Glenda Glover, Ph.D., announced her resignation as president of Tennessee State University effective Jan. 30. 2024. (Photo: John Partipilo)
(This article has been updated.)
Nearly a year after Republican lawmakers threatened to fire her over a housing crunch, Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover announced Monday she will step down next year.
During a Faculty Staff Institute meeting, Glover said she will end her tenure as TSU president June 30, 2024, making her decision at the start of a $2 million audit of TSU’s finances after Tennessee Comptroller Jason Mumpower this spring recommended a change in leadership, replacement of the TSU Board of Trustees and renewed oversight by the Tennessee Board of Regents while finding no financial wrongdoing.
“It was a decision that did not come easily, and it was not made lightly. My voice is needed now on a more national platform,” Glover said in a press conference following the state gathering in the former Kean’s Little Garden.
Glover declined to address questions about whether state lawmakers upset with the university’s policies forced her out, saying only that “it’s time” for her to retire from the university after achieving the goals she set for herself and the university. She also declined to comment on the pending audit, which is being done in addition to the state’s regular audit. Senators have questioned TSU’s inability to resolve findings in previous audits.
A university spokesperson reiterated Wednesday that Glover’s retirement had noting to do with the housing issue or the General Assembly.
Nevertheless, the 11-year president said legislation and policies are being set nationally to “drag us back, to force us back into an era that we all fought so hard to overcome, an era that we have not seen since the days of the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education.”
She made note of the U.S. Supreme Court decision prohibiting quotas in higher education admissions and pointed toward policies in states such as Florida, which she considers “downright cruel.” Florida recently set a new curriculum for Black history that has been criticized as whitewashing the ills of slavery.
Glover did not identify any group she would work for at the national level but said she plans to remain active, though not in an elected political position.
Mumpower’s spring report followed a 2022 pounding by a Senate committee that told Glover she could be removed because of the way TSU handled a major influx of students without a plan for housing them. Questions also were raised about the historically Black university’s handling of scholarships – which increased to $28.3 million from $6.4 million – and whether students received all the money they thought was coming to them. Glover said at the time students were likely mistaken.
TSU’s 2022-23 freshmen class saw about a 1,600-student increase, putting the university in a housing emergency and forcing officials to request the use of local hotels and a church to provide dorms. The university received approval but irked state lawmakers, who said Glover and the board could be removed for pushing scholarship and enrollment increase without having enough housing.
Glover took responsibility for the problems during a Senate hearing but pointed out the university was trying to provide opportunities for students amid a renaissance for historically Black universities.
The university sought approval again this summer to serve another increase but kept it at about 300 students and needed only two hotels. Still, Mumpower challenged the state’s finances and projected it would be $1 million in the red next year, even though a TSU official said the university would have enough money to cover costs.
Besides recommending appointment of a new board of trustees and new TSU management, the comptroller sought scholarship and enrollment restrictions and placement back under the Board of Regents, which oversees community colleges and colleges of applied technology.
The State Building Commission’s Executive Subcommittee recently approved $6.7 million in lease agreements between TSU and two hotels for a much smaller increase in freshmen enrollment.
TSU still has $250 million approved by the Legislature for campus upgrades, and it is starting the process for constructing a new campus dormitory.
The university received those funds after a state study found the Legislature shorted TSU, one of the state’s two land grant universities, by $150 million to $540 million over the course of a century.
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