Otha Burton Jr., the chair of Jackson State University’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning and former chief administrative officer for the City of Jackson, has been appointed executive director of JSU’s new Institute of Government.
The institute, which will be housed in the university’s new downtown location at 101 W. Capitol St., will provide leadership development, research, education, consulting and training to help improve the performance of government and other public service organizations.
“I’m honored to be selected as the institute’s executive director,” Burton said. “This is an important and challenging endeavor, and the institute’s role and niche will be critical to mold and shape as it ensures effectiveness in meeting the needs of urban and regional communities, their elected and appointed officials, and the constituents that reside therein,” Burton said.
Since 2006, Burton has served as associate professor and associate dean in JSU’s School of Policy and Planning and chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. In those roles, Burton managed the graduate and undergraduate degree programs, supervised one of the schools in the College of Public Service and directed the successful accreditation effort of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning Degree Program.
Burton’s public service career with the City of Jackson began in 1974. During his tenure with the city, he was appointed to numerous positions, including director of the Department of Human and Cultural Services from 1986-1990; director and chief financial officer in the Department of Administration from 1998-2000; and chief administrative officer from 1998-2005.
Burton received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from JSU. He received a Ph.D. in public administration from Mississippi State University.
“Burton’s vast experience as an administrator in the public sector and his expertise on policy issues make him the best candidate to direct the Institute of Government. He’ll lead JSU’s effort to serve as a resource for those seeking sound public policy practices,” said JSU Interim Provost James C. Renick.
The downtown campus is scheduled to open this summer. Burton’s appointment is pending approval from the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.
Burton said his vision for the institute involves a focus on urban and regional communities. He said the institute will provide practical hands-on service, training and assistance and produce research and policy analysis by scholars and consultants that will be released through published reports, forums and updates.