Tag Archives: Kelli Sharpe

TSU hosts groundbreaking A.I. Summit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is bringing artificial intelligence to the masses. Starting June 5, 2024, the university will host the A.I. FOR ALL: Open Education Summit , at the Avon Williams Educational Site. The two-day technology event will explore the heart of innovation, with the goal of show casing how artificial intelligence is within reach for everyone.

Tennessee State University’s AI robotic dog Blue and his pup.

During the opening session, TSUs AI robotic dog Blue and his pup greeted the crowd. The AI dogs will be making appearances throughout the summit.

Some of the topics will include Ethics and Policies for A.I., A.I. Tools for Every Stage of Education, A.I. for Educational Equity, and Innovating Pedagogy with A.I.  The summit will include industry giants Google, Apple, Oracle, T-Mobile, Comcast, Amazon, and Microsoft. National speakers, panels, interactive workshops, A.I. exhibits, plus art galleries and tools will also be on display.  Prominent sponsors and partners include the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, T-Mobile Education, Merlot- Affordable Learning Solutions, and MIT-Open CourseWare. The summit is free and open to the public.

Dr. Robbie Melton, who is the Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, also serves as the Vice President for Technology Innovations and heads the TSU SMART Global Technology Innovation Center. Recently, she was appointed to the Southern Regional Education Board Commission (SREB) on Artificial Intelligence in Education. Melton’s appointment further solidifies her status as a top expert and TSU as a leading institution on artificial intelligence.

Dr. Robbie Melton welcomes the crowd to Day 1 of the A.I. For All: Open Education Summit.

“My passion lies in making A.I. accessible to everyone, amplifying voices that are often unheard, and breaking down the barriers that divide us,” added TSU’s Melton.  “Together, we can shape a future where A.I. isn’t just a tool for the few, but a force for good that enriches all of our lives.”

Over 500 people are expected to attend the summit. Dr. Melton discusses the groundbreaking summit in detail below in our Q&A interview.

Q & A with Dr. Robbie Melton

Subject: A.I. For All: Open Education Summit

What does hosting the A.I. For All Summit mean for TSU?

“Hosting the A.I. For All Summit brings visibility, reputation, and networking opportunities to TSU. It enhances the institution’s standing as a leading A.I. authority, fosters collaborations, and attracts top talent. The event facilitates knowledge exchange, showcasing TSU’s research while learning from others. The summit’s economic impact benefits local businesses and generates revenue through sponsorships. TSU assumes a leadership role, influencing A.I. policy, ethics, and research. Overall, hosting the summit brings recognition, collaboration, talent, economic benefits, and the chance to shape the A.I. landscape.”

With that question answered, what do you hope to accomplish from hosting this technology event?

“The proposed outcomes and accomplishments for the A.I. For All Summit are threefold. Firstly, to foster collaboration and knowledge exchange among experts, researchers, and policymakers, leading to innovative solutions and advancements in the field of artificial intelligence. Secondly, to inspire and empower students and young professionals by providing them with access to cutting-edge research, industry insights, and networking opportunities. Lastly, to shape the discourse on A.I. policies, ethics, and research priorities, influencing the global A.I. landscape and promoting responsible and inclusive development.”

What demographic or group has registered for the summit?

“The registered attendees for the A.I. For All Summit include educators from K-12 and higher education, policymakers, and community leaders, especially from minority serving institutions since the summit is to address A.I. for All.”

How will the summit benefit the State of TN, underserved communities, education?

“The A.I. For All Summit benefits the state of Tennessee by driving economic growth, providing educational opportunities, identifying guardrails and best practices for teaching and learning, preparing for the A.I. workforce, fostering collaborations, empowering underserved communities, shaping policies, and inspiring future innovators in the field of artificial intelligence.”

The title is A.I. for all, how does a regular, non-tech savvy individual benefit from the summit? 

