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FALL 2012

Jackson State sets stage for

the future Campus celebrates inauguration

Female faculty advance

African-American lawmakers honored

FALL 2012 Volume 11, No. 1

22) JSU sets stage for the future

By the time today’s preschoolers reach college age, Jackson State University will offer quite a different experience than it does today. Enrollment is projected to swell from 9,000 to 15,000. The student body will be more diverse, with many students earning their degrees entirely online. The campus and neighborhood will be transformed with business and housing developments connecting the campus to downtown Jackson, and an on-campus football stadium will make west Jackson a statewide destination.

6) White House internship

28) Alum’s Memphis charter school renews hope

Senior Tiffany Edmondson lives her dream with White House internship and summer job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

To hundreds of parents in an economically depressed North Memphis community, JSU alum the Rev. Anthony Anderson holds the key to a successful future for their children.

12) $3.5M program encourages

34) Cassandra Wilson headlines ‘Jazz on the Plaza’

launches summer job in D.C.

advancement of female faculty

A $3.5 million National Science Foundation grant launches JSUAdvance, which expands opportunities for JSU’s female faculty to publish research, travel internationally and prepare for top-level university positions.

18) Campus, community celebrate President Meyers’ inauguration Jacksonians welcome city, state and national leaders and visitors to mark the inauguration of the university’s 10th and first female president, Dr. Carolyn W. Meyers.

Grammy Award-winning vocalist and JSU alum Cassandra Wilson joins JSU’s jazz musicians and singers as the guest artist at the university’s annual outdoor concert, Jazz on the Plaza.

ON THE COVER: Karrington Mitchell graduates from JSU’s Lottie W. Thornton Early Childhood Center. Photo by Frank Wilson

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Dear Jacksonians, As president of Jackson State University, I have the privilege of working with committed faculty, staff, alumni and supporters who share a unity of purpose — to make our students’ dreams come true. This oneness of purpose has allowed us over our 135-year history to remain steadfast in pursuing excellence and developing the talents of all who pass through the doors of our great university. This issue of The Jacksonian reflects the results of such efforts. Its pages tell the stories of outstanding students, such as Tiffany Edmondson who spent part of her junior year living her dream as a White House intern. It tells the stories of extraordinary JSU graduates, such as the Rev. Anthony Anderson whose Memphis charter school is bringing newfound hope to children and families in an economically depressed community. You also will read about our alumni and supporters, who are stepping up as never before to help more students live their dreams. Thanks to such support, JSU received in one year $7.5 million. These contributions directly affect the lives of our students while supporting worthy university projects and research. And, you will read a cover story offering a glimpse into Jackson State University’s future. I expect you’ll like what you see. We have set plans in motion that will impact generations to come in ways more extraordinary than ever imagined. This issue of The Jacksonian — its pages filled with pictures and stories of accomplishment — is indeed a reminder that our strength and greatness is derived from our unity of purpose. Enjoy the issue, all the while remembering — We are ONE Jackson State. Sincerely, Carolyn W. Meyers, Ph.D. President, Jackson State University

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Turning the campus a...

Deeper shade of Green by Deanne Applewhite


amika Smith, a Jackson State University student, is the driving force behind a new and far-reaching “Go Green” movement that’s sweeping across campus. Smith, first-place winner of Toyota’s Go Green Initiative recently introduced at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, is encouraging fellow students to “go green.” “I want to instill the green movement in them and show them how we can make a few changes each day to make a difference,” says Smith, a senior mass communications major and a Toyota brand ambassador. Her efforts in getting the word out about JSU’s environmentally responsible practices earned her the automaker’s national award. Those efforts included organizing a Prius test drive on Earth Day in April. She also detailed information about JSU’s environmentally responsible practices, including the placement of highly visible recycling bins across campus. Not all practices, however, are so visible. For example, the School of Engineering utilizes a porous parking lot designed to capture oil and other potential contaminants. The building also has an underground storage tank that collects rainwater for a sprinkler system, and its roof ’s

light color reflects the sun’s heat. An energy management system allows air conditioning to be adjusted remotely, fluorescent bulbs installed in light fixtures are programmed to shut off after 15 minutes when not in use, and solar panels power some police-call stations. A battery-charging station for electric vehicles also has been installed. Smith says students can adopt many environmentally responsible changes as simple as unplugging electronics when not in use, using recycling bins, switching to energy-saving fluorescent bulbs and ditching gas-guzzling vehicles. “There’s always an opportunity to become more green,” says Marlin King, assistant director of projects and construction management at JSU. He notes the university is continuing to look at what other universities are doing for sustainability and adopting the best practices. When making eco-friendly decisions, Smith says JSU needs to consider the three “legs” sustainability — environmental, economic and social. And, Smith says, “Students should always feel involved.

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whi t e house

internship l aunche s washing t on summe r job by Monica Atkins


iffany Edmondson quickly became versed in Washington politics, not as an elected official but as an intern. But she could as well have taken a page from a candidate’s handbook. That is, if you want something, go after it. And don’t quit on the first try. “It’s one of those dreams that appears hard to accomplish,” the Jackson native says. “But you won’t know whether you can get there unless you try. I tried and tried, over and over again.” Edmondson’s path to the nation’s capital started early in her academic career. The mass communications major, with a minor in political science, applied for internships at the White House for two consecutive years, and was rejected each time. This last time, however, she applied for a different internship — also at the White House — and was accepted. In fact, she was the only applicant of several from JSU who got the call to come to Washington. “I applied for the White House Correspondence Associates Program and had my first interview only a month after I applied,” says Edmondson, who will be a senior this fall. “I have to admit, I was nervous because of the competitiveness of the program, but I reminded myself I was qualified through my education with the mass communications department.” From January through early May, Edmondson worked as an operator for the White House Comment Line and responded to correspondence on behalf of President Barack Obama. While she has yet to meet the president, she did attend a function at which he was present. “We both attended the White House Arrival Ceremony for British Prime Minister David Cameron. He walked

right in front of me, and I took some great photos of him. Later on that day, the website showed the video, and I saw myself there on the front line. That moment was priceless,” Edmondson says. Following the internship, Edmonson remained in Washington for the summer working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in its Research, Education and Economics branch. Helping coordinate support of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival was one of her many duties. “This opportunity allowed me to learn about the various agencies and the work that the USDA does all over the world,” she says. Edmondson’s years at JSU prepared her well for such a role. She spent the 2007-08 school year in Taiwan, studying Mandarin. Inspired by her trip, she and other students founded the China Initiatives University Club. “What I’ve learned has enabled me to adapt in diverse environments and networks,” says Edmondson, who will graduate in December. “You need the academics because you have to be knowledgeable and know how to apply what you have learned in various situations.” At JSU, Edmondson also has been very active on campus and in the community. She serves as a staff writer and photographer for the Blue & White Flash student newspaper and as a producer for JSU22. She also was president of the National Association of Black Journalists chapter in 2008-09 and an Academic Council senator for the Student Government Association. While a job in Washington obviously is not every student’s dream, Edmondson’s advice to underclassmen still resonates: “Never accept no as an answer; believe in yourself and do what it takes to accomplish your goals.”


Message to graduates:

‘Tell this world who you are’ M

ore than 1,600 students received hard-earned bachelor’s, master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees during two ceremonies at spring commencement. Cory Booker, famed mayor of Newark, N.J., addressed the 1,321 undergraduates at the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium. He told them to stand up for what they believe — to continue the fight for freedom and justice for all. “If you stand and tell your truth, you will be the generation that makes real on the promise of this country,” Booker said. “You all have an obligation to stand in this world and tell this world who you are.” During the commencement ceremony, Miss JSU Mea Ashley 2011-12 presented JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers with a check for $12,500 raised during her Miss JSU Queens Campaign. The donation is being matched

by Title III funds to create a $25,000 endowment for scholarships. Also included was a tribute to Dr. Dollye M.E. Robinson, former College of Liberal Arts dean, who earned emeritus status after 60 years at JSU. Jackson State alumnus Maj. Gen. Reuben D. Jones, deputy commanding general for operations at the Installation Management Command in San Antonio, Texas, commissioned three ROTC students into the Army. In his remarks, Jones credited his successful military career to his upbringing in west Jackson and his education at Jackson Public Schools and Jackson State. University of Pennsylvania scholar Marybeth Gasman delivered the commencement address to more than 300 master’s, specialist and Ph.D. candidates at the Lee E. Williams Athletics and Assembly Center. A historian of higher education, Gasman emphasized the importance of leadership and philanthropy.







