Tag Archives: Jerry Kibet

Dr. McDonald Williams, first director of the University Honors Program, remembered

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Dr. McDonald Williams, the first director of the University Honors Program, may be gone. But Tennessee State University officials and students say his legacy continues.  

Williams, who was 101 when he passed on Aug. 11, was director of the then-Honors Program at TSU for 23 years before retiring in 1988. He also spent 30 years at the university serving as a professor of English.

Dr. McDonald Williams

“The TSU family is saddened at the passing of Dr. McDonald Williams, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Dr. Jamye Williams and the rest of the family,” said Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover. “Many of our outstanding alumni attribute their success to the Williams’, and especially Dr. Williams as the director of the University Honors Program for 23 years. His contributions to TSU will never be forgotten, and his legacy will always resonate throughout our institution.”

Barbara Murrell, retired vice president of Student Affairs at TSU, agreed.

“He was one of the most respected, admired and appreciated members of the Tennessee State University family and the Nashville community,” she said. “His legacy as an academician continues to inspire generations through the TSU Honors College.”

In 1963, Dr. Walter S. Davis, who was president of Tennessee State at the time, appointed a committee that was charged with studying Honors programs and determining the feasibility of establishing one at the university.

After completing its investigation, the committee recommended that TSU keep pace with many other universities throughout the country. As a result, an Honors program for freshman students was started in the fall of 1964. Sophomore through senior level course work was added yearly throughout 1968, which was the first year a student graduated with “University Honors;” a distinction now reserved for those students who successfully complete the requirements of the University Honors College, which was officially given its collegiate designation in 2016.

Dr. Coreen Jackson, interim dean of the Honors College, said Williams “laid the cornerstone of academic excellence and the standard for which this program was built upon.”

“He had a vision for where the program needed to go and subsequent directors have carried that vision forward,” Jackson said.

TSU President Glenda Glover (center) with Dr. McDonald Williams, and his wife, Dr. Jamye Coleman Williams. (Submitted photo)

At an Honors Convocation in March of this year, about 2,340 TSU students with grade point averages of 3.0 or higher were recognized. Of that number, 283 were on the President’s List. Those students maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout their matriculation.

Orica Kutten is currently in the Honors College and is the recipient of a scholarship named after Williams. She said she’s grateful for the scholarship, and all that Williams did to help make the College what it is today.

“He should be celebrated for all the good he has done,” said Kutten, a senior biology major who lives in Nashville.

Honors student Jerry Kibet of Kenya said Williams laid a foundation that allows “students to realize their potential.”

“His legacy has impacted me to be a better person,” said Kibet, who is majoring in aeronautical and industrial technology. “When other students see me, and the way I carry myself, they want to be a part of this, the Honors College.”

Williams and his wife, Dr. Jamye Coleman Williams, who spent 14 years as the head of TSU’s Department of Communication, were honored at the Scholarship Gala during Homecoming in 2014.

In tandem, the Williams’ co-edited the 1970 publication, The Negro Speaks: The Rhetoric of Contemporary Black Leaders. They have also been co-recipients of numerous accolades and awards, including the 2002 Joe Kraft Humanitarian Award by the Community Foundation.

Funeral services for Dr. Williams will be in Atlanta and Nashville.

A public viewing and visitation with the family will be on Thursday, Aug. 15, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Murray Brothers Funeral Home, 1199 Utoy Springs Rd., SW, in Atlanta. The funeral will be held on Friday, Aug. 16, at 11 a.m. at Big Bethel AME Church, 220 Auburn Ave., NE, in Atlanta.

In Nashville, a public viewing will be held on Sunday, Aug. 18, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Lewis & Wright Funeral Directors, 2500 Clarksville Pike. The interment will be on Monday, Aug. 19, at 11 a.m. at Historic Greenwood Cemetery, 1428 Elm Hill Pike.

To learn more about the University Honors College, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/honors/about/.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

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 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven 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.

TSU Freshman Receives $18,000 U.S. Air Force Three-Year Scholarship

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Jerry Kibet is one step closer to realizing his dream of becoming a pilot.

Kibet, a TSU freshman majoring in aeronautical and industrial technology, has received an $18,000 scholarship from the U.S. Air Force.

The three-year scholarship, offered under the Air Force’s Type 2 scholarship program, will cover tuition, fees and books. Mostly candidates in the technical fields qualify for this scholarship. Recipients must complete AFROTC training during their freshman year to retain eligibility for their sophomore year.

Kibet, a native of Kenya, is the first TSU student in more than three years to receive the Air Force’s Type 2 scholarship.

Tennessee State University officials and members of AFROTC Detachment 790 participate in the swearing-in ceremony for U.S. Air Force Cadet Jerry Kibet, under the T-38 Talon aircraft on the main campus. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

At a ceremony Tuesday, Kibet signed a contract with the Air Force and was sworn-in as a cadet. He will train with the AFROTC Detachment 790 at Tennessee State University.

Detachment Commander, Lt. Col. Sharon Presley, conducted the swearing-in ceremony under the T-38 Talon aircraft on the main campus.

She described Kibet as an individual with “academic excellence, physical excellence, and excellence in leadership.”

“It is an honor and a privilege to see a brilliant young leader who is ready to serve his country receive this award,” Presley said. “This is quite an honor for our detachment, for TSU and for the United States of America.”

Kibet, whose academic concentration is in aviation flight, said his passion for flying started at a very early age during a flight to Dubai with his parents. On their return home, he said he realized that he lived in an area that was “on a flight path.”

“Every day planes would fly over,” Kibet said. “The more I saw them go by the more my passion grew about flying until I graduated high school and came to TSU, where I was introduced to Lt. Col. Presley.”

He said Presley talked to him about the Air Fore and immediately he knew his prayers had been answered.

“Hopefully, I will become the first pilot in my family and another pilot from TSU,” Kibet said.  “My greatest goal is to represent my detachment, be loyal to my country and defend my people at all cost. I am very grateful to the U.S. Air Force and Tennessee State University for this award and this opportunity.”

Dr. Curtis Johnson, TSU’s associate vice president for administration, who represented President Glenda Glover at the swearing-in, congratulated Kibet.

“This is great for TSU, great for Jerry and great for the Air Force,” Johnson said. “Jerry is a fine student.”

Members of AFROTC Detachment 790 at the ceremony were Maj. Michael Gordon, operations officer; SSgt. Keshawn Lipscomb, NCOIC administration management; and Sgt. Christopher Sankey, NCOIC personnel. Also at the ceremony was Air Force Retired Lt. Col. Michelangelo McCallister, TSU’s executive director of Auxiliary Accounts.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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 tnstate.edu.