Sanford Out, Adams in at JSU, Mississippi Dance Festival and Dr. Jermaine Gray | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Sanford Out, Adams in at JSU, Mississippi Dance Festival and Dr. Jermaine Gray

Jackson State University fired O'Neill Sanford, director of the Sonic Boom of the South marching band, on Wednesday, Aug. 30, following an incident in which the band allegedly traveled with members who were not fully registered with the school. Trip Burns/File Photo

Jackson State University fired O'Neill Sanford, director of the Sonic Boom of the South marching band, on Wednesday, Aug. 30, following an incident in which the band allegedly traveled with members who were not fully registered with the school. Trip Burns/File Photo

Jackson State University fired O'Neill Sanford, director of the Sonic Boom of the South marching band, on Wednesday, Aug. 30, following an incident in which the band allegedly traveled with members who were not fully registered with the school. Lowell Hollinger, associate director of bands, has replaced Sanford.

The marching band went to Charlotte, N.C., a week before Sanford's firing to perform at the Queen City Battle of The Bands. The band reportedly brought in dozens of members who the university's insurance would not have covered in the event of an accident, due to their registration status.

Sanford joined JSU in 2012 as a recruiter for the department of music and has served as the director of Sonic Boom since 2016. He is also the president of the HBCU National Band Directors' Consortium, founder of the HBCU "Battle Fest" Battle of the Bands and served as the director of bands at Norfolk State University from 1997 to 2011.

JSU Names First Female ROTC Commander

Jackson State University named Lt. Col. Shander Adams as the first female commander of the university's Air Force ROTC program on Thursday, Aug. 31. The announcement coincided with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the university's new J.Y. Woodard building, which will house JSU's ROTC students. Adams replaced retiring commander Lt. Col. Timothy Henderson.

Adams is a Gluckstadt native who joined the Air Force after graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi. She served four years of active duty in the before joining the Mississippi Air National Guard and earning her master's degree from JSU with aid from the GI Bill.


After the command transition, JSU President William Bynum Jr. announced that the university will now provide free room and board to scholarship recipients of its Air Force ROTC and Army ROTC programs.

University of Southern Mississippi Hosting Mississippi Dance Festival

The University of Southern Mississippi's Department of Dance will host the fifth annual Mississippi Dance Festival tonight, Sept. 8, through Sunday, Sept. 10, in Hattiesburg. The festival is for student dancers in grades 7 through 12, dance educators, regional professional dancers and traditional educators who are interested in incorporating the arts in their teaching.

The festival will feature master classes on various forms of dance, lectures from guest artists and networking opportunities for students and instructors. The festival kicks off tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the university's Theatre and Dance Building, Studio 115, with a concert featuring festival faculty. The admission price is $5 per person.

The featured artist for this year's festival is Zac Whittenburg, a former dancer and advocate for the arts in Chicago. He performed with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Pacific Northwest Ballet and BJM Danse Montreal before becoming a dance critic and writer for Dance Magazine. He is also the communications and engagement director for the Illinois Arts Alliance. Throughout the festival, Whittenburg will teach master dance classes and speak on the topic of art engagement in communities, as well as the state of dance around the world.

For more information, visit mississippidancefestival.com.

UMMC Names Interim Chair of Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

The University of Mississippi Medical Center recently named Dr. Jermaine Gray, who is an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, as the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology's new interim chair. He is replacing Dr. James Shwayder, who has served as department chair since 2012 and will remain on the faculty as a professor.

Gray is a Natchez native and University of Mississippi graduate who completed his obstetrics and gynecology internship and residency at UMMC. He joined the UMMC faculty in 2007 as an assistant professor and has served as chief of the Division of Women's Health and vice chair of clinical affairs for the department. He has also been the medical student clerkship director since 2010.

In addition to his position with UMMC, Gray is a member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Association of Professors in Gynecology and Obstetrics. He previously served as the president of the UMMC Ob-Gyn Alumni Association and is currently involved with community service programs such as Healthy Linkages and the Urban Coalition Committee.

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