By Lucas Johnson

NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Tennessee State University will receive part of $1.2 million from Baxter International Inc., a leading global medical products company, to support Black students pursuing health and science degrees and ultimately help expand the pipeline of Black healthcare professionals.

Baxter recently announced the introduction of three scholarship and grant programs. Over a three-year period, the funds will be distributed to TSU and two other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs): Meharry Medical College and Morehouse School of Medicine.

Last year, TSU and Meharry Medical College announced a new partnership focused on establishing a pipeline of African-American doctors and dentists who will provide essential care to underserved communities. The initiative is named after one of TSU’s most distinguished graduates, Dr. Levi Watkins Jr., an internationally renowned cardiac surgeon who holds an honorary degree from Meharry. 

The accelerated pipeline program prepares qualified TSU students for early acceptance to Meharry, where students will spend three years in pre-medical courses of study at TSU before being admitted to and enrolling at Meharry to study medicine or dentistry. The Pathway Program participants will complete their undergraduate and medical school studies in seven years, instead of the customary eight years.

“The Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute is grateful to Baxter for its support and participation in this journey to increase the number of African American physicians and dentists, to assist young outstanding students in pursuing their dreams, and to invest in the communities we serve,” said Ms. Barbara Murrell, chair of the Institute. “This is an exciting time!”

The new scholarships are part of Baxter’s Activating Change Today initiative to advance inclusion and racial justice.

“The lack of diversity in healthcare is a longstanding and multifaceted problem, one that we are focused on helping to address,” said Verónica Arroyave, senior director of Global Community Relations at Baxter. “Creating opportunities that support and empower Black students to pursue medical and scientific careers is one way we can help drive positive change, and we are proud to partner with respected organizations like Meharry, Morehouse, and Tennessee State to expand this effort.”

To learn more about the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Institute at TSU, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/watkins/.