Jackson State University was founded as Natchez Seminary in 1877 by the American Baptist Home Mission Society.  The school was established at Natchez, Mississippi "for the moral, religious and intellectual improvement of Christian leaders of the colored people of Mississippi and the neighboring states." In November 1882, the school was moved to Jackson; in March 1899, the curriculum was expanded and the name was changed to Jackson College. The state assumed support of the college in 1940, assigning to it the mission of training teachers. Subsequently, between 1953 and 1956, the curriculum was expanded to include a graduate program and bachelor's programs in the arts and sciences; the name was then changed to Jackson State College in 1956. Further expansion of the curriculum and a notable building program preceded the elevation of Jackson State College to university status on March 15, 1974. In 1979, Jackson State was officially designated the Urban University of the State of Mississippi.
For the almost 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at Jackson State, JSU provides traditional and nontraditional students of diverse backgrounds the academic opportunities to develop knowledge and skills that will empower them to succeed in an increasingly complex and technologically advanced world. JSU has expanded online course offerings, and students are also afforded the opportunity to excel in areas beyond academic disciplines including art, culture, music, and numerous intercollegiate sports and championship competitions. Jackson State’s long-term cooperative projects, corporate partnerships, its increasing presence among top universities for the amount of research dollars awarded to the University, and community initiatives strengthen the University’s commitment to its students, faculty, staff, and alumni as well as to the West Jackson Community, the city, the state, the nation and several international countries.
Presidents / Institutional Executive Officers
The following individuals have provided vision and leadership to the university throughout its history:
Charles Ayer 1877-1894
Luther Barrett 1894-1911
Zachary Taylor Hubert 1911-1927
B. Baldwin Dansby 1927-1940
Jacob L. Reddix 1940-1967
John A. Peoples 1967-1984
James A. Hefner 1984-1991
Herman B. Smith (interim) 1991-1992
James E. Lyons 1992-1999
Bettye Ward Fletcher (interim) 1999-2000
Ronald Mason, Jr. 2000-2010
Leslie Burl McLemore (interim) 2010-2010
Carolyn W. Meyers 2011-