student-operated physical therapy and occupational therapy clinic
  • #1 HBCU forensic and debate champions for three consecutive years
  • Record corporate partnership and million-dollar donations
  • Aristocrat of Bands first collegiate marching band to win a Grammy
  • Fall 2022 Largest Freshmen Enrollment among HBCUs
  • 2022 OVC Volleyball Championship
  • Successful $1 Million in One Month Campaign
  • Successfully led TSU through the COVID pandemic, tornado recovery, and other crisis moments
  • Implemented comprehensive campus safety plan, including the installation of fencing

TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands readies for historic Juneteenth celebration at the White House

Tennessee State University will be well represented when the Aristocrat of Bands performs at the White House Juneteenth celebration later today, Tuesday, June 13. The Grammy-award winning band, fondly called AOB, will be a part of an all-star music event as President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden host dignitaries for the first Juneteenth Concert on the White House South Lawn. The festivities will start at 7pm EST.

The band held a final rehearsal, at Eastern Senior High School in Washington, DC, before the big performance. Others set to perform include fellow Grammy winners Jennifer Hudson and the Fisk University Jubilee Singers. 

The nation will officially observe Juneteenth on Monday, June 19. President Biden signed the Juneteenth holiday into law in 2021. Hundreds of thousands of Americans celebrate Juneteenth to highlight the end of slavery. Juneteenth is the 12th federal holiday, and the first since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was signed in 1983.

Click here for video from rehearsal.

Celebrating community, culture and music other confirmed appearances will also include the following artists:

Audra McDonald

Broadway Inspirational Voices

Cliff “Method Man” Smith

Colman Domingo

Hampton University Concert Choir

Ledisi

Maverick City Music

Morgan State University Marching Band – The Magnificent Marching Machine

Nicco Annan

Patina Miller

Step Afrika!

“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band The concert is also taking place during Black Music Month.

About Juneteenth

Juneteenth, which has also been referred to as Black Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, not only marks the abolition of slavery in the state of Texas on June 19, 1865, but is also a historic moment in American history and the culmination of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that was written three years prior.

              

TSU explores AI in education, will hold demonstrations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University serves as the nation’s only HBCU Smart Technology Innovation Center, and has partnerships with tech giants Microsoft and Apple, along with T-Mobile, Amazon and several others.

Through these collaborations, TSU has worked to bridge the technology divide among HBCUs and communities of color. Now the University is looking to forge deeper into the field by exploring the opportunities and possibilities of integrating education with artificial intelligence (AI).

Dr. Robbie Melton

Dr. Robbie Melton, Vice President of Technology Innovation Strategies and interim provost and acting vice president of academic affairs, heads the TSU SMART Global Technology Innovation Center that researches the effective use of emerging technologies in education, that now includes AI.

Starting June 5, Dr. Melton will be available to conduct AI demonstrations that will include creating curriculum and lesson plans in under 4 minutes, along with art and music in less than 2 minutes.

“TSU has always been on the cutting edge of technology and it’s important that faculty learn more about AI because these tools are already transforming and disrupting the traditional methods of reading, writing, research, teaching and training,” says Melton.  

AI Generated Images as such are created by using text to image prompts, no photography required.

While the concept of artificial intelligence in education presents an array of unprecedented academic, ethical and legal challenges, Melton believes these technological advances have educational value and benefits that can’t be overlooked. 

“It’s important for TSU faculty to learn how AI works in enhancing teaching and learning before taking a stand to ban it or try to stop it in the classroom. AI pushes us to incorporate critical and higher order thinking skills, that go beyond basic observation of facts and memorization.” 

Melton recently conducted a national webinar for several historical black colleges and universities (HBCUs) regarding the educational impact of AI for underrepresented groups and cultures.

To register for this event:
Webinar: June 22ndor 29th1:00 – 3:00
Avon Williams SMART Center
Registrationhttps://forms.gle/wPBzCAzrGhtH2bjU8

Oprah Winfrey returns to TSU for commencement, full circle moment for all 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University welcomed its most famous alumnus, Oprah Winfrey, with open arms to deliver the 2023 Spring Commencement address. Winfrey began her remarks by declaring “who says you can’t go home again, because I’m back” to the delight of the crowd. She also shared that TSU President Glenda Glover’s persistence paid off and was the reason for her appearance.  

“Dr. Glover is the reason why I’m here, because she is relentless,” Winfrey said. Turning to President Glover, she added, “You actually don’t know the meaning of no. She’s been here a decade and has been asking me for a decade.”  

 Regina Rogers, who earned a degree in arts and science, says she will make Oprah Winfrey’s inspiring words a part of her everyday life. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Winfrey then went into a rendition of the University’s fight song, “I’m so glad I go to TSU”, a gesture that brought several graduates to their feet, while the crowd cheered her on through the course.  The global media leader and Nashville native’s message was simple but impactful, be good to people. 

