NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Linda Parrish has been coming to the Southern Heritage Classic since it started 33 years ago. Each year, she looks forward to the second weekend in September for the replay of tradition, camaraderie, homecoming, and most of all, the rivalry on the football field.
“I remember when the classic first started with TSU playing Grambling State University, and how it has evolved into one of the premier Black college football showcases in the nation,” says Parrish, a 1976 TSU graduate, and a retired registered nurse from Miami.
The classic is more than the action on the field for TSU. West Tennessee, north Mississippi, and specifically Memphis are fertile grounds to recruit top high school students.
Brenda Gale Joiner, a graduating senior at Hamilton High School with a 3.9 GPA, is coming to TSU next fall to major in civil engineering. She was among several students recruited at the annual college fair as part of the classic week events.
“TSU is the home of the Tigers, and I love it,” she said. “I know it is a great institution. I have heard great things about the programs, and my father went to TSU.”
Another fair goer, Kiereney Cole, a graduating senior from Booker T. Washington High School, has TSU in her sight. She wants to major in business, marketing and entrepreneurship. She has heard a lot about TSU’s business program.
“I choose TSU because it looks a very good school and I like the HBCU atmosphere,” says Cole. “I know few graduates from my school who go there and and I like what they say about the university.”
At the President’s Reception and Alumni Mixer – part of the classic weekend event – to update alumni and supporters on the state of affairs at the university, TSU President Glenda Glover touted the high quality of students attending the university. She announced the university’s historic freshman enrollment, the highest among all HBCUs in the nation, record research funding, also the highest among HBCUs, as well as a $250 million from the state for infrastructural improvement.
“I greet you in the name of excellence. We began this semester with excitement and enthusiasm about the great things that are happening at TSU,” President Glover said. “We have the largest enrollment in our first-year class in the history of our university. I am told it is the largest enrollment of all HBCUs. Our research funding was also the highest last year, and we came close to tying that record this year, with $67 million in research funding. TSU received $250 million from the state for infrastructural development. We are in the process of identifying the structures we want to improve and upgrade and present our plan to the state.”
On TSU’s recent housing situation, Glover said demand had exceeded supply due primarily due to high enrollment, and the high cost of living in Nashville, which had more upperclassmen seeking on-campus because they can no longer afford housing in the city. She said TSU’s situation was not unique.
“Many universities across the country and even here in Tennessee are experiencing the same demand for campus housing. Some sent students homes without any options. We provided our students with options because we know many of them will not come without a place to stay. TSU students could attend online for free if they paid a deposit or live in off-campus housing.”
The President thanked alumni, officials, and friends for their continued support of TSU and most importantly students. Before the night ended, the gathering had raised more than $40,000 for student support, including $25,000 from TSU alum Lt. Col. James W. Williams, a Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war. The check was a contribution to an endowment in his name at the university. Also, during halftime of the football game, alumnus Sedric Turner presented a check for $110,000 as the first installment on a $1 million pledge to support student scholarships and the Aristocrat of Bands.
Besides the college fair and big game on Saturday, another highlight of the SHC was the annual parade in the Orange Mound community of Memphis. Hundreds of people lined the route to see the floats and participants, including TSU’s world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands. While the score wasn’t in TSU’s favor, the University still came away as winner with peaked interest from high school students and alumni support.
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.