(JACKSON, Miss.) — Dr. Debra Mays-Jackson, vice president for Student Success and chief of staff at Jackson State University, has been selected by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) as a member of its 2020 cohort for the Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI).
Since joining JSU in 2017, Mays-Jackson has served in a multifaceted role that provides oversight for JSU’s Internal Audit, Public Safety, Student Affairs, Enrollment Management and Title III Departments.
“I am honored to have been selected for the 2020-21 AASCU Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI) cohort. The MLI is known for enhancing leadership skills, fostering professional networks, and establishing holistic educational philosophies that have proven to be an essential foundation for a future college or university presidency. I intend to utilize this collaborative opportunity to glean much from my mentors and peers. I anxiously await the start of the program. It is with the greatest of ‘Tiger Pride’ that I represent Jackson State University,” Mays-Jackson said.
AASCU’s MLI program assists underrepresented groups of senior-level higher education professionals to develop valuable skills to advance to the presidency. Since its inception 21 years ago, MLI has helped higher education institutions in diversifying its executive leadership.
“This is a great opportunity for Dr. Mays-Jackson to get the tools she needs for the next step in her career,” said Thomas Hudson, J.D., acting president. “She is a decisive and astute leader who exemplifies excellence in her daily work.”
Before her role at JSU, she was the first woman vice president of Hinds Community College-Utica Campus and the first African American female on the Hinds Community College President’s Cabinet. There, she supervised operations of the Utica and Vicksburg-Warren campuses and was responsible for administrative services at all six HCC campuses that included EEOC, affirmative action and civil rights. She coordinated a 37 percent hike in enrollment at the Utica and Vicksburg campuses, re-established the agriculture program and coordinated numerous capacity-building projects through Title III.
Her collegiate experience at HCC-Utica after Terry High School was the start of her successful association with that institution, where she earned an associate of arts degree in music education with an emphasis in piano performance.
As part of her lifelong commitment to education, she serves as an adjunct professor at JSU in the Education Leadership Department.
Mays-Jackson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in music for piano performance; a Master of Arts in music education; and a specialist degree in education administration from Jackson State University. Also, she earned a doctorate from Mississippi State University in education administration and supervision.