The Mississippi Urban Research Center (MURC) was authorized through Mississippi Senate Bill 2720, Chapter 512, Section 1, cited as the “Universities Research Institutes Act of 1983," which was enacted by the Mississippi Legislature to take effect after July 1, 1983. Section 19 of the bill defines that the function of MURC is “to conduct basic and applied research into urban problems and public policy, and to make available the results of this research to private groups, public bodies, and public officials.” Additionally MURC "may offer consultations and general advisory services concerning urban problems and their solutions.” The operation of MURC was funded by legislative appropriation in July 1994.
For the majority of its existence, MURC was housed within the Office of the Vice President for Research (1983–2013). Dr. Felix Okojie was named the first director of MURC (1995-1997), and subsequent directors were Drs. Phyllis Gray Ray (1997-1999), Mark Colomb (1999-2003) and Gregory Price (2004-2006). Mrs. Velesha P. Williams served twice as interim director (2003-2004 and 2006-2007). The Center is currently under the leadership of Dr. Melvin Davis (2007) and is housed in the College of Public Service.
Under the late Dr. Mark Colomb’s leadership, the Center garnered more than $9 million, the largest of 12 five-year national grants awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2000. This funding established Jackson State University as a premier HIV/AIDS prevention training agency while serving as the lead entity for four regional organizations providing HIV/AIDS prevention training to African American community-based organizations throughout the U.S. and its territories. Under Dr. Colomb’s direction, MURC played an integral role in shaping state and national HIV/AIDS policy legislation, particularly on behalf of African Americans, by working with a variety of constituents from grassroots advocacy groups to national legislative bodies.
Today, MURC has established itself as a leader in providing research-based assistance to address the urban community's unique problems through data research, interpretation and dissemination.
The Mississippi Urban Research Center is dedicated to improving the quality of life through basic and applied research into problems which plague urban communities and to making available the results of this research to private groups, public bodies and public officials. MURC fulfills its mission by providing critical data to urban planners, policy makers, service providers and the lay community. Its commitment to improving the quality of life in Mississippi is demonstrated by offering the widest possible dissemination of research and the greatest possible opportunities for public scrutiny and interpretation of collected data.