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A Christian University
|Established||January 24, 1826|
|Religious affiliation||Mississippi Baptist Convention|
|Postgraduates||1,310 graduate students
550 law students
|Location||Clinton, Mississippi, United States
320 acre (3 km²)
|Athletics||American Southwest Conference
(NCAA Division III)
|Colors||Blue and gold|
Mississippi College is a Christian university located in Clinton, Mississippi just west of the capital city of Jackson. Founded in 1826, MC is the second-oldest Baptist-affiliated college in the United States and the oldest college in Mississippi. With more than 5,000 students, Mississippi College is the largest private university in the state.
Originally known as Hampstead Academy, Mississippi College received its first charter, signed by Mississippi Gov. David Holmes on January 24, 1825. The name was changed to Mississippi Academy in 1827 at the request of the Board of Trustees. Three years later, on December 18, 1830, having become a college, the name was changed to Mississippi College. It offered degrees in arts, sciences and languages.
During its early stages, Mississippi College was not church-related. For a number of years, it was affiliated with the Methodist and Presbyterian churches. Since 1850, Mississippi College has been affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention and the Board of Trustees oversees the institution.
As a private institution in 1831, Mississippi College became the first coeducational college in the United States to grant a degree to a woman, with degrees that year going to two women, Alice Robinson and Catherine Hall. In 1853, a Central Female Institute, renamed Hillman College in 1891, was established in Clinton. In 1942, Mississippi College purchased and absorbed all-female Hillman College.
The Civil War was a turbulent time for Mississippi College: its endowment was destroyed, its student body disbanded and its buildings deteriorated. Many students joined with faculty, a school trustee and townspeople to form the Mississippi College rifles during the war years or signed up with other units. Post-Civil War, MC enrollment grew to 101 students in 1869-70.
Reports show that under the leadership of President Warren S. Webb (1873-1891), the college stabilized. Under the administration of President W.T. Lowrey, the former Hillman College president, the endowment fund was renewed and the plant was reinvigorated during his tenure from 1898 to 1911.
During the administration of President John William Provine from 1911 through 1932, the college prospered, seeing the completion of the Provine Science Building as well as Lowrey Hall, Alumni Hall, and Farr-Hall Hospital, among others. The college endowment grew to $500,000 and in 1922, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools approved accreditation for the college. Enrollment reached 400 students.
During the 25-year administration of President Dotson McGinnis Nelson (1932 to 1957), the college withstood the Great Depression and emerged stronger. During his tenure, a gateway was built near the main entrance to the Clinton campus. As one enters the gates, the inscription reads, “Enter Here To Increase In Stature, Knowledge and Wisdom.’’ From the other direction, the inscription says “Depart To Share Your Culture With All Mankind.’’
During the World War II years under Dr. Nelson, women were once again admitted and enrollment increased rapidly. The physical plant expanded. A new Nelson Hall administration building was erected in 1948, and new residence halls were built.
In 1943, MC was among 131 colleges and universities nationwide taking part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy Commission. During the V-12 period, the Navy had exclusive use of Chrestman, Alumni Hall and the cafeteria. The last surge of construction during the Nelson era was a building for a growing fine arts program and a library. The war years saw enrollment in the 550-600 range. With veterans returning from World War II, enrollment increased. There were 1,000 students by 1950 and there were 1,581 students by Fall 1956.
The college continued to grow under the administration of President R.A. McLemore from 1957 through 1968. New buildings constructed included the B.C. Rogers Student Center, Hederman Science Building, Self Hall and a pair of residence halls. Provine Chapel was restored. During his administration, the single campus night watchman was replaced by a developing campus security system. Parking lots were organized, and fees collected on parking fines were used as scholarships.
The Lewis Nobles administration from 1968 through 1993 saw continued growth in enrollment and quantity and quality of the teaching faculty. A School of Nursing had its beginnings in 1969. With the coming of the School of Law in 1975, when MC purchased the former Jackson School of Law, the college took another step toward a university structure. In 1975, the division of business became the School of Business. Other departments grew as well. For instance, the division of education became the School of Education in 1977. In 1982, twelve remaining departments were grouped into the College of Arts and Sciences.
