LORMAN, MS – Alcon State University has announced the launch of its 150th anniversary celebrations at noon Thursday, May 13, kicking off more than a year of activities that will honor the nation’s oldest public historically Black land-grant institution.

Less than a month after the investiture of Alcorn’s 20th president, Dr. Felecia M. Nave, the vibrant ceremony featuring national and local luminaries will capture the university’s history – including its ability to defy the odds and transcend expectations over its first 150 years – and the bold strategies it has set in place to define its next 150 years.

About the event

Oakland Memorial Chapel on Alcorn State University Lorman Main Campus. Photo courtesy of the Division of Communications & Marketing/HBCU Campaign Fund.

Hosted by alumnus and Mississippi’s Fox 40 News anchor Melissa Faith Payne, the event will be live and streamed from the Historic Oakland Memorial Chapel on the Lorman campus. The May 13 event will honor the history of Alcorn State University, with brief panel discussions of its academic and athletic excellence, a mini-documentary narrated by Emmy Award-winning actress Aunjaune Ellis show casting the evolving campus life and powerful legacy, and appearances from national and local celebrities, including U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, and Dr. Jacqueline Walters.

To kick off the Sesquicentennial celebrations, the event will bring together current and former students, faculty, staff, and supporters of Alcorn State University, highlighting Alcorn’s impact on the world and feature a variety of tributes, including the renowned Sounds of Dyn-O-Mite Marching Band and the Golden Girls, and the University’s Concert Choir.

For more information about the upcoming Sesquicentennial events, please visit www.alcorn.edu/150.

About the moment

Born in 1871 from the embers of the Civil War, Alcorn was both Mississippi’s first public college for Black youth and the country’s first historically Black land-grant college. The University’s founders includes the first Black U.S. senator, Hiram Revels, and Alcorn students followed his lead, blazing new paths in academics, athletics, civil rights, government, medicine, and other domains; Alex Haley, Medgar Evers, and Steve McNair stand as just three distinguished Alcornities who dared to make indelible marks with their fields.

Photo courtesy of the Division of Communications & Marketing/HBCU Campaign Fund.

“For 150 years, Alcornities have excelled and defied odds while remaining humble and supportive of one another,” said Felecia M. Nave, President of Alcorn State University, an alumnus of the university and its first female president. “We lean deeply into our storied past and look forward to our bright future. I am truly honored to lead Alcorn into the next 150 years doing just – celebrating our roots while running full steam ahead into our future.”

Alcorn today enrolls more than 3,200 undergraduate and graduate students from Mississippi and around the globe. These students come to Alcorn for the excellence and affordability of its academic programs, the vibrancy of its campus life, and the legendary NCAA Division l athletic program. Still deeply connected to its land-grant mission, the university operates its Extension Program from three locations serving local farming and ranching needs in 15 southwest Mississippi counties while empowering citizens across the state.

“Alcorn State University plays an unparalleled role in Mississippi history,” said Robert D. Gage IV, ASU Foundation Chair and the chief executive of Rivers Hills Bank. “Today, we honor the University’s legacy while paying tribute to all that is contributing to the future of our state and our nation.”

About Alcorn State University

Alcorn State University is the nation’s first public historically Black, Morrill land-grant university. Alcorn State offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in more than 50 top-degree programs. Located on 1700 acres in Lorman, Mississippi, with branches in Vicksburg and Natchez, the University is celebrating 150 years of academic excellence. In addition to its generous scholarship opportunities, Alcorn has earned nationwide recognition in nursing, biology, music, technology, agricultural research, and the liberal arts. Outside of the classrooms, students are involved in NCAA Division I athletics as well as more than 85 organizations and clubs, including student-run radio and television stations, study abroad, and the 200-strong Sounds of Dyn-O-Mite Marching Band featuring the Golden Girls. For more information, visit www.alcorn.edu.

-Joint partnership with Alcorn State University aims to address economic development in the Mississippi Delta region-

(TOUGALOO, MS) – The Reuben V. Anderson Institute for Social Justice at Tougaloo College, in partnership with the Alcorn State University Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Center, has announced the launched of a comprehensive grassroots leadership development initiative aimed to address economic development in the Mississippi Delta.

The Bennie G. Thompson Delta Leadership Initiative is designed to accelerate the development of socially disadvantaged black and indigenous grassroots community leaders living in Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District. Named for Congressman and Tougaloo College alumnus Bennie G. Thompson, the initiative will focus on identifying and developing early-stage grassroots and community-led work with innovative and promising sustainable solutions in areas, including sustainable food systems training, social enterprise development models, and workforce transportation.

“While serving Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District, I have witnessed the incalculable damage done to black and brown communities due to a lack of leadership and sustainable, deliberate community and economic development,” said Bennie G. Thompson, congressman of Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District. “With this new initiative, we will continue to empower community leaders to engage in practices guided by courage and common sense; specifically, to increase the net worth of the Mississippi Delta.”

