Jackson State and partners break ground on multi-million dollar development project, One University Place

                                                                                                      10.28.09GroundThe Jackson State University Development Foundation, Inc., along with partners at Jackson State, Trustmark National Bank and the City of Jackson, officially broke ground on One University Place during a ceremony at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 1400 John R. Lynch Street, near the Dalton Street intersection. University Place is a multi-million dollar project that is one of the largest construction projects in west Jackson in recent decades. “This is another great day in the history of JSU,” said Leland Speed, chairman of the foundation. “Folks need to come out and take a look at the JSU that exists today. Exciting things are happening at JSU and the development foundation is playing its part.”

The space will include 78 luxury one- and two-bedroom apartments above 22,000 square feet of prime retail space. Located immediately adjacent to the Jackson State University campus, One University Place is an ideal location for those who want to live and shop at the center of JSU campus life, only one mile from downtown Jackson. The project initiates the community revitalization of an underserved neighborhood located between the JSU campus and downtown Jackson. Upon completion, the University Place neighborhood is expected to include 300 for-sale homes for moderate income families, 50,000 square feet of retail space and more than 300 rental apartments, totaling over $150 million in development. “Our plan has always been to be responsible in our efforts to help improve the community that has long supported us,” said JSU President Ronald Mason, Jr. “We are very thankful to have partners who share our vision and dedication to not only this immediate community, but to this city and state. We talk about challenging minds and changing lives. This space,  with the planned single family affordable homes , will create an ideal environment to do so.”

The space, which compliments JSU architecture, was designed using new urbanist and green design principals. Because it is located on previously developed residential and commercial land, there is already direct access to roads, water, sewer and other infrastructure from the site. The project will contain or be within one-half mile of at least 10 basic services needed by a community. Also, by bringing new services to the community, the project reduces driving distances for current neighborhood residents.

“I am so thrilled to see this project begin,” said Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson. “I had an opportunity to work with the development team during my recent tenure with Jackson State. “This major development will not only provide additional housing and retail amenities for the students, faculty and staff at Jackson State University, but I believe it will truly be a catalyst that will spark other meaningful development between downtown and the campus. University Place will be a great asset for our community.”

One University Place was funded by a $15 million New Money Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation provided by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Hampton Roads Ventures. Trustmark National Bank provided the leveraged loan and purchased both the state and federal tax credits. Transcapital / Dudley Ventures facilitated all aspects of the financing. One University Place represents the first NMTC project of the Jackson State University Development Foundation, Inc., the nonprofit corporation that supports the mission of Jackson State University, an historically black university in Jackson, Miss. For more information about One University Place or to track the progress of the building’s construction, please visit www.universityplaceofjackson.com.

To keep up with the progress, visit the live webcam of the development at http://oxblue.com/pro/open/harrellcontracting/jsu.

Major Entergy Grant Launches Power Systems Lab at Jackson State University

1590    The future of engineering in Mississippi got a rocket boost today when Entergy and the Entergy Charitable Foundation announced a major financial award to Jackson State University. The company gave a $400,000 gift that will establish the Entergy Power Systems Laboratory in the School of Engineering, College of Science, Engineering and Technology. It will also allow JSU to offer a power systems track in the engineering program.

     Entergy also made a surprise, additional $100,000 award that will provide scholarships to JSU engineering students. “This is a strategic investment in the future work force of Mississippi to make our state more attractive for energy research, development and manufacturing,” said Haley Fisackerly, president and chief executive officer of Entergy Mississippi, Inc., speaking at a press conference held at JSU’s School of Engineering. “The students who graduate from this program will be an incredible resource not only for Entergy, but for businesses and industry throughout Mississippi.” “We’re extremely thankful to Entergy for this generous grant to help us equip the Power Systems Laboratory in our new School of Engineering building,” said Dr. Ronald Mason, Jr., president of Jackson State University. “Entergy’s gift will have a lasting impact on our students as they prepare for challenging careers in the utility industry.”

     The Power Systems Laboratory will let students conduct experiments in power simulation, power electronics, electrical machines and other subjects related to managing and modernizing the nation’s energy transmission systems. Students will also learn about electric grid infrastructure, energy conservation, renewable energy and large-scale smart grids. “By putting in place local programs like this, we’re preparing area students for careers in a growing industry,” said Mike Kansler, president and chief executive officer of Entergy Nuclear. “Young Mississippians need to know that Entergy is a leader in the power industry, and that there are many opportunities for future careers right here a home.”

     The availability of engineering graduates is especially critical for the utility industry, where a large percentage of the work force is nearing retirement. To guarantee a steady supply of qualified replacements, Entergy has increased efforts to renew interest in engineering-related fields and work with schools to expand degree programs. Sponsorship of the JSU Power Systems Laboratory and funding of the scholarships is part of Entergy’s Destination Education initiative, which seeks innovative projects that develop critical thinking skills and enhance academic preparedness in math, science and technical fields. “Engineering is definitely making a comeback,” said Randy Helmick, vice president of transmission for Entergy. “We believe the new program at Jackson State will attract today’s young minds to study electric power systems and provide a pipeline for future generations of engineers.”

     So far, 2009 has been a busy year for Destination Education. Entergy recently announced a major contribution to Mississippi State University’s Promise Program, a scholarship program that helps children of low-income Mississippi families. This summer, the company also made a $300,000 contribution to the Mississippi Building Blocks early education initiative and launched a nuclear energy curriculum program in state high schools called “Power Path to Nuclear” – the first program of its kind in the nation. Today’s grant is from Entergy Mississippi, Inc., Entergy Nuclear and Entergy’s transmission group.

     About Entergy, Mississippi, Inc.: Entergy Mississippi, Inc. provides electricity to more than 433,000 customers in 45 counties. It is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation. Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, and it is the second-largest nuclear generator in the United States. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.7 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more information, visit http://www.entergy-mississippi.com.

JSU National Alumni Association selects outstanding alumni for Hall of Fame

Dollye RobinsonThe Jackson State University National Alumni Association has selected JSU College of Liberal Arts dean Dollye M.E. Robinson, retired professional football player Lem Barney and 2008 JSU Alumnus of the Year Milton Austin to be inducted into the Jackson State University Alumni Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame ceremony will be held during the homecoming class reunion luncheon on Friday, Nov. 6, in the JSU Student Center. Association president Hilliard L. Lackey, III also will be honored as the “Alumnus of the Year.”

Robinson received a bachelors degree in music from Jackson State in 1947 and earned graduate degrees in trumpet and music education from Northwestern University. She has also studied at Boston College of Music. She served as the university’s first assistant band director under the legendary William W. Davis. Robinson has provided 57 years of service to Jackson State, the longest of any employee. The College of Liberal Arts building bears her name.

Barney received a bachelors degree in health and science from Jackson State in 1967. His 10-year career in the NFL earned him “Rookie of the Year” in 1967, induction into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1992, and induction into the Afro-American Sports Hall of Fame. His jersey (No. 20) has been retired by the Detroit Lions. He also earned a gold record for background vocals ist on Marvin Gaye’s record “What’s Going On.” Barney is employed by Mel Farr Automotive Group.

Austin, who earned his bachelors degree in political science from JSU in 1971, was a member of the university’s first ROTC class. Austin has held numerous alumni offices at the national and local levels including the president of the Houston Area Alumni Chapter and second vice-president of the JSU National Alumni Association. He is a gift club member and has established an endowed scholarship fund at the university. Austin is employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs in Houston, Texas.

“The JSUNAA Hall of Fame Awards Committee is delighted to honor these distinguished alumni for their outstanding contributions to Jackson State University and in the community,” said committee chairman Rose Austin. “The Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed upon a JSU alumnus by the JSU National Alumni Association. We look forward to celebrating with them during the awards ceremony.”

Hall of Fame recipients must have made significant contributions in their professions, be nationally or locally recognized, be 15-year graduates and be financial contributors to the university and/or alumni association. All “Alumnus of the Year” awardees and alumni national presidents are automatically inducted into the Hall of Fame. The selection is made by a Board of Selectors comprising both alumni and non-alumni.

Admission to the luncheon is $40 for class members who graduated in years ending in 4 or 9, and $25 for non-members.

For more information, contact LaShonda D. Levy at 601-979-1634 or lashonda.d.levy@jsums.edu or Gwen Caples, executive director of the JSU National Alumni Association and director of the JSU Office of Alumni and Constituency Relations 601-979-2281 or gwendolyn.caples@jsums.edu.

JSU study finds media reminders help teens buckle up

                                    logo                                                               Media reminders about seat belt usage make a difference in encouraging seat belt usage, according to findings of the Teen Jackson Seat Belt Coalition. The coalition announced the findings from three years of study during a press conference held Sept. 15 at the Jackson State University Student Center.

“Study findings show that teen seat belt use is highest when there are active reminders, and that it falls off pretty significantly when the reminders are removed,” said Dawn Bishop McLin, co-principal investigator of the project and a psychology professor at Jackson State. “This suggests that getting young people to buckle up will require continued messaging until it becomes an automatic behavior.”

Research has also shown that even though Mississippi has passed a primary seat belt law, many people still don’t buckle up. Other states with primary seat belt laws have gotten people to use seat belts through an active campaign to enforce the law.

With support from a wide variety of community partners, including the Jackson Public School District, the coalition has conducted rallies and supported service-learning projects to increase seat belt usage among teens.

Callaway High School students who produced radio commercials about using seat belts participated in the event.

Other program participants included Sean Perkins, Chief of Staff of the City of Jackson; Stacy Donaldson of Murrah High School; attorney and coalition member Richard Schwartz; a Domino’s Pizza representative; and Callaway High School students.    

JSU student performs at Kennedy Center with national choir

             Patrick2                                                     Music was in the air at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. during the second annual performance of the 105 Voices of History National Choir on Aug. 30. The choir is made up of one representative from each of the 105 Historically Black Universities and Colleges, including Jackson State University junior music major, Ursula Patrick.

“I was so honored that I was chosen for this great experience,” Patrick said. “I gained so many new friends nationwide, and learned a lot about being a better person to myself.”

 The concert was presented by Partners Achieving Success as apart of its HBCU week activitites, and was hosting by syndicated radio host Tom Joyner.

The voices arrived in D.C. on Aug 26 for the  week of empowering speeches, luncheons, and singing. Patrick said she was able to gain advice in health awareness, financial wealth, and Leadership.

 “We learned that as a race, we cannot use as an excuse that ‘I am black’ to justify our problems,” Patrick said.

Also in attendance was Cortez Castilla, the director of choral activities at Jackson State University. He prepared students from HBCU’s in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee by conducting rehearsals from April through August 2009. He also was the one who selected Patrick for the choir.

 “Our student [Urshula] was excellent,” Castilla said. “I chose a student who’s decorum, conduct, and talent represented what was being taught at Jackson State, and Ms. Patrick was that person.”

 Also during the week, Patrick was able to not only meet but perform with national recording group, Take 6. The choir practiced with them and was able to talk to them about the music industry’s do’s and don’t’s.

  “That whole experience was so fun, and in order to survive in the musical world, networking is essential.”

 The choir opened the concert by performing the national anthem with the U.S. Navy Choir, arranged by Dr. Carl Haywood of Norfolk State University. Their show featured songs like Order my Steps, Make A Joyful Noise unto the Lord, Awake the Harp, and a Duke Ellington melody.

JSU implements Everbridge Emergency Notification System to strengthen campus safety

emergencyEverbridge, the world’s recognized leader in incident notification systems, announced that Jackson State University has implemented the Everbridge AwareTM for Campus Alerts emergency notification system to communicate vital information to students, faculty and staff before, during and after hazardous events. Such incidents could include acts of violence, dangerous weather, natural disasters, and public health emergencies such as the H1N1/swine flu outbreak.

“At Jackson State University, we strive to be on the forefront of campus security, and ensuring the safety of our campus community is one of our highest priorities,” said Jackson State University President Ronald Mason Jr. “We are continuously evaluating ways to strengthen campus safety, and the Everbridge emergency notification system is another innovative tool in our  multi-layered approach to emergency preparedness.”

