TSU President Glover says institution will get to the “promised land” of equal funding

By Alexis Clark, Kelli Sharpe

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Days before the nation celebrated the MLK Day of Service, Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover shared her own mountain top experience at the annual presidential prayer service held January 10. Stating that TSU will get to the “promised land” of equal funding, President Glover delivered a powerful, spirit-filled keynote address to mark her final presidential prayer service. The near capacity crowd filled the sanctuary, at the historic Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church, to hear from TSU’s first female president and alumna to lead the institution.

Many stood to their feet as President Glover declared how thankful she is to have been chosen to lead her alma mater and that her calling is to bring HBCUs and TSU to their rightful place of equal funding, rights, and fairness. In a ‘preacher-like’ tone reminiscent of the clergy members joining her in pulpit, the crowd hung on her every word and one point encouraged her to stay on as president.

The near capacity crowd filled the sanctuary at the historic Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church to hear from President Glenda Glover at her final presidential prayer service.

“I’m thankful that God entrusted me with the leadership of such a significant university,” Glover said as the crowd erupted with applause.

“We will get to our ‘promise land’ for TSU. I may have finished my course, but I have not finished my calling. A course ends, but a calling lasts forever. My calling is to change the lives of students.”

With the crowd on their feet, Dr. Glover told them she was speaking from the scripture that applies to her assignment at TSU.

 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”  She asked the crowd to please receive her retirement as she nears the end of her TSU journey.

President Glover expressed pride in the university’s increased national platform, as she reflected on her journey from a girl in poverty stricken South Memphis to leading TSU for 11 years. She spoke of her challenges and successes.

President Glenda Glover

An impressive list of accomplishments was shared in the event’s program book. This included record enrollment, successfully navigating the institution through the pandemic, record $100 million plus in research awards and another $100 million in the TSU endowment, several new buildings, including two new residence halls, and securing $250 million from the State of Tennessee, the largest one-time appropriation from a state to a historically black college or university (HBCU).

She also spoke passionately about the ongoing “good fight” for TSU and for HBCUs nationwide, advocating for equal opportunities for students with equitable funding.

Last fall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education announced that 16 of the nation’s governors collectively owed their respective land-grant HBCUs $13 billion. Tennessee State University was identified as the HBCU with the largest underfunding owed amount by a state, totaling $2.1 billion.

President Glover shared that she is committed to supporting her successor, and will forever ‘bleed blue’ for TSU to the crowd at Jefferson Street Baptist church.

 “My legacy is that I fought for TSU. It is a fight worth fighting,” Glover said.

Prominent clergy members, community leaders, and individuals from all denominations gathered at the annual event, representing the diversity of the Nashville community. Alongside members of the clergy and supporters from nearby HBCUs, elected officials also attended in support of TSU and Glover. Mayor Freddie O’Connell, State Reps. Dr. Harold Love Jr., and Sam McKenzie, former Metro Council member Sharon Hurt, and former senator Brenda Gilmore, were among the crowd.

The newly elected mayor took the podium and spoke about his favorite prayers, gratitude, and Glover’s longevity as a pillar in the community.

“Her tenure as TSU’s leader does begin right here with themes of unity and inclusion,” O’Connell said.

“She knew how important it was for TSU to connect with the community and vice versa. It was Dr. Glover’s ideal way of connecting TSU with the churches and neighborhoods faith-based institutions.”

This years’ service included newcomers on the front pew, like TSU student leaders SGA President Derrell Taylor, Vice President Chrishonda O’Quinn, Mister and Miss TSU Davin Latiker and Victoria McCrae, along with TSU Board of Trustee student representative Shaun Wimberly, Jr. O’Quinn, a Chicago native, described the setting and President Glover’s message as a powerful experience.

“Knowing that she led with her faith being first really made me feel empowered,” O’Quinn said.

TSU student leaders present during Dr. Glover’s final presidential prayer service.

“It made me want to apply it to my personal journey. It really shows that TSU has strong ties within the community. It’s not just within TSU alumni, but the community in Nashville and beyond.”

