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Cherisse Jones-Branch Chosen for AASCU’s 2023 Millennium Leadership Initiative


WASHINGTON – The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) has named 29 distinguished senior-level higher education professionals to participate in its 2023 Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI).

Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch, dean of the Graduate School at Arkansas State University, is part of the new cohort.

"I'm deeply honored to be selected to participate in the 2023 Millennium Leadership Initiative,” Jones-Branch said. “I eagerly look forward to engaging my cohort members and MLI leaders in important training sessions and discussions about American higher education leadership."

Dean of the Graduate School and professor of history at A-State, Jones-Branch is an award-winning scholar of rural, women’s, and African American history. She is author of Crossing the Line: Women and Interracial Activism in South Carolina during and after World War II; Better Living By Their Own Bootstraps: Black Women’s Activism in Rural Arkansas, 1913-1965; and co-editor of Arkansas Women: Their Lives and Times.

Her next book project, titled “. . . To Make the Farm Bureau Stronger and Better for All the People”: African Americans and the American Farm Bureau Federation: 1920-1966, will be published by the University of Arkansas Press’ “Rural Black Studies” series, of which she is co-editor. 

Jones-Branch is also the co-founder of the Arkansas Delta Women’s Leadership Academy, which aims to increase the number and visibility of female leaders in the Delta region by providing them with leadership training and networking opportunities. A U.S. Army Persian Gulf War veteran, she earned her Ph.D. at Ohio State University before joining the A-State faculty in 2003.

Launched in 1999, MLI is a leadership development program designed to diversify and enrich the American college presidency. The initiative is rooted in preparing higher education leaders from traditionally underrepresented communities with the skills, philosophical overview, and networks necessary to advance to the highest ranks of postsecondary education.

“MLI stands as a magnet for talented people looking to bring something different to American higher education leadership,” said John S. Wilson Jr., executive director of MLI.

Since its inception, nearly 700 individuals have completed the program, with 153 going on to become university presidents or chancellors and 40 serving multiple presidencies or chancellorships. Programming for the 2023 cohort begins this month in Washington, D.C.

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of 350 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.

Photo of Cherisse Jones-Branch
Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch