Alcorn community honors 19th President Alfred Rankins at farewell celebration


Heartfelt testimonials and laughter filled the James L. Bolden Campus Union Ballroom Thursday June 28 as more than 300 members of the Alcorn State University community honored Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr. – the university’s 19th president – during a farewell celebration on the Lorman Campus.

Rankins will begin his service as Commissioner of Higher Education for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning on July 1st.

The program was kicked off in a humorous manner, as retiring vice president for student affairs and master of ceremony Emanuel Barnes amused the crowd with his quip about a long tail cat and a rocking chair.

Provost and executive vice president for academic affairs Donzell Lee welcomed the crowd with a salutatory expression of Rankins accomplishments.

A resolution and key to the city was received from the City of Natchez along with resolutions from the Adams County Board of Supervisors, Grambling State University and the ASU Foundation, Inc.

On behalf of the Vicksburg Warren School District, board member James Stirgus, Jr. noted Rankins appointment as commissioner of higher education was an incredible honor and shining example of the progress and unity in Mississippi. Following Stirgus, Mississippi Senator W. Briggs Hopson III, thanked the organizers for hosting the event and offered special gratitude for having it inside on such a warm summer day. Hopson added that Rankins was a man of high standards worthy of inclusion on the list of historically great higher education leaders in Mississippi.

Alcorn State University National Alumni Association, Inc. president Neddie Winters, was joined by fellow officers in presenting resolutions from the organization’s agriculture and natural resources committee and the association. Mr. Robert Tatum, Jr. 2018-2019 SGA President thank Rankins on behalf of the student body for helping teach the lesson of not asking what can Alcorn do for you but what you can do for Alcorn. Dr. Debra Spring, dean of the School of Nursing offered thanks and key words from the faculty and staff that defined Rankins presidency.

IHL Board Chairman Shane Hooper made brief remarks on the historical significance of Rankins appointment and head football coach Fred McNair presented a large framed number nineteen jersey to the president on behalf of the department of athletics.

Marcus Ward, vice president of institutional advancement and executive director of the ASU Foundation, Inc. was joined by Foundation Board Chairman Robert Gage and Provost Lee in presenting Rankins with a resolution and framed photo collage of his leadership vision acronym “F.A.C.E.S.” that chronicled memorable experiences at Alcorn. Ward also announced the creation of the Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr. Endowed Scholarship – which was made possible by a $25,000 gift from the Madison Charitable Foundation.

Director of Equity Inclusion, LLjuna Weir was joined by executive assistant to the president Karen Shedrick in presenting purple and gold flowers and a beautiful ceramic plate to First Lady Juandalyn Rankins along with an autographed basketball and volleyball to the Rankins children.

A special, moving video tribute featuring memorable photos and clips of noteworthy messages from Rankins was presented and the official presidential portrait was unveiled.

Through a story from his childhood, Rankins thanked his parents for instilling in him a strong work ethic and providing him with the tools he needed to be successful. He also thanked the students, passionate alumni and faculty and staff of Alcorn along with his cabinet for all their hard work over the years. President Rankins paid special tribute to his wife and children for the many sacrifices and support they have provided him so he could be president. He thanked the IHL Board of Trustees for their confidence and unwavering support and acknowledged all of the statewide and local elected officials for their support of Alcorn.

President Rankins closed the celebration by stating, “There are a lot of people who mean a lot to me who are here today and a lot of people that are diehard supporters of Alcorn and I want to thank you. I’m not one for long elaborate speeches. I’ll just say this. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity. My goal when I came here to Alcorn was to instill honor and integrity into the presidency of this great university – to set a foundation for growth and doing things the right way and to leave this great university better off than it was when I inherited it. I thank you. I thank the committee for putting on this event. I thank you for all the gifts and tokens of appreciation. I just want to thank you. I’ll just say in closing, let my work speak for me.”

To view a synopsis of Dr. Rankins accomplishments over his four years as Alcorn’s President, view the University Magazine.


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 that benefit the surrounding communities, state, nation, and world.