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” (MS Code § 57-55-17 (2019). That enabling legislation states it shall be the function of MURC 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. MURC may offer consultations and general advisory services concerning urban problems and their solutions, and in accordance to the policies of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning and with its approval, it may conduct instructional and training programs for those who are working in or expect to make careers in urban public service. MURC received its first legislative appropriation in July 1994.
Since its creation, MURC’s organizational location included the JSU Office of the Vice President for Research (1983–2013); College of Public Service (2013-2019); and the College of Education and Human Development (2019-present). Dr. Felix Okojie was MURC’s first director (1995-1997), followed by Drs. Phyllis Gray Ray (1997-1999), Mark Colomb (1999-2003) and Gregory Price (2004-2006). Mrs. Velesha P. Williams served twice as MURC’s interim director (2003-2004 and 2006-2007). Dr. Melvin Davis served as MURC’s Director for the years 2007- 2018. The Center is currently under the leadership of Dr. Sam Mozee Jr. (July 2018-present). During the leadership tenure of Dr. Mark Colomb, MURC achieved national recognition as a premier HIV/AIDS prevention agency providing specialized training to African American community-based organizations throughout the U.S. and its territories. Since that time, MURC has received national and local recognition for its work as a U.S. Census Bureau’s Census Information Center (CIC); research on seat belt and cellphone use; and research on reducing the number of incarcerated mentally ill persons.
MURC conducts a wide array of urban-related research in areas such as education; health; community and economic development; mental health; changing family structures; and local government operations. MURC conducts both basic (“discovery”) and applied (“solutions-oriented”) research into urban problems and public policy. Specific research activities include Policy analysis; Program evaluation; Census data research and training; Focus group facilitation; Survey development, distribution, and analysis; Statistical analysis services; and Needs assessment services. MURC also conducts instructional programs, forums, conferences, and workshops on current urban-related topics and issues. To help disseminate its research findings, MURC utilizes several methods including its peer-reviewed Online Journal of Urban and Rural Research; MURC Digest Reports; MURC Research Briefs; newsletters; social media; and the previously mentioned forums, conferences, and workshops. The primary goal of all MURC activities and services is to help improve the overall quality of life in urban areas located in Mississippi and throughout the world.
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