Rev. Aaron X. Marble, pastor of Jefferson Street, presided over the program as his church has hosted the event since its conception in 2013. Pastor Marble asked everyone to stand on their feet to thank the president for her tenure and commitment to TSU. She received a rousing applause and standing ovation.

“God has used her to navigate and steer our beloved institution to tremendous heights in incredible ways,” Marble said.

“We take the time to say thank you for your leadership, thank you for your service, and thank you for your commitment to prayer.”

President Glover shared that she is committed to supporting her successor, and will forever ‘bleed blue’ for TSU. The crowd stood and cheered during her closing remarks as she talked about her efforts and what she hoped her legacy will reveal about presidency.

“I tried to help students, keep students in school, and raise money to get them off the purge list.

I tried to meet with parents, work in the community, and I tried to love when it was difficult.

I tried to serve God with all I had. Every time I did a speech, in every delivery, every seminar, and in every testimony, I tried to lift up the name of Jesus.”

President Glover will have served for 11 and a half years when she retires at the end of the semester. A Salute to Excellence Gala is planned for April 13, 2024, in her honor.

TSU kicks off semester focused on continued excellence and underfunding

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Highlighting major accomplishments, headline grabbing news, and historic underfunding, Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover delivered her final address to faculty and staff.

President Glover took the stage in front of over 200 employees and reflected on the remarkable achievements and pride she felt for the university and its dedicated staff. After leading the institution for eleven years, President Glover will retire following the 2023-2024 academic year.

Over 200 faculty and staff members applauds Dr. Glover after highlighting the university’s 2023 accomplishments and achievements.

“TSU will continue to be a great university,” Glover said. “We will continue to win. This is more than a full-circle moment for me,” she said due to graduating from TSU in 1974. “This is a 50-year blessing. Serving as TSU president has been an honor of a lifetime. I am forever grateful for the love and support.”

President Glover covered an array of topics during her State of the University address, including expectations for the semester and TSU’s strategic plan to receive $2.1 billion in underfunding.  

She began by highlighting some of the university’s most significant accomplishments this past year. Kean Hall was filled with pride as she reiterated that TSU had surpassed the monumental milestone of $100 million in endowments and $100 million in research funding, setting a new TSU record. The president also highlighted that this academic year was set as the second-highest year of enrollment with over 8,100 students.

President Glover said the plan for the university is to continue charting a strategic path toward reaching R1 research status and establishing new degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The new proposed academic programs consist of a Ph.D. in public health, Ph.D. in executive leadership in urban education, Master of Science in business data analytics, Master of Science in nutrition and wellness, and a Bachelor of Science in Africana studies.

Faculty and staff join hands to sing the university alma mater to conclude this semester’s FSI.

“We have also revamped the entire health and wellness plan to meet the needs of our students,” Glover said, noting the focus on increasing the emphasis on mental health and counseling.

The president’s address continued, highlighting the significant improvements in campus infrastructure and buildings, including ceiling and flooring upgrades, interior design, electrical and HVAC systems updates in several campus academic buildings, and the main student cafeteria.

Glover then took a dive deep into the different levels of underfunding calculated by the state and federal government.  TSU is only one of two land-grant institutions in the State of Tennessee, and this has been the source of the underfunding.

In 2019 a state legislative committee revealed it shorted TSU over $544 million dollars in land-grand funding over several decades. In 2022, Gov. Bill Lee and lawmakers allocated $250 million to TSU, as the largest one-time investment to a historically Black university by a state. President Glover shared how the funds were being used for much needed capital improvement infrastructure projects, as outlined by the State. The biggest lump sum is an early childhood education building price at $35.7 million, an electrical master plan, at $33.3 million, and the entrepreneurship and industry partnerships at $30 million. This money will also be utilized for roofing the Gentry Center Complex, library infrastructure and more. TSU also received additional, separate funding of $68 million for an engineering building.

