(1899 – 1970)
Jesse Rodgers Delbert Otis was born July 9, 1899, in Carson, Mississippi. One of six children born to Delbert and Anna Sims Otis, he received his early training at Piney Woods School, Piney Woods, Mississippi. Later, he also attended school in Three Oaks, Michigan. J.R. Otis earned his B.S. degree from Iowa State University. He continued his education gaining M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell University.
Dr. Otis was a recognized agricultural leader and teacher. From 1932 to 1934, he served as Specialist in Extension farm work. The next ten years found him in the nation’s capital working at the Department of Interior. Desiring to be back closer to the people he hoped to help, Dr. Otis held the position of Alabama State Leader for Negro Work from 1944 to 1946. In 1946 Dr. Otis was selected to be president of Alcorn College for Negroes at Alcorn, Mississippi.
J.R. Otis loved to teach and he loved the people he taught. His entire life was devoted to education in one form or another. Through his efforts, hundreds of lives were enriched. The example he set and the inspiration he imbued is recognized even today.
In addition to his direct role in education, Dr. Otis also served as a newspaper editor and publisher. His various employments took him to Virginia, Alabama, Washington, D.C., and finally back to his native state of Mississippi.
It is altogether fitting to honor the life’s work of J .R. Otis by inscribing his name on the dedicatory plaque of the Extension Memorial Chapel.
Chapel Plaque Inscription Number: 269