By Shanderia K. Posey
The Ministerial Alliance, a faith-based group in Jackson, will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. July 1, to show its support for Jackson State University in light of scrutiny the JSU Development Foundation has recently received regarding results of a report from 2014.
The press conference will be held at New Dimensions International Fellowship of Ministries, located at 110 Alta Woods Blvd. in Jackson.
Of the $25.7 million the foundation had in 2014, it was determined some expenses were undocumented and some employees made personal purchases using credit cards issued to the foundation. The foundation was reimbursed for all unauthorized purchases made by a few employees, and it also discontinued use of credit cards in 2014.
In addition, David Hoard, former vice president of Institutional Advancement, was terminated. He had made about $24,000 in unauthorized purchases and returned the funds to the foundation in August 2014.
“We just want to let people know the truth,” said Sandra Hodge, interim vice president of Institutional Advancement at Jackson State. “We want to take our message to our constituents who love and care about our university. Our students are our first priority, and we don’t want anyone to think that whatever people give to us and trust us with to support the students have been misrepresented.”
The JSU Development Foundation is separate from the university and has its own board of directors. Its mission is to inspire donors to invest in Jackson State University’s power to transform lives and to better the state, nation and world.
As a result of the report, stronger policies and procedures were put in place for the foundation.
“Most of the questionable costs had to do with just missing receipts and documentation,” said Hodge. As a result, a stronger records retention report is now required to be reimbursed.
Also, a policy related to travel reimbursement has been established.
“You have to get travel approved in advance (all on the foundation side),” Hodge said. In the past, some people may have traveled and were reimbursed for personal money they spent.
The foundation’s board also reevaluated and updated its bylaws and procedures following the report. Now there are dual controls in place to review documentation before individuals are reimbursed.
“Our foundation is no different than any other university,” Hodge said. “And there has not been any other incidents (since the report). All the dollars have been recovered, and I think that says a lot for the university.”
Individuals have continued to come forward showing their support for JSU since the report including the Rev. Thomas Jenkins, pastor of New Dimensions where the press conference will be held. Jenkins is also a leader in the Ministerial Alliance. In a recent open letter to the community Jenkins wrote, “We need to change the conversation to one that highlights the contributions of Jackson State University and acknowledges its legacy of offering educational opportunities since 1877.”
Congressman Bennie Thompson has always been a strong supporter of JSU. An office spokesperson, Stephanie Booker said, “His stance remains the same … a big supporter of JSU.”
Shanderia K. Posey can be reached at email@example.com.