AOB Director Dr. Reginald McDonald delivers a surprise performance, serenading President Glover with a saxophone tribute to conclude her final FSI meeting as president.

Last Fall, it was then announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education stating that 16 of the nation’s governors collectively owed their respective land-grant HBCUs $13 billion. Tennessee State University was listed as having the largest underfunding owed amount by a state at $2,147,784,704. President Glover noted that she met with the US Department of Agriculture and Department of Education officials to determine how the $2.1 billion was calculated over a period of 33 years, from 1987 to 2020. 

President Glover continued by sharing TSU’s comprehensive 5-year underfunding restoration plan on how the $2.1 billion could be phased to fund projects. The first year is slated for $285 million, followed by $450 million for three consecutive years, followed by $512 million to close out year five.

President Glover finished her address with hopeful words to the listening ears of the faculty and staff.

“TSU is such an extraordinary place. Everyone at TSU matters,” she said. “We will continue to succeed and advance our university. We had less to work with, but we still got there. We saw unfair treatment, but we are still here.”

Laurence Pendleton provide updates on the president’s search at FSI.

Prior to President Glover’s state of the university address, there were remarks from Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Robbie Melton, the Chair of the Faculty Senate Dr. Artenzia Young-Seigler, Staff Senate Chair Reginald Cannon, and General Counsel and Secretary to the Board of Trustees Laurence Pendleton. Glover asked Pendleton to provide an update on the president’s search.

“The number one thing we can do to honor her legacy is to make sure we have a great search for the next president of TSU,” Pendleton said during FSI.

Pendleton noted that the search process involves not only the board of trustees but the entire community, as there is a search committee in place as of September 2023. TSU’s search committee is set to commence its evaluation process of candidates. Ultimately, on-campus interviews of finalist candidates followed by the board appointing a new president by April.

FSI concluded with a surprise performance from Dr. Reginald McDonald, director of the Aristocrat of Bands. He serenaded President Glover with a saxophone tribute to end her last FSI meeting as president.

President Glover then thanked everyone and said, “Stay strong. We are unshakable. This is our university. As we move forward, we will take TSU higher and higher. We are TSU, TSU forever.”

 Glover will have served as TSU’s first female and alumna president for 11 and a half years when she retires at the end of the semester. A Salute to Excellence Gala is planned for April 13, 2024, in her honor.

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.

Fall Preview Day gives students glimpse of HBCU experience

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 500 high school juniors and seniors, accompanied by their families, filled Kean Hall for Tennessee State University’s Fall Preview Day. The annual event, held during the first week in December, is considered the university’s premier open house, which allows prospective students to explore TSU’s offerings, admission processes, and campus life. Among the enthusiastic attendees were McKenzie Nichole Brittingham, Kamdyn Marie Thomas, and Tavus Wright Jr., and their parents, who, despite the bad weather, were determined to learn more about TSU.

LaMar Octavious-Scott, right, Director of Admissions, presents Kamdyn Marie Thomas her certificate of admission, as her mother, Mekisha, and father, Timothy look on.

For Brittingham, of Memphis, Tennessee, choosing TSU was an easy decision. “I want to major in mass communication, and I want that HBCU experience. I can get both here,” she said confidently, with the support of her mother, Cheryl Rhea, who emphasized that it had always been her daughter’s dream to attend an HBCU, especially TSU.

Wright Jr., accompanied by his parents, Crystal and Tavus Wright Sr., made the journey from Macon, Georgia to visit TSU. Wright had already experienced TSU once before during a football camp, which left a lasting impression. “I was really impressed with what I saw and decided then that this is where I want to spend my college years,” he said. Wright has his sights set on a healthcare major and found TSU to be the perfect fit for his aspirations.

Dr. Portia Johnson, Director of Recruitment and Campus Visits, gives the visiting students and their parents a passionate welcome, as COO Jason T. Evans cheers her on.

COO Jason T. Evans welcomed students and highlighted the exceptional programs TSU offers and introduced key staff to guide attendees through the admissions process and to answer questions. 

