How to best reach and serve students, as both an HBCU and the state of Mississippi’s only designated Urban University, has been at the core of both physical expansion and the introduction of nationally groundbreaking programs since Dr. Carolyn W. Meyers assumed the presidency in 2010. This spring, the Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees voted to extend Meyer’s contract by four years, essentially reaffirming the university’s vision and its method of implementation.
“Dr. Meyers has taken Jackson State’s mission as Mississippi’s only urban university very seriously, expanding opportunities for students throughout the metro area and beyond,” said Alan Perry, who recently stepped into the role of IHL Board president. “By expanding into Madison County and downtown Jackson, the university is reaching out to students, particulary nontraditional students who have responsibilities, who may not otherwise have an opportunity to earn a degree and fulfill their dreams.”
The advances made at JSU under Meyers’ leadership have been both massive and fast-paced and include the recent approval and related funding from the state to create a School of Public Health, a first for Mississippi. The “firsts” don’t stop there. The university was the first in the nation to introduce a program to provide all incoming freshmen with iPads to complement an emphasis on cyberlearning. That effort, coupled with the development of INNOVATE and CREATE, one-stop, high-tech centers for faculty and students, earned the university a coveted Apple Distinguished School designation.
Enrollment within her first year climbed to a new high and has continued, to today’s 9,508 students, with the university graduating its largest class this spring. JSUOnline, brought in-house and launched in the fall, is also seeing continued growth. Gifts and pledges have soared from $274,000 in FY2010 to $1.018 million in FY2014, and active alumni membership has increased significantly.
The Academic Progresss Rate (APR) for athletes reflected one of the best overall performances within JSU history in her first year and remains strong. The immediate future looks to be just as fast-paced as JSU prepares to open this fall University Pointe, an apartment-type living complex, to meet growing housing needs. And, an expansion of its Engineering Building to accommodate the growing demand of those entering science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields is underway. ONEJSU