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10/17/2018 - Jackson, Miss.

Returning to familiar ground, Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr., Commissioner of Higher Education, learned more about both the concerns and great things happening at Alcorn State University on the last stop on the Commissioner's Listening Tour. Dr. Rankins served as president of Alcorn for four years prior to being named Commissioner.

"While I am very familiar with Alcorn State University, it is helpful to view the university from a fresh perspective," said Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr., Commissioner of Higher Education. "As Commissioner, I want to help all universities continue to offer a quality education that is accessible and affordable. The information the Alcorn campus community shared with me on this visit will help me to do that. I appreciate everyone who took the time to share their thoughts with me."

Dr. Rankins met with students, faculty, staff, administrators, elected officials and community members at the meetings held last week in Natchez and Lorman.

"The IHL Commissioner's visit to Alcorn was a great success because it allowed our faculty, staff, students and alumni an opportunity to share their thoughts, experiences and forward-thinking ideas with Dr. Rankins and his staff, which will assist them in developing a concerted agenda to strengthen Alcorn and Mississippi's Public Universities System," said Dr. Donzell Lee, interim president of Alcorn State University.

During the discussions, several participants noted the growth the university has experienced over the past few years and the challenges growth brings to housing, parking, technology and staffing. Some noted the importance of remembering Alcorn's mission of access, particularly for first-generation students.

Participants also expressed interest in system-level initiatives for sharing costs, creating efficiencies and sharing best practices. Technology was noted as an area of particular concern, noting the need for students and faculty to have access to the latest, fastest digital tools available.

Several attendees also noted the importance of the university's mission as a land-grant institution and the strength derived from this designation, along with its partnership with other land-grant institutions across the nation.

The Alcorn State University stop concluded the Commissioner's Listening Tour, which included visits to 13 campuses in 12 cities during his first 100 days in office. More information, including a survey on various aspects of the university system, is available online at the following link: www.mississippi.edu/tour.

Named Commissioner of Higher Education on March 23, 2018, Dr. Rankins began serving in this role on July 1, 2018. As Commissioner, Dr. Rankins provides leadership to the university system, including all eight public universities in Mississippi.

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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.

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