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FRONT COVER: FRANK WILSON

While some college students struggle to earn bachelor’s degrees while still in their 20s, at least four Jackson State employees earned their Ph.D.s from the university before they turned 30: Dr. Glake A. Hill Jr., Dr. Edelia J. Carthan, Dr. Nicholas J. Hill and Dr. Rodney Washington. All of them are using their advanced degrees to educate and empower others.

Mei-Chi Chen Piletz of Taiwan introduced a Mandarin Chinese class to Jackson State University in fall 2005. A year later, she became JSU’s director of the Office of China Initiatives.

While traditional college students look to complete their undergraduate degrees by age 24, many find a need to postpone their college education for several years and, in some cases, decades.

A diverse crowd of thousands came to Jackson State University on March 10 to hear Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

President Emeritus John A. Peoples Jr. recently published a compilation of selected speeches in a book titled “How We Got Over.”

Following the tragic death of Latasha Danielle Norman, more people have been discussing how domestic violence affects the lives of thousands of men, women and children everyday.

ON THE COVER: Dr. Glake A. Hill Jr., Dr. Edelia J. Carthan, Dr. Nicholas J. Hill and Dr. Rodney Washington.


THE JACKSONIAN IS PUBLISHED TWICE A YEAR BY THE OFFICE OF UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS AT JACKSON STATE UNIVERSITY. CONTACT THE OFFICE OF UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS AT P.O. BOX 17490, JACKSON, MS 39217 PUBLICRELATIONS@JSUMS.EDU 601-979-2272 (PHONE) 601-979-2000 (FAX) VISIT THE OFFICE OF UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS AT 1400 JOHN R. LYNCH ST. ADMINISTRATION TOWER, SECOND FLOOR. DIRECTOR OF UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS ANTHONY DEAN MANAGER OF PUBLIC RELATIONS TOMMIEA P. JACKSON SENIOR EDITOR/WRITER RIVA BROWN

Freshman gets wish granted 4 Students seeking spirituality 6

Community cleanup Sorority helping care home

7 8

China Initiatives Music technology program Nontraditional students

10 12 14

Obama rallies for change

16

JSU seals through the years 18 From Natchez to Lynch 19 Mt. Helm/College Hill 22

Dr. John A. Peoples Jr. Dana Palade John Sterling

28 29 30

Larry Belton Dr. Rameshwar D. Gupta Dr. Billy A. Roby Dr. Jimmie James Jr.

32 33 34 35

SWAC championship W.C. Gorden Paul Covington

36 38 40

Latasha Norman M. Dixon and D. Parker

42 44

Class Notes College/Division Briefs

45 47

CONTRIBUTORS PAMELA BERRY-PALMER CHERITA BRENT EDDIE L. BROWN JR. ASHLEY CAMERON ASHLEY D. CAPLES ALEXANDRA CASTELLANOS GWENDOLYN DOOLY WHITNEY EVERETT SAM JEFFERSON DR. HILLIARD L. LACKEY III SATARIA OLIVIA SMITH ASHLEI SPIVEY PHOTOGRAPHERS VERNON HARTLEY JAY JOHNSON FREDDY NORMAN FRANK WILSON GRAPHIC DESIGN IDENTITY, LLC


Jackson State University President Ronald Mason Jr. is pictured on Gibbs-Green Plaza with employees in the Department of Facilities and Construction Management. They are (seated left to right) Patsy Alexander, Flora Alexander and Janice Dulaney; and (standing left to right) Paul Ashford and Billy Benjamin.

Dear Jacksonians: We’re elated to bring you an edition of The Jacksonian magazine that takes a look back at our university’s proud and distinguished past while also highlighting examples of our unyielding commitment to a dynamic future. Because education is a constant journey, our College of Lifelong Learning continues to be a life-changing center for nontraditional learners who seek academic and non-academic courses. Our China Initiatives program, under the passionate leadership of Mei-Chi Chen Piletz, epitomizes the type of adventure and culture-driven experience that not only helps our students become well-rounded, but also molds them into global thinkers and leaders. In keeping with our mission to educate, the cover stories you’ll read about young Ph.D.s at JSU were among several throughout the magazine written by students in the Department of Mass Communications. While education is at the core of our JSU experience, we’ve dedicated portions of this edition to acknowledging the university’s support of community-empowering qualities such as volunteerism, social responsibility and even spirituality. We’ll introduce you to some alumni, like John Sterling and Dana Palade, who exemplify our university’s mission of “Challenging Minds, Changing Lives.” In this edition, you also will learn how, in the face of the unspeakable tragedy of losing one of our best and brightest students, Latasha Danielle Norman, the university pulled together and set in motion a series of awareness-focused events aimed at preventing domestic violence. In recalling the great tradition of our athletics program, we will celebrate the unrivaled accomplishments of Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame inductee and former Tigers basketball coach Paul Covington. We also will tell you about life after sports for living legend W.C. Gorden, the winningest football coach in Tiger history. We thank you for your continuing support of Jackson State. It is our sincere hope that you join us in remembering our legacy, cheering our ongoing efforts, and applauding those who continue to uplift us to new heights. Respectfully,

Ronald Mason Jr. President, Jackson State University


JSU, Make-A-Wish, BankPlus BY PAMELA BERRY-PALMER

He could have wished for anything – trips to Disney World and shopping sprees are always popular choices. But Jeremy Donnell, a Jackson State University freshman with a life-threatening illness, wished for a college education. On Valentine’s Day of this year, his wish came true. During a surprise campus visit that included JSU President Ronald Mason Jr. luring Jeremy into a pretend meeting with JSU, BankPlus, Make-A-Wish officials and family members, the stunned biology/ pre-medicine major was notified that his wish had been granted.

It includes a $6,000 scholarship to Jackson State, various JSU paraphernalia and other items provided by the university, Make-A-Wish and BankPlus. Jeremy, 18, who had a germ cell tumor as a child, thanked everyone for showing him love and support. “I just want to thank everyone who was involved in making this happen,” says the aspiring doctor, who had a 4.0 grade-point average his first semester. “I thank my family for supporting me through it all ... the bad and the good. It has all paid off.”

Chris Kennedy, Make-A-Wish communication, information and technology coordinator, presents Jeremy Donnell with a large check.


Jeremy Donnell’s parents, Samuel Lee Donnell Sr. and Shirley Donnell, attend the wish-granting ceremony. Jeremy’s father and three siblings are Jackson State graduates.

“I’M ESPECIALLY PLEASED THAT HE CHOSE JACKSON STATE UNIVERSITY. I’VE GOT A FEELING HE’S GOING TO MAKE JACKSON STATE REAL PROUD IN THE NEAR FUTURE. WE’RE HAPPY TO HAVE HIM.” — JSU President Ronald Mason Jr.

Mason says he is proud of Jeremy for making a wish that will grow in value as he becomes older. “I’m especially pleased that he chose Jackson State University,” Mason says. “I’ve got a feeling he’s going to make Jackson State real proud in the near future. We’re happy to have him.” Shirley Donnell says she’s happy her son sees the value of getting his education. “That’s the only way he is going to make it in life,” the Jackson, Miss., resident says. “I’m ecstatic. I’m also grateful for all the support we’ve received, and I want others to know that he’s only here by the grace of God.” Samuel Lee Donnell Sr. says his son is a “respectful” and “honorable” person who is deserving of the granted wish.

“Words cannot explain how happy I am and the pride I have for my son,” says Donnell, who graduated from Jackson State. Paul Jones, CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Mississippi Chapter, called Jeremy’s wish a challenge that he was elated to have made come true. “This wish was a little tricky to pull off, but we had great partners like JSU and BankPlus,” says Jones, who also served as Jeremy’s wish-granting volunteer. “Jeremy’s wish reminds me to stay focused on that which is life-affirming and strengthens the community.” Edith Kennedy, Community Reinvestment Act analyst for BankPlus, also commended Jeremy on his decision to attend college. “You could have wished for anything in the world, but you wished for a college education,” she told Jeremy. “Good luck.” For more information about the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Mississippi Chapter, visit http://www.jsums.edu/announcements/Make.A.Wish.facts.pdf. To view a slideshow of the wish grant, visit http://www. jsums.edu/announcements/Jeremy.Donnell.Wish.html.

Jackson State freshman Jeremy Donnell is all smiles after receiving a $6,000 scholarship to the university, with assistance from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Mississippi Chapter and BankPlus.


BY CHERITA BRENT AND WHITNEY EVERETT Leaving home to pursue higher education often means leaving behind many comforts of home, such as family and friends. But through faith-based efforts at Jackson State University, students don’t have to leave behind their religion as well. From weekly Bible study to the annual Religious Emphasis Week, Jackson State is making sure students can stay spiritually grounded while attending the university. “We reinforce the teachings of spiritual living for most students who come to college with a Christian background,” says the Rev. Aaron B. Banks, director of Campus Ministries. Banks notes that Campus Ministries also reaches out to students of different religions. “The (Student Government Association) Religious Council focuses on the common denominator, not one religion,” says the pastor of Abundant Spirit Ministries Christian Center in Jackson, Miss. “That denominator is living a life with more values.” More college students are trying to lead such a lifestyle, according to a multi-year, ongoing study being conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California in Los Angeles. “Spirituality in Higher Education: A National Study of College Students’ Search for Meaning and Purpose” found that while at college, students experience growth in their spirituality, values and beliefs, specifically during the first three years. But the study also found that while spiritual and ethical values markedly increased, college students’ attendance at religious services was in a steep decline. Faozi Alkhedri, a senior political science major from Sana’a, Yemen, reflects that trend. Although Alkhedri, 36, says he faithfully maintains his religious practices as a Muslim everyday, he does not regularly attend a mosque because of conflicts with his class schedule. “My faith is very important to me. It is part of my daily life,” Alkhedri says. “I pray five times a day because this gives me the feeling of being in touch with God … Allah. Human beings need that guidance, and I am convinced this is my duty, not just at college but throughout my life.” Rafael L. Jackson, 21, a minister in training and member of the local New Horizon Church International, echoes this sentiment. Jackson says because there are so many Christian-based religious organizations on JSU’s campus, students hoping to connect spiritually should never feel disconnected.

“Many are far away from home, and we need to bring more Jesus on campus,” says the junior psychology major from Jackson, Miss. Jackson, who has been preaching since he was in high school, participates in – and sometimes teaches – a joint Bible study for religious organizations on campus. The groups include the Baptist Student Union, Church of God in Christ Club, Glory Phi God Campus Ministry, Wesley Foundation and Reformed University Fellowship. “We as peers should hold one another more accountable from a practical standpoint for the things we do,” Jackson says. “This will change how we carry ourselves, manage our time and how we value our families.” Senior Germaine E. Tuckett is among at least 25 Jackson State students who attend Bible study, which is held every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the study lounge of the Jacob L. Reddix Campus Union. The Religious Council senator and member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes would like to see faculty and staff attend the weekly gathering. “It would have a big impact on students if they saw their teachers and staff members fellowshipping with them when they have activities on campus,” says Tuckett, 21, a communicative disorders major from Virginia Beach, Va. “It would be more like a family.” One of the fellowship opportunities on campus is the annual Religious Emphasis Week held in April. The event brings together members of varied faiths to raise awareness about the different religions represented on campus. This year’s theme was “Under Construction: Repair, Rebuild, Revive.” Faculty, staff and students were invited to share in the activities, which featured gospel poetry night, a musical and noontime lectures. “We looked around as we saw the campus under construction,” Tuckett says of selecting this year’s theme. “But as Christians, we’re also under construction. We’ve got to continually be made whole.” In the newly constructed campus union, students, faculty and staff of all religious backgrounds finally will have a designated place to move toward becoming whole. The new Reflection Room will seat about 70 people and will be located on the second floor of the building. “It will be a really nice, comfortable room where students or religious organizations can gather and reflect, pray, meditate or meet for Bible study,” Banks says. Cherita Brent and Whitney Everett are junior mass communications majors.

Faozi Alkhedri

Rafael L. Jackson

Germaine E. Tuckett


JSU STUDENTS HELP TO MAKE

WASHINGTON ADDITION BETTER PLACE TO LIVE

PHOTOS BY VERNON HARTLEY

AS AN URBAN CENTER, JACKSON STATE UNIVERSITY HAS ENJOYED A RICH TRADITION OF COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

AND SERVICE. IT IS ESPECIALLY TRUE FOR THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES SUCH AS WASHINGTON ADDITION,

WHICH ARE INTERWOVEN INTO THE UNIVERSITY’S HISTORY. ON MARCH 8, NEARLY 200 VOLUNTEERS, INCLUDING JSU

STUDENTS, PARTICIPATED IN THE GREAT AMERICAN CLEANUP IN THE COMMUNITY. THE JSU CENTER FOR UNIVERSITYBASED DEVELOPMENT AND KEEP JACKSON BEAUTIFUL ORGANIZED THE EVENT.

Frank Melton, mayor of Jackson, Miss., addresses a group of Jackson State University students and others.

Tetrina Ann Blalock, a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. at Jackson State University, teaches her children, Tamarcus and Myuna Sterling, about the importance of community service.

U.S. Army ROTC cadets from Jackson State University participated in the cleanup. Other JSU student groups included Delta Sigma Theta and Zeta Phi Beta sororities, Phi Beta Sigma and Omega Psi Phi fraternities, Tiger PRIDE Connection and the Student Government Association.

By the end of the day, Jackson State University students and other volunteers had removed about 15 tons of debris and 238 tires, towed many junk vehicles and demolished several abandoned houses.


