Category Archives: RANKINGS

TSU Ag student lands fortune 500 job, aims to combat world hunger

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Kerrington Howard, a graduating senior at Tennessee State University, secured a job with a Fortune 500 company as a commodity trader, marking a significant step toward his goal of combating world hunger and assisting communities that suffer from food insecurities. “The end goal is to acquire the knowledge and then commit to action,” Howard said.

While the United States grapples with the challenge of food insecurity, Tennessee State University is producing students like Howard, who are determined to make a difference. More than 27 million Americans suffered from food insecurity as of July 2023, according to U.S. News.

Howard, of Maryland, D.C., is an agricultural science major who will be graduating May 4 and heading to Illinois this summer to pursue his career at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).

Howard’s agricultural journey began at the age of eight when he was introduced to his father’s land in Florida, where fruits were grown, and goats were raised. “That’s when I got accustomed to country life,” Howard said. While his mother and stepfather own a business in Maryland, it was his experiences on his father’s land that sparked his interest in agricultural business, leading him to concentrate on it at TSU.

When Howard was in high school, he was accepted into TSU’s 1890 summer apprenticeship where he gained hands-on experience with agriculture professors at the university. He then received a full-ride scholarship as a Farm Bill Scholar to attend TSU and took full advantage of his opportunities and resources.

Throughout his collegiate years, Howard secured internships at Mammoth Cave as an environmental education intern and at Waste Management as an environmental protection intern that extended through his junior year.

During his job search, he discovered the role of a commodity trader through Thurgood Marshall and secured the job after three rounds of interviews. “It was luck, and it was God,” he said regarding securing the job. “I want to make an impact on how the food supply works.”

ADM is a global leader in both human and animal nutrition. As a commodity trader for the company, Howard will trade resources like seeds, corn, and other grain products within the agriculture industry.

What inspired Howard to enter this field is to combat food deserts and underrepresented communities battling with food insecurities. “We’re the leaders in food production, yet we have communities that don’t have access to food,” he said.

According to Feeding America, 92 billion pounds of food annually, equal to 145 billion meals, are wasted in the U.S., which is 38% of all the food in America.

“Since we are in the city (of Nashville), we should be able to walk to food,” he said. “Knowing that we have many food deserts right in Tennessee, that’s part of my motivation.” In Tennessee, 21% of the state’s population lives in areas considered food deserts, 15% in urban food deserts and 6% in rural food deserts.

Howard said he considers TSU “comforting” and looks forward to applying what he has learned at the university in the workforce.

“TSU is the whole reason why I’m here today. They provided the education, the internship skills, and the resources so I can get where I am today,” he said. “So, I’m always grateful for TSU.”

Dr. De’Etra Young, agriculture professor and associate dean for academics and land-grant programs, said that Howard’s achievements speak volumes of the caliber of students the college produces. “As a Farm Bill Scholar, engaged in rigorous undergraduate research and internships, Kerrington embodies the dedication and preparedness fostered within our institution,” Young said. “His success in securing a position with Archer Daniels Midland not only reflects his individual excellence but also underscores the value of the education and opportunities provided by TSUAg.”

Howard will be walking the stage with a 3.5 GPA at the undergraduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 4, with more than 550 fellow classmates.

TSU’s spring commencement will also be livestreamed from the university’s YouTube channel at www.tnstate.edu/livestream.

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 students selected as ambassadors for Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios Storytellers Lab

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Two Tennessee State University students have been selected as ambassadors for the inaugural launch of the Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios Storytellers Lab. The Storytellers Lab is an initiative designed to create partnerships with HBCUs to cultivate diverse creator pipelines within the entertainment industry.

Showtime selected TSU students Billy Briggs and DeShonda Kennerson, both juniors studying mass communication.

The initiative will consist of a nine-month experience that equips HBCU students with the skills and insights to become the next generation of content creators.

Briggs said he is grateful for the opportunity as he looks forward to honing his skills in the creative process and digital media production. “I was beyond elated when I found out that I was selected for this program,” Briggs said. “I am excited to showcase my talent in writing and to elevate my craft. This opportunity not only grants access to a challenging industry but also imparts essential fundamentals crucial for my long-term growth.”

