Rankins matters to Alcorn State University

Rankins matters to Alcorn State University  
Why faculty, staff, students, and alumni rally to support Alcorn’s 19th President.

“We don’t want Alcorn to lose its momentum,” said Commissioner Hank Bounds on numerous occasions during the search process for Alcorn’s next president.

Recognizing that Alcorn has continually stood out in several national rankings over the past years, the Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning moved swiftly to ensure that the ranks of Alcorn’s students, faculty, staff, and alumni are supported by a leader with whom members of the Alcorn family can forge powerful collaborative relationships.

On Tuesday, March 4, the Board unanimously named Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr., its deputy commissioner of academic affairs and student affairs and former acting president of Mississippi Valley State University, the 19th president of Alcorn.

Rankins, an Alcornite and Greenville native, earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Alcorn. He obtained both his master’s and doctorate in weed science from Mississippi State University. That’s why the appointment of Rankins matters to the Alcorn family.

His roots run deep, he is connected to our mission, legacy and history explains graduate student Kaelon Walker, of Oklahoma City, who participated in the student roundtable discussion held Monday, March 2 with then preferred candidate, Rankins.

“I felt his sense of pride and ownership for Alcorn,” observed Walker as he describes Rankins’ response to one of his questions: How long will you be here? “His answer although simple was a genuine and honest response-‘As long as Alcorn will have me.’ I feel strongly that he is right for us and more than capable of leading us forward.”

For Roderick Patterson, a freshman majoring in plant and soil science with military obligations, the person holding the position of president must understand “To whom much is given, much is required. I appreciate that he is concerned about us as students and that he promises to support us.”

Non-traditional student Barney Rankin, 56, agrees with Patterson and Walker. “We need President Rankins ASAP. He is the right fit for Alcorn and has my vote of confidence and support. He understands our successes and challenges and has pledged to become part of the solution.”

Students were not the only ones excited about the appointment, Cedric Thomas, Braves football defensive back coach, also spoke highly of Rankins and his tenure at Mississippi Valley State University. “He {Rankins} made a difference at MVSU. The collaboration between the administration and athletics led to an increase in academic support and mandatory study halls, improving APR for student-athletes.”

While Thomas is hopeful for athletic advancements, Dr. Malinda Butler, chair of the Department of Education and Psychology is expecting visionary leadership. “Rankins must be a leader that stresses accountability and innovation,” declares Butler. “Technology expansions and more online offerings will benefit Alcorn. We look forward to working with President Rankins to continue our current momentum.”

For Wade Tillery, project manager for the Office of Sustainability, it is important to have a leader that will listen and respond to concerns of the Alcorn family.

“This is not a one-way street,” says Tillery. “It’s great that President Rankins is not a micro-manager and that he believes in putting our students first and having transparent communications.”

And in his own words, President Rankins vows to use his background in agriculture and academics to shape a university that is responsive and respectful to students, provides adequate faculty support, competitive compensation to keep good employees, to be a leader in economic development in Southwestern Mississippi, and to be visible