Professor, veteran journalist dies

Kaitlin Fleming, Editor in Chief

On August 15 the Jacksonville State University family lost a colleague and friend when retired journalist and Professor Emeritus Jerry Chandler died. 

Chandler’s career in journalism began in Anniston after returning from the Vietnam war, where he was a medic with the 101st Airborne Division, an assignment that led to him being awarded a Purple Heart. 

He began working in local radio at WDNG and then WHMA. He was news director for WHMA when he witnessed the aftermath of the Delta Airlines Flight 191 on August 2, 1985 at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Texas.

The tragedy and subsequent news stories led to sweeping changes in flight safety. Chandler’s experience led him to write “Fire and Rain,”which was a New York Times best-seller.

His work was featured on many aviation industry websites and magazines, including Frequent Flyer and Aircraft Maintenance Technology. Chandler’s work was also featured in The New York Times, The Financial Times of London and Time magazine.

Chandler was a guest on national media outlets, including NPR and CNN, and contributed to the PBS documentary, “Why Planes Crash”

After a long and successful career as a reporter, Chandler became a professor at JSU in 1987 where many of his students respected him and his feedback.

According to the obituary that was released, he was a humble and hard working man.

“His writing skills were matched only by his humility and work ethic. You would never find him resting on any laurels – just working on his next story,” read the online obituary.

Since his death, those who worked with Chandler at JSU and those who had him as a professor have shared stories and advice that he gave them.

Pamela Hill, a former student and colleague of Chandler’s said he was always “very supportive.”

“When I started as an undergrad in 1999 he was my advisor,” said Hill, a part time instructor for the Communication Department. “I had five undergraduate classes with him, he kind of was my favorite. He was so excited when he found out that I would be an adjunct here. He had a huge smile on his face and said he was glad I decided to give back to the department we both loved.”

Hill went on to say that Chandler never “spoon-fed” his students and always demanded the best they could do.

“You knew you better be prepared because he had a way of letting you know that he really wanted you to do your best work. He had a red pen that would bleed all over your projects. He would be very honest. He would tell you what you needed to do and expected you’d be able to fix it.”

Hill wasn’t the only former student who had fond memories of Chandler. Lauren Jackson Lee, a staff writer with the Hartselle Enquirer and former Chandler student said he taught her the importance of deadlines.

“One of my earliest memories with Mr. Chandler is attending the summer journalism institute in high school,” said Lee. “He jumped right into teaching and held a mock press conference then asked us to write a news article on it. Even though we were in high school he set the ‘deadline’ in an hour. After having completed the assignment I felt certain journalism was the correct career for me.” 

Lee also said that Chandler wanted his students to reach their “full potential.”

“Although I would say Mr. Chandler initially comes across as strict, he is someone that genuinely cared for his students,” said Lee. “Everything he did was for his students. His classes were sometimes challenging, but always rewarding in the end.”

Former student Jason Bozeman said he viewed Chandler as a friend and mentor.

“I watched the Super Bowl with him and his family every year for about five years,” said Bozeman. “It was such a special time every year, because I was always treated as a member of the family, even though I was a disgruntled Oakland Raiders fan.”

Bozeman said that Chandler was a “an incredibly important mentor to hundreds of students.”

“If I do anything good as a broadcaster, it is because he taught me how. I spent just as many hours in his office asking advice on how to run 92J [the college radio station], as I did in any class. And it always ended with him telling me how proud he was of me.”

2005 JSU graduate Julie-Anne Dentici said Chandler “pushed” her and “challenged” her with her writing and one time, when she received an “A” on a project he said it was “fine work” and that he knew she could do it. 

“Chandler wasn’t one to give compliments easily or freely,” said Dentici. “So, when he did give them, you knew that he meant it. I took him for several classes, but I think my favorite was Media Features.”

Mike Stedham, a communication professor and friend of Chandler’s said he was a man of “great religious faith” and that he had faith in “the power of journalism” to make society better.

 “He was a stickler for accuracy whenever he wrote a news story, and he insisted on accuracy in every class he taught here at JSU,” said Stedham. “He inspired his students, and he inspired me to be a better teacher every semester. He was the heart and soul of the Communication Department.”

