Elayne Hayes-Anthony, Ph.D., was named temporary acting president of Jackson State University on Thursday, Mar. 2, by the Board of Trustees State Institutions of Higher Learning.
Hayes-Anthony addressed the media in a press conference held Monday, Mar. 6, inside the JSU Student Center Ballroom, where she said the holistic needs of JSU students were her priority.
“I am committed to upholding the Jackson State University mission to serve our student body. The first people on my list to service will be the students. That’s why I am here,” Hayes- Anthony shared. “Together with the faculty and staff, we will continue to execute the JSU Elevate Strategic Plan, which is focused on student success, academic excellence, increased research excellence, and enhancing the JSU brand.”
Hayes-Anthony shared that the goal of her administration is to move the university forward with integrity, transparency, and accountability. The acting president said she recognizes that trust is earned, and she intends to earn that trust.
“I really and truly want to move this institution forward,” Hayes-Anthony told the audience, including administrators, faculty, staff, and students.
Hayes-Anthony earned both her Bachelor of Science and master’s degrees at JSU. She obtained her Ph.D. in organizational communication broadcast law at Southern Illinois, Carbondale.
She has been chair of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Jackson State University since 2015. Previously, she served as professor of communications and chair of the Department of Communications at Belhaven University from 1998 until 2015.
Hayes-Anthony said she is committed to ensuring the university does not miss a step during the leadership transition. She encouraged attendees to support the university, including the pending projects, partnerships, and events such as JSU Day at the Capitol on Wednesday, Mar. 8.
“Over the coming days and weeks, I plan to meet with various campus stakeholders. The first being this afternoon with students after they are out of classes,” she shared. “I just want to meet and sit and talk to them.”
As a communicator, one of the most significant elements of communication is listening, noted Hayes-Anthony. “I want to hear from students. I want to know what students need because a part of my mission is increasing enrollment, and you cannot do that unless you listen to students. Together, we will maintain JSU’s stability and progress.”
Prior to her time at Belhaven, Hayes-Anthony served JSU for 10 years, first as director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Mass Communications and later appointed head of the department. Under her leadership, the department received national accreditation from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
The Jackson native has a distinguished career in broadcast journalism. She made a name for herself as the first African-American female news anchor on WJTV Channel 12. She was appointed assistant superintendent of public information for the Jackson Public School District and spokesperson for the Jackson School Board before accepting the position at Belhaven.
She has received a number of accolades for her work and civic involvement, including being named the 2014 recipient of the Mississippi Humanities Council Teacher Award.