Jackson State president put on leave, temporary leader named

Reason for action against Thomas Hudson is unknown; Elayne Hayes-Anthony named acting president of the HBCU

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The president of Jackson State University has been put on paid administrative leave, and a longtime faculty member has been named temporary acting president.

The board that governs Mississippi’s eight public universities took the actions Thursday but did not disclose the reasons for taking Thomas K. Hudson away from the job he has held since November 2020 at the state’s largest historically Black university.

The temporary acting president is Elayne Hayes-Anthony, who has been chairwoman and professor in JSU’s Department of Journalism and Media Studies since 2015.

Jackson State University President Thomas K. Hudson talks about the one-year anniversary of Deion Sanders being named the new football coach Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. Tcl Jsu President Talks Coach Prime1

Caron Blanton, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, did not immediately respond to emailed questions from The Associated Press about whether the board’s decision to put Hudson on leave was related to the JSU faculty senate’s vote of no confidence in him in late January. The faculty group called for “restoration of shared governance, transparency, accountability and academic democracy.”

Hudson said in response to the faculty vote that shared governance, academic prominence and student success “are essential to the growth of our institution.”

Before Hudson became JSU president, he served nine months as acting president. He had worked in several roles at at JSU since 2012, including chief operating officer and chief diversity officer.

JSU’s enrollment for the fall semester was about 6,900, down from nearly 7,100 a year earlier. Enrollment at most of Mississippi’s public universities decreased from 2021 to 2022.

Tom Duff, president of the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, said in a statement Thursday that the board is grateful Hayes-Anthony agreed to be acting president.

“As alumnus and long-time administrator and faculty member at the university, she understands the campus, its students, its challenges and opportunities,” Duff said.

Dr. Elayne Hayes-Anthony (credit: Jackson State University)

The board will discuss JSU’s future leadership during its regular meeting March 23.

Hayes-Anthony is a Jackson native and was the first Black female news anchor on WJTV-TV. She earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree at JSU, and her doctorate in organizational communication broadcast law at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

From 1998 to 2015, Hayes-Anthony was professor of communications and chairwoman of the Department of Communications at Belhaven University.

Earlier in her career, she worked at JSU for 10 years, first as director of graduate studies for the Department of Mass Communications and later as head of the department. She also was assistant superintendent of public information for Jackson Public Schools before working at Belhaven.

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