State Lawmakers Converge on TSU Campus on ‘Tennessee General Assembly Day’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – State lawmakers got a chance to see Tennessee State University’s excellence up close earlier this month.

Several legislators – from the Senate and House of Representatives – visited and toured the campus on Nov. 14 in what was termed, “Experience TSU: Tennessee General Assembly Day at Tennessee State University.”

This was a departure from the annual “TSU Day at the Capitol,” when university administrators, students, faculty, alumni and friends converge on Legislative Plaza to showcase TSU’s research and other innovative initiatives. The next TSU Day at the Capitol will be on Feb. 12.

TSU alums and state lawmakers, Rep. Harold Love, Jr.; and Senator-elect Brenda Gilmore, said it was important for their fellow lawmakers to visit the TSU campus. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

Joining the lawmakers at TSU were the Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, Jai Templeton, and representatives from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and Rural Development.

“We are very pleased to welcome you to Tennessee State University and our beautiful campus on behalf of our President, Dr. Glenda Glover,” said Dr. Curtis Johnson, chief of staff and associate vice president.

“Many of you may be familiar with our campus and for some of you, this may be your first time, but we are just glad that you included us in your busy schedules to make this day possible and to see for yourselves some of the great things taking place at this institution.”

At a luncheon in the President’s Dining Room prior to touring facilities on campus, the lawmakers received briefings and slide presentations from administrators on the university’s 2019 Legislative Priorities for funding consideration by the General Assembly.

Lawmakers and USDA officials watch a computer animation in the CAVE presented by Omari Paul, a 2nd-year Ph.D. student in Computer Information Systems Engineering. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The priorities include the creation of a STEM Institute, a Community Behavioral and Mental Health Center, the Cumberland Shores Research and Innovative Park, emergency funding for students, and safety and security.

“With the heightened demand for diversification in the STEM work force, an institute would provide research, professional development and training in recruiting and retaining minorities in STEM programs in Tennessee and nationally,” said Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, vice president for Research and Institutional Advancement.

With TSU one of only two HBCU’s offering a Ph.D. in psychology in the nation, Crumpton-Young told the lawmakers a community behavioral and mental health center would allow Ph.D. students in psychology to complete their clinical training on campus, instead of at Vanderbilt University, as they currently do.

A group of students from the TSU Career Development Center and the center director, Charles Jennings, right, make a presentation to the visiting legislators at the luncheon in the President’s Dining Room. (Photo by MIchael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

Two TSU alums and state lawmakers, Rep. Harold Love, Jr., and Senator-elect Brenda Gilmore, were among those present. They said the presence of their colleagues on campus allows them to see “where the money is going.”

“This is so vital because when Tennessee State is engaged and asking for money for campus improvements, security upgrades and for general operation, oftentimes legislators have never been to the campus,” Love said. “By having them on campus, we get to highlight all the wonderful things that are going on at TSU.”

Gilmore shared similar sentiment.

“TSU has so much to offer. They have some of the best and brightest students,” she said.  “I commend TSU for arranging this visit. This is a good start. TSU needs a greater presence, telling the story of what the university is and what the needs are.”

Following the luncheon, lawmakers toured various sites on campus, escorted by TSU’s Assistant Vice President for Public Relations and Communications, Kelli Sharpe, and Johnson.

Leon Roberts, coordinator of the TSU Dental Hygiene program, talks to visitors about the services offered by the Dental Hygiene Clinic. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Stops included a round-table discussion with administrators and the Dean of the College of Agriculture, Dr. Chandra Reddy, as well as a tour of the Food and Biosciences and Technology Lab, a cutting-edge facility.

State Sen. Frank S. Nicely, 8th District, said he is impressed with work going on at TSU, especially in agriculture.

“I enjoy very much hearing about TSU as a land-grant university,” said Nicely, who is 1st vice-chair of the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. “I am excited about the work you are doing with small farmers and reaching out to more counties with your extension program.”

Next, the group stopped in the College of Engineering, where they observed various animations in the CAVE or Computer Assisted for Virtual Environments, a facility for multi-disciplinary research, as well as the Advanced Materials Lab.

The group’s final stop was at TSU’s state-of-the-art Dental Hygiene Clinic, which provides a wide range of reduced-cost dental services to nearly 600 patients in the Nashville community a year.

Department of Media Relations

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About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at