New dorms open, some community partnerships close at Jackson State

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JSU Communications

William Bynum, president of Jackson State University

William B. Bynum on Friday joined the list of Jackson State University presidents to visit the weekly community forums at Koinonia Coffee House blocks away from campus.

The conversation quickly shifted from back-to-school excitement to the seriousness of Jackson State’s financial challenges.

“Some of what you would like for us to do or be involved in (partnerships, proposals, investments) I’ll tell you straight up we won’t be able to for the next couple of years,” said Bynum.

The priority is raising funds to compensate for the reduction in state financial support and increasing the university’s cash reserves.

In the audience stood the university’s new vice president of institutional advancement, Veronica Cohen, who joined the Jackson State staff on Tuesday. She is a long-time administrative partner of Bynum’s dating back to Lincoln University in the late 1990’s.

Veronica Cohen, vice president for institutional advancement at Jackson State University

In 2015, Cohen joined Bynum at Mississippi Valley State University as vice president of university advancement, leading efforts to triple fundraising amounts at the university.

“We did it at Valley. We will do it here,” said Bynum.

Cohen was most recently associate vice president for major and planned gifts at Claflin University in South Carolina. Claflin is rated No. 1 for alumni giving among all historically black colleges in the nation with 47 percent of its graduates giving back to the school.

In another move with financial impact, Bynum announced Friday that Jackson State will close its satellite student housing and reopen historic Alexander Hall, increasing the capacity for on-campus housing to 2,800 residents this fall.

In 2013, the Institutions of Higher Learning board of trustees approved a lease for Tiger Plaza, a former motel near the Mississippi Coliseum, to provide 236 additional beds.

“We are out of the hotel business,” said Bynum, laughing.

Ongoing renovations at Stewart Hall, a dormitory for male students, are expected to be complete within the fiscal year, which will increase on-campus capacity to 3,000 residents.

  • fishbiol59

    What is unclear in this article? Does the mention that JSU is out of the out of the hotel business and then a reference to Tiger Plaza mean that JSU is no longer leasing Tiger Plaza? Motel and hotel are two different words.

    • Ashley F.G. Norwood

      Hi! Bynum’s exact words were “hotel”, but as stated he did announce that they will not be housing students at Tiger Plaza this Fall. He also states that he and his staff is working to renovate Stewart Hall so that Tiger Point, which was the former Sleep Inn hotel at Gallatin and Pearl Streets, will no longer house students and they too will reside on campus. No date has been announced of when that lease will end. Thank you for your note!