Alcorn employees energized and committed to push forward, higher after annual Faculty and Staff Institute

Faculty and staff members at Alcorn State University convened for the university's annual back to school assembly.

The 2019 Faculty and Staff Institute was held Tuesday, Aug. 13 in the James L. Bolden Campus Union Ballroom. University administrators provided updates on accomplishments from the previous year and outlined plans for the upcoming academic year. Alcorn's 20th President, Dr. Felecia M. Nave presented her state of the university address by assuring colleagues of her mission to collect ideas from them that would help push the university forward.

"I am committed to our mission and growing the university to even greater heights, but I can’t accomplish this feat alone,” said Nave. “We all have to be committed to moving in the same direction with a shared vision. Collectively, we can expand the depth of our knowledge. I like to listen to take in varied perspectives because if you have a diverse team working toward a solution, you’ll come up with great ideas.”

Nave is confident in the university's trajectory, but she's aware that it will require the maximum effort and patience.

"There will be many accomplishments in the future, but it won't happen overnight. It will take time, planning, restructuring, and resource allocation. We have to be patient enough to experience the outcome.”

Due to today's constant technological advances, Nave encouraged faculty to embrace evolving their approach to teaching to resonate with their students. Nave said that teacher and university evolvement would enhance the learning experience for students.

"We must focus on quality, rigor, and relevance. Relevance matters in today's generation. Students don’t have time to get their degrees and maybe reap its benefits. Their parents share the same feelings of their children; they are looking for degrees that are relevant in today’s market. It’s important to implement the programs students look for because if we don’t, they will leave.”

Customer service is critical to the university's progress. Nave stressed how important it is for faculty and staff to display a kind disposition in the presence of others.

"It doesn't cost anything to smile and be kind. It's not fair to your colleagues, students, or parents because they pay a portion of our check. Enrollment matters, and once the students get here; we must treat them well to retain them. Customer service applies to every aspect of the university’s functions.”

Administrative updates from university officials preceded Nave's address. Dr. John Igwebuike, interim provost and executive vice president for the Office of Academic Affairs, shared positive insights from students on their experience at the university. Igwebuike said that students are pleased with the mentorship of their teachers and advisors and the Go.alcorn website, which provides a more convenient method of connecting with their advisors.

Carolyn DuPre', vice president for Finance and Administrative Services, reported that the university is in good financial standing. DuPre' also encourages department heads to make wise financial decisions so that Alcorn can continue its sustainability.

Tracy Cook, vice president for Student Affairs, provided an update on the upcoming fall enrollment, which is projected to be another increase and possible overflow. Cook said that the university would continue to provide living space via the Days Inn Hotel in Natchez, Mississippi.

Marcus Ward, vice president, for Institutional Advancement and executive director of the ASU Foundation Inc., touched on the great development efforts of 2018 which in the university surpassing its goal. Ward said that exceeding fundraising expectations helped support the university in hosting the 2018 SWAC Championship game and sponsor many other initiatives for students, faculty and staff. In December 2018, the unit experienced one of its largest end-of-the-year giving totals in recent history.

Derek Horne, director for Intercollegiate Athletics, and Cyrus Russ, assistant vice president for Athletic Compliance and Academic Services, shed light on the continuous improvement in student-athlete graduation and their success in their respective sports and the classroom.

Dr. Charles Taylor, vice president for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), addressed the audience about Alcorn’s approaching reaffirmation in March 2021.

Taylor repeatedly advised the crowd to remember that everyone plays a key role in the reaffirmation process. He also spoke on how vital it is for everyone to take reaffirmation seriously.

“Everyone is involved in the success of Alcorn’s reaffirmation process,” said Taylor. “The process covers every aspect of the institution. Make sure that all of the data is up to date. Start the planning process early so that you will be prepared when the time comes.”

Taylor gave the crowd some valuable tips on how to prepare for the reaffirmation process.

“I encourage you to take time to read and recognize important documents so that you can be well informed on what’s going on. Stay focused in the midst of all of your upcoming duties. Everyone should welcome the idea of continuous quality improvement in your areas of responsibility. ”

Taylor encouraged Alcornites that the university’s history can play a significant role in its reaffirmation.

“Keep in mind that you have a great history and that you are here for the students. Having a story to tell is important for reaffirmation. Keep a positive attitude and try to bridge the gap on those things that need to be improved.”