Dr. Jerry Payne of Marshall, Texas earned bachelors and masters degrees in Music Education from NSU in 1957 and 1968, Specialist in Education in 1969 and Doctorate in Education in 1973. In a career spanning 45 years, Payne was a music educator for 20 years in Louisiana and 25 years in Texas, including four years as Director of Bands at NSU. During that time, Payne led his bands in numerous outstanding competitive performances and was recognized with several professional honors.

Payne noted that as a student, he intended to become a professional musician, but fell in love with teaching and was motivated by several mentors to continuously pursue excellence in his career.