BY ASHLEI SPIVEY “BINGO!” Sounds of laughter fill the Parker Personal Care Home as residents and volunteers play variations of a family game. The Gamma Rho Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. at Jackson State University has built a tradition and partnership with the facility for more than 10 years with game night. The Parker home, which opened in 1986, provides assistance to sick and elderly women in the surrounding urban community. It is located between downtown and Jackson State on Earle Street, just a few blocks from the campus. Visitors entering the six-bedroom, three-bath facility are often greeted with laughter and aromas

of home-cooked meals. There are 16 residents of all ages in the home, including those who are mentally challenged, clinically depressed or in need of assistance with day-to-day living. Ruby Parker, owner and administrator, recalls the first time a sorority member visited. “My daughter was an AKA at JSU, and she wanted to combine my passion with hers,” says Parker. “So she incorporated game night into their community service project in ’96, and they have been coming ever since.” Parker’s daughter, Nikisha Cornelius, is a ’97 JSU alumna who applauds her sorors’ efforts. “I first started this project as a holiday-based

“THEY LIFT OUR SPIRITS AND I REALLY ENJOY IT.” —Willine Fillingim, a five-year resident of Parker Personal Care Home


community service project,” says Cornelius. “But I think it is wonderful that my sorors have kept that relationship and attend more frequently.” Adrean Mason, an AKA and junior mass communications major, says she started participating because of the sorority, but a connection with the residents keeps her coming back. “The initial reason we go to Parker’s is because of the purpose of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., which states we are to be of service to all mankind,” Mason says. “By going to Parker’s, we are fulfilling that, but after developing a personal relationship with some of the residents, you can’t help but keep coming back.” Game night begins every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Between three and five AKA members attend, supplying the gifts and prizes with their own money. Parker says the residents look forward to it each week. Mason’s favorite part of the service project is the look on the faces of the residents when they yell, “BINGO!” Willine Fillingim, a five-year resident, says she enjoys the ladies’ company. “They lift our spirits and I really enjoy it,” she says. Fillingim has won as much as $2 on the popular blackout round. “They always give bigger prizes for the blackout, which I really

like.” Juanita Campbell, a five-year veteran volunteer supervisor at the Parker home, can attest to the companionship the AKAs offer the residents. “The girls are an outlet for the people here,” Campbell says. “We know they don’t have to come, but they do anyway.” Mason says their continued visits to the facility supports one of the missions of their organization – community support. “We continue to build and develop what our founders and more seasoned members have done,” Mason says, “which is to build and develop our community.” Ashlei Spivey is a senior mass communications major. Students, faculty and staff at Jackson State University who are interested in volunteering can contact Dr. Valerie Shelby, director of Community Service/Service Learning, at 601-979-6939 or valerie.j.shelby@jsums.edu. Service opportunities include, but are not limited to, volunteering at hospitals, day-care centers, nursing homes, and after-school and summer programs. For details, visit http://www.jsums.edu/studentlife/cssl.html.

Adrean Mason (left), a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. at Jackson State University, calls out bingo numbers at Parker Personal Care Home while her soror, junior Stephanie Wade (center), assists 12-year resident Arquilla Singleton with her bingo card.


BY TOMMIEA P. JACKSON

Mei-Chi Chen Piletz helps Jackson State students close the distance from East to West.

M

Ni Hao – How are you? Zai Jian – Good-bye Xie Xie – Thanks! Hen Hao – Very good! Wo jiao… – My name is…

ei-Chi Chen Piletz’s two adult sons say their mother will never experience the empty-nest syndrome. “They say, ‘Your nest is always full of students,’ ” Piletz repeats with a laugh. “But I have so many babies,” she continues. “I’m so blessed.” Having worked at Jackson State University since 1995, the native of Hsin-Chuang, Taiwan, has dedicated herself to her students. Often working late nights and weekends, Piletz wants to make sure Jackson State students get educational and international experiences. After introducing a Mandarin Chinese class in fall 2005, eight of Piletz’s students spent the following summer in China. Ten more students followed in 2007, completing service-learning projects and enhancing their language skills. Approximately 14 Jackson State students will do the same in China and Taiwan this summer. “I’m excited but very humbled,” says Piletz, who has served as JSU’s director of the Office of China Initiatives since 2006. “I never thought it would happen so quickly.” These cross-cultural experiences help students

expand their scope of their world, says Piletz, who speaks German, Mandarin Chinese and a little Spanish. “I’m going to do whatever I can for these students. When they leave here, they can say, ‘I went to Jackson State, and Jackson State helped me grow.’ ” NEW PERSPECTIVE, OPPORTUNITIES Cary Smith has grown a lot since he arrived at Jackson State four years ago. He even admits that his often stubborn attitude has been replaced with a more flexible one – open to new experiences, cultures and even careers. Smith’s professor, Dr. Quinton Williams, first encouraged the physics major and Jackson, Miss., native to consider international travel. Through a recent partnership with Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Williams spent time conducting research in China. He advises his students to seek out similar opportunities. Smith enrolled in the class during the fall of 2006. “At first I really didn’t want to take it, but after getting through the class and experiencing the culture, I’ve grown to have a real apprecia-


tion for the language and the people.” Although he enjoyed the classes, Smith wasn’t sold on the idea of traveling to Chinese-speaking countries. With the urging from his family, Piletz and the Department of Physics, Atmospheric Sciences and Geoscience, however, Smith got a passport, raised $1,300 for a plane ticket and headed for Taiwan. “When I first got there, I was amazed,” says Smith. “A lot of stuff is well advanced from what we have here. Everybody seemed so innocent. Everything was so clean.” Smith, along with fellow Jacksonians on the trip, toured the capital and villages, and visited communities in the mountains. They practiced their language skills, the martial art of tai chi, and even learned Chinese dancing and cooking. “I can do a little something,” Smith jokes about his newly found cooking skills. Smith’s one-month stay in 2007 turned into two months in 2008. Having taken an advanced Mandarin Chinese course, this Jackson State senior’s career plans are changing. “I really want to pursue an international business career,” says Smith, 24. “It is a total change from being a physicist.” Cary Smith celebrates the Chinese New Year in February.

EXCHANGE IMPROVES LANGUAGE SKILLS The Office of China Initiatives also celebrates its new exchange program with Diwan University in Taiwan, one of 10 universities with which Jackson State has partnerships in China and Taiwan. Twenty-two-year-old Pei-Ying Lee took a big step to travel from Taiwan to the United States alone. “At first I was very scared,” says Lee, the only one to come from Diwan to Jackson State. The opportunity to travel abroad and save half of her tuition costs convinced the shy senior to spend her last semester in college at Jackson State. Lee began learning English in elementary school and decided on Applied English as a major, but she has found her immersion into American culture gives her a chance to maximize her English skills. “We usually focused on English writing and reading,” she says. “Although we are English majors, we can speak Mandarin Chinese.” Studying at Jackson State has placed her in an environment that forces her to speak English more often. Tanaka Shipp’s 2 ½ -week stay in China in 2007 was not long enough. She was able to visit the Great Wall of China and the Beijing opera, but her desire to return led the senior sociology major from Jackson State to complete her undergrad study in Taiwan. “I’m hoping that I’ll be fluent when I get back,” she says, days before making her second trip to Asia.

Pei-Ying Lee strengthens her English skills while studying at Jackson State.

NEW APPRECIATION FOR SELF Bing Chen has found a greater appreciation for her own culture while serving as a foreign language teaching assistant at Jackson State. She says her students’ interest has motivated her to learn even more. “When you meet people who are really interested to know more about you and your culture, you feel very excited,” says 29-year-old Chen, who assists in Piletz’s Chinese classes as well as teaches her own. “Only when you talk about people from different cultures can you understand more about yourself.” For more information about China, learning to speak Chinese and ways to help others study in China or Taiwan, visit the Office of China Initiatives’ Web site at http://www.jsums.edu/oci/.

Bing Chen teaches Mandarin Chinese classes.


BY TOMMIEA P. JACKSON

WATCH VIDEO OF TREMERIS SANDERS’ AUDITION WITH ANDRE DELANO AND THE ACTUAL RECORDING IN THE STUDIO. HTTP:// WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/ WATCH?V=HAKU2LP3R-

A&FEATURE=RELATED Tremeris Sanders plays tuba on Andre Delano’s new song, “JSU Jam.”

J Dowell Taylor poses in the new music technology lab where Jackson State University students learn to compose.

ackson State is known for the Sonic Boom of the music at Jackson State dates to 1972 when he began South — also called the “Mac of the SWAC” — as a tuba player in the marching band. He served as the but all of the university’s musical talents are not band’s director from 1984 to 1992. expressed on the football field. “We had such a great organization, probably one of In fact, now that the university offers an undergradu- the golden eras,” says Taylor, reminiscing about the ate degree in music technology, more students will be band staff. “Edward Duplessis, Paul Adams and Byron able to record and produce their own music on campus Gregory were often referred to as the ‘Dream Team.’ ” in the F.D. Hall Music Center’s state-of-the-art studio. During their leadership, the band was selected to With equipment standard in professional studios participate in Motown’s 30th anniversary in 1990 and across the country, alumnus Andre Delano was com- the NBA All-Star game in 1991. It also was featured in fortable returning to his alma mater during the fall of Jet, People and Christian Science Monitor magazines. 2007 to record his new song, “JSU Jam,” a tribute to “After that era, I felt like I needed a change of pace. I Jackson State that will be released this summer on his needed a new interest,” Taylor says. sophomore album, “My So Fine.” He decided to nurture the seeds that former profesDowell Taylor, director of music technology and sor of music theory Kermit Holly Jr. had planted when Delano’s former band director, is perhaps most excited he purchased a few computers and keyboards. about this new development. Taylor’s connection with Those small seeds have grown into a full-fledged


the old storage room of the F.D. Hall Music Center would be anything more than a nice, small addition to the program. “I didn’t know it would be like that,” says Sanders, a music education major who is the first Jackson State student to complete a recording in the new studio. Sanders, a junior from Greenville, Miss., auditioned and was selected to record “JSU Jam” with Delano. “I was kind of nervous, but at the same time I was ready for it,” says Sanders. “The people auditioning were good, but I said, ‘Let me go ahead and have fun.’ “I guess (Delano) picked up on it. When I came in with my shades on, he was like ‘yeah.’ ” Sanders did more than win the audition; his musical talents impressed Delano. “I was actually mad that he caught on so fast,” jokes Delano, who’s playful personality Jackson State University has a new state-of-the-art music technology laboratory. matched Sanders’. In Sanders, Delano says he found a teachable showman who could play the music and enjoy it. Recording the song at Jackson State, Delano knew he could capture a spirit that a typical tuba player from the West Coast could not convey. The recording could not be completed without the special contribution that only Dr. Jimmie James Jr. could make. Having been associated with the band since 1966, James’ voice is inextricably tied to the Sonic Boom. He introduces Delano and Harris in the eloquent fashion Jacksonians love. “Recording on campus with Mr. Taylor, Tremeris and especially Dr. James was very, very special for me,” says Delano. Saxophonist Andre Delano teaches Tremeris Sanders his part for “JSU Jam.” For more information about the “I singled Dr. James out, not only because he song and Delano’s upcoming album, visit http://www.andredelano.com. is the chairman of the music department, but because he is also the ‘Voice of the Sonic Boom program accredited in 2007 by the National their own music in the studio. of the South.’ Association of Schools of Music. The program The studio is built around an HD system of “He, along with Tremeris, really helped me acaddresses the needs of students who are great Pro Tools, which is among the most powerful complish my goal of capturing the spirit of the musicians but may not perform on a traditional of professional-grade digital audio systems. It Boom on ‘JSU Jam.’ ” wind instrument. also is home to top-of-the-line Neumann Studio Much like a proud father, Taylor beams as he With two major areas — a music technology microphones, soundproof booths for vocals and talks about the new program and its success. laboratory and recording studio — Jackson percussions, Mackie speakers and Yamaha synJust as he trained a young saxophone player State offers students some of the best equip- thesizers. for national achievement, Taylor looks to have ment for sequencing, notation and music educa“My impression of the JSU music studio the music program receive national attention in tion. was ‘wow!’,” says Delano. “They have the very a few years as well. The laboratory is equipped with 12 computers, latest music programs, top-of-the-line microDelano’s return “was validation that the proKorg synthesizers and ultra-modern teaching phones and preamps, a very insulated record- gram had gotten to the point that I’d dreamed of communication systems. Students can create a ing booth and a comfortable setting in which to from its inception,” Taylor says. composition from scratch and print projects out record. My only regret was that we didn’t have “To have a former student who has done well in a professional notation format. this when I was at Jackson State.” in the business come back and choose Jackson Classes are taught in the lab, but when Taylor Tremeris Sanders is taking full advantage of State to be included on one of his upcoming refeels they are ready, students get to produce the new offerings, but he admits he had no idea leases was huge for this program.”


BY GWENDOLYN DOOLY, TOMMIEA P. JACKSON AND WHITNEY EVERETT While traditional college students look to complete their undergraduate degrees by age 24, many find a need to postpone their college education for several years and, in some cases, decades. Many have families, jobs or live in communities of considerable distance from the Lynch Street campus, which makes attending day classes difficult. That’s where Jackson State University’s College of Lifelong Learning steps in. Established in 2002 under the leadership of Dr. Johnnie Mills-Jones, it caters to students over age 25 by offering evening and weekend classes through the Mississippi Interactive Video Network, and online and face-to-face instruction.

