A joint committee of the legislature of the state of Tennessee recently deliberated about a $544,000,000 sum owed to Tennessee State University, referencing unpaid land grant matches by the state that date back several years, according to a story by WTVF.
The agreement held that Tennessee was to match dollar for dollar the money allotted by the federal government to both TSU and the University of Tennessee to fund the institutions upon the founding of TSU.
Rep. Harold Love Jr. says that the grants should have appropriated 75% of these funds to UT and 25% to TSU; however, the HBCU’s funding was often inconsistent or never allocated.
There’s another ratio under review that sets the dollar amount owed to TSU around $150,000,000. Still, regardless of the actual sum, TSU President Dr. Glenda Glover is convinced that the state of Tennessee owes the university.
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Acknowledging past and present discrepancies in public HBCU funding, Dr. Glover said, “We know there’s been some past ills among HBCUs across the country when it comes to land grant matches.”
She continued, “So, I’m happy that Tennessee is taking the lead in this process because I’m talking to other presidents of land grant institutions in the 1890s. We all have the same problem.”
Some committee members are questioning the validity of the debt on the grounds that the figures haven’t been evaluated since the onset of the program. However, according to Rep. Love, the ratio is arbitrary to the fact that the state has not held its end of the bargain.
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“The argument that we don’t know what the ratio is, that doesn’t hold water,” said Rep. Love. “We’ve been funding these 75-25 from the federal government. TSU sometimes is not getting their money [and] TSU is not getting paid dollar for dollar.”
Dr. Glover’s without the expectation that money will be retributed in a single payment of $500 million, but is optimistic that the conversation alone is a proactive step toward retribution and necessary aid.
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“What has TSU lost? We could not recruit properly. There’s research dollars that we’re able to get and use. The 4H club, the extension work that we’re doing. So, we have to find a way to make ends meet and without getting the dollars the federal government require be matched,” she said.
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