(JACKSON, Miss.) – Jackson State University was named the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Professor Endowed Chair Award at the July 12 public meeting of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority 51st National Conference and Centennial Celebration in Washington, D.C.
The $220,000 award will support the university’s effort in the School of Social Work for research on the role African-American grandfathers play in child rearing.
Social work professor Dr. Olga Osby submitted the winning proposal, which is titled American Grandfathers in Community Engagement and Family Stabilization.
“The project stems from my interest in looking at African-American grandfathers as a hidden resource in the community,” Osby said. “I see all of these men in our communities and in our churches, but as a social worker and a researcher, I didn’t see that reflected in the literature.”
Dr. Deborah Dent, interim vice president of Information Technology, accepted the award on JSU’s behalf in front of thousands gathered on the National Mall.
“It was an exciting moment. I was very proud because we were competing against all of the other Historically Black Colleges and Universities nationwide,” said Dent, a Delta Sigma Theta member. “The committee is so interested in Dr. Osby’s research and they want to follow her project. The thrilling part was that this was the Delta’s 100-year celebration. Standing there on the National Mall in front of all of those people, it was just unforgettable.”
Delta Sigma Theta holds a competition every four years among all of the nation’s HBCUs for the endowed chair award.
Dent said there was a great deal of excitement when JSU’s award was announced, especially from the Mississippians in the crowd.
Osby first started working on her winning proposal last summer during a writing retreat for JSU’s female faculty members. The retreat was part of the JSUAdvance program, which is a leadership development program for women faculty funded by the National Science Foundation. Osby took part in the retreat with support from JSU’s Center for University Scholars. She further developed her project through her participation in JSU’s Academy of Research and Scholarly Engagement, which launched in the fall of 2012. Through that program, researchers get support and coaching to develop their ideas into funded research projects. Osby’s is the first academy project to earn a grant award.
JSU’s Division of Institutional Advancement worked with Osby to identify Delta Sigma Theta as a possible funder for her proposal.