White House official urges TSU faculty, students to take advantage of federal funding to promote research

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The head of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities urged faculty at Tennessee State University to take advantage of federal funding to promote their research.

Research week-7
State Rep. Harold Love, Jr.; TSU Chief Research Officer Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young; Valerie Williams, director of the Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences, attend the symposium. (Photo By John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Dr. Ivory A. Toldson spoke on April 6 during TSU’s 38th Annual University-Wide Research Symposium, which gives faculty, undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to present their research, as well as hear presentations on how to expand it.

Toldson was appointed by President Barack Obama to devise national strategies to sustain and expand federal support to the nation’s 100 HBCUs.

Toldson said before his speech at the symposium that TSU is in the top 10 as far as generating revenue from the federal government for research activities, and he wants to encourage the university to continue “tapping into these resources and make sure that they have every opportunity to build a robust research infrastructure.”

“It’s an 1890 land-grant institution that has a good working relationship with the federal government,” Toldson said of TSU. “It has a historic mission and a current mission that is in line with President Obama’s priority of making sure that students graduate on time and have the type of experiences that help them to land good jobs after college.”

Dr. Earnestine Easter with the National Science Foundation also spoke at the weeklong symposium that began on April 4. She said one of TSU’s strengths is its strong connection to the community, noting the Nashville Business Incubation Center, which is run by TSU.

“You have a connection … where you’re able to kind of demonstrate your expertise in doing innovations and connecting to the business community,” said Easter, a program officer in the division of graduate education in the directorate for education and human resources at NSF. “I’m real excited about the positioning that Tennessee State has right now, and the opportunities for it to do even more.”

Joshua O’Hair, a graduate research assistant in TSU’s Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department, said this is the second symposium he’s attended at TSU and that it’s been helpful in applying for grants.

“They definitely have some really good opportunities,” said O’Hair. “They let us know what we need to have for a really good competitive application.”

Last year, TSU set a record with $51 million in new research awards.

Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, TSU’s chief research officer, said the university is hoping to break another record this year, “and a big part of that is for faculty members to know what’s available so we can write those proposals and get funding.”


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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, 22 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.