Dean’s Welcome


Dear Prospective Jacksonians:

The College of Liberal Arts (CLA) is the most diverse and multidisciplinary academic college at Jackson State University (JSU) and the heart of academic foundations and learning. All JSU students matriculate through courses offered by CLA.

We have academic programs in theater, music, art and graphic design, literature, foreign languages, communications, psychology, history, philosophy, criminal justice, sociology, and political science. We are the home for the internationally renowned “Sonic Boom of the South” Marching Band and Prancing J-Settes, jazz ensembles, orchestra, opera, and University Chorale. We house international research centers and interdisciplinary institutes where students are able to study intentionally about African American culture, art, music, civil rights, and history. We also provide excellence and leadership training and development through our Army ROTC Tiger Battalion Program. Even though we are home to all these entities, "WE ARE ONE JSU!"

The College enrolls more than 1,800 undergraduate and graduate students and employs more than 200 faculty and staff. Every year we confer roughly 25 percent of all bachelor's degrees at JSU. The College houses 22 degree programs at the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels.

A Jackson State University education is a liberal arts education — that is, an education conducted in a spirit of free inquiry undertaken without concern for topical relevance or vocational utility. This kind of learning is not only one of the enrichments of existence; it is one of the achievements of civilization. It heightens students' awareness of the human and natural worlds they inhabit. It makes them more reflective about their beliefs and choices, more self-conscious and critical of their presuppositions and motivations, more creative in their problem-solving, more perceptive of the world around them, and more able to inform themselves about the issues that arise in their lives, personally, professionally, and socially. College is an opportunity to learn and reflect in an environment free from most of the constraints on time and energy that operate in the rest of life.

A liberal arts education is also a preparation for the rest of life. The subjects that undergraduates study and, as importantly, the skills and habits of mind they acquire in the process, shape the lives they will lead after they leave a major course of study in the College of Liberal Arts. Some of our students will go on to become academics; many will become physicians, lawyers, and business people. All of them will be citizens, whether of the United States or another country, and as such will be helping to make decisions that may affect the lives of others. All of them will engage with forces of change — cultural, religious, political, demographic, technological, planetary. All of them will have to assess empirical claims, interpret cultural expressions, and confront ethical dilemmas in their personal and professional lives. A liberal arts education gives students the tools to face these challenges in an informed and thoughtful way.

Our strength comes from our people. As such, I am dedicated to recruiting and retaining the best scholars, researchers, teachers, practitioners and students. I am dedicated to keeping the best and brightest faculty and staff who are accomplished in their disciplines. My efforts are strengthened by alumni, donors and friends. Many CLA alumni support this College through their gifts of time, talent and treasure. They create new opportunities and give me resources to meet new challenges in improving our education, research and public service.

We invite you to contact or visit our departments! You will experience the finest education available should you enroll in the College of Liberal Arts where we are fondly known as the “College of Culture.” Our diverse students, faculty and staff, academic programs, research centers and institutes, and quest for new meaning and knowledge-making help us to be “ONE JSU!"

Lawrence T. Potter, Jr., Ph.D.

Dean and Professor