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Interim president aims to help JSU turn a new Paige

Interim president aims to help JSU turn a new Paige

by L.A. Warren

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Rod Paige, who was the 1964 head football coach at Jackson State University, has answered the call to serve his alma mater again by returning as interim president to help the HBCU improve its finances.

Paige recently spoke candidly to media about the university’s cash reserve. He described JSU as a “premier university that will take its rightful place among higher education institutions in the United States of America and, indeed, across the world.”

The native Mississippian acknowledged that JSU is facing a challenge with its rainy day fund and that many other universities endure such obstacles. “We want to have a full understanding of the current circumstances. … Jackson State is working toward reaching solid financial ground … and we’re going to fulfill our mission toward the future that’s been put in place by our forefathers and foremothers.”

Moreover, Paige said, corrective actions are under way, and once all the data have been accumulated that information would be widely shared. “This is a public institution. … We want the public to be our friend and support us. We owe them the explanation.”


Since returning to Mississippi, Paige has met with legislators, campus officials and students. He also plans to engage community members. “You can tell by the depth of their questions that they have a real strong interest in the university, and they want the best for the university. We need to try to provide them with information so that they can fulfill their mission as friends of the university.”

In addition, Paige recently spoke to the president of the JSU National Alumni Association, and said, “We’re talking about ways that we can get our arms around this issue.”

Paige indicated changes are on the horizon administratively, too. “If things don’t change, they stay the same. And clearly, we don’t want the same.” He said JSU has positively altered lives, including his. “Much of what I’ve achieved I can look back and say this university had a direct influence on me. I would never have been U.S. Secretary of Education absent my education at Jackson State. If that’s true for me, imagine how many other people in the world that is true for.”

He indicated that the university’s growth would be defined by quality, not simply enrollment numbers. “We’re talking about the university’s image throughout the world, throughout Mississippi and throughout the United States.”

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