[1] College of Liberal Arts interim associate dean Dr. Robert Blaine (left), Department of Military Science Battalion Executive Officer Lt. Col. Donald O. Young and JSU alum Maj. Gen. Reuben D. Jones share a light moment at the Army officer commissioning ceremony. [2] JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers (center) and JSU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs Dr. Mark G. Hardy honor graduate commencement speaker University of Pennsylvania scholar Marybeth Gasman. [3] Candidates celebrate during the graduate commencement ceremony. [4] 2nd Lt. Shaneka Jones (left), 2nd Lt. Bryan Fisher and 2nd Lt. Schmidt Belleus take the oath of office before Army Maj. Gen. Reuben D. Jones. [5] Undergraduates cheer at the announcement that their degrees are officially granted. [6] Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker addresses undergraduates. [7] Miss JSU Mea Ashley (right) presents JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers with a $12,500 check for scholarships. [8] Dean emeritus Dr. Dollye M.E. Robinson and provost and vice president for Academic Affairs Dr. Mark G. Hardy listen to the former dean’s tribute.








(From left) Biology professor Dr. Carolyn Howard, psychology professor Dr. Kaye Sly, undergraduate studies dean Dr. Evelyn Leggette, chemistry professor Dr. Ruomei Gao, assoc. vice president for research and scholarly engagement Dr. Loretta Moore, political science professor Dr. Michelle Deardorff, mathematics professor Dr. Jana Talley, technology professor Dr. Jessica Buck, administrative assistant Brenda Johnson, social work professor Dr. Olga Olsby and civil and environmental engineering professor Dr. Danuta Leszczynska participate in the JSUAdvance summer retreat at Twin Lakes Camp and Conference Center in Florence, Miss.

Bridging the Gap $3.5M JSUAdvance program grooms female faculty for top administrative positions

by jean gordon cook


hile traveling in India last year, biology professor Dr. Carolyn Howard spotted a plant adorned with green, almond-shaped leaves. It resembled a Nigerian plant that a fellow Jackson State University researcher had developed into an herbal remedy to ease the side effects of cancer treatment. Howard, who specializes in health disparities, cancer and obesity, got an idea for a new research endeavor. “I thought of a potential project to initiate a bioinformatics study about the vegetation in India to see which ones were the closest relative of the Nigerian plant,” she says. “The vegetation in India was just awesome.” Howard gives credit for her inspiration to a National Science Foundation-funded program at Jackson State University called JSUAdvance, which aims to help women faculty move up the academic ladder and transform the university’s institutional climate. Through a $3.5

million grant, the five-year project gives those who specialize in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics disciplines or the Social and Behavioral Sciences the chance to travel internationally, participate in summer writing retreats and be groomed for top-level university positions. Although female faculty serve in leadership positions at JSU and other universities, those in the STEM and SBS disciplines are notably less visible in university administration. Now in its second year, JSUAdvance has created a community of female academicians who are supporting each other and discovering new ways to work. Some have traveled to India and South Africa, where they formed partnerships with international colleagues. Others have taken part in the program’s summer writing retreats, where they not only had dedicated time to write, but also learned about projects in different disciplines.


“We know each other, but we don’t know each other’s research,” says Dr. Danuta Leszczynska, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering who is using this year’s retreat to write her research on the environmental impact of nanoparticles. “This is almost as important as doing my paper — knowing what each other is doing and seeing ways we might cross over and work together.” During the first part of the retreat, Leszczynska and nine others spent the week at the Twin Lakes Camp and Conference Center in Florence, Miss., where they stayed in lakefront cabins surrounded by tall pines. Their days were spent writing and collaborating in meetings. Their research papers and book projects were as diverse as their disciplines, with topics ranging from pregnancy discrimination to using photodynamic therapy to kill cancer cells to improving calculus education. “It’s really important to have designated time when no one knocks on my door to sit and think,” says Dr. Olga Olsby, a social work professor who is researching the impact grandfathers have on children they help raise. The writing retreat and JSUAdvance’s other programs help address issues that are particular to women in academia, says principal investigator Dr. Loretta Moore, associate vice president for research and scholarly engagement. In many cases, female faculty have spouses or partners who don’t work in academia, so they don’t fully understand the demands of the job.

Civil and environmental engineering professor Dr. Danuta Leszczynska says the summer writing retreat provided by JSUAdvance is important because it not only gives her dedicated time to document her research, but helps her get to know female colleagues throughout JSU.

Also, many of the women work with mostly male colleagues, and the women tend to have more family responsibilities than the men. “They seem to have less of a problem saying no,” says political science professor Dr. Michelle Deardorff of her male counterparts. “When we say no, it can become politically problematic.” Moore says JSUAdvance is helping the university understand the issues that impact women faculty and promote strategies that JSU and other Historically Black Colleges and Universities can adopt. In the fall, one or more female tenured professors will take part in an administrative sabbatical working alongside a dean or cabinet-level leader. Moore says the overall project is expected to foster a more inclusive culture at JSU. “At the end of the five years, we really should see a different institution that is more supportive and a better environment for equal opportunity,” Moore says, adding that other underrepresented faculty groups will benefit from lessons learned through JSUAdvance. Dean of Undergraduate Studies Dr. Evelyn Leggette, who is co-principal investigator of JSUAdvance and leader of the summer writing retreat, says the program provides valuable opportunities she didn’t have when she started teaching at JSU 32 years ago. “It’s a stark contrast to what was available when I was a junior faculty member,” she says. “I was on my own to balance research, teaching and all of my other responsibilities.”

Technology professor Dr. Jessica Buck (left) and biology professor Dr. Carolyn Howard (center) share their idea for a research project with Dr. Loretta Moore.

Social work professor Dr. Olga Olsby says the summer writing retreat frees her from her campus responsibilities so she can focus on writing.

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Meteorologist Edward Saint Pé (right) finds a new home at Jackson State University for his custom weathercast company.

WeatherVision company’s move to JSU improves job forecast for students by L.A. Warren


eteorologist Edward Saint Pé, a well-known fixture on television stations throughout the Southeast, has found a new home at Jackson State University for his custom weathercast company. WeatherVision, based in Jackson and launched in 1991, was the first company in the U.S. to provide outsourced weathercasts. It is housed at the Mississippi e-Center @JSU in south Jackson with the company’s low-power radio station, WLEZ-FM. Saint Pé, who worked for NBC in

New York during the early part of his career, had long envisioned forming a broadcast meteorology program at Jackson State. He credits JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers for bringing the idea to fruition. “Students will be able to take classes that are directly involved with TV broadcast of on-air meteorology as part of their coursework, like a laboratory,” Saint Pé says. The wide scope of WeatherVision — more than 100 stations in markets ranging from Miami to Memphis to

Rochester, N.Y. — will enable students to gain practical experience by doing live broadcasts for some of those stations as well as JSU TV. WeatherVision, planning to partner on sales and advertising projects with JSU’s mass communications and athletic departments, is further expected to increase exposure for the university by “allowing professors to be interviewed by other institutions and, perhaps, include distance learning applications,” Saint Pé says. The importance of exposure is a business tenet for Saint Pé. When changing technology made WeatherVision’s use of satellite uplink obsolete, he continued to make it available to major networks and cable outlets such as CNN and MSNBC when locals were booked for guest appearances or interviews. It gives Jackson a valuable “link to the national media,” Saint Pé says. In yet another avenue, WeatherVision’s trove of nearly 500 movies will help JSU TV broaden its programming. The movie segment of the company is tied to one of Saint Pé’s personal passions — acting. He is the founder and director of the Mississippi Film Institute, which produces the Mississippi International Film Festival each fall at the Russell C. Davis Planetarium.

