Tennessee State University

Tennessee State University
Tennessee State University
Tennessee State University Seal
Motto Think, Work, Serve
Established June 19, 1912 (1912-06-19)
Type Public, HBCU
Endowment $28.8 million [1]
Chancellor John Morgan
President Dr. Portia Shields
Vice-president Dr. Michael Freeman
Provost Dr. Kathleen McKenerny
Academic staff 573
Undergraduates 8,456
Postgraduates 1,933
Location Nashville, Tennessee,
United States
Campus Urban, 903 acres (4 km²)
Former names [Tennessee A & I College] [Tennessee Normal School for Negroes]
Colors Blue and White
Athletics National Collegiate Athletic Association
Nickname Tigers
Mascot Tigre
Affiliations Ohio Valley Conference
Website tnstate.edu
TSU logo

Tennessee State University (TSU) is a land-grant university located in Nashville, Tennessee. TSU is the only state-funded historically black university in Tennessee.



Tennessee State University Historic District
Location: 3500 John A. Merritt Blvd
Nashville, Tennessee
Architect: Marr & Holman, et al.
Governing body: Tennessee Board of Regents
NRHP Reference#: 96000677
Added to NRHP: June 14, 1996

TSU was originally organized as the Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School in 1909 and began serving students on June 19, 1912. Its status was raised to a four-year teachers' college in 1922, and two years later it was renamed the Agricultural and Industrial State Normal College.[2] After another five years, "Normal" was dropped from its name.[2]

It was elevated to university status in 1951, renamed the Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial University, and got full-fledged land-grant university status by the Tennessee State Board of Education in 1958.[2] In 1968, the state legislature dropped the words "Agricultural and Industrial" in favor of "Tennessee State University." [3]Since 1972, it has been operated under the auspices of the Tennessee Board of Regents.[2][4]

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University has grown dramatically from a small college to two campuses: the 500-acre main campus and the downtown Avon Williams campus, which is located in the heart of Nashville near the State Capitol. The diverse student population of more than 9,000 represents 46 states and 45 countries. TSU has been listed for 11 consecutive years in the U.S. News & World Report “Guide to America’s Best Colleges.”

Tennessee State University is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational land-grant university offering 45 bachelor’s degrees and 24 master degrees. Doctoral programs include biological sciences, psychology, public administration, computer information systems engineering, administration and supervision and curriculum and instruction.

The present-day Tennessee State University exists as a result of the court-ordered merger on July 1, 1979, of Tennessee State University and the former traditionally White institution, the University of Tennessee at Nashville, which had begun as an extension of the Knoxville-based University of Tennessee.[2] This resulted in a downtown campus.

Presidents of Tennessee State University

William Jasper Hale (1912-1943)

William Jasper Hale was appointed as the first head of TSU, then known as the Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School. The original 247 students, along with the faculty and staff, operated as a family. Everyone worked to keep the institution running in its early years from clearing rocks and harvesting crops to carrying chairs from class to class. The school was raised to the status of a four-year teachers' college in 1922 and became empowered to grant the bachelor's degree. Commencement exercises for the first college class were held in 1924, awarding degrees to seven men and one woman. In 1927, the school's name was changed to Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State Teachers College. As Tennessee State grew in scope and stature throughout the 1920s and 1930s, so too did its impressive roster of alumni who embodied the school's charge: "Enter to learn, go forth to serve." In 1943, when President Hale retired following more than 30 years at the school's helm, an alumnus was chosen to succeed him.

Walter S. Davis (1943-1968)

From 1943 until his retirement in 1968, Walter S. Davis led Tennessee State through an era of tremendous growth in areas as multifaceted as academics, facilities and worldwide recognition. Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State College achieved University status in 1951, and the Tennessee Board of Education elevated the university to a full-fledged land-grant university in 1957. Under Davis's leadership, 24 new buildings were constructed on the campus. It was during his tenure that athletes from Tennessee State commanded the attention of the nation and the world by winning national championships in football, basketball and swimming, and national titles and Olympic medals in track and field.

