The Freedom Riders are indeed our heroes!

May 23rd, 2011 by andisites

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Fifty years ago, the young people of this nation who had grown up with much of what lies behind us in terms of the struggle for civil rights, summoned the will, courage, and determination to do something about what was before them and generations to come. And do something they did!

Through their terrifying ordeal, the Freedom Riders remained true to the intent of the rides and to the principles of non-violence. What strength, what conviction it took for those young people!

Through their rides, the Freedom Riders called attention to the sorry state of civil rights that pervaded our nation. They let the world know that America was not living up to its promises – that all people have “inalienable rights” to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Freedom Riders, through their actions, mobilized a nation to write a new chapter in American history, one that included people of color.

Today more than a generation later, we celebrate their actions, their commitment to the future, their awesome and daring courage to do as Bobby Kennedy said, “see a wrong and try to right it.” This week at Jackson State we honor the Freedom Riders for their clarity in sight, their conviction that something had to be done, and their determination to make our country more worthy of honor and respect. Jackson State University thanks the Freedom Riders for what was within each of them and for making a difference for future generations of Americans.

The Freedom Riders are indeed our heroes!

Carolyn W. Meyers

Posted in News

A note about the recent tornados and floods

May 12th, 2011 by andisites

Dr. Carolyn Meyers, president of Jackson State University

We are all watching and praying as Mississippians and others in the region prepare for the rising floodwaters and work to rebound from the  recent tornados. I encourage the entire Jackson State University family to offer your talents and resources to those affected by these natural disasters. If you are able to, please donate to your preferred disaster-relief charity or volunteer your time. And please keep the disaster victims and the front-line workers in your thoughts and prayers.

Thank you,
Carolyn W. Meyers

Dr. Carolyn Meyers, President of Jackson State University | 

Posted in News

Dean Robinson-Gardner, other distinguished deans and august faculty, parents, friends and most importantly our degree awardees:

Welcome to Jackson State University on this very special occasion! I am honored to be here today and grateful to all of you for allowing me to be a part of these commencement exercises. Thank you graduates for attending Jackson State University. By so doing you acknowledge and verify once more to the entire world that an Historically Black University can produce exemplary masters, specialists, and doctorates who can compete with those produced by majority universities.

Each of you should be proud of yourselves and proud of your achievements at Jackson State University. Seventy-five classes of Jackson State graduates have sat where you are seated this evening. You are the latest in a grand tradition of excellence. We thank you for perpetuating excellence and respecting the legacy of this fine institution.

So this is another beginning for you, whether you will be continuing in your chosen occupation perhaps at a different level or pursuing new dreams, new professions. This is a new beginning, a new chapter in your life.

Because of the University’s commitment to excellence, I have no doubt that you are well prepared academically for whatever course you pursue. But these are different times in our global society than any ever before. We have stopped Osama bin Ladin, but we haven’t stopped world hunger; through satellites we can track anything but we can’t seem to track how we can save the world’s resources; we know more about societies and civilizations than ever before but we don’t know how to effectively halt teen pregnancy or to stem the cradle to prison pipeline right in our own neighborhoods. I could go on and on.

But to summarize today: We are at a rare inflection point in the history of this country and the world at which the size and the scope of the challenges before us require that we remake our economy, we redesign our communities, we reinvent our nation and the world to enable ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ for all humans. To do this and more, permit me to paraphrase President Obama’s statement:
“The source of America’s – really the world’s – prosperity has never been merely how ably we accumulate wealth but how well we educate our people.”

So it falls to you, the educated among the world’s societies, to find paths and solutions to the problems we face today, to assure that this planet prospers. You will have to find the ways to restore the free market to the world. You will find new sources of energy. You will afford future generations the opportunity you had – that of an extraordinary education. You will do all of this and more!

You will have big jobs and big paychecks, bigger opportunities and even bigger responsibilities than any who have come before you. That’s called progress. But as Dan Rather said at Duke’s commencement several years ago, “It’s relatively easy to make a buck but hard to make a difference.” The question is, will you make a difference?

You might say to yourself, “I’m just one person. What can one person do?” The answer is: one person can change the world! Through the use of your talent guided by one more knowledgeable than any of us, through love of each other, through showing that love – by giving to something larger than the individual – you too can change the world.

