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Nashville hasn’t forgotten its role in integrating the segregated South and carrying the fight for civil rights forward for more than 60 years. One day after President Glenda Glover invoked Dr. Martin Luther King in a message for love and unity to the Tennessee State University community, TSU announced that it has exceeded its research awards’ goal with more than $54 million from funding agencies.

“Many of our former students helped integrate Nashville’s lunch counters, a historic moment in the city’s history,” President Glover wrote. “Today, our students, from around the country and here in Nashville, are leaders in their communities fighting for change. We must seize this opportunity to continue the dialogue to demand fair and equitable treatment for all Americans, for all Nashvillians,” TSU President Glover said on Facebook.

With a month still to go in the fiscal year, TSU is on pace to go beyond the most the university has received, which was $54.5 million in 2016.

“This is a true testament to the hard work and tenacity of our faculty and staff, particularly as we navigate the financially rough waters caused by COVID-19,” President Glover said in the statement. “A crucial cornerstone of an institution’s success is measured through its research.”

Dr. Frances Williams, associate vice president for Research and Sponsored Programs at TSU, agrees. Faculty members say the awards not only further place TSU – a Carnegie R2 designee – in the national spotlight but help to create a pipeline of outstanding workers for a competitive workforce.

“TSU faculty and staff have continued to participate in scholarly activities and find success even during the pandemic as they have continued to submit proposals and receive new grant awards,” says Williams. “These grant awards provide substantial resources to the university to support the performance of cutting-edge research, student scholarships, student and faculty development and training, capacity and infrastructure development, as well as outreach to the community.”

Some of the top awards are:

  • $11.4 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to Dr. Kimberly Smith, director of TSU’s Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences, for the “Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA).”
  • $999,999 from the National Science Foundation to the multi-disciplinary investigator team from the Colleges of Engineering and Agriculture (Drs. Frances Williams (PI), Lin Li, Richard Mu, Ying Wu, and Suping Zhou) for the “Enhancement of Research Infrastructure for Advanced Functional Materials for Biotechnology Applications.”
  • $855,604 from the Department of Health and Human Services to Dr. Margaret Whalen, a professor in the College of Life and Physical Sciences, for the “MMC, VICC & TSU Partnership in Eliminating Cancer Disparities.”
  • $752,632 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Dr. De’Etra Young, College of Agriculture professor, for the “TSU 1890 Scholarship Program: Training and Mentoring the Next Generation of Leaders in Food and Agricultural Sciences.”

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