Andrew P. Torrence (1968-1974)

In 1968, Andrew Torrence, also an alumnus, was named the university's third president. Throughout his relatively brief tenure, the university strengthened its focus on academics and introduced a broader array of offerings. It was during this time that the university, through a bill passed by the state legislature, formally dropped "Agricultural and Industrial" from its name and became Tennessee State University. Still, one of the most significant events of the Torrence presidency would not be fully resolved or have its impact felt for decades to come. It was in 1968 that a TSU faculty member named Rita Sanders filed a lawsuit alleging a dual system of higher education in Tennessee based on race. An agreement in that case, which over the years evolved into Geier v. Tennessee, would not be reached until 2001.

Frederick S. Humphries (1975-1985)

When Frederick Humphries became TSU's president in 1975, Nashville still was home to two public, four-year universities. In 1979, the University of Tennessee at Nashville was merged into Tennessee State University and UTN's site became TSU's downtown campus. Humphries was the first TSU president to face the challenge of maintaining the balance between TSU's role as one of America's preeminent historically black universities and as an emerging comprehensive, national university.

Otis Floyd (interim 1986-1987, 1987-1990)

TSU's fifth president, Otis Floyd, assumed his post in 1987 following a year as interim president. He was appointed chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents in 1990. Floyd kept TSU moving forward in both capacities, initiating efforts that resulted in the university receiving an unprecedented $112 million from the state general assembly for capital improvements.

James A. Hefner (1991-2005)

Dr. James A. Hefner became the sixth president of Tennessee State University in 1991. During his 14-year tenure as president, he implemented the $112 million capital improvement plan secured by his predecessor. Jefferson Street was closed off through the campus, and several new buildings were erected, including a massive campus center, a new administration building, and a performing arts center. Major renovations of historic buildings were completed, and total enrollment grew to of 9,100 students.

Melvin N. Johnson (2005-2011)

Dr. Melvin N. Johnson was named the seventh president of Tennessee State University on March 10, 2005, assumed leadership of TSU on June 1, 2005 and retired effective January 2, 2011. Tennessee State University partnered with the Small Business Administration to open the first business recovery center in Tennessee.

He was instrumental in continuing to bring national attention to the university by recognizing the Freedom Riders and awarding them honorary doctorate degrees, engaging the university in the Tennessee Campus Compact, receiving national awards for community service and engagement, securing $8 million in Race to the Top Funds by President Obama and obtaining Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Dr. Portia Holmes Shields

Dr. Portia Shields was appointed as Interim President of Tennessee State University effective January 2, 2011. Under the terms of her contract, she is not allowed to apply for the permanent position of university president.[5]


File:Tsu logo.png
Tennessee State University Logo

The university is currently accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to award 45 baccalaureate degrees, 21 master's degrees, and doctoral degrees in six areas (Biology, Computer Information Systems Engineering, Education, Psychology, and Public Administration), as well as the two-year Associate of Science degree in nursing, and dental hygiene.

In December 2010, TSU was placed on warning from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and risks losing its accreditation if it does not address and correct major deficiencies in institutional effectiveness by December 2012.[6][7]

The College of Business is accredited by AACSB, the Association of Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International or AACSB International; the first in Nashville to earn dual accreditation of both the undergraduate and graduate programs in 1994. The Psychology program is accredited by the American Psychological Association and the Teacher Education program by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

The College of Engineering has developed corporate partnerships with NASA, Raytheon and General Motors. The School of Nursing boasts a 100% first-time pass-rate for students taking licensure examinations. The College of Health Sciences (formerly the School of Allied Health) has recently added much-in-demand programs such as the Masters in Physical Therapy and the Bachelor's of Health Sciences.

Colleges and Schools

College of Nursing

The College of Nursing is accredited for the A.A.S., B.S.N., M.S.N. degrees by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission. The College of Nursing 2010 class most recently received a 100 % pass rate on the National Nurses Examination.

College of Engineering, Technology & Computer Science

The TSU College of Engineering, Technology & Computer Science is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), offering baccalaureate degrees in the areas of Architectural and Facilities Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Computer and Information Systems Engineering; graduate degrees in the areas of Computer and Information Systems Engineering, General Engineering (M.E.), Biomedical, Civil, Environmental, Electrical, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Engineering; with the Ph.D. in Computer and Information Systems Engineering with concentrations in Computer Communications and Networks, Control Systems and Signal Processing, Robotics and Computer Integration, and Manufacturing.

