Words of Remembrance Honoring the Life of Dr. James A. Hefner, Sixth President of Tennessee State University

Dr. Glenda Glover
Tennessee State University
“Dr. Hefner devoted his entire adult life to serving others and expanding educational opportunities to all. As educators, we have lost a visionary and one of the best leaders to ever serve this great institution. He loved inspiring students and challenging them.”

Dr. Stephen H. Kolison, Jr.
Associate Vice President of Academic, Faculty and Global ProgramUniversity of Wisconsin System
“Dr. Hefner talked about the future. He was very respectful and inclusive, and I liked that about him. He was also a very kind and approachable fellow who cared about the student and believed in high quality.” 

Mr. Wilson Lee
Director, Center for Extended Education
Tennessee State University

“Dr. Hefner always demanded the best and excellence from students as well as faculty and staff member. He taught me how to be humble to students. He was compassionate but at the same time very strong and goal-oriented. He had charisma and demonstrated dedication to the staff and students. In my opinion, he was a model president, especially to HBCUs.”

Mr. Thomas Martin
Former Vice President of Student Affairs
Tennessee State University
“Dr. Hefner was a strong advocate for positive student experiences academically and athletically.  During his tenure as President of Tennessee State University, he awarded countless academic scholarships and created “honor hall’ residential living accommodations among his many supportive initiatives.  He had an outstanding relationship with students.”

Dr. Nebraska Mays
Former Distinguished Professor of Education, Tennessee State University
Former Senior Vice Chancellor, Tennessee Board of Regents
“His leadership still was one of inclusion. I knew him to be a consummate academician and he was respected as an outstanding academician. He had a positive influence on and a respect and understanding of the faculty. What made Dr. Hefner so effective was that he came through the ranks of academics – from a faculty member to department chair to provost and then president.”

Dr. Jacqueline Mitchell
Professor and Director of Interdisciplinary Programs
Tennessee State University
“A Commitment to Excellence…that sums Dr. Hefner up. He lived by this and really wanted to put students first and he did that by exhibiting excellence. He also put into place opportunities for others to achieve excellence. He didn’t believe in 2nd class status. He meant to bring Tennessee State University to a level equal or superior to any school, anywhere. He was a trailblazer.”

Ms. Michelle Viera
Assistant Vice President of Conferences and Events
Tennessee State University
“As president, he truly believed in ‘students matter most,’” she said. “He encouraged them to keeping running and never give up and to be their best. He shared that story so often that the students began to join in with him when he told it.”

Mr. Homer Wheaton
Former Vice President, University Relations and DevelopmentTennessee State University
“Dr. Hefner was the kind of leader who would let you do what you could do to make a contribution – all he wanted to see was results. He respected people for what they did and was very complimentary of people who did a good job. The fact that he would turn you loose and let you do your work, made it so gratifying to work for him. I appreciated him so much.”

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, 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.