“Today, you get to meet our outstanding faculty members and advisors who will tell you about our offerings, scholarships, other programs, and the benefit of a TSU education,” Evans said.

Brenda Collier, left, Coordinator of Undergraduate Recruitment and Advisement in the College of Health Sciences, speaks with Tavus Wright, Jr., and his family about programs in the college. Along with Wright, Jr., are his mother, Crystal, younger brother Elijah, and his father Tavus Wright, Sr.

Prospective students also had the opportunity to interact with current students and gain insight into campus culture and the supportive learning environment.

Timothy and Mekisha Thomas, proud HBCU graduates themselves, were delighted with their daughter Kamdyn Marie Thomas’ decision to choose TSU. Kamdyn, graduating high school with a remarkable 4.0 grade point average, plans to major in biology, with a particular interest in the renowned Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute, and the Honors College at TSU.

“We are very excited for our daughter and the choice she has made to come to TSU,” Timothy said. Kamdyn added, “Tennessee State is the best choice for me. It is closer to home, and I like the programs.”

McKenzie Nichole Brittingham, middle, who is already admitted, along with her mother, Cheryl Rhea, receives a ‘TSU Bound’ welcome from Denise Carpenter-Hulbert, Senior Academic Enrichment Coordinator in the Office of Student Success.

Participants were not only impressed by the wealth of information and engaging activities offered during Fall Preview Day, but they also expressed their admiration for the exceptional organization and seamless processes that characterized the event.

Fall Preview Day, coordinated by Dr. Portia Johnson, Director of Recruitment and Campus Visits, and LaMar Octavious-Scott, Director of Admissions, brought participants from over 15 states, including California, Illinois, and Michigan. Johnson emphasized the significance of Fall Preview Day, stating, “This event is an ideal opportunity for these prospective students to see firsthand how TSU can shape their academic and personal growth.”

Registration is open for spring and fall 2024 classes. For more information on admissions at TSU, visithttps://www.tnstate.edu/admissions/.

TSU joins campaign highlighting value of 4-year education

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is participating in the “Four The Future” campaign, a consortium of 10 public universities in Tennessee. This collaborative effort aims to raise awareness about the value of higher education from a public university perspective.

President Glenda Glover

The “Four The Future” campaign will engage community and business leaders, prospective students, and citizens in a multi-year effort to emphasize the importance of a four-year degree. The focus will be on workforce development, training, and economic growth, highlighting the essential role that higher education plays in these areas.

President Glenda Glover commented on TSU’s involvement and its contributions to the campaign, saying, “At TSU, we are committed to providing a world-class education, engaging in impactful community outreach, promoting excellence, and molding young minds. As a Carnegie Designated Research Two institution, we play a significant role in supplying graduates in high demand careers for education, health care, business, agricultural sciences, engineering and many more. Securing employment is the best return on your investment.”

COO Jason T. Evans

TSU’s Chief Operating Officer, Jason T. Evans, will serve as the university’s liaison with “Four The Future.” Evans expressed his excitement about the campaign. “We are delighted to join forces with other Tennessee universities to showcase the value of a four-year degree,” Evans said. “TSU has a rich history of transforming lives through education, and this collaboration allows us to further highlight the impact our institution and others in the consortium have on the state.”

In addition to its commitment to higher education and workforce development, TSU has established numerous partnerships with major corporations and entities that are in line with the vision of Four The Future. These collaborations aim to enhance the skills and knowledge of employees, further contributing to workforce development efforts.

For instance, the university recently entered into a groundbreaking agreement with Amazon, the global e-commerce and technology company. The partnership enables Amazon’s hourly employees to take college courses as part of the company’s Career Choice program, a $1.2 billion commitment to upskill over 300,000 employees by 2025. Through Four The Future, TSU remains committed to providing innovative solutions for workforce development, enhancing the educational experiences of students and Tennesseans alike.