T

hanks to the College of Lifelong Learning, Linda Jones and her daughter, Jessica, can take classes in the evenings. Jessica, a senior childcare and family education major, works full time at Head Start. Her mother has been retired for more than 20 years as a hair stylist and is now living her lifelong dream to attend Jackson State. Linda Jones had plans to attend Jackson State when she graduated from Canton’s Holy Child Jesus Catholic School in 1978. Her parents, however, had other plans for the first of their two daughters. As they wished, Jones enrolled in the formerly all-female school, Mississippi University for Women. “I used to tell myself that one day, when I have a child, he or she will attend Jackson State,” says Jones, 48. At the “W,” Jones wanted to study cosmetology so she could become a stylist like her mother. Unfortunately, she says, that program had been discontinued. “I ended up taking things I didn’t really like.” After more than two years, she enrolled at the Academy of Hair Design in Pearl and finished in 1983. After years of long hours standing on her feet, Jones says she began having problems with her legs. She had to retire. Meanwhile, she began to notice how 25-year-old Jessica would begin college but after a semester or so quit. “I thought, ‘She might do a little better with some competition.’ ” Mother and daughter now study together. “She’s always been smart; she just didn’t stay,” says Jones, a single mother and senior business administration major. “We take all of our classes together, and she knows I don’t like to miss class unless I’m sick. Right now, my car is out, so we have to travel together, too.” Jones laughs. “She hates that.” But Jones loves taking classes at the Universities Center. “Last semester, I was the oldest person in my classes. I felt so uncomfortable. There, I’m with people in my own age group.”

Linda Jones (seated) and her daughter, Jessica, take classes together at the Universities Center.


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t 69, the Rev. Willie Blue sits in a classroom in the Dollye M.E. Robinson Liberal Arts Building. Surrounded by students who easily could be his grandchildren, Blue writes with a pen in his spiral notebook. He feels comfortable there. “I love being around young people,” says Blue, associate pastor of Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss. “Old folks seem to have their minds already made up about things. Young people are so refreshing. They have open minds.” After spending a lifetime fighting for civil rights in Mississippi and working in a Chicago nonprofit organization, Blue has returned to Mississippi to get his college degree in mass communications. His classmates have been very helpful, reviewing notes and assisting him any way they can. But it is the students that Blue is interested in helping. Thumbing through history books “Pillars of Fire” and “Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement,” Blue recounts stories of the struggles of the past he says continues. “When I was 17, I wanted to get away from the nonsense of Jim Crow. I joined the military. Then after I got out of the Navy, it was worse than when I left. I’d been around the world and back, and it seemed the nonsense had magnified. I had a real bad attitude then when I was about 21 or 22. A lady from the NAACP told me that the Freedom Riders were in Greenwood and said, ‘You ought to go join them.’ ” Blue did, working alongside people such as Julian Bond, a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and NAACP chairman; Stokely Carmichael, a former leader of SNCC who also was known as Kwame Ture; and Bob Moses, a civil rights leader and founder of the Algebra Project. “I chose Jackson State because I am full of knowledge about the movement,” says Blue. “Hopefully, I can inspire some of the young people.” Blue solicited some help inspiring young people. He called on a friend from his days in the civil rights movement, Jimmy Travis. “I just said, ‘Hey, man, your grandchildren need you. There seems to be a pipeline from the schoolhouse to the jailhouse with so many of them going to jail. Let’s get back into the fight.’ ” Travis is now a freshman history major. Blue, a sophomore who plans to complete his degree in 2010, hopes to have the tools he needs to tell his story on a larger scale in a few years. “I want to write books about my life and tell my story.”

nlike many nontraditional students, Zelda Torna lives on campus. “My decision to stay in the dorm was already made because I had nowhere else to go. ... But I love the dorm!” she says of her space inside Jackson State’s newest residence hall, Campbell College. The suite is decorated like home with family photos and crochet doilies covering a small couch. “It’s luxury compared to what I remember when I was an undergraduate.” The petite grandmother earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts in 1968. Now, Torna seems to love the challenges of pursuing a master’s degree in teaching at Jackson State. “The classes are full spectrum — some are easy, others are extremely difficult and everything in between. There are not too many ‘bird’ courses, as young people say these days,” says Torna, 60. “I’m 200 percent satisfied with Jackson State.” Torna’s life experiences have taken her great distances. She lived in Israel for 15 years and taught English as a second language. After the death of her only daughter, Torna moved to Texas to be close to her granddaughters. She was homeless in Texas before moving to Philadelphia, Miss., which she now calls home.

Living in the South has opened her eyes. “I’m from the North. I didn’t realize racism was so real. I mean in Massachusetts, we just read about it,” says Torna. “I wasn’t raised to think of others as different or inferior. It’s not a challenge to me being around blacks. I believe I can relate.” Torna also relates well to others of different races. She attends Chinese Bible class and offers free Spanish tutoring. “The Chinese Bible class is once a week, and it’s a good experience for a language teacher,” says Torna, who is Jewish and practices Christianity. “I also would like to visit the area more.” Of all that she has done in her life, grasping computer technology has been a challenge. Last fall, “I couldn’t send an e-mail,” she says, “but people here are so helpful.”


In what was perhaps the largest and most diverse crowd on campus in Jackson State University’s history, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, a U.S. senator from Illinois, drew an audience of nearly 9,000 people to the Lee E. Williams Athletics and Assembly Center on March 10. Just one day before winning Mississippi’s Democratic Primary, Obama supporters – including black, white, Hispanic and Asian males and females of all ages – began lining up at the assembly center well before noon; the doors opened at 5 p.m. An overflow crowd listened to Obama deliver his message of change for America from the nearby Rose E. McCoy Auditorium.


The Rev. Joseph Lowery, a noted civil rights leader, offered prayer before Barack Obama took the stage. “We come here ’cause, like our ancestors, we hear music in the air. Over our head, we see a visionary in the place,” says Lowery, who marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s. “Over our head, we see a man of courage, a man of faith, a man who has given us a new look in the window of hope.”

Some attendees wore colorful Barack Obama T-shirts to reflect their personal style.

Supporters of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama attending the “Stand for Change” rally at Jackson State University varied in age, gender and ethnicity.

Former Gov. Ray Mabus, who led Mississippi from 1988–92, told the crowd about the importance of this year’s state primary. “It is rare and wonderful that we have a candidate that talks about uniting us instead of dividing us,” says Mabus, a senior adviser to Barack Obama’s campaign. “It is rare and wonderful that we have a candidate that doesn’t try to put us in little boxes, but reaches across divides and brings together rich and poor, old and young, black and white, Northern and Southern.”

Jackson State University alumnus Bennie Thompson introduced a fellow member of Congress to the crowd. “He understands our struggle because he has lived our struggle,” says Thompson, a Bolton, Miss., native who is now serving his eighth term in office. “He is one who will embrace our community because he is part of our community.”

Stopping by the campus for a pre-Barack Obama rally, Phat Farm founder Russell Simmons spoke to a crowd of Jackson State University students, faculty and staff on Gibbs-Green Plaza. “We are here because we know we can make a difference. Please be a part of history.”


Seven official seals have been used throughout the history of Jackson State University. In the 1920s, the first college seal of the institution bore the motto, “Line Upon Line – Precept Upon Precept,” and the institution’s name was written in Latin. From 1940–51, the coat-of-arms of the state of Mississippi was used. During this period, the college was known as the Mississippi Negro Training School and later Jackson College for Negro Teachers. In 1951, the new seal bore a new motto, “The Whole Individual – Learning – Teaching.” The same seal was used from 1956–68 when the name changed to Jackson State College. In 1968, the seal was redesigned with a sun to symbolize hope, a scroll for learning, and a raised torch for truth. The motto accompanying the new seal read, “You Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free.” In 1974, the seal was revised to include the college’s new name – Jackson State University. Since 1985, the university’s seal has boasted as its motto, “Excellence, Academics, Investigation and Duty,” which is written in Latin. Sources: “Jackson State University: The First Hundred Years, 1877–1977” by Dr. Lelia G. Rhodes; Calendar of Events Observing the 100th Anniversary of Jackson State University.


BY EDDIE L. BROWN JR.

With humble beginnings and a genuine desire to educate people thought of as second-class citizens, the Jackson State University family has been a tangible example of passion and persistence.

Natchez Seminary replaces the old U.S. Marine Hospital — 1877–1883 In May 1852, the U.S. Marine Hospital was built at a cost of $66,750. It opened in August 1852 to care for wounded marines after the Civil War; however, only three servicemen used it. On Aug. 15, 1876, Congress passed a resolution to sell the tornadobeaten property to the American Baptist Home Missionary Society. The Baptists named the school Natchez Seminary and dedicated it to the training of Negro teachers and preachers. The society appointed Dr. Charles Ayer, a native of Massachusetts, president of the seminary on Sept. 1, 1877. He opened the school with 20 students and earned an annual salary of $1,000. Just five years later, on Dec. 11, 1882, the society – to serve a growing population of knowledge-hungry students from Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas – spent $5,000 to purchase 52 acres just north of the Jackson, Miss., city limits. The first spring commencement was held in May 1883 with seven graduates. Natchez Seminary moves to central Mississippi — 1883 Natchez Seminary moved to Jackson in 1883. It was later renamed Jackson College in honor of the seventh U.S. president, Andrew Jackson, and its prime location was on what is now North State Street. Only two buildings stood on this new campus. One, a mansion for Dr. Charles Ayer, his wife and faculty; the other, a two-story barn used to house canon-guns during the Battle of Jackson. Students had no place to lodge. Female students were sent to live with friends and family near the school, while male students resided in shanties. Classroom space was badly needed.


Mt. Helm Baptist Church offers temporary relief — 1883–85 Hearing of the school’s struggles, the congregation of freed slaves at Mt. Helm Baptist Church opened its sanctuary to the college until 1885. The church was located on Grayson Street in downtown Jackson. Today, the historic black church can be found on the same corner of Church and Lamar (formerly Grayson) streets.

Growing pains over, back to North State Street — Spring 1885 In spring 1885, faculty and students were able to return to their academic home on North State Street, which faced Old Canton Road. Male students helped to build a three-story, multipurpose brick building near the president’s mansion at the rear of the campus. The new structure costed $12,500. This building was named Founders’ Hall. Students resided on the second and third floors, while the first floor and basement were used for classrooms and an assembly hall, respectively. Four years later, a new institution for white male students moved on the property adjoining the college, facing West Street. The black student population was treated with resentment because they rode mules into the now-wealthy part of town, an “uncomely” sight. Ayer received letters requesting that the college be sold to Major Reuben Webster Millsaps. He refused.


Sign of the times prompts college’s move — 1894–1902 Dr. Luther Barrett, a Massachusetts native, was appointed president of the college. Public desire for its removal increased. After Barrett received death threats, he decided, with the approval of the missionary society, to sell the North State Street location. On July 15, 1901, Millsaps College purchased Jackson College for $40,000, leaving Barrett once again searching for a new campus. The 1902–03 academic year was held in a large two-story building on the corner of Farish and Griffith Streets in Jackson, now known as the Hill-Holly Building.

A permanent home — 1903–present The missionary society authorized Dr. Luther Barrett to purchase 150 acres south of the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad, just west of Dalton Street known as Gowdy. The community was made up of smaller sub-communities or streets such as Jackson College Addition, Washington Addition and Washington Annex. Today, all the communities are considered Washington Addition. Barrett divided 50 acres into parcels and sold them to blacks who wanted to relocate from rural areas to what was beginning to become an oasis for African-American learning and culture. Between 1903–08, Jackson College experienced its first building boom with three newly constructed buildings, Ayer Hall, named for the first president, Dr. Charles Ayer; Barrett Hall, a residence for women, named for Barrett; and Chivers Hall, named for E.E. Chivers, field secretary of the American Baptist Home Society. Throughout the last 105 years, Jackson State has undergone name changes and numerous physical improvements. However, the historically black university has consistently offered African Americans, other people of color and underserved populations a quality education with a spirit of global consciousness. Sources: Darrell White, director of Natchez Association for the Preservation of African American History and Culture; Jackson State University Library Archives; “Jackson State University, The First Hundred Years, 1877–1977” by Dr. Lelia G. Rhodes; Millsaps College Library Archives; Mississippi Department of Archives and History


BY EDDIE L. BROWN JR.

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he progressive mindset in a congregation of newly freed slaves played a role in the modest beginnings of Jackson State University after it relocated from Natchez, Miss. This distinctive characteristic is why, still today, Mt. Helm Baptist Church remains a significant contributor to Jackson’s African-American community. From 1837 until about 1865, while white slave owners worshipped in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss., their slaves held services in the basement. In 1867, two years after the Civil War, Thomas Erskine Helm, a white deacon at First Presbyterian Church and a wealthy banker and property owner, donated land on the corner of Church and Grayson streets (now Lamar Street) in Jackson to the free men and women for a place of worship. The black congregation named it Mt. Helm Baptist Church after its benefactor. This small, wood-framed building would be recorded in history as the city of Jackson’s first black church. Over the next 16 years, the church grew in membership and developed a passion to aid the black commu-

nity. In 1883, that desire led it to open its doors to the training school for “Negro” teachers and preachers that originally was founded as Natchez Seminary in 1877. President Charles Ayer and the American Baptist Home Missionary Society thought it would be in the school’s best interest to move from Natchez, Miss., to North State Street, a location more central for the growing population of students from Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. However, the new location offered neither living accommodations nor classroom space for students. Mt. Helm officials stepped in to allow the college to hold classes in their sanctuary for the 1883–85 academic sessions. “That’s the Mt. Helm way,” says Willie Belt, a deacon and member of the church since 1963. “Our policy is still to have an open-door policy. Anyone – black, white, old, young – if you are in need, we will do what we can to help you.” The members did not imagine how, in just three years, their willingness to assist a black college still in its adolescence could yield such rich returns and continue throughout the next 100-plus years. In 1888, Elbert B. Topp, an 1883 graduate, became

Members of College Hill Baptist Church dressed in their Sunday best in 1930. In the early 1900s, the college that became Jackson State University donated land to form College Hill, where many prominent African Americans continue to worship today.


pastor of Mt. Helm and served until 1893. Topp was credited with being a responsible steward of the church’s finances. He left Mt. Helm, which had more than 200 members, to organize Farish Street Baptist Church. From 1893–84, the pastors of Mt. Helm were either graduates or faculty members of what is now Jackson State University. Others from Mt. Helm who have made contributions to the African-American community include Lee E. Williams Sr., a member for whom the Jackson State athletics and assembly center is named; ministers who eventually founded Pearlie Grove, Cade Chapel and Mt. Calvary (Tougaloo) Baptist churches in Jackson; and the Rev. Charles Price Jones, pastor from 1895–1903, who later founded the Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A. denomination, which has national headquarters on Lamar Street in Jackson. The city of Jackson grew as did the college, but the racial climate in the early 1900s caused the college to relocate again. It finally purchased 150 acres on Lynch Street in the Gowdy com-

munity, named for Cotton Oil Mill president W.B. Gowdy. The area consisted of smaller communities referred to as Washington Addition, Washington Annex and College Addition. The area is now called Washington Addition. In appreciation of the new community, Dr. Luther Barrett, the college’s president, wanted to give rural blacks an opportunity to move closer to the city. He believed parents who lived close to the school would be more open to sending their children to Jackson College.

