JSU appoints Executive Director of Community Engagement

(JACKSON, Miss.) – Kimberly Hilliard, who since 2010 has served as director of the Jackson State University Center for University-Based Development, has become JSU’s new Executive Director of Community Engagement. Her appointment is effective July 1.

In this role, Hilliard will lead the Department of Community Affairs and Events, the Center for University-Based Development and the Human Capital Development Division, whose primary initiative is the Washington Addition Prenatal & Early Childhood Education Project. These departments are now part of the Division of Institutional Advancement, which includes the JSU Welcome Center, JSUTV, WJSU 88.5 FM, the Tiger Sports Network and the departments of Development, Alumni and Constituency Relations, Public Relations, Marketing, Social Media and Athletic Media Relations.

“This realignment will enable Jackson State to more effectively build support from our local and regional community,” said David Hoard, Vice President for Institutional Advancement. “I’m delighted that Dr. Hilliard and her staff are now part of the Institutional Advancement team.”

A native of Washington, D.C., Hilliard holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Tuskegee University, a M.S. in urban and regional planning from the University of New Orleans and a Ph.D. in urban and regional planning from Jackson State University.

Hilliard is an expert in comprehensive planning practices, real estate development, community revitalization and historic preservation. She has more than 25 years of consulting in the areas of engineering, urban planning, economic development and historic preservation. She holds certification in Affordable Housing Financing, Historic Preservation and Community Facilitation.

Hilliard serves as a mayoral appointee on the City of Jackson Mechanical Board, is vice president of the Board of Trustees for Mississippi First and serves on the Advisory Board for Midtown Partners. She is also a Preservation Fellow for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Actively involved in many social and professional organizations, Hilliard’s passion is working with community participatory processes.

“It will be an honor to serve the university and community in this expanded capacity,” said Hilliard, who first joined the JSU staff in 2004. “I’m looking forward to broadening our efforts to engage the larger community.”

JSU installs 750kw electric generator to enhance emergency preparedness

Jackson State University recently completed the installation of a 750kw electric generator at the T.B. Ellis Building on the university’s main campus.

Jackson State University recently completed the installation of a 750kw electric generator at the T.B. Ellis Building on the university’s main campus.

The generator was acquired after the university was awarded a $315,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Health and the Federal Health Services to prepare the T. B. Ellis Building for use as a Special Medical Needs shelter during designated emergency periods.

“We have worked with the Mississippi Department of Health and the Federal Health Services on several projects, and it is indeed fortunate for JSU to have this generator to combat some of the challenges we could face during critical times,” said Curtis Johnson, director of Support Services and Emergency Management.

In the summer of 2008, the Mississippi State Health Department contacted Johnson to request that the university work with the Federal Health Service in housing some evacuees and health care professionals during Hurricane Gustav. After being impressed with services provided by various areas of JSU, the Federal Health Service sought to establish the university as a permanent emergency location.

“We are constantly striving to ensure that our university is prepared to be a safe haven during any emergency situation,” said Carolyn W. Meyers, president of Jackson State University. “This project truly supports that effort.”

Felix Okojie, vice president for Research and Federal Relations, also assisted in this project.

This is a very valuable resource for JSU,” Okojie said. “I am glad to have worked with Dr. Johnson, who is actively involved in emergency management collaborations with the university and various external agencies.”

The shelter project is expected to provide JSU with new opportunities for innovation in the areas of emergency management and safety.

“We are preparing to increase training for personnel, educate our communities and identify opportunities to garner resources through collaborations and grants,” Johnson said. “As we improve, we are asking everyone to join us and support this endeavor to improve preparedness and response at JSU.”

For more information, contact Curtis Johnson at cjohnson@jsums.edu.
Spencer McClenty


Jacksonians featured in ‘Who’s Who in Black Mississippi’

(JACKSON, Miss.) – The Jackson State University family congratulates President Carolyn W. Meyers and 22 other JSU professionals who are featured in the 2012 edition of “Who’s Who in Black Mississippi.”