Julian D. Miller, Esq., director of the Reuben V. Anderson Institute for Social Justice and assistant professor of political science at Tougaloo College adds that “we must make bold, innovative investments if we are to deliver viable, systemic solutions for social problems affecting future generations in the Mississippi Delta.” This initiative it the first of its kind for Alcorn State University. “This program allows us the opportunity to assess the needs of socially disadvantaged people in rural America in a much different way,” said Eloris Speight, director of the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center at Alcorn State University. “It gives us insight on potential policy recommendations that could provide long-lasting, positive impacts on those we serve.”

Though the partnership with industry leaders, the Bennie G. Thompson Delta Leadership Initiative is providing critical mentorship, advising, and networking resources to give direct support to selected participants. In addition, up to $15,000 in equity-free grants will be disbursed to give selected cohorts.

The Bennie G. Thompson Delta Leadership Initiative highlights the diversity and strengths of Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District through a series of five seminars over the course of seven months. Three seminars are held throughout the state, focusing on the various agricultural commodities of the regions. One seminar will take place in Washington, D.C.

“Now more than ever, institutions like Tougaloo College play a critical role in helping solve some of our city’s toughest problems. In keeping with Tougaloo’s mission of being socially responsible, the Bennie G. Thompson Delta Leadership Initiative will produce a cadre of impactful leaders committed to transforming the economic, social, political, and cultural landscape of communities in the Mississippi Delta, one of the most impoverished regions in the state,” said Carmen J. Walters, president of Tougaloo College. “Through the program, current and aspiring leaders will be engaged, empowered, and equipped with critical skills to develop innovative solutions to meet sustainable development challenges in communities where they live and serve. We are proud to be a part of the solution affecting positive community change and grateful for Congressman Bennie G. Thompson’s continued commitment to improving Mississippi.”

Applications for the Bennie G. Thompson Delta Leadership Initiative are now available. Community leaders and entrepreneurs with real solutions that can help create a more just and equitable rural economy in the Mississippi Delta encouraged to apply. The applications are open year-round; however, cohort selections will begin December 20, 2020. Selected participants will be announced January 2021.

For more information about the Bennie G. Thompson Delta Leadership Development Initiative or the Reuben V. Anderson Institute for Social Justice, please contact Mr. Julian D. Miller, Esq. at jdmiller@tougaloo.edu or Ms. Silbrina Wright, program specialist at swright2@tougaloo.edu.

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About Tougaloo College
Tougaloo College prepares its students to be lifelong learners who are committed to leadership and service in a global society through its diverse undergraduate and graduate programs. The College is accessible to all persons while making students aware of its rich legacy as an independent, historically black liberal arts institution, affiliated with the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). For more information, www.tougaloo.edu.

Dr. Ontario Wooden, new provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Alcorn State University

LORMAN, MS – Alcorn State University (ASU) has announced a new provost that will pave the way for student success and faculty excellence after a nationwide search.

Dr. Ontario Wooden began his tenure as the University’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs on Tuesday, September 15. As provost, Wooden will be responsible for facilitating the effective and efficient delivery of academic and support services across the campus, which includes management and oversight of all academic schools, the registrar, research and graduate studies, 1890 Research/Extension, Library, Institutional Research, and Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment/Accreditation. Wooden will serve as a member of the President’s Executive Cabinet and reports directly to President Felecia M. Nave.

“We value Dr. Wooden’s successful experience as a higher education administrator, an accomplished teacher, and a scholar,” said President Nave. “Ontario’s keen academic vision, focus on student success and faculty excellence, commitment to access combined with his collaborative approach to leadership and shared governance elevated his candidacy among a group of over 40 truly stellar candidates for Alcorn’s provost. I am confident he will work well with the leadership team, faculty, and staff to greatly benefit our university community as we continue to advance our national and global reputation.”

Wooden comes to Alcorn after serving as associate vice chancellor for Student Success and Academic Outreach at North Carolina Central University (NCCU). In his 12-year career at NCCU, he has provided leadership in multiple positions that include associate vice chancellor for Innovative, Engaged, and Global Education, interim associate dean of the School of Education; and associate professor of Education. He was also the acting associate vice chancellor for Institutional Research, Effectiveness, and Planning, and served as dean, and associate dean of University College.

“I, along with my wife, Kimberly, and song, Liam, are honored to become a part of the Alcorn family,” said Wooden. “Every person I have spoken with speaks about the “Alcorn family.” It is not lost that I am joining a special team, a unique tradition, and a place full of caring and devoted faculty, staff, and students. I am thrilled to be a part of the oldest public historically black land-grant institution in the country. One of my research interests is college student access and success. Continuing this focus at Alcorn is exciting.”

Wooden partnered as an affiliate graduate faculty in higher education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for five year. Further, he served in multiple roles at Albany State University and Indiana University Bloomington (IUB). He earned a doctorate in higher education from IUB in 2004, which is where he also earned a master’s degree in the same area of study in 2002. Wooden earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Albany State University in 2000.

Despite today’s challenges, Wooden remains dedicated to ensuring Alcorn’s continued accreditation while providing the best educational opportunities for its students.

“We must continue to work diligently to ensure that we complete a new strategic plan, receive continuing from SACSCOC and other specialized accreditations, complete a comprehensive review of our academic programs to ensure our offering of leading-edge degree programs, as well as strengthen our administrative academic operations. We will also develop as a set of key performance indicators to measure our progress and success. Amid all of the new constraints that we face, we will stay focused on providing outstanding educational opportunities for our students.”

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About Alcorn State University
Alcorn State University, a Historically Black College and University, is a comprehensive land-grant institution that celebrates a rich heritage with a diverse student and faculty population. The University emphasizes intellectual development and lifelong learning through the integration of diverse pedagogies, applied and basic research, cultural and professional programs, public service and outreach, while providing access to globally competitive academic and research programs. Alcorn strives to prepare graduates to be well-rounded future leaders of higher character and to be successful in the global marketplace of the 21st century. For more information, visit www.alcorn.edu.

Five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) presidents has been appointed to the USDA-1890 Task Force. The task force explores cooperative frameworks, partnership opportunities and priority areas.

The appointed president’s includes Tuskegee University President Lily D. McNair, Southern University and A&M College President Ray Belton, Kentucky State University President M. Christopher Brown II, Alcorn State University President Felecia M. Nave, and Langston University President Kent Smith on the task force.

The task force was reestablished along with the USDA-1994 Leadership Group and USDA Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Leadership Group to serve as principal working groups for the USDA secretary to explore mutually beneficial, short and long-term goals.

The USDA/1890 Task Force is a component of the USDA’s 1890 Land-Grant Colleges and Universities National Program. The task force is a joint council of USDA and 1890 Land-Grant University senior officials (e.g, under secretaries, agency administrators, and university presidents) that provides leadership to advance the mutual interests of USDA and the 1890 Land-Grant Universities. The 1890 Land-Grant Universities – which include 18 Land-Grant Universities established under the second Morrill Act of 1890 – are invaluable sources of diverse professionals who work in agriculture and related disciplines.

Dr. Felecia M. Nave

ALCORN, MS – In April, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning announced the unanimous decision to name Dr. Felecia M. Nave as the President of Alcorn State University. Dr. Nave currently served as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C.

“Dr. Nave has many years of experience as a leader in higher education,” said Trustees Shane Hooper, President of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning and Chair of the Board Search Committee for the Alcorn State University Presidential Search. “Through positions of progressive responsibility, Dr Nave has provided leadership in every facet of the university, including academic program offerings, research activity, budget management, fundraising activities, and students services, including recruitment, financial aid and student success. We are very pleased to welcome her back to Alcorn.”

Dr. Nave graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Alcorn State University in 1996, she holds a master’s degree in chemical and environment engineering and a doctorate in engineering, both from the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio.

In her role as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for North Carolina Central University, she serves as the university’s chief academic officer, developing, managing and providing oversight for all academic degree programs at the university. The university includes seven colleges and schools, including a law school. The university enrolls more than 8,000 students and has more than 564 full-time and part-time faculty, and more than 450 professional and administrative staff.

In addition, Dr. Nave provides leadership of the existing inventory of degree programs, development of new degree programs and fully online programs, ensuring academic rigor and integrity and overseeing program and accreditation reviews, both regional and specialized. She also oversees scholarships and key research activity for the university in collaboration with the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Sponsored Programs.

Dr. Nave’s responsibilities include fundraising activities, expanding external partnerships and growing alumni relations. She also manages all student services functions, including recruitment, admission, registrar, financial aid, academic engagement and student success.

Prior to joining North Carolina Central University, Dr. Nave served in various academic and administrative roles at Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas from 2003 until 2018. These roles included tenure-track Assistant Professor, tenured Associated Professor, tenured Professor of Chemical Engineering, Interim Assistant Dean of the Roy G. Perry College of Engineering, Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Director of Special Initiative for Faculty Development.

Some of Dr. Nave’s awards include University of Toldeo Department of Chemical Engineering Outstanding Alumna Award, 2019; AICHE MAC Eminent Scholars Award 2017; Top 30 Influential Women of Houston Award, 2015; Who’s Who in Black Houston, 2015; and Diverse Issues Emerging Scholars Under 40, 2013.

Dr. Nave will begin serving as President of Alcorn State University on July 1.

