All posts by Kelli Sharpe

NFLPA taps TSU Coach Eddie George to lead 2023 collegiate bowl

NASHVILLE – Tennessee State University head football coach Eddie George will lead a group of draft-eligible college players in the 2023 NFLPA Bowl. George, a Heisman Trophy winner and a former NFL standout, has been named one of the head coaches for this year’s event. The game will take place on January 28 and will continue its tradition of being played at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California.

TSU coach Eddie George will lead a group of draft-eligible college players in the 2023 NFLPA Bowl

George will be coaching against his former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, who was also a coach in last year’s event. George was announced as the 22nd head football coach at Tennessee State University on April 13, 2021. George played college football for Ohio State University and won the Heisman in 1995. That season, George rushed for a school record 1,927 yards and 24 touchdowns, an average of 148.23 yards per game, while also catching 47 passes for 417 yards and another score. He left Ohio State second in school history in career rushing yards (3,768) and third in rushing touchdowns (44). The Philadelphia native finished with 4,284 all-purpose yards, 45 touchdowns, and a 5.5 yards-per-carry average. 

In 1996, George was the first-round draft selection of the then-Houston Oilers. He won the NFL Rookie of the Year award that season and was the Oilers/Titans’ starting tailback through 2003, never missing a start. He made the Pro Bowl four consecutive years (1997–2000) and assisted the Titans to a championship appearance in Super Bowl XXXIV. 

The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl is the premier postseason all-star game for any draft-eligible college football player. More than just a game, this week-long experience provides players with the opportunity to showcase their game to NFL scouts and coaches, while learning from the best in the business. The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl not only prepares players for the speed and intensity of professional football, but also for the business and lifestyle changes that come with it. 

The event, founded in 2012, gives players the best opportunity to showcase their talents to the NFL. Nearly 200 scouts, player personnel staff, general managers, and head coaches from all 32 NFL teams are expected to be in attendance to watch live practices, conduct player interviews and review tape. 

Former TSU Board of Trustees Member shares opinion on university growth

By Bill Freeman

Where are our state and federal leaders when it comes to the challenges facing Tennessee State University, Nashville’s only public state-funded HBCU?

Gov. Bill Lee campaigned hard on his work with prison-outreach group Men of Valor, highlighting the stark contrast between the haves and the have-nots. He should be aware of the challenges facing Black students and how hard it is — regardless of the color of your skin — to get a college education when coming from a disadvantaged background. TSU and its student population are overcoming hurdles, but our leaders have yet to lift a finger to help.

Tennessee’s senior U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn has also been quiet on the subject — though she has in recent months made her opinion on a well-educated Black woman quite clear. The nation was taken aback by her mistreatment of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson during Jackson’s confirmation hearing, asking if the judge had a “hidden agenda” and inspiring headlines such as Newsweek’s “Marsha Blackburn accused of racism over Ketanji Brown Jackson questions.” What a proud moment to be a Tennessean. While Blackburn has not made her opinion of TSU President Dr. Glenda Glover public, she may have similar unfounded suspicion of another Black woman in a position of leadership and responsibility. 

It’s no secret that one of TSU’s greatest challenges has been the expense of providing a solid education. Nashville’s meteoric growth has been a challenge for many residents, and city growth has a large impact on an urban university with housing and educational responsibilities. When families find it difficult to find and keep homes in Nashville, the challenges facing an urban university are just as great. Combine that with the recent surge in TSU’s enrollment, and the school now has one of the best problems you can have: surging attendance, with more students than they’ve ever seen before. High praise for TSU, but it is indeed a logistical challenge.

TSU was recently in front of the state Senate’s Finance, Ways and Means Committee to discuss the framework for financial support for additional student housing. But as Tennessee Lookout’s Sam Stockard recently pointed out, the “outrage over TSU was outrageous.” Instead of discussing the logistics of a clearly needed student housing increase, this 10-member committee — notably composed of nine Republicans and a single Democrat — grilled TSU over years-old financial audit findings. 

