Alcorn State, Miss (August 15, 2012) – Alcorn faculty, staff and administrators packed the room as President M. Christopher Brown II hosted the University’s second annual Presidential Encampment on August 13, 2012. President Brown began the program by welcoming back Alcornites and talking about the importance of Encampment as the start of the new academic year. “We must continue to come together and have open and honest conversations to move Alcorn forward.”
President Brown’s welcome was followed by morning meditation and invocation by Rev. Ronnie Miller-Yow, pastor for the Wesley Chapel UMC, and chaplain, Philander Smith College, and greetings by Fred Makonen, vice president, ING Financial Services.
Dr. Brown introduced the second annual Hiram Rhodes Revels Lecturer Dr. Edwin J. Nichols, as the invited speaker. Nichols is the founder and director of Nichols and Associates, Inc., an applied behavioral science firm that helps organizations successfully compete in the global marketplace. He is a clinical/industrial psychologist with more than twenty years of consulting experience with Fortune 500 corporations, foreign governments, national government agencies, parastatals, associations, health care systems, and not for profits. The hallmark of his stellar career is the development of a unique paradigm: The philosophical Aspects of Cultural Difference. During his speech, Dr. Nichols explained to the audience that survival in today’s global marketplace requires systematic congruence in organizational structure through cultural competence in leadership.
“Cultural competence is the ability to extract from others and accept the uniqueness of their problem solving skills, people skills and action-oriented skills for product utilization and process. This capacity is the value-added, which gives the enhanced market share and the competitive edge.”
Dr. Nichols engaged the audience in a conversation about cultural competence, diversity, socialization, cultural bias, axiological ethics and problem solving skills giving vivid examples and explaining how those concepts could be applied to higher education. “Teachers have to be culturally competent to be able to prepare students for employment in global market place in the 21st century.”
This year President Brown started a new tradition recognizing employees who have served the University for a certain number of years. Employees with tenure spanning from 10 to 19 years, 20-29 years and 30-39 years were recognized. Henry Williams, head mechanic, who has served for 40 years, and the longest serving employee, University Bands Director Samuel Griffin, who has served for 45 years, received standing ovation.
The program continued with remarks by Deuce McAllister of Waste Pro USA who expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve Alcorn and keep the campus clean. The company sponsored the lunch for the Encampment and will introduce a student-driven recycling program on campus.
President Brown delivered the state of the university address in which he highlighted the past year’s achievements: the University has not lost any staff due to budget cuts and administered merit pay raises for the first time in several years; School of Nursing dormitory and president’s house have been paid off leaving Alcorn with Medgar Evers Heritage Village as the only debt; obtained another 10 year reaccreditation by SACS and NCAA, and accreditation of Social Work Program.
“Thanks to the hard work of our dedicated faculty and staff, funded research rose from $16 to 30 million, fundraising came up to almost $2 million, our enrollment hit an all-time high of over 4,000 students and our fall-to-spring freshmen retention rate is 99%. Thanks to you we graduated almost 700 students, the highest in the institution’s history and received the HBCU of the Year award.”
Dr. Brown reflected on hiring Alcorn’s first white head football coach, “We are not black, we are not white, we are just Alcorn and here, KNOWLEDGE and CHARACTER are more important than race and relationships. At Alcorn, we only want people that are ‘our kind of people’ and we will continue to hire the best and the brightest.”
President Brown concluded his address by discussing projects in planning – Oakland Memorial Chapel renovation and Vicksburg Office upgrading - and critical concerns for 2012-2013 academic year that included state and federal funding challenges, the changing role of technology in higher education, the rapidly aging composition of the personnel, heightened pressure for salary equity and market demands.
During an open forum, President Brown addressed questions raised by faculty and staff. The program closed with remarks by the newly elected Student Government Association President Marcus Mercy ’13, the National Alumni Association President James Stubbs ’73, Staff Senate President Donna Hayden ’88 and Dr. Dickson Idusuyi, Faculty Senate president.
Alcorn State University is a premier comprehensive land-grant university that develops diverse students into globally-competitive leaders, and applies scientific research through collaborative partnerships which benefit the surrounding communities, state, nation and world.