Services set for former JSU president, Dr. James A. Hefner

Updated: 3:18 PM CST

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University Communications




Contacts:  Karyn S. Hollingsworth, executive director, 601-979-2272,

Olivia Goodheart, director, public relations, 601-979-1483,

Funeral Services Set for Former JSU President Hefner in Tennessee

(JACKSON, Miss.) – Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, at Christ Church Cathedral, 900 Broadway Ave. in Nashville, for former Jackson State University President Dr. James A. Hefner, who died Wednesday in his Brentwood, Tenn., home of complications from colon cancer, according to his family. He was 76.

A memorial service will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Poag Auditorium at Tennessee State University.

About Dr. Hefner

Hefner, a native of North Carolina, had a long history in higher education. He served as Jackson State’s president from 1984-1991 and was president of TSU, provost of Tuskegee University and interim provost and vice president of academic affairs at Clark Atlanta University.

Dr. James A. Hefner was president of JSU from 1984-1991.

Dr. James A. Hefner was president of JSU from 1984-1991. (

While at JSU, he launched a five-year $10 million capital campaign that generated $11.2 million a year ahead of schedule. He was noted for enhancing the university’s scholarship program and establishing a Community Development Corporation with the assistance of the Ford Foundation to improve blighted areas around the campus. In addition, he is credited with organizing a Staff Senate and developing the Center for Professional Development and the Center of Technology Transfer. Hefner also expanded programs in the Division of Continuing Education and the Universities Center.

JSU influence 

JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers said, “On behalf of all of us at Jackson State University, I extend our heartfelt sympathy to the family of Dr. Hefner. We owe a debt of gratitude to his legacy and for his love of our great institution. His decades of service in higher education at institutions throughout this nation are a testament to his desire to ensure a quality education for everyone. We pay homage to a president who had a lasting impact on academia and Jackson State University.”

“My father lived a life of service to historically black colleges and universities and the students who attend them,” said David Hefner, Ed.D., the youngest son of Hefner.

Former JSU President Dr. John A. Peoples, Jr. said, “Dr. Hefner succeeded me, but I got to know Jim as a great person who served well. During the time I knew him, I was a member of the alumni association, and I worked to support his efforts.”

The life, the legacy

When recently asked how he wanted to be remembered, Hefner said: “As an educator who cared about black higher education and the welfare of students.”

Having written dozens of articles, Hefner co-authored and edited the book “Public Policy for the Black Community: Strategies and Perspectives.”

Throughout his career, he received numerous honors and awards, including a life membership in Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society; the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) Achievement Award in Research; NAFEO President’s Award; and Omega Psi Phi Man of the Year. He is the first college president invited to be a fellow in the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard.

Hefner was awarded his undergraduate degree in business administration from North Carolina A&T State University; his master’s degree in economics from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University); and his doctorate in economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. In 1999, he received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Marlboro College, and, in 2005, an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree from The University of the South.

He is survived by his wife, Edwina Hefner of Thomson, Ga.; three sons: Christopher, Jonathan and David; three daughters-in-law; and his beloved grandchildren.

– JSU –

About Jackson State University: Challenging Minds, Changing Lives

Jackson State University, founded in 1877, is a historically black, high research activity university located in Jackson, the capital city of Mississippi. Jackson State’s nurturing academic environment challenges individuals to change lives through teaching, research and service. Officially designated as Mississippi’s Urban University, Jackson State continues to enhance the state, nation and world through comprehensive economic development, healthcare, technological and educational initiatives. The only public university in metropolitan Jackson, Jackson State is located near downtown, with six satellite locations throughout the area. For more information, visit or call 601-979-2121.

Click here to support Jackson State University.

HBCU Student Who Was Affected by Hurricane Katrina Tell’s Story 10 Years Later



[Dallas, TX – August 24th]

Katrina remains the most catastrophic and costly hurricane in U.S. history  as we are approaching 10 years since the hurricane .The historic storm killed almost 2,000 people, left thousands stranded without homes and scarred many lives for years to come.

During this time not only was the community of New Orleans affected but our HBCU’s were affected as well. The Tom Joyner Foundation during this time put together a one of its biggest fundraisers yet and raised money for HBCUs. Students who were affected by the hurricane and transferred schools the Tom Joyner Foundation help these students get back in to college.

Below we highlight students who received scholarships from us during this time.