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About Alcorn State University

Alcorn State University, a Historically Black College and University, is a comprehensive land-grant institution that celebrates a rich heritage with a diverse student and faculty population. The University emphasizes intellectual development and lifelong learning through the integration of diverse pedagogies, applied and basic research, cultural and professional programs, public service and outreach, while providing access to globally competitive academic and research programs. Alcorn strives to globally competitive academic and research programs. Alcorn strives to prepare graduates to be well-rounded future leaders of high character and to be successful in the global marketplace of the 21st century. For more information, visit www.alcorn.edu.

A study performed by the American Council on Education Center for Policy Research and Strategy, Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) play an integral role in the education of students of color, those from low-income backgrounds, and students who are first in their family to attend college. The data in the report verify that working assumption with concrete numbers that show income mobility by students who attended MSIs across the country exceeding mobility rates at non-MSIs. This distinction is an important one to make at a time, when public implications for institutions – including many MSIs – already struggling with low general and educational expenditures and endowment sizes. This distinction is further important given the outsized performance of MSIs in generating income mobility even while they are operating with limited resources.

The importance of MSIs to individual students, families, communities, and our national economy cannot be overstated. MSIs are ubiquitous to the postsecondary landscape, representing roughly one-fifth of all degree-granting, Title IV-eligible institutions of higher education in 2014-15. In this same year, taken together, approximately 700 MSIs enrolled 4.8 million students, or 28 percent of all undergraduates enrolled in U.S. higher education.

Finally, there is evidence that MSIs provide students of color with stronger academic experiences and more supportive environments whole in college than do non-MSIs.

According to the latest study conducted by the American Council on Education (ACE) Center for Policy Research and Strategy, Alcorn State University, Southern University and A&M College, Lincoln University (PA), Dillard University, and Alabama State University leads other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the Minority Serving Institutions category as Engines of Upward Mobility study.

View below:

The date presented in this report verify a working assumption of those familiar with MSIs – that these institutions are standouts in the field for their contribution to income mobility. This distinction is important given the outsized performance of MSIs in generating upward income mobility even whole they are operating with limited resources. Further, across the whole of higher education, we could stand to learn and share the policies and practices employed by the top-performing MSIs, such that the field can from their success.

To view the entire study, visit http://www.acenet.edu/news-room/Documents/MSIs-as-Engines-of-Upward-Mobility.pdf.

LORMAN, MS – The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Men’s Basketball Championship trophy to be named after Kentucky State University grad and Alcorn State University sports figure Coach Davey L. Whitney.

According to a press release from the university, SWAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted to name the Men’s SWAC Championship Basketball Tournament trophy after legendary Coach Whitney.

Alcorn State’s President Alfred Rankins Jr. commended the Council for recognizing Whitney’s achievements.

“I am pleased that the SWAC Council of Presidents and Chancellors recognized the great accomplishment and contributions of Coach Whitney by naming the tournament championship trophy in his honor,” said Rankins. “Coach Whitney was one of the best Division I coaches of all time.”

Whitney, who passed away in 2015, coached at Alcorn from 1969 to 1989 and 1996 to 2003. Under his leadership, Alcorn beat Mississippi State 80-78 in the 1979 National Invitation Tournament (NIT). Whitney led Alcorn to a win against South Alabama in the first round of the 1980 NCAA Tournament, which was the first time a historically black college and university had won in the tournament. Whitney also led Alcorn to NCAA Tournament wins in 1983 and 1984 and six appearances in the dance. Whitney finished his career with a record of 566-356 and 12 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships.

Whitney was named SWAC Coach of the Year nine times. He was elected to the Kentucky State University Hall of Fame in 1976, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1991, the Alcorn State University Hall of Honors in 1993, the Alcorn State University Sports Hall of Fame in 1996 and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

Whitney graduated from Kentucky State University in 1952. After KSU, he started playing Negro American League  baseball for the Kansas City Monarchs, from 1952 to 1954. Whitney began his coaching career in 1954 as varsity basketball head coach at Burt High School in Clarksville, Tennessee. He led Burt to over 200 victories and the 1961 National Negro High School Basketball Championship. His first collegiate job as head coach was at Texas Southern University in 1964. He moved to Alcorn A&M (which became Alcorn State in 1974) as head coach in 1969.

The Whitney family expressed their appreciation upon receiving the good news. Gail Whitney, Coach Whitney’s daughter, said the family is grateful for the love and support that the SWAC and the University has shown for her late father.

“The Whitney family would like to extend our appreciation to the Southwestern Athletic Conference and Alcorn State University for honoring the legacy of our father, Davey “The Wiz” Whitney, Sr.,” said Whitney. “We look forward to the first presentation of the trophy at the 2017-2018 SWAC Basketball Tournament Championship.”