James A. Hefner

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James A. Hefner
Born (1941-06-20)June 20, 1941
Brevard, North Carolina, U.S.
Alma mater
Influences Janieta Tate, Hugh Gloster, Benjamin Payton
Spouse Edwina Long Hefner

James A. Hefner was president of Tennessee State University from 1991 to 2005.[1] Before serving as the president of Tennessee State University he served as president of Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. Earlier positions include provost of Tuskegee Institute, and professor of economics at Morehouse College.

Early life[edit]

Born in Brevard, North Carolina, Hefner's family was too poor to own books. Recognized as exceptionally intelligent by his elementary school principal, Hefner was invited to visit her home and read her encyclopedias, an opportunity which he availed himself of every day after school for nearly eight years.[2] Graduating as valedictorian of his elementary class and salutatorian of his high School, he matriculated to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he was a class mate of Jesse Jackson. Here, too, Hefner was singled out as an exceptionally able student, by Dr. Janieta Tate, Professor of Economics, who invited him to come to her house frequently to discuss economics.[2] Graduating with a B.S. in Economics in 1961, Hefner then earned a master's degree in economics from Atlanta University in 1962, where he taught for several years. In 1971, he earned his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Colorado. Hefner views his own role as carrying on the tradition of his teachers, encouraging young African-Americans[3] to achieve their full potential.[2]

Atlanta University[edit]


Jackson State University[edit]

Dr. James A. Hefner became the seventh president of Jackson State University on May 1, 1984, serving until April 1, 1991. Upon assuming the Presidency, he launched a five-year $10 million capital campaign generating $ 11.2 million a year ahead of schedule. This administration was characterized by enhancement of the scholarship program; establishment of a Community Development Corporation with the assistance of the Ford Foundation to improve the blighted area around the campus; organization of a Staff Senate; establishment of the Center for Professional Development and the Center of Technology Transfer, and expansion of programs through the Division of Continuing Education and the Universities Center.

Tennessee State University[edit]

During Hefner's 14-year tenure as president of Tennessee State University,[5] he oversaw the implementation of a $112 million capital improvement plan, secured as part of the Geier agreement that attempted to end race-based disparity in higher education spending in Tennessee. Several new buildings were built, including a campus center, an administration building, and a performing arts center. Enrollment reached an all-time high of 9,100 students.[1]

Current activities[edit]

After Hefner's retirement, he joined the Du Bois Institute as a Harvard Fellow.[6]