The publication, which features biographical data and pictures of Mississippi’s most influential African Americans, was unveiled during a reception June 23 at the Jackson Convention Complex.

Along with Meyers, featured Jacksonians include:

  • Dr. James C. Renick, Senior Advisor to the President
  • Dr. Mark G. Hardy, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs
  • David Hoard, Vice President of Institutional Advancement
  • Dr. Felix Okojie, Vice President for Research and Federal Relations
  • Dr. Vivian L. Fuller, Director of Athletics
  • Robert M. Walker, Director of Community Affairs and Events
  • Dr. Marcus A. Chanay, Vice President of Student Life
  • Dr. William E. McHenry, Executive Director, Mississippi e-Center @JSU
  • Dr. Evelyn J. Leggette, Dean, Undergraduate Studies
  • Dr. Mark G. Henderson, Interim Chair and Director of Theatre, Department of Speech Communication and Theatre
  • Dr. Glenda B. Glover, Dean, College of Business
  • Lori J. Stewart, Director of Student Life Communications and Outreach, Division of Student Life
  • Dr. Roslyn Knox-Lockett, Budget Manager, School of Health Sciences, Center of Excellence in Minority Health
  • C. Liegh McInnis, Instructor of English
  • Dr. D’Andra Orey, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science
  • Dr. Marinelle Payton, Assistant Dean, Research and Program Development, School of Health Sciences
  • Dr. Russell Thomas Jr., Interim Chair, Department of Music
  • Dowell Taylor, Interim Director of Bands, Director of Music Technology
  • Dr. Loretta Galbreath, Assistant Professor of Music
  • Dr. Nikisha Ware, Executive Director, Mississippi Learning Institute
  • Dr. John D. Calhoun, Assistant Professor, College of Business
  • Terry L. Woodard, President, Jackson State University National Alumni Association, Inc.

To purchase a copy of the 2012 edition of “Who’s Who in Black Mississippi,” call 614-481-7300.

JSU hires interim vice president of Information Management

Deborah F. Dent, Ph.D.

(JACKSON, Miss.) – Jackson State University has hired a seasoned information technology specialist to serve as interim vice president of Information Management.

Deborah F. Dent, who worked for more than 36 years at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, will start at JSU on August 1. For the past decade, Dent served as deputy director of the Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center. There she managed the day-to-day operations of the lab and oversaw the execution of ITL’s facility budgets and assisted the execution of its research and development, engineering, information technology and major computational efforts. She also assisted in the management of ITL’s human, financial and physical assets, which encompasses more than 400 government and contractor employees, a $219 million annual budget and $150 million in equipment and facilities.

The Hattiesburg native received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a Ph.D. in scientific computing from the University of Southern Mississippi. She earned a master’s degree in computer science from Jackson State University.

“I’m excited about coming back to Jackson State and I’m excited about everything that is going on at the university,” Dent said. “Jackson State is embracing technology in new ways. I look forward to being a change agent to continue the university’s progress and innovation.”

Jackson State University President Carolyn W. Meyers said Dent will be a valuable addition to her leadership team.

“Upgrading and integrating technology throughout campus is one of Jackson State’s strategic priorities,” Meyers said. “The expertise that Dr. Dent brings will help push Jackson State University to the next level of excellence.”

Dent started work at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1975 as a computer science trainee, and worked her way up over the years as a computer programmer, a computer scientist and a supervisory computer scientist. During her tenure as ITL’s deputy director, she served for two years as the lab’s acting director.

Scholarship program to provide iPads to JSU freshmen

(JACKSON, Miss.) – Thanks to a scholarship program sponsored by the Mississippi e-Center @JSU, Jackson State University will provide iPads to every full-time member of the fall 2012 class who are entering JSU for the first time as a freshman. Between 800 and 900 new freshmen are expected to start classes in the fall.

The iPads will be integrated into the curriculum to enhance the learning experience, and the tablets will save students money by enabling them to purchase electronic books for their classes.

