By Kelli Sharpe

NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — Tennessee State University projected it will welcome over 3,300 new tigers to the TSU family for the fall. It is the largest freshman class in the history of TSU. That’s in addition to nearly 400 new transfer students and 1,000 graduate students who registered for classes for the 2022-2023 academic year. 

“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 African-American first-year students decreasing post pandemic.

University officials said there are several factors contributing to the first-year student enrollment numbers including quality academic programs, faculty, location, a new residence hall, and its biggest ambassadors, the Aristocrat of Bands marching band.

Kollin Gutter, a freshman from Virginia majoring in business information systems, said he did his research upon 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. The freshman class average GPA is 3.4, according to university officials. 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 states as far as California, Texas, Michigan, and Wisconsin. 

STEM majors in agricultural sciences, engineering and health sciences, along with business, and education continue to be the most popular among the new freshman 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 freshman 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. Everyone has a schedule and is getting acclimated to college life. We know they will leave a legacy here at TSU.” 

Included in the class of 2026 are 21 Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Scholars. 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. The new cohorts average a 3.5 GPA along with a SAT score of 1310 and ACT of 28. 

Funds from this scholarship will 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.

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 this campus.”