A native of Greenville, Mississippi in Washington County, received his Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Economics from Alcorn State University in 1993. He has a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Mississippi State University in 1996 and 1999 respectively.

Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr. was appointed to serve as Commissioner of Higher Education by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning on March 22, 2018 and began serving in this role on July 1, 2018. As Commissioner, Dr. Rankins provides leadership to the university system, including all eight public universities in Mississippi.

Prior to being named Commissioner of Higher Education, Dr. Rankins served as the 19th president of Alcorn State University, the nation’s oldest public land-grant HBCU. Under his leadership, the university excelled in academics and athletics and was noted nationally for its commitment to the student experience.

During his four years as president of his alma mater, Dr. Rankins provided leadership that helped the university enroll its largest freshman class in its history and increased the average ACT scores of entering freshmen for three consecutive years. The university achieved it highest ever ranking by College Consensus as the #7 best HBCU and #1 best public HBCU in the nation. The university has established new academic programs and made important discoveries through its research.

In athletics, Alcorn has also won several conference championships and a national championship, while graduating student-athletes in record numbers.

As President, Dr. Rankins improved campus infrastructure and initiated and completed major capital projects. In addition to the 1,700-acre Lorman campus, the university also includes branch locations in Natchez and Vicksburg.

He was named President of Alcorn State University on March 4, 2014. Prior to that, Dr. Rankins served as deputy commissioner for the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL). While serving as deputy commissioner, Dr. Rankins also served as acting president of Mississippi Valley State University.

Prior to his appointment at IHL, Dr. Rankins served on the faculty at Mississippi State University (MSU), where he was a tenured associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and extension specialist with the MSU Extension Service.

Currently, Dr. Rankins serves on the University Press of Mississippi Board of Directors, Entergy Mississippi Advisory Board, and Mississippi Postsecondary Education Financial Assistance Board.

Throughout his professional career, Dr. Rankins has received numerous awards and accolades for his strong dedication to education on the local, state and national level.

Dr. Rankins is a strong supporter of Alcorn State University and a member of the Metro-Jackson Alcorn State Alumni Chapter, Alcorn State University National Alumni Association and the Mississippi State University Central Mississippi Alumni Association.

Dr. Rankins is married to Juandalyn Rankins and they have two children Aftyn and Alfred.