“We’re making an investment in student success,” said William E. McHenry, executive director of the Mississippi e-Center @JSU. “Jackson State University is the only institution in the state that is providing such technology to its freshmen for free.”

The program will include training for students on the use of the iPad as well as faculty training focused on using the technology for teaching and learning.

“We’re the first institution in Mississippi that has anything this comprehensive that is integrated into the curriculum,” said JSU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs Mark G. Hardy. “We will be placing technology directly in the hands of students and giving them a mobile platform so that learning happens whether they are inside or outside of the classroom.”

The iPad program coincides with the launch of campus-wide Wi-Fi service, which will enable students to collaborate with each other and study conveniently from anywhere on campus. The program also dovetails with JSU’s iPad study, which is the largest study of its kind in the United States.

The iPads are expected to be an incentive for students to continue their studies at JSU through graduation. Students who leave the university during their freshman year will be asked to pay for or return the device. Those who remain enrolled for five semesters get to keep the iPad for their personal use.

The Mississippi e-Center @JSU, a not-for-profit foundation, is providing the iPad scholarships to students as part of its long-standing partnership with Jackson State University.

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JSU choral activities director selected to conduct national choir

(JACKSON, Miss.) – Jackson State University Director of Choral Activities W. Cortez Castilla has been selected as a national conductor for this year’s 105 Voices of History National Choir, which will perform three major concerts during the 2012-2013 academic year.

Two performances will be in Washington, D.C. The choir will perform during the Congressional Black Caucus Week at the Andrew Mellon Concert Stage and at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In addition, the Voices of History Choir will perform in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry Center.

During the past three years, Castilla has served as regional director for the Southeastern Region, preparing choir members from Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky for the annual performance at the Kennedy Center.  While serving as a regional director, students from the Southeastern Region have been awarded approximately $21,000 in scholarships for outstanding performance with the choir.  Two Jackson State University Chorale members who were music majors each received $5,000 in scholarships as winners in the scholarship awards ceremonies.

JSU names head women’s basketball coach

(JACKSON, Miss.) – Jackson State University has named Surina R. Dixon – a seasoned basketball coach with over 20 years of coaching experience at the NCAA Division I and II levels – as the university’s head women’s basketball coach.

Dixon, a Mississippi native, comes to Jackson State from Southwind High School in Memphis where she compiled a 67-20 overall record over three seasons as head basketball coach. From 2005 to 2007, Dixon was the head coach for Lane College in Jackson, Tenn. Under her leadership, Lane’s Lady Dragons achieved a school record by scoring 119 points in a single game while holding the opponent to only 36 points. Lane’s women’s basketball team was competitive in the classroom as well as on the court. During Dixon’s tenure, the Lady Dragons posted one of the highest grade point averages and most wins in over a decade.

Prior to Lane College, Dixon spent four seasons as the head coach at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES). While at UMES, she recorded three straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament first round wins, and her Lady Hawks teams graduated at a 99 percent rate.

Before UMES, Dixon served as the head assistant coach at Arkansas State University, where she helped lead the Lady Indians to their best start in school history and their first top 25 national ranking. Dixon also worked as the assistant coach at Texas Southern University, where she helped guide the Lady Tigers to their best finish in over a decade.

Before joining the collegiate ranks, Dixon was a successful coach in the Memphis school district. At Germantown Middle School, she won eight district and six county championships and a run of five undefeated seasons. While at Germantown, she posted a 165-29 overall record.

While in transition from coaching middle school to college, Dixon had the opportunity to both play and coach two seasons of professional basketball with the WNBA Memphis Blues. She was known as a crafty and intelligent player with a keen understanding of the game. Her court vision, along with her drive and determination, made her one of the best point guards in the league. She also worked as a coach and instructor at numerous camps, including the 1998 WNBA Utah Starzz’s free agent camp and the 2000 WNBA Houston Comets training camp.