TSU has worked diligently to increase enrollment, and has achieved a dramatic increase of 2,000 more incoming freshmen this year. The treatment TSU received was out of line. The school deserves more respect and simply excels at recruiting new students. “TSU’s biggest sin,” writes Stockard, “appears to be a strong marketing program and an inability to say no.”

Some have pointed out that other schools — namely UT-Knoxville — would never have been treated this way. I have to agree. I love both schools and have supported them for many years, but the treatment Dr. Glover received from our state legislators was uncalled for. Dr. Glover is a rare find in the educational field. How rare? She has no peer in Tennessee’s other public universities. Out of every public university in the state of Tennessee, only two are led by a woman, and only two are led by a person of color. How many are led by a woman of color? One. Dr. Glover is the only Black woman to lead a public university in Tennessee. This is how we treat someone with a hard-earned and well-deserved position of authority? I agree with Stockard’s comment that UT-Knoxville President Randy Boyd would never have been treated this way — and I suspect that the other eight white men in charge of our public universities wouldn’t have been treated this way, either. 

Increasing enrollment is the primary goal of our public educational institutions. Nearly a decade ago, former Gov. Bill Haslam’s “Drive to 55” program was implemented with the goal of having 55 percent of all Tennesseans earn a post-secondary degree or certificate by 2025. TSU has arguably done more than its fair share of the work to reach that high bar, which was set back in 2013. They were charged with increasing enrollment, and that’s exactly what they’ve done. 

The bottom line is this: TSU’s housing needs are real. They deserve help from the state, they deserve better treatment from our state legislators, and they deserve better from our state government as a whole. 

TSU more than just an educational journey for first group of Caribbean Scholars

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University experienced historic growth this fall with the institution’s record-setting freshman class of 3,567 first-year students. Included in the group, and far away from home, were 29 Caribbean scholars. With this being the first time on American soil for many of them, the University has worked to make the transition as seamless as possible.

This is the first year that TSU has successfully recruited a large number of Caribbean students. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

TSU’s annual International Education Week, observed November 7 -11, has made the Caribbean students feel even more at ease in their “home-away-from home.” The week-long event helped to promote cultural awareness and featured several activities highlighting the native land of the University’s international students. This included Dance Hall Night and lunch-n-learn story circles events for the entire campus.  

“We are all from difference places, but it’s still a family because we are relating to being abroad in school,” Tonique Poitier of the Bahamas, said.

Poitier, who is a freshman studying chemistry, said the week gave her and fellow Caribbean students a chance to interact and gain awareness about other cultures as well.

She said most of them met at a welcome reception and dinner for Caribbean students hosted by TSU and the Nashville community. The September event, which featured foods from several of their home islands, was the first of several to help them adjust to college life.

“The welcome dinner made me feel at home,” said Jada Henry, who is an incoming freshman from Jamaica studying Supply Chain Management. “They had Jamaican food and gave good advice.”

Henry hopes to land a career as a Logistics Supervisor with the military. “I take great pride in my place here at Tennessee State University and in the direction my experience has provided for me thus far,” he said.

“The dinner was a very nice gesture,” said Renard Frederick, who is an incoming freshman from Trinidad & Tobago studying Human Performance and Sports Sciences. “It brought all of the Caribbean students together and now we are friends as a result.”

More than 300 Caribbean students applied for the International Tuition Assistance Grant from TSU with the final selection made up of 20 on campus and nine studying online. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Frederick wants to become a Sports Physiotherapist working with sports teams, ideally his dream team, Barcelona SC.

According to Dr. Arlene Nicholas-Phillips, executive assistant to President Glover and liaison on Global Initiatives, this is the first time that TSU has successfully recruited a large number of Caribbean students. She attributed this success to the International Tuition Assistance Grant (ITAG) the students received.

