Tag Archives: HBCU Summit

College of Ag hosts USDA Forest Service HBCU research summit

By Alexis Clark, Charlie Morrison

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s College of Agriculture hosted the USDA Forest Service-Southern Research Station HBCU Research Summit earlier this week, commemorating 30 years of research, partnership, and collaboration among the USDA, Southern Research Station (SRS), and HBCUs engaged in agricultural research.

The 2024 SRS-HBCU Programs Summit welcomed USDA Undersecretary Homer Wilkes as a special guest. Wilkes’ participation provided additional opportunities for sharing partnering successes, exploring challenges and intersections, and fostering ongoing collaboration.

Held on campus in various College of Agriculture buildings, the event featured SRS Director Dr. Toral Patel-Weynand, presentations on the university’s history and its SRS partnership, and a panel discussion on future collaborations. Sessions throughout the day mapped out future interactions between research universities and their government counterparts at the USDA.

SRS Director Dr. Toral Patel-Weynand, left, and USDA Undersecretary Homer Wilkes at TSUs USDA Forest Service-Southern Research Station HBCU Research Summit

This marks the second consecutive year the College of Agriculture has hosted the summit in collaboration with SRS and the USDA, showcasing the institution’s commitment to fostering relationships with government agencies. Dr. De’Etra Young, Associate Dean of Academics and Land-grant Programs, highlighted the importance of collaborative partnerships during the event.

“We wanted to host the summit again this year because fostering collaborative partnerships with the Southern Research Station and other 1890 institutions is critical to our mission of bringing the best research opportunities to our talented student body,” Dr. Young said during the event.

“The end result of our work to collaborate with our industry partners is to improve the quantity and quality of the research avenues available to our student body and that’s always going to necessitate a close relationship with the USDA.”

USDA Undersecretary Homer Wilkes, an HBCU alumnus, expressed gratitude for TSU hosting the event.

“I’m very thankful for TSU for hosting this event,” Wilkes said. “It gives us an opportunity to have an exchange of information. If we say we want to be helpful, we need to know how can we be helpful. And that’s the type of dialogue we have with these deans and the university setting.”

Fellow representatives from other HBCUs participated in the panel discussion about industry partnerships, grant funding efforts, student recruitment and more during the summit event.

Wilkes was appointed to his position under the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack by President Joe Biden in 2021.

Dr. Toral Patel-Weynand said SRS has more than 200 research, education, and outreach activities with HBCUs or 1890 land-grant schools since 2017. “My vision is to keep building on the solid foundation we’ve established over the past three decades, and to set the stage for even greater engagement and expansion to include more 1890 schools,” Patel-Weynand said.

“TSU and the other HBCUs can look forward to a continued commitment from SRS to work with faculty at each of the six universities to design a program to grow and enhance the relationship for mutual benefit while building capacity and developing scientists at the undergraduate and graduate level.”

Dr. Quincy Quick, TSU’s Associate Vice President of Research and Sponsored Programs, participated in the HBCU panel discussion alongside representatives from other HBCUs. They discussed industry partnerships, grant funding efforts, student recruitment and retention, and diversity at governmental organizations. Dr. Quick addressed the importance of diversity in thinking and research.

“We have diversity in that our mission is to train and develop African-American students, but what should not get lost in any discussion about diversity, and it gets lost, is that really what you’re talking about is diversity of thinking,” Quick said. “That’s what helps create, develop, and sustain partnerships, accepting that diversity.”

During the day-long summit, TSU hosted not only USDA and SRS but also representatives from Tuskegee University, Florida A&M University, Southern University, Alabama A&M University, and North Carolina A&T University. It serves as another demonstration of the university’s commitment to research and its pursuit of an ‘R1’ designation under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning.

The summit event highlighted TSU’s dedication to advancing research collaboration not only with the USDA and SRS but also with fellow HBCUs.

About USDA Forest Service

The Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, manages the nation’s 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands, encompassing 193 million acres of land.

TSU, US Dept. of Labor Deputy Secretary host summit to increase career and partnership opportunities for students    

In support of the 2021 White House initiative to advance equity through Historically Black Colleges and Universities, TSU hosted the HBCU Summer Summit hiring event presented by the US Department of Labor (DOL.)

More than 150 students and faculty members interacted with DOL representatives and career services professionals to gather input for new training, mentorship, internship programs and opportunities to promote career development and long-term employment opportunities for the federal government.

TSU President Glenda Glover and the Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su spoke about the importance of DOL initiatives and efforts in promoting opportunity for HBCU students. (Photo: Aaron Grayson)

DOL representatives were on-hand to answer questions about specific career opportunities in the southeastern United States, as students learned about federal careers, how to navigate the federal government job site – USAjobs, and how to write a federal resume.

President Glenda Glover said it was an honor for the university to be a part of the three-part tour including Jackson State University and Tuskegee University. Glover also noted how grateful the university is to have the Deputy Secretary of Labor, Julie Su, discuss federal government partnership and employment opportunities hands on with the students.

“We want our students to know that we have corporations to come and take such an interest in us. It shows the inclusiveness of what the administration is trying to do,” Glover said. “To focus on minorities. To focus on HBCUs … we are pleased to be a part of that conversation.”

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development mobile American Job Centers vehicle on campus to provide a mobile computer lab with internet access to create a venue for resume workshops. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

The event was open to students and faculty from TSU and all surrounding HBCUs, along with invites for Vanderbilt University and Middle Tennessee State University students.

Jalen Hall, a TSU freshmen majoring in civil engineering noted how informative the event was for his future opportunities.

“As a freshman, I didn’t know much about the Deparmtent of Labor, but after this session I’ve learned valuable information,” Hall said. “Things I can take with me as I expand and matriculate through college … it will be helpful when I start looking into job opportunities.”

Su, the Deputy Secretary of Labor, said the summit event was the beginning of building a longer-term relationship to create a pathway into the federal government for HBCU students.

Jalen Hall

“We know in order to serve the most vulnerable community and individuals and gain trust; we want to look like the people we seek to serve,” Su said. “The outreach to HBCUs was a very natural part of making sure we’re reaching the full talent.”

During the event, Su gave the students some words of advice when applying for federal government jobs, “tell us who you really are,” she said. “Speak up about the things you care about. To really bring all the pieces of yourself in the application and make sure we can see that.”

She mentioned how the country has not only gone through a public health crisis, but a racial reckoning in recent years, with hopes of finding driven students who are looking for ways to turn their vision of the world into something they can do within their lives and their job.

Lauren Caver

Lauren Caver, a sophomore majoring in elementary education, couldn’t agree more. Caver told the university that she has hopes of becoming the US Secretary of Education one day, and it was great to see majority of the DOL representatives at the event look just like majority of TSUs population.

“Seeing another woman, another woman of color on stage talking about her position was really inspiring to me,” Carver said.

“It was good to hear about their (DOL) interviewing and application process, and what actually goes into working for the federal government.”

Although several students in attendance were underclassmen, Su assured the students about internship opportunities as well.

“We want them to bring all the things that make them so excellence and passionate,” she said. “We are here because we care about the students as we are also trying to build the best department that we can.”

During the HBCU Summit event, a mobile American Job Centers van was on campus to provide students with a mobile computer lab and internet access for a resume assistance work shop.

For more information about how to apply for federal government jobs, visit www.usajobs.gov.

 About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research-intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.