National Institute on Aging

Tennessee State University Embroiled in Controversy

Jane Davis, associate professor of literature and chair of the faculty senate at Tennessee State University in Nashville, was arrested by campus police. She was taken into custody in handcuffs for disorderly conduct during a meeting last week between senators and the university administration.

The university issued a statement that read, “During the special meeting of the faculty senate called by the interim President of the University, Dr. Portia Shields, Dr. Jane Davis, faculty member and chairperson of the Faculty Senate, was arrested by campus police for disruptive behavior and verbally assaulting the President after continually being advised to remain calm. After several attempts were made by the President to calm Dr. Davis, she was asked to leave the room, which she refused to do, and continued being disruptive and confrontational.”

Earlier Dr. Davis had publicized charges that some students’ grades had been illegally changed. But President Shields replied that the charges were “unfounded and inappropriate allegations.” A state Senate committee agreed with Dr. Shields that the actions taken were not improper.

At the meeting with President Shields, Dr. Davis was defending her actions against calls for her removal as chair of the faculty senate. After Dr. Davis was arrested, the faculty Senate moved that she be dismissed from her leadership position.

Dr. Davis is a highly respected scholar of African American literature with a Ph.D. from Stanford University. She is the author of The White Image in the Black Mind: A Study of African American Literature (Praeger, 2000).

Dr. Davis has stated she plans to file a lawsuit against interim president Shields and other Tennessee State officials.


Comments (3)

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  1. Lady Liberty says:

    Getting ready to celebrate a significant milestone for the university and it’s illustrious alumni, while fielding questions about negative press……….

  2. Kindall says:

    Dr. Davis played right into their hands for her leadership dismissal. And the University statement confirms their intentions all along. I wish the very best for Dr. Davis and students of TSU.

  3. Mr. T.S. Chavis says:

    I think the professor should have been removed if her behavior was really disruptive. She also has a right to be heard. I think arresting her was excessive and says a lot about what is going at that institution.

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