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4/30/2010 - Jackson, Miss.

After a decade leading Mississippi’s largest historically black institution, Jackson State University President Ronald Mason Jr. announced today that he has accepted the position as the next president of the Southern University and A&M College System in Louisiana.

Dr. Mason was appointed by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) as Jackson State’s president in February 2000.

“I thank the IHL Board and the JSU community for the opportunity to serve such a great institution and city. I looked forward to each day’s work for the last ten years,” Dr. Mason said. “JSU is a special place and I will miss it.”

The Board is expected to discuss Dr. Mason’s resignation request and the institutional transition at the May 20 meeting.

“Jackson State University has shown a great commitment to student success, innovative research and community engagement over the past 10 years, and it is all attributable to Dr. Mason’s leadership,” outgoing Board President Scott Ross said. “We are grateful for his service to the university and the state of Mississippi.”

Dr. Bettye Neely will serve as Board President during the search process; her term begins May 8.

“Like Trustee Ross, I have had the privilege of serving on the Board throughout Dr. Mason’s presidency. He had a remarkable vision for the university when he became its leader, and he has had the courage to communicate and implement that vision,” Dr. Neely said. “We wish him much success in his future endeavors.”

Notable accomplishments during Dr. Mason’s tenure include:

  • Increasing enrollment to nearly 8,800 students, a 28.5 percent increase from Fall 2000 to Fall 2009 enrollment;
  • Increasing external funding from $38 million in 2000 to $66 million in 2009;
  • Increasing the number of graduates from 1,000 in 2001 to 1,350 in 2009;
  • Increasing student retention by 13 percent; and
  • Establishing the Center for University Scholars, which provides competitive research opportunities for faculty.

“Under Dr. Mason’s leadership, Jackson State University has flourished both on the national and local levels. The university’s partnership with the city of Jackson has helped transform the community, and Dr. Mason’s commitment to the search for knowledge has moved this institution to the forefront in teaching and research,” Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Hank Bounds said.

Prior to his appointment at Jackson State, Dr. Mason was Executive Director of the Tulane-Xavier National Center for the Urban Community in New Orleans, which coordinated the two universities’ involvement in public housing, economic development and public education. He previously served in several capacities at Tulane University including Senior Vice President and General Counsel and Vice President for Finance and Operations.

In 1996, Dr. Mason was appointed by then-U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros to serve as the Executive Monitor for the Housing Authority of New Orleans.

Dr. Mason earned his bachelor’s and juris doctorate from Columbia University. He is also a graduate of the Harvard Institute of Educational Management. Dr. Mason, appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama, currently serves with 11 other members on the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).


The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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