In depth: Gov. Lee's $250 million investment in Tennessee State is essentially a paid IOU

TSU shortchanged land-grant funding for decades
Posted at 4:40 PM, Feb 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 12:11:55-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee State University will receive hundreds of millions of dollars if Gov. Bill Lee's budget passes.

Lee's recommendation of $250 million comes about a year after lawmakers discovered TSU building and academics suffered because the university wasn't given most of its land-grant funding for five decades.

"I do think alumni will be so happy to see this happen because many have lived through many of the situations we had to highlight," said state Rep. Harold Love Jr.

Rep. Love chaired the joint committee that investigated how much TSU was underfunded. He is also an alumnus of TSU.

"I think words really cannot express the immense amount of joy and satisfaction that I have," Rep. Love said.

In his State Of The State address on Monday night, Gov. Lee acknowledged Love's committee. He said their work brought to light how the state can better understand the new needs of Tennessee State University. Those needs were outlined in a report the committee asked the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to put together. They include things like roof work, new residence halls, as well as safety and security upgrades.

"This $250 million will enable Dr. Glover and her team to really go in, and do that work to maintain some buildings, repair some buildings and demolish some buildings and build new buildings. I think this is a wonderful opportunity to go in and make those much-needed repairs, so it can attract many more students, it can attract faculty that students deserve to have and give them instruction," Rep. Love said.

The governor's recommendations aren't a done deal, but his proposal does have a lot of support.

"We do think that members recognize the many years of work that have gone into raising this issue," Rep. Love said.

In addition to the $250 million for infrastructure improvements, $60 million would fund a new engineering building that the university requested, and $8 million would be allotted for maintenance.