Jackson State University

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"Jackson State College" redirects here. For the college in Tennessee, see Jackson State Community College. For other uses, see Jackson College (disambiguation).
Jackson State University
Former names
Natchez Seminary
Jackson College
Jackson State College
Motto "Challenging Minds, Changing Lives"
Established October 23, 1877 (1877-10-23)
Type Public, HBCU
Endowment US $49 million[1]
President Carolyn Meyers
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 9,508[2]
Location Jackson, Mississippi, United States
32°17′46″N 090°12′28″W / 32.29611°N 90.20778°W / 32.29611; -90.20778Coordinates: 32°17′46″N 090°12′28″W / 32.29611°N 90.20778°W / 32.29611; -90.20778
Colors Navy Blue and White
Athletics NCAA Division I
Nickname Tigers
Mascot Bengal Tiger
Website www.jsums.edu

Jackson State University (Jackson State, or JSU) is a historically black university in Jackson, Mississippi, United States. Founded in 1877 in Natchez, Mississippi as Natchez Seminary by the American Baptist Home Mission Society of New York, the Society moved the school to Jackson in 1882, renaming it Jackson College, and developed its present campus in 1902. It became a state-supported public institution in 1940, and it is a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.


Jackson State University started as Natchez Seminary, a private school, under the auspices of the American Baptist Home Mission Society of New York, to educate Mississippi's newly freed and underprivileged blacks.

  • 1877: Operated for 63 years as a private church school beginning with only twenty students. Inman Edward Page was the only black member of the original faculty.
  • 1882: The decision was made to purchase the fifty-two-acre J.A.P. Campbell estate in North Jackson, Mississippi. In 1883, the Society moved the school to Jackson, to the site where Millsaps College now stands. A part of this transition was the renaming of the school to Jackson College in recognition of the institution’s new, central location in the City of Jackson. Natchez Seminary soon relocated from its site in north Jackson to a tract of land in the southwest section of the city.
  • In 1902, construction on the present campus's site began.
  • In 1924, the first bachelor’s degree was awarded. During this period, the major educational activities were directed toward teacher education for in-service teachers.
  • When the American Baptist Home Mission Society withdrew its support from the institution in 1934, A new board of trustees was organized that kept the school open. On May 30, 1938, control of the Board of Trustees was transferred to Jackson College, Incorporated.
  • In 1940, the school was transferred from the private control of the church to the state education system and renamed Mississippi Negro Training School. Initially, the school had been specifically designated by the state to train rural and elementary teachers. In 1942, the Board of Trustees expanded the curriculum to a full four-year teacher education program, culminating in the Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. In May 1944, the first four-year graduating class under state support received their degrees. In 1944, Mississippi Negro Training School was renamed Jackson College for Negro Teachers
  • In 1953, the Division of Graduate Studies was organized during the Summer and the program of Liberal Arts started in the fall of that year. In 1956, Jackson College for Negro Teachers was renamed Jackson State College.
  • During the late 1960s, the entire curriculum was reorganized and the following schools were established: the Schools of Liberal Studies, Education, Science and Technology, Business and Economics and the Graduate School.
  • On 14 May 1970, two black young men (one, a student at Jackson State, and the other was not) were shot and killed (and 12 wounded) by state police during anti-Vietnam War protests in the Jackson State killings. Four hundred pieces of buckshot had struck the woman's dormitory. Howard Zinn reports a local grand jury found the attack justified.[citation needed]
  • On March 15, 1974, Jackson State College was designated Jackson State University. Jackson State College gained university status in accordance with the expanded breadth and quality of its faculty and academic programs. From 1967-1977, the faculty, staff, and students tripled in size and the number of faculty members with graduate degrees increased eightfold. In 1979, the University was officially designated the state’s Urban University by the Board of Trustees, State Institutions of Higher Learning. The 1970s for Jackson State was the initial period of unparalled growth and success that structured it into the distinctive university that it is today.
  • In the late 1980s, the University and its surrounding community was enriched through the expansion of the Universities Center; the establishment of the West Jackson Community Development Corporation to improve blighted housing around the campus; the organization of a Staff Senate; and the creation of a Center for Professional Development and the Center for Technology Transfer.
  • In the 1990s, a Campus Master Plan that projected the growth of the University into the 21st Century was developed. Fifteen new graduate and undergraduate programs evolved. These academic achievements were bolstered by the establishment of the School of Social Work, the formation of the School of Engineering, and the fall 1998 opening of the School of Allied Health Sciences, the School of Business received accreditation of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a $13.5 million expansion of the H. T. Sampson Library, which doubled the capacity of the original structure, was completed, and the $17.2 million School of Liberal Arts building was occupied in 2001.
  • In Fall 2000, the University received doctoral research intensive status with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. This prestigious designation was based on the awarding of more than 20 doctoral degrees from the Division of Graduate Studies and the $40 million in federally funded research contracts secured through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.
  • In 2002, the University celebrated its 125th anniversary. It developed and implemented its strategic plan–Beyond Survival: The Millennium Agenda for Jackson State University. The five-point strategic plan is moving Jackson State University to a new academic excellence. Thus, Vision 2020 was created to fulfill the first strategy–Remodel the Learning System at JSU. In 2002, the University was reorganized into six colleges: College of Business; College of Public Service; College of Liberal Arts; College of Science, Engineering and Technology; College of Lifelong Learning; and College of Education and Human Development.
  • In 2004, a $20 million College of Business building was completed.
  • In 2006, a new 91,000-square-foot (8,500 m2) student health wellness center opened. For the first time in the University’s history, private bond financing was secured to renovate some facilities on campus and to build new facilities, including a new Campus Union, a new president’s house, new student apartments, and dormitories which opened in 2006. The campus transformation and wide array of academic programs enhanced Jackson State’s presence.[citation needed] Recently, the completion of the "One University Place" complex opened which houses an upscale restaurant (The Penguin), Sports Bar and Grill, Art Galleries, Eye care Center, Shopping boutiques, exclusive apartment housing and space for other business opportunities. Jackson State also houses a campus Burger King, Chic-Fil-A, Subway, Starbucks, and upscale dining by celebrity chefs featured on TV's The Food Network.
  • In 2013, the university experienced much growth and a record enrollment of 9,134 students, with anticipation of reaching 10,000. For the last couple decades, Jackson State has remained the largest HBCU in Mississippi.


Jackson State University is located in Jackson, the capital city and the cultural, political, geographic and business center of Mississippi. The campus is a 245-acre (0.99 km2) campus with 51 academic and administrative buildings. The main campus is located on JR Lynch St between Prentiss and Dalton St.

Ayer Hall was constructed in 1903 and is the oldest structure on campus. It was named in honor of the First President and was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Green-Gibb Pedestrian Walkway (Plaza) was named in honor of those who died in the Jackson State killings. The Walter Payton Health & Wellness Center was constructed in 2006. Jackson State also has satellite campus throughout the Jackson-Metropolitan area which includes, The Universities Center (Ridgewood Road location), JSU-Madison campus, JSU-Holmes campus, JSU- Mississippi E-Center, and JSU Downtown (Building 100 on Capital Street).


University rankings
Forbes[3] 462

A historically black Doctoral/Research public university, Jackson State educates a multicultural student population in a broad range of baccalaureate, masters and doctoral programs. The learning process is enhanced through experiential learning. Jackson State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and is 1 of only 2 Historically Black Colleges and Universities to be classified as a research intensive university with high research activity by The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education along with Howard University. Most recently, through the iPad technology initiative (all first-time incoming freshman receive an Apple iPad), Jackson State has been recognized as an Apple Distinguished School. This designation puts the university in an elite group of educational institutions that are blazing the trail of innovative learning through the use of technology. Jackson State University is currently the only college in Mississippi that has an Apple Authorized campus store. Jackson State launched "JSU Online" to provide several degree programs completely online through distance learning to begin the fall of 2014. This online initiative provides a more accessible opportunity to obtaining a degree via the internet. Also, beginning in the fall of 2014, Jackson State will offer four new degree programs in its College of Science, Engineering and Technology. A Ph.D. in Engineering, a Ph.D. in Computational and Data-Enabled Science and Engineering, a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Statistics. The B.S. in Biomedical Engineering will be the only undergraduate program offered in the state of Mississippi.

JSU colleges include:

  • College of Business
  • College of Education and Human Development
  • College of Liberal Arts
  • College of Public Service
  • College of Science, Engineering and Technology

Student activities[edit]

National Pan-Hellenic Council[edit]

Organization Chapter Name Year Chartered Year Founded
Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity Delta Phi (ΔΦ) 1953 1906
Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority Gamma Rho (ΓP) 1949 1908
Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity Delta Delta (ΔΔ) 1951 1911
Omega Psi Phi fraternity Upsilon Epsilon (ΥE) 1949 1911
Delta Sigma Theta sorority Delta Pi (ΔΠ) 1952 1913
Phi Beta Sigma fraternity Alpha Beta (AB) 1927 1914
Zeta Phi Beta sorority Lambda Beta (ΛB) 1948 1920
Sigma Gamma Rho sorority Alpha Tau (AT) 1941 1922
Iota Phi Theta fraternity Delta Psi (ΔΨ) 2003 1963


Main article: Jackson State Tigers

Athletic teams are a member of the NCAA Division I-FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) Southwestern Athletic Conference, commonly known as the SWAC. All SWAC sports are DI with Football being FCS. Currently, the university fields teams in men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball, golf, tennis, soccer, and bowling; women's volleyball; and men's football. The university's mascot is the Tiger, and the teams are sometimes referred to as the "Blue Bengals."

The Tiger men's football team has a heralded history, winning and sharing 16 SWAC titles, including 2007.[4] Its most famous alumni includes NFL Hall of Famers Lem Barney, Jackie Slater and Walter Payton, and former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith. Former NFL wide-receiver, five-time Pro Bowler and Jackson State alumnus, Harold Jackson was named head football coach in January 2014.

The men's golf team has gained notoriety as it has become a SWAC powerhouse and perennial NCAA tournament participant under head coach Eddie Payton, older brother of Walter Payton.[citation needed]

JSU's well-known rivals include Southern, Alcorn State, Mississippi Valley State, Tennessee State, and Texas Southern.

Sonic Boom of the South[edit]

The Jackson State University Marching Band, “The Sonic Boom of the South” is a musical group.

The band was first organized in the early 1940s. As early as the mid-1920s, the University had a well-organized orchestra. The group was given the nickname, “The Sonic Boom of the South” by band director Harold J. Haughton, Sr. in 1971. In 1971, the majorettes abandoned their batons and became a dance team known as the Prancing J-Settes, also named by Haughton. In 1974, “Get Ready,” an old Motown favorite was selected as the band’s theme song. Also, during the mid-1970s, the “Tiger Run-On” was perfected. Created by Haughton, the “Tiger Run-On” is a fast, eye-catching shuffle step that blends an adagio step with an up-tempo shuffle (200 steps per minute), then back to adagio—a “Sonic Boom” trademark that brings fans to their feet during halftime performances. Oct 1990, Under the direction of Dowell Taylor and staff, The Sonic Boom of the South performed in Los Angeles, California for Motown 30-What's Going on. This was the event that set the wheels in motion for the national attention of the Sonic Boom.

The J-Settes[edit]

Prancing J-Settes” is the official name of the Jackson State University dance line, an auxiliary group of the Jackson State University Marching Band, “The Sonic Boom of the South.” The Prancing J-Settes are currently supervised by Dowell Taylor, current Director of Bands. The Jackson State University Marching Band, “The Sonic Boom of the South” is an ensemble of the Department of Music, Dr. Jimmie James, Jr., Chair.

“The thrill of a thousand eyes,” were the words spoken by Dr. Jimmie James, Jr. at the onset of the “Prancing Jaycettes” in 1971.[citation needed] Shirley Middleton, a former majorette, initiated the concept of the majorettes abandoning their batons and dancing to popular musical selections. As the majorette sponsor, Shirley Middleton and the majorettes met with Dr. John A. Peoples, the University’s sixth president, and requested that they be permitted to “put down their batons.”

Dr. Peoples agreed and thus legends were born. In 1970, Middleton assembled 18 majorettes, and their notoriety immediately began to soar in rapid proportions. Their beauty, grace, and poise were astounding and their dance routines to songs such as “Kool-Aid,” James Brown’s “Make it Funky,” and “Hot Pants,” were magnificent, unmatched by any other competing groups.

The group was initially named the “Prancing Jaycettes.” The group’s name became official in 1971. However, in 1982, the Prancing Jaycette organization officially changed its name to Prancing J-Settes, because of a name conflict with a local organization known as the Jackson Jaycees/Jaycettes.

As a trained ballet dancer, Shirley Middleton held the J-Settes to a very high standard of perfection. Also, the late Hollis Pippins, a JSU twirler and a dancer of high performance in his own right, took great pride in providing the J-Settes with excellent choreography. In addition to emphasis on perfecting dance routines, it was completely unacceptable for any J-Sette to display mannerism and stature of anything less than a model citizen.

Shirley Middleton served as sponsor of the J-Settes from 1970-1975. In 1975, Narah Oatis was appointed the sponsor of the J-Settes. Under her leadership, the Prancing J-Settes became nationally renowned. During her reign, J-Sette marching techniques such as the “Salt and Pepper,” “J-Sette Walk,” “Strut,” and “Tip Toe” were perfected. The J-Settes consisted of lines of 12-16 young ladies who marched in rows affectionately named “Short and Sassy,” “Magnificent Middle,” or a “Tall and Tough.” Mrs. Oatis's tenure is best remembered by many for the J-Settes’s stellar performance at the 30th Anniversary of Motown in 1990, the “Coming to America routine,” “Proud Mary,” and the “Liturgical dance routine.” (“Coming to America” and the “Proud Mary” routines were both originally performed in 1995. The “Liturgical dance routine” was first performed in 1996.) Narah Oatis served as director (sponsor) of the Prancing J-Settes for 21 years. She resigned as sponsor of the J-Settes in February 1997. In the Spring of 1997, a former J-Sette captain, Mrs. Kathy Pinkston-Worthy was appointed director (sponsor) of the Prancing J-Settes. Under her direction, the J-Settes have become nationally known for their rapid fire highly technical dance routines to selections such as “I Go to Work” and “Swoop.” Perhaps, the most celebrated marque performance by the Prancing J-Settes was rendered at the 34th NAACP Image Awards in Hollywood, California in 2003 where the J-Settes performed on National Television with “Cedric the Entertainer” and “Sugar Bear of E.U.” Both routines were choreographed by Mrs. Worthy. Mrs. Worthy served 16 years as the director of the Prancing J-Settes. The Prancing J-settes have become a major part of pop culture in collegiate marching bands across the nation. The style and performance routine of the J-Settes is often imitated by many dance lines and the term "J-Setting" is synonymous with the prancing J-settes of Jackson State University. In the spring of 2013, Ms. Chloe Ashley, also former J-sette captain (2005-2008), became the director of the Prancing J-Settes.

Student media[edit]

Jackson State is home to radio station WJSU-FM which plays jazz, gospel, news and public affairs programming. Jackson State University’s public radio station, WJSU 88.5FM, now airs one of its most popular programs on the new HBCU Sirius XM channel. Launched November 14, 2013 and airing on station 142, the HBCU Sirius XM channel is powered by Howard University. The WJSU program, Jazz Reflections, hosted by Gerard Howard, presents a spectrum of the traditional pioneers of jazz like Ella Fitzgerald, Max Roach, Miles Davis, Dinah Washington, and Duke Ellington. The program airs Fridays at 2 p.m. CST and is repeated throughout the week. It also presents rare recordings from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. Jackson State University also owns a television station, W23BC known as JSUTV aired on Comcast. Jackson State also publishes the independent Blue and White Flash weekly student newspaper and the Jacksonian Magazine which features news and highlights about the university, its students, and alumni.