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COFO center

educates new

by L.A. Warren


move to raze a building at John R. Lynch and Rose streets — a building that once doubled as a recreation center and hub of civil rights organizing — was recently thwarted by a collective effort at Jackson State University. It’s an effort that Dr. Daphne Chamberlain, director of the newly named COFO Civil Rights Education Center, appreciates. “Every day I come into this building, I can feel that this is hallowed ground,” says Chamberlain. “You can understand the significance of this place, and you gain an appreciation for all the sacrifices made by the people who came into this building — both known and unknown.” The Council of Federated Organizations, better known as COFO, was founded in 1961 at the height of the civil rights movement to prevent rivalries and maintain unity. It took up headquarters at the building now part of JSU’s campus, a place

where college students and “corner boys” hung out. One of COFO’s first efforts was an attempt to negotiate the release of the Freedom Riders. The activists, who rode buses through the South to protest discrimination in public transit, were frequently arrested. When the attempt to negotiate with Mississippi segregationist Gov. Ross Barnett failed that first year, COFO effectively became dormant. Then, in 1962, Aaron Henry, president of the Mississippi NAACP; Bob Moses, program director and leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; Tom Gaither, a member of the Congress of Racial Equality; and others reorganized COFO as a conglomerate of state and national organizations with Henry serving as president. The group, says Chamberlain, became the “nerve center,” serving as the fundraising and programming arm for the organizations.

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When the building’s grand opening was held in March, Chamberlain adds, Moses and keynote speaker David Dennis Sr., who was COFO’s assistant program director in the 1960s, were among those present. As an educational arm of the university, COFO has built partnerships with the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy and the Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. The facility itself includes a museum, assembly space, souvenir shop and lounge. Chamberlain credits JSU’s Dr. Felix Okojie, vice president for Research and Federal Relations, with securing grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration for the restoration. The building is designed to provide a place to congregate, aid in student research, encourage analytical thinking and develop leaders for the next generation, says the Columbus native, an alumna of Tougaloo College and the University of Mississippi. Because the structure was a historical building, developers could not change the outside. However, Chamberlain modified the inside to

include pictures and exhibits. It was a labor of love, she explains, recounting her own interest in civil rights history stemming from her grandparents’ stories of rural Mississippi in the 1950s and ’60s. Enter the building today, and visitors will see her work. One of the most visible is a simple message on an easel: “251,000 black Mississippians are not registered to vote.” Another message is from Moses: “When you’re in Mississippi, the rest of America doesn’t seem real. And when you’re in the rest of America, Mississippi doesn’t seem real.” Chamberlain says visitors have included a professor from Tokyo who presented the museum with a translation of Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi. The book recounts Moody’s personal revolution over racial inequalities during the civil rights era. Citing other major cities with museums and cultural centers, Chamberlain notes that Mississippi’s own civil rights museum will not open until 2017. “This is something that JSU can proudly boast — a small-scale civil rights museum” drawing on a larger-than-life past.

Students from New Hope Christian School in Jackson visit the COFO center during its grand opening.

COFO Civil Rights Education Center Jackson State University 1017 John R. Lynch St. Jackson, MS 39203 Director Dr. Daphne R. Chamberlain Telephone: 601-979-4348 Hours 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday Saturdays by appointment

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Dr. Rosella Houston (left), president of the JSU Staff Senate, joins President Carolyn W. Meyers for the faculty and staff reception on the grounds of the president’s home.

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celebrates appointment historical presidential


ity, state and national leaders and visitors from around the country joined the Jackson State University community in March for the inauguration of JSU’s 10th and first female president, Dr. Carolyn W. Meyers, and a three-day celebration of JSU’s history of excellence. During her first year, Meyers pushed enrollment to an all-time high of 8,903 and increased fundraising to $7.5 million. The university also earned a 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, national accreditations in business, teacher education and engineering and full certification by the NCAA. Meyers continues to position the university to become a national model for educating the underserved while achieving global recognition for excellence in educa-

tion, research and service. The inauguration festivities included receptions for students, alumni, faculty and staff and business and legislative leaders. The university also hosted an ecumenical prayer breakfast, a symposium and a campuswide open house. Jackson State University’s international community held a luncheon in Meyers’ honor, and the entire campus celebrated her investiture with a luncheon and evening gala reception. In her inaugural address, Meyers directed many of her remarks to students as she emphasized unity of purpose, dreaming big and excellence in all pursuits. “You have our collective and unwavering vow that all of us at Jackson State University today will do all that we can to help make your dreams come true.”

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2011-12 student leaders Matthew Thompson, Student Government Association president (left), and Miss JSU Mea Ashley enjoy music with President Carolyn W. Meyers at the student reception.

Jackson State University alumnus and Mississippi Rep. Earle Banks (right) issues a House resolution commending President Carolyn W. Meyers for her dedication and congratulating her on her formal investiture as JSU’s 10th president. The resolution is approved concurrently with a state Senate resolution.

Jackson State chorale members celebrate at the inauguration luncheon.

David Hoard, JSU’s vice president for Institutional Advancement (left), and Dr. James C. Renick, senior advisor to the president, join Mississippi Museum of Art director Betsy Bradley at the opening reception of the Walter O. Evans Collection of African-American Art. The exhibit, which features 40 works by renowned African-American artists spanning 150 years, is the first collaboration between JSU and the museum.

Student trumpet players help usher in a new era of leadership at the investiture ceremony.

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Gov. Phil Bryant shares remarks during President Carolyn W. Meyers’ investiture at the Rose Embly McCoy Auditorium. “It seems like she’s always getting it right,” Bryant said of Meyers’ accomplishments during her first year at JSU. “I would like to say to the other university presidents who are here – look out, you have some competition.”

Jackson State President Emeritus Dr. John A. Peoples toasts President Carolyn W. Meyers at the inauguration luncheon.

Dr. Hank Bounds, State Institutions of Higher Learning commissioner (left), and IHL board member and JSU alumnus Bob Owens present the presidential Chain of Office to President Carolyn W. Meyers. The chain, a symbol of office dating from medieval times, is designed to honor the highest official at an educational institution. Meyers’ chain is comprised of curved banners engraved with the names of JSU’s 10 presidents.

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THE FUTURE by Jean Gordon Cook


hildren who attend the Lottie W. Thornton Early Childhood Center at Jackson State University spend much of their day building with blocks, honing fine motor skills with crayons and paintbrushes and practicing the fine preschool art of learning through play. Though they have a long way to go before they start college, if they choose to attend JSU, they will experience quite a different university than the one that houses their preschool. Today, JSU enrolls just shy of 9,000 students. Almost all attend classes on the main campus or at one of three satellites around the city of Jackson. The majority of students are African American, and many are first-generation college students. Most students commute to JSU’s west Jackson campus, which is surrounded by an aging neighborhood that has seen scant development over the last three decades.

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Rohan Alamgir

Shaniya Osborne

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Mikel Stephens

By the time the JSU preschoolers reach college age, however, Jackson State University is projected to have more than 15,000 students. While the student body predictably will remain mostly African American, the proporation of non-black students is expected to grow. And, many in both groups will never set foot on campus because they will earn their degrees entirely online. The campus and neighborhood also will be transformed. Business and housing developments in the works today will connect the campus to downtown Jackson, and an on-campus football stadium will make west Jackson a statewide destination. “As the university grows, the neighborhood is going to be even more attractive for developers, and there will be more residential activity,” says David Hoard, vice president for Institutional Advancement. “Some of that is happening now. It’s going to be an even more vibrant place to live.” Jacksonians on and off campus have gotten a taste of that future with the opening of One University Place – the most ambitious commercial and residential venture west Jackson has seen since the 1980s. Built directly across the street from campus, the development, which opened in 2010, houses Jackson professionals – including JSU faculty and staff – as well as an art gallery, an optical boutique, a clothing shop and one of Jackson’s newest hot spots, the Penguin. Less than a year old, the corner restaurant attracts a steady lunch crowd and has become a popular gathering place for metro-area professionals and lawmakers to unwind over cocktails and live music. One University Place is just the first phase in a longrange plan to develop housing that extends from the east end of campus to downtown Jackson. The neighborhood development plan also includes businesses and cultural attractions that will fill the John R. Lynch Street corridor from campus to University Boulevard. The opening of a campus satellite in 2013 on Capitol Street in downtown Jackson will cement JSU in the heart of the capital city. Dubbed the “101 Building” for its 101 Capitol Centre location, the satellite will be a one-of-a-kind public service center, combining JSU’s downtown Welcome Center, the Institute of Government, the School of Policy and Planning and the Mississippi Urban Research Institute. “We’re tying all of our locations together along with online learning to provide a more seamless approach to educating,” Hoard says. “All of our plans are aimed at reaching a broader constituency locally, nationally and internationally.” Jackson State’s recruitment strategy mirrors this effort. The university has set the ambitious goal of increasing enrollment 6 percent each year to reach 15,000 students by 2021. Jackson State University