Think of the power of one – one individual – like Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Ghandi, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, Mother Teresa, the Freedom Riders, Barack Obama – each individual, each serving their fellow humans, each using their God-given talents to make the world a better place.

That’s my challenge to you – to use your talents not only in your professions but also in your life’s work – to serve others or something bigger than you.

Now that’s a worthy challenge because service can be and is at times thankless. Many say that the evidence of your service is demonstrated by your scars. Wear them proudly – you tried and that’s a lot.

There are a few other things I want you to remember. I’ll talk to you about some of the things I tell my own children about making a difference.

First, walk humbly with your God. Remember in all of your knowing there is much you don’t know, you don’t understand. I had a student in my class whom I will call “Joe”. The way he talked was hardly understandable and laced with ers, snorts, gulping and the like. The students in my class snickered whenever Joe talked.

Joe was hard working and determined; he came by my office one day while a friend from the public school system was visiting me. When he left I mentioned the way he talked to my friend. A speech pathologist at the time, my friend wrote the name and phone number on a card for me with the instructions that Joe should come by. She patiently explained to me that while most people could talk, swallow, and breathe simultaneously, Joe had never learned to do that.

I was amazed, as I had never heard of such a thing in all my then knowing and fresh doctoral knowledge. I gave the card to Joe, he went to the free clinic, and he began to improve his speech and speech patterns.

Later that term one afternoon his mother called me long distance from the small town in Georgia that was their home. She called to thank me for helping her child. She told me she knew Joe was smart and hard working but no one in their town had been able to help him and throughout his life, until meeting me, he had been laughed at and taunted all through his school years. She explained how much that hurt Joe and of course, hurt her. She thanked me. I thanked her for calling, hung up the phone and felt ashamed.

You see, my help was not intentional but accidental. Through the grace of God I listened to my friend who had been placed there in my office on that day at that time. Worst than that, I easily accepted that stereotype that because Joe spoke differently, he was different; he must be weird or ‘crazy’. I never took the time to look beyond the name of the student. And worst of all, I thought as a new Ph.D. in chemical engineering, I knew just about anything and darn near everything. That was the time I realized how little I really knew. Take away from my Joe story four things:

1. There will always be more that you don’t know than what you do know. Always take the time to learn.
2. Resist the urge – stomp on it – to accept and propagate stereotypes. They hurt people and people are the most precious capital this planet has.
3. Always look for the best in people. Had I done that earlier, I would have realized that with his intellect, determination, and focus that Joe is a fine young man with solid values, a great work ethic, fierce perseverance, and unshakable confidence and belief in God. I could have learned this half a semester early if only I had looked for it in him.
4. Last, embrace the small or not so small miracles every day and don’t be too sophisticated to believe in them. My friend was there that day – small miracle; that she happened to be a speech pathologist, small miracle; that she was generous enough to share her knowledge with me, another small miracle; that Joe was determined enough and humble enough to accept help, even from a person who had not stopped the laughing at him. Big miracle!

I think about him a lot. Joe’s story has stayed with me and reminds me that after all is said and done we’re all just children of God and his servants. That one day, through my friend, I made a difference. You can too.

One last example – another personal one – of the power of one. After a few years at Georgia Tech, I was named the Foundry Educational Foundation professor for Georgia Tech, one of 28 people in the world at universities throughout the world to have this distinction; the only African American and the only woman ever – heady stuff.

A week before the conference the Executive Director called to tell me that I was welcome at all of the meetings except the closing banquet, that the entertainment there had already been planned before they knew about my being a woman and an African American and would be offensive to me. I went to Chicago and attended the meetings.

On the night of the closing banquet I could not decide what to do – should I crash it or stay at home as requested. I called my mom and dad. My dad reminded me that I was entitled to all of the benefits of being an FEF professor; my mother said, “Say a prayer and go.” So I put on my new black suit and went.

When I walked into the room of the banquet, 40 white males were struck dumb immediately. I just stood there as the Executive Director hurried over to remind me that I was not invited and to please leave. I just stood there, couldn’t think of a thing to say, buttoned up my mouth, and looked at him.

Then something special happened: Three of the professors, one from the University of Michigan, another from the Colorado School of Mines, and one from Ohio State University told the Executive Director that if I couldn’t stay, they would leave. One by one the other 24 professors followed suit. I stayed at the banquet. There was no entertainment that night, whatever it was going to be I’ll never know, but most importantly that night the format of the organization’s activities changed permanently. From that time on, all professors enjoyed all of the privileges of professorship and the banquet was coed.
The lessons:

1. Prayer works; it gave me strength to go where I wasn’t wanted but where I was entitled to go.
2. By attending the banquet I made being a professor easier for other African Americans and for other women who would come after me.
3. One person’s presence can bring out the best in others.
4. Together with my three new friends we changed the organization; we made a difference.

Look for places to make a difference, say a prayer or two, and jump in. God will guide you just as He did the Freedom Riders. You will inspire others. You will make a difference.

As you go forward from this wonderful occasion and acquire great wealth and do fabulous things, remember this anonymous poem about the power of one:

“Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in an obscure village. He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty, and then for three years he was an itinerant teacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never traveled, except in his infancy, more than two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompanies greatness. He had no credentials but himself.

While he was still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies. He went through a mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. His executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth, his seamless robe. When he was dead, he was taken down from the cross and laid in a borrowed grave through the courtesy of a friend.

Nineteen (Twenty now) wide centuries have come and gone, and today he is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of all human progress. I am well within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever were built, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has this one solitary life.”
                                                      – Unknown –

Make a difference, pray often, look for the good in others, believe in miracles and remember one person can make a difference!

God bless each of you and God bless Jackson State University!

Posted in News

Dear Jackson State Family:

Congratulations on the successful culmination of another academic year! 

Dr. Carolyn Meyers, president of Jackson State University

Each of you should be rightly proud of this and other noteworthy accomplishments during the academic year.  I know these are the results of your hard work and love for Jackson State.

The first graduations during my tenure went off smoothly and most importantly, the graduates and their families seemed pleased and excited.  Special thanks are extended to Dr. Williams and Dr. Okojie for presiding, Dr. Maddirala  and Mr. Jackson who handed to me over 1200 diploma jackets without a hitch, Mrs. Frazier and the Events staff for all of their efforts and Dr. Johnson who stepped in effortlessly wherever needed.  Also please join me in expressing appreciation to Dr. Bettye Graves and her committee as well as to all of the participants in the two exercises for their planning, coordination, and execution during the events.  Many, many thanks to everyone!

I am excited to share with you the generous commitment made on Friday night by the Golden Class, the Class of 1961.  Please remember to thank all members of that class who you know.  Gifts such as these enable the University to continue its legacy of excellence in all that we do.

Also I just learned that the JSU softball team won the SWAC Championship today. I am sure you join me in being proud of them.

Last, on this special day, to all mothers and to all of those who exhibit a mother’s love, I hope that your day has been filled with joy and happy memories!

God bless Jackson State University!

Carolyn W. Meyers

Posted in News

Our Statewide Tour continues…

May 2nd, 2011 by andisites

Our statewide tour is rolling on! On Monday, April 18, we completed a series of stops along the Gulf Coast where we visited Biloxi, Gulfport and Pascagoula. We followed that trip with visits to Tupelo and Memphis on April 25 and 26.

From JSU president Carolyn Meyers tours the state of Mississippi

As I said in my last blog post, our tour primarily has two purposes: to visit the areas of the state we serve and to get to know more about Mississippi. In addition, we’re reconnecting with our alumni and other supporters as well as seeking financial support for our beloved institution.

 As promised, I’ve added a few pictures from all the stops we’ve made so far.  It has truly been a pleasure to embark on this mini tour. These treks have allowed me an opportunity to gain more insight and understanding into not only the spirit of Mississippi, but the broad range of people who make Jackson State such a remarkable university.

Here’s a round-up of our tour so far:

From JSU president Carolyn Meyers tours the state of Mississippi


We kicked the tour off on March 28 with a visit to Meridian. What a lovely city! The students and administrators at Meridian High School were impressive. I enjoyed touring their school and visiting some of the classrooms.

Our next stop was the Phil Hardin Foundation where we had a very nice meeting with their CEO, Rebecca Combs. Realizing that JSU shares the foundation’s mission to help improve the education of Mississippians, we decided to find ways that we can work together.

From JSU president Carolyn Meyers tours the state of Mississippi

The day was topped off by a beautiful reception hosted by the Scott County Alumni Chapter and its president, Pearl Clark. I could not have anticipated the warmth shown by not only the alumni members, but their friends, prospective students and elected officials. They also presented us with a check for $3,000.

 Gulf Coast

While on the Gulf Coast, I had an opportunity to visit with 130 students at Biloxi High School and marvel at their spacious new facility.  Later, I greeted about 150 juniors and seniors at Gulfport High School, many of whom have family members who are JSU graduates. I’d like to thank everyone at both schools for being so welcoming and attentive to our presentations. While on the coast, our tour group had the opportunity to visit the Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard in Pascagoula. Huntington Ingalls, formerly of the Northrup Grumman Corporation, builds war ships for the U.S. Navy and vessels for the U.S. Coast Guard. They have more than 11,000 employees in Pascagoula and more than 19,000 employees in their other shipyard, located in my hometown of Newport News, Virginia.

We concluded our coastal visit with a beautiful reception that was attended by Gulfport Mayor George Schloegel, and hosted by our Gulf Coast Alumni Chapter, who made our trip even more fruitful by presenting Jackson State with a $1,000 check! 

From JSU president Carolyn Meyers tours the state of Mississippi


 While in Tupelo on April 25, we met a group of energetic students at Tupelo High School. Since I’m also an Elvis Presley fan, I was thrilled when Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning Board Member Aubrey Patterson took me to see Elvis’ childhood home. Little did I know that the next day I’d also get to see Graceland, Elvis’ home in Memphis.

From JSU president Carolyn Meyers tours the state of Mississippi

 Tupelo was quite a treat. The alumni chapter there planned a beautiful reception. The guests included U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed and Holly Springs Mayor Andre De’Berry, who happens to be a JSU alumnus. Alumni were generous with donations to the university. The Tupelo chapter presented us with a check for $2,000 along with another $1,000 from the Columbus chapter, and $200 from the Starkville chapter.


The Memphis stop also was very eventful. We enjoyed a visit with some impressive young people at Whitehaven High School. I look forward to seeing a few of their top students with us this fall.

From JSU president Carolyn Meyers tours the state of Mississippi

We also met with some of the top officials at FedEx. Rose Flenorl and Shannon Brown provided a wealth of information about the company and employment opportunities for our students. We look forward to continuing a mutually beneficial relationship with the company.

 JSU alumnus and former J-Sette Gwen Harmon treated everyone to a tour of the National Civil Rights Museum. Located at the historic Lorraine Hotel, the experience was one that is sure to inspire us all.

 In true fashion, the Memphis alumni hosted a lovely reception at the Orpheum Theater. I got the opportunity to meet Mayor A.C. Wharton, Lemoyne-Owen College President Johnnie B. Watson and Fred Jones, founder of the Southern Heritage Classic. Before our departure, the chapter gave us a $3,500 installment on its endowed scholarship fund. The Memphis Alumni Chapter is the first JSU alumni chapter to establish such a fund.

 We’re not finished….

 I want to thank the team of JSU personnel who have been with me throughout this tour, waking up early and going to bed late.  Thank you all for your dedication.

A special thanks goes to our Tiger Pride Connection students who have traveled with me. They have been excellent examples of the bright young minds that saturate the Jackson State campus. I especially loved their serenade during our Meridian trip. They sang The Temptations’ popular song “My Girl” but used “Mey-ers” in the chorus instead of “my girl.” Some of my favorite moments of the tour have been spent with these young Jacksonians. Each time I talk to them and see their smiling faces I’m reminded of why our work as educators is so very important. These young people hold the future in their hands.

From JSU president Carolyn Meyers tours the state of Mississippi

Next up for us are visits to Greenville and Hattiesburg.  I can’t wait to meet our alumni, friends and supporters in those areas. And remember to check back here regularly for updates as we all strive to create the best possible Jackson State University.