During the administration of President Nobles, Clarke College in Newton County, which once operated as a junior college for MC, saw its enrollment shrink to just 110 students in 1991. In May 1992, Clarke College closed after 84 years of service to Mississippi Baptists. During the Nobles administration, an addition to the library was made and an electronic media center emerged. Other new buildings ranged from Cockroft Hall for the School of Nursing to the A.E. Wood Coliseum. During his tenure the law school building in downtown Jackson was remodeled.
Howell Todd began serving as president in July 1994, and MC experienced a construction renaissance. There were several buildings remodeled, and new construction, including the New Men’s Residence Hall and the New Women’s Residence Hall. In 1997, Dr. Todd announced the launching of the New Dawn campaign to raise $80 million in five years. During his administration, aging structures like Jennings Hall and the Latimer House, a Victorian house later used for alumni receptions, were restored. In March 1995, MC trustees voted to change Mississippi College athletics from NCAA Division II to Division III which meant there would be no more athletic scholarships granted.
In July 2002, Lee G. Royce became the university’s 19th president. Under his leadership, MC has seen its enrollment climb by 60 percent to 5,145 students in Fall 2012 (from 3,227 more than a decade ago). Its endowment has soared to more than $60 million and its programs expanded, including the addition of the state’s one-of-a-kind physician assistant program in May 2011. MC’s strong financial picture, the growth of doctoral programs and new facilities such as the 20,000-square-foot medical sciences building in January 2013 have all been realized during the Royce administration. The number of international students has grown steadily under Royce's guidance – from the nine when he first arrived as MC’s leader to more than 200 students today, including a large contingent from China.
Other new programs during his tenure include doctorates in educational leadership and professional counseling. Mississippi College’s academic programs received the reaffirmation of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in December 2012. Attracting more than 200 students from colleges and universities across the USA and Canada, MC’s master of medical sciences program prepares graduate students for admission to medical and dental schools.
MC places an emphasis on an attitude of service. More than 45,000 hours of community service to 153 different agencies were served by 2,400 faculty, staff and students in 2011-2012. As host site for Centrifuge and Super Summer camps, Mississippi College welcomed campers from 303 churches and 13 states in 2012. Including all summer camps, there were 8,604 campers with 1,300 teens and adult sponsors volunteering more than 27,000 hours in metro Jackson communities.
MC has had an impact on the local economy with a budget of more than a $72 million, over 500 employees and net assets exceeding $157 million.
In October 2011, Mississippi College successfully completed its “Growing the Vision’’ campaign to enhance academic programs, scholarships, the university’s endowment and facilities. Spearheaded by President Royce, the campaign raised $87.4 million. The initial five-year goal in 2006 was $65 million. Part of the fund drive is the university’s annual spring scholarship dinner that’s attracted nationally prominent speakers, including former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, magazine executive Steve Forbes, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, host of a popular weekend show on Fox News, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2012, and former Florida Gov.Jeb Bush in 2013.
The university fields 16 athletic teams playing in NCAA Division III ranks in the American Southwest Conference since 1996. The university is awaiting NCAA approval in July 2013 on its proposal to return to NCAA Division II status. If approved, MC would rejoin the Gulf South Conference to renew longtime rivalries with teams like Delta State University, West Alabama, and North Alabama and greatly reduce travel time for student-athletes.
MC has been recognized a number of times in the Texas-based American Southwest Conference, including winning the football championship in 2009, while the men’s soccer teams were ASC champs in 2012. The Choctaws play home games in 8,500-seat Robinson-Hale Stadium. In 2011, MC ranked 11th nationally in football attendance among Division III schools.
Not listed among NCAA Division III programs, MC’s equestrian squad and table tennis teams competed in their 6th season in 2012-2013. Based at 2,000-acre Providence Hill Farm, a 20-minute ride from the Clinton campus, equestrian team members, all women, have won many ribbons and have advanced to the highest levels of equestrian national competition. There are more than two dozen riders on the equestrian team that competes in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association.
With players from China, and others, over the years from Venezuela and the USA, MC’s table tennis team has been nationally ranked every year for six seasons. At the end of the 2012 season, MC’s coed team ranked No. 2 in North America or better than such schools as Princeton, Columbia and the University of Southern California. Mississippi College is among 160 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada playing in National Collegiate Table Tennis Association tournaments.
The university’s student/faculty ratio is 13:1. The average ACT score for incoming freshmen is 24.
