JSU awarded $155,000 grant for preservation master plan, student development

(JACKSON, Miss.) — Jackson State University is one of two HBCUs awarded a $155,000 HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Grant by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The funds will allow JSU to create a campus-wide stewardship plan to support and coordinate the ongoing preservation and integrity of the campus. Five thousand dollars of the proceeds will go toward the professional development of a JSU student.

JSU President Thomas Hudson

“This award affords us the opportunity to preserve JSU’s history and the surrounding community we serve. Many of our buildings and assets are campus landmarks and mile markers rooted in significant movements and moments of an evolving Mississippi landscape. This grant will certainly be impactful in honoring JSU’s legacy,” says Thomas K. Hudson, president of Jackson State University.

In its over 140 year history, Jackson State has evolved into a 245-acre campus with a large number of buildings that have pronounced standing in the school’s history, which encompasses the broader community.

Dr. Heather Denné

“The funds will be used to acquire qualified consultants to craft a long-term preservation plan for the University’s historical assets that are 50 years or older,” explains Dr. Heather Denné, principal investigator of the grant.

She names Alexander Residence Hall, Jacob L. Reddix Hall, Blackburn Language Arts, Ayer Hall and the COFO Center among the many structures that meet the criteria, including artifacts like those housed in H.T. Sampson Library.

Denné says the plan will be used in conjunction with a National Park Service grant to secure JSU’s placement on the National Register of Historic Preservation. “So as we grow and build, we will have a sustainable system for all historic assets.”

Overall, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has awarded more than $650,000 in grants to eight HBCUs, including Jackson State.

According to a release, the initiative was launched in 2020 through the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, the National Trust for Historic Preservation in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities with leadership support from Ford Foundation, the JPB Foundation, J.M Kaplan Fund, Executive Leadership Council, Chipstone Foundation, Wunsch Americana Foundation, and James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation.

The collaborative efforts bring light to the underfunding of HBCUs despite their historical standing. Some or most of their prized and notable assets are degenerating when they could remain viable resources.

The initiative’s overall aim is to ensure HBCUs can “protect, preserve and leverage their historic campuses, buildings and landscapes, ensuring these academic institutions and symbols of African American pride are preserved to inspire future generations.”