Kennerson of Louisiana said being an ambassador for this program is one of the greatest opportunities she’s ever received.

“Writing has been my passion for as long as I can remember, and this feels like a dream come true,” Kennerson said. “I am honored to be a part of this program and I hope that it will open many doors for me as a writer and producer in the entertainment industry.”

Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis, Dean of TSU’s College of Liberal Arts, said she appreciates that Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios recognized the creativity and abilities of TSU’s communication students.

“This is the very definition of a high-impact practice, where students can actively participate in these workshops with industry professionals who have proven success while they’re getting their degrees. They can step directly from the classroom into working for these organizations,” Dr. Morgan-Curtis said. “These are students who are known and capable and demonstrate each day that they are ready for this.”

The inaugural class of the Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios Storytellers Lab includes 11 fellow HBCUs as well.

Students will receive access to mentorship and masterclasses with leaders across Paramount Global, as well as insider perspectives on the creative processes of content development, the release states.

Ti-Shea Meadows, Vice President of Operations and Channel Planning at SHOWTIME/MTV Entertainment Studios & Paramount Media Networks, said this initiative underscores the commitment to fostering diverse talent and amplifying underrepresented voices for the next generation of storytellers.

“Together, we are forging a path that transcends traditional boundaries, celebrating diversity, creativity, and the power of storytelling,” Meadows said. “The innovative narratives, inspiring voices, and groundbreaking ideas that will undoubtedly emerge from this collaboration are highly anticipated.” Meadows is also the Head of the Storytellers Lab. “As we dive into this immersive program, we anticipate an enriching and transformative experience for both students and mentors alike.”

National events on participating HBCU campuses will be rolling out this spring.

TSU nursing director elected to Tennessee Nurses Association board

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s School of Nursing Executive Director and Professor, Dr. Courtney Nyange, has been elected to the Tennessee Nurses Association (TNA) Board of Directors.

Nyange will serve as the Director of Practice for the Tennessee Nurses Association. As the Director of Practice, she will have general oversight for the review and analysis of practice trends, scope of practice, and environmental issues for Tennessee nurses. The purpose is to establish task forces to develop actions to address identified issues and make recommendations to the Government Affairs committee.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity and I’m honored to serve my community, the nursing profession, and the State of Tennessee in this role,” Nyange said. “My intent is to better the practice environment for current and future nurses in Tennessee by promoting evidence-informed practice actions.”

Nyange said serving in her role at TSU has afforded her the opportunity to be at the forefront of not only nursing education but also nursing practice in Tennessee. Nyange was also selected as a participant in the Leadership Tennessee Next Class VIII. Her accolades don’t stop there.

Last year, Nyange was also selected as the first at TSU to receive this honorable recognition as a Rising Star by the TNA, the Tennessee Hospital Association, and the Tennessee Action Coalition for her outstanding leadership in the nursing profession. She noted that these achievements are complementary to one another. “Participating in the Leadership Tennessee NEXT program affords me an opportunity to create cross-state, cross-sector networks, learn about Tennessee’s strengths and challenges, and prepare to serve my local and professional communities,” she said.

Given that minority nurses are underrepresented in Tennessee and in the nursing profession, Nyange talked about the magnitude of this role, serving the community all while being a representation for HBCUs.

“I am able to bring the minority nurse perspective into this role and be a voice and advocate for minority nurses in Tennessee, and I am thrilled to be able to do so,” she said.

Nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession, with nearly 5.2 million registered nurses nationwide, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

According to the association, the racial breakdown in 2022 shows that 80% of registered nurses are Caucasian, while 6.3% are African American across the country.

College of Health Sciences Dean Ronald Barredo, expressed appreciation for Dr. Nyange’s unwavering support for both the university and the industry. “The College of Health Sciences is proud of Dr. Nyange’s appointment to the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Nurses Association as its Director of Practice,” Barredo said. “TNA is pivotal not only in the regulation of nursing practice, but also the protection of the citizens of the state. Her appointment to this esteemed position exemplifies the University’s motto: “Think, Work, Serve.”

By serving as the Director of Practice, Nyange looks forward to influencing policy and promoting positive changes that will better the practice environment for current and future nurses in Tennessee.