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saw a bump in enrollment last year after a successful marketing campaign brought back students who had “stopped out” before finishing their degrees. This year, an even bigger increase is expected thanks to a strategic recruitment effort. “We’re working to enroll highly talented students while also building diversity,” says Stephanie Chatman, JSU’s admissions director and enrollment manager. “The university is laying the framework now for the future.” That framework includes expanding evening and weekend class offerings – and given that online education is the fastest-growing segment of the higher education market – increasing the number of online classes and degree programs. The plan also includes recruiting more international students, particularly from China and India, which send more students to study in the United States than any other country in the world. “We have students from all the top countries,” Chatman says. Another part of JSU’s recruitment strategy is to target students majoring in science, technology, engineering or math, high achievers from urban areas and military veterans and their relatives. Jackson State University will be able to better attract students from these groups thanks to a state law enacted this year. The measure allows public universities to reduce tuition to in-state levels for certain groups of out-of-state students that the school wants to attract. The law also extends to children of alumni donors. Jackson State University is the first university in Mississippi to take advantage of the new law. “Out-of-state students from urban areas who have ACT scores of 25 and higher will now pay in-state tuition,” says Dr. Mark G. Hardy, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, adding that JSU already attracts a lot of students from cities between Jackson and Chicago including Memphis, St. Louis and Detroit. “We expect this policy to draw a greater number of academically talented students to Jackson State.” As Jackson State sets its sights on becoming the largest Historically Black College or University in the country, it also remains committed to becoming a national model for educating the underserved and achieving global recognition for excellence in education, research and service. “Our core values and mission have not changed,” says JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers. “The work we are doing today is ensuring a future for Jackson State that honors our past while taking the university to even greater heights. Every day our faculty, staff and students are making new discoveries and achieving extraordinary things. We keep challenging Jacksonians to aim for new levels of excellence, and they are meeting that challenge. We all know our work will have an impact on generations to come.”

Over the next decade, the student body at Jackson State University will become even more diverse, as an increasing number of international students opt to study at leading American schools.

Jackson State University’s presence in downtown Jackson will be cemented with the opening of a campus satellite on Capitol Street. Dubbed the “101 Building” for its 101 Capitol Centre address, the new location will be a one-of-a-kind learning, research and public service center for Mississippi’s capital city.

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“We want people’s histories, their stories. We want an accurate portrayal of civil rights. The key word is truth.”

— Angela Stewart

Angela Stewart fulfills her passion for history as the archivist for the Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center and, up until recently, the first interim project manager of the planned Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Museum of History.

Project manager

moves history forward by Bette Pearce


ackson State’s Angela Stewart seemed a natural choice for interim project manager of the planned Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Museum of History. Her professional credentials are stellar, and she possesses a passion for history that began literally in the cradle. Stewart, 51, has been archivist for the university’s Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center since 2004 and is curator at the Piney Woods School Museum. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Alcorn State University and a master’s degree in history from Kent State University in Ohio. She did graduate work at the Smithsonian Institution Museum of American History and also trained at the National Archives Records Administration. She’s been at Jackson State for 12 years. “I have a passion for history. I grew up with history,” says Stewart. Her mother Dorothy is a retired social studies educator. She describes her father, Dr. Peter H. Stewart, as “a walking archives.”

“My father is amazing. He can extemporaneously tell you the history of organizations, people and events. That’s what I grew up with, a passion for history.” If Stewart has another passion, it’s for accuracy. As interim project manager, she and the museum’s planning committee traveled between February and April to nine communities throughout the state seeking input from residents. “We want people’s histories, their stories. We want an accurate portrayal of civil rights. The key word is truth,” Stewart says, adding that her journey in collecting those stories has been a moving one. “Everywhere we’ve gone, all over the state, people want to make sure that the emotional experience is conveyed at the museum.” The museums are being financed in part with $40 million in bonds approved by the state Legislature last year. Those monies are for completion of the structure, but the total cost, which includes the interior and exhibits, is expected to reach $70 million. The museums are tentatively scheduled to open in December 2017 to coincide with the state’s bicentennial. “That date is tentative. It’s all contingent on available funds,” Stewart says. According to Stewart, $800,000 must be raised before moving forward on the second phase of the project — the exhibits. Meanwhile, Stewart is forging ahead in the emotional journey to provide Mississippi and the nation with a truthful look at one of the most important eras in U.S. history.


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Students keep professor on the (50-mile) run by Jean Gordon Cook and Germaine Williams


ost professors are dedicated, but few would endure 50 miles of mud, rain and creeks for the benefit of their students. That’s what Jackson State University sociology professor Dr. Thomas Kersen did on March 3, when he ran the Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi Trail 50. The annual race takes runners through the Longleaf Horse Trail in the DeSoto National Forest just south of Laurel, Miss. Only about 100 runners a year brave the trail. “I finished it in 10 hours and 56 minutes,” says Kersen, who used the race to raise money for student scholarships and JSU’s Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology. A competitive runner since 1997, Kersen, 44, runs an average of 30 to 40 miles per week. When he decided to sign up for the 50-mile race, he wanted it to be more than a personal accomplishment. “This was my first jaunt with fundraising and moving away from the ‘not giving’ mentality,” Kersen says. “Rather than me just running in a competition, I thought it might spark some interest in our department.” Before the race, Kersen worked with Constance Lawson in the Division of Institutional Advancement to set up a fund for supporters to make dona-

Associate professor of sociology Dr. Thomas Kersen has been running competitively for 15 years.

tions. His efforts raised $340 for his department. “Every gift makes an impact no matter the size,” says Lawson, adding the fundraising effort attracted new JSU donors. “That’s valuable because it means those donors may support the Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology again or support JSU through other giving opportunities.” A professor at JSU for three years, Kersen’s research interests include social capital, the sociology of religion, military sociology and intentional communities. A retired medical officer, he has 22 years of combined service in the U.S. Army, the National Guard and the Army Reserve. Kersen says he appreciates how his department and JSU as a whole give students opportunities to tie what they learn in class into service learning projects. “When you interact with people, it helps you apply yourself in a positive manner,” he says. “It also makes students more analytical and critical in their thinking.” Kersen, also an archeology buff and fossil collector, ran his first marathon in 2004. “When I run, my mindset is on one big focus or motivator to complete the race,” he says. “I focus on the thing that brings me the greatest joy.”

“I focus on the thing that brings me the greatest joy.”

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Pastor’s Memphis Business Academy Gives kids, parents newfound hope by Bette Pearce


o those who know and work with Jackson State alumnus the Rev. Anthony Anderson, he’s a model of faith and determination. To hundreds of parents in the economically depressed, high-crime Frayser community in North Memphis, he holds the key to a successful future for their children — a key, he says, that was passed on to him as a student at Jackson State. “Jackson State is a school where the staff takes students under their nurturing wings,” says the United Methodist minister who founded the rapidly growing Memphis Business Academy charter school. “I don’t know that if I’d gone anywhere else I’d have finished school and gotten a degree. My life probably would have taken a very different path, very different.” Anderson, 48, grew up in Chicago. He moved to Mississippi at age 16, graduating from Madison-Ridgeland High School. In 1991, he graduated from Jackson State with a degree in political science. “As you can probably tell from my age and graduation, I finished high school and college later than many of my peers,” he

says. “During middle and high school I had two years of setbacks (fourth grade and ninth grade). So, JSU was the perfect place for a late bloomer. However, I experienced it again in college — more social reasons this time. “But, JSU nurtured me through those years of slow progress in college.” Anderson went on to Vanderbilt University where he earned a master of divinity degree. In 1995, he was appointed pastor of what he describes as an affluent, cross-racial congregation in Memphis. “The resources there were just amazing. But I quickly realized that persons of this congregation and I didn’t have the obstacles that people in the inner city had — a lack of educational opportunities and basic business knowledge.” Frayser had been hit especially hard in the 1970s and 1980s as the factories that once dominated the neighborhood disappeared. By the time Anderson arrived, the community had the highest crime rate in the Memphis area, and the majority of its residents lived below the poverty level. Only 6 percent of

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“The first step in starting the school was being naive enough to believe we could do it. It took a Jackson State-type belief in perseverance, networking and just working hard.” — The Rev. Anthony Anderson

The Rev. Anthony Anderson, a 1991 Jackson State graduate, founded the Memphis Business Academy charter school. Located in Frayser, one of the city’s toughest neighborhoods, the school — started with one sixth-grade class in 2005 — now includes an elementary, middle and high school with an enrollment of 750.