Tiphania Johnson

Tiphania Johnson

 Here is Tiphania Johnson and before Hurricane Katrina she attended Dillard university 03-05 then after the  hurricane she  she attended Univ. Of  Tennessee  06-08 and Graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise  Science  . The biggest change  for her was having to adapt to a new environment,  culture, food,  and lifestyle  different from New Orleans. Tiphania  received a lot of  financial  assistance from the Tom Joyner foundation and  found out through social media and ” what a  blessing it was”.

  A quote she  live by is that “everything happens for a reason”&  “God makes no mistakes”. She says that ” in this  10th  anniversary let us  celebrate rebirth and not dwell  on the destruction and devastation.” Currently, she is    serving  in the Navy  and has been now for 5 years and is  stationed in Washington State.

FVSU to host conference discussing issues facing the university community

Updated: 8/26/2015 10:33 AM CST


August 25, 2015

FVSU to host “Lipstick, Hugs and Kisses Conference” on Sept. 26

Fort Valley State University will serve as the host for a conference seeking to eliminate dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. The Fort Valley Links, Incorporated will present the “Lipstick, Hugs and Kisses Conference” on Saturday, Sept. 26 from noon2 p.m.

Shirlyn Johnson Granville, event organizer, said the conference was launched to teach young people – especially woman – about the potential dangers facing them.

Purpose of the Conference 

“The purpose of the Lipstick, Hugs and Kisses Conference is to engage and expand the conversation in the university community about issues such as dating violence, intimate partner violence, teen dating violence, sexual assault and stalking; particularly against women and girls,” Granville said. Granville explained that from 2003-2013, at least 1,300 Georgians lost their lives due to domestic violence.

“The Fort Valley Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, through its national organization, is dedicated to making the national theme of ‘Building a Healthy Legacy: Our Prescription for the Future,’ a reality in the Fort Valley and Middle Georgia community,” she said. “Further research suggest that dating violence is directly related to a young woman’s view of herself and contributes to her low self-esteem. At the close of the conference, our goal is to help women to not become victims and to help those already suffering to rebuild their lives.”

Event details 

The event will include a panel discussion on domestic violence, that will be led by experts and community advocates that will include Fort Valley native and Judge Daphne Walker. Walker is currently the president and chief executive officer of the Partnership Against Domestic Violence (PADV), the largest nonprofit domestic violence organization in Georgia. Walker established her own law firm in 2002. In 2007, she was recognized by the Georgia Commission on Family Violence for her efforts to prevent violence.

The key panelist for the HIV/AIDS Session will be Dr. Debra Wilson Jones, a former U.S. Air Force officer. Wilson Jones is also a long-time dentist from Warner Robins and currently affiliated with Grady Hospital in Atlanta. Wilson has presented lectures across the country, and an educational series on HIV/AIDS. The keynoter will talk about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and how community collaborations that emphasize education and testing can help to alter the number of young adults being infected.

Middle Georgia Healthcare Organizations and Professionals as collaborators, will also be on hand to distribute literature, answer questions and conduct HIV/AIDS testing.

The conference will be followed by the football game of the Wildcats against Benedict College Tigers. A box lunch, music and a step show on the FVSU Historic Quad will follow the event. The conference is open to the public. There will be door prizes awarded to the dormitory with the most participants.

Student involvement 

Student led organizations which include males and females: Student Government Association, Miss and Mr. Fort Valley, fraternity and sorority organizations, Health Services and counseling ( TEARs2C) and all areas of Student Affairs are asked to co-host this life changing experience with The Fort Valley Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. Also, the dormitory with the most participants will win prizes.

This conference will give students the information needed so they can be empowered when making dating decisions and if confronted in a domestic violence situation while at college and long after matriculation.

“Fort Valley students, staff and faculty are asked to wear their college tee-shirts or jerseys to show the support and determination for ending domestic violence and saving lives from HIV/AIDs through lipstick, hugs and kisses,” Johnson Granville added.

For details, email Granville at


Fort Valley State University
Marketing and Communications
(478) 825-6319 <tel:%28478%29%20825-6319> ,

Click here to show your support for Fort Valley State University.