Influencing policy will help alleviate the nursing shortage and help retain them, she said. “My motivation for seeking this leadership position is the desire to recruit and retain high-quality nurses who will help advance and improve the health of Tennesseans.”

Nyange is one of 11 to serve on the TNA board of directors. 

TSU honors students win national HBCU research competition

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University Honors students are champions once again, securing the first and second places in scholarly research at the National Association of African American Honors Programs (NAAAHP) Conference for the second consecutive year.

The 32nd annual NAAAHP conference took place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, during the fall semester, where TSU honors college students competed against students from 10 other HBCUs nationwide in various categories. Hosted by Southern University, the competition featured TSU honors students excelling in the research poster category, the quiz bowl category, and Honors Got Talent.

Meaghan Lewis, a senior honors biology major, claimed the first-place victory for her cancer research presentation.

Meaghan Lewis claimed first-place victory for her cancer research presentation at the NAAAHP conference. (Photo submitted)

“I was shocked,” Lewis said reflecting on her achievement. “I worked very hard, and I was very happy. I felt achieved that all my hard work paid off.” The previous year, Lewis secured second place in the same research category and expressed pride in reentering the competition and clinching the first-place victory.

Her research, titled “The Role of Toll-Like Receptors 3, 4, and 8 in Tributyltin Stimulation of Tumor Necrosis Factor a Production by Human Immune Cells,” won accolades for content, in depth research, presentation, and quality.

Currently working in the laboratory of Dr. Margaret Whalen in the department of chemistry, Lewis initiated her cancer research during her freshman year at TSU.

“It shows TSU students that if you put in the work and get into these research opportunities presented around campus, you will gain the knowledge and show that you can be one of the best.”

Eseoghene Ogaga, a senior studying honors biology, won second place in her poster presentation titled “The Role of IL-17R Signaling in the Stomach Epithelium During H. pylori infection.” Ogaga is TSU representative collaborating with Vanderbilt University and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Quiz Bowl team of five won the trophy for second place. The team consists of Tyler Vazquez, Morgan Gill, Kaitlin Skates, Kara Simmons, and Jada Womack. Skates earned third place in the Honors Got Talent category. All participating students received monetary awards.

Dr. Coreen Jackson, the dean of the Honors College, said she is proud of the achievements of TSU honors students, highlighting their academic and scholarly excellence. Dr. Jackson, a past president of the NAAAHP, said, “TSU is known to produce outstanding researchers among our peer institutions. We returned to defend our research title and won the coveted first and second place winners. These students are products of our world-class faculty.”

Dr. John Miglietta, a professor of political science and the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC) coach, prepared the TSU Honors students for the quiz bowl competition. Last spring, the team earned a spot in the top eight teams at the National Tournament held in Torrance, California.

Dr. Tyrone Miller, Associate Director of the Honors College, served as the Honorary coach at the conference.

The three categories were part of NAAAHP’s annual national conference, where HBCU students engage in a Model African Union, debate, research presentations, and quiz bowl competitions. This marked TSU’s second-ever championship in the NAAAHP quiz bowl tournament.

The National Association of African American Honors Programs, founded in 1990, is a national consortium of HBCU honors programs promoting scholarship, professional development, community service, and an appreciation of African-American culture. For more information, visit www.naaahp.org.

TSU receives recognition for Best Online Master’s Programs in State

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has received the 2024 “Best Online Master’s in Tennessee” award from Online Masters Colleges (OMC), reaffirming its commitment to providing exceptional online education. The recognition highlights TSU’s dedication to quality instruction and the success of its students.

Brionna Brown, a recent graduate of TSU’s online Master’s program in instructional leadership, received her degree this fall. Brown, from Jackson, Tennessee, currently works as a 5th-grade educator in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Brionna Brown, a recent graduate of TSU’s online Master’s program currently works as a 5th-grade educator in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

“Even though its online, you could still feel the passion from the people,” Brown said regarding the professors and the college of education program she just completed.

Brown embarked on the TSU one-year online program through the state’s Aspiring Assistant Principal Program, with hopes of administrative leadership roles in education. Her journey reflects the impact of TSU’s online education in preparing aspiring administrators.

