Tennessee State University, the only land grant HBCU in the state of Tennessee, is getting a historic one-time investment from the state government. The Nashville-based HBCU released a statement detailing plans for the $250 million allocated from the state government. The investment, the largest granted to an HBCU by a state in history, will be used to cover expenses needed to upgrade academic and student service buildings. The money will also be used to upgrade the electrical and HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems.
Per the statement, renovations started last Fall and will continue with the following buildings being upgraded:
- Boswell Science Complex
- Davis Humanities
- Elliott Hall
- Harold Love, Sr. (LRC)
“We are excited to share with you our plans for using this historic funding that will assist with TSU’s continued growth and campus development as we provide students with the best academic environment possible,” Glover said in the statement. “This will allow us to enhance our campus for further sustainability as we continue our service to our students.”
Student leaders on campus also expressed excitement for the on-campus upgrades that will be tended to by the money.
“Today we are seeing that dream come to fruition as we are seeing six buildings being renovated to uplift TSU,” said SGA President Kenneth Rolle, II. “I am glad to be on this side of history to say I was here when we started this project.”
SGA Vice President Aliyah Holmes added, “As a student…the building I am most excited about, is the Davis Humanities Building. We use that building a lot.”
The $250 million investment is half of the $500 million that is owed to Tennessee State University. In January 2022, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee earmarked $250 million in his state budget for Tennessee State. The $250 million in the state budget is considered an “investment”. This comes after decades of underfunding by state legislators in violation of the Second Morrill Act of 1890. The act, signed into law by the 23rd President of the United States Benjamin Harrison, and sponsored by Vermont Senator Justin Morrill, was created to give expanded educational opportunities in the field of agriculture and mechanical arts.
The federal government designated land in the creation of land grant colleges such as Tennessee State. The act required the states in which the land grant institutions were created to match the funds allocated to them by the federal government. However, Tennessee State was underfunded by millions of dollars while the University of Tennessee, the only other land-grant institution in the state, was funded appropriately. The General Assembly adopted a 75/25 funding method where the University of Tennessee got 75% of allocated funding and Tennessee State got the rest. However, Tennessee State wasn’t given their money and the funding method hasn’t been upheld since 2008. This went on for decades, resulting in Tennessee State being owed an excess of $544 million from the state legislator.
Tennessee State is still owed hundreds of millions by the state legislator. However, this is a step in the right direction that will help Tennessee State University in its continued growth.
Watch our interview with Tennessee State University Alumni President Charles Galbreath Jr. about the Tennessee State’s historic underfunding by the state on our YouTube!