The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning announced today the unanimous decision to name Dr. Alfred Rankins, Jr. as president of Alcorn State University. An Alcorn State University alumnus, Dr. Rankins currently serves as deputy commissioner for academic and student affairs for the Institutions of Higher Learning. He served as Acting President for Mississippi Valley State University for one year, beginning in November 2012.
“Dr. Rankins is well-prepared to serve at Alcorn,” said Trustee C.D. Smith, chair of the Alcorn State University Board Search Committee. “He is an Alcorn alumnus and has a background in academics and agriculture. We know that he loves his alma mater and have full confidence he will do great things for Alcorn State University.”
Since 2008, Dr. Rankins has served in Academic Affairs at IHL, most recently as deputy commissioner. In this role, he has served as the system’s chief academic officer, manages a $14 million budget, and advises the Board of Trustees and the Commissioner of Higher Education on all matters pertaining to academic programs, policy and planning; student access, readiness and success; and faculty affairs.
A native of Greenville, Miss., Dr. Rankins holds an undergraduate degree in agricultural economics from Alcorn State University and a master’s degree in weed science and his doctorate in weed science, both from Mississippi State University. In addition to holding degrees in agriculture from land-grant institutions, Dr. Rankins has also worked at MSU, where he served as a tenure-track assistant professor, tenured associate professor, extension specialist and assistant vice president intern for academic affairs.
As the Acting President of Mississippi Valley State, Dr. Rankins was responsible for serving students, managing the university’s operational budget, leading more than 500 employees, managing 114 buildings totaling 2,110,320 square feet, with a total asset value of $186 million. He focused on student recruitment and retention, which resulted in a 30 percent increase in first-time freshman over the previous year, and streamlined processes in many facets of the university, including student support services, business operations, alumni engagement and planned giving.
“I am humbled and honored that the Board of Trustees has selected me to lead Alcorn State University,” said Dr. Rankins. “I look forward to working with the ASU family to build a university that is a shining example of how to be student-focused, supportive of faculty, responsive to the needs of business and a source of pride for all alumni.”
As the system chief academic and student affairs officer, Dr. Rankins provides leadership and direction to the chief academic officers and chief student affairs officers at the universities. He was instrumental in the development of a state-wide reverse transfer Memorandum of Understanding between the eight public universities and 15 public community colleges in the state. In addition, he formulated a system-wide policy for accepting for transfer the Associate of Arts degree from Mississippi community colleges. He led the system-wide course redesign pilot in 17 courses resulting in improved student learning outcomes at a reduced course delivery cost.
While at Mississippi State University, he taught several undergraduate and graduate level courses in the Department of Plant and Soil Science. His research on topics in weed science has been published in numerous refereed journals, educational outreach publications, newsletters, annual reports, bulletins and proceedings abstracts.
Dr. Rankins currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Mississippi Authority for Educational Television and University Press of Mississippi. He also serves on the Mississippi Commission for College Accreditation and as Secretary-Treasurer for the Mississippi Association of Colleges. He also holds membership in a number of other professional and honorary societies, including Weed Science Society of America, Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture, and the Southern Weed Science Society.
He is also a member of the Metro-Jackson Alcorn State University Alumni Association, the Alcorn State University National Alumni Association and the Mississippi State University Central Mississippi Alumni Association.
Dr. Rankins and his wife, Juandalyn, have two children, Aftyn and Alfred.
Earlier today, Dr. Rankins met with campus constituency groups on the Alcorn State University campuses in Natchez and Lorman. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members were able to pose questions to him and share their thoughts and concerns with him. Attendees were able to provide feedback to the Board of Trustees. This feedback was reviewed during the Board Meeting on campus.
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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.