It is also accredited by the National Association of Industrial Technology (NAIT), offering the B.S. in Aeronautical and Industrial Technology with concentrations in Aeronautical Technology (through Academic Common Market), Aviation Management, Aviation Flight, and Industrial Electronics Technology (through Academic Common Market).

College of Business

The TSU College of Business was the first to earn dual Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB International) accreditation (accreditation of both the undergraduate and graduate programs at the same time) in 1994.[citation needed]

Program Accreditations

College of Arts & Sciences

  • Art (B.S.: National Association of Schools of Art & Design)
  • Music (B.S., M.S.:National Association of Schools of Music)
  • Social Work (B.S.: The Council on Social Work Education)

College of Business

  • Business (B.B.A., M.B.A.: The Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Businessl)

College of Education

  • Education (B.S., M.S., M.A.Ed., Ed.S. Ed.D: National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE))
  • Psychology (B.S., Ph.D with concentration in Counseling: American Psychological Association (APA))

College of Engineering, Technology and Computer Science

  • Aeronautical & Industrial Technology (B.S.: National Association of Industrial Technology)
  • Architectural & Mechanical Engineering (B.S.: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology)
  • Civil & Environmental Engineering (B.S.: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology)
  • Electrical & Computer Engineering (B.S.: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology)

College of Health Sciences

  • Cardio-Respiratory Care Sciences (B.S.: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs)
  • Dental Hygiene (A.A.S., B.S.: Commission on Dental Accreditation)
  • Health Care Administration and Planning (B.S.: Association of University Programs in Health Administration)
  • Health Information Management (B.S.: Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management )
  • Medical Technology (B.S.: National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences)
  • Occupational Therapy (MOT:The Master in Occupational Therapy program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education of the American Occupational Therapy Association)
  • Physical Therapy (DPT: The Doctor of Physical Therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education)
  • Speech Pathology and Audiology (M.S.: Council of Academic Accreditation of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association)

School of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences

  • Family and Consumer Sciences (B.S. American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, American Dietetics Association)

School of Nursing

  • Nursing (A.A.S., B.S.N., M.S.N.: National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission)

Institute of Government

  • Public Administration (M.P.A.: The National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration)


The 450 acres (1.8 km2) main campus has more than 65 buildings, and is located in a residential setting at 3500 John A. Merritt Blvd in Nashville, Tennessee. The Avon Williams campus is located downtown, near the center of the Nashville business and government district. It has been rumored that TSU is in the process of adding 3 satellite campuses in Memphis, Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Chattanooga, Tennessee hoping to reach more students across the state of Tennessee. No published information exists on the expansion. Tennessee State offers on-campus housing to students. There are on campus dorms and two apartment complexs for upper classmen. On campus facilities include dormitories Wilson Hall, Watson Hall, Eppse Hall, Boyd Hall, Rudolph Hall, Hale Hall, as well as the Ford Complex and New Residence Complex, TSU's two on-campus apartment complexes.

Student activities


In 1957, the school became the first historically black college to win a national basketball title, winning the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championship.[8]

By 2009, approximately 100 of its football players had been drafted by the National Football League.[9]

Fraternities and sororities

NPHC fraternities

NPHC sororities

Other fraternities and sororities

Honor Societies


Marching band (Aristocrat of Bands)