Claflin Welcomes Largest Freshman Class in University History


[Dallas, TX – August 25th]

The Claflin University Freshman College inducted the Class of 2019 – one of the largest in  University history – during the 2015 Confirmation Ceremony earlier this month. The  ceremony culminated a week-long orientation for new students. “In the Class of 2019 you  have cyber security scholars, Darla Moore scholars, honors college scholars, (Rudolph)  Canzater scholars – I can go on and on about the scholars we have in this class, one of  Claflin’s largest classes in more than a decade,” said Dr. Leroy Durant, vice president for  student development and services.

The Freshman College is a comprehensive yearlong  program designed to help entering freshmen build character, confidence, pride, memories and pathways to success. Students experience special seminars with small classes focusing on the needs of freshmen students and featuring close interaction with orientation leaders, faculty members and peer mentors.

Orientation week is full of activities to help the incoming class gain the tools and skills needed to succeed in their chosen fields of study and get acclimated to college life.

During the Confirmation Ceremony, students are formally inducted into The Freshman College. This year’s speaker was Dr. Isaiah McGee, chair of the Department of Music, associate professor of music and director of the Claflin University Concert Choir. McGee told the class to create their own opportunities and become visionary leaders. “Go to class tomorrow, study hard, commit to excellence and get all the education you can,” McGee said. “It is not by haphazard that you are here. God doesn’t make mistakes.” In an emotional and inspiring speech, McGee urged students to have desire, dedication and determination as they embark on their Claflin career. “

In addition to attending seminars and mentoring, students in The Freshman College participate in community service and service learning and freshman assemblies. “We are here today not to confirm that you have finished your freshman week, but to confirm you made the right choice by choosing Claflin University,” McGee said.


Story Courtesy of HBCU Reports

Aspiring Orthopedic Surgeon, Tuskegee Junior Receives $1,500 Hercules Scholarship

[Dallas, TX – August 20th]

Student: Joshua Madden

GPA :3.9

Hometown : Grandview, MO

Major/ Class: Biology (pre-med) / Junior

Joshua, a Senior at the Tuskegee University was named the Tom Joyner Foundation “Hercules Scholar ” for this week.

Mr. Madden is originally from Grandview, MO and he currently holds a 3.9 GPA at the Tuskegee University.  After  earning his degree he plans  to attend medical school . After that Joshua he wants to pursuing a career in Orthopedic Surgery.

FullSizeRender On the campus of Tuskegee University  he is involved the Biology Club, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and also in  the community he is apart of the  Boone Tabernacle Street Ministries Team. 

 Joshua says the most influential person in his life is his deceased father, Ricky E. Madden, he always pushed and  supported him to achieve my goals. One thing he always said was, “always have options, just in case something falls  through.”

 He was selected to attend SMDEP, a prestigious medical internship at University of Nebraska Medical Center, also  a recent recipient of the Nancy Hill Harper Memorial Biomedical Sciences Award, lastly I was chosen to represent  our biology club as Mr. Biology of Tuskegee University.

 The  motto he lives by is: “Today will be what it is. I will be who I am. And there will be beauty in both.”-Jody Hills

Florida A&M, Florida State partnership results in $2.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation

Updated: 8/14/2015 10:43 AM CST
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August 11, 2015

FAMU-FSU Partnership Nets $2.1 Million to Study Plant Genome

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A long-standing partnership between Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) and Florida State University (FSU) researchers has led to a $2.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Plant Genome Research Program that will allow them to better understand one of the country’s most important crops – corn.

About the partnership 

FSU Associate Professor of Biological Science Hank Bass and FAMU Professor of Agronomy Oghenekome Onokpise, who have collaborated since the late 1990s, are working together along with a team of other investigators to map key functional regions of the genome of maize, more commonly referred to as corn.

“We essentially are setting out to develop a genomic chromatic structure of five tissues as a community service for the plant genetic research community,” said Bass, who is the lead investigator on the project.

Maize is considered the ideal plant to study because of its genetic diversity, so plant biologists around the world use it as the template to better understand how plants work. According to the research team, their work on maize will provide key information for farmers and the agriculture industry at large.

“It’s tremendously important,” Onokpise said. “Maize or corn is an important crop in the United States. The food versus fuel debate is on. By mapping various tissues, we can determine what is best for what – fuel, livestock feed, or food.”

FSU Associate Professor of Biological Science Hank Bass and FAMU Professor of Agronomy Oghenekome Onokpise.

FSU Associate Professor of Biological Science Hank Bass and FAMU Professor of Agronomy Oghenekome Onokpise.

Much to learn 

But despite scientists studying plants for hundreds of years, there is still much to learn about their genetic underpinnings.

