Ronald Mason, Jr. assumed the presidency of Jackson State University on February 1, 2000, bringing with him more than 20 years of experience in higher education, community development and law. He is Chief Executive Officer of the only university based in the largest metropolitan area and capital city of the state of Mississippi. At the time of his appointment by the Board of Trustees, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, Mason was serving as the Founder and Executive Director of the National Center for the Urban Community at Tulane and Xavier Universities in New Orleans, Louisiana.
During Dr. Mason's tenure, Jackson State University has experienced unprecedented transformation and growth. Pursuant to a five-year strategic plan developed in 2002, the academy and business units were reorganized, information technology has been infused throughout the campus, public relations and fundraising divisions have been installed, and the campus and surrounding communities have been re-energized.
Early in his tenure, the University implemented Vision 2020 as a benchmark of academy-wide efficiency and effectiveness. As a result, eight schools were combined into six colleges: Business; Education and Human Development; Liberal Arts; Lifelong Learning; Public Service; and Science, Engineering and Technology.
Under President Mason's leadership, the University acquired a $20 million facility from Allstate Corporation for only $3 million. The facility has been converted to the Mississippi e-Center @ JSU, a technological hub for corporate, community and academic advancement.
President Mason's administration continued its improvement initiative with the development of a five-square-mile urban laboratory surrounding the JSU campus called e-City, a technology-based economic, housing and community development initiative. The University also partnered with Jackson Public Schools, state and federal governments to create the Mississippi Learning Institute, a literacy-based, math-oriented professional development learning system for pre-K through 16.
Moreover, the $17 million College of Liberal Arts, the $20 million College of Business, the $13 million Walter Payton Health and Wellness Center, the $24.5 million Student Center, and new dorms and apartments have enhanced the University's landscape. Gibbs-Green Plaza, which encompasses an expanded pedestrian mall and decorative brick walkway, beckons students and visitors to the campus near downtown Jackson. Work has been completed on the $20 million School of Engineering, and is in progress on the Lynch Street Corridor, which will feature small businesses and services catering to the campus community.
Prior to his work in urban issues and community development, Dr. Mason enjoyed a successful 18-year tenure at Tulane University that encompassed several positions, including Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Vice President for Finance and Operations.
Dr. Mason has been involved in numerous public service and professional activities, including current membership on the White House Board of Advisors for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the Boards of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO). He previously served on the Boards of the American Council on Education and the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, Office of Postsecondary Education.
He is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and received his B.A. and J.D. degrees from Columbia University in New York City. He is a graduate of the Harvard Institute of Educational Management and is the recipient of the Mayor's Medal of Honor from the City of New Orleans, the Martin Luther King Lifetime Achievement Award from Dillard, Loyola, Tulane and Xavier universities, and was one of five recipients of Columbia University's 2008 John Jay Award for distinguished alumni. He is married to the former Belinda DeCuir and has one daughter, Nia, and two sons, Jared and Kenan.
Dr. Leonard L. Haynes III
After distinguished two year tenure (2007-2009) as Executive Director for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (WHIHBCU) Dr. Haynes return to his position as Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education (OPE) in September 2009. In April he was named as Director of Institutional Services for OPE which administers the programs authorized by the Higher Education Reauthorization Act impacting higher education development. These programs include Title III of Historically Black Colleges, Hispanic Serving Institutions and the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). The budget for the new Institutional Services area is approximately $700 million. Prior to leading the WHIHBCU office he served as Director for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education in the Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education. Dr. Haynes comes to the position as Senior Advisor with a distinguished career and background as an educator and public servant in advancing the Common Good. Previously, he has served as Acting President of Grambling State University, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Postsecondary Education and Director of Academic Programs for the United States Information Agency (USIA), Senior Assistant to the President of American University, Executive Vice President of the Southern University System, and Director for the Office for the Advancement of Public Black Colleges.
Dr. Haynes has been a member of the faculties of Southern University, Howard, and George Washington Universities. He has published on matters relating to equity and parity for minority populations and their education. In this regard he is recognized as an expert on the desegregation of public higher education, especially as it impacts public Black colleges. His opinions have appeared in major media outlets and he has served as a commentator on both radio and television on education and related topics. Haynes has also been recognized for making important contributions to advancing the cause of international higher education and the public diplomacy efforts of the United States.
In this regard he was a member of the United States Observer Delegation to UNESCO's World Conference on Higher Education in 2003 and was a principal member of the United States Delegation to the 50th Anniversary AMIDEAST Conference in 2002 in Marrakech, Morocco. In 1992 he led the U.S. Delegation to the "North American Talks on Higher Education Cooperation" involving Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. held at the Wingspread Foundation in Wisconsin, which resulted in the creation of the North American academic mobility program. As a former Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education Haynes was help establish the academic mobility program between the U.S. and the European Community now known as the "Atlantis Program", a program which creates international dual degrees in higher education.
