ASU, Natchez can benefit each other

Published 12:06 am Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hours before Alfred Rankins Jr. had the title, the man was certainly talking the presidential talk.

Rankins was named the 19th president of Alcorn State University Tuesday, but prior to the announcement, he stopped at Alcorn’s Natchez campus to speak with students, faculty and staff.

Despite the new title, Rankins is no stranger to Alcorn; he’s a graduate.

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He’s also no stranger to Mississippi’s higher education system, either.

Prior to his appointment as ASU president, Rankins served as the deputy commissioner of academic affairs and student affairs for the State Institutions of Higher Learning and served as interim president of Mississippi Valley State University.

Rankins said Tuesday he would ensure that ASU satellite campuses in Natchez and Vicksburg remained a top focus of the university.

“I’ll make sure this campus and this community does not feel neglected,” he said, speaking to people at the Natchez campus.

Alcorn is important to Natchez and Natchez is important to Alcorn.

Rankins seems to realize that, based on what he said Tuesday. The late Alcorn president Clinton Bristow put forth the idea of Alcorn being a “communiversity.” It was a made up catch phrase of sorts, but one that made good sense. A university can, if it’s resources are sharpened and used wisely, help to develop the areas surrounding the university — economically, culturally and educationally.

Bristow’s idea is one that Rankins may do well to revisit as he begins to chart a path for where Alcorn — and in many ways southwest Mississippi — will go into the future.

We wish President Rankins the best of luck and our full support.