“Coming from the Caribbean, I understand the importance of education,” Nicholas-Phillips said. “Parents from the Caribbean understand that no sacrifice is too much to further their students’ education, and they’ve expressed how much of a blessing TSU has been with the ITAG because it’s an opportunity they [otherwise] wouldn’t have.”

Over 300 Caribbean students applied for the ITAG from TSU with the final selection made up of 20 on campus (two from Jamaica, five from Trinidad & Tobago, and 13 from the Bahamas) and nine studying online. The grant requires incoming students to have a minimum 3.25 grade point average and maintain 15 credit hours per semester to complete their degree within four years.

“The average G.P.A. for the incoming scholars is 3.6,” added Nicholas-Phillips. “These are high-performing students, and we know they are dedicated to their education because they know the sacrifice their parents are making.”

D’Neka Cunningham is one of a few transfer students who received the ITAG this semester and said the opportunity means everything to her and her family.

“I’m the oldest of three and first-gen, so I have to set the standard and be the example,” said Cunningham, who plans to return home to the Bahamas with a degree in Architectural Engineering and help improve their residential structures. She recalled how their homes flooded and two of her friends died during Hurricane Dorian in 2019. “We have great structures, but we can improve our homes.”

TSU’s annual International Education Week, observed in November, made the Caribbean students feel even more at ease in their “home-away-from home.” (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Dr. Coreen Jackson, dean of TSU’s Honors College, said the University’s recruitment efforts outside of the U.S. speaks to the administration’s commitment to being a global institution. 

“This is a dream come true for TSU to extend such an awesome opportunity to students in the Caribbean who probably would not have gotten an opportunity for a higher education since there are limited universities for the number of students coming out of high school,” said Jackson, who is also from Jamaica. “It says a lot about our leader who is unselfish, caring, and global-minded.”

Dr. Jackson and her husband, the Rev. Dr. Chris Jackson, hosted the reception and dinner event at their Pleasant Green Baptist church.  Rev. Jackson said opening the church doors to welcome the students was a good thing to do. “I have travelled internationally and know what it means to be at an unfamiliar place and be shown care and love,” he said.

Both Nicholas-Phillips and [Coreen] Jackson expressed gratitude for those who volunteered their time and resources to make the welcome dinner a success, sharing that members of the local Caribbean community came together to cook traditional Caribbean foods such as rice and peas, jerk chicken, and roti, and even donated money. Local eatery Jamaicaway Restaurant and Catering also contributed food. The night was capped off with a special presentation by President Glenda Glover and Michael Thomas, President of Atlanta’s Caribbean American Cultural Arts Foundation.

Other TSU faculty and staff attending the dinner included members of the International Recruiting Committee; Global Online AVP Dr. Seay; Chief Data Officer, Dr. Clarke from Trinidad; Health Sciences Professor Dr. Johnson from Jamaica; and members of the OIA team.

Dr. Coreen Jackson said she has plans to start a program where local Caribbean families can “adopt an international student” and provide them additional support from the community while they are away from home. This includes preparing them for the Nashville winter season.

“Many of our international students have not experienced a winter, so I would like to do a drive for winter coats, sweaters, socks, blanket, etc.,” she said. “It would also be nice to have local stores donate new items and/or allow the [international] students to shop at a discounted rate.”

“I am grateful for the opportunity to get a quality education amongst people who look like me,” said Cunningham. “That’s what I’ve been used to my whole life and getting to continue to do that in a place where I feel comfortable is amazing.”

While there’s no place like home, the Caribbean scholars at TSU have a new place to call home for the next four years.

Dr. Mikki Allen Selected to coveted NCMFC Coalition Academy

By TSU Athletics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University Director of Athletics Dr. Mikki Allen  has been selected as one of 12 Athletic Directors to participate in the Coalition Academy coach mentorship program. The Coalition Academy was started in 2021 and it pairs Athletic Directors (AD) with minority head coach prospects.

Allen, who is entering his third year as TSU’s Athletic Directors, was the only FCS AD selected and the only AD from an HBCU. The list includes several power five ADs such as Greg Byrne from Alabama, Whitt Babcock from Virginia Tech, and Allen Greene from Auburn among others.
Dr. Allen will be paired up with Coach Dell McGee from the University of Georgia who is the Run Game Coordinator and the running backs coach. Tim Banks from Tennessee, Sherrone Moore from Michigan, and Des Kitchens are a few of the selected coaches. The Academy is coming off an incredibly successful first year, highlighted by the hiring of Marcus Freeman (Notre Dame), Tony Elliott (Virginia), and Jay Norvell (Colorado State).
“There is a certain closed-mindedness amongst decision-makers in college athletics who only hire candidates with coordinator experience,” Allen said. “The hiring philosophy, effective or not, limits the number of qualified minority applicants for available head coaching positions.

Throughout the history of college football, there has been a limited number of minority offensive and defensive play-callers,” Allen continued. “I believe that this is due, in part, because minority coaches many times ascend through the coaching professions by way of their recruiting process. This being the case, many times because they are so highly coveted as recruiters, they take lateral jobs and are not at the program long enough to gain coordinator experience.

The networking opportunities that the Coalition provides opens so many doors for these aspiring head coaches. College sports is a relationship-driven industry and its special that these individuals get an opportunity to be coaches and developed by leaders that share a vested interest in helping people and improving college sports,” he said.
In its first year, the Coalition Academy helped to counteract the narrative that there is a lack of qualified minority coaches to fill available positions and is helping to bring parity to the hiring process in college football. This is why, the Coalition Academy is excited to announce the launch of its second year and the new members of its class.

For more information about the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches, please visit

TSU legacy student Jala Turner Selected as Visa Black Scholar

By Staff Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Upon graduating from Greater Atlanta Christian School, freshman Jala Turner decided to continue her family’s legacy as a TSU Tiger while creating one of her own after being accepted into the second cohort of The Visa Black Scholars and Jobs Program.

The program is in partnership with The Thurgood Marshall College Fund and provides assistance for Black and African American high school graduates in the United States with a minimum G.P.A. of 3.0 who plan to attend an accredited four-year college or university to pursue an undergraduate degree in business or technology.

Turners parents were members of the TSU Aristocrat of Bands and said its exciting to see her get involved on campus as a TSU cheerleader along with being a Visa Scholar.

“When all of us were on the Zoom call and found out that we got the scholarship, we were crying and everything. It’s amazing and a really big honor for me,” says Turner who is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration and a minor in Spanish. 

“Being a Visa Black Scholar shows everyone that I have a lot to offer, and I’m so glad that someone saw my talent. It feels good to receive this scholarship and have these opportunities.”

In addition to receiving a needs-based scholarship grant of up to $20,000 per year for four years, Turner and fellow scholars will be mentored by a Visa employee, receive training throughout the year, attend an all-expenses paid Scholar Summit next summer, intern at one of Visa’s locations, and gain full-time employment with Visa upon graduation and successful completion of the program.

“The program is very beneficial. I have a mentor, Maria, and she’s great. She’s Hispanic and I’m minoring in Spanish, so I’m happy they made that connection,” says Turner.

“The summer of my sophomore year I can start doing paid internships with Visa and choose from any Visa corporation around the world, so I’m very excited for that. I don’t know where I want to go, but it’s a great opportunity. Also, there’s a guaranteed job offer after I graduate, and I think that’s great because I won’t have the stress of wondering what am I going to do after college.”

Turner’s parents, Anwar and Nicole of Lawrenceville, GA, agree.

“We are so proud of Jala walking in our footsteps as TSU Alumni as well as her brother and a host of other family members who have attended TSU since 1912. Her father and I were members of the Aristocrat of Bands, so it’s even more exciting to see her get involved on campus as a TSU cheerleader,” says Nicole.

Jala Turner wearing Visa apparel as she was accepted into the second cohort of The Visa Black Scholars and Jobs Program over the summer.

 “We are thrilled that she was selected for this highly competitive program. She will not have the stress that so many will feel trying to find a paid summer internship before graduation. She won’t have the struggle of trying to find a mentor within her field to develop and coach her to the next level. Most important, she will never have to bear the burden of graduating without employment. Through Visa, one of the top companies in the world, she has a direct pathway into her career. We are grateful and extremely proud that she gets to represent TSU in this elite program.”

Turner graduated high school with a 3.6 GPA and was a member of the varsity golf club, the varsity dance and cheer teams, the Beta Club, the National Honor Society, the National Honor Society of Dance Arts, and the Spanish Club. 

Community service was also a major part of her activities. This included introducing elementary school students to dance and a mission trip to Puerto Rico where we painted the recreation area in an orphanage. She was accepted into seven of the ten universities she applied to and ultimately chose TSU because, for her, it’s home.

“When I was looking at colleges, I had a list of what I needed. I wanted to go to an HBCU, I wanted to be close to family, and I wanted to cheer,” says Turner who has been dancing since she was two and cheering since she was four. “We’re a TSU family. My parents, my older brother, and my family went here; so, I grew up at TSU. Also, half of my dad’s side lives in Nashville. I feel like the icing on the cake was me making the cheer team. I grew up watching TSU cheerleaders and knew I had to be one of them. So, when I got on the team, I had everything: family, the HBCU experience, and my cheer sisters. It was perfect.”

Jala hopes to have her own real estate company one day, but for now, she wants to focus on keeping her grades up and networking with fellow students and professionals on campus.

Turner encourages anyone wanting to attend college to research and apply for as many scholarships as possible, even the unsolicited ones that come via email. 

“See which ones benefit you and apply early,” she says. “Also, don’t count yourself out even if you don’t have the best grades. Just try your best and put yourself out there. Keep working hard and you’ll eventually reach your goals.”

TSU Back in Stride for 2022 Homecoming Celebration

By Kelli Sharpe

Nashville, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – There’s no homecoming like a TSU homecoming as the University gears up for this year’s celebration. The 2022 theme is “Back in Stride Again,” as TSU prepares to welcome thousands of alumni back to the 500-arce campus. Homecoming is October 2-8 and kicked off the week-long celebration with the annual Robert N. Murrell Oratorical Contest and Gospel Explosion on Sunday.    

The celebration will be highlighted with a scholarship gala, the legendary TSU parade, and of course the homecoming football game between the Tigers and Bethune-Cookman University out of Florida.   

From the legendary Homecoming Parade to the Annual Scholarship Gala, students, staff and faculty look forward to getting Back in Stride Again for the 2022 homecoming celebration.

“TSU homecoming is always a special and exciting time of year for the University as we welcome alumni and friends to our campus,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.   

“This marks the second year we’ve held in-person activities to highlight student achievement and showcase our accomplishments as an institution. It is also a time to celebrate alumni and supporters who have left an indelible mark on TSU.”  

This year’s honorees are: Grand Marshals Entrepreneur, Ms. Andrella Kenner, Global Warming Ambassador and Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley. Honorees are Communications and Public Relations Executive, Dr. Harold Jackson and Former TSU first lady, Mrs. Edwina Hefner.

Grant Winrow

In addition to the big game against Bethune-Cookman at Nissan Stadium on Oct. 8 and the parade that morning, another major highlight of TSU’s homecoming is the Annual Scholarship Gala, TSU’s signature fundraising event. It will take place on Oct. 7 at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Nashville.    

TSU Homecoming Chairman Grant Winrow added that this year promises to be even more exciting, but safety will remain a priority even as the pandemic has tapered off.   

“Homecoming week officially begun with an array of events, to kick off the annual celebration,” said Winrow.   

“Last year certainly lived up to the hype and was indeed a homecoming for the record books. So, get ready and come prepared this year, as we are “Back in Stride Again,” picking up where we left off. The health and safety of everyone is our number one priority. We will adhere to all safety protocols that are still in place and ask that you practice social distancing throughout the weekend. Although wearing a mask is no longer mandatory, it is encouraged when inside among large groups.”    

Kenneth Rolle II., said TSU students are looking forward to getting Back in Stride for homecoming this week.

Student Government Association President Kenneth Rolle II., said for students, TSU’s homecoming can be summed up in two words, ‘get geeked.’

“That is all that needs to be said. TSU alumni and friends from near and far will know it’s homecoming week by those two simple words.”   

Other homecoming activities this year include the Ralph Boston and Dr. Catana Starks golf tournament in the morning on Oct. 6; followed by the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute White Coat Ceremony that afternoon at 2 p.m. and the homecoming concert featuring upcoming rappers Glorilla, Nardo Wick, Est Gee, Babyface Ray and the Ying Yang Twins later that day; the Breakfast of Champions, the homecoming pep rally, the Charles Campbell Fish Fry, and the National Pan-Hellenic Step Show all on Oct. 7; and the legendary Homecoming Parade on Oct. 8. The parade will be from 14th and Jefferson Street to 33rd and John Merritt Boulevard.   

For more information about TSU’s 2022 Homecoming, visit .

TSU’s freshman class largest among HBCUs, has more African-American first year students than some universities’ total minority population

By Kelli Sharpe

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is projected to enroll over 3,300 new tigers to the TSU family for the fall. It is the largest freshman class in the history of TSU and one of the largest among HBCUs. This number does not include the nearly 400 new transfer students and 1,000 plus graduate students who registered for classes the 2022-2023 academic year.  The TSU freshman class alone has more Black first-year students than some universities total minority population. This is based on a 2021 report in the Washington Post, Flagship universities say diversity is a priority. But Black enrollment in many states continues to lag

“We are excited that this is the largest first-year class in the history of TSU,” said President Glenda Glover. “This growth is quite positive for TSU as more and more students seek to attend our university.”

Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover

The freshmen class enrollment explosion comes on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, two years following the height of the virus, and social unrest after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. President Glover said the growth for TSU is impressive considering the enrollment rate for Black first-year students has decreased post pandemic. 

According to a report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, first-year enrollment was down 6 percent for Black students this past spring compared to a year ago. This follows a 13 percent decline from 2020 to 2021. There were 36,655 first-year Black students enrolled for this spring compared to 45,077 enrolled in higher education when the pandemic hit.

University officials said there are several factors contributing to the soaring first-year student enrollment numbers. This includes Vice President Kamala Harris as the spring commencement speaker, quality academic programs and faculty, a comprehensive recruitment program, the promotion of student and university achievements on a national stage, a new residence hall, and its biggest ambassadors, the Aristocrat of Bands marching band. Fondly known as the AOB, the band played on some of the biggest stages in this past year, including the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, halftime performance at a Los Angeles Lakers game, and named 2022 Top Marching Band by HBCU Buzz.

Kollin Gutter, TSU freshman majoring in Business Information Systems

Kollin Gutter, a freshman from Virginia majoring in business information systems, said he did his research on the University and was pleased with what he discovered. “TSU is one of the few HBCUs with a business information system program and they have computer information systems as well,” he said. “I want to pursue my career path in that.” 

Gutter mentioned that the campus is like one big family. Fellow freshman Kennedy Holloway, agrees.

Kennedy Holloway, Mechanical Engineering Major

“I came here because it felt like a family environment and there are a lot of great people here,” said the mechanical engineering major from Birmingham, Alabama.

TSU’s history making class of first-year college students outnumbers the total African-American population at some institutions, according to a report from the Washington Post. While the largest population of incoming students are from Tennessee, and neighboring states like Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio. There is also a huge surge of students from as far as California, Texas, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

This freshmen class also brings stellar academic credentials with an average high school GPA of 3.4. STEM majors in agricultural sciences, engineering and health sciences, along with business, and education continue to be the most popular among the new freshmen class.

“I am happy to be a TSU Tiger,” said Bailey Scott, who received her keys to a room in the new 700-bed, ultra-modern residence hall during move-in week. “Everything has just fallen in place for us since the first day. From registration to housing and the freshmen orientation, everybody we met was welcoming, and that’s a major motivation.” Scott anticipates becoming a nursing major.

Terrence Izzard, associate vice president for enrollment management, added: “We have begun the journey for one of the largest classes in the history of the university. All incoming students who have completed check-in for the Fall 2022 semester have received their full-time class schedule. This include our freshmen who are getting accumulated to college life and will leave their legacy here at TSU.” 

Included in the class of 2026 are 21 Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Scholars. The new cohorts average a 3.5 GPA along with a SAT score of 1310 and ACT of 28. The Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute and Scholarship Fund was established to provide scholarships for outstanding high school graduates who meet the criteria for admission and choose a career in medicine or dentistry. Funds from this scholarship support students enrolled in the Meharry Medical College – Tennessee State University Medical/Dental Accelerated Pathway Program, Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Health Care Scholars and Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Society.  

Freshman Robert Blalock, Biology Major and Dr. Levi Watkins Scholar

Tampa, Florida native Robert ‘Robby’ Blalock is a freshman who is part of the Dr. Levi Watkins program, majoring in biology. “I came to Tennessee State for a fresh start and to be prepared for my career and whatever else I do in life,” Blalock said.

Frank Stevenson, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, added that the university is happy to welcome the new students, also assuring them of a safe and exciting learning environment. 

“This is a really exciting time to have this level of uptick of students who are ready to be back on campus,” Stevenson said. “We have a lot of things planned for the campus and I think our first-time freshmen are going to see the energy and excitement of the TSU campus.”

The University is currently accepting applications for fall 2023.

Tennessee State University Marching Band Submits for a Grammy

(Tennessee State University News Service) Nashville, TN- With one push of a button it’s official, Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands submitted an application to the Grammy nomination committee for their album The Urban Hymnal in the Best Gospel Roots Album category. A win would make the TSU marching band the first collegiate band in history to receive the music industry’s highest honor for an entire album! Band members were on hand for the big submission as fellow band member Logyn Rylander, a senior commercial music major from Philadelphia, PA, did the honors of hitting the send button to submit the application. 

“None of this would be possible without the leadership of University President Glenda Glover. We especially thank her for being a visionary and allowing our band program to grown within her vision for the TSU band.”

“This is huge and very exciting for our students, band members and for Tennessee State University,” said Dr. Reginald McDonald, director of bands for TSU. 

Award winning poet, recording artist J. Ivy was present as a show of support and contribution on the album.

The groundbreaking album has 10 tracks filled with organic sounds that were created on the TSU campus and features trailblazers within the gospel music industry. Music moguls and acclaimed artist such as Jekalyn Carr, Fred Hammond, Kierra Sheard, John P. Kee, Louis York, Dubba-AA, Sir the Baptist, Prof. Jenkins, Take 6, Mali Music, and more are on the album. 

Executive producers Larry Jenkins, assistant band director and music heavy weights two-time Grammy award-nominated songwriter and artist Sir the Baptist were also hand for the submission. Grammy award-winning songwriter and artist Dallas Austin is also an executive producer on the project.  

The Urban Hymnal is set for release on September 23.

TSU Houses Record 5000 Plus Students for Fall, President Stays Overnight to Reassure Students and Parents

by Kelli Sharpe

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover spent the night at one of the university’s off-campus housing facilities over the weekend to ease concerns regarding safety and quality of rooms.  President Glover helped to check students in at the Best Western and later checked in herself. The hotel is one of six locations the University is using for overflow housing and has already housed 5,000 students on and off campus.

President Glenda Glover helps with student check in at the Best Western, one of the TSU overflow housing facilities. President Glover later checked in herself for an overnight stay.

“I would not put students in a place I would not be willing to stay myself,” said President Glover. “While I wish my stay could have been longer, we needed the bed for a student.”

Rising senior Derrion Boyce said this is his first time staying at a hotel throughout his TSU journey and he’s satisfied with his room assignment. The electrical engineering major, from Chicago is housed at the Best Western.

TSU President Glenda Glover

“I was able to move into my hotel room in a timed ordinarily fashion, everything was clean and up to par. Also, they have brought over food and a school supply kit to us since I been there.”

Sophomore Laila Spencer said she had reservations about being at one of the off-campus housing facilities but was pleasantly surprised when she arrived at her room at Candlewood Suites.

“I wanted to be on campus because everything is easy to get to and convenient, but with the lack of on campus housing I was put into Candlewood,” said the Memphis native and agriculture major.

President Glover at Best Western

TSU began housing students on August 15 and will continue to do so until all off-campus housing facilities are filled. The University is facing an unprecedented demand for on campus housing due to a large incoming freshmen class, projected at over 2,500 first-year students, and the high cost of housing in Nashville.

Because of the latter, an unusually high number of upperclassmen have requested on-campus housing because they cannot afford to live in the City.

“The demand for housing is related largely to Nashville’s increased cost of living and prevents many of our students from living off campus,” said Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Frank Stevenson.  

“Staff has been committed to implementing a workable solution to meet the demand for TSU housing and have assigned rooms to all upperclassmen who have paid a deposit. However, we also understand everyone is not happy about the arrangements.”

Derrion Boyce
Derrion Boyce

Stevenson noted that parents have voiced concerns regarding safety and the quality of some of the rooms.

Naomi Taylor, a sophomore, had issues with her room at the Ramada Inn, but said they were resolved right away.

“I am content with my stay here. It’s not too bad. I would’ve liked to stay on campus, so I could be a part of it, but I prefer this over the dorms,” Taylor said

“The move in experience was a little hectic, at first they put us in a room that was already occupied but they resolved it. When we got here the shower drain would fill over and we told the front desk about it and they fixed it. Then the toilet wouldn’t flush properly so we had to tell the front desk and they’re fixing it right now.”

Dr. Glover and Student
Sophomore Laila Spencer with her mother and President Glenda Glover during check in at a TSU overflow housing location.

Stevenson added, “Any concern regarding the condition of a room is being addressed immediately whether on campus or at an off-campus housing facility. Hotel management is expected to resolve all issues right away upon notification at our off-campus sites.”

Stevenson said student safety is a top priority on and off campus and a comprehensive 24- hour security plan has been implemented for each off-campus location.

“TSUPD, Metro Police, armed and unarmed security personnel, along with residence hall staff will monitor the inside and perimeter of all off-campus housing as they have in the past. It is our hope that these intentional safety measures will bring a level of comfort to our students and parents.” 

President Glover said she understands the frustration from many students and parents as the University worked to process the large demand for housing and their patience is greatly appreciated.

“Many universities across the country and even here in Tennessee are experiencing the same demand for campus housing. Some sent students homes without any options. We provided our students with options because we know many of them will not come without a place to stay. TSU students could attend online for free if they paid a deposit or live in off-campus housing.”

Some parents have also voiced concerns regarding the cost for off campus housing. The university said it will continue to assess the financial needs of students and take the necessary steps to give them the best off-campus housing experience, including shuttle service, extended library hours, along with on-site meals and activities.

TSU Police Officer Butch Lawerence helps a student and her mother with move-in at one of TSU overflow housing sites.

The president went on to say that the University will use the off-campus housing facilities for the fall and spring semester as a short-term option but is already looking to expand the campus housing inventory. This will be crucial if both enrollment trends and the cost of living in Nashville continue to increase.

“TSU is working closely with appropriate state agencies to add more residence halls on our campus, hopefully starting next year to address our future housing needs. We are excited that this is the largest first-year class in the history of TSU. This growth is quite positive for TSU as more and more students seek to attend our university.”