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HomeGeneralTennessee Lawmakers Spark Outrage From Students, Alumni, After Dismantling HBCU's Board of...

Tennessee Lawmakers Spark Outrage From Students, Alumni, After Dismantling HBCU’s Board of Trustees

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A picture of Kentucku Senate which granted new child support bill
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Lawmakers, students, and alums of Tennessee State University are expressing outrage over Governor Bill Lee’s unprecedented decision to sign legislation dismantling the historically Black college’s Board of Trustees.

In 2023, calls for a new board arose following multiple audit reports raising concerns about Tennessee State University’s financial mismanagement, housing issues, and scholarship mishandling.

Subsequently, a bill was drafted initially aiming to replace three board members, but it was later amended to remove the entire board. A new forensic audit covering July 2019 to June 2023 was released on Wednesday.

It provided numerous recommendations and highlighted “deficient processes” but uncovered no “fraud or malfeasance.” The next day, the Republican-controlled and majority-white Tennessee House voted 66-25 in favor of the bill to dismantle the board. Governor Lee promptly signed the bill into law.

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Lee expressed his satisfaction with the new board’s choices, all of whom are Black and prominent members of Nashville’s business and political circles. Glenda Glover, the President of Tennessee State, will be resigning in June, and the search for her successor is underway.

Additionally, a new board will need to be approved. However, not everyone is pleased with the recent developments. Democratic Rep. Harold Love, a TSU alumnus, expressed concern that removing the entire board leaves the university uncertain, especially with the president in a lame-duck position. 

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Love noted that a previous bill aimed at the school only required removing a few board members. He was disappointed by the amendment that led to the dismissal of all board members.

“We are deeply concerned about the effect it will have upon the administration, the students, and the direction the school is trying to go into to rectify some of the concerns raised in the audits,” Love said.

“We had an amendment in Government Operations (Committee) that vacated three board members. And that was the amendment we thought would be on the bill. In the conversations, things did not go the way I guess some of the members wanted to have happen, so as a result, they chose that route.”

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Many Tennessee State students are upset, feeling that the changes are too drastic and could expose the school to further problems, as reported by Nashville’s WTVF. Students also expressed frustration, stating that their voices were not considered before the law was enacted.

Many students protested at the state capitol in Nashville on Thursday, holding a banner that read: “TSU Take Over.” After the vote, House Majority Leader William Lamberth tried to downplay the new law.

“All we’re talking about is the board,” he said. “It’s vacating some personalities and bringing others in. The goal is to make TSU successful.”

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