‘Thanks for the Memories’ captures sentiment of JSU retirees

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Jackson State University acknowledged and paid tribute to retiring faculty and staff at a special celebration held in the Student Center, April 26. Dr. Mark Henderson, chairman of the Department of Speech Communications and Theatre, was the keynote speaker for the evening and delighted the audience with a unique recitation regaling 13 tenacious Tigers. Henderson closed by assuring the retirees that they are still needed by the institution and by our society.

Following presentations to individual honorees, Dr. Patricia Murrain, who has served at Jackson State for 28 years in speech communications and theatre, gave the official “Farewell from Retirees.” Murrain paid homage to the hard work, excellence in the performance of duties and dedication to students that has been the labor of love given to the university by this collective. She summed up the feeling of the group by exiting with a nod to famed comedian Bob Hope – with the words from the song, “Thanks for the Memories.”

In the final celebration of retirees, College of Public Service dean, Dr. Ricardo Brown,  issued a toast and reminded the group that they will always be Tigers and that JSU will always be their ‘dear old college home.’ A list of Jackson State University retirees, 2016-2017, follows.  The abbreviated  autobiographical remarks of those retirees who elected to submit information are also included below.



College of Business

Dr. Gwendolyn Catchings, Assistant Professor – 6 Years


College of Education and Human Development

Dr. Carrine Bishop, Associate Professor – 39 Years

Dr. Laverne Gentry, Assistant Professor – 22 Years

Leon Harris Sr., Instructor – 11 Years


College of Liberal Arts

Dr. Charles Holbrook, Professor – 13 Years

Dr.  Charles Holbrook, worked as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy in the History and Philosophy Department for more than 13 years.  During his tenure, one of his profound memories is the spring semester of 2016, when he wore his academic regalia to class every day until mid-term and learning the reactions of students. Based on the students’ reactions, he believes that if he’d done it several years earlier, it would have changed his teaching strategy and the students would have worked harder. Holbrook’s father is noted for his quote, Under the nooks, the crooks, and the brooks, look for good.  “Good is in everyone, but many times we have to look for it,” said Holbrook.  Along with other higher education degrees, Holbrook received a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) from Memphis Theological Seminary.  He serves as the pastor of Sweetwater CME Church in Prentiss, Mississippi.  He enjoys fishing, wood-carving and spending time with his wife, Patsy. He is the father of Charli, Chuck, Eboni (Jonas), and grandfather of Austin, Jace, Charli and Chuck. 

Len Jefferson, Instructor/Adviser – 27 Years

Dr. Patricia Murrain, Associate Professor – 28 Years

Dr. Patricia Murrain has taught at Jackson State University for the past 32 years and will retire on May 15, 2017.  She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre and serves as the Coordinator of the Speech Communication component.  Murrain received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University Illinois, Master of Arts degree from Western Michigan University, and a Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Southern Mississippi. One of her most memorable experiences at JSU occurred when her  entire class researched, prepared and presented a discussion panel entitled, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot:  I too Sing America.”  This panel analyzed the history, development and resultant influences of the Ferguson, Missouri, killing of black teenager, Michael Brown. The presentation was received with such acclaim that Murrain and her students were awarded the “Excellence in Service Award” by the Jackson City Council. Her favorite quote comes from Psalm 121:1-2. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hill, from whence cometh my help. My help comes from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”  Her family includes four sons, three daughters-in-law, three grandsons and one granddaughter


College of Public Service

Dr. Eunice Harris, Director of Student Development – 9 Years

Dr. Eunice Harris retired from Jackson State on December 31, 2016. With a total of 15 years of service, she was the Director of Student Development in the Department of Social Work. Harris’ highest degree earned is a Ph.D. in Urban Higher Education from JSU. Her most memorable experience while at the University was meeting new students as they entered and assisting them as they matriculated through the Social Work programs to successfully complete the necessary requirements to graduate and become productive citizens. She is always reminded of a quote by Maya Angelou, People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Harris looks forward to enjoying her years of retirement reading and exercising.


College of Science, Engineering and Technology

 Joe Whitfield, Director of CSET Info Service – 15 Years


Division of Academic and Student Affairs

Christine Nielsen, Administrative Assistant – 11 Years


Division of Athletics

Eddie Payton, Head Men/Women’s Golf Coach – 29 Years

Eddie Payton began his career at Jackson State University on June 5, 1987.  On June 30, 2016, he retired serving as the Men’s and Women’s Golf Coach. Having received a Bachelor’s degree from JSU, Payton remembers having the opportunity to play football, particularly in 1972, when he scored the winning touchdown during his senior year. As a coach, he led the golf team to many similar victories. He was the first in his family to go to college and finds joy in the fact that he encouraged his sister and his brother to attend college, and his mother, at age 63, to return to school. Payton’s favorite quote is by W. C. Fields, Only one thing in the world is worth doing, but you can’t figure it out if your mouth is open. He is married to Rica, and they are the parents of Bridget, Erica, Terry and Edward.

Division of Business and Finance

Von Culberson, Electrician – 22 Years

Von L. Culberson will retire from Jackson State University on June 30, 2017, as a Foreman in the Department of Facilities and Construction Management.  He began working at JSU on March 15, 1995, as an electrician.  In 1980, he became a licensed journeyman/wireman through the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. He is proud of and will always remember the opportunities he had in maintaining Jackson State’s lighting and power, both internal and external, campus wide. His motto is Helping people is my aim and goal. Culberson is married to Gwendolyn and they have two daughters, Quiness and  Deonica, and one son, Earnest.

