Tennessee Legislative Report: State Withheld $544 Million in Land-Grant Funding from Tennessee State

Tennessee State University | The Cultural Landscape Foundation

A bipartisan legislative committee studying funding disparities between Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee Knoxville in the state reported today that the flagship historically Black land-grant university could be owed more than $540 million in withheld matching agriculture funding over 70 years.

From News Channel 5 in Nashville:

When the school was founded, the federal government put both TSU and the University of Tennessee on a land grant program. Tennessee was supposed to match dollar for dollar money sent by the federal government to fund the schools.

According to Rep. Harold Love Jr., that funding should’ve been 75% for UT and 25% for TSU. However, for decades, funding for TSU was inconsistent, federal, state or both never made it to the university.

“This is not TSU versus UT, instead this is about rectifying a problem that has existed and persisted for decades where TSU, as an HBCU, did not receive funding from the state as directed by state and federal law,” said Tennessee State University President Glenda B. Glover. “Unfortunately, somewhere in the process our funding was channeled to other areas instead of coming to the university, while UT, the state’s other land grant institution received their funding and much more.”   

Last December, State Rep. Harold Love Jr. discussed the committee’s work, and the importance of the state acknowledging wrong doing and working to create equity between the two institutions.

President Glover recalls a comment that was made to “let bygones be bygones” and said that cannot stand.   

“It’s never too late to do what’s right,” she said. “We’ve had students leave due to lack of funds, TSU was prevented from implementing innovative programs to be more competitive in recruiting, and not to mention the cost of lost opportunity.” 

The report comes just weeks after lawmakers in Maryland signed into law a 10-year, $544 million funding bill aimed at settling the long-standing lawsuit filed by students and alumni of the state’s four historically Black institutions, was victorious in proving the criminal program duplication by the state had created a ‘separate but equal’ system of higher education for Black and white students.