JAY JOHNSON

THE COLLEGE HILL CONNECTION Another significant contribution the college made to its new community was a 1907 land-gift to a group of blacks who were worshipping under an oak tree on Florence Street. Barrett felt the community needed a proper site to worship, and students preparing to be teachers and ministers could benefit from handson training that only a church could provide. The congregation, proud of its community, named the church College Hill. That source of community pride and value is evident today. “Our church made the decision years ago to remain in the Washington Addition area,” says the Rev. Hosea Hines, College Hill’s pastor. “We want to maintain our commitment in bettering the area and Jackson State University.” Before coming to College Hill, Hines admits he was unaware of Jackson College’s effort to create a training ground for its teachers and preachers. “When I accepted the call to pastor College Hill, I immediately began to do my homework. I then found out B. Baldwin Dansby (fourth Jackson College president) was a deacon of the church, and Dean of Women Bobbie Nell Oatis and former Athletics Director Paul Covington were significant individuals at Jackson State and members of the church,” Hines says. “So for years, both the college and the church have thrived off each other.” Malena Dow, a member of College Hill since 1954, is a testament to how Barrett’s vision to create a church “laboratory” was beneficial to blacks. Dow, who once lived at 1150 Dalton St., exactly where the Dollye M.E. Robinson Liberal Arts Building now stands, entered Jackson College as a freshman English major in the fall of 1952. She started attending College Hill mainly because the congregation started and ended church “on time.” “We (students) had to get back to campus at a certain time to get our lunch baskets,” Dow recalls. After graduating, she returned to teach in the Department of Speech and Dramatic Arts until retiring in 1989. “I never thought about it until now,” Dow says when asked how it felt to be a direct beneficiary of the college and church’s original purpose. “It’s definitely a special blessing. Blessings like that don’t just happen accidentally; it’s providential. I’m older now so it means Malena Dow, an alumna and former professor at Jackson State University, has been so much more to me. I guess if I had to use one word, I a member of College Hill Baptist Church since 1954. She is pictured with the Rev. would say, ‘fulfilled.’” Hosea Hines, pastor.

Sources: College Hill Baptist Church; Jackson State University Library Archives; Dr. Lee E. Williams Sr., Mt. Helm: The Parade of Pastors; Mississippi Department of Archives


FRANK WILSON

Dr. Nicholas J. Hill, Dr. Glake A. Hill Jr., Dr. Edelia J. Carthan and Dr. Rodney Washington earned their doctorates before age 30.

While some college students struggle to earn bachelor’s degrees while still in their 20s, at least four Jackson State employees earned their doctoral degrees from the university before they turned 30. The young Ph.D.s say a love for learning, encouragement from family and faculty, and a commitment to accomplishing their goals led each of them to complete three degrees. “Many people in our African-American communities do not see college as an option for themselves, much less a doctoral degree,” says Dr. Nicholas J. Hill, who teaches business and economics classes. “I let them know it is possible, and very much needed for each of them to pursue a higher level degree.” On the following pages, meet Hill and his older brother, Dr. Glake A. Hill Jr., Dr. Edelia J. Carthan and Dr. Rodney Washington, who are using their advanced degrees to educate and empower others.


BY ALEXANDRA CASTELLANOS

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r. Edelia J. Carthan has defied the stereotypes of a teenage mother: She successfully completed three degrees at Jackson State University within 10 years of graduating from high school. Those accomplishments have earned her a spot in university history: She is the youngest person at Jackson State to receive a doctorate in early childhood education, graduating a year ago at the age of 28. “I tell people all the time how Jackson State changed my life,” says Carthan, now 29. “I wasn’t a quitter and in return, this experience has changed my life for the better.” The Tchula, Miss., native gave birth to her son, Edetric, when she was a sophomore in high school. Becoming a teenage mom didn’t stop her from pursuing her education. She graduated No. 3 in her high school class and completed her bachelor’s degree at JSU in three years. She says she always has been determined, driven and smart. “I was always good in my books and I was a leader.” Carthan worked all through high school and college. Having Edetric, now a 13-year-old seventh-grader, made her work even harder so he can

have a better life than she had. Now the assistant director of distance learning at JSU, Carthan has been heavily involved in the community. She mentors students at Lanier High School and tutors math, reading, science and computer discovery at local elementary, middle and high schools. With all of this on her plate, Carthan still finds time to teach select education technology classes as an adjunct instructor at JSU. Eventually, the university’s educational technology department will be run solely online, she says, making it the first department on campus that will strictly consist of online courses. After examining her life, Carthan believes her purpose on earth is to motivate and inspire teenage mothers who feel that education is not an option. Says Carthan: “Disciplining your children to do right in school, as well as pushing yourself to complete school, is key.” Alexandra Castellanos is a senior English major with a minor in mass communications.

EDUCATION: Jackson State University: B.S., educational technology, 2000; M.S., technology education, 2002; Ed.D., early childhood education, 2007 ORGANIZATIONS: Clinton (Miss.) Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.; president, Advisory Council for Distance Learning & Academic Outreach, 2007; member, National Distance Learning Association, 2007


BY SATARIA OLIVIA SMITH

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r. Rodney Washington has been motivated to excel from a young age because of his strong family foundation. The chair of Jackson State University’s Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education had a timeframe on every task he assigned to his life, including earning a doctorate before age 30. “My parents both had elementary educations, neither finishing high school. My mother told us that she only prayed that all of her children could read and write,” says Washington, whose mother died of breast cancer when he was 20. “Her work ethic is what I use to push forward.” He fondly recalls how writing his master’s thesis based on Carter G. Woodson’s book, “Mis-Education of the Negro,” changed him. “I knew then that the issues I was exposed to in the rural Delta could not factor into what I was to become,” recalls the Lexington, Miss., native, who earned his doctorate in early childhood education at age 29. While pursuing his master’s degree, Washington recalls studying research methods, something he admits he did not understand, while working the 11 p.m-to-7 a.m. shift at a juvenile correctional facility. By

day, he audited the research course at the undergraduate level; at night, he took the course on the graduate level, eventually earning his master’s degree in criminology at age 24. A year later, Washington began working as an adjunct instructor at Jackson State. “Students thought that I was taking the course when I was actually the instructor,” says Washington, the single father of a 17year-old. “I knew then that I wanted a career in higher education.” Washington’s work in juvenile justice helped him gain a deeper understanding of today’s youth. His training focuses on issues in child development and classroom management from a behavioral stance. “I was told early on, go where the research is going to be, not where it is,” says Washington, who once worked with former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. writing intervention programs for schools in west Jackson. “I knew from my experience in juvenile justice that with the issues young people were facing, it would not be long before it became a priority in the educational setting.” Sataria Olivia Smith is a senior mass communications major.

Dr. Rodney Washington is responsible for overseeing a faculty of 10 and approximately 1,000 students in three undergraduate, four masters, one specialist and one doctoral program in the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education in the School of Instructional Leadership of the College of Education and Human Development at Jackson State University.


DRS. GLAKE AND NICHOLAS HILL: BROTHERS GUIDING, DIRECTING THE NEXT GENERATION BY ASHLEY D. CAPLES

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ig brothers try to set a good example for their siblings. Dr. Glake A. Hill Jr. has done just that. He and his younger brother, Dr. Nicholas J. Hill, are both professors at Jackson State University. “He is such a great instructor, researcher and mentor,” says Nick. “I am always calling him for advice.” Glake always enjoyed Nick’s company growing up in small-town Canton, Miss. They both attended Tougaloo College, where the division began. Glake, who developed a love of science in ninth grade, pursued a degree in chemistry. Nick decided he wanted to be a CEO. After graduating, Glake’s plan was to become a doctor. “I spent a couple of years at medical school before realizing that wasn’t my best option,” he recalls. He later enrolled at Jackson State and studied at the European School of Quantum Chemistry in Italy and the Gordon School of Chemical Physics in Rhode Island. In 2003, at the age of 28, Glake became the first African American and second candidate to receive a doctoral degree in computational chemistry from Jackson State. By then, he had received numerous awards, including the President’s Research Postdoctoral Fellow from the University of California at Berkeley. Along the way, two JSU professors inspired him to teach and in 2004, Glake, now 33, accepted an assistant professorship at Jackson State. ‘CONCERNED ABOUT OUR COMMUNITY’ Meanwhile, Nick realized that his calling wasn’t in the corporate world; his passion, coincidentally, also was academia. After earning his master’s degree in economics from Howard University, he earned his doctorate at JSU in economics, also at age 28, and began teaching business and economics classes at Jackson State in 2007. As educators, the Hill brothers believe in preparing students for the rest of their lives. “It is my teaching philosophy that I am preparing every student for graduate school,” says Nick, 30. “Also, I try to have fun and make economics an interesting subject.” Their parents influenced their teaching careers. Their father is a math and computer science professor at Tougaloo, and their mother is retired from Velma Jackson High School, where she taught social science. “I often saw the sacrifice they made to ensure that they brought the best possible information to the classroom,” Glake says. “A teacher must inspire and create avenues for students to think and dream.” The Hill brothers are just as passionate about their roles in the community. “My role is not only an educator and a mentor, but more importantly

Dr. Nicholas J. Hill (top) is three years younger than his only sibling, Dr. Glake A. Hill Jr.

a tangible outcome for young adults,” says Nick. “Many people in my community have not seen a young, African-American male with a Ph.D. The truth is, many families I have come into contact with still don’t have a first-generation college graduate. “Many people in our African-American communities do not see college as an option for themselves, much less a doctoral degree,” Nick explains. “I let them know it is possible, and very much needed for each of them to pursue a higher level degree.” Glake believes the answer is direction. As an associate minister at Collis Hill Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A. in Terry, Miss., he knows about guiding people. He also is actively involved in the Healing the Hurts through Christ Ministries at Truevine Baptist Church in Brandon. “I’m always concerned about our community,” says Glake. “What this generation needs is direction. Direction is something that our ancestors had because of limited opportunities. Now, the sky is the limit.” Working on the same campus has been more than a blessing. Nick sometimes calls on his big brother for assistance, while Glake makes it a point to stop by Nick’s office whenever he goes to the Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center. “No question about it,” Nick says. “He makes me feel the same way he has always made me feel about him throughout our entire lives – extremely proud and blessed to have him as my brother.” Ashley D. Caples is a senior mass communications major.


BY DR. HILLIARD L. LACKEY III

“How We Got Over,” a recent book published by President Emeritus John A. Peoples Jr. (Jackson State University, 1967–84), is a stimulating compilation of selected speeches extending from his address as valedictorian of the Jackson State Class of 1950 to his Jackson State Founders’ Day masterpiece in October 2007. Each speech, artfully crafted in language and style reflecting high intellectual thought, addresses a well-defined concern to a particular audience. The work as a whole delves deeply into the past, present and future of historically black colleges and universities. However, the overall message has implications for the entire academic world. Most enlightening is Peoples’ perspective on academic excellence and HBCUs. He sees excellence as essential to the collective advancement of African Americans in our modern, complex society. Members of the Jackson State family can trace the chronology of events at their alma mater through these speeches given on various occasions before, during and after Peoples’ service as president. Indeed, he encapsulates the university’s struggle “to survive and thrive,” maintain “a will to excellence,” and persistently promote the concepts of truth and freedom in teaching and learning. Current and future HBCU educators can benefit from Peoples’ perspective on the role those colleges and universities have played

and will continue to play in impacting American society and the African-American community. Significantly, Jackson State alumni will be inspired by the vivid accounts of the struggles through which the university has gone to arrive at its current status. HBCU faculties are privileged to gain an insight into intricacies of the teaching-learning process as it relates to black students. HBCU stakeholders of all stripes are treated to a bird’s-eye view of what a higher education visionary has seen, sees and foresees for their institutions. Finally, “How We Got Over” has several speeches addressing the plight, if you will, and role of the African-American male. The HBCU, in the “gospel according to Peoples,” may not be the panacea for addressing all challenges affecting African Americans; nonetheless, these institutions have proved themselves equal to or better than their counterpart white institutions in providing the essential corps of professionals on the current scene in America. Most importantly, Jackson State has come to the forefront in providing education in a multitude of fields for students from all parts of this nation. This scholarly work maps the path that Jackson State University has taken to become the bastion for truth and freedom that it is today. Having personally known and worked with this revered educator throughout my student years and my professional career, I recommend this book as required reading for all

Jackson State alumni. Some of these speeches were made when I was in the audience as a student, colleague or alumnus. I can testify that throughout his academic career, Peoples’ leitmotif (recurrent theme), with regards to his affection for students, faculty and alumni, stems from “The Holy Bible” (John 8:32 KJV), “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Dr. Hilliard L. Lackey III is president of the Jackson State University National Alumni Association Inc.

Copies of “How We Got Over” can be purchased for $21 at the JSU Bookstore on campus or online at the www.jsunaa.com. An additional $4 should be added to cover shipping and handling costs for mailed copies. For more information, call 601-979-2281. Net proceeds will be contributed to the John A. Peoples Endowed Scholarship and the JSU National Alumni Association’s $1 million pledge to the Campaign for Jackson State.


