Alcorn State, MS (March 29, 2012) – The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) honored four Alcorn alums who represent a strong commitment to excellence in their fields.
Alcorn led HBCUs present with the most honorees, Verdia L. Haywood ’70, Dr. LaSandra Watkins ’70, Marcus D. Ward ’00, and LaKeshia N. Myers ’06 received NAFEO’s Signature Distinguished Alumni Awards at its annual conference which focused on the National Dialogue on Blacks in Higher Education held March 25-28, 2012, at the Madison Hotel in Washington, D.C.
President M. Christopher Brown II emphasized that Alcorn alumni embody the essence of the University’s core values and this public recognition acknowledges the breadth of an Alcorn education. “The best measure of any institution is the quality of the lives led by its alumni,” says M. Christopher Brown II as he congratulated the recipients of the highly competitive awards. “Alcorn appreciates NAFEO for acknowledging the great achievements and contributions of our alumni.”
On behalf of the University, Alumni Director Janice Gibson nominated the candidates for the awards, “Our alumni are advancing Alcorn’s tradition of excellence across the state, the nation, and the world. Their professional contributions are a source of great pride to the University. They are leaders in their disciplines and communities, and we are deeply grateful for their dedication and service.”
A native of Water Valley, Mississippi, Verdia L. Haywood received his bachelor’s degree with honors in political sciences and economics from Alcorn in 1970. He then received a national urban fellowship to attend graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and graduated in 1972 with a master’s degree in public administration. Over the years of his successful career in public administration, Mr. Haywood held a number of prominent positions and retired from the position of deputy county executive for Human Services of Fairfax County, Fairfax, Virginia, in 2010. During his tenure, he held membership in many professional organizations and affiliations and received a number of awards and recognitions, including National Forum for Black Public Administrators Public Service Award for Human and Social Services, National Forum for Black Public Administrators Public Management Award, American Society of Public Administrators Award for Public Service, The Katherine K. Hanley – Public Service Leadership Award from Leadership Fairfax, Inc. and many more.
Dr. LaSandra Watkins, a native of Clarksdale, Mississippi, graduated from Alcorn in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and began her teaching career at the Camden City Public School District, Camden, New Jersey. In 1999, Dr. Watkins graduated from Rowan University with a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration, and in 2005, she also received her doctorate in educational leadership and administration from Rowan University. Dr. Watkins has been the recipient of various awards and honors, including Woman of the Year from the National Stop the Violence Coalition, Who’s Who Among American Women, and Who’s Who Among Teachers.
Widely recognized for his contributions to his alma mater, Vice President for Institutional Affairs and Interim Executive Director of the Alcorn State University Foundation, Inc. Marcus D. Ward oversees advancement efforts including fundraising, public relations, strategic development, alumni relations and government affairs. In his two years with the University’s advancement team, Ward has collaborated to increase the number of donors by 25 percent, increased the amount of donations by 11 percent and restored the Foundation’s endowment by $2 Million to pre-2008 recession level. Ward holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science/pre-law from Alcorn State University and earned both his Masters of Public Administration degree and an Information Technology Policy and Management Advanced Certificate at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
LaKeshia N. Myers is an educator for the Prince George’s County Public Schools of Maryland. As such, she recently created a series of citizenship based service projects to assist and enhance civic education for students in Washington, D.C. She also serves as a social science instructor at Surrattsville High School in Clinton, Maryland. Prior to becoming an educator, Myers served as clerk of the Federal Workforce and Government Management Subcommittees of the United States House of Representatives. While in this capacity, she worked with congressional leaders to author many pieces of legislation pertaining to government contracts, diversity, employee pay and benefits, and human resources protocol in the federal government. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science from Alcorn and she earned her Master of Education degree from Strayer University.
All the honorees agreed that an Alcorn education gives you the confidence and the experience to “be or do anything you wish.”
Founded in 1969, the National Association For Educational Opportunity (NAFEO represents presidents and chancellors of the diverse black colleges and universities: public, private and land-grant, two-year, four-year, graduate and professional, historically and predominantly black colleges and universities.
NAFEO was founded to provide an international voice for the nation's HBCUs; to place and maintain the issue of equal opportunity in higher education on the national agenda; to advocate policies, programs and practices designed to preserve and enhance HBCUs; and to increase the active participation of blacks at every level in the formulation and implementation of policies and programs in American higher education.
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.