She expressed gratitude to Dr. Pamela Tanner, the Department chair for the Department of Teaching and Learning, for her passion and helpfulness in student growth. “She has years of experience and such knowledge to pour into her students,” Brown said. “She is very passionate about growing her students, and that was the best part,” Brown said.

The online program featured guest speakers, including superintendents, providing students with valuable real-world insights, she said. Despite the program being virtual, Brown found it easy to navigate technologically, due to weekly Zoom meetings.

Dr. Trinetia Respress

The “Best Online Master’s in Tennessee” award from OMC is a testament to TSU’s overall excellence in online education. The comprehensive evaluation process considered factors such as graduation rates, affordability, and program accreditation, according to an OMC press release. TSU is one of 22 universities selected for the 2024 best online master’s in Tennessee title.

Dr. Trinetia Respress, TSU Interim Graduate Dean, expressed pride in the university’s recognition. “This recognition is fabulous and well-deserved,” Respress said. “It speaks to the dedication, creativity, and hard work of faculty in providing quality online instruction to students.”

TSU offers a wide variety of online master’s programs, including Instructional Leadership, Masters in Counseling Psychology, Executive MBA, Masters in Public Health, Masters of Social Work, Masters in Nursing, and many more.

Dr. Robbie Melton,

With 32 master’s graduate programs and over 850 current master students, TSU continues to be a hub for online education excellence.

Dr. Robbie Melton, the former graduate dean and current interim provost for academic affairs, said the university is committed to providing quality online master’s level education. She highlighted new technology tools, such as artificial intelligence, to enhance learning. “We are incorporating new technology tools such as AI to enhance the learning environment for online graduate students,” she said.

She also promotes these innovative tools for research.

TSU’s recent recognitions by OMC also include being ranked for one of the Best Masters in Speech Pathology Online Programs and being listed as one of the most affordable Online Master of Social Work (MSW) programs for 2023.

TSU will continue to set the standard for students seeking a high-quality, accredited online master’s degree, offering flexibility, support, and the convenience needed for adult learners. For more information about online graduate programs, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/online/graduate.aspx.

College of Agriculture’s  De’Etra Young receives USDA National Teaching Award

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is proud to announce that Dr. De’Etra Young, Associate Dean for Academics and Land-grant Programs, received the prestigious U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Teaching Award. The national award, presented by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the USDA, recognizes excellence in agricultural sciences teaching and student engagement. Dr. Young is one of two recipients this year for the annual award and said she is honored for this recognition.

Dr. Manjit Misra, director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Dr. Young.

“This recognition celebrates my dedication to education and symbolizes the rich legacy of Tennessee State University, an HBCU committed to preparing students for success,” Young said. 

“At TSU, we take pride in our mission to excel in teaching and learning, offering experiential learning opportunities and fostering professional development for our students. This award is a testament to the University and College of Agriculture’s commitment to innovation in the classroom.”

The annual award includes a $5,000 stipend for teaching enhancements at TSU. Young is recognized as a leader in undergraduate research that is driven by her passion for environmental science and urban forestry. She has been committed to motivating students, like junior Blake Wright, to have that same passion and drive.  The Dallas, TX native is studying agricultural sciences. 

Blake Wright

“Even when I started my freshman year, Dr. Young had helped me so much.” Wright said.

“I was able to get accepted for an 1890 farm bill scholarship, and she makes sure students are aware of leadership opportunities. She overcomes challenges, presents great opportunity, and this national recognition is long overdue.”

As a mentor, Young has created many aspiring researchers over time, who have also gained national recognition for their contributions, according to the APLU website. CheKenna Fletcher, stated that she wouldn’t be in the position as a first-year Ph.D. student in agricultural sciences without Young’s support.

“Her tireless commitment to guiding students through their academic journey and beyond is unmatched,” Fletcher said.

CheKenna Fletcher

“From crafting heartfelt recommendation letters to being a constant source of encouragement, she embodies selflessness like no other, proving that leadership leaves no room for personal rest but thrives in the success of others.”

Dr. Chandra Reddy, the dean of the College of Agriculture, said Young is very deserving of this award as she is a role model to many TSU students and faculty.