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the neighborhood’s 50,000 residents held college degrees. The Obama administration identified Frayser as among the nation’s worst performing schools. “I just felt there was a great need to create a school that would take care of those obstacles,” Anderson says. In 2001, charter school legislation was moving through the Tennessee Legislature. “We were just at the door at the right time, talking about innovative forms of education,” Anderson says. When the legislation passed, Anderson and a dedicated group of supporters “stepped out in faith” to start the Memphis Business Academy. It’s launch, however, turned out to be a four-year test in patience and perseverance. “The first step in starting the school was being naive enough to believe we could do it,” he says with a laugh. “It took a Jackson State-type belief in perseverance, networking and just working hard.” Anderson’s first attempt, which needed the approval of the Memphis City School Board, failed. It would be four years of trial and error, working and reworking a business plan and developing a 300-page action plan that included academic as well as financial goals. “We then had to present the plan to the school board, and then present it again and present it again and again,” he says. At long last, in 2005, Anderson was given the green light, and the Memphis Business Academy opened its doors with one class — 68 sixth-graders — that year. “We started only with a sixth grade by design,” he says. “We wanted to grow one class at a time.” The facility now houses a middle school, with 90 children in grades six through eight, a high school and a recently added elementary school. Total enrollment stands at 750. Robbin Sanders started sending her four children to the school the first year it opened. Her oldest was among its first graduates this spring. “I had visited every charter school in Memphis before deciding on Memphis Business Academy,” Sanders says. “I wanted a charter school because I believed my children would be better served in a smaller setting than they would at their neighborhood school of more than 2,000 students.” What impressed her most, she says, was the way teachers conducted their classes. There was no uniform blueprint. “If I looked at six classrooms, all six were set up differently, and all the teachers had different ways of interacting with the kids.” In one middle school classroom, she saw students doing their work while relaxing on beanbags. The teacher, Sanders says, determined her students worked harder and performed better when they were relaxed.

“Whatever works for the children is what they do,” Sanders says. And, last but not least, she liked the school’s “open door” policy. “Every other school I visited, parents were required to make appointments in advance to visit the school. You couldn’t arrive unannounced. That’s not the case here. You can visit any time, just drop in, and see exactly how it is on any given day. Nothing is staged.” From an academic standpoint, she says, the teachers “push the kids but also encourage them to think on their own.” Dr. Menthia P. Clark, the school’s director and high school principal, says she was sold immediately on Anderson’s vision. While he and school directors are actively involved in curriculum development and everyday activities, “the teachers are not micromanaged,” she says. “He trusts the teachers and gives them the freedom to make decisions that directly affect the children’s educational growth,” Clark says. “He expects and trusts our opinions. He hired us, invests in us, he nurtures us professionally and always encourages us to further our education.” And, she adds, he’s an example of multitasking that would be hard to match. Anderson works at the school all day, every day, while serving as full-time pastor to his congregation. And he’s a husband and father of five children, ages 22, 20, 13 and 2-year-old twin boys. “That’s God’s humor,” Anderson laughs. “With twin 2-year-olds, I don’t get any sleep.” But, in Anderson’s view, all things are possible with God — and a good education.

The Rev. Anthony Anderson, who runs the Memphis Business Academy, is also a full-time minister and the father of five. He graduated from Jackson State in 1991 and received his master of divinity degree from Vanderbilt University.

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Terry L. Woodard, JSU National Alumni Association president, leads the association’s effort to raise $3.2 million in one year.

Vice President for Student Life Marcus Chanay (left), JSU alum Cortez Bryant, Vice President for Institutional Advancement David Hoard and Development Officer Dominic Thigpen meet at a campus event honoring retired band director Dr. Lewis Liddell. Bryant pledges $500,000 to his alma mater during the event.

byJean Gordon Cook


Alumni donate record $3.2M

ackson State University alumni surprised JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers when they presented her with a record $2.56 million in cash and pledges during the university’s inauguration events in March. “Along with our students, our alumni are the best ambassadors Jackson State University has,” Meyers says. “When they show such strong support for their university, it fosters a culture of giving.” The record contributions were the result of JSU’s “Alumni Challenge,” which launched last summer. The campaign aimed to raise at least $1 million from graduates before Meyers’ inauguration. To date, alums have contributed $3.2 million in cash and pledges. The JSU National Alumni Association took the lead in fundraising efforts. “Our alumni love their school and are proud of all that is happening at Jackson State,” says alumni association president Terry L. Woodard. “This year they stepped up as never before to show how much they support Jackson State and its students.” Two alums – JSU graduate Cortez Bryant and an anonymous donor – each made a contribution of $500,000 in gifts and pledges. “The gift is a $500,000 contribution in the name of Dr. Lewis Liddell, who was my band director,” says Bryant, who manages rapper Lil’ Wayne and hiphop performer Drake. “The Sonic Boom of the South shaped me and got me out of the streets of New Orleans. It gave me an opportunity to expand my education at Jackson State University.” David Hoard, JSU’s vice president for Institutional Advancement, says the university plans to build upon the impressive gift. “We expect to exceed this year’s record in the coming year,” Hoard says. “That really builds momentum for the years. Our alumni have proven they want to help the next generation of students.”

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JSU Honors

AfricanAmerican lawmakers


s part of Black History Month, the Jackson State University College of Liberal Arts departments of History/Philosophy and Political Science celebrated the historic contributions of African Americans in the Mississippi Legislature. Lawmakers joined JSU faculty, staff, students and administrators for the program, which included the unveiling of bricks engraved with the names of all current and past African-American legislators in Mississippi. The bricks span the width of the Gibbs-Green Pedestrian Walkway between the H.P. Jacobs Administration Tower and the Student Center. The JSU Department of Political Science is also collecting oral histories to document the ascendency of black lawmakers in Mississippi.

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Gathering on campus to celebrate the contributions of the state’s African-American legislators are (front, left) Rep. Omeria Scott, Rep. Linda Coleman, JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers, Rep. Adrienne Wooten, Rep. Angela Cockerham and Rep. Deborah Dixon; (back, left) former Rep. Alfred Walker, Rep. Robert Huddleston, Sen. Derrick T. Simmons, Rep. David Gibbs, Sen. Bennie Turner, Rep. Rufus Straughter, Sen. Kenneth Wayne Jones, Sen. Albert Butler Sr., Sen. Robert L. Jackson, (former Rep.) Judge Leslie King, Sen. David Jordan, former Rep. Mitch Ellerby, Sen. Hillman T. Frazier, former Sen. Arthur Tate and Rep. Charles Young Jr.

Rep. Omeria Scott challenges Jackson State University students, staff and faculty to join the Legislative Black Caucus’ ongoing effort to promote JSU and the state’s other historically black public universities.

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Cassandra Wilson headlines

‘Jazz on the Plaza’ G

rammy Award-winning vocalist and Jackson State University alumna Cassandra Wilson joined JSU’s jazz musicians and singers in April as the guest artist at the university’s annual outdoor concert, Jazz on the Plaza.

Hundreds of music lovers filled the Gibbs-Green Pedestrian Walkway to see Wilson and enjoy the sounds of JSU’s Jazz Ensemble I, Jazz Ensemble II, the Vocal Jazz Ensemble and the JSU Jazz Combo. Wilson earned her most recent Grammy Award for best jazz vocal album for Loverly in 2009. Her 1996 album New Moon Daughter won the Grammy for best jazz vocal performance. To showcase new talent, Wilson recently opened a live-music venue in Jackson called the Yellow Scarf: A Listening Room.


Over the last hurdle jsu alum Wins

olympic Silver Jackson State University alum and professional track athlete Michael Tinsley won a silver medal in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2012 Summer Olympics with a personal best of 47.91 seconds. The first-time Olympian spoke with The Jacksonian shortly before his London departure. by Spencer McClenty

How does it feel to be heading to the Olympics? It feels great. I’ve been training for so long, just to get to the point of being on the American team, regardless of whether it’s the Olympics or the World Championships. When I tried out for my first Olympic team, I didn’t even make it out of the first round. So, this is really just a blessing. How did you prepare for the trials? We started out putting in miles of long-distance runs. That was all about building endurance and setting up to have a long season. There were lots of hills and some short recovery workouts. It got me ready, but it was really tough to do. What are you expecting from your trip to the Olympics? I think this will be a great experience. The Olympics only comes around every four years, and every country that gets it puts on the best show ever. I’m going in with a good time (48.33 seconds), the No. 3 time in the world right now. I think I have as good a chance as anyone to get on the podium. Let’s talk about your time at JSU. What do you most remember about being a student? Being a student at Jackson State was the best experience of my life. I remember all the support I got from the faculty when I was there. Everyone at the school was so nice. JSU gave me an opportunity to get an education and to do what I love to do, which is run track.

How did that experience carry over into your career? I think it helped me out a lot. Coming from a Historically Black College or University gave me lots of experience, because sometimes we’d go to track meets and be the only HBCU there, and sometimes they wouldn’t recognize us or give us any respect. But once they saw how good we ran and how fast we were, we’d gain their respect. And I guess that’s kind of the same with me as a professional, being the underdog running against big-name guys, guys that have already been to the Olympics and guys who have medals. I think it helped me to be confident in my abilities, to know that no matter where you come from, no matter your background, if you work hard, you can get to where you want to be in life. Is there heavy competition between the veteran Olympians and the rookies? In the 400 hurdles, everything is good. I’ve known Angelo Taylor for a while; I’ve been watching his career. Kerron Clement, I ran with him when I was in college. Those guys motivate me. Even when I didn’t make the team, they gave me words of encouragement and always had nice things to say to me. But of course, when you get on that line to compete, it’s every man for himself. What do you want to say to your supporters at JSU and around the world? I want to say thank you and keep the support coming. I try to read all the Facebook messages and Twitter information I get from people. I couldn’t possibly respond to everyone. But I just want to say thank you, and it really drives me and motivates me to run even harder.


Former JSU track star and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Michael Tinsley.

Photo credit: Victah Sailer/Photorun


Kenny Boyer (left), Jamie McIntosh, Richard Kelly, Johnathon Atkins, Durante Ponder and Louis Varella, members of the JSU track team, balance course work and workouts. Many of the team’s student athletes maintain grade point averages between 3.0 and 4.0.


g n i c n a l d n a ba k r o w l s o t u scho o k r wo By Germaine Williams and Jean Gordon Cook

Jackson State University men’s track team has a reputation that extends to the Olympics — the 2012 Summer Games included 2006 NCAA champion Michael Tinsley running for the U.S. and sophomore Anaso Jobodwana competing for his native South Africa. But a less visible but just as important component is academic performance. The track team requires a minimum 2.7 grade point average, though the average for many is higher. “They balance track and academics well,” says coach Mark Thorne, who ran track for JSU from 1989-1993. “We take advantage of the Academic Advisory Center and study hall. The main emphasis is to never miss class.” Team captain Richard Kelly, who finished his junior year with a 3.14 grade point average, says he’s been conditioned to study hard since he started running track in the seventh grade. “You have to put so many hours in school and track, so what I do to get through is go to summer school each year,” the Jackson native says. “I put my hardest classes in the summer and fall semesters, so when spring comes and track starts, it makes my schoolwork more manageable.” Kelly says focusing both on sports and schoolwork is a shared goal.

“The teammates have a track team chat room for support,” he says. “I try to help where I can and keep them uplifted and encouraged.” Thorne says the student athletes train year-round. In the fall they concentrate on weight lifting, conditioning and drills, and in the spring they focus on competition. It’s an approach that pays off. The team finished the 2012 season with four runners qualifying for the NCAA Eastern Regional Championship. Standout Jobodwana became JSU’s first All-American since 2006 when he earned the honor at the NCAA’s National Indoor Track and Field Championships, and Bentrell McGee was ranked as one of the fastest 19-year-olds in the 110-meter hurdles. Jobodwana and teammate B.J. Lee also broke JSU and Southwestern Athletic Conference indoor records in the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes.

l u f s s k e c c a c r u d t r As o c re


“We worked really hard with the kids to improve their skills, helping them understand that we have to get better every year, and this is what it’s going to take.”

— Rose Washington

Lady Tigers volleyball team captures elusive first title by Spencer McClenty


ose Washington has spent the last decade chasing an elusive Southwestern Athletics Conference championship as head volleyball coach at Jackson State University. “In 2010 we lost in the finals to Alabama A&M University,” said Washington, who graduated from JSU in 1977. “But we knew that when we got there again, we were going to pull it out.” Goal accomplished. The JSU Lady Tigers completed the 2011 season by defeating four-time defending champion Alabama A&M University to take the SWAC championship. The win ended AAMU’s run of nine conference titles in 10 years. “This season was great,” said Washington. “We worked really hard after going to the finals last year and losing the way

we did. We were just determined to get back there this year.” The road to the trophy brought victory after victory. The Lady Tigers went undefeated against conference opponents, carrying a 24-match streak into the championship. After dropping the opening set, JSU rallied to win the next three sets and the school’s first volleyball title since the team’s start in 2000. Washington attributes the Lady Tigers’ success to intense preparation. “The off-season was when we developed our skills,” Washington said. “We worked really hard with the kids to improve their skills, helping them understand that we have to get better every year, and this is what it’s going to take.” Senior outside hitter Chyna Coleman led JSU in the title match with 22 kills and nine digs. Christine Edwards and LaToya Clark both had double-doubles. Edwards finished with 17 kills and 14 digs while Clark had 55 assists and 16 digs. Edwards, named tournament MVP, was selected to the SWAC All-Tournament team, as were Coleman and Clark. “This group was special,” said Washington. “This team had a lot of chemistry, and they worked hard. That’s why I’m thankful for this group of girls.”

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Class Notes ‘50s

Al Hall (’58) was commended by the Mississippi House of Representatives in a resolution that notes the “impressive and noteworthy success” of the Prentiss, Miss., native as an African-American poet. Hall formerly served as vice president and now serves as chaplain of the Greater Washington, D.C. area Jackson State University Alumni Chapter. Dr. Malcolm M. Black (’59) has been named a Broward County Pioneer by the Broward County (Fla.) Historical Commission for distinguished service in promoting the growth and enhancement of the county. Black worked as an educator in Mississippi and Florida, retiring from Broward College after 47 years in academia.

‘70s Dr. James Baber (’72, ’73 master’s) is executive vice president for academic and student affairs at Eastern Gateway Community College in Steubenville, Ohio. Baber previously held positions at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson, Miss.; Triton Dr. James Baber College in River Grove, Ill.; Fort Scott Community College in Fort Scott, Kan.; and within the Metropolitan Community Colleges District, Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City, Mo. He earned his doctorate degree in adult and continuing education from Northern Illinois University. Dr. Cheryl Slaughter Ellis (’74, ’75 master’s) received the 2012 John Pleas Faculty Recognition Award from Middle Tennessee State University, where she is a professor of community and public health. The award is presented each year to an MTSU faculty member who contributes Cheryl Slaughter Ellis significantly to teaching, research and service efforts to better the lives of African Americans. As an advocate for community and public health, Ellis, a cer-

tified health-education specialist, presents and coordinates hundreds of programs throughout Tennessee in collaboration with Nashville’s Meharry Medical College and MTSU.


Dr. Marilyn Evans (’82) has joined the faculty of Belhaven College in Jackson as assistant professor of education and chair of undergraduate teacher education. Evans holds a master’s from the University of Phoenix and an Ed.D. from Texas Southern University. Michael Gater (’84) has taken on an expanded role at Comcast as senior director of human resources for customer care for the Central Division-West Area. With the position comes human resources responsibility for call Michael Gater centers in Huntsville, Ala.; and Tennessee’s Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville locations. Gater is a certified human resource professional. Michele Purvis Harris (’84) became the first female and the first African American to serve as public defender for Mississippi’s Hinds County. She has close to 25 years of experience practicing law, including 16 years in criminal prosecution. Harris, a former chief Michele Purvis Harris prosecutor for the city of Jackson, began her law career with Legal Services Corp. in Mississippi. Harris earned her law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Joe McGhee

Joe McGhee (’85) was appointed executive vice president and chief operating officer of Atlanta-based Tiverity, a Unified Communications and Contact Center systems integration firm. McGhee has held various executive leadership positions in the telecommunications industry

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since the mid-1990s, including stints with Cisco Systems, Avaya Communications and Siemens. He earned his MBA in general management and international business from Harvard Business School.

Grace Simmons Fisher

Alphe De’ Cui Wells

Grace Simmons Fisher (’86) has been named communications director for the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Fisher joined the department after nearly 30 years at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, where she worked as a reporter and an editor. Alphe De’Cui Wells (’86) is vice president of human resources at Anderson Regional Medical Center in Meridian, Miss. A native of Jackson, Wells received a master’s in human resources development from Webster University.


Lt. Col. Donald O. Young (’91) was promoted to lieutenant colonel at a ceremony at Jackson State University. He is currently the battalion executive officer and recruiting operations officer in the JSU Department of Military Science. Young has served in a Lt. Col. Donald O. Young variety of key developmental and staff assignments in the United States and overseas, including deployments in Kuwait and Iraq. His awards and decorations include: Meritorious Service medals, two Joint Service Commendation medals and the Army’s Commendation, Achievement and Good Conduct medals.

John Jennings

John Jennings (’93) joined the University at Buffalo-The State University of New York’s Department of Visual Studies as an associate professor. He is a noted designer, illustrator, cartoonist, graphic novelist and curator. His contribution to the 2010 book Black Comix: African American Independent Comics, Art and

Culture celebrates the heritage of underrepresented artists of the profession. Jennings is also a regular contributor to the weekly Web comic, Black Jack, Heart of Evil. Retired Brig. Gen. Augustus L. “Leon” Collins (’93 master’s) was named adjutant general of the Mississippi Army National Guard. Collins was first commissioned as an officer in 1980. He served in active duty in Operation Desert Shield/Storm and Augustus L. Collins commanded the 155th Separate Armored Brigade in Iraq as a colonel. He was promoted to brigadier general in May 2005, becoming the first black general in the Mississippi Army National Guard. In 2006, Collins was appointed director of mobilization forces of the U.S. Army Forces Command. L. Terri Powell-Brown (’97) was recognized in Maryland as a Prince Georges County Social Innovative Fund Forty Under 40 2012 honoree for her contribution in business. Powell-Brown, a certified speech-language pathologist, is the CEO of PACES TherL. Terri Powell-Brown apy Inc., in Washington, D.C. She founded the private pediatric practice of speech and language pathology more than 12 years ago.

‘00s Derrick Simmons

Yoseph Ali

Derrick Simmons (’00) was elected to the Mississippi State Senate District 12 seat formerly held by Sen. Johnnie Walls. The Democrat, an attorney and businessman, was the top accounting student in his graduating class at JSU. Yoseph Ali (’02, ’05 master’s) opened Abeba Ethiopian Restaurant in Jackson, the only known Ethiopian restaurant in Mississippi. Ali also owns Aladdin Mediterranean Grill with locations in Jackson, Flowood and Hattiesburg, Miss.

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Sylvia Woodard (’03 master’s) has been promoted to assistant vice president in Trustmark Bank’s Human Resources Department in Jackson where she is a compensation analyst II. A Canton native, she has a bachelor’s deSylvia Woodard gree in economics from Tougaloo College and an MBA from Jackson State University. Dr. Teri Brister (’06 Ph.D.) is director of Content Integrity for Education and Training for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Brister is the author of NAMI Basics, the signature education program for parents and other caregivers of children and Dr. Teri Brister adolescents with mental illness. Prior to joining NAMI in 2005, Brister worked for 20 years in Mississippi’s community mental heath system.

Jhai Keeton

Jhai Keeton (’07) is president of the lifestyle-marketing firm Guapington Enterprise, which is home to new artists, partnerships and four core ventures — Real Music Management, E-Class Models, Massive Promotions and B.mekInternational Apparel Co.

Dr. Kimberly Hilliard (’07 Ph.D.), who has served as director of JSU’s Center for UniversityBased Development since 2010, was named JSU’s new executive director of Community Engagement. Hilliard serves as a mayoral appointee to the City of Jackson Mechanical Board, is vice president of the Board of Trustees for Mississippi First and serves on the Midtown Partners Advisory Dr. Kimberly Hilliard Board. She is also a Preservation Fellow for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Joi Lynette Owens (’09) received the M. Judith Barnett Single Parent Scholarship Award from the Mississippi College School of Law.


Dr. Keenya L.G. Mosley (’10 Ph.D.) is an assistant professor and the assessment manager at Savannah State University. She is the first faculty member at the university’s new School of Teacher Education. Mosley teaches education foundation courses, collaborates Dr. Keenya L.G. Mosley with faculty from other colleges on teacher education content and compiles assessment data for state and national accreditation agencies Dr. Kim Evans Rugon (’11 Ph.D.) has been named vice president of Mission Services for Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana, Inc. She is responsible for the growth and management of the organization’s workforce development programs and services. She most recently served as the executive dean of Dr. Kim Evans Rugon Technical Education at Delgado Community College. After Hurricane Katrina, Rugon served as vice chancellor of Louisiana Technical College-Region 1, where she was responsible for four college campuses in the region.

Dr. Cathy Hardnett

Dr. Cathy Hardnett (’11 Ph.D.) has joined the faculty at the University of St. ThomasHouston, becoming the first full-time African-American faculty member at UST’s Cameron School of Business. Hardnett is one of only 195 African-American accounting business school professors in the U.S.

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University Highlights

Summer day camp sees record turnout

New Welcome Center greets visitors

Generator enhances emergency preparedness

Free iPads to freshmen a first for Mississippi

A record 125 children, ages 5 to 16, attended this year’s summer day camp program at the Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center at Jackson State University. Rachel Cowan, center director, said about 80 children attended last year. The camp was started in 2006 with an enrollment of about 50.

Jackson State University opened its Welcome Center July 16. Located on Dalton Street just north of John R. Lynch Street, the center serves as the university’s hospitality site for prospective students and their families, alumni and the general public. Gwen Caples (above) is the director.

Jackson State University recently installed a 750-kilowatt generator at the T.B. Ellis Building on the main campus. The generator was purchased with a $315,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Health and the Federal Health Services to prepare the building for use as a special medical needs shelter during emergencies.

Thanks to a scholarship program sponsored by the Mississippi e-Center @JSU, Jackson State University is providing free iPads to each incoming freshman this fall. The iPads will save students money by enabling them to purchase electronic books for their classes. Jackson State is the only institution in Mississippi to provide such technology to its freshmen.

Upward Bound lands $1.25M grant Jackson State University was awarded a $1.25 million grant, to be dispersed over five years, to support Upward Bound@JSU. The program provides college access and opportunities to lowincome and/or first-generation college students and parents connected to Jackson Public Schools’ Jim Hill, Forest Hill, Lanier, Provine and Wingfield high schools. Dr. Loria Brown (left) is as the principal investigator and Reginald Castilla is the director.

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Students bring home top honors in civil engineering competition For the second consecutive year, the American Society of Civil Engineers JSU student chapter won several awards at the 2012 ASCE Deep South Regional Student Conference. Held at the University of Tennessee at Martin, the competition included 300 students from 11 universities in Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Arkansas. The JSU concrete canoe team captured four first-place awards, and the surveying team garnered one. The goal of the competition was to successfully construct an 18- to 22-foot-long canoe with a unit weight less than water in such a way that it could float and carry four people safely. Charles McKenzie, a senior from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, served as the 16-member team’s project manager. His presentation skills also earned a first place.

