Music professor receives IHL’s excellence in diversity and inclusion award

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Dr. Lisa Beckley-Roberts received an excellence in diversity and inclusion award from the Institutions of Higher Learning earlier this week. (Photo by Charles A. Smith/JSU)

Dr. Lisa Beckley-Roberts received an excellence in diversity and inclusion award from the Institutions of Higher Learning earlier this week. (Photo by Charles A. Smith/JSU)

Dr. Lisa Beckley-Roberts, associate professor of ethnomusicology, in the Department of Music, has been named a Distinguished IHL Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award winner by the Mississippi Board of Trustees in a ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 20.

“I’m humbled to have been considered and nominated by the university for the award. I’m also inspired by our students and the daily work that our faculty and staff do to ensure that our university builds upon the mission of educating underrepresented and underserved populations alongside those who are most prepared for post-secondary education,” said Beckley-Roberts, who is also interim chair of the Department of Music.

According to an IHL release, honorees were chosen for the way they embrace diversity of thought, cultural background, experience, and an identity that helps to foster inclusive and intellectually enriched campus communities that maximize opportunities for success among all students and employees.

“It continues to be an honor to serve my students, regardless of race, gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, religion or creed and to assure that they all have the opportunity to thrive at JSU,” she said.

After hearing from her fellow nominees, Beckley-Roberts shared that she is even more inspired to advocate for all members of her community while assuring that she continues to provide exposure opportunities to cultural expressions from the people of the world and especially underrepresented people.

Beckley-Roberts earned her doctorate in ethnomusicology and masters degrees in ethnomusicology and harp performance at Florida State University, after having received her Bachelor of Arts degree in harp performance from Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. She has taught courses including Minority Music in America, American Roots Music, American Popular Music, World Music Cultures, Western Music History, Intro to Ethnomusicology, Women in Medieval Music, Artists of African Descent in Renaissance Europe, and African Music and Dance in addition to guest lecturing and presenting papers on Africana religious practices and the role of music in them, Peruvian shaman ritual chanting, and the creation of sacred space through music.  She is also an accomplished performer who has been principal harpist with the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra and the Central Florida Symphony Orchestra, has performed with orchestras throughout the Southeast, and maintains an active performance career, having accompanied singers with the neo-soul and hip-hop performers of Tallahassee Nights Live.

Beckley-Roberts currently serves as a member of the Africana Studies Department exploratory committee, is co-advisor for the Jackson State University chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota, and has served on numerous faculty search committees, and college and departmental committees. She is also active in a number of professional and service organizations including Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, the Society for Ethnomusicology, The American Harp Society, American Musicological Society while regularly volunteering in the Jackson area through her work as a mentor for girls at Hardy Middle School.

The full list of University Honorees is as follows:

Dr. Ira Scott-Sewell

Associate Professor and Associate of Science in Nursing Program Coordinator

Alcorn State University


Dr. Glendscene Williams

Associate Professor of Finance and Director of the Center for Business and Entrepreneurial Research

Delta State University


Dr. Donald Shaffer

Director of African American Studies Program and Associate Professor of English

Mississippi State University


Dr. C. LaShan Simpson

Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Mississippi State University

Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine


Penny Sansing Mansell

Director of the Child and Parent Development Center

Mississippi University for Women


Dr. Abigail S. Newsome

Graduate Coordinator of Bioinformatics/Associate Professor of Biology

Mississippi Valley State University


Dr. Jodi Skipper

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology

The University of Mississippi


Dr. Mohadetheh Moulana

Assistant Professor, Division of Neurobiology and Behavior Research, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior

The University of Mississippi Medical Center


Dr. Susan Mayfield-Johnson

Associate Professor, School of Health Professions

The University of Southern Mississippi