“Dr. Young is an exceptional teacher, mentor, and advisor,” Reddy said.

“Dr. Young’s passion to engage high school and undergraduate students in research makes our novel summer apprenticeship and dean’s scholar’s program so popular with participating students and their families. I congratulate her on behalf of my colleagues in the College for getting selected for this prestigious national teaching award.”

Young, who has been at TSU for ten years, has been awarded more than $30 million in funding as a principal investigator (PI) and Co-PI.

Dr. Young assisting college of Agriculture students during the fall semester.

 “We applaud the 2023 winners of the Excellence in College and University Teaching Awards for Food and Agricultural Sciences,” said Wendy Fink, Executive Director of the Academic Programs Section at APLU.

“Through their dedicated and focused passion in mentoring and instruction, they serve as inspirational leaders for their students and other faculty striving to serve their students better.”

Dr. Young received her bachelor’s degree in Urban Forestry at Southern University and A&M College, and a masters and a Ph.D both in forestry from Texas A&M University. Visit our website to find more information about TSU’s Agricultural Sciences program or majors.

TSU leads artificial intelligence impact in higher education

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has positioned itself as a trailblazer in the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into higher education. A five-week online AI course is just one of the ways Dr. Robbie Melton has had TSU bridge the digital divide by bringing this latest technology to the Nashville community and others. Melton, who also oversees the smart innovation technology center, taught the free AI course that attracted over 160 participants globally.

“I strategically positioned TSU to serve as the professional development center for the HBCUs, looking at the opportunities, the possibilities, and the challenges regarding AI,” Dr. Melton said.

Dr. Robbie Melton

Reflecting on the course, Dr. Melton noted that the participants, “walked away with a full knowledge base, not just in written applications but also in AI in the arts, photography, video, and music.” The course exposed participants to dozens of diverse AI tools. Melton initiated faculty, staff, and student webinars about AI over a year ago, showcasing TSU’s commitment to staying ahead as technology continues to evolve. The recent course, titled ‘The Impact of AI in Higher Education,’ highlighted technological opportunities from a higher education standpoint. TSU Dean of the college of Liberal Arts Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis, said participating in the weekly course was well worth the time.

 “Other people have to go to conferences or sign up for workshops, while at Tennessee State University, we have the privilege of having internationally recognized experts like Dr. Melton and her Smart Center team readily available,” she said.

Morgan-Curtis noted that the courses and tools provide an opportunity to stay abreast of developments in generative AI.

“Generative AI will be a benefit in education, but it does not replace expertise,” she added, emphasizing the importance of integrating new technologies into education.

Eula Todd, a graduate student at TSU studying leadership education, believes HBCUs specifically must embrace AI to avoid ‘being left behind.’

“We have an opportunity to be at the table at the ground level,” Todd said. “We have to find a way to incorporate it, where it makes the learning experience better for students.”

Alonzo Rhodes Sr., a local physical education teacher, highlighted the practical benefits of the AI class. “I put the information in, and it comes to life for me,” he said.

TSU students in the Smart Innovation Technology Center utilizing the center’s Alienware gaming desktop computers. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee State University)

Rhodes is integrating AI into lesson plans and assessments, not only benefiting his physical education students but also enhancing his personal and professional development.

Melton’s approach with technology initiatives has been instrumental in shaping the university’s leadership role in AI education. The 5-week course came to an end amid President Joe Biden’s most recent executive order regarding AI, one that Melton says aligns with TSU’s commitment to ensuring that AI is trustworthy and beneficial to society.

“The order recognized the opportunities and the possibilities. It didn’t just shut it down.  It made people be cognizant of the dangers and cybersecurity, so it was a great balance.”

In October, President Biden signed the executive order that seeks a balance between the needs of technology companies, national security, and consumer, as well as the foundation for future legislation.  

The university’s commitment to innovation and inclusivity through AI ensures not only learning about cutting-edge technology but also its trustworthiness and benefits for society.

To learn more about the AI efforts or the Smart Innovation Technology Center visit www.ai-tnstatesmartcenter.org/artificial-intelligence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Billboard recognizes TSU’s Commercial Music program as one of the best in the world

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is now home to one of the top music business programs in the world. The October 7 issue of Billboard Magazine highlighted over 25 internationally acclaimed music business programs, including TSU, as one of the 2023 Top Music Business Schools.

