JSU music professor receives Mississippi Jazz Foundation Award

The Mississippi Jazz Foundation will honor and recognize Jackson State University professor of music Russell Thomas Jr. during its sixth annual holiday jazz concert, “A Night of Musical Artistry,” at 7 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Alamo Theater on the historic Farish Street in downtown Jackson.

During the concert, the foundation will honor Thomas’ musical works and will recognize his contributions to music education and the music entertainment industry in Mississippi.

Other honorees include jazz artist and JSU alumnus Cassandra Wilson and former JSU band director the late William Davis.

Thomas, a member of the JSU Department of Music faculty since 1984, is director of jazz education and the coordinator of music theory. He is a Fulbright Scholar and the founder of the “Jazz in the Schools” program, which is dedicated to the teaching of jazz history and jazz improvisation concepts in kindergarten through secondary schools.

Thomas has presented “Jazz in the Schools” residencies for elementary and high schools throughout the United States. He has presented jazz education lectures and seminars at the International Association of Jazz Educators Conference, Music Educators National Conference, Southern Arts Exchange Conference, North American Saxophone Alliance Conference, National Black Music Caucus Conference and the “ORFF 100” International Conference on Music and Dance in Melbourne, Australia.

At JSU, Thomas developed the Bachelor of Music Education Degree – Jazz Education Concentration curriculum, and directed and produced nine educational recordings of the Jackson State University Jazz Ensemble Class I. The JSU Jazz Ensemble Class I earned national acclaim by receiving the “Dr. M. E. Hall Award” for being selected as the outstanding jazz ensemble at the University of North Texas 2009 Annual North Texas Jazz Festival.

Thomas’ publications include a musical composition for jazz orchestra, “Blues Grove” (Walrus Music Publications), and a book chapter, “Li’l Darlin’, Neal Paul Hefti,” in the book, “Teaching Music Through Performance In Jazz” (GIA Publications, Inc.). Thomas has received numerous honors and awards including the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and the Mississippi Humanities Teacher / Scholar Award.

JSU music professor to present at three international conferences

David N. Ware, associate professor of music at Jackson State University, has been invited to present at the Hawaii International Conference on Education, the Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities and the International Conference on the Arts in Society in Sydney, Australia. The Hawaii conferences will be held in January 2010, and the Sydney conference will take place in July.

Ware’s presentation is titled, “King of the Chit’lin Circuit: The Life and Music of Bobby Rush.”

Ware, a member of the JSU Department of Music faculty since 2000, directs the Jazz Ensemble II, the Brasswind Ensemble and the Trumpet Ensemble. He was one of 14 professors selected as a University Scholar for the 2008-2009 academic year. Ware’s publications include “Interviews with 16 Band Directors at Historically Black Colleges: Their Attitudes, Opinions and Methods” (Edwin Mellen Press); “Flexibility Studies for the Trumpet, French Horn, Trombone, Euphonium, and Tuba” (Cimarron Music Press); “Gettin’ It Together: Tips for Creating an Excellent Teaching Portfolio;” and numerous articles in the International Trumpet Guild Journal, the Jazz Education Journal, the School Band and Orchestra Magazine and the Mississippi Bandmaster.

Jackson State University and Jackson Medical Mall researchers present project at National Institutes of Health

Sandra Hayes (left), academic project director; Barbara Johnson, principal investigator and assistant professor, health policy and management; and Primus Wheeler, community project director and executive director, Jackson Medical Mall Foundation.

The Department of Health Policy and Management at Jackson State University and the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation have spent the past two years engaged in a collaborative research effort sponsored through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Partners in Research Program.

The research project, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, is designed to increase community engagement and participation in biomedical and clinical research. The project’s academic principal investigator, Barbara Johnson of Jackson State and project directors, Sandra Hayes of Jackson State and Primus Wheeler of the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation, presented a poster at the Partners in Research Conference hosted by the NIH in Bethesda, Md., Oct. 26-27. The poster presentation focused on preliminary findings from the research.
It is anticipated that the findings from this data will provide direction for the development of strategies that will foster the building of networks for increasing research awareness and infrastructure that will promote biomedical research that not only takes place in the small business community, but involves the community.
“It is through projects such as this one that academia and community organizations can work together to empower the communities that we serve and change public health outcomes for the better,” said Johnson, an assistant professor in JSU’s Department of Health Policy and Management.
To date, the researchers have facilitated two community forums. The first of these focused on how the community can become engaged in research that affects their health. A second forum focused on the impact of the environment in which one lives upon health outcomes. Upcoming initiatives of the project for 2010 are two additional community forums designed to educate participants on various aspects of health outcomes and community engaged research. The first of these, tentatively scheduled for January 2010, will focus on the relationship between lifestyle choices and health outcomes.

JSU professor, Ally Mack, wins Excellence in Trade Education Award

Jackson State University professor and dean of the Division of International Studies Ally Mack was presented the Excellence in Trade Education Award on Nov. 12 by the Mississippi World Trade Center. This was the Center’s first year presenting an award for Excellence in Trade Education.  The award honors educational programs and individuals who have promoted and/or developed international business and turned import and export opportunities into Mississippi success stories.

“It was an honor to be the first recipient of the Mississippi World Trade Center award recognizing the crucial role that education plays in international trade,” Mack said. “Thus, I am delighted that Jackson State University was the first recipient and that it is being recognized for its efforts in this area.”

For the past 30 years, Mack has worked to internationalize Mississippi through the International Visitors Center of Jackson and the Mississippi Consortium for International Development. From her efforts, better engagement in the international trade arena has occurred.