JSU president Carolyn Meyers tours the state of Mississippi
Posted in News

We had a very successful site visit with SACS!

April 15th, 2011 by andisites

I am delighted to announce that we had a very successful site visit that ended Wednesday, April 13, with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The integrity of all of our academic programs, the faculty who teach our students and the staff who support the whole enterprise were found to be sound. The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) was characterized, in essence, as  exciting with great potential to transform our student learning system, which is well in support of our university’s mission. The reaffirmation of accreditation is contingent upon addressing a few minor recommendations made by the committee. The final decision to reaffirm will be announced in December 2011.

Reaffirmation is the ultimate testament to our high academic quality and focus on excellence in all that JSU represents. Sincere appreciation is extended to each one of you who worked so hard for over three years in preparation for this reaffirmation. Your ongoing commitment and dedication to shaping the leaders of tomorrow assured that the legacy of this great educational institution is honored and acknowledged once more.

Special thanks are offered to Dr. Quinton L. Williams, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Life, for his leadership as the SACS Accreditation Liaison, to Dr. Nicole Evans, Associate Vice President for Institutional Research and Planning, the JSU SACS Accreditation Director, and to Dr. Robert Blaine, Professor of Music, the QEP Director, and to each of their teams for all their dedication and diligence.

Congratulations to the entire community of JSU administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends for your contributions to this successful SACS visit and review!

Posted in News

I’ve got some exciting news! A team of JSU personnel and I are preparing to embark on a mini-tour of the state. We want to accomplish two specific goals: to take JSU to the areas of the state we serve and to get to know the state.

Dr. Carolyn Meyers

Also, we’ll use this tour as an opportunity to connect with our alumni and other supporters, speak with different media outlets about our great university, speak with high school students and other potential JSU students, and to raise money.

We’ll begin on Monday, March 28 in Meridian, Miss., where our meetings/appointments include:

– A chat with students at Meridian High School;

– A visit at WTOK-TV, an ABC affiliated television station in Meridian;

– A meeting with the Phil Hardin Foundation whose goal is to
engage institutions of higher learning and other organizations to improve
teaching and learning in the state;

– and a meeting with the JSU Scott County Alumni Chapter, among
other stops.

There are several other areas of the state that we’ll visit in the coming
weeks to spread our message. I’ll use my blog to post pictures and keep you updated about the wonderful things that will happen during this tour. So be sure to check back here regularly as we continue to work together to create the best possible Jackson State University.

Also, remember to leave your comments and great ideas in the comments
section below.

See you soon!

Posted in News

Good news! Jackson State University is now one step closer to gaining control of Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium! The Mississippi Senate has approved a bill that would give us ownership of the stadium and now the bill must go back to the House for approval of a technical amendment before it is sent to Governor Haley Barbour.

Having played football games in this stadium since 1967, this has been a wish of JSU for years. However, our efforts to get a stadium on campus are not over. We’re still working towards that goal. But until then, I’ll see you at OUR stadium during the 2011 JSU football season!

Also, be sure to watch this video: How to say “Hello” in the JSU Division of International Studies

Posted in News

Dr. Cornel West

Hello everyone. How wonderful was Dr. Cornel West’s speech last week at the AAC? Oh my, he did an absolutely amazing job speaking about everything from black music and black heritage to having love for all people.

Here are some things he said that really stuck out to me:
“You have to put gratitude at the center of your soul. When that happens, there isn’t much room for the ego to operate.”

“Justice is what love looks like in public. The two are inseparable.”

“Black young people have become well adjusted to injustice..”

“The fundamental question of black history is, What does it mean to be human?”
Tell me your thoughts about Dr. West’s message.  Did you agree, disagree with a lot of what he said? What are your thoughts?

Dr. Carolyn Meyers, President of Jackson State University | 

Posted in News

I want to know the one thing that….

February 10th, 2011 by andisites

Hello again everyone. I hope all is going well for you.

It’s been a few days since our last discussion. Since that time, I’ve been on a  fast track to learning as much as possible about this great university that we all love, but I need your help.

I want to know the one thing that you love the most about Jackson State University. Leave your comments below.


Posted in News