Alcorn Extension Center may be Vicksburg’s best kept secret

Published 10:07 pm Friday, April 14, 2017

Happy Easter, everyone.

Vicksburg’s best-kept secret these days is the Alcorn Extension Center.

It’s a presence in Pemberton Mall with numerous computers and sinfully comfortable chairs.

It also boasts an expert technological staff and is scrupulously well-maintained.

It’s a genuine pleasure to go there.

So why aren’t more people going there?

Some Alcorn alumni are genuinely worried that in time it may be taken over by an institution like Ole Miss, who can see its enormous potential for their outreach or off-campus efforts.

Though nothing like that has been reported or suggested, it’s still an oft-spoken fear, and mirrored in the envy of many old, established schools for an urban campus, say, like Jackson State.

The Alcorn Extension Center is surprisingly spacious and accommodating without being overwhelming. There are classrooms and conference rooms there, available for both academics and gatherings, and it’s ideally located.

Several of us recently attended a land-management seminar there.

Before that, Dr. Bundesen from the Alcorn campus conducted a Shakespearean seminar there, for free, where anyone could come and join in reading Shakespeare out loud like folks used to on the wagon trains heading west (and the Bible and Shakespeare were the only available reading and recreation at night).

But we soon lost that wonderful offering because not enough people came.

What an opportunity, though, for young people in high school learning Shakespeare for the first time, and their grandparents who’d always thought that they couldn’t! And with books and an expert provided free! Right here at the Pemberton Mall!

Even so, there are too many days when few if any people come to a place that is literally waiting for them. And with a paid staff to serve and support them.

There are plans and suggestions afoot, though. The Extension has tremendous potential for people who can’t readily get to a campus for courses. It can teach and provide licensing requirements for people wanting to provide services like child-care.

It could be an enabling resource for people who, without the pressure of grades or performance, just want to improve themselves: their grammar or writing or cooking.

It could be an easy place and a natural one for learning about computers, and how to operate them.

Of course, there would be restrictions and oversight. There would have to be.

Anytime you have readily accessible resources, you must have enforceable constraints. But the way this Center operates now, it is woefully under-used.

It is more a convenience for those knowing about it than it is a help for those needing it.

And at least part of the solution is to make the community aware of it. It’s an incredible asset. Hard as it is to believe, though, it seems that many just don’t know.

Evening usage may be larger after people are off from work. Still I think it is way under-utilized.

So even present, we’re not reaping all the benefits we could.

Even present, we’re still at a loss.

Yolande Robbins is a community correspondent for The Vicksburg Post. You may reach her at yolanderobbins@fastmail.com