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House Democrats proclaim support for TSU

by PRIDE Newsdesk
House Democratic Caucus members say the move to dissolve TSU’s board is excessive.

Members of the House Democratic Caucus are condemning a move to dissolve the board of Tennessee State University and replace it with a new board entirely handpicked by Gov. Bill Lee. The Senate Government Operations Committee voted to pass SB1596, a bill that would eliminate the current TSU board of directors on June 30, 2024 and require that it be reconstituted in a manner entirely controlled by Gov. Lee. Both Senate Democrats on the committee fought against the move but were outvoted.

House Democratic Caucus Vice-Chair Harold Love of Nashville said he acknowledges that a Comptroller’s report last year pointed out some critical issues at the university but said the current board has been working to resolve them. He said this is a critical time for TSU as it searches to replace current president Dr. Glenda Glover who is leaving at the end of the current academic year.

“Many of the recommendations that were made by the Comptroller for corrective measures have already been implemented by this board. They should be able to continue the work that they’ve started.”

Love, who chaired a joint committee that investigated and documented how the school was under-funded by the state for decades, said: “Churning over the board at the same time as a presidential search is underway could affect the candidate pool and have detrimental effects both in the immediate future and long-term.”

Rep. Sam McKenzie, D-Knoxville, chairman of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators, said the proud history of TSU needs to be respected by lawmakers: “As one of the most prominent HBCUs in the state of Tennessee and its status as one of our two land-grant institutions, we need to show the university the respect it deserves. The influence of TSU on this state and the world can’t be measured. From its renowned engineering department to world-famous alumni like Oprah Winfrey and Wilma Rudolph to its Aristocrat of Bands winning a Grammy just last year, we need to treasure TSU and support the work that is being done there and not make overly aggressive moves.”

Rep. John Ray Clemmons, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, emphasized the importance of Tennessee State University.

“TSU is an incredible asset to the city of Nashville and this entire state. Generations of students who have attended this storied institution of higher learning have accomplished great things despite our state’s inexplicable failure to provide it with the resources and funding it was due and rightfully deserves. While we certainly have a duty to hold the university accountable, I would encourage my colleagues to focus more on fully supporting and respecting TSU as one of our state’s preeminent institutions of higher learning and work together to create increased educational opportunities for future generations of Tigers.”

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