Tennessee politicians strip historically Black university of its board

Delishia Porterfield, center, speaks in support of Tennessee State University during a news conference at the state Capitol, Thursday, March 28, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. The state legislature voted to vacate the school's board of trustees. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

By Kimberlee Kruesi

Trustees of Tennessee’s only publicly funded historically Black university were removed Thursday under legislation signed into law by Republican Gov. Bill Lee. Black lawmakers and community leaders said state leaders, a majority of whom are white, are unfairly targeting Tennessee State University.

The legislation cleared the state GOP-controlled House on Thursday in a 66-25 vote, and Lee signed off a few hours later without commenting on the controversial decision to vacate the board. He instead praised TSU as a “remarkable institution” as he unveiled that he already had selected 10 new replacements.

“I’m pleased to appoint these highly qualified individuals who will work alongside administrators and students to further secure TSU’s place as a leading institution,” Lee said.

The new appointees, largely from the business community, are now subject to confirmation by the Legislature. Their selection will be critical as TSU is already seeking a new leader because President Glenda Glover plans to retire at the end of this school year.