Psychology major crowned Jackson’s Miss Hospitality Kristy D’Anna Johnson, a psychology major in the W.E.B. DuBois Honors College, was crowned Jackson’s Miss Hospitality for 2012. As Miss Hospitality, Johnson greets tourists and other visitors at designated events and functions. Johnson, who volunteers with Jackson Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, Stewpot Community Services and the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children, plans to pursue a master’s degree in clinical psychology.

Jackson Public Schools names JSU Ph.D. grad Administrator of the Year

Kathy Broom (left) of Parents & Kids magazine congratulates Jane Everly.

Jackson Public Schools named JSU Ph.D. graduate Dr. Jane Everly Administrator of the Year. Everly is principal of Davis Magnet Elementary School, which is Mississippi’s first elementary school authorized to offer the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program. Under Everly’s leadership, Davis Magnet received a Star rating from the Mississippi Department of Education and was named a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. She also led Davis Magnet in the development of an arts integration focus through a partnership with Ask4More Arts. It brings University of Mississippi Medical Center professionals to the classroom, where they show students how to use scientific inquiry to solve problems. “Probably the most important factor in my decision to become an educator was that I loved being a student,” says Everly, a former gifted education teacher. “I have always enjoyed learning and believe strongly in the premise that educators must be lifelong learners.” Everly received an undergraduate degree from Belhaven College and master’s and specialist degrees from Mississippi College. She received a doctorate degree in educational leadership in 2006 from Jackson State University.

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Faculty/Staff Notes Dr. Robinson receives dean emeritus status The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning approved dean emeritus status for Dr. Dollye M.E. Robinson at its February meeting. The former College of Liberal Arts dean, who served Jackson State University for 60 years, is also a full professor in the Department of Music. Robinson began her career at JSU in 1952 as an assistant band director and music instructor. During her tenure, Robinson also served as head of the Department of Music and associate dean of the School of Liberal Arts. Dean joins HBCU think tank at Rutgers Dr. Daniel Watkins, dean of the Jackson State University College of Education and Human Development, was chosen to participate in the HBCU College of Education Dean’s Think Tank at the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education in New Brunswick, N.J. Choral activities director to conduct national choir W. Cortez Castilla, director of Choral Activities, was selected to conduct the 105 Voices of History National Choir this upcoming academic year. Two perfor-

mances will be in Washington, D.C., one at the Andrew Mellon Concert Stage during Congressional Black Caucus Week and the other at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The choir also will perform in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry Center.. Admissions director selected to national council Stephanie Chatman, admissions director and enrollment manager, was selected as one of 23 representatives to serve on the National Guidance and Admission Assembly Council of the College Board. She also will serve on the board’s Southern Regional Council. The Assembly Council is composed of college admissions and high school guidance professionals.. AD tapped for NCAA advisory group Dr. Vivian L. Fuller, director of Athletics, was selected to serve on the NCAA Division I HBCU Academic Advisory Group. The newly formed group of presidents, chancellors, athletics directors and faculty representatives is developing plans and partnerships to support the academic success of student athletes.. Theatre chair chosen president of national drama, speech association Dr. Mark Henderson, interim chair of the Department of Speech and Theatre, was selected the 32nd president of the

National Association of Dramatic and Speech Arts. Christopher Cox was named the association’s national student president. Professor, CEO named state’s SBA Person of the Year The U.S. Small Business Administration named Dr. John D. Calhoun Mississippi’s Small Business Person of the Year. The business professor is co-founder and CEO of Integrated Management Services, which provides engineering, emergency management, technical, program management and operations services. Administrator earns international award, lauded for achievements Dr. James Maddirala, associate provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, recently received the Hind Rattan ( Jewel of India) International Award from the NonResident Indians Welfare Society of India. The award is given annually to 30 Indians living in other countries for their professional achievements and contributions to society. The Indian government and business group fosters bonds with Indians internationally..

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Research JSU secures $49M in external funding Jackson State University received $49 million from federal and state agencies and private foundations to fund 180 projects that continue to expand the work of the university. The National Science Foundation Research and Development expenditures report of U.S. institutions of higher learning ranked JSU No. 2 in research and development expenditures among all Historically Black Colleges and Universities. “In spite of tough budgetary challenges, it has been a good year for JSU,” said Dr. Felix Okojie, vice president for Research and Federal Relations. $5.4M awarded to establish center on minority health disparities Jackson State University, through the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Services Research, was awarded a five-year, $5.4 million grant by the National Institutes of Health–National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities to create a NIH Transdisciplinary Center of Excellence on National Health Disparities. Dr. Marinelle Payton, assistant dean for research in the College of Public Service and principal investigator of the grant, was named its director. Enhancing the quality and quantity of research on minority health and health disparities, providing quality research career development training and strengthening community ties are among the center’s goals..

National Science Foundation grants $3M for research, education Jackson State University competed successfully for one of six Partners for Research and Education in Materials awards from the National Science Foundation. The award, which amounts to $3 million over five years, will help fund JSU’s research in multifunctional nanomaterials. Professor breaks new ground in salmonella research Dr. Paresh C. Ray, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, shared groundbreaking research on how gold nanoparticles help detect and kill salmonella with the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society. Partial funding for Ray’s research came from the National Science Foundation. The technology can be commercialized, Ray said, and a patent is pending. Transportation Research Board appoints doctoral student Eunice V. Akoto, a doctoral student in Jackson State University’s Department of Public Policy and Administration, was appointed to a three-year term on the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies’ Transit Management and Performance Committee JSU becomes academic partner in $300M cyber technology project Jackson State University was named an academic partner on a $300 million contract awarded by the U.S. Air Force. Radiance Technologies Inc. received the contract to develop Agile

Cyber Technology — cutting-edge cyber hardware and software. “Jackson State University’s intellectual capital and research capabilities played an important role in the award of this contract,” said Dr. Felix Okojie, JSU vice president for Research and Federal Relations. “This is a demonstration of our valueadded proposition to the economic development of our state.” Radiance and JSU have collaborated for more than five years on work for NASA, the Department of Marine Resources, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The blending of research expertise and real-world industry engineering is making it possible to transition application research into operational use. Jackson State University faculty and staff are heavily involved in robotics, cyber security, cyber forensics, high-performance computing and data mining. Research divisions housed at the Mississippi e-Center @ JSU and managed under the College of Science, Engineering and Technology will support the cyber contract. “This is a major win for our Mississippi team and highlights our ability to provide innovative cyber solutions for our customers,” said Tom Strange, Radiance vice president. “Cyberspace is the unknown battleground of the 21st century, and the ability of our war fighters to dominate this environment is dependent on cutting-edge technologies being developed by industry leaders and academia.”

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JSU raises $7.5M, including $3.2M from alumni


t was a very good year for Jackson State University, with $7.5 million in gifts and pledges. The milestone more than tripled last year’s $2.1 million and came in part to record giving from alumni, who donated $3.2 million. “We instituted a variety of new systems and approaches to increase donations,” said David Hoard, vice president for Institutional Advancement. “The bottom line is, we asked people for money.” During the fiscal year July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012, Jackson State University Institutional Advancement staff focused on targeting donors and securing major gifts, Hoard said. The staff also established 32 endowed scholarships totaling $3.5 million. Patricia Mitchell, associate vice president for Institutional Advancement, said $1 million in federal Title III matching funds for the endowed scholarships and JSU’s Alumni Challenge played significant roles in making FY2011-12 a banner year. The Alumni Challenge, launched at the start of the fiscal year, aimed to raise at least $1 million before JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers’ inauguration. By March, alumni had contributed close to $2.6 million, and by the end of the fiscal year that number had reached $3.2 million. Meyers said this year’s giving reflects a vote of confidence in the direction Jackson State University is taking. “I appreciate that our alumni and supporters are recognizing our accomplishments and great work,” Meyers said. “We are one JSU. Together, we can accomplish great things.” To make a gift to Jackson State University, call the JSU Development Foundation Inc., at 601-979-1759 or visit

The Jacksonian - Fall 2012  
The Jacksonian - Fall 2012  

Alumni and campus magazine of Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss.