Michael Jerome Laney was born in Flushing, New York on April 26, 1955. Laney a native of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, graduated from Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School.
A graduate of the University of Massachusetts, North Dartmouth, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with honors. At Michigan State University, he enrolled in the Army Reserve Officer Training Program, and earned a Master of Arts degree in Television and Radio. Upon graduation, he accepted a commission in the United States Army Signal Corps as a Second Lieutenant and entered active duty. He held command and deputy command responsibilities at the Captain and Major level, and was responsible for 1,000 soldiers and civilians and the command and control of assets in excess of $110 million. He retired as a Major on October 1, 1995 with 20 years of federal service.
In 1995, Laney accepted a position as Instructor of Communications at Lee College in Cleveland, Tennessee. Laney completed the Ph.D. in Communications with a cognate in Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) and graduated in December 1998. He was an Appalachian College Association, Mellon Fellow while at UTK from 1997-1998.
In 2002 Laney was named Department Chair of the Communication and the Arts Department at Lee University (LU). He was also granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor. He was promoted to the rank of Professor in 2005. He has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels in mass communications, published his research in various journals and spoken at numerous conferences and forums around the world. In 2006 he developed the first Communications doctoral program for Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya, which was exported to 22 African nations. He departed LU in June 2012 with over 17 years of service.
Laney assumed his duties as Dean and Professor over the College of Arts and Sciences at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) in San Antonio, Texas on July 2, 2012. He was responsible for the oversight and management of an annual budget of $3.8 million in support of 39 full time faculty, five staff members and over 500 students. As dean he managed the general education core, as well as all personnel, budget, curriculum, advising, equipment, and facilities. He departed OLLU in December 2017 with over 5 years and 6 months of service.
Laney assumed his duties as Provost and Vice-President for Academic Affairs at Savannah State University (SSU) in Savannah, Georgia on January 2, 2018. SSU is the oldest public historically black university in Georgia. He was responsible for the oversight and management of an annual $30 million budget in support of 200 full time faculty, five academic deans, 14 direct reports and over 4,100 students. As Provost and Chief Academic Officer, he was a member of the President’s Executive Leadership Council, he oversaw operation of the academic sector, as well as all personnel, budget, curriculum, advising, equipment, and facilities. He held the rank of Full Professor with tenure in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at Savannah State University. He departed SSU in September 2019 with over 21 months of service and now resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with family.
His civilian honors includes: NAACP-Bradley County Life Time Achievement Award—2005; 100 Black Men of Bradley County, Inc. Mentor of the Year—2000; Lee University Excellence in Teaching Award—1999.
Laney is married to the former Leonora Denise Suggs of Hampton, Virginia. Together they have raised three adult children, ReAnna, Mikaela, and James-Michael.