Tennessee State University is projected to enroll over 3,300 new tigers to the TSU family for the fall. It is the largest freshman class in the history of TSU and one of the largest among HBCUs. This number does not include the nearly 400 new transfer students and 1,000 plus graduate students who registered for classes the 2022-2023 academic year. The TSU freshman class alone has more Black first-year students than some universities total minority population. This is based on a 2021 report in the Washington Post, Flagship universities say diversity is a priority. But Black enrollment in many states continues to lag.
“We are excited that this is the largest first-year class in the history of TSU,” said President Glenda Glover. “This growth is quite positive for TSU as more and more students seek to attend our university.”
The freshmen class enrollment explosion comes on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, two years following the height of the virus, and social unrest after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. President Glover said the growth for TSU is impressive considering the enrollment rate for Black first-year students has decreased post pandemic.
According to a report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, first-year enrollment was down 6 percent for Black students this past spring compared to a year ago. This follows a 13 percent decline from 2020 to 2021. There were 36,655 first-year Black students enrolled for this spring compared to 45,077 enrolled in higher education when the pandemic hit.
University officials said there are several factors contributing to the soaring first-year student enrollment numbers. This includes Vice President Kamala Harris as the spring commencement speaker, quality academic programs and faculty, a comprehensive recruitment program, the promotion of student and university achievements on a national stage, a new residence hall, and its biggest ambassadors, the Aristocrat of Bands marching band. Fondly known as the AOB, the band played on some of the biggest stages in this past year, including the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, halftime performance at a Los Angeles Lakers game, and named 2022 Top Marching Band by HBCU Buzz.
Kollin Gutter, a freshman from Virginia majoring in business information systems, said he did his research on the University and was pleased with what he discovered. “TSU is one of the few HBCUs with a business information system program and they have computer information systems as well,” he said. “I want to pursue my career path in that.”
Gutter mentioned that the campus is like one big family. Fellow freshman Kennedy Holloway, agrees.
“I came here because it felt like a family environment and there are a lot of great people here,” said the mechanical engineering major from Birmingham, Alabama.
TSU’s history making class of first-year college students outnumbers the total African-American population at some institutions, according to a report from the Washington Post. While the largest population of incoming students are from Tennessee, and neighboring states like Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio. There is also a huge surge of students from as far as California, Texas, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
This freshmen class also brings stellar academic credentials with an average high school GPA of 3.4. STEM majors in agricultural sciences, engineering and health sciences, along with business, and education continue to be the most popular among the new freshmen class.
“I am happy to be a TSU Tiger,” said Bailey Scott, who received her keys to a room in the new 700-bed, ultra-modern residence hall during move-in week. “Everything has just fallen in place for us since the first day. From registration to housing and the freshmen orientation, everybody we met was welcoming, and that’s a major motivation.” Scott anticipates becoming a nursing major.
Terrence Izzard, associate vice president for enrollment management, added: “We have begun the journey for one of the largest classes in the history of the university. All incoming students who have completed check-in for the Fall 2022 semester have received their full-time class schedule. This include our freshmen who are getting accumulated to college life and will leave their legacy here at TSU.”
Included in the class of 2026 are 21 Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Scholars. The new cohorts average a 3.5 GPA along with a SAT score of 1310 and ACT of 28. The Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute and Scholarship Fund was established to provide scholarships for outstanding high school graduates who meet the criteria for admission and choose a career in medicine or dentistry. Funds from this scholarship support students enrolled in the Meharry Medical College – Tennessee State University Medical/Dental Accelerated Pathway Program, Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Health Care Scholars and Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Society.
Tampa, Florida native Robert ‘Robby’ Blalock is a freshman who is part of the Dr. Levi Watkins program, majoring in biology. “I came to Tennessee State for a fresh start and to be prepared for my career and whatever else I do in life,” Blalock said.
Frank Stevenson, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, added that the university is happy to welcome the new students, also assuring them of a safe and exciting learning environment.
“This is a really exciting time to have this level of uptick of students who are ready to be back on campus,” Stevenson said. “We have a lot of things planned for the campus and I think our first-time freshmen are going to see the energy and excitement of the TSU campus.”
The University is currently accepting applications for fall 2023.
Source: TSU Newsroom