The other participating institutions in the “Four The Future” campaign are Austin Peay University, East Tennessee State University, Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee Technological University, University of Tennessee Chattanooga, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, University of Tennessee Knoxville, University of Tennessee Martin, and University of Tennessee Southern.

Visit https://fourthefuturetn.com for more information on the “Four The Future” campaign. 

TSU enjoys private screening courtesy of alumna Oprah Winfrey

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A Christmas gift arrived early for TSU, and it was wrapped in the color purple. TSU alumna Oprah Winfrey treated the Tennessee State University community to an early Christmas celebration with an exclusive screening of The Color Purple ahead of its official debut on Christmas Day. Over 150 students, staff, and community members gathered at the event, dressed in hues of purple to honor the highly anticipated movie.

All dressed in purple, Dr. Glenda Glover embraces and engages in conversation with participants at ‘The Color Purple’ movie screening held at Regal Hollywood theater.

Prior to the movie starting TSU President Glenda Glover expressed her gratitude. “We are thankful to Ms. Winfrey for her thoughtfulness and for giving her TSU family an advanced screening of the film before its opening on Christmas Day.”

Timothy Brewer Jr., a senior studying agricultural sciences said it was a great moment for students, faculty, and alumni to come together and recognize this film. “I love that this is a TSU exclusive,” he said. “It shows the potential of the current students at the university, and what we can achieve because our alumni are setting the paths of what dreams are made of.”

As students enjoyed the musical remake of The Color Purple, Shaniya Harris, a junior studying psychology, shared her appreciation. “The movie was great. I became even more grateful for what women have now because the norm was for us to be treated any kind of way,” she said.

Zaya Bryant, left, and Shaniya Harris at regal Hollywood theater snacking on popcorn at The Color Purple movie screening.

Zaya Bryant, a TSU junior and Nashville native, mentioned that she didn’t fully appreciate the original movie’s magnitude when she was younger. “So, having the opportunity to see this with my TSU community is great. I can take in what our TSU alumna has done, and it makes everything feel really full circle,” said Bryant, who is an early childhood education major.

TSU’s generosity extended beyond the campus by partnering with the YWCA and invited their clients. Dr. Daffany Baker, Vice President of domestic violence services of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee, coordinated the trip and brought 20 clients from their Weaver Domestic Violence center and their family members to view the screening.

Timothy Brewer Jr., said it was a great moment for students, faculty, and alumni to come together and recognize this film produced by alumna Oprah Winfrey.

“The color that represents domestic violence is purple,” Baker said, noting that their mission of eliminating racism and empowering women correlated with the movie regarding growth, transition, and prosperity.

“Just to see how our clients felt was amazing,” she said. “They loved it and felt very encouraged. They were overjoyed to come to a movie in general. We are grateful that TSU allowed us the opportunity to share the screening of The Color Purple.

Sharon K. Roberson, President and CEO of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee also noted how this film mirrors their mission and expressed appreciation for this opportunity.

“It’s a blessing to be able to share this gift with survivors who have turned to us in their greatest time of need, and we hope the movie will inspire women to continue their journey of freedom, safety, and empowerment,” Roberson said.

Dr. Daffany Baker, Vice President of domestic violence services of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee, takes a selfie with Dr. Glover before watching the musical remake of The Color Purple.

Before the screening began, Oprah Winfrey sent a heartfelt video message to her alma mater and those attending the screening.

“I don’t even have the words to say how happy I am to have you all gathered here tonight for this advance screening of The Color Purple.” Winfrey said in the video. “I wanted to create a special moment for you all, for my TSU community and family. TSU! TSU! I wish you all a wonderful holiday season. I hope you come away from this event this evening with your spirit full, that your heart is filled with joy, and you’re looking forward to the future and know that anything is possible when you notice the color purple.”

The Color Purple opens in theaters on Christmas Day with a star-studded cast, including American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino and Oscar nominated actress Taraji P. Henson.

