In an effort to raise awareness regarding its desire to see major changes at Tennessee State University, the Save TSU Community Coalition (STCC) will demonstrate prior to the Tennessee Board of Regents meeting on Friday, June 24, at Nashville State Community College.
STCC — comprising students, faculty, alumni, community organizations and faith-based institutions interested in ensuring TSU’s future as an HBCU (historically black land-grant college or university) — was recently formed after both TSU and TBR officials announced in mid-April the university would undergo a major restructuring and reorganization, including cutting eight degree programs.
STCC will hold a press conference at the entrance to Nashville State Community College, located at 120 White Bridge Pike, from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. A mass rally is slated to start at 2 p.m.
TBR officials will meet from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the NSCC Student Services Building.
Kwame Leo Lillard, a TSU graduate and co-spokesman for the coalition, said STCC supporters are concerned about both the university’s current status and its future.
“It’s time to have a discussion about where TSU is going to go,” said Lillard, who oversees the African American Cultural Alliance.
“My hope is [TSU] gets the same kind of autonomous control that the University of Tennessee has,” Lillard added. “That’s the sentiment I sense [talking to coalition members].”
In a statement, Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan declined to address the demonstration or note if the TBR would be open to considering the coalition's requests. Instead, he focused on how the TBR has approved and supports Tennessee State University’s academic restructuring plan.Morgan said TSU Interim President Portia Shields deserves credit for "making difficult decisions to improve the university" and to trim the budget. “These are some of the same types of changes many other campuses made over the past few years as funding and revenues declined,” Morgan said in a release. “I wholeheartedly support Dr. Shields and believe she is doing everything she can to improve the campus and help TSU’s students succeed.”
On its website, the Save TSU Community Coalition notes the following:
• We want the Tennessee Board of Regents to reject or indefinitely suspend the proposed reorganization plan.
• We want a detailed explanation (from an independent organization) of how the current reorganization plan actually saves the university money.
• We want an immediate external search for a permanent TSU president conducted by a national search firm.
• We want fair treatment of TSU by the TBR and a policy of shared governance by the TSU Administration.
• We want to retain Africana Studies as a major and merge it with Interdisciplinary Studies to form the Department of Interdisciplinary and Africana Studies.