“This is what I know for sure. There will never be anything in your life as fulfilling as making a difference in somebody else’s,” Winfrey said.

“Everybody here wants to see you take your integrity, your curiosity, your creativity, your guts, and this newfound education of yours and use it to make a difference. Everybody always thinks you got go and do something big and grand. I tell you where you start. You start by being good to at least one other person every single day. Just start there.”

TSU President Glover believed Winfrey’s return was an amazing experience for students and a historical moment for the University.

“Oprah Winfrey is a phenomenal individual who embodies everything her alma mater, TSU, represents and was able to translate that to our graduates,” said President Glover. “I was excited to watch as she touched the spirit of students. They listened, applauded, while soaking in her knowledge.”

Barbara Murrell, right, was the director of student activities at TSU when Oprah Winfrey, left, was a student.

Regina Rogers, who earned her degree in arts and science, said Winfrey’s message was taken to heart and is words to live by. Rogers was among more than 600 TSU graduates sitting in awe of Winfrey and hanging on her every word.

“Oprah’s commencement speech was inspiring and one that will help guide us to our next level of life,” added Rogers, of Nashville. “I really loved her speech. I am going to take her speech and apply it to my life from here on.”

 Former TSU administrator Barbara Murrell says that’s the Oprah she remembers, always willing to lend her talents to help and inspire others, even as a student.

 “As Director of Student Activities at TSU when Oprah was a student, I was often asked to provide a student who could speak at University events,” recalls Murrell.  

“I would call Dr. W. Dury Cox, TSU’s outstanding Speech and Drama Professor, and he would send Oprah Winfrey to do a reading or recite a poem for the occasion.  She was always articulate, intriguing, and thought-provoking in her delivery. Her message was extremely well received by the audience.”

 Murrell, who now serves as chair of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute at TSU, says one performance comes to mind when she reflects on this full circle moment for the talented orator, who attended TSU from 1972-1975.

 “Our student center, during that time, served as a meeting place for the community. A professional women’s club, who provided scholarships for students, would always ask for a student to come, and do a reading or presentation to the group.”

 She recalls Winfrey poetry reading touched the women so, that several were left in tears. Murrell says to hear her commencement address touched her as well.

 “These same characteristics are evident on her global platform today in which Tennessee State University helped to develop and nurture.”

Winfrey received her degree from TSU in 1988 after she was allowed to submit a paper and several of her tv show reels for credit. Now, 35 years later, Winfrey returned to her alma mater fully embraced for this full circle moment, from student to alumna and as commencement speaker.

Watch the TSU commencement ceremony on the University’s YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/live/vJEbMmyKG5U?feature=share.

Tennessee State University’s Oprah Winfrey and U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson to Serve as 2023 Commencement Speakers 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University alumna Oprah Winfrey is coming home to headline TSU’s Spring Commencement as the keynote speaker for the undergraduate Commencement on Saturday, May 6 at 8 a.m. CDT, in Hale Stadium. United States Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, Miss-Second District, will address graduate students at an indoor ceremony on Friday, May 5 at 5 p.m. CDT, in the Gentry Center Complex. Over 800 students will receive degrees in various disciplines across both days.

“Commencement is always a special time for our students and their families, as it marks a major milestone in our students’ lives and a sign of success for them,” says TSU, Dr. President Glenda Glover.

Oprah Winfrey

“To have Ms. Winfrey as our speaker will be a life changing moment for graduates and the University. She is someone who has walked the TSU campus as a student, sat in some of the same classroom, and knows first-hand the value of a TSU education. Ms. Winfrey and Congressman Thompson are trailblazers, history makers and HBCU graduates, adding to the excitement and anticipation for both commencement ceremonies.”

Winfrey is a global media leader, philanthropist, producer, actress and author. Over the course of her esteemed career, she has created an unparalleled connection with people around the world, making her one of the most respected and admired figures today. Growing up, Winfrey went to high school at East Nashville High School and attended Tennessee State University on a full scholarship, majoring in communications. While at TSU, Winfrey landed a job at Nashville’s WLAC-TV (now WTVF-TV), where she was both the youngest news anchor and the first black female news anchor. Despite being one credit short of her degree, Winfrey decided to leave school and Nashville to pursue her dream of being a broadcast journalist. However, in 1986, she returned to submit her final paper and officially graduated from TSU. Now, Winfrey is a dedicated philanthropist and has contributed more than $200 million towards providing education for academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. Winfrey is a

United States Congressman Bennie G. Thompson

founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Winfrey’s Morehouse Scholars Program has supported over 600 men graduate from college, and in 2020, Winfrey donated over $20 million in vital COVID-19 relief support to cities around the country, including her hometowns of Nashville, Chicago, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Los Angeles and Kosciusko, MS.

