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After 30 years, UK prof returns for official initiation into AGR

In the early 1970s, a young man who grew up on a dairy farm in nearby Todd County, Ky., pledged Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) at APSU.

Now an associate professor of animal sciences at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Dr. James A. Jackson returned to his alma mater this month to be initiated into the fraternity.

A longtime member of AGR himself, Dr. Gaines Hunt, now dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, was a new instructor at APSU when Jackson enrolled in 1972. Hunt not only taught Jackson, he served as his academic adviser.
In the early 1970s, a young man who grew up on a dairy farm in nearby Todd County, Ky., pledged Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) at APSU.

Now an associate professor of animal sciences at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Dr. James A. Jackson returned to his alma mater this month to be initiated into the fraternity.

A longtime member of AGR himself, Dr. Gaines Hunt, now dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, was a new instructor at APSU when Jackson enrolled in 1972. Hunt not only taught Jackson, he served as his academic adviser.

According to Hunt, Jackson was asked recently to speak at a meeting of the University of Kentucky's AGR chapter. However, fraternity officials at UK discovered some problems.

On March 2, 2005, Jackson e-mailed Hunt, “I accepted an invitation to speak to the AGR chapter here at UK. Of course, they checked the records, and the information said that the (APSU) chapter was initiated in 1983. I thought our group initiated the chapter there in 1973.”

Hunt quickly replied to his former student. “Both you and the AGR chapter are partially correct. Austin Peay established a ‘colony' of AGR in 1973. In 1983, they were granted ‘chapter' status. We were never recognized as a chapter until that time.”

The AGR colony had all the rights of a chapter, except for voting at the convention and holding the initiation ritual. Colony brothers were given the opportunity to be initiated into AGR at the chartering ceremony in 1983, but Jackson was well on his way to becoming a tenured college professor by that time, so he did not participate.

However, to make his membership official, Jackson returned to APSU last weekend and, along with this year's newly selected members, was initiated into the Beta Mu Chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho.

In a subsequent e-mail to Hunt, Jackson wrote: “I was happy to be a part of the initiation process. The current officers and members were supportive of my going through the initiation at my age. You … should be proud of them. Please give my ‘thanks' to the officers and members for the warm hospitality.”

Hunt is proud of this former student, also. After graduating from APSU in 1975, Jackson went on to earn a master's degree (1977) and Ph.D. (1982) from the University of Kentucky.

He joined the UK faculty in 1982 as an assistant professor of animal sciences and was promoted to associate professor in 1988.

Jackson's research interests include dietary mineral and electrolyte manipulation on the physiology and growth of dairy cattle and the effect of vitamin E supplement on fescue toxicosis in lactating dairy cattle. He is the author or co-author of many articles that have been published in scholarly journals, and he has made several presentations to professional organizations.
—Dennie Burke