IHL commissioner, MSU alumnus Alfred Rankins Jr. returns to Starkville for fall commencement ceremonies

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

Alfred Rankins Jr. (Photo submitted)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—When more than 1,400 Mississippi State students graduate Dec. 14 during fall commencement ceremonies at Humphrey Coliseum, a fellow Bulldog will be among the first to officially welcome them into the MSU alumni family.

Mississippi Public Universities Commissioner of Higher Education Alfred Rankins Jr. is returning to his alma mater to deliver 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Friday commencement addresses. Doors open at 8 a.m. for the morning ceremony and 2 p.m. for the afternoon ceremony, with processionals beginning at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., respectively. Graduates and their guests are encouraged to arrive early to ensure smooth entry through the coliseum’s metal detectors.

The morning ceremony will feature degree candidates from the colleges of Architecture, Art and Design, Arts and Sciences, and Education, as well as those receiving University Studies degrees through the Complete 2 Compete program. The afternoon ceremony will recognize degree candidates from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the School of Human Sciences, College of Business and the Adkerson School of Accountancy, Bagley College of Engineering and the Swalm School of Chemical Engineering, College of Forest Resources and College of Veterinary Medicine.

“We count it a high honor when one of our high-achieving alumni can return to campus to deliver a memorable commencement address,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “Commissioner Rankins has both a personal vision and a life story that will inspire our graduates and we deeply appreciate him giving of his time to share his insights with them. I greatly value his strong leadership and wise counsel as he leads Mississippi’s higher education system.”

A native of Greenville, Rankins earned all three of his college degrees from Mississippi institutions of higher learning. He holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Alcorn State University, as well as master’s and doctoral degrees in weed science from MSU.

Rankins was appointed to serve as commissioner of higher education by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning earlier this year. In this role, he provides leadership to the university system, including all eight public universities.

Prior to being named commissioner, Rankins served for four years as the 19th president of Alcorn State University, the oldest public land-grant among the nation’s historically black colleges and universities. Under his leadership, the university excelled in academics and athletics and was noted nationally for its commitment to the student experience.

Rankins’ other leadership roles in Mississippi higher education include deputy commissioner for the Institutions of Higher Learning and acting president of Mississippi Valley State University.

He also served as a tenured associate professor in MSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and as an extension specialist for the MSU Extension Service.

Rankins and his wife, Juandalyn, are parents of two children, Aftyn and Alfred. Learn more at www.mississippi.edu/commissioner.

For more on MSU’s fall commencement ceremonies, visit www.registrar.msstate.edu/students/graduation.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.