Born in a state with a unique history of racial inequality, Congressman Bennie G. Thompson draws inspiration from the legacies of Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Aaron Henry, and Henry Kirksey. The Bolton, Mississippi native considers it an honor to walk the path Mississippi civil rights icons paved decades ago. Serving his 15th term in the United States House of Representatives, Thompson represents Mississippi’s Second Congressional District where he has spent his entire life fighting to improve the lives of all people.

For more information on TSU 2023 Spring Commencement and full bios on Ms. Winfrey and Congressman Thompson, visit www.tnstate.edu/commencement.

Media interested in attending commencement should contact Kelli Sharpe at 615.963.7401 and by email at [email protected]. TSU Media Relations is also available to assist and can be reached at 615.963.5331.

TSU Takes 2nd Place at Honda Campus All-Star Challenge

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is heading to the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge National Championship Tournament. TSU earned the bid after its second place finish at the qualifying round held at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. 

The team placed second in the tournament defeating Florida A&M, Spelman, and Voorhees College. The team defeated Morehouse College in the playoffs and lost a very tough game to Tuskegee University. 

HCASC is a national quiz competition sponsored by American Honda for HBCUs. For more information see www.hcasc.com

The members of the team are: 

Captain Cameron Malone, Junior, Oak Ridge TN, Electrical Engineering. 

Tyler Vazquez, Sophomore, Winston-Salem, NC, Biology

Morgan Gill, Sophomore, Conyers, GA, Urban Studies

Kelley Zumwalt, Junior, Loveland, CO, History/Political Science/English. 

TSU also had a second team to compete.

Darius Coleman, Freshmen, Memphis, TN, Film and Television Production, 

Kara Simmons, Sophomore, Chicago IL, Biology

Aniya Johnson, Freshmen, Shreveport, LA, Pre-Med 

Jada Womack, Sophomore, Baton Rouge, LA, Accounting 

Journey Brinson, Freshman, Memphis, TN, Biology 

The Coach of the Team: Dr. John Miglietta, History, Political Science, Geography, and Africana Studies. 

Assistant Coach Dr. Learotha Williams, History, Political Science, Geography, and Africana Studies. 

The team is looking forward to competing at the National Championship Tournament in Torrance, CA April 15-19.

A Black History Month Exclusive: TSU to host world-renowned, Oscar award-winning production designer Hannah Beachler

As the first African American woman to win an Oscar for production design, Beachler’s projects include Marvel’s Black Panther films, along with Beyoncé Knowles- Carter’s Lemonade, Black Is King and On The Run Tour II.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –  As Tennessee State University continues to observe Black History Month, the University is pleased to announce the upcoming visit of Oscar winning and trailblazing production designer Hannah Beachler. TSU students will learn about Beachler’s road to success and her experiences, as she defied the odds while redefining the art of production design in Hollywood and around the world. TSU will host A Conversation of Excellence with Hannah Beachler, Tuesday, February 21, 2023, at noon in the Robert Murrell Form in the Student Center. The event is free and open to all students.

“TSU is excited to welcome Ms. Hannah Beachler to our campus and it comes at a most ideal time, as we join the nation in celebrating the monumental and global impact that so many African Americans have made to society,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.

“This is a special and unique moment for the University to be able to give our students exposure to an internationally acclaimed artist, who is African American and female. Our students can’t help but to be inspired and see themselves in her.”

In 2019, Beachler became the first African American woman to be nominated and win an Academy Award for Best Production Design for her designs and visuals on Marvel’s Black Panther. She has also collaborated with global icon Beyoncé Knowles-Carter on several projects, including the visual album LemonadeOn The Run Tour II and the highly acclaimed visuals for her musical film Black Is King in 2020.

Beachler is the first ever female production designer of a Marvel film franchise and has been responsible for multimillion-dollar art budgets. After becoming an academy award winner, she returned to Marvel for its highly anticipated sequel, Marvel’s Black Panther Wakanda Forever. The Black Panther franchise box office receipts have grossed over $2.1 billion worldwide to date. She is also an art director, known for her work in the 2016 film Moonlight and The Lion King in 2019.

Previously, the Ohio native has collaborated with filmmaker Ryan Coogler on Creed, the spinoff from the Rocky film series starring Michael B. Jordan. Her many credits also include Academy Award winning director Steven Soderbergh’s No Sudden Move, Todd Haynes’ docu-narrative feature film Dark Waters and The Collaboration, an unreleased film directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah.