(JACKSON, Miss.) – The Jackson State University community joined city, state and national leaders and delegates from colleges, universities and educational associations from around the country on March 30 for the investiture ceremony of JSU’s 10th and first female president, Carolyn W. Meyers.
Gov. Phil Bryant addressed the audience at the Rose Embly McCoy Auditorium after the procession of faculty and delegates dressed in blue, gold, green and crimson academic regalia.
“It seems like she’s always getting it right,” Bryant said about Meyers’ slate of accomplishments during her first year at JSU. “She has increased by tenfold the fundraising and enrollment is at an all-time high. I would like to say to the other university presidents who are here – look out, you have some competition.”
Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. also praised Meyers’ achievements at JSU.
“Dr. Meyers has been at the helm of Jackson State University for a while now and already she has made great strides,” he said to the assembly. “Jackson State University is very important to the city of Jackson and the entire state of Mississippi.”
The investiture ceremony was steeped in history and tradition. State Institutions of Higher Learning Commissioner Hank Bounds administered the oath of office, and along with IHL board member and JSU alum Bob Owens and IHL president Robin Robinson, presented Meyers with the presidential Chain of Office. The chain is a symbol of office dating from medieval times that honors the highest official at an educational institution. Meyers’ chain is made up of curved banners engraved with the names of JSU’s nine previous presidents. A banner engraved with her name is located at the center of the chain above the university medallion.
In her inaugural address – much of which was directed to JSU students – Meyers spoke about unity of purpose, dreaming big and excellence in all things.
”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,” she told the students.
Meyers also spoke about JSU’s history, and how the university got its start in 1877 as a seminary for 20 newly freed slaves.
“It was 20 young people who started this university, and you young people are this university,” she said. “You must never let the flame go out.”
Meyers emphasized JSU’s value to the region, where in 2010, the university’s economic impact exceeded $413 million.
“Jackson State is not only located in this urban area, we’re also of the city and for the city,” she said. “As Mississippi’s Urban University, Jackson State University must lead the development of realistic solutions to Mississippi’s urban problems.”
Meyers took the helm of Jackson State University in January 2011. Under her leadership, JSU earned a 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and national accreditations in business, teacher education and engineering as well as full certification by the NCAA. Meyers also pushed Jackson State University enrollment to an all-time high of 8,903, increased fundraising tenfold to $4.2 million, and positioned the university to become a national model for educating the underserved and achieving global recognition for excellence in education, research and service.
Meyers brings to Jackson State University more than 30 years of academic and administrative leadership experience in higher education, serving most recently as President of Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Va. She served as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where she was a tenured professor of mechanical engineering and Dean of the College of Engineering. Meyers also was a tenured faculty member at the Georgia Institute of Technology and was the first Associate Dean for Research in its College of Engineering.
A native of Newport News, Va., Meyers earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Howard University, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and a doctorate in chemical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and completed post-doctoral work at Harvard University. She is a fellow in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
The final inauguration event will be the Inaugural Reception and Gala, which begins at 6 p.m. March 30 at the Walter Payton Recreation and Wellness Center.
For more information about the JSU Presidential Inauguration, visit http://www.jsums.edu/presidential-inauguration.