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System Diversity

2/25/2011 - Jackson, Miss.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning recently honored Black History Month by recognizing Dr. Minion Kenneth Chauncey Morrison of Mississippi State University as the 2011 Black History Month Educator of the Year. Justice James E. Graves Jr. was recognized as the 2011 Community Leader Honoree.

Trustee Amy Whitten and Justice James E. Graves Jr.

"Black History Month gives the Board of Trustees a wonderful opportunity to honor individuals from each of our universities who have contributed to the advancement of diversity on their respective campuses as well as in the community. Dr. Morrison is a shining example of a scholar, a mentor and a role model," said Dr. Bettye Neely, president of the Board of Trustees. "We also honor an individual from our community who has greatly impacted our state and nation. With a passion for education, Justice Graves serves as a role model for our youth and is dedicated to 'equal justice under the law' for all citizens."

Working through its Diversity Committee, co-chaired by Trustee Bob Owens and Trustee Alan Perry, the Board selects one individual as the Educator of the Year and one individual as the Community Leader Honoree. Other Board members serving on the committee include Trustee Christy Pickering, Trustee Doug Rouse and Trustee Amy Whitten.

Dr. K.C. Morrison is currently Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Mississippi State University and is also Senior Associate in African American Studies. He served at the University of Missouri-Columbia for 20 years and has also worked for Syracuse University, Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, and Tougaloo College.

Dr. Morrison graduated cum laude from Tougaloo College. He holds a master's degree and doctoral degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has traveled widely over several continents for his research and teaching on African politics and society. His work also includes the politics of Black America, concentrating on electoral politics in the South. Some of his books include Race and Democracy in the Americas: Brazil and the United States (forthcoming) and African Americans and Political Participation (2003).

The Board also recognized Justice James E. Graves Jr. as the 2011 Community Leader Honoree. Justice James E. Graves serves on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, following nomination by President Barack Obama and confirmation by the U.S. Senate. He served previously as Presiding Mississippi Supreme Court Justice.

A Clinton native, Justice Graves was valedictorian of his high school class. A Millsaps College graduate, he holds a law degree and a master's degree from Syracuse University.

Justice Graves has been a staff attorney at Central Mississippi Legal Services, an attorney in private practice, has served as a Special Assistant Attorney in the Office of the Mississippi Attorney General and as the Director of Child Support Enforcement for the Department of Human Services. He has served as an adjunct professor at Jackson State University for 17 years. Justice Graves' service on the bench has included Circuit Court Judge in Hinds County.

The Board honored faculty from each of Mississippi's public universities for advancing diversity at their institutions. These honorees include:

Dr. Donzell Lee
Professor of Music, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies
Alcorn State University

Mrs. Joi Jones Phillips
Assistant Director of Library Services
Delta State University

Dr. B. D'ANdra Orey
Chair and Professor, Department of Political Science
Jackson State University

Dr. Minion Kenneth Chauncey Morrison
Professor and Head, Department of Political Science and Public Administration
Senior Fellow, African American Studies Program
Mississippi State University

Dr. Walter N. Taylor
Assistant Dean and Interim Associate Director
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Professor and Interim Director of Human Sciences
Mississippi State University
Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine

Dr. James D. Ward
Professor of Political Science
Mississippi University for Women

Dr. Catherine Singleton-Walker
Assistant Professor and Director of the Master of Social Work Program
Mississippi Valley State University

Ms. Wilma Faye Webber-Colbert
Executive Director, Equal Opportunity and Regulatory Compliance
Coordinator for Title IX and ADA
The University of Mississippi

Dr. Rob Rockhold
Deputy Chief Academic Officer, Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology
Professor, Health Science
Associate Professor, (Research) Department of Emergency Medicine
The University of Mississippi Medical Center

Dr. Andrea Lott Wesley
Professor of Psychology
The University of Southern Mississippi

Hank Thomas served as the Keynote Speaker at a luncheon held in their honor. In 1961, Hank Thomas and a dozen other brave, committed individuals boarded Greyhound and Trailways buses in Washington, D.C. and began a journey that would encourage hundreds of others to join them as they changed Mississippi, the South and the United States.

Today, he serves as chair of the national advisory board of Mississippi Freedom 50th Foundation, Inc., a non-profit charitable foundation coordinating The Return of the Freedom Riders: 50th Anniversary Reunion in Jackson in May. The event will recognize the Freedom Riders and include a week of numerous activities, including educational forums, ceremonies, exhibits and films, and other opportunities to meet the individuals who helped shape our nation's history.

A Purple Heart recipient and a Vietnam Veteran, Mr. Thomas is a developer of Marriott branded hotels and McDonald's Quick Service Restaurants.


Click here to view photos of honorees, with identification of individuals in photos. Click on the photos above to dowload the larger version.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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