Southern University at New Orleans campus. Photo courtesy of HCF’s Division of Communications and Marketing.

NEW ORLEANS, LA – Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) Chancellor Lisa Mims-Devezin has stepped down, just months after the institution was placed on probation by its a accrediting agency and a top administrator became the subject of a federal fraud investigation.

Miss-Devezin’s departure from her post was approved by the Southern University Board of Supervisors back in October, according to a source and to board documents and officials.

She was replaced effectively by James Ammons, the current executive Vice President of the Southern University System and executive vice chancellor of Southern University in Baton Rouge.

Ray Becton, the president and chancellor of the Southern system, told the board on October 14 that Mims-Devezin was “requesting that her employment contract not be renewed.”

In a letter to Becton, also written October 14. Mims-Devezin asked for a month of paid leave at her chancellor’s salary and six-month sabbatical before returning as a faculty member at the College of Arts and Sciences. Her contract was set to expire on December 31.

“I was not fired, nor did I resign,” said Mims-Devezin in an email according to source. “My contract will run its course and expire.”

She touted campus expansion and a rise in research funding during her tenure.

“Clearly, we are charting new territories to build upon the rich history of Southern University at New Orleans,” said Mims-Devezin. “Because of the unwavering commitment to this institution, I strongly believe that the best is yet to come.”

Professors and members of SUNO’s Faculty Senate said the news of her departure as chancellor came suddenly, though after months of controversy at the university. Most SUNO employees learned about the leadership change after documents from the board meeting were posted online.’

This summer, the university was placed on probation by its accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges, because of chronic financial management issues. Then, in late August, SUNO officials announced plans to furlough employees and increase teaching loads for the faculty. Those measures went into effect in September.

Under the terms of its probation, SUNO will have two years to get on firmer financial ground or it could lose its accreditation, which could mean an end to federal loans and grants for students. Accréditons will do another review in June.

SUNO has struggled for years to deal with dwindling enrollment and state budget cuts, which have forced it to rely on tuition to fund a larger share of its $23.6 million annual operating budget.

Mims-Devezin was named chancellor in late 2016. She had been the interim chancellor and before that dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. She replaced Victor Ukpolo, who resigned as SUNO chancellor after a decade on the job as the school faced one of the lowest graduation rates in the country and a bleak financial outlook.

Every Monday, the HBCU Campaign Fund (HCF) will spotlight a Chancellor or President who currently serves a Historically Black College or University. This initiative recognizes and introduces those individuals who serve our nation HBCUs on a daily basis, changing and educating lives while producing the forthcoming visionary leaders of tomorrow.


This week’s Chancellor or President:  Dr. Lisa Mims-Devezin, Chancellor of Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO)

Dr. Lisa Mims-Devezin, Chancellor of Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO), has more than 20 years of experience in higher education.

Before being named Chancellor in 2016, she was the dean of SUNO’s College of Arts and Sciences. She served as the college’ associate dean for eight years. A SUNO alumna and professor of Biology, Dr. Mims-Devezin earner her Ph.D. in Science and Math Education in 2004. She decided to devote her career to education because of her love for teaching and attributes her success to hard work, dedication, commitment to excellence and a passion for her profession.

Dr. Mims-Devezin has served as the state articulation officer through the Louisiana Board of Regents for more than 20 years and is a member of the General Education Committee. She has assisted with the implementation of transfer degree policies and articulation agreements between SUNO and state institutions and has served as a mentor to numerous students and faculty over the years. Many of those students have completed graduate and professional schools or are currently enrolled in graduate programs.

In 2008, Dr. Mims-Devezin was inducted into the Cambridge Who’s Who Executive, Professional and Entrepreneurial Registry for showing dedication, leadership, and excellence in all aspect of higher education. In 2009, she received the Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Faculty Award. She also has been awarded numerous accolades and Certificates of Appreciation for successfully assisting the institution with SACS reaffirmation without recommendations, serving on the advisory board of the Honore’ Center, being a pioneer in online teaching and learning and, most importantly, writing the proposal for the Health Information Management Systems Program, which was accredited in 2013.

Dr. Mims-Devezin is affiliated with numerous organizations such as Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the National Institute of Science, the National Science Teachers Association, American Society for Microbiology, Beta Kappa Chi Scientific Honor Society and Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society. She is a past recipient of the university’s Most Outstanding Grant Writer Award, Most Funded Proposals, College of Science’s Mentor of the Year Award and the Award for Teaching Excellence.

A native of Long Beach, CA, Dr. Mims-Devezin and her husband, Jerome J. Devezin Jr., have one son, Joshua Jerome Devezin

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About Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO)

Founded as a branch unit of Southern University and A&M College. On September 21, 1959, SUNO opened its doors on a 17-acre site located in historic Pontchartrain Park, a subdivision of primarily African American single-family residents in eastern New Orleans. Established as an open community of learners, classes began with 158 freshman, one building and a motivated faculty of 15. The University offered 10 courses in four academic disciplines: Humanities, Science, Social Science and Commerce. Today, SUNO’s mission is to be one of the American’s premier institutions of higher learning and to graduate students ready to contribute to the city and nation. For more information, visit www.suno.edu.

About the HBCU Campaign Fund

HBCU Campaign Fund (HCF) is a non-profit advocacy organization which is mission to supporting the significance and campaign in raising funds for scholarships and services at historically black colleges and universities and predominately black institutions. HCF advocates for students, alumni, HBCU and PB institutions. For more information, visit www.hbcucampaignfund.org.

NEW ORLEANS, LA – A $1.2 million federal grant has been awarded to Southern University at New Orleans in an effort to address the shortage of science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers in what SUNO described as “high-need schools.”

In a press release from the university, The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded SUNO a five-year $1.2 million Robert Noyce grant for a project. SUNO will collaborate with John Ehret High School and Brookhaven National Lab to recruit, support and certify 22 STEM teachers. Recruitment activities will focus on the pool of qualified SUNO undergraduate STEM students enrolled in the Department of Natural Sciences. The project will span from May 2018 through April 2023.

The program activities are excepted to include the following:

1. Early exposure of prospective teachers to high-need schools
2. Seminar series on Characteristics of Highly Effective STEM Teachers
3. Science fair for high school students to attract students to STEM fields and their teachers to teacher certification programs
4. Praxis I & II preparation
5. Post-certification mentoring of new STEM teachers by content faculty mentors.

The project leadership consists of Principal Investigator Dr. Cynthia Singleton (Mathematics), and Co-PIs Dr. Joe Omojola (Mathematics and Physics), Dr. Murty Kambhampati (Biology) and Dr. Louise Kaltenbaugh (Education).

“These experienced faculty members have collaborated successfully on many projects at departmental, college and university levels, including grant writing, committee assignments, and curriculum developments,” said SUNO Chancellor Lisa Mims-Devezin. “They are very passionate about STEM education. I congratulate them for their hard work, commitment and dedication to developing future STEM teachers.”

According to nola.com, SUNO’s project comes amid a statewide push to recruit more teachers. According to teaching certification date provided by the Orleans Parish School Board from the Louisiana State Association of School Personnel Administrator, fewer teaching certification has been issued in Louisiana during a four-year period from the 2012-13 to the 2016-17 school year.

For more information about the Robert Noyce grant project, visit www.suno.edu.