Alcornites gather virtually for annual Faculty & Staff Institute

Employees at Alcorn State University virtually participated in its annual back-to-school event.

The 2020 Faculty & Staff Institute was held via Zoom Thursday, Aug. 13. Alcorn officials and special guests tuned in to give departmental reports on accomplishments, future initiatives, and encouragement for the year.

Alcorn alumna and star of the hit reality tv show Married to Medicine Dr. Jackie Waters inspired the Alcorn community to maneuver according to COVID-19 guidelines and to set a positive atmosphere for returning students.

“We are in this together,” said Walters. “We must lean on each other and understand our responsibility as staff and educators. Stay safe, wear your masks correctly, wash or sanitize your hands, and social distance. The students will use you as a guide. You’re going to set the University's tone, so the students need to see you show the strength and courage that the Alcorn family has always displayed. Be the light that you want to see on campus.”

Interim School of Nursing Dean Shirley Evers-Manley, cousin of Medgar and Charles Evers, shared her excitement for beginning a new journey at Alcorn’s School of Nursing.

“I am grateful to be here at Alcorn. When I think of being here and nursing, I think of them being a science and an art. We have to take the science and art to think of innovative ways to teach our students and reach out to communities that are in need.”

President Felecia M. Nave motivated Alcornites to push forward and make the best of the current circumstances. Nave spoke about leveling up expectations at the University. She believes that despite the circumstances, Alcorn will still have a successful year.

“This year’s start is unlike any other,” said Nave. “However, we accept it for what it is to make the best of our Brave start. It’s important that we are kind and courteous and that we continue to be compassionate. We should embrace each other because we are family; you never know what others are experiencing. We are ready to welcome our students for a new year. It is because of our students, alumni, parents, and employees that Alcorn has delivered on its mission, even during this pandemic.”

Nave assured employees that their voices were heard during last year’s town hall meetings. She addressed various improvements that include shared governance with the newly appointed Staff Senate members and new technologies to help university operations run smoothly. 

She also announced the University is partnering with a third-party firm named Segal to implement a comprehensive workforce management study. Segal is a human resources consulting firm that is nationally recognized for its work with hundreds of higher education institutions. The study began in March and will conclude in December 2020 and allows Alcorn to establish an assessment of university salaries.

The president’s cabinet gave the Alcorn community updates from their respective divisions and shared what they can expect in the upcoming school year. Dr. Keith McGee, interim provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, spoke about the spring 2020 commencement's success. He also applauded his team on successfully conducting a virtual orientation.

Dr. Cornelius Wooten, vice president for Finance, Administration Services, and Operations, spoke about the university budget. Wooten said that the University’s budget is balanced and that the budget is used for academic support, student aid, institution support, and public service, to name a few. He said his goal is to keep the University financially responsible.

Dr. Tracy Cook, vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, said that their goal is to increase Career Services’ partner participation with alumni, schools, and employers. He also spoke about improving living and learning experiences in Residence Life/Housing and improving data.

Larry Orman, vice president for the Division of Marketing and Communication, spoke about the Division’s recent accomplishments at the virtual CPRAM Award Ceremony Monday, Aug. 13. Orman said that a University website redesign and a growth in social media could be expected in the future. Also, Orman has plans of creating micro websites for other departments for their campaigns, and he mentioned a newsletter for employees and students.

Marcus Ward, vice president for Institutional Advancement and executive director for the ASU Foundation, Inc., said that over $80,000 was raised during their Giving Tuesday event, which surpassed their goal of $50,000. Ward reported that their Giving Day 2020 initiative raised $311,000, which was above their $150,000 target. The Foundation also raised $1.8 million from over 2,200 donors and nearly 6,000 unique gifts. The office awarded over $700,000 in scholarships to 450 scholarship recipients.

Derek Horne, director of Athletics, applauded Braves student-athletes for their dedication to their studies, as they earned a 3.31 departmental GPA. He also said that 81 student-athletes earned degrees last school year. Horne said the department’s goals are to continue to support their programs and implement strategies to enhance their financial capabilities in Athletics.

Dr. LaToya Hart, director for Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment, gave important SACSCOC deadlines for employees. She said that the compliance certification is due by Sept. 8, 2020. She also noted that the second phase is due in February 2021, and the reaffirmation site visit will be March 30-April 1.