Notable alumni[edit]


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Dr. Rod Paige Secretary of Education during President George W. Bush administration from 2001-2005, and former head football coach at Jackson State from 1964-1968

Arts, TV and Radio Media, Entertainment and Music[edit]

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Vivian Brown Weather Channel meteorologist [5]
Demarco Morgan News anchor for WNBC in New York City.
Percy Greene founded the Jackson Advocate newspaper, Mississippi's oldest black-owned newspaper
Willie Norwood American Gospel singer. He is the father and voice coach of R&B singers Brandy and Ray J
Tonea Stewart Actress and Educator
Cassandra Wilson Jazz vocalist and musician
Kenyatta Jones 2002 Reality TV star, Fashion Designer and CEO of Bella Renee Clothing in Atlanta, GA

Politics, Law, and Government[edit]

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Cornell William Brooks 1983 18th President and CEO of the NAACP
Emmett C. Burns, Jr. Member of the Maryland House of Delegates

from the 10th district

Robert G. Clark, Jr. politician who was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1967. He was the first African American elected to the Mississippi State Legislature since the Reconstruction era.
Malcolm D. Jackson CIO at Environmental Protection Agency during President Barack Obama administration. He is a Presidential Appointment. [6]
Flossie Boyd-McIntyre 1960 Member North Carolina House of Representatives (1994-2002) [7]
Carlton W. Reeves 1986 Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi
Bennie G. Thompson Member U. S. House of Representatives. Serving from April 1993 to Current
Tony Yarber Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi [8]


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Shasta Averyhardt 2008 Professional golfer, 1st African-American woman to qualify for the LPGA Tour since 2001, and its fourth African-American woman member in the 60-year history of the tour. [9]
Lem Barney NFL Hall of Fame cornerback with the Detroit Lions
Marcus Benard 2009 Current NFL linebacker
Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd former Major League Baseball pitcher
Corey Bradford former National Football League wide receiver
Robert Brazile former 7-time NFL Pro Bowl outside linebacker with the Houston Oilers [10]
Wes Chamberlain former Major League outfielder
Dave Clark former Major League outfielder
Eddie Payton 1973 NFL kick returner; current Jackson State golf coach
Walter Payton 1975 NFL Hall of Fame running back; played entire career for the Chicago Bears
Archie "Gunslinger" Cooley 1962 former head football coach at Mississippi Valley State University, University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Norfolk State University, and Paul Quinn College
Leslie "Speedy" Duncan former 4-time NFL Pro-Bowl cornerback with the San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins.
Marvin Freeman former Major League pitcher
Cletis Gordon former NFL defensive back
Lindsey Hunter Former NBA point guard. Won the 2001–02 championship with the Los Angeles Lakers and the 2003–04 championship with the Detroit Pistons. He was formerly the interim heach coach of the Phoenix Suns.
Harold Jackson former NFL wide receiver; played majority career with the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots
Thadeus Jackson NFL assistant coach
Claudis James former NFL player
Jaymar Johnson 2008 current NFL wide receiver
Trey Johnson current NBA/NBA Development League Player
Robert Kent Jackson State and professional quarterback
Ed Manning Drafted by the Baltimore Bullets in the 8th round (1st pick, 80th overall) of the 1967 NBA draft, father of Danny Manning
Audie Norris former NBA Power Forward and superstar for Winterthur FC Barcelona in the late 1980s
Donald Reese NFL Player; played for the Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints and the San Diego Chargers [11]
Purvis Short former NBA small forward for the Golden State Warriors in the mid-1980s
Jackie Slater NFL Hall of Fame offensive tackle; played entire career with the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams
Jimmy Smith Retired NFL wide receiver; played majority career with the Jacksonville Jaguars [12]
Michael Tinsley 2006 Track & Field sprinter

See also[edit]


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2012. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved February 5, 2010. 
  2. ^ http://www.jsumsnews.com/?p=8114
  3. ^ "America's Top Colleges". Forbes.com LLC™. Retrieved October 19, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Oliver leads Jackson State to SWAC title". The ClarionLedger. 
  5. ^ "Vivian Brown". The Weather Channel Interactive, Inc. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  6. ^ "Malcolm D. Jackson, Chief Information Officer and Assistant Administrator for the Office of Environmental Information". 
  7. ^ "Flossie Boyd-McIntyre Biography". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  8. ^ "Office of the Mayor". City of Jackson, Mississippi. Retrieved April 2014. 
  9. ^ "Former Jackson State golfer Shasta Averyhardt qualifies of LPGA tour". 
  10. ^ "Robert Lorenzo Brazile". databaseFootball.com. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Donald Francis Reese". databaseFootball.com. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Jimmy Lee Smith". Pro-Football-Reference.Com. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 

External links[edit]