Success in education, athletics and leadership are trademarks of Dixon’s philosophy. At Rosedale High School in Rosedale, Miss., Dixon captained both the basketball and track teams. Aside from her athletic accomplishments, Dixon is most proud of her academic achievements. The Mississippi Valley State University star player and alumnus graduated with honors. She went on to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Mississippi. She was inducted into the Mississippi Valley State Hall of Fame on April 9, 2010.

Dixon is a member of several professional and national organizations, including the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, the Black Coaches Association, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the National Education Association and Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities. Dixon is married to Harold Dixon.

JSU senior’s small business up for $250,000 grant, needs your votes

Monique Atkins

Deeply Rooted ‘07 Clothing is an urban T- shirt line created in Burnham, IL by Jackson State University senior graphics design major, Monique Atkins. Atkins has applied for a $250,000 grant through Mission: Small Business℠ for her company but need at least 250 votes by June 30th to be considered for the award.

Mission: Small Business℠ is an effort by Chase Bank USA, National Association and LivingSocial, Inc. to increase awareness of the important role small businesses play in local communities and to help small businesses grow. Go to www.missionsmallbusiness.com to vote for Atkins’ Deeply Rooted ’07 Clothing.
Atkins began hand painting t-shirts and other articles of clothing while in high school. After suffering the sudden loss of her mother and father 7 months apart, Atkins’ level of determination to succeed grew rapidly.
Founded in 2007, Deeply Rooted ’07  is a direct representation of persevering and overcoming hardships Visit the site, www.deeplyrooted07clothing.com.

Spencer McClenty

JSU names Derrick McCall offensive coordinator

Derrick McCall

Jackson State University head football coach Rick Comegy has named Derrick McCall to serve as offensive coordinator. The 2012 season marks McCall’s fifth as a member of the JSU Tigers coaching staff. In the last two seasons he served as the quarterbacks coach under Comegy.

For the first two seasons at JSU he was the wide receivers coach. Prior to coming to JSU he served two seasons with Shaw University as the Associate Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator.

McCall has a wealth of knowledge and experience. In 2007, his second season at Shaw, McCall helped lead the Bears to a Central Intercollegiate Athletics Association Championship and a historic NCAA Division II berth.

From 2002-05, he was the wide receivers coach for the Tuskegee University Golden Tigers. While at Tuskegee, he served as Interim Head Football Coach and won a SIAC Championship and Pioneer Bowl Championship. He has helped send two athletes to the National Football League, Harry Williams of the Houston Texans and Calvin Russell of the Green Bay Packers and one athlete to the Arena Football League, Ken Henderson of the Philadelphia Soul.

From 1985-87, he coached with the semi-pro football team, Buck Town Suns. He spent one season, in 1988, as the quarterback coach at Edison High School in Miami, Fla. From 1996-97, he coached at Shaw High School in Mobile, Al. From 1997-2000, McCall was the assistant head football coach and offensive coordinator at M.T. Blount High School, where he helped led them to three consecutive Alabama 5-A State Championship titles. He also served as quarter back coach for the Mobile Seagulls Arena Football League from 1999-2000.

McCall also had a successful collegiate career as a quarterback for Jackson State from 1979-82. While at Jackson State, he won two SWAC Championships and made two NCAA Division I-AA playoff appearances.

 The Mobile, Ala. native is a 2001 graduate of Spring Hill College, he received a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in management. He is a member of the American Football Coaches Association, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Mt. Hebron Baptist Church. McCall is the proud parent of three daughters, Tiffany, Tanesha and India. He has two grandchildren, Isaac and RhyAnn. He is married to the former Theresa Middlebrook

Miss JSU ’11-’12, Mea Ashley, to be featured in Ebony magazine

Mea Ashley, 2011-2012 Miss JSU

Miss Jackson State University 2011-2012, Mea Ashley has been selected as one of 10 Historically Black College and Universities Queens to be featured in the September 2012  issue of the Ebony Magazine.

The Ebony HBCU Campus Queens program honors young women at the nation’s HBCUs who are role models of both beauty and ambition on campus and in their communities.

Ashley will fly to Atlanta on Saturday for her photo shoot.



Spencer McClenty