Notable alumni

Name Class year Notability References
Brent Alexander NFL football player
Bennie Anderson 1999 NFL football player
Jimmy Blanton jazz musician
Ralph Boston Olympic athlete; three time medal winning long jumper
Waymond Bryant NFL football player
Chandra Cheesborough Olympic runner; gold and silver medalist
Hank Crawford jazz musician
Dave Davis NFL football player
Richard Dent NFL football player
Lamar Divens NFL football player
Larry Tharpe NFL football player
Cleveland Eaton jazz musician
Cleveland Elam NFL football player
Sean Foley golf instructor to PGA Tour players
Ryan Fann Paralympic Runner
Harold Ford, Sr. Member of the U.S. Congress
John Ford Member of the Tennessee Senate
Randy Fuller NFL football player
Howard Gentry, Jr. politician
Joe Gilliam NFL football player
Moses Gunn actor
Thelma Harper Member of the Tennessee Senate
Claude Humphrey NFL football player
Daniel Johnson NFL football player
Harvey Johnson, Jr. Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi
Joe Johnson jazz musician
Ed "Too Tall" Jones NFL football player
Anthony Levine NFL football player
Anthony Mason NBA basketball player
Edith McGuire Olympic runner; gold and two silver medalist
Steve Moore NFL football player
Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, fka/Carlos Leon Bledsoe charged in the 2009 jihadi Little Rock military recruiting office shooting. [10][11]
Lloyd Neal NBA basketball player
Samuel G. Puryear Queens University Director of Golf Operations and Head of the Professional Golf Management Program. Former Head Golf Coach Michigan State University & Assistant Golf Coach Stanford University.
Leonard "Truck" Robinson NBA basketball player
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie NFL football player
Carl Rowan journalist
Wilma Rudolph Olympic runner; first woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympics [12]
Simon Shanks NFL football player
Nate Simpson NFL football player
Ollie Smith NFL football player
Carla Thomas singer
Leon Thomas jazz singer
Rufus Thomas singer (attended one semester)
Wyomia Tyus Olympic runner; first person to retain the Olympic title in the 100 m.
Tina Tyus-Shaw reporter
Charlie Wade NFL football player
Carl Wafer NFL football player
A C Wharton Mayor of Memphis, Tennessee
Alvin V. Williams cable Television and Film Producer, Entrepreneur
Javarris Williams NFL football player
Oprah Winfrey 1987 talk show host/actress/entrepreneur [13]


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2009. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. http://www.nacubo.org/Documents/research/2009_NCSE_Public_Tables_Endowment_Market_Values.pdf. Retrieved February 15, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e On the Road to Economic Development: A Guide for Continuing Education Programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. http://books.google.com/books?id=KiwqoQuHObgC&pg=PA20&dq=%22Tennessee+State+University%22+nashville#v=onepage&q=%22Tennessee%20State%20University%22%20nashville&f=false. Retrieved November 16, 2010. 
  3. ^ http://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entry.php?rec=1358
  4. ^ Tennessee government and politics: democracy in the volunteer state. http://books.google.com/books?id=IMYHkwB5uHAC&pg=PA153&dq=%22Tennessee+State+University%22+nashville#v=onepage&q=%22Tennessee%20State%20University%22%20nashville&f=false. Retrieved November 16, 2010. 
  5. ^ http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/board-regents-names-shields-tsu-interim-president
  6. ^ "TSU accreditation in jeopardy after commission review". The City Paper. 2010-12-07. http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/tsu-accreditation-jeopardy-after-commission-review. Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  7. ^ "SACS to TSU and Fisk: You've Got Less Than a Year to Clean Up Your Act". Nashville Scene. City Press, LLC. 2010-12-07. http://www.nashvillescene.com/pitw/archives/2010/12/07/sacs-to-tsu-and-fisk-youve-got-less-than-a-year-to-clean-up-your-act. Retrieved 2011-03-28. 
  8. ^ >
  9. ^ Insiders' Guide to Nashville, 7th. http://books.google.com/books?id=lsDi_5UrIkwC&pg=PA253&dq=%22Tennessee+State+University%22+nashville#v=onepage&q=%22Tennessee%20State%20University%22%20nashville&f=false. Retrieved November 16, 2010. 
  10. ^ Dao, James (February 17, 2010). "A Muslim Son, a Murder Trial and Many Questions". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/17/us/17convert.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2. 
  11. ^ Kristina Goetz (November 13, 2010). "Muslim who shot soldier in Arkansas says he wanted to cause more death". The Knoxville News Sentinel. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2010/nov/13/muslim-who-shot-solider-arkansas-says-he-wanted-ca/. Retrieved November 15, 2010. 
  12. ^ I'll find a way or make one: a tribute to historically Black colleges and universities. http://books.google.com/books?id=j3Ka2ESxQyQC&pg=PA407&dq=%22Tennessee+State+University%22+nashville#v=onepage&q=%22Tennessee%20State%20University%22%20nashville&f=false. Retrieved November 16, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Distinguished Tigers". Tennessee State University. http://www.tnstate.edu/alumni/distinguishedtigers.htm#oprah. 

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 36°09′57″N 86°49′49″W / 36.165874°N 86.830337°W / 36.165874; -86.830337

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