TSU’s students are pictured with Tennessee native singer and actress CoCo Jones along with Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, co-founder and chair of the Black Music Action Coalition, and Def Jam Recording executives during a session of the music accelerator program held in May. (Photo courtesy 353 Media Group)

“This is a major milestone,” said Dr. Mark Crawford, who serves as coordinator of TSU’s commercial music program. “Not every HBCU has this program to begin with. This recognition puts us on the global stage.”

Dr. Crawford expressed his excitement for what he believes is a remarkable achievement and recognition that will open doors to new opportunities for students. This is in the form of internships and career opportunities.

Sophomore Honoria Hodges is already reaping the benefits of the program. Hodges is currently a TSU Meistersingers and said what she is learning from the program, in addition to her talent, will set her up to become an R&B/ pop artist.

“It is wonderful that we received this recognition,” Hodges said. “This will get all our names (students) out there to get what we want out of our careers. And my experience so far at TSU has been very enlightening.” 

Honoria Hodges

In May, TSU offered students the music business accelerator program, a 4-week course in partnership with the Black Music Action Coalition. Students got a chance to collaborate with industry giants such as Wasserman Music, Amazon Music, Nashville Music Equality, the RIAA, Live Nation, and more. The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity gave them access to internships and employment. Notable guest speakers included producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, BET and NAACP award-winning music artist CoCo Jones, rapper Waka Flocka, and others who provided valuable industry insights.

TSU alumnus Jonathan Boddie said it is unique opportunities like the accelerator program that sets the program a part. Boddie is a Nashville native and professional musician who graduated from the commercial music program in 2010.

Dr. Mark Crawford

“I think this is well deserved,” Boddie said in response to the recognition, especially noting that the university is in the heart of ‘Music City.’ “I want to raise awareness that we have one of the top programs, and we can also get people to invest into the school.”

As a professional musician, Boddie has had a residency overseas, and even lived in Korea for six months to pursue his musical career. Boddie shared that the TSU commercial program and Dr. Crawford have had the greatest impact on his career.

“Dr. Crawford has never stopped looking out for us. He is always going the extra mile to give you more opportunities and I cannot say that about any other institution I have been a part of,” Boddie said.

Jonathan Boddie performs with Blue Masala Band during a concert held at Red Caboose Park in Bellevue, TN.

“The professors really do care even beyond graduation and I appreciate that.”

TSU alumni of the commercial music program include Harry Fox Agency client solutions coordinator Dashawn Howard and two-time Grammy-nominated producer Dwane “Key Wane” Wier, II.

“I hope we will continue to build on this kind of momentum,” Crawford added. “Recognition by Billboard and other professional entities will lead to curiosity. This will create additional opportunities.”

TSU makes the list as one of the two HBCUs, alongside Howard University. The prestigious recognition from Billboard comes as the program prepares to celebrate 25 years of educating students.

Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said the honor to the 25-year program is well earned, and well overdue. 

“I was ecstatic because I know how hard everyone works,” Morgan-Curtis said, referring to the department’s faculty, and especially chair Dr. Robert Elliot, and Dr. Crawford for ensuring the students have “access to real world applications.”

Commercial music alumni practicing for the upcoming ensemble event at TSU. From left to right, Jonathan Boddie on the guitar, drum player Jameel Aziz, and bass player Maurice Farmer.

“Our students are getting these paid internships that are allowing them to do not only what they are being trained in, but what they love,” she said.

To celebrate the anniversary, the University will host a Commercial Ensemble Showcase November 13-15 at the Cox Lewis Theater inside the Performing Arts Center. Showtime is 7 p.m. each night and is free and open to the public. Traditionally a two-night event, an extra night was added to mark this significant milestone, featuring an alumni commercial ensemble as well as a faculty ensemble.

As TSU’s commercial music program continues to shine on the global stage, Crawford, who has overseen the program since the inception, is confident that faculty will help to foster the next generation of performers, producers, songwriters, and industry leaders.

Check out Billboard’s latest issue recognizing TSU here.