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.
“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.
“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.
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.”
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.