Everbridge AwareTM for Campus Alerts cycles through every communication device — including mobile phones, landlines, BlackBerry smartphones/wireless PDAs, e-mail, SMS, and instant messaging — in the contact path specified by individual preference, until messages are delivered and confirmed by recipients. In addition to implementing the Everbridge emergency notification system, the university has adopted a comprehensive multi-modal notification strategy that includes the use of alarm systems, call boxes, loudspeakers and electronic messaging/digital signage to maintain a safe and secure campus environment.

            “As the fall semester begins, campus safety and security is a top-of-mind concern for the higher education community,” said Cinta Putra, chief executive officer for Everbridge. “We applaud Jackson State University for their proactive approach and commitment to emergency preparedness and campus safety.”

            Jackson State University officials are urging students, faculty and staff to sign up to receive emergency notification alerts for situations that pose a direct threat to public safety. The success of this program hinges on receiving accurate contact information from individuals within the campus community. Registration instructions have been sent to Jackson State University e­-mail addresses.


Jackson State hosts annual Alabama-Mississippi social work conference

     AlabamaMississippi                                                                                                 The Jackson State University School of Social Work hosted the 38th Annual Alabama-Mississippi Social Work Education Conference Oct. 1-2 at the Mississippi e-Center@JSU. The conference theme was “Social Work: Paving the Way to Human Rights.” 

            The keynote speakers were Leon W. Chestang, interim associate dean of the School of Social Work at Jackson State University and a renowned leader in child welfare rights; L.C. Dorsey, a retired professor from the School of Social Work at Mississippi Valley State University and a respected advocate for diverse human rights and social justice; and Rims Barber, a longtime trailblazer in advocacy, policy, and social justice for human rights. 

            Workshop presenters represented schools of social work, students and community agencies.  The conference was open to social workers and other human service professionals, educators, students, the faith-based community and other interested persons.

State Farm Southern Zone Youth Advisory Board grants $10,000 to

9.23.09StateFarmJackson State University’s Center for Service and Community Engaged Learning was awarded a $10,000 service-learning grant for financial literacy and access to higher education from the State Farm Southern Zone Youth Advisory Board. The award was presented to the board during a press conference held Sept. 23 at the JSU Student Center.

“During a time of necessary budget cuts, this grant will allow the Center for Service and Community Engaged Learning to continue working toward the mission of engaging faculty members, students and community partners in an endeavor that combines community service with academic learning,” said Valerie Shelby, director of the Center for Service and Community Engaged Learning.

The State Farm Southern Zone Youth Advisory Board is a diverse group of nine young people, including JSU student Lafeyounda Brooks, who were chosen through a competitive process to lead and oversee the company’s service-learning initiative.  The board identifies issues, awards competitive grants and provides technical assistance, communication and oversight to grantees. The objective of the grant is to fund student-led service-learning projects in the State Farm Southern Zone, which includes Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina.

 “State Farm supports service-learning because it combines service to the community with classroom curriculum in a hands-on approach to mastering subject material while fostering civic responsibility,” said Emily Clark, State Farm public affairs specialist.  “The State Farm Southern Zone Youth Advisory Board is a prime example of State Farm’s commitment to education, our community and our youth.”

JSU promotes education innovation through town hall, outreach events

                                                                       Rod_Paige   JSU alumnus and former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige headlined a state education town hall meeting on Oct. 1 at Hinds Community College that represented all three levels of Mississippi education. 

            Panelists included Mississippi Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds, State Board for Community and Junior Colleges executive director Eric Clark, interim state superintendent of education John Jordan and Jackson State University president Ronald Mason Jr. Other invited participants included elected officials, educators, students and other civic leaders.

            The meeting was part of a collaborative effort to make pre-K through college education in Mississippi a national model for innovative teaching and training.  The panel was moderated by Dr. James “Butch” Rosser, a nationally known surgeon and Morehouse School of Medicine professor. Rosser is the founder of the Stealth Learning Company and a native of the Mississippi Delta.

            Rosser and his company also presented a flight-time experience at Jackson State University on Friday, Oct. 2, for students from Jackson Public Schools and Hinds County Public Schools. The event featured full-scale flight simulators, unmanned aerial vehicles, aviation video game demos and surgical simulations. The multimedia experience is aimed at promoting innovative approaches to education.