TSU revives NAACP Chapter to tackle funding disparities, empower students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – In a significant move to address funding disparities and empower students, Tennessee State University is reactivating its National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter. Trey Cunningham, a senior majoring in health care administration and planning, serves as the Chapter President of the TSU NAACP chapter. Cunningham reflected on the timeliness of the revival.

“Our TSU NAACP Chapter has been reactivated, and this revival has coincided with TSU pursuing $2.1 billion in funding,” he said.

“With this significant piece to the puzzle and our executive committee now confirmed, we are eager to initiate our work and contribute to the ongoing success and development of TSU.”

The underfunding issue Cunningham refers to stems from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education, announcement several months ago that 16 governors collectively owe $13 billion to their respective land-grant HBCUs. TSU is facing the largest underfunding amount by a state, which is $2.1 billion.

Cunningham emphasized the importance of direct action through the NAACP chapter rather than using social media as their main platform to bring awareness to the underfunding and other issues that directly impact TSU students.

“Social media is good, but you can’t see people who are putting action behind their words,” he said. “We are going back to the roots and getting in the field to make sure people are registered to vote.”

Cunningham is optimistic about the impact the chapter could have on TSU’s campus and the generations to come.

Tamauri Murray, the Vice President of the TSU chapter, emphasized the significance of mobilizing Black voters. “Getting Black voters out there is more than important. We want to make everyone in our generation aware of voting and spreading the word,” said Murray, who is a computer science major.

“I want to implement a space for us to speak up because we have the power for change. We want students to advocate for their peers.”

One of the first steps in starting the groundwork on campus was to reintroduce the campus branch to the Nashville community. Recently, TSU student leaders attended the NAACP Nashville Branch’s Freedom Fund Banquet. The students participated to gain insight, exposure, and collaborate with local and regional members.

Frank Stevenson, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, commended the student-led initiatives to get their voices heard and their issues seen on a collegiate level chapter and beyond. “There is a very strong NAACP branch here in Nashville, so it was exciting to see them working with the local branch,” Stevenson said.

“I would like to see this age demographic participating in this political process at a higher level.”

Judy Cummings, the administrative branch manager for the Nashville NAACP, expressed excitement about the TSU chapter’s reactivation as well. “It is vitally important that young people understand the history and the significance of the work of the NAACP historically and presently,” she said.

The national agenda of NAACP remains focused on disparities in economics, healthcare, education, voter empowerment, and the criminal justice system. With the youthfulness and enthusiasm of college chapters across Tennessee, Cummings said the NAACP aims to drive voter education and mobilization leading up to the 2024 elections.

“Some people ask if the NAACP is still relevant today. The answer is yes,” Cummings said.

“Every day people call the office because their civil rights have been violated. They know we are going to answer their call because that’s the work that we do.”

The TSU NAACP chapter aims to register at least 25% of the student body population this spring for the upcoming 2024 local and presidential elections, Cunningham said. The chapter initiated its reactivation process this fall and has over 130 members including its executive committee.

TSU President Glenda Glover honored with Inspire Change Changemaker Award from Tennessee Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – In a heartwarming ceremony at Nissan Stadium, Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover was honored with the prestigious 2023 Inspire Change Changemaker Award by the Tennessee Titans.

The long-time educator and HBCU advocate was recognized for her exceptional work in pursuit of social justice in higher education. The Changemaker Award recognizes individuals in each NFL team market who make a difference in their communities across Inspire Change’s four focus areas: education, economic advancement, police-community relations, and criminal justice reform.

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

Left to right, Tennessee Titans representatives Adolpho Birch III, Johari Matthews, TSU President Glenda Glover, and Titans CEO, President Burke Nihill during the Inspire Change Breakfast and reception at Nissan Stadium to honor Dr. Glover with a prestigious 2023 Inspire Change Changemaker Award. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee State University.)

For decades, Dr. Glover has worked to transform the HBCU student experience for the benefit of thousands of students and the state of Tennessee at large under the NFL’s Inspire Change Education pillar. Members from the University family, Tennessee Titans staff, and the Nashville community were on hand to acknowledge her contributions and impact. Among them was Mika McKinney, a TSU alumna and current intern for the Titans, who is benefitting from President’s Glover on-going partnership with the team.  McKinney is pursuing her master’s in sports administration from the institution as well.

“The TSU Titans partnership has bridged the gap between theory and practice, giving me real-world insight that goes beyond experts,” McKinney said. “This has been an experience nothing further than transformative. It’s about people, growth, and community, and continuing to work better for the future.” She emphasized the collaboration’s impact on mentorship and personal growth beyond football and academics.

Mika McKinney, a TSU alumna and current intern for the Titans, speaks on this partnership going beyond sports and academic.

Dr. Glover, moved by McKinney’s words, expressed her joy in seeing students like Mika thrive.

“It makes my job worthwhile,” Glover said. “I am so honored. It recognizes the partnership between TSU and the Titans and what we are going to do in the community and what we want to do with HBCUs.” Dr. Glover also underscored the value of the educational experience and their commitment nationwide.

In his words acknowledging President Glover’s significant impact, Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell emphasized the strength of the TSU and Titans partnership and celebrated the moment as reflective of the city’s unity.

“It’s a great day for football and a great day to celebrate one of our community’s finest,” Mayor O’Connell stated.

Tennessee Titans CEO and President Burke Nihill expressed his gratitude for Dr. Glover’s friendship and the ongoing collaboration between TSU and the Titans. “To our organization, your legacy will always be transitioning from a TSU, Tennessee Titans partnership to a TSU, Tennessee Titans friendship,” Nihill said.

Mayor O’Connell addresses the audience in front of dozens, paying tribute to Dr. Glover for the prestigious award bestowed upon her by the Tennessee Titans.

Johari Matthews, VP and Executive Director of the Tennessee Titans Foundation and Community Impact, explained the selection of Dr. Glover as the 2023 Inspire Change Changemaker recipient.

“Dr. Glover was chosen because of her committed work to higher education, specifically supporting HBCUs,” Matthews said. “She has made it her mission to ensure that young people have access to higher education while also bringing attention to the many inequities and resources and funding that our HBCUs endure.”

Kind remarks about surrounding Glover’s legacy were also shared by TSU alumna Tina Tuggle, the VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the Titans and Adolpho Birch III, who oversees the Titans’ Chief External Affairs.

In addition to the breakfast program, President Glover was honored on the field during the Titans game against the Texans. She was greeted with cheers as she was once again recognized as the Titans Inspire Change Changemaker award.

President Glover at Nissan Stadium holding the NFL Changemaker award as the 2023 recipient for the Tennessee Titans.

“This recognition means so much to me because I am a diehard Titans fan, so much so that we hired Eddie George, one of the most prolific players in the Titans franchise history, as our head football coach. I am so appreciative of what we are starting and where we are headed from here with this partnership.”

The Inspired Change Changemaker award comes with a generous $10,000 donation from the NFL Foundation. Glover will donate the entire sum back to Tennessee State University.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don Lemon inspires TSU graduates at fall commencement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service)  Award-winning journalist and former CNN anchor Don Lemon inspired nearly 700 Tennessee State University fall graduates with a few pieces of advice to carry the torch of TSU’s legacy into the world. The 2023 fall commencement took place in the Gentry Center Complex, filled with ecstatic graduates, their parents, and loved ones for their support on this academic journey.

“Today is your day,” Lemon told the crowd of graduates who were representing around 40 different countries. “It is truly an honor to be a part of this significant moment in your lives. As we reflect on the journey that has brought you to this point, I am reminded of the profound impact that this institution has on countless lives.”

The 2023 fall commencement took place in the Gentry Center Complex, filled with ecstatic family and loved ones to support graduates on their this academic milestone.

Lemon then told students to embrace their authenticity and growth, build meaningful connections, and have faith in their journey. “Trust that each step, even when uncertain, is guided by a higher purpose.”

