Jackson State University President Thomas K. Hudson visited Detroit on Saturday, July 31 for a funding-raising event for the historically Black university located in Jackson, Mississippi.
By Sherri Kolade
Jackson State University, a historically Black college/university, has been changing the lives of thousands of students since it opened its doors in 1877.
The HBCU, which has undergone seven name changes, was founded as Natchez Seminary in 1877 by the American Baptist Home Mission Society, according to the school’s website.
Jackson State University has since expanded and flourished as an HBCU, and JSU president Thomas. K. Hudson – a Jackson native and a JSU class of 1999 graduate – shared the mission of the prestigious university during a Detroit fundraising event, A Jackson State of Mind: President’s Meet and Greet Reception 6-8 p.m. Saturday, July 31 at the Hotel St. Regis Detroit, 3071 East Grand Blvd.
“We [were pleased] to meet alumni and new friends – people I hadn’t met before and really engaging with some of the local community and some who would come out to the event and learn as much as they could about Jackson State University,” Hudson said.
Hudson was named President of Jackson State University on November 19, 2020, by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, after serving as Special Assistant to the President and Chief Diversity Officer, according to his biographical information.
The Jackson State University National Alumni Association Detroit Alumni Chapter presented the event, which was attended by honored guests and supporters Dr. Earlexia M. Norwood, president of JSUNAA, JSU alumni, current students, and a bevy of academic advocates.
JSU is diligent working to enhance its historic mission to empower diverse students to become leaders while providing quality teaching, research, and service at the baccalaureate, masters, specialist, and doctoral levels. Students and communities are employing “various modalities to ensure that they are technologically-advanced, ethical, global leaders who think critically and can address societal problems and compete effectively.”
Hudson told the Michigan Chronicle that the trip to Detroit was part of a Midwest swing which included a stop in Chicago on Friday, July 20 to bolster fundraising engagement and continued interest in JSU and its rich history that is a point of pride for many Black Americans across the nation.
“Jackson State has been in existence for 144 years and has grown from a small school dedicated to teaching ex-slaves to an R2 Carnegie Mellon University designated research university,” Hudson said. “Our mission remained the same, to produce world-class leaders and thinkers and help solve societal problems on a regular basis.”
JSU is 50,000 “alumni strong” and makes tangible contributions across the nation and world.
“We’re proud of our history and mission every day,” Hudson said, adding that part of that work includes traversing the nation and talking about JSU’s accomplishments and coming to places like Detroit to connect with the local JSU community and meet new people who could join the cause of supporting JSU or become a part of the JSU family.
“Our alumni are doing great things and meeting students from [all over],” he said, adding that the university would like to move the next level up and become R1 designated, which means the university would produce even more research, garnering a lot of research dollars, and increasing the number of students who graduate with their Ph.D.
Hudson said that there are over 100 universities designations with R2 status, but none, unfortunately, are HBCUs.
The educational expert added that when JSU obtains the R1 designation, they will be “doing a lot of work society needs” from the STEM angle and beyond for competing locally and nationally.
“We would be contributors to that effort to continue to make that change,” Hudson said. “It would … bring us to a different level if you will.”
Hudson said that the university that proudly produces the second-highest number of African American PhDs in the country is proud of their … achievements but they’re not resting on their laurels.
“We have so much more we want to do,” Hudson said.