Stedham and Hill weren’t the only colleagues that had kind things to say about Chandler. Associate Professor and Department Head of Communication Dr. Patrick McGrail said one of the first people he met when he came to JSU 11 years ago was Chandler.

“It was obvious he was held in high esteem by everyone, and yet he seemed like such a humble man,” said McGrail. “But I would hear students say, ‘I’ve got Mr. Chandler after this. Is he hard?’ And another student would say, ‘But you’ll learn so much.’ So I knew he was the real deal. Although I was an experienced professor at that time, I still came to regard Jerry Chandler as a mentor figure for me. He just knew students, his material, and the lay of the land. It was great. I even had a thorny question that had come up regarding television coverage of a certain military plane, and Jerry gave me his opinion and lots of info about it, and I realized that coverage of the plane was biased and wrong. It was obvious that I was in the presence of greatness.”

Chandler retired from teaching in 2017 and in June 2017,  he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Aerospace Media Awards in Paris, France. 

A Funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, August 23 at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Anniston. Burial with military honors will follow at Forestlawn Gardens. The family will receive friends at the church on Thursday evening from 5 – 7 p.m. followed by a prayer service at 7 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Chandler’s honor to Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Anniston, the Parkinson’s Foundation at or JSU’s Department of Communication.

JSU transitions from Blackboard to Canvas

Ashleigh Crouch, News Correspondent

Last fall, the university announced that it will transition from Blackboard to Canvas. As of August 16, Blackboard is no longer available. 

Canvas is said to be more efficient than Blackboard, and includes unique and useful features such as Office 365 integration, a media recorder, the ability to create polls, learning modules and integrated help resources. 

Randal Blades, a JSU drama professor, who taught a Canvas Pilot course in the Summer 2019 semester, seems to be happy with the transition, stating that it is easier for them to interact with students. 

Up until this semester JSU has used Blackboard for online and hybrid classes, a system designed to help professors keep in touch with students regarding class meetings, cancellations, grades and other important announcements.

“I found learning [the Canvas system] challenging but rewarding, and I felt like Canvas students were better able to navigate the course and it allowed me to conduct the course in a manner that was beneficial to student learning,” said Blades.

The Canvas system was established in 2008 and launched in 2011, and the system is currently used by more than 2,000 universities across the nation.

“[Canvas will] provide students with more efficient and effective work flows suitable for the way learning takes place now,” said Chris Casey, the operations manager at Online @ JSU. 

Student reaction to the transition appears mostly positive with many arguing that the interface is much more user-friendly.

“[Canvas] seems much more modern to me, and I believe it will be much easier for students to use,” said Marili Zurita, a JSU sophomore student. 

Sophomore Britney Ryals, who took a Canvas Pilot course in the Spring 2019 semester agreed.

“I like Canvas a lot better than Blackboard, and I am excited to begin using it for all of my classes,” said Ryals.

To access Canvas, you must create an initial password by following the steps below:

  1. Go to the Canvas login page:
  2. Choose “Forgot Password?”
  3. Enter your JSU email (for example, or
  4. Watch for reset password email at your JSU email
  5. Login with the new password at the Canvas login page
  6. Username = full JSU email (for example, or

Meet your 2019-2020 SGA executives

Miranda Ladd, News Correspondent

With the Fall semester here, freshness is in the air — fresh faces, new classes, new experiences and fresh Student Government Association representatives.

Ulises Herrera

Ulises Herrera, President

Herrera, a first generation college student majoring in Marketing, is JSU’s first Hispanic SGA President. He is from the small town of Cleveland, Ala. Outside of his responsibilities as SGA President and being a student, Herrera loves Starbucks, meeting new people and hanging out with friends. As President, Herrera wants everyone to know that he is here for the university. 

“No matter who you are or what your problems are, I am here for you,” said Herrera.

 He wants to hold the administration accountable along with advocating for student needs. His campain focuses on three main areas: address student issues through open forums, bring back a sexual assault awareness campagn and continue to unite the administration with the student body. His advice for students is to “reach out and get involved on campus” and “step outside of your comfort zone.” 

Stephen Sharp

Jerod Sharp, Vice President of Student Senate

Sharp graduated fourth in his class from Sylvania High School. He currently serves as a town councilman of Sylvania, Ala. He was the Vice President of SGA as well as class president in high school. Continuing his association with the SGA, he was accepted into Freshman Forum and served on the Student Activities Council. Sharp also served as a Freshman Forum Mentor, Parliamentarian for the Organizational Council and Governmental Relations Committee Head. 

Being in charge of the student legislature, Sharp hopes to promote “Senate Delegates,” where organizations on campus nominate a delegate to attend formal senate meetings to see what the student senate is all about. Sharp is in charge of the SGA Code of Laws, updating the living document after a bill passes and he works along the other four SGA officers. He is also a brother of Sigma Nu. 

William Bowen

Will Bowen, Vice President of Organizational Affairs

Bowen attended high school in Chelsea, Ala. and is a transfer student from UAB. Bowen transferred to JSU after his freshman year and now he is a senior majoring in Business Management with a minor in Spanish. He is a member of Pi Kappa Alpha and has represented JSU at the Collegiate Legislature. 

“I really look forward to this year and seeing all that we can do,” said Bowen.

In his position, he plans to grow the Cocky Connect system, bring new changes to the Organizational Council and advocate for student organizations on campus to further their development. Bowen enjoys hanging out with friends and learning how to play the guitar.

Desmond Thomas

Desmond Thomas, Vice President of Student Activities 

Thomas, a senior Business Finance major from Tuscaloosa, began his involvement and deep love for JSU during his freshman year. He got involved with Freshman Forum and it sparked his involvement in many other leadership opportunities such as being a JSU Ambassador, Student Senator, Freshman Forum Mentor and Collegiate Legislature Delegate. 

“I am super grateful for the opportunities and blessings that JSU has given me,” said Thomas. 

This is Thomas’s second year in office, and he wants to take events “to the next level.” He plans to focus heavily on student-centered events. 

In his free time, Thomas loves to go on adventures with his friends, eat and sleep. He hopes that if anyone ever has any questions, they will send him an email or stop by his office. 

Kathleen Seibert

Kathleen Seibert, Vice President of Public Relations

Seibert is a junior Communication major with a concentration in public relations. She is from Smiths Stations, Ala. and throughout high school, Seibert cheered for two years and then joined theater for her junior and senior year. She was a member of the National Beta Club and National Honor Society. 

Once at JSU she joined Delta Zeta and she currently serves as her chapter’s Vice President of Philanthropy. She also has taken part in Freshman Forum, has served as a delegate for JSU at the YMCA Legislature for two years and she plans to serve as the Senate Clerk in 2020. Seibert is also a member of Zeta Phi Eta and JSU’s Honors Program. She loves to read and travel, and is an avid theatre fan and has recently gotten into podcasts.

Photos courtesy of Matt Reynolds/JSU

JSU introduces bundled fee structure

Scott Young, News Editor

Fees at Jacksonville State University are now bundled and charged per credit hour in one ‘general university fee’, as opposed to the previous structure where each fee was listed individually. Program and course fees are not included in the bundled fee and are charged separately. 

Students taking between one and three credit hours are charged $150 per credit hour for their general university fee; and students taking four to five credit hours are charged $125 per credit hour. For six or more credit hours, there is a flat rate of $700.

The bundled fee structure is inclusive of the athletic fee, Recreation and Fitness Center fee, general university fee, technology fee and student activity fee.

Students taking a fewer amount of credit hours pay less in fees under the new fee structure, but a student taking the traditional 12 credit hour course load pays an extra $113, or 19.25 percent more in fees; not including program and course fees.

When asked for the new allocations for the bundled ‘general university fee’, Buffy Lockette, JSU’s public relations director, provided this breakdown:

  • Wellness Center, 37.01 percent
  • Transportation, 6.18 percent
  • Student Health Center, 3.82 percent
  • Technology Fee, 11.39 percent
  • Athletic Fee, 10.42 percent
  • Library, 3.93 percent
  • Student Activities, 3.41 percent
  • Classroom Upgrades, 7.99 percent
  • General Fund, 15.85 percent
Pie chart shows the percentage breakdown of the general university fee based on numbers provided by Buffy Lockette, JSU’s public relations director.

Kyra Watral, a senior majoring in chemistry and biology, is taking 16 credit hours and has paid the bundled $700 general university fee.

“I hate it,” said Watral in reference to the new fee structure. “Not just because of the increase, but because of why. JSU has only had fees for a short time now, and they are already $700 a semester?”

Watral claims that JSU fits a different ‘niche’ than larger schools like Alabama and Auburn, and that JSU should not compete to become more like them in terms of campus size and cost of attendance.

“Instead of actually attempting to compete with other colleges by improving our academic programs, they’re just randomly building things and charging students for things we never asked for and don’t want or need while blatantly ignoring the things we are asking for, like updated residence halls and more parking,” said Watral.

She adds that while new fees have been added and increased, she has not seen those dollars in action to improve the School of Science.

“Last I was on campus [the end of July], Martin still had moldy boards covering up windows,” said Watral. “We have many different pieces of equipment that do not work and are just sitting around collecting dust.”

Lockette argues that many students were confused by the old fee structure and that the new fee structure was reorganized at the suggestion of the Tuition and Fees Committee.

“Part-time students taking only one course had to pay the same fees as those taking 16 hours,” said Lockette. “Now, fees are bundled and charged by the credit hour.”

Lockette points to the upgrades made to Mason Hall, Stone Center and Brewer Hall in defense of the university’s diligence on campus renovations.

“Soon, we will break ground on new buildings for the School of Health Professions and Wellness and School of Business and Industry,” said Lockette. “Both of these projects will provide the opportunity to increase parking on campus.

Scary Stories and whatnot

Breihan Dryden, A&E Correspondent

I, like many other children, grew up reading the 1981 children’s horror classic “Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark.” 

I, like many other children, developed a love of horror fiction (and I’m pretty sure night terrors) from this collection of folk horror, coupled with its delightfully grotesque illustrations. 

In 2016, the world learned that Oscar winning director Guillermo del Toro would be producing/co-writing an adaptation of the original story and I couldn’t be happier. “Seriously, the guy who made the folk horror classic ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and produced the absolutely chilling ‘The Orphanage’ is making this?” my excited horror geek mind asked. “What could possibly go wrong?” 

Fast forward four years and add acclaimed horror director Andre Ovredal (“example,” “example”) into the mix and we finally get to gaze upon the glorious teen horror that they have brought us.

Honest to God, I’m just happy that this film got made and is pretty good. 

Set in the late 60s, “Scary Stories” tells the tale of three friends and a crush cursed by the spooky kid killer Sarah Bellows. 

The kids irritate some bullies on Halloween and then hide in the car of this dude at a drive-in. After the bullies are asked to leave, the kids decide to go have a look at the old Bellows place, because it’s supposedly haunted, ya dig? It is haunted by the one and only Sarah Bellows, who was supposedly locked up in her basement following the death of some kids she would read to, through her wall. She hanged herself and now her ghost cries out, wishing only to read to the children from her book of scary stories to tell in the dark.

This is a movie best seen almost completely blind. If you’re like me and saw the posters and watched only the first trailer, then you’ll thoroughly dig this. 

From what I’ve heard, all the other trailers kind of spoil the movie rotten and that’s a darn shame, because the best thing this movie has going for it are the monsters and how they play in to each character’s life. Seriously, the monsters in this are absolutely eerie and lead to some of the most well-crafted scenes of terror I’ve seen since “Hereditary.” 

That’s not to say that this is some crazy horror classic, it isn’t. Ultimately, it’s teen horror exploitation at its most nostalgic. But it’s well-directed, with some fantastic shots and brilliant atmosphere provided by the film’s 1960s Halloween aesthetic. 

Should you go see “Spooky Tales Being Spoke of at Night?” Yes. Good God, yes. 

Give this movie all your money so we can get a sequel.