Bristow has a vision for community

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 17, 2003

It’s hard not to be excited when you talk to Dr. Clinton Bristow, president of Alcorn State University.

Bristow has a vision for the historically black university that extends beyond academics and into the communities that Alcorn serves.

Bristow calls it the &8220;communiversity&8221; concept.

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Alcorn has an investment in the Miss-Lou that is both financial and academic.

The school has an MBA building under construction here that could be open as soon as next year.

Alcorn’s investment in the campus so far is $50 million, and it has plans for a fine arts building there as well. Part of that money depends on the pending release of desegregation funds, which could happen as soon as this fall.

Alcorn and educational Copiah-Lincoln Community College have implemented academic plans that allow a student to get an undergraduate business degree and an MBA all on the same Natchez campus.

Alcorn’s monetary investment in the community notwithstanding, it has a long history of producing graduates who return to the Natchez area to make their living and become leaders.

The nursing school here turns out professionals who work at Natchez Regional and Natchez Community.

Under a court-mandated desegregation plan, Alcorn is working to improve its diversity, which Bristow says benefits not only the students at the main Lorman campus but also the students in Natchez and at the soon-to-be-built Vicksburg campus.

The diversity model, he said, works best at the Natchez campus, where students are getting business and nursing degrees.

But Alcorn can aid the community in more than academics, Bristow believes.

Bristow is interested in partnering with the city of Natchez and Adams County in economic development projects in the area &045; and he wants to use the resources of Alcorn and Co-Lin.

The resources at the MBA building, Bristow said, could help Natchez land more finance-related industries such as the call center likely to move to downtown Natchez soon.

But Bristow’s ideas don’t stop there. He would like to see a technology park locate near the Alcorn and Co-Lin campus &045; one that would welcome 21st-century businesses that could be aided by research at the two schools.

&8220;This could be an anchor for something new and exciting in Natchez,&8221; he said of a possible technology park. &8220;This would really put a new face on Natchez.&8221;

Bristow has the kind of energy that we need in this community &045; and he isn’t the only one.

As soon as he heard Bristow was interested in a technology park, EDA chairman Woody Allen put the Alcorn president on his list of folks to talk to soon.

Leaders like Bristow and Allen and others have got to continue talking about their ideas and feeding off of that energy &045; and then putting those ideas into a plan of action.

That momentum can take us places Natchez has never been.

Kerry Whipple

is editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at (601) 445-3541 or by e-mail at kerry.whipple@