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20 December 2007
Town & Gown:
Cookbook Features Recipes from Public Universities

By Dr. William A. Meehan
President, Jacksonville State University
Weekly Column - Town and Gown

Reprinted here in its entirety.

In her book Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena, Julia Reed explains the tradition behind a Southern meal saying, “Southerners can’t stand to eat alone. If we’re going to cook a mess of greens we want to eat them with a mess of people.”

The same great identity the South has for its culture and food is growing to include a tradition in superior education. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Higher Education Partnership (HEP) is the state advocacy group for Alabama’s public universities, helping schools like Jacksonville State reach one of HEP’s prime community initiatives to “make a difference.”

To commemorate a decade of service to institutions of higher education, HEP published its first cookbook, The Scholarly Gourmet: A Collection of Recipes from Alabama’s Public Universities, on December 10th.

“This beautiful cookbook is filled with recipes, stories and photographs of famous alumni,” says HEP Executive Director Gordon Stone in a press release.

“It also includes photos and history of university landmarks, little-known facts of each university and over 250 recipes from faculty, staff and alumni of Alabama’s public universities.”

Among the recipes submitted by staff, faculty and alumni at Jacksonville State University are two historical dishes which were frequently requested on campus and once prepared by Mr. James Haywood, former director of Food Services: sweet potato supreme, and pork chops and mashed potatoes.

My wife, Beth, and I also submitted a delicious recipe for breakfast egg casserole. I don’t know if I’m allowed to call it world-famous yet, but the staff members at JSU give it great reviews when I make it every year for the administrative brunch in December.

Each piece of what Stone calls “a slice of university life” can be purchased from the Higher Education Partnership Web site at

Upon ordering, you can select a university in Alabama to support through your purchase of the cookbook. Of course, we hope you choose to support JSU.

The Higher Education Partnership is a conscientious organization with a stated mission on its Web site to “enhance the effort to improve long-term quality of life opportunities” by serving “as a vehicle for educating people about the importance of higher education in bettering the lives of the people of Alabama.”

The Scholarly Gourmet is dedicated to a man who made a significant difference in his time at JSU and in his service as vice-chair of the HEP’s Executive Committee since its inception. Mr. Jack Hopper, emeriti vice president for Institutional Advancement at JSU and namesake to the university’s cafeteria, passed away last month and will be remembered for his leadership and promotion of higher education.

An excerpt from the cookbook dedication about Hopper reads, “His legacy is the respect and love he gave and shared with his family and friends. An even bigger part of his legacy is for us to remember his positive attitude through which he showed us that no matter what life dishes out, you can make it better through hard work and the philosophy that, ‘It doesn’t cost a nickel more to be an optimist.’”

As a public state university, JSU is fortunate to be a part of an organization like the Higher Education Partnership, with common goals to grow effective leaders.

As country singer Loretta Lynn said, “You’ve got to continue to grow, or you’re just like last night’s cornbread--stale and dry.”

For more information on the Higher Education Partnership cookbook, contact Diane Causey, 334-832-9911, or visit the Web site at

Erin Chupp, a graduate assistant in the Office of Marketing and Communications, contributed to this article.

About William A. Meehan

Dr. William A. Meehan is president of Jacksonville State University. His column, "Town & Gown," appears in The Jacksonville News.

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