Sep 15th, 2017
The opening of the Jim and Janet Ayers Center for Health Sciences at Jackson State Community College "is a perfect marriage between education and health care," said Janet Ayers at the center's dedication ceremony Sept. 12.
Both Jim and Janet Ayers praised the work of Jackson State while college officials thanked the Ayers for their commitment to education.
"Jackson State has been near and dear to my heart for many years," Jim Ayers said. The concept for the Ayers Foundation, which funds college scholarships and projects like the health sciences center, was born at Jackson State, he added.
Jackson State President Dr. Allana Hamilton thanked the Ayers "who do so much for our college, our students, our faculty."
The dedication ceremony began with a welcome by Dr. Tom Pigg, Dean of Health Sciences and Computer Information Technology, and remarks by Dr. Larry Bailey, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Ginger Hausser, Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement with the Tennessee Board of Regents.
Hausser pointed out that before the state adopted the Tennessee Promise that helps high school graduates and adults get a two-year certificate or degree at no cost, there was the "Ayers promise." The Ayers and the Ayers Foundation sparked a movement across the state, she said.
The Jim and Janet Ayers Center for Health Sciences with its state-of-the art labs, classrooms and teaching equipment, is the new home for seven health programs at Jackson State: EMT-Paramedic, Medical Laboratory Technician, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Physical Therapist Assistant, Radiography, Respiratory Care Technology and Healthcare Technician.
Jim Ayers started his college scholarship program in Decatur County. He knew that students wanted to attend college, but didn't know how. Today, the Ayers Foundation is funding scholarships for 1,400 students who are in two-year and four-year colleges and technical schools, said Ayers, who described himself as a first-generation college graduate. About 200 of those students are attending Jackson State.
When the program started, 35 percent of Decatur County high school graduates went on to college or a technical program. Today, that number is 90 percent, he said. "What we do will work."
At Jackson State, Dr. Hamilton said, "we change lives one student at a time. Mr. and Mrs. Ayers share that same belief, that same philosophy."