Jackson State’s latest expansion, the downtown campus, opened with a grand ceremony shortly after the fall semester began. More than 200 state and local elected officials, civic leaders, JSU faculty, staff, students and supporters gathered in the facility’s Percy W. Watson Lobby at 101 Capitol Street on Sept. 3. The lobby was dedicated in honor of state Rep. Watson, chair of the House Ethics Committee, who helped JSU secure the structure for the $2 million university project.
The JSU Downtown Campus houses the Department of Alumni and Constituency Relations/Annual Giving, the Institute of Government, the Department of Public Policy and Administration, the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, the Mississippi Urban Research Center and the Mississippi Conference of Black Mayors. Watson, a longtime state representative from Hattiesburg, was pivotal in helping JSU secure the new building. The veteran lawmaker, with 36 years in government service, and his wife, Barbara, both attended the university. Watson expressed gratitude to JSU for giving him his start in politics. The school’s legislative conference in1969, he said, helped him learn the intricacies of government operations.
“What we see here today is a result of working with all members of the Legislature: Black caucus, Democratic caucus, Republican caucus, all members of the Senate, all members of the House and the Governor’s Office.” he said. “And it took the leadership of Jackson State.”
Dr. Ricardo Brown, dean of the College of Public Service, said the close proximity of the building to the seats of government has provided easy access for students to join sessions of the Jackson City Council, Hinds County Board of Supervisors and the state legislature with much higher frequency and involvement.
“The current location has brought the students and faculty of Urban and Regional Planning and Public Policy and Administration closer to their areas of study and research making both student learning and faculty research more effective,” Brown said.
“It helps us coordinate activities of the Institute of Government, the Mississippi Urban Research Center and the Jackson State Alumni and Constituent Relations with academic units.”
The opening ceremony also highlighted the work of MAC & Associates, LLC, to resurrect the 52,000-square-foot structure. It was hired as the general contractor for the project. The company has been one of the top minority-owned firms in Jackson since 1996.