“The A.I. For All Summit benefits regular, non-tech savvy individuals by promoting awareness and understanding of artificial intelligence’s impact on society. It provides insights into ethical considerations, potential opportunities, challenges, and offers the opportunity to learn how to use A.I. tools, empowering individuals to engage with and leverage A.I. technologies, even without technical expertise.”

There are some big tech names associated with the summit; who are they and what are their roles? 

“The A.I. For All Summit is supported by notable tech names such as Hewlett, Oracle, Microsoft, T-Mobile, Comcast, Code.org, BrainPOP, Adobe, SendSteps, and MIT. They play various roles, including providing resources, expertise, sponsorship, and collaboration to drive the success of the summit and advance the field of artificial intelligence.”

How significant is this for TSU? 

“The A.I. For All Summit is a significant event for TSU, with its high attendance of over 500 participants and a waiting list. The global live streaming amplifies its reach and impact, positioning TSU as a leader in fostering A.I. education, collaboration, and innovation on a global scale.”

Will Blue be a part of the summit and other interactive displays and demonstrations can attendees expect? 

“The A.I. For All Summit will feature Blue, the robotic A.I.-coded dog, highlighting the transformative capabilities of A.I. in education and business. Additionally, attendees can experience groundbreaking technologies like life-sized holograms, the first A.I. wearable Pin and glasses, and A.I. tools spanning various educational and business disciplines.”

Special Announcement for the A.I. for All Summit:

“We are thrilled to announce the upcoming launch of the TSU A.I. Applied Educational Research Center under our SMART Technology Innovation Center, in August 2024. This pioneering initiative aims to curate cutting-edge A.I. tools and best practices for teaching, learning, research, and workforce preparedness. With a specific focus on addressing underrepresented groups, the center will drive inclusivity and equity in A.I. education. By harnessing the power of A.I., we strive to empower learners, educators, and researchers with transformative resources, fostering innovation and bridging the digital divide. Join us in shaping a future where A.I. transforms education for all.”

Graduates of accelerated program headed to medical school 

Samantha Altodort and Jaden Knight are the first graduates of the university’s accelerated medical program and will enter Meharry Medical College in the summer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University reached a major milestone when the undergraduate class of 2024 walked the stage on May 4. Among the nearly 600 students were Samantha Altidort and Jaden Knight, the first cohort from the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Accelerated Pathway program to graduate. The two joined a prestigious list when they introduced retiring TSU President Dr. Glenda Glover, as the keynote speaker for TSU’s undergraduate commencement. The honor is given to the student with the highest GPA. For Samantha and Jaden, both 4.0 graduates and biology majors, they shared this coveted rite of passage. 

Samantha Altidort and Jaden Knight, center, with Dr. Levi Watkins Institute, Meharry Medical College representatives during the first cohort’s graduation celebration.

“I was thrilled and deeply honored to introduce President Glenda Glover as the keynote speaker,” said Knight, a first generation college student who is on his way to Meharry Dental School.   “It felt like a full-circle moment for me, starting from my first day on campus at Hale Hall, where I met President Glover. Her warm welcome and the unexpected joy of meeting the president in such a casual setting left a lasting impression.”

Jaden and Samantha set on stage and listened as President Glover presided over her final commencement and delivered the keynote address.

 “There will be those who will tell you that it can’t be done, that it won’t be done,” Glover said.  The crowd erupted with applause when she went on to say, “Don’t be discouraged by these dream assassins. If you want to kill your big dream, tell it to a small-minded person.”

The Memphis native and retiring president encouraged graduates to stay grounded in faith and that they could match and surpass the talent of anyone in any field.

TSU students make history as the first graduating class of the TSU Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Accelerated Medical and Dental program.

“During the times that I have heard President Glover speak, she has always shared a word that reminds students to keep the faith, persevere, and trust God, commented Samantha. “As a woman of faith myself, I am encouraged by her words and comforted knowing that TSU has been led by someone who has put her faith first.”

 Samantha, a Nashville native who will enter Meharry School of Medicine this summer, and Jaden, a Dayton, OH native, are a part of the first graduating class from the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Medical and Dental Accelerated Pathway Program. They said introducing President Glover at her final commencement was the ideal way to cap off their historic moment. President Glover established the accelerated medical and dental program with Meharry Medical College four years ago and accepted the first applicants a year later.

“When I first came to TSU, as part of the inaugural cohort of the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute Accelerated Pathway program, President Glover was there in Hale Residence Hall welcoming us,” recalled Adltdort, who parents attended TSU.  “Three years later, I am a graduate and she was my keynote speaker at commencement. I am grateful for the role that President Glover has played in helping establish the program that supported me during my undergraduate career.”

Jaden added that he was grateful for the president’s vision to begin the program.

Samantha Altidort, along with the entire first cohort received graduation stoles during the program’s celebration.

“Under her leadership, the accelerated program that has profoundly shaped my career was established. Without her vision and dedication, I would not be where I am today. I can never fully express my gratitude to her but introducing her at graduation felt like a meaningful gesture of my appreciation. President Glover is an extraordinary leader, whose accolades are as vast as her intelligence. As she prepares to retire, I am confident that her impact will continue to resonate not just at TSU but also around the world.”

TSU established the Dr. Levi Watkins Medical and Dental Accelerated Pathway Program in 2021 through a partnership with Meharry School of Medicine and Meharry Dental School. Since its inception, TSU has admitted four cohorts into the program. Samantha, along with 12 of the program’s first graduates, will go to medical school in various fields. Jaden is the sole dental student. The future internal medicine doctor and dentist agreed that they look forward to a new journey that will lead to their ultimate goal and will be forever grateful to TSU and President Glover.

To learn more about the program, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/watkins/.

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

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

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 tnstate.edu.

Bus Tour Brings Business and Community Leaders To TSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Nearly 50 Nashville business and community leaders visited Tennessee State University last week as part of the National Organization for Workforce (NOW) Diversity’s annual Diversity Bus Tour.

“The tour is to bring human resource leaders and business leaders out into the diverse communities for recruitment and advancement and engagement of their workforce,” said Jacky Akbari, president and national board chair of NOW Diversity.

She said the Diversity Bus Tour helps managers and supervisors better understand environments with which they may not have previously been familiar.

Business administration students, members of the TSU public relations office and Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering, greeted the tour participants on Nov. 8 with gift bags and brief testimonials when they arrived on the campus of Nashville ‘s only public university.

Dr. S. K. Hargrove, den of the College of Engineering with Business Administration majors Sydni Berkahlter of Cincinnati and Cordé Stewart of Nashville.

Hargrove, who serves on the board of NOW Diversity, said he believes the tour will help these professionals gain a better understanding of the impact historically black colleges and universities have on the community.

“I believe it is important that we display and share the great things that are happening at TSU to the Nashville community,” he said. “Too often many have a distorted view or perception of TSU, but our responsibility as employees is to promote the quality of education we provide and the outstanding students that matriculate at our institution. “

Akbari said for their employers to have a diverse engaged workforce population, they have to understand the culture of the students, where they come from, what they like to do and how they can contribute to the workplace.

“We know from Dean Hargrove that TSU does have some special programs that our employers are looking for,” she said. “The STEM programs that exist here at TSU are a unique opportunity for our employers to connect with students that are ready to make an early and significant contribution. We appreciate Dr. Hargrove’s leadership in connecting us with TSU, not only in his program, but across the campus.”

Kelli Sharpe, assistant vice president of University Public Relations and Communications,  greets Jacky Akbari, president and national board chair of NOW Diversity, as the Diversity Bus Tour arrives on the campus of Tennessee State University.

The Diversity Bus Tour also included stops at Meharry Medical College, Fisk University, the Sri Ganesha Temple, the Islamic Center of Nashville, Historic Woolworth on 5th and Plaza Mariachi.

The National Organization for Workforce Diversity is a private, public and non-profit collaborative created to provide insight and leadership training to advance workforce diversity initiatives.


Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

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 tnstate.edu.


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