September 27, 2012 – “Recognizing academic excellence and achievement at Alcorn,” stated Alcorn President M. Christopher Brown II. “And celebrating our institution’s legacy and proud history each year during Founders Day is a top priority.”
Alcorn students, alumni, faculty and staff, local elected officials, visitors from Chamberlain Hunt Academy, visiting clergy and other distinguished guests packed the newly renovated historic Oakland Memorial Chapel for the campus-wide celebration of 141 years on September 27.
Ambassador of the Republic of Liberia to the United States of America Jeremiah C. Sulunteh served as the keynote speaker. He extended greetings from the President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Liberian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and appreciations for the “opportunity to celebrate the founding of the University and to establish the mutually rewarding partnership between Alcorn State University and the Republic of Liberia to promote education and culture.”
President Brown presided over the convocation and Executive Vice President and Provost Samuel L. White delivered the summons to convocation. “We are here today to pay tribute and to honor the founding of this educational oasis 141 years ago,” proclaimed Dr. White. “We are celebrating a life of quality, a life guided by enduring principles. Let's celebrate the past as we embrace the future.”
The program continued with an invocation by Reverend Dr. Paul A. Lowe Jr., pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Student Government Association President 2012-2013 Marcus Mercy and Miss Alcorn State University 2012-2013 Airnecia Mills welcomed the audience followed by greetings from Mr. James Stubbs, president of the ASU National Alumni Association. Vice President for Media Relations Clara Ross Stamps led the audience in proclaiming the Alcorn Oath followed by the Litany for Black Colleges by Vice President for Student Affairs E. Cheryl Ponder. Senior Vice President and CFO Betty Roberts introduced the keynote speaker. Vice President for Institutional Advancement Marcus D. Ward encouraged the continued support of Alcorn State University.
President Brown presented the annual Founders’ Day Awards. Dr. Alpha Morris, chair, Department of Social Sciences, who served the University for 43 years, was honored with the Levi J. Rowan Heritage Award that is bestowed upon a son or daughter of the University in recognition of exceptional merit. The recipient of the award must be acclaimed for a special and outstanding service to the institution; or who, by personal achievement, has brought great honor and distinction to the University.
The Alcorn Bravery Award was presented to Ambassador Jeremiah C. Sulunteh. This award is granted to an outstanding individual who may be singled out for their records of service as public servants or agents for social change. The Alcorn Bravery Award recognizes an abiding concern for the welfare of others, exemplifying the spirit of an individual whose efforts inspire society through their work or actions toward the promotion of peace, humanitarianism, social or scientific progress and/or human understanding.
The recipient of the Oakland Memorial Chapel Award that recognizes corporate and/or non-profit entities that consistently demonstrate exemplary support to civic, collegiate, or charitable institutions in order to advance the aims and ideas of higher education, was be Mr. Johnny C. Taylor, president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
Presidential Citations for Excellence were awarded to Dr. Jeffrey P. Holland, director, US Army Engineer, Research and Development Center, Mr. Alan Huffman, the author of “Mississippi in Africa”, the book that explores the connection between Alcorn State University, Southwest, Mississippi, and the colonization of Liberia, Mr. Wiley Franklin Jones, retired vice president for Business and Finance at Alcorn, and Reverend Isaiah Madison (posthumously), co-counsel and architect of the Ayers Case. This citation celebrates the accomplishment of individuals whose actions enrich the reputation and stature of Alcorn State University. It is reserved for alumni and friends whose dedication and commitment have impacted the institutional history.
Samuel Griffin, director of University Bands, received an award in recognition of his numerous years of selfless service to Alcorn State University. Mr. Griffin began his career at Alcorn in 1966 and has led the band over the past 45 years. President Brown presented a resolution to Mr. Griffin and announced that in the month following his retirement, the band room will be renamed in his honor. Dr. Samuel White added that Mr. Griffin will also become Professor Emeritus at the University pending his retirement.
In his closing remarks, President Brown shared his plans for establishing a partnership between the University and institutions of higher learning in the Republic Liberia, and funding at least two students from Liberia to study at Alcorn. President Brown recognized special guests and announced that in 2013, for the first time in 142 years since the closing of Oakland College, Alcorn and Chamberlain Hunt Academy will celebrate Founders Day together. Also, on behalf of the University, President Brown extended an invitation to Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence Myrlie Evers to continue her work at Alcorn as a member of the faculty for another year.
Musical guest for this year’s convocation was the three time stellar award-winning saxophonist Angella Christie who performed “I Need You Now” by Smokie Norful. Also performing, were ASU Men Chorale and Concert Choir.
Alcorn State University is a premier comprehensive land-grant university that develops diverse students into globally-competitive leaders, and applies scientific research through collaborative partnerships which benefit the surrounding communities, state, nation and world.
Pictured: Dr. Samuel White, President Brown, Ambassador Sulunteh, Alan Huffman and Myrlie Evers.