Bobbie Hogan, Accounts Payable Clerk – 18 Years

Serving in the Department of Financial Services as an Accounts Payable Clerk for more than 18 years, Bobbie Hogan retired from Jackson State on December 31, 2016.   She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from JSU during her time here.  She enjoyed working with so many wonderful people and found many friends.  Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me, is her favorite scripture and she strives to do her best at every endeavor.  Ms. Hogan is married to J. C. Hogan, and is blessed with having two daughters, Jocelyn and Dalre.

Joseph Miller, Driver – 23 Years

A native of Carpenter, Mississippi, Joseph Miller accepted the position of Small Engine and Auto Mechanic at Jackson State University in December 1993.  He retired November 30, 2016.  During his tenure at Jackson State University, he served under five presidents and three Directors of Facilities and Construction Management. Miller received his education in the Copiah County Schools and in 2002, he received a professional development diploma in Auto Mechanics from the Professional Development Institute/School of Auto Mechanics.  He is married to Betty Jean Dee and they are the parents of Shirley, Timothy and LaTanya. They have four grandchildren.

Treney Moncure, HVAC Technician – 19 Years


Division of Enrollment Management and Institutional Research

Betty J. Moncure, Director of Financial Aid – 24 Years

Sylvia Wynne, Administrative Coordinator – 22 Years

Sylvia Wynne began working at Jackson State University on September 15, 1994, and retired on June 30, 2016, as Office Manager in the Division of Enrollment Management and Institutional Research.  She began her career working in the Budget Office as a budget clerk.  Other positions she served in during her tenure were secretary and administrative assistant in the Division of Business and Finance. Wynne attended Jackson State with a major in Business Administration in 1994. She received a Master of Christian Counseling from New Foundation Theological Seminary. She enjoyed working at Jackson State under the leadership of Dr. Ronald Mason because of the positive changes he made, not just for students but staff and faculty, such as the 4-day work week schedule during summer months. She lives by Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Wynne is the widow of former JSU employee, Robert Wynne and the mother of their four children, Shon, Sabreea, Shabella and Robert III.


Division of Federal Relations and Sponsored Programs

Velesha Williams, Associate Project Director – 20 Years

Velesha Williams joined the JSU family as an employee in April 1996.  Having earned a Master of Art in Criminology and Justice Services from Jackson State University, she had the privilege to serve in various capacities within the Metro Jackson Community Prevention Coalition (MJCPC) and the Mississippi Urban Research Center (MURC).  Ms. Williams retired on June 30, 2016, as Director of MJCPC, a unit under the Office of Community Engagement. Williams will never forget her time spent at Jackson State. “My most memorable experience came in 2003, when then Vice President Felix Okojie gave me the opportunity to the lead the transition of leadership and structure at MURC while maintaining my position as Director of MJCPC. This opportunity helped me grow professionally as well as demonstrate my leadership and management skills on a larger scale.  Consequently, this opportunity allowed me to demonstrate skills that led to more than 10 million grant funded dollars being generated for the University during my tenure at JSU.” Williams’ favorite quote is from Psalm 23:1, The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want. She is married to Bennett J. Williams and they have two adult children, Felicia Roshell and Bennett II, and one grandson, Kobe.


Division of Graduate Studies

Sarah Foote, Coordinator/Graduate Student Support – 27 Years

After 28 years of service to Jackson State University, Sarah Foote retired on September 30, 2016, as the Coordinator of Graduate Student Support Services in the Graduate School. Her career at the University began on July 5, 1989. She has earned a Bachelor of Social Work, a Masters in Counseling, a Specialist in Education Administration and a Certificate in Higher Education Administration, all from JSU.  On May 3, 2000, Foote was honored as Educational Office Professional of the Year. This day was designated as “Sarah Foote Day” by President Ronald Mason, Jr. The passage of scripture, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13) inspires her daily. She has been married to William LeFelton Foote for almost 30 years and they are the parents of Joseph LeFelton and Tiara Louise, a freshman at JSU.


Division of Information Management

Webster Bartee, Customer Service Specialist – 32 Years

Webster Bartee was employed at Jackson State University for almost 36 years.  On June 30, 2017, she will retire from the University as a Customer Service Specialist in the Department of Computing and Communications. Bartee received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Jackson State, being inspired by her favorite passage, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible, Matthew 20:26b. One of her most memorable experiences as an employee at JSU is the feeling of being home again when she began working in 1980. Prior to returning to “home”, she worked in Detroit, Michigan, St. Louis, Missouri and for the City of Jackson. Coming to work at her alma mater gave her a feeling unlike any other place of employment and “that feeling has always stayed with me,” she says. She is married to Rev. Joseph Bartee, Sr.  They have four children and five grandchildren.


Division of Institutional Advancement

Shirley J. Harrison, Assistant Director – 17 Years


Division of Library and Information Resources

Bertha Bass, Library Assistant II – 27 Years

Bertha Bass began working at Jackson State University on August 7, 2989.  She retired from her position as Library Assistant II, on November 30, 2016. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration from JSU.  During her service in the library, she mentored and developed relationships with many students, which turned into lifelong friendships. She enjoys living by the quote, Be kind to one another and enjoy life to fullest, by Ellen DeGeneres. She is married to Freddie Bass and is the mother of Patrick and Brian.


Mississippi e-Center @ JSU

Camiel Brown, Administrative Assistant – 18 Years

After 18 years of service to Jackson State University, Camiel Brown retired December 31, 2016, as Business Manager for the MS e-Center@JSU.  She earned a Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Management.  In fact, she received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Jackson State and will always appreciate the memories of her time as a student and an employee.