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History of Black Colleges


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Culture at Tennessee State University

Observing the unique culture of Tennessee State University.

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University (TSU) is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational, land-grant institution. There are currently two locations. There is the 500-acre main campus that nestles in a beautiful residential neighborhood along the Cumberland River, and the downtown Avon Williams campus that sits near the center of Nashville’s business and government district. There are many students that come from all across the country. These students bring many different cultures that make Tennessee State what it is today.

In 1909, the Tennessee State General Assembly created three normal schools, including the Agricultural and Industrial Normal School, which would grow to become TSU. The first 247 students began their academic careers on June 19, 1912, and William Jasper Hale served as head of the school. Students, faculty, and staff worked together as a family to keep the institution operating, whether the activity demanded clearing rocks, harvesting crops, or carrying chairs from class to class.
The school gained the capacity to grant bachelor’s degrees in 1922, reflecting its new status as a four-year teachers’ college. By 1924, the college became known as the Agricultural and Industrial State Normal College and the first degrees were awarded. In 1927, “Normal” was dropped from the name. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the college grew in scope and stature under the charge “Enter to learn; go forth to serve.”

Tennessee State is now on the move. The first president was Mr. Hale. When President Hale retired in 1943 after more than 30 years of service, one of the institution’s growing roster of impressive alumni, Walter S. Davis, was selected as his successor. Until his retirement in 1968, Davis led the college through an era of tremendous growth in academics and facilities that led to worldwide recognition.
The Tennessee General Assembly of 1941 authorized a substantial upgrade to the educational program of the college. Graduate studies leading to the master’s degree, initially offered in several branches of teacher education, were established. The first master’s degrees were awarded in June 1944.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools granted accreditation to TSU in 1946. In August 1951, the Tennessee State Board of Education approved university status. The resulting reorganization of the institution’s educational program created the Graduate School, the School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Education, and the School of Engineering. Provisions were also made for the later addition of other schools in agriculture, business, and home economics.
Under the name Tennessee Agricultural & Industrial State University, the institution achieved full land-grant university status in August 1958. The Land-Grant University Program included the School of Agriculture & Home Economics, the Graduate School, the Division of Extension and Continuing Education, and the Department of Aerospace Studies. The School of Allied Health Professions and the School of Business were created in 1974, and the School of Nursing was established in 1979.
After Walter Davis retired as president in 1968, another TSU alumnus, Andrew Torrence, was named the University’s third president. During his relatively brief tenure, the state legislature dropped “Agricultural & Industrial” and officially changed the name to Tennessee State University.
When Frederick Humphries became TSU’s president in 1975, Nashville was also home to a second public four-year university. The Knoxville-based University of Tennessee began offering extension credit in Nashville in 1947 and expanded its programs throughout the 1960s. By 1971, it was accredited as a degree-granting institution that occupied new quarters at the corner of Tenth and Charlotte Avenues. But in 1968, TSU faculty member Rita Sanders filed a lawsuit, which became known as Geier v. Tennessee, alleging a dual system of higher education in Tennessee based on race. On July 1, 1979, the case was settled by a court order merging the former University of Tennessee at Nashville with TSU. As president, Humphries was the first to face the challenge of maintaining the balance between TSU’s role as one of America’s preeminent historically black universities and its emerging status as a comprehensive national university.
The Geier v. Tennessee case, however, remained alive for 32 years. Rita Sanders Geier was joined by the U.S. Department of Justice and by TSU professors Ray Richardson and H. Coleman McGinnis as co-plaintiffs in the suit. After numerous court-ordered plans failed to produce progress, all parties achieved a mediated consent decree that was ordered by the court on January 4, 2001.
Following a year as interim president, Otis Floyd became TSU’s fifth chief executive in 1987 and continued moving the university forward, initiating efforts that resulted in the state general assembly providing an unprecedented $112 million for capital improvements in 1988. Under this plan, nearly all campus buildings were renovated and eight new facilities were constructed, including the Floyd-Payne Campus Center, the Ned McWherter Administration Building, the Wilma Rudolph Residence Center, and the Performing Arts Center.

Then, in 1990, the Tennessee Board of Regents appointed Dr. Floyd its chancellor, opening the way for James Hefner to become TSU’s sixth president in 1991. Hefner supervised additional improvements to campus facilities and fostered enrollment growth to an all-time high of 9,100 students. The Otis Floyd Nursery Crops Research Station in McMinnville was dedicated in 1996, and, in 1999, researchers at the TSU Center for Automated Space Science were the first to discover a planet outside our solar system.
Melvin N. Johnson became the university’s seventh president in June of 2005, and was instrumental in continuing to bring national attention to the university by recognizing the Freedom Riders 14, engaging the university in the Tennessee Campus Compact, receiving national awards for community service and engagement, awarded $8 million for Race to the Top Funds by President Obama, opening the university’s doors to flood victims and businesses, and obtaining Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
President Glover and Pat HairstonIn the University’s 100-year history, Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover became president in January 2013 and continues making changes to further emphasize the excellence for which TSU is known worldwide.
Today, Tennessee State University offers 45 bachelor’s degree programs and 24 master’s programs and awards doctoral degrees in biological sciences, computer information systems engineering, psychology, public administration, curriculum and instruction, educational administration and supervision, and physical therapy. In entirety, Tennessee State University comprises eight colleges and schools(History of Tennessee State).

As of today Tennessee State University has come a long way. There are many colleges available. There is the College of Engineering, 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.
-College of Liberal Arts which offers majors in Art, Music, and Social Work.
-College of Education with majors in Education, TeacherEducation, Psychology.
-College of Health Sciences with majors in Dental Hygiene, Health Care Administration and Planning, Health Information Management, and Medical Technology.
-Cardio-Respiratory Care Sciences
The Tennessee State University division of Nursing has a course of study for both an Associate of Science in Nursing and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing as well as a Master of Science in nursing graduate program. The Division of Nursing is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission. The graduate program offers Holistic Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner and in Nursing Education as specialties in the Master of Science in Nursing program.
-Occupational Therapy
Tennessee State University's Occupational Therapy program started in 1991. Once a student has earned a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy they are eligible to sit for the National Board Certification Examination. The TSU Occupational Therapy program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. Majors in Physical Therapy.
-Speech Pathology and Audiology
Tennessee State University offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Master of Science in Speech and Hearing Science. Certification to practice speech-language pathology requires a Master's degree as entry level. The Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology's graduate program has maintained accreditation by the Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology since 1985.
-School of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences majors in Family and Consumer Sciences.
-Institute of Government with majors in Public Administration.
The campus has a plethora of buildings and construction currently underway.
The 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 complex’s 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.
Tennessee State Tigers and Lady Tigers
Tennessee State University sponsors seven men's and eight women's teams in NCAA sanctioned sports. The school competes in the NCAA's Division I Football Championship Subdivision and is a member of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Fraternities and sororities
NPHC fraternities include
Alpha Phi Alpha - Beta Omicron Chapter
Kappa Alpha Psi - Alpha Theta Chapter
Omega Psi Phi - Rho Psi Chapter
Phi Beta Sigma - Zeta Alpha Chapter
Iota Phi Theta - Delta Beta Chapter
NPHC sororities include
Alpha Kappa Alpha - Alpha Psi Chapter
Delta Sigma Theta - Alpha Chi Chapter
Zeta Phi Beta - Epsilon Alpha Chapter
Sigma Gamma Rho - Alpha Beta Chapter (Tennessee State University).

Works Cited
"A Guide to Fundraising at Historically Black Colleges and Universities." (2011): n. pag. Web.
"A touch of greatness" : a history of Tennessee State University, Apr 2003 p. 108-112
"History of Tennessee State." N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.
Ribando, Saundra J. Evans, Lorraine Public Personnel Management, Mar 01, 2015; Vol. 44, No. 1, p. 99-119

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