BY EDDIE L. BROWN JR.

Jackson State University students come from various cities and states across the nation as well as countries around the world. Most importantly, students of the research-intensive institution are known for making significant contributions to our global society. Dana Palade has always had a desire to make a lasting impact on the lives of the less fortunate. She also knew early in life that the more education she received, the more effective her service to the world would become. In 2002, Palade decided to pursue a master’s degree in political science at Jackson State University, a decision that later proved to be useful in her profession. “I was looking for a graduate program that would offer me a better understanding between politics and social development, which was essential to my career,” says Palade, who maintained a 4.0 grade-point average before graduating in 2003. A native of Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, Palade now lives about 12 hours away from home in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. She works as the communications manager for World Vision International Pakistan, a Christian humanitarian organization that aids impoverished countries in Eastern Europe and Africa. World Vision has staff and volunteers in 90 countries worldwide. She spends much of her time taking photographs and interviewing community leaders to document why World Vision should undertake projects in their communities.

Dana Palade (in orange), a Jackson State University alumna and native of Romania, talks with Pakistani children on the first-year anniversary of the October 2005 earthquake in Banda Gisach, a village in Pakistan. For more information about World Vision and to view photos by Dana Palade, visit https://meero.worldvision.org.

Palade says her decision to attend Jackson State was an easy one. “I received such positive feedback from my friends,” she says of acquaintances from the Middle East and Europe, including her home in Romania. “They had nothing but good things to say about Mississippi, Jackson and Jackson State as a whole. I’m glad I took their “I love my job,” she says. “It is the very es- advice.” Jackson State was a positive experience sence of our work to be close to communities we serve, not only through the programs we both academically and socially, Palade adds. implement, but also by establishing relation- “My professors were always engaging, supportive and encouraged us to strive for better ships based on trust and respect.” Palade says her graduate studies in politi- accomplishments,” says Palade. “I enjoyed cal science caused her to be more culturally the friendly atmosphere … it was a second aware and to understand there is indeed a family away from home.” connection between a country’s political development and the social environment of its people. “MY PROFESSORS WERE ALWAYS When she is not handling the marketing, ENGAGING, SUPPORTIVE AND media relations and public relations components of her job, she spends the rest of her ENCOURAGED US TO STRIVE FOR BETTER ACCOMPLISHMENTS. I time as a photojournalist. Her favorite subject is children and captur- ENJOYED THE FRIENDLY ATMOing various images of mother and child. HowSPHERE … IT (JACKSON STATE) ever, in Pakistan, cultural and religious beliefs in the predominantly Muslim country prevent WAS A SECOND FAMILY AWAY FROM HOME.” —Dana Palade her from taking pictures of women.


HiZga^c\»hHjXXZhh BY TOMMIEA P. JACKSON

Back in 1982, John Sterling was a bright-eyed freshman from Chicago who had followed some old baseball buddies to Jackson State University. Then, he wanted to play ball. Sterling has since traded his baseball cleats for a pair of stylish Salvador Ferragamos. He is the chief executive officer and founder of Synch-Solutions, one of the fastest-growing management consulting and technology services companies in the country. Synch-Solutions has assisted major companies and even college systems streamline routine processes and connect campuses to optimize access to data. The management consulting aspect of the company works to help clients make organizational adjustments to more efficiently use staff and to satisfy strategic goals. The Chicago-based firm employs more than 125 people, has an office in New Orleans and plans for additional offices in major cities across the United States. Sterling began his professional career working at major corporations for more than 20 years. According to the Synch-Solutions Web site, Sterling managed major projects for Kraft Foods and developed solutions for some of the company’s challenges. As a senior project manager at Sears Roebuck and Company, Sterling managed technology systems that drove the distribution of thousands of products. He served as a land administrator for CNA, one of the top insurance providers in the country. While Sterling says he appreciates the “big business” experiences he received at “mammoth organizations,” he realized early in his career that he wanted to lead. That realization occurred after only three months in corporate America. At his first job out of

NAME: John Sterling PROFESSIONAL: CEO Synch-Solutions Chicago, www.synch-solutions.com

college, Sterling saw that there were no African Americans in the top three tiers of the company. “I knew I wanted to own my company,” says Sterling. LIVING OUT A DREAM Sterling understood that he could not work a job and the business plan he’d created

for himself. While going through a painful divorce, Sterling looked at his life and decided he could go nowhere but up. He left his $120,000-a-year position at Sears, moved into his mother’s basement and started Synch-Solutions. “I thought if I were ever going to take a risk, it would be the time. Financially, I was in pretty bad shape,” says Sterling, who lived


“TECHNICAL SKILLS AND BUSINESS ACUMEN ARE GREAT, BUT ANY DEAL, ANY PROJECT YOU HAVE, YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO WORK WITH PEOPLE AND BE SELFLESS TO SOME DEGREE.”—John Sterling

on bimonthly unemployment checks and rode the bus to visit his children. Sterling began to draw from the lessons he learned as an athlete. “I pitched at Jackson State,” says Sterling, who earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Jackson State in 1987. “When you are the pitcher, you have to face the whole team. It all begins and ends with you. I’d rather bet on myself than anyone.” Sterling made a safe bet. The company he started in 1998 with only a laptop computer and cell phone now boasts an annual revenue of $30 million. It all began as the Y2K problem loomed and many worried that their computers would not recognize dates after Dec. 31, 1999. Businesses felt a growing need for technological assistance. Sterling first reached out to some of his previous employers, helping them to find employees who could offer such assistance. “I was able to place people pretty easily,” he says. “But it was a very humbling experience that I will never forget. That was probably the toughest time of my life.” Synch-Solutions is not Sterling’s first business venture, but his third. His previous professional experiences strengthened his understanding of the business

world. Completing executive management programs at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business and UCLA Anderson School of Management polished the executive. Sterling is quick to point out that character and interpersonal skills are very important. Relationships with those around you can often make or break a business. “You must understand that you have to be willing to work with people,” explains Sterling. “Technical skills and business acumen are great, but any deal, any project you have, you need to be able to work with people and be selfless to some degree. “One might think that since I’m the owner, the boss, that it is always about me,” says Sterling. “It’s not. I have to give the team credit and acknowledge their accomplishments.” At 44, Sterling has advice for younger entrepreneurs.

“There are tremendous opportunities out there,” he says. “You can do it while you are young, but you’ve got to have drive and determination.” “Drive is so important,” Sterling continues. “Right now, I get up at 3 in the morning, work out until about 4:30 a.m. and am at the office by 5:30 to 6 a.m. I’ve worked some incredibly long hours and made some sacrifices.” None of this surprises Sterling’s former baseball coach, who remembers him as a great communicator who had a great rapport with his teammates. “He was very persistent, a hard worker,” says Robert Braddy, now athletics director at Jackson State. “John was always the first to come to practice and the last person to leave,” he says. “You knew that he was the type of guy who would be successful in life.”

“I PITCHED AT JACKSON STATE. WHEN YOU ARE THE PITCHER, YOU HAVE TO FACE THE WHOLE TEAM. IT ALL BEGINS AND ENDS WITH YOU. I’D RATHER BET ON MYSELF THAN ANYONE.”

—John Sterling


BY ANTHONY DEAN It’s no wonder Larry Belton spent the past 23 years recruiting students for an institution of higher learning. Growing up in Greenville, Miss., Belton’s father imparted an important lesson when he moved his son from a public school to a private one because Belton wasn’t allowed to bring his books home. The lesson – always put a premium on quality education. That lesson followed Belton through a successful career at Jackson State University and resulted in him becoming the associate vice president for Student Life. Belton, 62, hopes he’s leaving that lesson with his recruiters as he retires on June 30. “Your greatest satisfaction is not your paycheck,” Belton insists. “Your greatest satisfaction should be that you have given something and impacted someone’s life.” Belton believes one of his greatest accomplishments at Jackson State is that through his support, all of his recruiters have advanced degrees. Other accomplishments include developing the Office of Marketing and Recruit-

Belton’s memories of those early recruitment and creating a High School Day. Belton’s accomplishments have not gone ing years are vivid and sometimes comical. unnoticed. “I know one time I ended up at a private Linda Rush, director of Undergraduate Recruitment, says Belton positively im- school and I didn’t realize it….They called pacted her life. “He promoted a sense of it North Delta School. The private schools family in the office and is a true man of his didn’t use ‘high school.’ They would just call it school. Everybody was white, even word,” Rush says. Belton’s fate to attend Jackson State the bus drivers,” Belton says with a laugh. The recruiter who typically had set his seemed sealed early in life. As a Sacred Heart Catholic High School student, Bel- sights on majority black schools says he ton planned to attend Xavier University was embarrassed, but sought to salvage in New Orleans, but those plans were the visit. “I told the North Delta School admindashed when his mother insisted on a colistrators I just wanted to come to see if lege in Mississippi. Many scholarship offers came, but a one or two students might be interested in summer readiness program for academi- Jackson State,” Belton says. “They were, cally talented students at Jackson State however, as warm and friendly as any sold Belton on JSU. school I had visited.” After graduating, Belton’s first job was a Belton never regretted returning to Jackhistory teaching fellowship at the Universi- son State. “It’s not difficult to do something ty of Mississippi. Eventually, Belton taught you enjoy,” he says. at Greenville High School and a middle and Belton says he’ll spend the next chapter high school in Jackson. A chance meeting of his life fishing, traveling and enjoying with Haskell Bingham, then JSU dean of his family and friends. But there will alAdmissions and Records, in a barbershop ways be time, he says, for his beloved Jackson State University. in 1975 shifted his path to recruitment.


Their careers at Jackson State University spanned across four remarkable, world-changing decades. They stretched long enough for a growing, historically black college to mature into an expansive, diverse urban university. They committed strong enough that their names have became synonymous with the programs and departments in which they labor. They’ve rooted themselves deep enough that when reminiscing about their lives, the story of Jackson State indisputably shines through as well.

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BY RIVA BROWN Dr. Rameshwar D. Gupta received the black – waiting area at the doctor’s office. royal treatment when he began teaching “I didn’t mind sitting in either,” says Gupta, at Jackson State University in 1967. 69. An invitation to the home of then-PresiAt Jackson State – where he was one of dent John A. Peoples Jr. A special party in two instructors teaching courses in what the B.F. Roberts Dining Hall. is now the College of Business – some “Dr. Peoples was very generous, very students had difficulties adjusting to his nice,” Gupta recalls. “The faculty and staff accent. were very cooperative. They tried to help But they soon realized he was genuinely me by going out of their way.” committed to helping them understand Though Gupta, a native of India, was him and their classwork. well-received at the college, that wasn’t “My pronunciation was different from their Southern pronunciation,” he says, necessarily the case in the community. His brown skin made it difficult to fit in smiling. “I used to tell them in class, ‘If during the intense racial climate in Missis- you don’t understand, please raise your hand.’ ” sippi during the 1960s. Over the past 40-plus years, the former He recalls problems renting an apartment and people frowning at him when he department chair has taught about 12,000 tried to sit in the white – instead of the students, some of them he considers

among his proudest accomplishments. “Some students I taught are in very high positions in government, industry and corporations,” he says proudly. “I’ve taught a lot of second- and third-generation students.” Among his other notable accomplishments are starting three accounting courses – governmental and nonprofit, managerial and Securities and Exchange – a certificate in accounting program, and an annual accounting seminar for CPAs. Six department chairs, seven deans and six presidents later, Gupta says it won’t be too much longer before he retires. When he’s off cruising around the world, he says he’ll miss the companionship and the atmosphere at Jackson State. “I spent all my life here … young age, middle age, old age,” he says. “I come from a small town in India. The pace of life is exactly like my hometown. And the good people … they’re cooperative and very helpful.”


