Category Archives: FACULTY

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, Oracale, T-Moblie, Comcast, Amazon, and Microsoft. National speakers, panels, interactive workshops, AI exhibits, plus art galleries and tool 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 ranks top ten in best value for international students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is home away from home for hundreds of students from around the world. As a global institution, TSU offers international students a place to learn and thrive, helping them to navigate in their new surroundings, while providing a safe space for cultural acceptance. The university’s commitment to its international student population is paying off.

TSU recently place sixth as Best Value HBCU Rankings for international students, according to Study Abroad Aide.

“TSU is pleased to receive this top ten ranking as it speaks to our commitment to expanding our global footprint and educating without borders,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.  “The ranking also speaks to the dedication of our administrators and faculty to create a diverse culture for our campus community.”

In a communication to the university, Study Abroad said the recognition stems from providing outstanding educational value to international students, combining affordability with high academic quality. TSU currently has over 220 international students representing nearly 40 different countries around the world.

Dr. Jewell Winn, the executive director for the Office of International Affairs (OIA), stated that the recognition speaks to the value of the components within their office that benefit international students in all aspects.

Dr. Jewell Winn
Dr. Jewell Winn

“We’re very intentional about programming to make sure that all students have a sense of belonging and that domestic students understand the culture because the international students are here to learn the culture of American students,” Winn said.

TSU offers an Intensive English Program (IEP) that helps international students learn and master the English language. It is the only Commission on English Language Program Accreditation-accredited intensive English program in Tennessee and the first at an HBCU. IEP serves international students seeking admission to graduate and undergraduate programs.

Brazil native Isabela Lelis came to the United States and completed the program in 2022. Lelis enrolled into the Master of Business Administration program the following year, where she is pursuing a career in supply chain management.

“I feel very welcome here,” said Lelis, who is a graduate assistant within the Office of International Affairs. “They are involved in many activities. I have opportunities here.” She is also involved in international student events, like the Miss Collegiate International pageant held last year.

Miss Collegiate International with Layale Ajamy(Lebanon), far left, Taylor Hart(Bahamas), right, and Isabela Lelis (Brazil)

TSU is continuing to create an environment that bridges language barriers and fosters community integration. Each year the university hosts an annual International Education Week, observed the second week in November. In 2022, a group of first-year freshmen from the Caribbean attended the event and left feeling more at home, at TSU.

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

Mauricio Fabian recently became the first in his family to graduate with a master’s degree from TSU. Fabian, from Veracruz, Mexico, also came to TSU to learn English through the Intensive Center. “There is great opportunity at TSU for international students,” he said. “And there are many different cultures here to learn about.”

Mauricio Fabian received a certificate of achievement after completing the Intensive English Program.

People from all over the world invest in TSU’s office and programs to learn the language and then return to their home countries to teach it or to seek better employment opportunities in the United States.

Mark Gunter, director for international students and scholar services, said OIA is a home for all their students.

“We look at our office as being the first resource, or the home away from home, for all international students,” Gunter said. “And the one thing that we constantly hear from our international students is that we’re the office where they can always come to.”

Gunter said the office strives for the number one spot but is appreciative for the recognition and top ten ranking. “We strive to be the best HBCU for international education as a whole.”

To learn more about the OIA, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/international/.

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.

TSU Class of 2024 Grateful for Pres. Glover’s Impact

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – It was a full circle moment for Tennessee State University’s class of 2024 as they walked the stage to receive their degree on May 4. For many, the in-person ceremony was the first they had experienced since leaving middle school because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A significant milestone missed but recognized by TSU President Glenda Glover. President Glover served as the keynote speaker and told the nearly 600 students and family members that she understood the challenges they faced, including the absence of a traditional high school graduation.

TSU President Glenda Glover arrives at Hale Stadium for the spring 2024 commencement, ready to deliver her final address as an active president and keynote speaker. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee State University)

 “I am leaving TSU at the same time as you,” President Glover said. “This class of 2024, I saw your resilience and your impact. We are leaving TSU together, and we have made our marks. It was my goal to advance TSU, to elevate TSU, and lead TSU to a better place than where I found it. And together, we have done that.”

 Glover, an alumna and first female to lead the institution, delivered her final speech after serving TSU for nearly 12 years. To students, her commencement address was more than a speech. The words were a personal testament to the power of perseverance and the promise of hope.

 Glover told graduates to stay grounded in faith and that they could match and surpass the talent of anyone in any field.

Ahmad Benney,

 Ahmad Benney, who earned an Accounting degree, said he appreciated the commencement, as it was his first since middle school. “This is the feeling I was looking for,” The Memphis native said, after sharing that he had a drive-through graduation his senior year. “Black excellence is the reason I came to TSU, and especially to be here with Dr. Glover being that this is her last year,” Benney added. “We all are moving on, but we all are on to better things in life.” Benney is staying in Nashville to start a new job with a local accounting firm.

 Dinnea Riley, a first-generation college student, echoed a sentiment of gratitude after having a high school graduation “slideshow.” “COVID blessed me in a multitude of ways,” Riley said. “I graduated debt-free because of scholarships, and I just feel blessed to be here and have an actual graduation.”

 Dinnea Riley

 Like Benney, the Minnesota native will remain in Nashville to as a labor and delivery nurse at Saint Thomas Midtown hospital.  

 As students reflected on their first graduation, since the pandemic, it was just as special for President Glover. She received her Vintagers certificate, as a member of the class of 1974. Glover, who announced her retirement last August, will leave in June. The commencement was her final major event. She leaves with a decade or more of accomplishments.

 Under Glover, TSU has experienced consecutive years of record enrollment, she successfully led the institution through the pandemic, secured a record $100 million-plus in research awards, doubled endowments to over $100 million, improved the institutions financial standing, spearheaded new construction, including new residence halls, and moved the institution to R2 Carnegie classification. 

TSU graduate Justin Randolph, along with the entire spring class of 2024, discovered $50 under their seats from Dr. Glover to close out her final speech as an active president.

In her closing remarks as keynote speaker, she gifted each student $50 of her own money, discovered under their seats, with the following words in her final commencement as president.

 “I love you. I am proud of you,” Dr. Glover told the students as they cheered from the surprise under their seats. “And I am expecting big things from you, class of 2024. So, take this $50 and have lunch on me. TSU yesterdays, TSU today, TSU forever. May God bless you!”

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 Hosts Record-Breaking 1890 ARD Research Symposium

By Charlie Morrison

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University College of Agriculture served as the host for the 21st Association of 1890 Research Directors Biennial Research Symposium (ARD), held in April at the Gaylord Opryland Convention Center in Nashville. As the immediate past Chair and steering committee member of the symposium, the College of Agriculture Dean, Dr. Chandra Reddy, was instrumental in getting the event to be held here in Nashville, and participants did not disappoint. The event was by all accounts the biggest, best-attended symposium in the organization’s nearly 50-year history.

TSU College of Agriculture faculty and staff during the 21st Association of 1890 Research Directors Biennial Research Symposium at the Gaylord Opryland Convention Center.

More than 1,500 faculty researchers, college administrators, students, and staff from each of the 19 1890 land-grant HBCUs attended this year’s symposium. The premier event brought together agriculture-focused researchers from across the 1890 land-grant university system. In addition to showcasing the talents and achievements of the 1890 community, the symposium offered attendees interactive opportunities to share knowledge and build networks for expanded research collaborations.

Dean Chandra Reddy was buoyant about the College’s performance at the ARD. For Dr. Reddy, a successful showing at the symposium took everyone from the College’s participation, involvement, and engagement. “I am extremely happy that the event went so well. Our students and faculty succeeded in all the sessions and competitions, with outstanding preparation and engagement,” said Dr. Reddy. “So many of the attendees visited the College and were thoroughly impressed with our research labs and the cutting-edge research being conducted by our faculty, graduate students, and even undergraduate students.” TSU Agriculture students, faculty, and post-doctoral students contributed nearly 130 research posters and 300 oral research presentations that were put forth at the symposium, many of which received awards and cash prizes due to their research.

Kerrington Howard was one of three TSU College of Agriculture students who had the opportunity to address hundreds during the four-day symposium.

A large contingent of the TSU family, including President Glenda Glover, took part in the conference, presenting research, judging competitions, and fostering networking connections. “TSU recognizes the importance of agriculture, I recognize the importance of agriculture having grown up on a farm in Memphis, so I know and love the industry,” said Dr. Glover as she addressed the conference during its opening session. “Here we’re doing more to move agriculture forward on our campus in Nashville. Thank you for being here today and for such a meaningful engagement. Continue to perpetuate the legacy of research excellence.”

The theme of this year’s symposium was “Climate, Health, and Cultivating the Next Generation of Agricultural Leaders: Creating Solutions in Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources.” TSU students had the opportunity to present their research both orally and through poster competitions. The students networked with like-minded scientists from across the 1890 community and engaged in important topics such as climate science research, navigating grantsmanship, and outside funding activities, and presenting their research effectively.

During the four-day symposium, three TSU College of Agriculture students had the opportunity to address a venue in Opry that seated more than 1,500 participants. The students were TSU junior Kennedy Bentley, along with seniors Dominque Smith and Kerrington Howard. “It felt great to address the symposium because …. I wanted to show everyone that we’re doing something here (at TSUAg), I wanted to show the symposium what they were investing in,” said Howard, a dean’s list scholar. “And they need to see that we’re here doing the work so they keep supporting us.”

Dr. De’Etra Young won an inaugural McKinley Mayes Mentoring Award for demonstrating an outstanding commitment to mentoring both students and early faculty members.

During the event, Agriculture Professor and Associate Dean of Academics and Land-grant Programs Dr. De’Etra Young won an inaugural McKinley Mayes Mentoring Award. The award was created to recognize an administrator who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to mentoring both students and early faculty members.

At the symposium, graduate students showcased their research prowess, particularly excelling in oral presentations. The College of Agriculture dominated the food safety, nutrition, and health category, with Amritpal Singh securing first place, followed by Aakash Sharma in second, and Pallavi Rathore in third. In other categories, such as plant health and production, Divya Jain claimed the top spot, while Sudip Poudel secured second. Additionally, Jazmine Norwood stood out in the family, youth, community, and economic development category, winning the competitive poster presentation.

Aaliyah Cotton with an award for her oral presentation on renewable energy and natural resources.

Aaliyah Cotton represented the undergraduate student body with distinction, earning second place for her oral presentation on renewable energy, natural resources, and the environment. Overall, the College of Agriculture students showcased exceptional talent and dedication across various fields of study at the symposium.

“It was a prideful moment for my team and I to have our peer institutions treating us as a model for their own institutions and leaders,” Dr. Reddy said. “And we heard that a lot at this year’s symposium.”

To learn more about the College of Agriculture, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/.

TSU hires Duanté Abercrombie as first HBCU Men’s hockey head coach

By Nick Guerriero

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –  Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover and Director of Athletics Dr. Mikki Allen are pleased to welcome Duanté Abercrombie as the inaugural head coach of the men’s hockey team. The historic hire makes Abercrombie the first head coach of a hockey program at a historically Black college or university (HBCU).

“I am incredibly excited to embark on building this program, supported by God, my family, TSU students, alumni, and all those eagerly awaiting this moment,” said Abercrombie. “I firmly believe that one day, TSU will be recognized not only as a powerhouse on the ice but also as a program whose student-athletes leave a profound legacy on the world, enriched by the lessons learned at TSU.”

In June 2023, TSU announced plans to become the first HBCU to offer men’s hockey. The hiring of Abercrombie further solidifies that plan.

“Duanté Abercrombie’s appointment as TSU’s head coach of hockey is a testament to our dedication to breaking barriers,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “We recognize the profound significance of bringing hockey to an HBCU and providing our students with unparalleled opportunities that will enrich their college experience. This bold move builds upon the TSU legacy that we had envisioned for the institution as a comprehensive university offering a wide range of academic and extracurricular programs, with a continued commitment to excellence.”

Abercrombie is an inaugural member of the National Hockey League Coaches’ Association’s BIPOC Coaches Program, which aims to specifically support Black, Indigenous, and coaches of color in several areas including skills development, leadership strategies, communication tactics, networking, and career advancement opportunities.

Raised in Washington, D.C., Abercrombie was mentored throughout his hockey journey by notable Black hockey figures such as Neal Henderson and Graeme Townshend. Henderson, the first Black and third person of color inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, has led the Fort Dupont Cannons Ice Hockey Club since 1978, garnering numerous distinguished awards. Townshend, the first Jamaican-born player in the NHL, operates the Townshend Hockey School, where Abercrombie serves as a senior instructor, working with NCAA and NHL prospects.

Abercrombie’s dedication to hockey and community involvement has not gone unnoticed. He’s been nominated by the Washington Capitals for the 2024 Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award for his work as an inaugural member of the Capitals’ Black Hockey Committee and as a co-creator/ lead instructor with the Rising Stars Academy, a free program providing elite skill development and mentorship for local hockey players of color. Henderson was nominated for the inaugural award in 2018, which has since been presented annually “to an individual who – through the game of hockey – has positively impacted his or her community, culture, or society.” This year’s award recipient will be announced before the late-June NHL Draft in Las Vegas.

“Today is a historic moment for Tennessee State University Athletics, as we welcome our first-ever hockey head coach and marks a significant step in our plans to start the program,” said Allen. “Extensive experience in player development and coaching is crucial in building a reputable program, along with the ability to motivate and inspire our student-athletes to excel both on and off the ice. Coach Abercrombie possesses these skills and more. We’re excited to embark on this groundbreaking journey together!”

In addition to men’s hockey, Allen’s ever-expanding athletic offerings will increase between 2025-28 to include baseball, women’s soccer, and women’s swimming and diving.

Professionally, Abercrombie spent the 2022-23 season with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs organization as a member of the coaching staff for the Maple Leafs, Toronto Marlies (American Hockey League affiliate), and the Newfoundland Growlers (East Coast Hockey League affiliate). As part of his responsibilities, Abercrombie worked closely with the video coaches to create and present detailed pre-scout and player analysis packages to individuals and the team. On the ice, he assisted in each player’s development process, helped with the preparation and execution of practice, and led healthy scratches’ game day preparation. During games, he was either coaching from the bench or was the 5-on-5 eye in the sky.

Abercrombie has been involved with several NHL BIPOC initiatives including as a guest coach for the San Jose Sharks 2023 training camp under head coach David Quinn and Mike Grier, the first Black NHL general manager; the Boston Bruins’ 2021-22 scouting mentorship program, and the Arizona Coyotes in 2021 where he was the subject of ‘NHL Bound’, a four-part series on ESPN which chronicled two Black hockey coaches chasing their dream to work in the NHL as part of Arizona Coyotes’ first-ever coaching internship program, dedicated to creating a deeper pool of diverse talent. Viewers got a behind-the-scenes look at the Coyotes’ management and coaching staff operations and Abercrombie and Nathanial Brooks’ personal dedication, sacrifices, and passion for shattering stereotypes and earning their place behind an NHL bench.

“I knew after our first interaction that Duanté was the right person to lead the charge,” said Nick Guerriero, Director of Hockey and Assistant AD for Communications & Creative Content. “His understanding of HBCU culture, the collegiate hockey landscape, and the NHL will benefit our team tremendously. I’m thrilled to work with Coach Abercrombie as we develop TSU Hockey into a championship-caliber program.”

In 2020, The Athletic selected him for its 40-Under-40 hockey list as an individual shaping the game’s future. At the time of publishing, the list included then-future and now-current front office members and head coaches such as Spencer Carbery, Washington Capitals head coach; Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach; Kyle Dubas, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager; Brett Peterson, Florida Panthers assistant general manager and 2024 U.S. men’s national team general manager; Lindsay Pennal, executive director of the NHL Coaches’ Association; David Carle, University of Denver head coach; Patrick Burke, NHL senior director of player safety; Rod Braceful, director of player personnel U.S. NTDP; Stephanie Jackson, USA Hockey director of diversity & inclusion; Jeremy Collation, former Chicago Blackhawks Head Coach; and Chris Snow, former Calgary Flames assistant general manager.

In 2019, Abercrombie joined the Stevenson University (NCAA Division-III) coaching staff, where at the time of his hiring, he was just one of four Black coaches in NCAA men’s hockey. In 2021-22, The Mustangs recorded an 18-win season along with a nine-game winning streak to conclude the season, and Ryan Kenny was tabbed, the United Collegiate Hockey Conference Goalie and Middle Atlantic Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

Abercrombie attended Hampton University where he competed in track and field until an injury ended his sprinting career. Upon leaving Hampton, Abercrombie had brief stints with the West Auckland Admirals in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League (NZIHL), the Steele City Warriors, and the Brewster Bulldogs of the Federal Hockey League.

An alumnus of the well-renowned Gonzaga College High School, Abercrombie led his Eagles to multiple championships as a player and a coach. He also coached at Georgetown Preparatory School, and in his first year, he helped lead his team to its first Interstate Athletic Conference (IAC) Championship.

Abercrombie is married to the former Melanie Moore, a Hampton and Teachers College at Columbia University graduate and high school educator, and they are the proud parents of children Patrick and Ava.

A formal press conference and reception to officially introduce Abercrombie will take place with dates and times to be announced at a later date.

“WHAT THEY ARE SAYING” 

Kyle Dubas, Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager
“I had the chance to work with Duanté last season in Toronto and came to know him as a tremendous communicator with great energy and knowledge of building out a great developmental program. It is very exciting to see Duante’ get this opportunity to build the program at Tennessee State.”

Mike Grier, San Jose Sharks General Manager
“Duanté is a very intelligent and hard-working person. He has a great hockey mind. He is detailed and organized. Duanté has a wonderful personality and has the unique ability to connect with all of his players.”

Brett Peterson, Florida Panthers Assistant General Manager & Team USA GM
“Congratulations to Dante and Tennessee State on this historic hire. Dante is a driven and focused coach who has studied the game at every level in preparation for this opportunity.  I am excited to see college hockey expand its diverse vision under his leadership, and I know the program is in good hands with Dante.”

Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach
“Duanté is a natural leader with an incredible passion for hockey and coaching.  I’m thrilled for him to be getting this well-deserved opportunity to guide TSU’s hockey program.”

Lindsay Pennal, executive director of the NHL Coaches’ Association
“TSU has found the right coach in Duante’ Abercrombie. He has put in the time and the work to earn this role and take the reins of the new men’s hockey program. He’s an intelligent, passionate, and kind person who puts his players first. We can’t wait to see Duanté step behind the bench when TSU plays that historic first game.”

Graeme Townshend, former NHL player, President of Townshend Hockey Skating Systems

“Duante will prove to be one of the best hires in College Hockey. He brings a wealth of experience that is rooted in a high degree of character, compassion, and integrity. He will prove to be an incredible role model for ALL members of the Tennessee State University community.”

TSU gala celebrates President Glover’s legacy 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As her grandchildren escorted her into the gala, TSU President Glenda Glover’s Salute to Excellence Gala became an unforgettable evening, graced by the presence of 1,000 of her closest family members and prominent friends, all gathered to honor her remarkable leadership and impactful legacy.

The event, held at the Grand Hyatt Nashville, commemorated nearly 12 years of dedicated service to her alma mater. It featured a reception followed by dinner program hosted by lawyer and media personality Star Jones and comedian and radio personality Rickey Smiley. The room filled with applause, joyful laughter, compelling stories, and rich memories shared with Dr. Glover over the years, including national and local leaders, philanthropists, and many more.

Dr. Glover being escorted into the Salute to Excellence Gala by her three grandchildren.

Dr. Glover received heartfelt letters and video messages from figures like United States President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, media mogul and TSU alumna Oprah Winfrey, Nashville mayor Freddie O’Connell, Tennessee governor Bill Lee, American civil rights and social justice activist Al Sharpton, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson Sr., gospel singer Dr. Bobby Jones, and National co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, Bishop William J. Barber II.

During the gala Dr. Glover reflected on her journey as the 8th and first female president of TSU, paying homage to her late parents. 

 “Over 11 years ago, I said that TSU would soar, and that’s what we celebrate this evening,” Dr. Glover said. “The greatest gift a university can embark on students are roots to lay a foundation and wings to soar. How TSU has soared, the fulfillment of a promise to soar to the highest heights of academic excellence.”

Throughout the evening, many speakers reflected on Dr. Glover’s compassionate yet calculated leadership, hence her background in mathematics from the university.

“Under your steadfast leadership, TSU has emerged as a shining example of what we can achieve in this country when we strive to bring the American Dream within reach for all people,” President Biden stated in a letter to Dr. Glover. “As you rose to become the first female president of the very school you attended, your character, devotion, and passion have left an indelible mark on countless students, faculty, and staff members who have called TSU home over the years. I hope you feel well-deserved pride in all you have achieved in your years as president of this incredible institution. Though your presence on campus will be dearly missed, your legacy will endure in the hearts and minds of TSU students for generations to come.”

Comedian and radio personality Rickey Smiley, left, and lawyer and media personality Star Jones, filled the room with applauds and laughter as the pair hosted the evening’s gala.

Dr. Glover received numerous gifts, including an April 13th proclamation from the mayor’s office, a self-portrait painted by artist Donna Woodley and presented by TSU’s national alumni association members, monetary donations, and gifts from members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, as Dr. Glover holds the title of immediate past International President of the sorority and more.

As guests mingled and enjoyed their 3-course meals, they listened to several salutes to excellence from Dr. Glover’s adult children, TSU head football coach Eddie George, Congressional Black Caucus members, immediate past TSU board of trustee members, and Doug Kreulen, president, and CEO of metro Nashville airport authority. Campus faculty and staff also heard remarks from Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Robbie Melton, TSU’s national alumni association president Charles Galbreath, and remarks from the gala’s chair and co-chair Grant Winrow and Barbara Murrell.

In a special video presentation, Vice President Kamala Harris said that Dr. Glover’s leadership has been transformative. “Dr. Glenda Glover, a champion for our nation’s HBCUs, a servant leader committed to the betterment of our local and global community, and a role model who exemplifies excellence in all that she does,” Harris said. “As president of Tennessee State University, she elevated the profile of this historic institution.”

Throughout the evening, amidst the celebration and heartfelt tributes, speakers and guests lauded Dr. Glover for her remarkable decade-long accomplishments at TSU.

President Glenda Glover, center, was gifted a self-portrait painted by artist Donna Woodley that was presented at the gala by TSU staff and national alumni association members.

Dr. Glover’s leadership has been marked by consecutive years of record enrollment, successfully steering the institution through the pandemic, and securing a record $100 million-plus in research awards. Under her leadership the TSU endowment has doubled to $100 million, new buildings, including a new residence hall, and securing $250 million from the State of Tennessee, the largest one-time appropriation from a state to an HBCU.

While Rev. Al Sharpton stated in a video presentation that Dr. Glover’s unwavering advocacy for HBCUs has been a beacon of hope for students and educatorsOprah Winfrey had similar sentiments. 

Winfrey stated that Dr. Glover fought for their alma mater to ensure that HBCUs receive the support they deserve. “Your commitment to TSU and its students has been steadfast, you’ve been a beacon of inspiration for us all, you have led with such passion, you have maintained your integrity, and also a deep love for TSU,” Winfrey stated in a video presentation.

Dr. Glover takes selfie with attendees and friends during the gala at the Grand Hyatt.

“Dr. Glover, you are the reason our alma mater is reclaiming its rightful place at the forefront of higher education. You’ve made me so proud to be a graduate of Tennessee’s only public HBCU. Congratulations on your retirement, and may your future be filled with everything you deserve, meaning joy, serenity, contentment, and continued success.”

Being a Memphis native and daughter of a civil rights activist, Dr. Glover talked about keeping up a good fight for the betterment of TSU. “It was my goal to elevate TSU and to leave TSU in a better position, a better place than when I arrived in 2013,” she said. “I’ve told you before, I finished my course, but I have not finished my calling.

Thank you, Tennessee State University for my roots and wings. TSU today, TSU forever. May God bless TSU.”

After an evening filled with echoed heartfelt speeches and warm memories, the sentiment that resonated most was related to Dr. Glover’s faith, inspiration, and transformation. With each accolade and tribute, the Salute to Excellence Gala illuminated the profound impact of her tenure, serving as both a celebration of her accomplishments and a farewell to her role as president of TSU.

TSU to honor President Glover at upcoming Salute to Excellence Gala

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Promising to be an evening to remember, Tennessee State University will host the Salute to Excellence Gala to honor President Glenda Glover on Saturday, April 13. The TSU family, Nashville community, and a who’s who list of friends, including national leaders and celebrities, will come together to celebrate President Glover’s leadership and legacy. The event will take place at the Grand Hyatt Nashville to commemorate her 12 years of dedicated service to her alma mater.

Grant Winrow

“This is a way for us to say farewell, but not goodbye,” said Grant Winrow, who is the co-chair of the ticketed gala event. “This is a celebration of praise to thank our fearless leader who embodies the true meaning of our motto, ‘think, work, serve,’ as the university’s president.”

Winrow said the celebration of Dr. Glover’s legacy exemplifies her leadership, ‘taking TSU to unimaginable heights.’

“Dr. Glover is a national figure who will continue to embody the TSU Tiger spirit. As her special assistant, I’d like to express my gratitude, as it has been quite an honor and a tremendous journey that I will cherish for a lifetime.”

The event will consist of a reception followed by dinner and a program hosted by TV and media personality Star Jones alongside comedian and radio personality Rickey Smiley. The evening will be a celebration of excellence, with a performance by the TSU’s Grammy award-winning Aristocrat of Bands, fondly called AOB.

Madison Scott

TSU senior and head drum major Joshua Knox said he looks forward to being a part of the gala tribute to Dr. Glover.

He noted how special it is due to Glover’s involvement in their Grammy-winning journey, include being on the first song on the album. “As a band, we deeply appreciate all the support, words of encouragement, and her influence to open doors for us,” Knox said. “Her presence during our crucial moments, like our Rose Bowl performance in California, or our Juneteenth performance at the White House in Washington D.C. last summer, meant a lot to us.”

Joshua Knox

Madison Scott, a sophomore who is the co-captain of the Sophisticated Ladies, said with over a decade of leadership at TSU, Dr. Glover’s farewell will be one to remember.

“It’s significant to celebrate her to this magnitude because she definitely had a big impact on what TSU is today,” Scott said. “I know that she truly cares about the students and TSU as a whole. Dr. Glover is a president who listens and empathizes with the students, and I’ll forever appreciate that.”

Sammy Freeman, a criminal justice major, added that President Glover had been an inspiration to him, being from the same hometown of Memphis.  “President Glover showed me I could achieve whatever I set my mind to do,” Freeman said.

Sammy Freeman

“I recall her talking to a group of us, as freshmen, telling us that is does not matter where you start. It is the preparation and where you finish that matters most. She has done everything a president was supposed to do.”

SGA president Derrell Taylor remarked how the president’s leadership inspired him and other students as well.

“Dr. Glover’s unwavering dedication to our student body has left an indelible mark on our university’s history,” Taylor said. “As the first female president of our university, Dr. Glover has led by example and accomplished many milestones throughout her journey, paving the way to inspire future generations of leaders.

Derrell Taylor

On behalf of the student body, we are truly grateful for Dr. Glover’s commitment to advancing and advocating for TSU.”

President Glover decade-long accomplishments include consecutive years of record enrollment, successfully navigating the institution through the pandemic, record $100 million-plus in research awards, doubling the TSU endowment to $100 million, several new buildings, including a new residence hall, and securing $250 million from the State of Tennessee, the largest one-time appropriation from a state to an HBCU.

Dean Barbara Murrell

 “This is our way of saying thank you, Dr. Glover, for a job well done for an ever-lasting legacy,” stated Barbara Murrell, who is the co-chair of the event. “We wish her the very best in her future endeavors, hoping that the journey ahead will be filled with success and fulfillment as she embarks on the next chapter of her life.”

For more information regarding the Salute to Excellence Gala and to purchase tickets, visit www.tnstate.edu/salute/.

TSU Pres. Glenda Glover, Senator Raphael Warnock headline Spring Commencement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University proudly announces that United States Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock and President Glenda Glover will be taking the stage as the keynote speakers for the 2024 Spring Commencement ceremonies. Senator Warnock will address graduate school students on Friday, May 3 at the Gentry Center Complex. The event will start at 5 p.m.

Senator Warnock, who is also an HBCU graduate, holds an undergraduate degree from Morehouse College and a master’s and PhD from Union Theological Seminary. The senator represents the State of Georgia and serves as Senior Pastor at historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Ebenezer is the noted church of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Warnock is the youngest pastor selected to serve in that leadership role and has done so for over 16 years.

Senator Warnock was elected to the United States Senate in January 2021. Currently, he serves on the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee; Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, as well as the Special Committee on Aging.

“We are pleased to welcome Senator Raphael Warnock to TSU,” said TSU President Glover. “Senator Warnock’s dedication to public service, commitment to social justice, and inspiring journey will undoubtedly resonate with our graduate school students. We look forward to an uplifting and memorable commencement ceremony with him.”

On Saturday, May 4, President Glover will deliver the keynote address, during the undergraduate ceremony, at Hale Stadium which begins at 8 a.m. It will mark her final commencement as president, a culmination of nearly 12 years of service to her alma mater.

“This momentous occasion holds a deep personal significance for me, as it symbolizes years of hard work and dedication from our incredible students,” commented Glover. “Students and faculty have often approached me about being the commencement speaker, and I believe this is the ideal time. It will be a privilege to stand before them in this capacity, sharing words of wisdom, inspiration, and encouragement as they celebrate this significant milestone that highlights the transformative power of education.”

George Pickens IV is graduating a year early, with a 3.9 GPA, and will earn a biology degree as a part of the inaugural class of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars. He recalled how President Glover recruited him to the accelerated medical program.

“President Glover was just so welcoming, heartwarming, and hospitable,” he said of their first meeting. “That is a big reason why I even decided to come to TSU. We’ve had a personal connection in which she has guided me throughout this journey. I wish Dr. Glover farewell, congratulations, and the best wishes for her future endeavors.”

The Florida native will attend medical school following graduation. “I’m extremely excited, but it’s also a bit bittersweet because my years at TSU have been some of the best years of my life,” Pickens added. “Just being able to connect with a plethora of like-minded individuals and the experiences I’ve had in this tight-knit community, it’s something I will definitely miss.” 

Kayla Jenkins, the senior class president, will obtain a degree in criminal justice next month when she walks across the stage. The Nashville native said she eagerly anticipates the president’s remarks. “I had the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Glover on several occasions and witnessed her great leadership and dedication to the university firsthand. I look forward to her speech at graduation, that will close this chapter and set the stage for new beginnings.” Jenkins added that her aspirations are rooted in securing a position at the juvenile justice center in Nashville. “I am excited about what the future has in store for me,” Jenkins said as she reflected on her journey.

“My time at TSU has been nothing short of transformative.”

TSUs commencement will include 552 undergraduate students and 197 graduate students. TSU hopes graduates will make it “TSU for Two” and consider pursuing a second degree. University officials encourage graduates to arrive one hour before the ceremony due to parking. While masks are not required, everyone is asked to exercise caution.

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