Bass and Onokpise will examine five tissues or cell types in the corn using a chromatin mapping technique that Bass’ lab pioneered together with previous colleagues at FSU. They are the root tips, shoot tips, pollen, ear shoots, and endosperm. The endosperm is the part of the kernel that holds most of the nutritional value of the seed.

“Understanding the genomics of corn – a genetic model for most crops – means that our knowledge will be transferable,” Onokpise said.

To do the genetic mapping, Bass and Onokpise will use an enzyme called micrococcal nuclease to cut through the DNA. This tightly controlled experiment essentially lights up parts of the genetic material that functions to regulate gene expression and agronomic traits associated with the various tissues.

Student projects

Outside of the main project to map the tissue, students at FAMU and FSU will be able to pursue individual projects related to corn’s genetic makeup, such as how the genes might be manipulated to make corn survive environmental stresses such as droughts or flooding.

“This money allows us to do state-of-the-art research,” Bass said.

The grant will support two graduate students at FSU and one at FAMU, plus two undergraduate research projects per institution.

These students, along with Bass and Onokpise, will also engage the public by holding high school campus and field projects to help interest students in STEM-related disciplines such as agriculture, genomics, and bioinformatics.

In addition to Bass and Onokpise, several other researchers make up their team. They are FAMU Professor of Viticulture and Developmental Biology Violeta Tsolova, FSU Assistant Professor of Biological Science Jonathan Dennis, FSU Associate Professor of Statistics Jinfeng Zhang, and FSU Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine Director Daniel Vera.


Media Contact: 

Kathleen Haughney

FSU Communications



Kanya Stewart

FAMU Media Relations




Mario Morejon, an Aspiring Mechanical Engineer Receives Hercules Scholarship


[Dallas, TX – August 13th]

Student: Mario Morejon

Hometown: Miami, Fl

Major: Mechanical Engineer / Senior

Mario Morejon from Miami, Florida, currently has 3.9 GPA, and has big plans after graduation. Mario plans to land an engineering job so that he can assist his family. Mr. Morejon also aspires to give back to the community and pursue a master degree to become a professional engineer.

Mario Morejon (1) Currently at Tuskegee University, Mario is a part of NSBE, Pi Tau Sigma Mechanical Engineering Honor society, and     is  Tuskegee distinguished presidential scholar. Mario’s greatest inspirations are his mother, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,       and Gandhi.

Mario Morejon quote to live by is: It is at your lowest point, that you learn who you are and build character.

A new generation. Nearly 900 freshmen welcomed to Winston-Salem State

Updated: 8/12/2015 5:24 PM CST


August 5, 2015

Nearly 900 Freshmen expected for Move-In Day on August 9

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) will welcome a new generation of future leaders on Saturday, Aug. 9, beginning at 7 a.m., when nearly 900 new students are expected to arrive on campus for Freshman Move-In Day.

Members of WSSU’s campus fraternities, sororities, and student social and civic organizations will assist students as they move in. WSSU will also operate a One-Stop Service Center, which will serve as a central location for students and their families to complete any enrollment, registration, payment, housing and health services business.

Throughout the summer, WSSU has hosted a series of Rams at Home sessions on campus, drawing hundreds of students each time. The events allowed incoming freshmen and parents to complete business processes and gain knowledge of the WSSU community prior to their arrival to campus in the fall.

RAMDITION, a week-long student orientation of classroom sessions, campus life workshops, and social activities designed to ease the transition into the collegiate experience, is planned for the new students starting at 8 a.m. on Monday, August 10th with an Informational Session for transfer, second degree.  Sessions for readmitted students are scheduled for Thursday, August 14th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

RAMDITION activities will culminate with a “Through the Archway” rite of passage ceremony starting at 10 a.m. on Aug. 15th with the Ram Walk from the clocktower on campus. Filled with pageantry similar to commencement, students will march through WSSU’s historic arches to a special ceremony in K.R. Williams Auditorium. The activity will officially welcome the new students into the Winston-Salem State University Ram Family.

For over 120 years, WSSU has honored the rich legacy of HBCUs and provided a transformative experience for graduates from the community, region, and state. Classes begin on Wednesday, August 19th.