FACULTY/STAFF FOCUS

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BY ASHLEY CAMERON

Dr. Billy A. Roby came to Jackson State University as a junior college transfer student in 1965 – and never left. “I am a committed graduate,” says Roby, associate dean of student services and director of the student center. “I was needed here and that is why I stayed here.” Roby came to Jackson State to earn a bachelor’s degree in physical education on the recommendation of the people closest to him, people he respected and admired. “My high school basketball coach, relatives, parents and teachers inspired me to come to Jackson State,” says Roby, who was recruited for football but didn’t play. Roby began working at the university in 1968, managing the games area in the Jacob L. Reddix Campus Union. Among Roby’s fondest memories of working in the union are the friendships he developed with students, staff, faculty

sue an education and career not only for and the community. “I remember playing spades with the me, but my wife and children. I am thankstudents and listening as they informed ful for that.” Roby, 63, says he plans to retire from me of what was happening on the yard (campus),” Roby recalls. “They knew more Jackson State soon. When that day comes, he’ll spend it restoring old cars and trucks. than I did on many occasions.” In the meantime, he’s writing a book Over the past 40-plus years, Roby increased his knowledge by earning mas- on his perspective of Jackson State. He ter’s, specialist and doctoral degrees in hopes to complete it within the next two educational administration while assist- or three years. Roby’s book will be among ing the dean of students, overseeing the the innumerable contributions he’s made union and serving as an adjunct instructor. to his beloved alma mater. But his overall contribution, he says, is He teaches basketball, volleyball, tennis, badminton and bowling in Jackson State’s much greater. “I believe my greatest contribution has Physical Education and Recreation Departbeen my strong commitment to serve the ment. “Jackson State has been really good to university through service, dedication and me since I came here, so I made a commit- giving 100 percent at all times.” ment to JSU,” says the native of Goodman, Ashley Cameron is a senior mass comMiss. “Jackson State University afforded munications major. a small-town man the opportunity to pur-


FACULTY/STAFF FOCUS

THE JAMES FILE UÊÊ>ÀÀˆi`Ê̜Ê̅iÊvœÀ“iÀÊ >ÀÀˆiÊÀii˜ÊvœÀÊ {ÈÊÞi>ÀÃÆÊܘ]ʈV…>i UÊʈ˜ˆÃÌiÀʜvʓÕÈVÊ>˜`ʓi“LiÀʜvÊ̅iÊ -ÌiÜ>À`Ê œ>À`Ê>ÌÊ*i>ÀÊ-ÌÀiiÌÊ °° °Ê …ÕÀV… UÊÊi“LiÀʜvÊ"“i}>Ê*ÈÊ*…ˆÊ>˜`Ê-ˆ}“>Ê *ˆÊ*…ˆÊvÀ>ÌiÀ˜ˆÌˆià UÊÊÕ̅œÀʜvÊÌܜÊLœœŽÃ]ʺ"À}>˜ˆâˆ˜}Ê>˜`Ê `“ˆ˜ˆÃÌiÀˆ˜}Ê̅iÊ°° °Ê …ÕÀV…ÊÕÈVÊ *Àœ}À>“»Ê>˜`ʺ"À}>˜ˆâˆ˜}Ê̅iÊ …ÕÀV…Ê ÕÈVʈ˜ˆÃÌÀÞÊvœÀÊ̅iÊÓ£ÃÌÊ i˜ÌÕÀÞ»

BY RIVA BROWN

“Friends, it’s the apex of excellence, the compendium of pretentiousness, ostentatious, pompous and palatial variety, the most astonishing, gargantuan, prodigious, stupendous, savory and palatable aggregation representing the age of the electronic and computerized musical explosion.” These are the words of Dr. Jimmie James Jr., chair of Jackson State University’s Department of Music and “Voice of the Sonic Boom of the South.” Since 1966, Tiger football fans have been awed by James’ academically oriented announcement of JSU’s acclaimed marching band. It’s “the summa cum laude of bands,” James’ script says. A band that’s “the utmost in the preternatural.” A band that presents “the most delightful and delectable sights and sounds available to any audience anytime and anywhere.” James says organizing and delivering his signature scripts require research and study. “I try to speak well utilizing the best of grammar and enunciation,” says James, a former junior high school English teacher.

“It’s like a job for me because I try to utilize language that is not necessarily the everyday language of the person who goes to the football game, and I try to keep it on that level.” James, 69, has been instrumental in keeping JSU’s Department of Music on a high level since he became assistant director of bands and lower brass instructor in 1966. He was serving as a high school band director in his hometown of Hattiesburg, Miss., before he returned. “I thought it would be an honor to come back to the university and work where I was the first tuba major to graduate,” says James, who earned a bachelor’s degree in music education in 1960. Over the years, he earned advanced degrees from the University of Wisconsin and later the University of Southern Mississippi, where he was the first African American to earn a doctorate in music. At Jackson State, James has served as director of musical activities, coordinator of the graduate music program, director of

the concert band and director of the brass ensemble. He is especially proud of the Annual Church Music Workshop of America, which he began in 1977 in cooperation with the Eighth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. James perhaps has gotten the most response because of his innovative way of announcing the band. When the Boom performed at the Indiana Colts/New Orleans Saints game in 2006, the public relations director at Louisiana State University sent an e-mail requesting a copy of James’ script. “In addition to the band, I was especially taken by your stadium announcer, whose introduction of the band was perhaps the most unique presentation of its kind I’ve ever heard,” the e-mail reads. And when James missed announcing some half-time shows because of a brain aneurism, the response of JSU football fans and alumni amazed him when he returned last year. “People would just wait outside the football stadium to greet me. I was just overwhelmed.”


Rick Comegy, Jackson State University’s head football coach, proudly displays the trophy the Tigers received for winning the SWAC football championship on Dec. 15, 2007.

Tigers corner back Domonique Johnson was voted Defensive Player of the Game.

BY SAM JEFFERSON

Jackson State quarterback Jimmy Oliver was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after the Tigers defeated Grambling State 42–31 in the SWAC conference game.

Rick Comegy holds up the trophy he received for being named SWAC Coach of the Year.


“IT’S GREAT TO SEE THE ENTHUSIASM COMING BACK AMONG OUR FANS. JUDGING FROM FAN INTEREST, OUR ATTENDANCE SHOULD INCREASE NEXT YEAR AND WHEN WE BRING MORE FANS TO TOWN, JSU WINS AND THE CITY OF JACKSON WINS. WE ARE ALSO MAKING OUR SEASON TICKET PACKAGES MORE FAMILY-FRIENDLY THIS YEAR.” —Robert Braddy, JSU athletics director Jackson State University’s 11-year SWAC football title drought ended on Dec. 15, 2007, in Birmingham, Ala. Before a crowd of 43,236 fans at Legion Field, the Tigers defeated Grambling State 42–31 to secure their 16th Southwestern Athletic Conference football championship. The win – along with the success of the program under two-year head coach Rick Comegy – went a long way toward restoring the pride and tradition Tiger fans enjoyed during the years JSU won 15 SWAC football crowns – including eight between 1980 and 1990 – and routinely led NCAA Division I-AA in attendance. The JSU Tigers have won 16 SWAC championships. Jackson State is scheduled to open the 2008 season against Hampton University at 1 p.m. Aug. 31 in the MEAC-SWAC Challenge in Orlando, Fla. The Tigers will host Stillman College in their first home game at 6 p.m. Sept. 6. For information on purchasing season football tickets, visit http://jsutigers.cstv.com/tickets/jasttickets.html.

It was JSU’s first football title since the league implemented the East-West divisional playoff in 1999 and the Tigers’ first outright conference crown since 1996. The match-up not only served as a stage for Tiger senior quarterback Jimmy Oliver to showcase his uncanny ability to win football games, but it completed a remarkable turnaround for the Tiger program under Comegy. Three years before Comegy’s arrival in 2005, the once-proud JSU program had sunk to an historic low, going 2–10 (2003), 4–7 (2004) and 2–9 (2005). TICKET SALES INCREASING JSU officials already see some benefits from the Tigers winning their 16th championship and the back-to-back winning seasons (6–5 in 2006,

8–4 in 2007) under Comegy. “It’s great to see the enthusiasm coming back among our fans,” says Robert Braddy, athletics director. “Judging from fan interest, our attendance should increase next year and when we bring more fans to town, JSU wins and the city of Jackson wins. We also are making our season ticket packages more family-friendly this year.” Annie Jackson, JSU ticket manager, says Tiger fans now have the convenience of purchasing tickets online. “Season tickets went on sale on March 10, and we are hoping to double what we sold last year,” says Jackson, noting that about 5,000 were sold then. “Tickets are selling at a more brisk pace as compared to this time last year.” WIN-WIN SITUATION FOR SWAC Comegy believes a successful football program at JSU can help the city of Jackson reach its potential. “The atmosphere here is warm, the people are friendly and we have a lot of resources in and around Jackson,” Comegy says. “We need to move the trees back a little so we can see the light better.” One fact is certain. When Jackson State plays in the SWAC championship game in Birmingham, statistics show the financial impact on the conference and the city of Birmingham is greater than when any other team in the league plays. Two days before the championship game, Interstate 20 between Jackson and Birmingham saw a steady stream of vehicles heading east with JSU flags fluttering in the wind. During the game, a sea of blue-and-white pom-poms waved on the nearly filled Jackson State side of the stadium, which was in stark contrast to the sparse crowd on Grambling’s side. “We were happy to see so many of our fans make the trip to Birmingham,” says Braddy. It was a win-win situation for the SWAC. Despite a stormy forecast for that Saturday afternoon, the more than 43,000 in attendance made up the second-largest crowd in the nine years the game has been held in Birmingham. The largest crowd was 47,627 in 1999, the only

other year Jackson State was in the game. The three years before 2007, the average attendance at the conference championship football game was 24,348. OLIVER MADE THE DIFFERENCE The large throng of JSU fans in the stands probably made Oliver and the Tigers feel right at home. Oliver threw three touchdowns and pulled off Houdini-like moves to lead Jackson State to victory. Even though his statistical numbers (16-of-30 passes for 249 yards and three TDs) were not flashy, Grambling must have thought there was something magical about the Columbia, Miss., native. Repeatedly, he scrambled away from trouble and twice threw touchdown passes after eluding several would-be tacklers. He threw a 17-yard TD pass to Chris Johnson in the second quarter with a defender draped around his ankle. “Oliver was the difference in the game for us,” says Comegy. “He did everything to help us win. He performed like a big-time quarterback – like a John Elway or Peyton Manning. His play was not surprising to me. He has won games like that for us ever since he has been here.” Oliver, who was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, threw touchdown passes of 14 yards to Cedric Dixon and 15 yards to Terance Jones. Lavarus Giles, who started in place of the injured Eric Haw, was the game’s top rusher with 117 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns. His 54-yard TD burst up the middle in the fourth quarter, after breaking several tackles at the line of scrimmage, put the game away for the Tigers. Corner back Domonique Johnson, who was voted the Defensive Player of the Game, may have made the game-changing play in the second quarter when he intercepted Grambling quarterback Brandon Landers’ pass and raced 35 yards for a score. That play put JSU ahead 14–7. The Tigers went on to lead 28–12 at the half. Grambling roared back in the third period, scoring 19 unanswered points to take a 31–28 lead. JSU added 14 points in the final period to win the game, 42–31.


W.C. Gorden is married to Vivian Howard Gorden. They are the parents of two sons, Craig and Robin. The Gordens have ďŹ ve grandchildren: Craig Jr., Robyn, Michael, Kamera and Kayla. An active member of Central United Methodist Church, Gorden is chairman of the Courtesy Care Committee and the Revitalizing Committee.

BY SAM JEFFERSON


“I DON’T MISS COACHING. I AM EXPOSED TO SO MUCH MORE HISTORY AND CULTURE NOW BECAUSE OF THE VARIOUS ACTIVITIES I AM INVOLVED WITH. I LOVE WHAT I AM DOING AND I ENJOY DOING THINGS FOR THE COMMUNITY.â€? —W.C. Gorden It’s been almost two decades since W.C. Gorden — the winningest head football coach in Jackson State University history — walked away from the position in 1991. Gorden’s friends and acquaintances know of his love for coaching football. And those closest to him know about his passion for jazz music. But most don’t know about his enthusiasm for community service. “That comes from my father,â€? Gorden says of the Rev. H.P. Gorden, a Methodist minister. “Back in the 1940s, he was actively involved in voter registration. He was always involved in something trying to make things better for people. That stuck with me.â€? When Gorden stepped away from being athletics director in 1994, he began ďŹ lling his calendar with board and organization meetings, church activities and speaking engagements.

W.C. Gorden served 15 years as head football coach at Jackson State. Gorden served on the city of Jackson Planning Board (1999–2006) and participated in renaming the Jackson International Airport as the JacksonEvers International Airport. He either serves or has served as a member of the following: UĂŠ>ÂŽi‡‡7ÂˆĂƒÂ…ĂŠÂœĂ•Â˜`>ĂŒÂˆÂœÂ˜ UĂŠ Â˜ĂŒiĂ€ÂŤĂ€ÂˆĂƒiĂŠ ÂœÂ“Â“Ă•Â˜ÂˆĂŒĂžĂŠÂœĂ›iĂ€Â˜>˜Vi Structure Citizens Advisory Board UĂŠ>VÂŽĂƒÂœÂ˜Â‡ˆ˜`ĂƒĂŠ ÂœÂ“ÂŤĂ€iÂ…iÂ˜ĂƒÂˆĂ›iĂŠi>Â?ĂŒÂ…ĂŠ Center of Central Mississippi Board UĂŠ/ÂœĂœÂ˜ĂŠ Ă€iiÂŽĂŠ/Ă€ÂˆLĂ•ĂŒ>ÀÞʛ{ĂŠ Ă€>ˆ˜>}i Improvement for Georgetown Community Committee UÊ£™™ÇÊ/Ă€>Â˜ĂƒÂˆĂŒÂˆÂœÂ˜ĂŠ/i>“Ê/>ĂƒÂŽĂŠÂœĂ€ViĂŠÂœÂ˜ Parks and Recreation in the city of Jackson (chairman) UĂŠÂ?}iLĂ€>ĂŠ*Ă€ÂœÂ?iVĂŒĂŠLÂœ>Ă€`ĂŠ>ĂŒĂŠ>˜ˆiĂ€ High School.

He is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District, where he was instrumental in helping to acquire the Nissan water contract for the city of Jackson. The district provides drinking water for

Jackson, Hinds County and ďŹ ve other counties. “I don’t miss coaching,â€? says the Nashville, Tenn., native. “I am exposed to so much more history and culture now because of the various activities I am involved with. I love what I am doing, and I enjoy doing things for the community.â€? Gorden’s foray into public affairs exposed the Tennessee State University graduate to diversity he never knew in the male-dominated military and athletics. “When I was in high school, I was a part of all-boys football and baseball teams. The same was true when I was in college,â€? Gorden says. “When I went to the service in the early 1950s during the Korean conict, I was a part of an allmale Army. As a coach for 40 years, I coached all-male athletic teams. “I never want to be a part of an all-male organization ever again,â€? Gorden says, laughing. JAZZ ENTHUSIAST OWNS 5,000+ CDs When Gorden ďŹ nds time to relax, a day hardly passes that the 77-year-old grandfather of ďŹ ve doesn’t indulge in his favorite pastime, listening to jazz music. He has more than 5,000 CDs and albums in his collection. They are carefully cataloged in notebooks by songs, titles, composers and time of release. He rates each song on a ďŹ ve-star system, like TV Guide does with movies. If he really likes a particular selection, it gets ďŹ ve stars. Anything under a three, Gorden doesn’t listen to very often. An example of a â€œďŹ veâ€? in Gorden’s collection is composer pianist Thelonious Monk’s “‘Round Midnight.â€? Duke Ellington, Cole Porter and J. Van Heusen are some of his favorite composers. “I like jazz because, like blues, you can feel it. Jazz is improvisational music,â€? he says. “It’s a high-class of interpretive music.â€? PROUDEST OF PLAYER GRAD RATES Gorden devotes the same kind of commitment and energy to his civic activities and jazz music as he did to coaching. He was one of the most successful coaches in NCAA Division I-AA history with a 119–48–5 career record over 15 years. His teams won or tied eight Southwestern Athletic Conference championships and made eight trips to the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs.