Recognized for his work in the educational community at large, Dr. Haynes has provided wise counsel and technical assistance for many important organizations and groups including the Brookings Institution, the Education Commission of the States, the Embassy of Canada, the Ford and Southern Education Foundations, and numerous other institutions and organizations in both the non-profit and private sectors. He has also served as consultant to postsecondary institutions both here and abroad and to many private sector organizations and as an evaluator for government agencies and regional accreditation bodies.
Haynes earned the B.A. degree in History from Southern University, a M.A. in American History from Carnegie-Mellon University, and the Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from The Ohio State University. He is a career member of the Senior Executive Service for the United States and a member of many notable societies boards, commissions, civic organizations, and professional organizations, including, History Makers, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Black America, The Cosmos Club of Washington, Rotary International of Washington D.C., the Council for
Excellence in Government, Phi Delta Kappa, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. He has been the recipient of numerous recognitions and honors for making positive contributions in advancing the cause of education and the common good. In this regard in May of 2006 he was recognized by The John Glenn School of Public Service and Management of The Ohio State University as the sixteenth recipient of the School's annual award for Public Service and has been recognized as a distinguished alumnus of Southern University. Dr. Haynes is the recipient of twelve honorary degrees, including one from The Ohio State University. An accomplished speaker and presenter, Haynes has served as a commencement speaker and given countless keynotes in the U.S. and abroad. He is a member of Asbury United Methodist Church in Washington, DC.
While Dr. Haynes was born in Boston, Massachusetts he regards himself as a native son of the South. He is married to the former Mary J. Sensley. They are proud parents of four children and six grandchildren. Dr. Haynes and his wife, Mary, reside in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Dr. Robert R. Jennings
Dr. Robert R. Jennings is a senior educator and consultant. He has assisted several organizations including colleges and universities, federal and state agencies, faith-based and nonprofit entities in maximizing their potential and attaining their goals. He is a graduate of Morehouse College where he received the Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Atlanta University where he received the Masters degree in Educational Psychology/Elementary Education, a Specialist degree in Interrelated Learning/Handicapped Services and a Doctor of Education degree in Higher Education Administration and Policy Studies. He also holds Master's Certification in Adult Basic Education from the University of Georgia and Master's Certification in Curriculum and Instruction and Gifted Education from Georgia State University. He has studied as a Charles Merrill Fellow at the University of Ghana in West Africa, as a Fulbright Fellow in Brazil and as an Oxford Scholar at Oxford College in England.
Since 1985, Dr. Jennings has travel and/or studied in more than 35 foreign countries. In 1999, he served as a consultant to the U. S. Department of State, where he trained the Rector and his staff in the areas of strategic planning and external relations at the University of Niamey in Niger, Africa. In 2001, he was tapped by the Government of Rwanda and served as a consultant to the Kigali Institute of Science, Technology and Management.
Active in both his community and his profession, he held a five-year term as chairman of the NAACP Education Legal Advisory Board, served a five-year term on the Board of Directors of the University of Virginia's Council on Minority Research in Special Education, and completed a three-year term as a charter member of the Commission on Philanthropy for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. A former member of the Board of Trustees of Atlanta University, Southwestern Christian College and the Leadership Foundation of Atlanta, he completed a four-year term on the Joint Commission on Faculty Accountability for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Directors of Girl Scouts, Inc.
The recipient of more than 30 major citations and awards, he was selected as a Regional Finalist for a White House Fellowship. He is listed in several major publications including Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, Outstanding Young Men of America, Outstanding Personalities of the South, International Register of Profiles, Who's Who Among Black Americans, Who's Who in the South and the International Directory of Distinguished Leaders.
Dr. Jennings has served as a Loaned Executive to Reagan Administration and was assigned to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. He has also served as a consultant to the U. S. Customs and Border Patrol Service, the U. S. Department of Education and was a Lead Trainer for the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He is a former Executive Assistant to the President at Atlanta University, served as Vice President for Development and Executive Director of the Foundation at Norfolk State University, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Albany State University and Vice President for Development and University Relations at North Carolina A&T State University. He is former Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Future Focus 2020, a futurist think-tank in the Babcock Graduate School of Management at Wake Forest University and is the 10th President of Alabama A&M University, a historically black land-grant institution.
In great demand as a speaker and trainer, Dr. Jennings has published articles in several scholarly journals; served as a columnist for Minority Health Today and edited a book on the State of Black Men in America in 1994.