  * * *


Aaron Singleton
News and Media Relations
336-750-3152 (office)
336-414-9366 (mobile)

Dillard awarded $10.5 Million grant from National Institutes of Health

Updated: 8/12/2015 10:57 AM CST

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For More Information, Contact:

Mona Duffel Jones

504.816.4024 office

504.812.2535 mobile

August 5, 2015

Dillard Awarded $10.5 Million from National Institutes of Health

Grants will provide research and training in developing environmental workforce

(NEW ORLEANS, LA) – Dillard University recently received a major grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Institute awarded the $10.5 million grant to Dillard’s Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ), which will train individuals in asbestos, lead, construction, and Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER). The award to Dillard was one of only 10 grants awarded nationwide to institutions including UCLA, Rutgers Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences, and the United Steelworkers.

The worker training initiatives will occur at strategic sites across the Gulf Coast and throughout the country with training programs established in Houston, Detroit, Pensacola, Savannah and New Orleans. Dillard’s consortium of training sites will attract and provide training for over 500 participants. Through formal arrangements with HBCUs, community based organizations, unions and industry; Dillard’s program staff will provide environmental health and safety training for underserved populations as well as currently employed workers within environmental remediation and related fields. clip_image004

In addition to training and outreach, Dillard’s DSCEJ programming also includes a research focus, which is spearheaded primarily by the Center’s project director and principal investigator, Dr. Beverly Wright. Under her leadership, the Center has produced a number of publications as well as regional and national conferences regarding environmental justice-related issues.

Dr. Wright and Dillard’s DSCEJ have managed a number of projects from NIH, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Labor, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the past 20 years. The Center also led critical training and research efforts in the gulf coast region for small businesses, first responders, residents and hazardous waste industry workers following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 as well as the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010. Additionally, following Hurricane Sandy, the DSCEJ was called on to lead clean up training efforts in New York and New Jersey. “We are extremely excited to be able to continue our work exhibiting excellence and developing sound practices which have advanced the quality of our training programs over the years. We are gratified and excited about the increased support from the NIEHS to do this most important work,” said Dr. Wright.

According to Theodore Callier, assistant vice president for Sponsored Programs, Dillard faculty and researchers have consistently secured increased support from the NIH in recent years. “Given the list of recipients, this latest NIEHS award demonstrates the level of confidence the agency continues to have in Dillard’s Center.”

Grant activities will begin later this month and continue through July of 2020.

Click here to show your support for Dillard University.

Welcome Bulldogs! Nearly 750 new students to call SC State home

Updated: 8/11/2015 3:05 PM CST

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Contacts: Sonja A. Bennett, Vice President

Division of Institutional Advancement and University Relations

(803) 813-1340

(803) 707-8930

Elizabeth Mosely-Hawkins,

Director of Public Relations

(803) 533-3681


Aug. 11, 2015

ORANGEBURG, S.C. –  SC State University is set to welcome its newest members -746 new students – to the Bulldog family. University faculty, staff and student leaders will greet the new students at Welcome Week, which begins Wednesday, Aug. 12.

The event, spanning four days, includes a host of information sessions to introduce students to the university as well as engaging activities to get them excited about campus life.

Dr. Evans

South Carolina State University Interim President, Dr. W. Franklin Evans

Interim President Dr. W. Franklin Evans will kick off the week at 9 a.m. on Wednesday at  Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium. He will deliver the welcome address to members of the Class of 2019 and their families.

Following the president’s greeting, students will move into their new ‘home,’ where they will reside for the year. With boxes and bags in tow, the students and their families will move into one of four residential halls assigned to the new Bulldogs. But, they won’t have to lug their items alone. University administrators, faculty, staff and students, joined by several Board of Trustees and alumni, will be available to assist them.

Welcome Week concludes Sunday, August 16. Classes begin on Tuesday, Aug. 18. Click here for a complete listing of Welcome Week events.

Photo ops and media coverage for any Welcome Week events should be arranged by contacting Elizabeth Mosely-Hawkins, director of public relations, at or Sonja Bennett-Bellamy, vice president of the Division of Institutional Advancement and University Relations, at


Founded in 1896 as a land grant institution with a mission of providing service to the citizens of the state, South Carolina State University has evolved from a small teachers’ college into a major University center of learning and research. Located in Orangeburg, S.C., with a student population of some 3,000, South Carolina State offers more than 50 different fields of study on the undergraduate and graduate levels. South Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the Council of Graduate Schools.

South Carolina State University was the Tom Joyner Foundation April 2015 school of the month. You can continue to show your support for the campaign here.