He has been inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and the SWAC Sports Hall of Fame, and he is a recipient of the All-American Football Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. Gorden’s Tigers won an unprecedented 28 straight SWAC games from 1985–89. During his 24-year coaching afďŹ liation (he served nine years as an assistant) with the Tiger program, 65 JSU players were drafted into the NFL; 22 were selected as All Americans, including ďŹ rstround draft picks Walter Payton, Robert Brazile, Donald Reese and Jerome Barkhum; and seven of his assistant coaches moved on to head football coaching jobs. Reecting back on his coaching career, Gorden pointed to his team’s graduation rate, the league titles won and leading the nation in attendance as signiďŹ cant accomplishments. “I am most proud of our graduation rate,â€? says Gorden. “The NCAA began reporting graduation rates in 1980. Jackson State led all schools in the SWAC and the state of Mississippi, graduating 61.9 percent of our football players. “It was important to us that our athletes remembered that they were students ďŹ rst and then athletes. “The SWAC titles we won are all memorable and the fact that we set Division I-AA attendance records is something that I am proud of,â€? Gorden adds. It was no accident that Gorden was highly successful as a coach. He was a well-organized, meticulous planner. From personnel, travel and game plans to the intricacies of contract negotiations and promotional ventures, nothing was too large or small for Gorden to devote his full attention. Some of his innovations as a head coach included developing rating systems for awarding football scholarships and evaluating assistant coaches, instituting a checklist of football coaching responsibilities, and writing a manual titled “Ideas and Concepts for Managing Athletics at Jackson State University.â€? Gorden strives for perfection in whatever he does, but he never loses track of his core values. “The three things in life I value most,â€? says Gorden, “are religion, family and my football coaching career.â€?


Paul Covington, a former head basketball coach and athletics director at Jackson State University, has been selected for induction into the BancorpSouth Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

BY SAM JEFFERSON


“HE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST COACHES IN THE SWAC TO USE THE ZONE DEFENSE EFFECTIVELY. IN FACT, WE WON A SWAC CHAMPIONSHIP BECAUSE OF THE ZONE DEFENSE WE PLAYED. HE WAS ONE OF THE BEST XS AND OS COACHES YOU COULD FIND.” — AARON SELLERS, WHO PLAYED FOR PAUL COVINGTON FROM 1964–68 Paul Covington, former Jackson State University head basketball coach and athletics director, will be inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame during ceremonies of the 46th Annual BancorpSouth Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Weekend on Aug. 1–2. “It’s a tremendous honor for me,” says Covington. “To be selected ... is a humbling experience. It’s the culmination of my career.” The Lexington, Ky., native spent almost a half century as a player, coach and athletics administrator at JSU. A three-sport letterman at Douglas High in Lexington, Covington was recruited to Jackson State in 1952 as a guard on the basketball team by Harrison B. Wilson, a native Kentuckian who was the Tigers’ head basketball coach at the time.

Paul Covington served as the Tigers head basketball coach for 19 seasons. Paul Covington and his wife, Mariam, have three children: Sheryl, Paul Jr. and Vivian. They also have four grandchildren: Paul III, David, Dana and Patrice. Covington will join 11 other former JSU athletes who have been inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. They are Robert Brazile (2007), Jackie Slater (2003), T.B. Ellis (2002), Purvis Short (2000), Walter Reed (1999), W.C. Gorden (1997), Walter Payton (1993), Marion Henley (1993), Harold Jackson (1989), Lem Barney (1986) and Willie Richardson (1979).

How Wilson enticed Covington and three other Kentucky prep stars to leave the Blue Grass State and head south to Mississippi may have involved a small degree of deception. “He showed us some pictures of palm trees and beaches,” Covington says, laughing. “I am still looking for the palm trees and beaches.” ‘COACHING WAS JUST A PART OF ME’ Covington, a point guard, played four years

for the Tigers and was named All Midwestern Athletic Conference two years. The Tigers were 95–19 during Covington’s tenure as a player. Jackson State won 20 or more games each year he played. He helped lead the team to a 29–4 record his senior year. After graduating in 1956, he spent two years in the Army. He married his high school sweetheart, Mariam, in 1957. Covington took his first coaching job in 1958 at Higgins High in Clarksdale, Miss., where he won three conference titles in four years. His next stop was at Coahoma Junior College in Clarksdale, where he promptly guided his team to the state championship. After the championship season at Coahoma, Wilson called on Covington again. This time no deception was necessary. Wilson offered Covington an assistant coaching job on his staff; he jumped at the offer. “It was like throwing a rabbit in the briar patch,” says Covington. “That’s what I wanted to do – coach basketball on the college level. I loved the atmosphere, the environment – coaching was just a part of me.” Mariam says they took a salary cut to come to Jackson State. “We felt it was best for Paul’s career, so we were happy to make the move.” ‘MORE THAN A COACH’ During the four years Covington served as Wilson’s assistant, the Tigers were 88–27. In 1967, Wilson left Jackson State and took the head basketball coaching job at Tennessee State University in Nashville. T.B. Ellis, thenJackson State athletics director, tapped Covington to replace Wilson. Covington served as the Tigers’ head coach for 19 seasons, compiling a 327–190 career record. His teams won or tied for six Southwestern Athletic Conference championships, made several trips to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics District 27 playoffs, and were 20-plus game winners seven times. He won back-to-back SWAC titles in 1973– 74 and 1974–75. His other conference titles came in 1968 and 1970, and he tied for the league crown in 1982. His 1974–75 team was ranked No. 1 in the nation for several weeks by most of the NCAA Division II national polls.

That team finished the year with a 25–4 record. He guided the Tigers to a winning record 14 of his first 15 years as head coach. During his coaching career, Covington gained a reputation as an innovative coach and an outstanding recruiter who could relate to his players. “Covington was more than a coach,” says Aaron Sellers, who played for Covington from 1964–68. “He was a great motivator, a friend, a family man and he was very smart. “He was one of the first coaches in the SWAC to use the zone defense effectively,” continues Sellers, who served as a graduate assistant coach under Covington for two years. “In fact, we won a SWAC championship because of the zone defense we played. He was one of the best Xs and Os coaches you could find.” BECOMING ATHLETICS DIRECTOR During Covington’s tenure as head coach, he signed some of the top blue-chip players in Mississippi. He recruited brothers Eugene and Purvis Short, two highly sought after forwards from Hattiesburg, Miss. The Shorts went on to become first-round NBA picks. He also signed widely recruited brothers Sylvester and Audie Norris of Jackson, Miss., who also were drafted into the NBA following their collegiate careers. Other prep superstars Covington brought to JSU included Sellers, John Shinall, Robert Wash, Al Smith, Kenny O’Banner, Henry Ward, Ricky Berry and Glendale Jones. He also landed Jerry Patton from Holly Bluff, Miss., who averaged more than 40 points per game during his senior year in high school. After retiring from coaching in 1986, Covington served as the Tigers assistant athletics director until 1995. He dealt primarily with compliance, and he was highly regarded for his knowledge and interpretation of NCAA and conference rules. He was selected as Jackson State’s acting athletics director in 1995 and was named athletics director in 1996, a post he worked until his retirement in 1999. So, what does Covington do now to keep himself busy? “I play golf almost every day it doesn’t rain. I cut the grass and I do everything my wife asks me to do,” Covington says, smiling.


IN MEMORIAM

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IN MEMORIAM BY TOMMIEA P. JACKSON

Domestic violence affects the lives of thousands of women, children and men everyday, but few people ever discuss it. That is changing around the campus of Jackson State University following the tragic death of Latasha Danielle Norman. Students, faculty and staff are talking and sponsoring a number of activities focused on preventing similar events. The country responded to the story about a beautiful young woman reported missing after a class on Nov. 13, 2007. Jackson media outlets including The Clarion-Ledger and WLBT-TV joined national media outlets such as “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” CNN’s “Nancy Grace” and “America’s Most Wanted” in spreading the word. Unfortunately, after 16 days of searches and prayer vigils on and off campus, Latasha’s body was found in a wooded area of Hinds County. Her former boyfriend has been accused in her slaying. “Tasha,” as her friends and family called her, was a talented young woman who dreamed of opening an accounting firm in her hometown of Greenville, Miss., with her cousin, Takesha Norman. She worked in the Office of Student Publications, often volunteering for the campus newspaper and the yearbook, and served as the Student Government Association representative for the campus’ Accounting Society. Bright, hardworking and committed are just a few words her family members use to describe the 20-year-old junior. She loved baking pound cakes with her grandmother, Bertha, 81, who raised her, and playing basketball with her mother, Patricia, and brothers Deshun, 28, and Danny, 16. “She was very goal-oriented and very independent,” says Freddy Norman, a Jackson State alumnus who works as a graphic artist and photographer at the university. “Tasha always liked to do things on her own.” Norman, who refers to her not as his niece but his little sister, says her death has been a wake-up call of sorts for the public. “I think that Tasha’s death really brought to the forefront the issue of date violence. It got people to start having a dialogue on date violence.” As difficult as the experience has been, Norman says the public support helped his family stay strong. “It was very touching to get all of the cards and calls from people all over the country. Those things helped us stay encouraged and positive throughout the whole ordeal.” TRIUMPH FROM TRAGEDY Though heartbreaking for her biological family and the Jackson State family, Latasha’s life has become an opportunity for teaching. The university has implemented

conventional and unconventional means of educating the campus and larger community about safety, particularly when it comes to romantic relationships. “We’ve had more students willing to speak out and say they, too, are victims,” says Melissa Benford, coordinator of Project S.T.A.R.S. (Students/Sisters Taking a Radical Stand). “We’ve increased our presence on the campus as more organizations are inviting us to share information with them.” Jasmin Searcy has been instrumental in coming up with some of those nontraditional means to inform students. “I’ve found that students like to see things that are different,” says Searcy, Miss Jackson State University 2007–08, whose platform is Project CHANGES, an acronym for Challenging Humans to Adopt New Goals for Everyday Situations. “They like to get involved in something and learn at the same time.” Searcy sponsored the “Run-A-Way” fashion show to present the different faces of abuse, and “Fashion With a Purpose” to share information about domestic violence, breast cancer, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. “Latasha’s life has taught me to always keep my eyes open. You never know what a person is going through.” Before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 1,500 who attended Latasha’s memorial service on Dec. 3, 2007, at the Rose Embly McCoy Auditorium, President Ronald Mason Jr. announced the establishment of the Latasha Norman Abuse Prevention Fund. The fund will support Jackson State’s newly renamed counseling center, which was created in September and is now housed in the

43

Melissa Benford

Jasmin Searcy


IN MEMORIAM new campus union building. The Latasha Norman Center for Social and Clinical Counseling helps students by offering stress management, conflict resolution and support counseling. As calls for counseling on campus increase, counselors are beginning to focus their efforts on prevention. “We are constantly telling people that they don’t have to suffer in silence,” says Frankie Pellerin, associate director of the center. The College of Business, in which Latasha studied, has established the Latasha Norman Symposium on Domestic and Date Violence. With the first symposium during October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Dr. Glenda Glover, dean, says participants will examine issues of domestic violence from economic and legal aspects.

44

ORGANIZING MAY AID IN PREVENTION Many campus organizations have joined in the fight to protect women from domestic violence. Jackson State’s Southern Institute for Mental Health Advocacy, Research and Training is among the groups offering special programs geared toward prevention and awareness. Among the events was the “Love Does Not Hurt” Town Hall Meeting on Domestic Violence on Feb. 12. The gathering brought more than 100 participants who received information from outside agencies including Catholic Charities and the state attorney general’s office. As organizations reach out to give a voice to victims of domestic violence, Kira Johnson hopes to pool together resources to create a stronger impact. “We’d like to develop a clearinghouse and model that other historically black colleges and universi-

ties can use and implement on their campuses,” says Johnson, who organized the town hall meeting. “Part of that is organizing.” Johnson, policy analyst/advocacy specialist at JSU’s SMHART Institute, is also a survivor of domestic violence. She recalls the morning that her ex-boyfriend placed a gun to her head. “That could have easily been the end of my life that morning,” says the JSU social work doctoral student. Ironically, Johnson says she never considered herself a “victim” until Latasha’s death. “I don’t think I ever would have told it had it not been for Latasha’s situation. “When everything happened with me, I never really identified myself as a person being abused. I never talked about it in that way.” In sharing her own story, Johnson hopes other women will be safer. Any person in a violent relationship needs to understand two important things, she says. First, getting out will take time and requires a plan. “It took time to get into this; a lot of time it takes time to get out,” she says. Also, now happily married, Johnson says it is possible to move on and lead a fruitful life. “You can get out, and you can have a healthy relationship afterward. You can be OK.”

Frankie Pellerin

For more information, call the Latasha Norman Center for Social and Clinical Counseling at 601-9792203 or the SMHART Institute at 601979-1536. Kira Johnson

MARGARET DIXON

Margaret Dixon, a convenience store cashier in the Jackson State University Department of Food Services, passed away Oct. 5, 2007.

DAVID PARKER David Parker, a mover in the Jackson State University Department of Facilities and Construction Management, died March 5, 2008. He was the husband of Linda Parker, assistant community director of the Transitional Residence Hall.


