Jack Hopper will be remembered as someone who loved Jacksonville State
University, the institution he served in a variety of capacities for much of his
Hopper, 72, had a heart attack and died Tuesday.
“Jack loved this institution and its students,” said JSU President Dr. Bill
Meehan. “He was wise counsel for all presidents who relied on him and his
“He was a good friend and I’ll miss him very much. He was a big part of JSU.”
Hopper’s service to JSU spanned multiple decades and he continued to be an
influence on the university in recent years, even as he moved into “retirement.”
He retired as the university’s vice president for institutional advancement
in 2002. In that position he dealt with public relations, fundraising and other
external affairs. He stayed on as a special assistant to the president after he
Hopper was a “confidant,” to the presidents — some said he was “the power
behind the throne,” said Joe Serviss, JSU’s current vice president for
“He was very influential,” he said.
Hopper was a former JSU student and a 1962 journalism graduate of the
University of Alabama and worked for The Birmingham News before accepting the
position at JSU.
A Navy veteran and Gadsden High School graduate, Hopper worked under five JSU
presidents since he was first hired by President Houston Cole in 1966 as public
His name will continue to have a place at JSU — in 1980 the cafeteria was
named after him.
The naming came at the recommendation of Dr. Ernest Stone, JSU’s president at
the time. Hopper had then been director of public relations for 14 years and was
also an assistant to Stone.
“The Jack Hopper Dining Hall “will be a nice memory,” said Meehan.
Hopper was close to all five presidents he served with, said Serviss. He also
worked closely with the board of trustees and handled government relations, he
Even in retirement and as he battled illness, Hopper stayed involved with his
beloved university, said Serviss. “He continued to be an influence on the
university,” he said.
He was awarded the title of emeritus vice president for institutional
advancement in January, an honor Serviss said he was “pleased to nominate him
Serviss served under Hopper both as a student photographer when Hopper was
the director of public relations and decades later when Serviss was hired as a
director of institutional development.
“He will be sorely missed,” said Serviss. “There will definitely be a void.”
Hopper is survived by two sons, Mike and Mark. He was predeceased by his
About Mary Jo Shafer
Mary Jo Shafer is assistant metro editor and
business editor for The Star.
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