He noted that education is a lifelong journey, regardless of how long it takes.

After inspiring the graduates with his insightful advice, Lemon’s words resonated with the crowd from various countries. Among them was former NFL 2-time Pro Bowler, AFC and NFC Champion, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who embodied Lemon’s message in a unique way.

After 11 years, Rodgers-Cromartie fulfilled his promise to his mother by continuing his journey of personal growth and securing a degree. The TSU standout received a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the College of Liberal Arts. “Never give up,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “Finish those courses no matter how long it takes because at the end of the day, there are certain things in life they can’t take from you, and that would be one of them. I encourage everyone to come back and finish.”

There were nearly 700 graduates who were representing around 40 different countries during the fall commencement.

Rodgers-Cromartie started his collegiate career as a cornerback for the TSU Tigers and was a first-round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2008. He played in the NFL for 11 years, and during each offseason, his mother continued to inquire about him finishing what he started. “I’m going to do this for my mother,” he said. “Since day one, my mother has always preached, ‘Student first before athlete.'”

Over a dozen of Rodgers-Cromartie’s family members were in the crowd to witness him walk across the stage to receive his degree. He started his TSU journey in 2004 as a psychology major and spoke highly of the university’s legacy and endless opportunities.

President Glenda Glover, left, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on stage during the 2023 fall commencement ceremony.

“TSU is my home away from home. They gave me an opportunity, and I am very appreciative of that. I really bleed blue,” said the TSU Tiger. When asked about being determined regardless of the time, Rodgers-Cromartie’s response, ‘be patient and see it through.’

Prior to Lemon’s speech, TSU President Glenda Glover, in her opening remarks, said that the achievement of graduating is only a stepping stone. “Today is only a stepping stone, and we should honor this moment as we move into our new lives,” Dr. Glover said.

“You are evident that your strengths are fearsome. Your persistence is relentless, your service is genuine, and your hearts are uncompromised.”

From TSU’s AOB becoming the first collegiate marching band to receive a Grammy Award, Lemon’s speech highlighted the university’s major accomplishments and milestones this year alone. Additionally, he spoke about having global mogul Oprah Winfrey as this past spring’s keynote speaker at her alma mater.

Mother and daughter duo, Mariah, left, and Chantae Marshall received their masters degree together this fall.

Lemon then reflected on TSU’s motto, ‘Think, Work, Serve,’ and gave students some advice to cherish for the rest of their lives. “Don’t shy away from challenges. Stand up against injustice and use your education as a tool for powerful transformation.”

While in the process of her educational journey, Dr. Pearl McKnight, who was sitting in the front row waiting for her doctorate degree, also had a powerful transformation that she considers a ‘medical miracle.’ After being paralyzed and wheelchair bound for nearly seven years due to a Cryptococcal Meningitis diagnosis, McKnight proudly walked across the stage to receive her doctorate degree in educational leadership.

The 59-year-old mother and wife said the moments felt surreal. “I didn’t need a ramp or wheelchair, I was able to walk across the stage,” McKnight said. “Coming in and walking down was very emotional for me.” McKnight was overwhelmed with joy as she heard her husband of 42-years, her children and grandchildren cheering her on as she walked the stage to receive her degree.

Dr. Pearl McKnight

“I got my masters in a wheelchair so I figured that was going to be what a degree would be like for the rest of my life. So, it means so much to me to be able to walk across the stage.”

Just before Rodgers-Cromartie, McKnight and hundreds of other TSU students moved their tassels over on their decorated caps, Lemon was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree presented by President Glover and Interim Provost Dr. Robbie Melton.

Lemon anchored the long-running CNN primetime program, Don Lemon Tonight, as well as CNN This Morning. He has won a variety of distinguished awards for his work spanning nearly three decades, including an Edward R. Murrow award, multiple Emmys, and a Peabody award, among others. In addition to CNN, Lemon has served as an anchor and correspondent at the NBC and MSNBC television networks, as well as at local stations in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and St. Louis.