CLASS NOTES ANNA JACKSON (’61), of Jackson, Miss., coaches the nationally ranked Lady Mustangs at Murrah High School. She led her team to win its eighth 5A state championship, the second in a row. The Lady Mustangs are ranked No. 2 in the state, No. 4 in the South and No. 8 in the nation by USA Today. WILLIE JEAN HALL (’63), of Greenwood, Miss., is the first woman to serve as the Leflore County Schools superintendent. Hall held numerous positions in the educational arena before holding the county’s top education spot, including teacher, principal and assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and professional development.

JUDGE TERRI FLEMING LOVE (’83), a native of Birmingham, Ala., was one of 20 judges from the U.S. selected by the International Judicial Academy to attend the 2007 Sir Richard May Seminar on International Law conducted in The Hague, Netherlands. The weeklong training included lectures from leading international lawyers and organization officials. Participants visited the international courts and dispute resolution tribunals located in The Hague. Love has served as a judge in the state of Louisiana for more than 12 years. THELMA GREEN (’85), is principal of New Haven Middle School in Indiana. She has served in education for nearly 30 years. She previously worked as a special education teacher at Heritage Junior/Senior High School. In 2000, she became dean of students at Paul Harding High School, then served as assistant principal for five years. She holds a master’s degree from Jackson State University. SHIRLEY TUCKER (’89), was recognized as a 2008 honoree of Jackson 2000, an organization founded 20 years ago to focus on racial reconciliation. Tucker, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., works at the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership, where she serves as executive director of Leadership Greater Jackson. She also is a YMCA board president and member of the Junior League of Jackson.

ANN BARGAINS (’70), a Vicksburg, Miss., native, has accepted the position of associate director of Equal Employment Opportunity for the Department of Interior National Parks in Atlanta, Ga. VERN GAVIN (’72, ’76), a banker and real-estate agent, was recently named Hinds County administrator. The Clinton, Miss., resident has a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in accounting. DR. LINDA D. JOHNSON (’74), a native of Richland, Miss., was recently nominated Optometrist of the Year and Optometrist of the South by the Mississippi Optometric Association. Both awards are given annually to recognize significant contributions to the profession of optometry. Johnson will be named the American Optometric Association OD of the Year in Seattle, Wash., at the AOA Congress in July. This is the highest award presented to an optometrist in the nation. LEROY ELDER, (’76), a native of Belzoni, Miss., is founder and pastor of the Daybreak United Methodist Church in Humble, Texas. Elder holds a master of divinity from Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Mo.

DR. KATRINA LACKEY-DAVIS (’90), has been promoted to associate professor of the Division of Obstetrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Ark. Lackey-Davis earned a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, in Memphis, Tenn. MELVIN PETE (’90), was recently named Coach of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writer Association, after his Central High School football team won the Class 4A title. Central completed the first 15–0 season in the school’s history. DR. DEBRA MAYS-JACKSON (‘91), is Forest Hill High School’s first female principal. The 39-year-old administrator is married to George Torrie Jackson Jr., who is a principal at S.V. Marshall High School in Tchula, Miss. They are both Jackson State graduates. CHARLOTTE V. HIGHTOWER-JONES (’92), a native of Memphis, Tenn., was recently named deputy center director of Shreveport Job Corps Center. Jones has worked with Job Corps and MINACT Inc. since 1999.


STACY HAWKINS ADAMS (’93), a native of Arkansas, is a nationally acclaimed author, speaker and freelance journalist whose latest work is a novella titled “This Far By Faith.” JÁ HON VANCE (’93, ’97, ’98), a native of Detroit, Mich., has been invited back to England to participate in the distinguished Oxford Round Table for a second time. Last summer, he was among about 40 educators from across the world who were hand-picked to participate in the prestigious gathering. Vance, an English professor at Baltimore City Community College in Maryland, will again present “The Historical, Religious and Spiritual Presence of Historically Black Colleges and Universities that Enhanced the Quality of Life for African Americans/Blacks in America.” Vance is the founder of JV Educational Consultants. TRACY CLEMONS-FRAZIER (’94), a Montessori teacher at McWillie Elementary School in Jackson, Miss., was chosen as the Jackson Public Schools 2007–08 Teacher of the Year. She began teaching at Davis Magnet School in 1994 before moving to McWillie in 2000. DR. RHONDA ODOM-FUNCHES (‘97), a Jackson, Miss., native, operates Grace and Mercy Medical Clinic, a family medical facility in south Jackson. She earned her doctor of medicine degree from the University of Mississippi Medical Center. ROISHINA CLAY HENDERSON (’99), a native of Greenville, Miss., will release her debut novel titled “Make Me Whole,” in fall 2008. Henderson is a former writer for The Clarion-Ledger and currently works as a public relations professional in state government in Atlanta, Ga. DR. DENISE HOOKS-ANDERSON (’99), a native of Ashdown, Ark., recently started a family medical practice in Richmond Heights, Mo. Hooks-Anderson earned her medical degree from the University of Iowa College of Medicine and completed her residency at Lincoln Family Practice Residency. She is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and National Medical Association. DR. CHANDRA MAYERS-ELDER (’99), a native of Brandon, Miss., was recently accepted to Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, on a Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship. She will begin her fellowship in July 2008. CHEF ROBERT RHYMES (’99), was recently hired as the director of the Coahoma Community College culinary arts program, where he has been instrumental in organizing a trip for five of his culinary students to visit Le Cordon Bleu Paris cooking school.

CHARLINDA MILLER FLORENCE (’02), is an assistant public defender in Hinds County, where she works in criminal defense. She also is the solo practitioner in the Law Office of Charlinda M. Florence, PLLC, where she practices family law. Florence has been an attorney since 2006. JASON ROBINSON (’02), has been named business development brand manager at GodwinGroup in Jackson, Miss. He previously worked as an account executive with TRL Systems in Ontario, Calif. Robinson has a bachelor’s degree in business administration in marketing from Jackson State University. CHASITY Q. BUCKNER (’03, ’08), an eighth-grade science teacher at Siwell Middle School in Jackson, Miss., was selected New Science Teacher of the Year for the state of Mississippi in October 2007 by the Mississippi Science Teachers Association. The award is given annually to educators who have been teaching for three years or less. Buckner also received the Maitland Simmons Memorial Award in March 2006 from the National Science Teachers Association. She also was a recipient of a $5,000 grant, Recruiting and Retaining Educators for America’s Children, through the U.S. Department of Education. ERICA M. JORDAN (’03), has joined Bristol-Myers Squibb as a primary care associate territory business manager. Prior to joining the global pharmaceutical company, Jordan was employed as a recruiter/publicist for the Jackson State University School of Health Sciences. ERICA GREENE (’05, ’07), has joined IMS Engineers in Jackson, Miss., as the executive assistant to the president and chief operating officer. Green has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from Jackson State University. BYRON GIPSON (’07), a native of Webb, Miss., has been named the first Adam W. Herbert Graduate Fellow at Indiana University. The fellowship was created to support graduate study, especially in the fields of science, technology and mathematics, at IU for graduates of historically black colleges and universities. According to IU, Gipson participated in summer research programs at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and IU, where last summer he was a part of the Summer Scholars Institute for Students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

If you would like to be included in the Class Notes section of The Jacksonian, please e-mail your news to publicrelations@jsums.edu. Class Notes can include, but are not limited to, significant achievements such as recent promotions and awards.


COLLEGE OF BUSINESS The College of Business recognized students, faculty and staff for their outstanding accomplishments on April 1 during its 25th Annual Awards Banquet. The college also acknowledged community and business partners for their financial support. The college has awarded more than $500,000 for scholarships and faculty and staff development over the past five years. One of the highlights of the year included Union Pacific being named the College of Business Corporate Partner of the Year for the third consecutive year. Contributions from Union Pacific to the College of Business totaled $360,000 during the 2007–08 academic year. COLLEGE OF EDUCATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT The Harris-Gambrell Reading Center, named for Drs. Joyce Harris and Virgia Gambrell, was started in January to address reading deficiencies in elementary students by providing diagnostic and prescriptive services. Certified teachers in the master of science in reading program will provide services. The College of Education and Human Development held its first Ruth R. Searcy Literacy Conference in January. It featured representatives from the Barksdale Reading Institute, Mississippi Children’s Museum, Children’s Defense Fund, Tougaloo College and Jackson Public Schools. COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS Approximately 40 faculty members and students in the College of Liberal Arts have presented papers at regional and national conferences during the 2007–08 academic year. In September 2007, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy funding of more than $185,000 for its sixth national summer seminar, which will be held June 15–27 to teach community college educators about the civil rights movement. More than 600 participants from across the country attended a three-day conference Feb. 9–11 titled “Forty Years of Black Studies.” The conference was sponsored by the Margaret Walker Alexander Center for the Study of the Twentieth Century African American. COLLEGE OF LIFELONG LEARNING The College of Lifelong Learning sponsored a national and regional conference on Nov. 13, 2007, and March 28–29 respectively, on violence prevention in schools, colleges and universities. A total of 530 educators, social workers and other professionals attended these conferences. In November 2007, the Southwest Mississippi World Class Teaching Initiative in the College of Lifelong Learning provided mentoring to its 218th teacher who was successful in becoming a National Board Certified Teacher. For academic year 2007–08, the College of Lifelong Learning received $758,472 in external funds to support the following projects: Migrant Education Project, Center for the Advancement of Teachers Educating Youngsters Project, Adult Literacy Program, Adult Basic Education and the National Board Certification Program. COLLEGE OF PUBLIC SERVICE The School of Social Work, College of Public Service culminated its year-long celebration of the Ph.D. program’s 10 years of excellence with a banquet on April 25. Eighteen students have graduated since the inception of the program. The School of Health Sciences sponsored a series of events April 7–11 to highlight National Public Health Week. A 2K walk, luncheon, health expo and other free events were held. This is the fourth year Jackson State University has celebrated the national observance. COLLEGE OF SCIENCE, ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY The College of Science, Engineering and Technology received more than $21 million in federally funded grants and contracts during the 2007–08 academic year. Among other accomplishments, the college has presented 322 papers in professional conferences, had three faculty members to publish books, and established international collaborations with China, India, Poland, South Africa and Hungary. In addition, the Department of Physics, Atmospheric Sciences and Geoscience has produced one-fourth of all African-American meteorologists in the nation.


DIVISION OF GRADUATE STUDIES Four Jackson State University students won first- and second-place awards for their scientific research presentations at the Alliance for Graduate Education in Mississippi Winter Scholar Symposium in January. Representatives of the division also presented papers on “Cyber Orientation and Advising” and “Graduate Retention.” Dr. Dorris Robinson-Gardner, dean of the division, was elected to the board of the Council of Graduate Schools, a national organization that awards 90 percent of all U.S. doctorates and 75 percent of all U.S. master’s degrees. Elected in February 2007, Robinson-Gardner will serve until 2010. DIVISION OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES The Mississippi Consortium for International Development and state Sen. Hillman Frazier hosted the governor and a delegation of legislators and executive staff from the Benue State in Nigeria April 7–11 during International Week. The focus of the visit was to build democracy in Nigeria by improving accountability, transparency, budgeting, constituent relations, lobbying, agriculture and education. During the fall 2007 semester, the division also hosted student participants of the Near East South Asia Project. Funded by the U.S. Department of State, 10 students from Egypt, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain and Tunisia spent a semester at Jackson State. DIVISION OF STUDENT LIFE The HIV/AIDS Project sponsored a program on Valentine’s Day that focused on black history and the current effects of the AIDS epidemic on the African-American community. Rae Lewis Thornton, a national HIV/AIDS activist and author, was the featured speaker. The U.S. Department of Education awarded the Division of Student Life a $250,000 grant to revive its Upward Bound Program, which will accommodate up to 50 high school students from Forrest Hill, Jim Hill, Lanier, Provine and Wingfield high schools in Jackson for summer 2008. DIVISION OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDIES The Division of Undergraduate Studies inducted 19 student-athletes into Chi Alpha Sigma Honor Society during Honors Week at JSU, which was held April 21–24. Chi Alpha Sigma is a charter chapter, one of only two in Mississippi. The W.E.B. DuBois Honors College hosted the Committee on Institutional Cooperation on Jan. 28. Representatives of CIC institutions shared information on paid summer research internships and graduate opportunities with students, faculty, staff and administrators. MeShonya Wren-Daniel, coordinator of advisement, made presentations at the Mississippi Advising Conference in November 2007 and the National Academic Advising Association Region IV Conference in Mobile, Ala., March 9–11. Both presentations demonstrated Jackson State’s successful Dual Academic Advising Model (pairing first-year faculty advisers with professional advisers) to effectively advise first- and second-year students. DIVISION OF LIBRARY & INFORMATION RESOURCES New electronic resources recently have been made available at Jackson State University. The Chronicle of Higher Education is a familiar resource now available through a recently acquired site license. It is available under “Journals.” “Credo Reference” is a multi-disciplinary database of 298 reference sources that includes dictionaries, encyclopedias and handbooks and is available under “databases.” Dr. Melissa Druckrey, dean of Library & Information Resources, and Jama Lumumba, reference/bibliographic librarian, attended the HBCU Library Alliance Leadership Institute Aug. 10–15, 2007. The purpose of the institute is to prepare leaders in dealing with complex issues facing libraries. OFFICE OF RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT AND FEDERAL RELATIONS Jackson State University received $2 million from Oak Ridge National Laboratory under the Southeast Region Research Initiative, or SERRI, program to develop multi-purpose, multi-scale storm surge and flood forecasting for planning and preparedness (MSFP2). Dr. Shahrouz Aliabadi, Northrop Grumman professor of engineering and director of the Northrop Grumman Center for High Performance Computing, is the principal investigator and project director of this new initiative. In March 2008, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security awarded Jackson State $3.4 million over the next six years to establish a Homeland Security Center of Excellence. JSU is the first and only HBCU in the country to co-lead such a competitive center.


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Jacksonian Spring/Summer 2008  

Jackson State University magazine

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