Miranda Prescott, News Editor
Don C. Killingsworth Jr. was sworn in as the 13th president of Jacksonville State University on Friday in an inaugural ceremony.
Killingsworth has served in this role as the interim president since October 2019. He was named to the role full-time last June.
“It’s very surreal, but truly humbling,” said Killingsworth. “I’m truly honored to be stepping into this role. What a great day for JSU, the city of Jacksonville, Calhoun County and Northeast Alabama.”
Killingsworth is a two-time graduate from JSU, where he served as the SGA president in 1999, the same year his mentor and former president of the university, William Meehan, was sworn in as the 11th person to hold this title.
“He’s very patient and conscientious,” said Meehan. “He has built great relationships with the community and has always represented JSU with the best matter that it can be.”
Killingsworth gave the slogan for the ceremony: “One university. One family. One legacy.” With this, he said, his biggest goal is student success.
“It’s important that any student who comes to JSU have the resources they need to be successful, and my job is to make sure they have those resources,” Killingsworth explained.
Some of the resources Killingsworth has implemented or will in the future is the Gamecock Market, the campus food pantry, family housing and extended childcare for students with kids of their own.
“Students will be more successful if all of their basic needs are met,” he said. “We must recognize that infrastructure is key.”
He also expressed his goal of completing tornado recovery from the EF-3 tornado that devastated the campus in March 2018 and bringing the university “back to its roots” with improving the School of Education.
“We will work closely with our K-12 partners, our JSU alumnus and state Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey to help address the teacher shortage in Alabama,” Killingsworth said.
Alongside Killingsworth’s inauguration, JSU also honored Governor Kay Ivey with an honorary doctorate of letters from the university. This was in part of her efforts towards the university during the March 2018 EF-3 tornado and her “dedication to higher learning institutes.”
“Her overall body of work shows that her passion for higher education has always been there, and we appreciate all that she has done,” said Killingsworth. “Not to mention that she led the state through to the pandemic and the transition from the former governor.”
Ivey herself is a graduate from Auburn University, but said she always has a passion for higher education learning.
“As your governor, I have worked as a mission to protect and promote all of higher education to continue to grow to provide high-quality, hard working individuals for our national workforce,” Ivey said in her speech.
Ivey also said that she has “no doubt” in her mind that Killingsworth was right for the job, explaining that his entire professional career has been dedicated to safeguarding the interests of JSU.
“He has shown time and time again that he can always be relied on to do what is in the best interest of this university and its students,” she said. “The leadership he has shown in his career and especially in the last year has been nothing short of exemplary.”
This article originally appeared in The Gadsden Times, where News Editor Miranda Prescott is an intern reporter.