The world of business concerns itself with return on investment. Studying at Delta State University reaped such dividends for professor of management Jill Austin that she established four DSU scholarships for the College of Business out of gratitude: a $10,000 endowment scholarship and three one-time $500 scholarships.
“The faculty wanted students to succeed and they were great teachers,” said Austin, who earned a B.B.A. in management in 1979 and an M.B.A. in 1981 from Delta State and who chairs the Department of Management at Middle Tennessee State University. As a graduate student under Dr. Lawton Owens, then chair of the Division of Management and Marketing, she taught her first class. “That was when I decided to be a college professor,” Austin recalled. She also took five English courses from Dr. Maria Butler. “Today, I still approach research and writing projects using what I learned from her.”
Austin further deemed the size of DSU “perfect—large enough to offer lots of services and activities and small enough to have a hometown feel.” She served as a resident assistant in Cain-Tatum Hall, worked for the Alumni Office, and volunteered in numerous capacities.
“All of these experiences in the classroom, the dorm, and on campus helped me become a responsible adult and find a career that is a great fit for me,” added Austin, who earned her doctorate from Mississippi State University in 1986.
During summer breaks at Delta State, she returned to her hometown of Pontotoc, Miss., to work at a swimming pool concession stand to earn most of the money necessary to pay for college. Austin also took out one small student loan. So she appreciates how economical Delta State was and continues to be—and understands that scholarships “help ease a bit of financial stress for students.”
The scholarships Austin created, the Archer-Johnstone Management Endowment Scholarship Fund and the Archer-Johnstone Management Scholarship Fund—named in memory of her grandmothers, Tina Archer Ponder and Winnie Mae Johnstone Austin—go to full-time or part-time College of Business juniors or seniors who major in management, live in Mississippi, maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.8, participate in school or community activities or work opportunities, and demonstrate financial need.
“I took my first management course at DSU, so I wanted to provide some financial assistance to management students,” said Austin, who serves on the board of directors of the United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties, Kymari House for child advocacy, and the MTSU Foundation. “Over my years as a college professor, I have seen students stressed about paying their tuition. I hope the scholarship will provide funds that will help students complete their degrees.”
Exactly right, said Dr. Nerma Moore, director of development at Delta State. “For more than seven years, Dr. Austin has supported her alma mater. At this time, she chose to establish four scholarships, a $10,000 endowment and three one-time $500 scholarships, to help our current and future management majors. Her scholarships will help them achieve their goals through much-needed financial support,” she said. “We are thankful for Dr. Austin and her decision to provide our students with a sustainable and predictable source of funds.”
One of Austin’s favorite quotes? From a poem, ‘It Was Early,” by Mary Oliver: “Sometimes I need / only to stand / wherever I am / to be blessed.”