University Hosts Alabama Commission on Higher Education


The fountain in front of Angle Hall. (JSU Photo)
by Buffy Lockette

Jacksonville State was honored to host the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) on campus for its quarterly meeting on Sept. 7-8.

Appointed by the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House, the 12-member board is the state agency responsible for the overall planning and coordination of higher education in Alabama. The organization approves new degree programs, administers various student aid programs and provides regulation and oversight of all state colleges and universities.

ACHE’s commissioners, executive director, administrators and staff arrived on campus on Sept. 7 for a campus tour, a reception featuring a performance by the Marching Southerners and dinner with President Killingsworth, Provost Shelton, the president’s cabinet, deans and other university leaders.

On Friday morning, the board convened for its official meeting on the fifth floor of JSU Stadium. President Killingsworth was provided the opportunity to address the commission formally at the start of the meeting, welcoming the commission to campus and providing them an update on university operations. He said, “We are glad to host you, and thank you for all you do for higher education in the State of Alabama.”

The commission also heard from Dr. Janet Bavonese, Assistant Vice Provost for Advising, and Courtney Peppers, Director of Learning Services and Analytics, who presented an update on the university’s Summer Bridge Program. Supported by a grant from ACHE, the university expanded its 30-year Summer Bridge Program in 2022 to include additional support in STREAM (Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) subjects. The JSU “STREAM to Success” program has included workshops, advisement, success coaching and career advising.

“Students at the beginning of the program didn’t recognize their own potential,” Bavonese told the commission. “But, by the end of the program, they had a greater understanding of themselves as individuals.”

JSU did not have any action items under review by the commission this quarter, but several peer universities had new academic programs under consideration. University leaders in attendance included Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins and Athens State Interim President Catherine Wehlburg.

The ACHE visit was coordinated by Dr. Staci Stone, Vice Provost.

“Through this visit to the Jax State campus, the ACHE commissioners and staff were able to understand better our recovery from the 2018 tornado and see improvements in the learning environment for our students, especially for those in the newer ACHE-approved programs in respiratory therapy, athletic training, and educational leadership doctorate,” stated Stone.