JSU receives $25,000 endowment honoring memory of IHL board member

By Rachel James-Terry

Jackson State University is the recipient of a $25,000 Karen Cummins Memorial Endowment in memory of the life of Cummins, a board member for the Institutions of Higher Learning, who passed away in 2017.

Then Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Cummins to the state College Board in 2012.

“Scholarships provide life-changing educational opportunities for our students and help give them a limitless future,” said JSU President Thomas K. Hudson, J.D. “We are very grateful for the philanthropic efforts of Billy and Karen Cummins, and this is a wonderful addition to Karen’s legacy.”

Cummins served as the vice president of Atmos Energy, overseeing the Southaven District, Delta region, and Columbus and Tupelo areas. She began her career with Atmos as an office clerk in the 70s before elevating through administrative, marketing and operations positions.

“She loved higher education,” said Billy Cummins, Karen’s husband, who established the endowment. “She’s very happy. She’s looking down on me, and she knows that I’m doing it for her and the betterment of education and trying to help people.”

Cummins received an associate degree in business from Mississippi Delta Community College. She attained a bachelor’s degree in education from Delta State University. She was born in Indianola, Mississippi, located in Sunflower County, but grew up in Inverness, Mississippi. Billy, was born in nearby Kosciusko, Mississippi.

Scholarship requirements include the children of Atmos Energy and Entergy Mississippi employees. If no one qualifies under that criteria, the scholarship is open to Sunflower or Attala County residents.

Billy emphasized that he wants every recipient of the Karen Cummins endowment to know that “people do care.”

Moving to DeSoto County in the late 90s, Cummins was a past chairman of the DeSoto County Economic Development Council. She also served on the Community Advisory Board for Baptist Memorial Hospital, and her many memberships included the DeSoto County Business Women.

Cummins was a past board member of the Southaven Chamber of Commerce, the Southaven Main Street Association, and the North Mississippi Homebuilders Association.