Mississippi College’s main campus in Clinton sits on more than 80 acres. The Mississippi College School of Law is located in downtown Jackson, just blocks from the Mississippi capitol. MC’s Flowood Center in Rankin County primarily serves working adults in metro Jackson with classes two evenings per week. Classes are also offered on Saturday mornings.
Notable buildings at Mississippi College include its historic Provine Chapel that opened in 1860 and is the oldest building on the Clinton campus. During the Civil War, U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant used it as a hospital for his wounded troops and reports say it was also used as a stable for his horses. Opened in 1926, Alumni Hall houses a gymnasium used for intramural basketball games, and a large pool used for water aerobics by students, faculty and staff. Built in 1948, Nelson Hall serves as the university’s administration building and contains Swor Auditorium, the venue for concerts and other musical performances. Aven Hall houses the recitals at the Jean Pittman Williams Recital Hall. The Samuel Marshall Gore Galleries hosts some of the finest art pieces from the state, region and around the nation.
The A.E. Wood Coliseum is used for MC Choctaws basketball games as well as serving as the site for university graduations. Self Hall houses the MC School of Business and Lowrey Hall, the former MC library, serves as the home of the School of Education. The modern Leland Speed Library houses books, audiotapes, computers, study rooms, meeting rooms and its Learning Resources Center that includes studios for the Department of Communication to videotape events on campus. A new 20,000-square-foot medical sciences building opened in January 2013 contains a cadaver lab, research facilities and new classrooms with the latest technology to prepare students for medical and dental schools. The 106,000-square-foot Baptist Healthplex serves the health and fitness needs of faculty, staff, students, alumni and Jackson area residents. The Healthplex also contains medical offices serving the community and is home of MC’s Physician Assistant Program. The School of Law building in downtown Jackson serves more than 500 law students each year. Cockroft Hall houses the nursing and kinesiology departments. The B.C. Rogers Student Center includes the campus cafeteria, meeting rooms for large functions, such as Anderson Hall, and office space for organizations including the Baptist Student Union. The 8,500-seat Robinson-Hale Stadium is the home field for MC Choctaws football games and track meets on the Clinton campus.
Schools and Departments
The School of Education includes the Department of Kinesiology, the Department of Psychology and Counseling, the Department of Teacher Education and Leadership, and the Dyslexia Center. The School of Business at Self Hall includes a wide array of programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels; The School of Christian Studies and the Arts includes the Department of Art, the Department of Christian Studies and Philosophy, the Department of Communication and the Department of Music.
The School of Humanities and Social Sciences spans the Department of English, the Department of Modern Languages, the Department of History and Political Science, and the Department of Sociology and Social Work; The School of Science and Mathematics includes the Department of Biological Science, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Department of Computer Science and Physics, the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. The School of Nursing is based at Cockcroft Hall on the Clinton campus. The MC School of Law serves more than 500 students on East Griffith Street in downtown Jackson. Overall, Mississippi College consists of more than 80 academic programs.
Launched in May 2011, the Department of Physician Assistant Studies serves 90 graduate students. One-of-a-kind in Mississippi, the MC program works with the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, federal clinics and other medical facilities to train professionals to serve under the supervision of physicians to meet critical healthcare shortages in the state and nation. MC’s newest doctorates include educational leadership and professional counseling. MC’s School of Law in Jackson serves students from around the South, other parts of the U.S. and others from around the globe. Serving more than 200 graduate students, the university’s master’s in medical sciences program prepares students from around the USA and Canada to gain admission into medical and dental schools.
- Lance Barksdale, Major League Baseball umpire
- Phil Bryant, Governor of Mississippi
- Michael Catt Christian movie producer and pastor
- Ted DiBiase, Jr., professional wrestler for the WWE
- W. C. Friley, president of Hardin-Simmons University from 1892 to 1894 and Louisiana College from 1909 to 1910
- J. Andrew Gipson, Mississippi House of Representatives member and attorney
- Edgar Godbold, president of Howard Payne University from 1923 to 1929 and Louisiana College from 1942 to 1951
- Gregg Harper Congressman from Mississippi
- Fred McAfee, former New Orleans Saints football star, later the team’s director of player personnel
- Larry Myricks, U.S. Olympic track star
- Anita Renfroe, Christian humorist
Interim president Rory Lee
Rory Lee, the MC interim president in 1993 and its vice president for institutional development from 1989 to 1996, received his bachelor's and master's degrees from MC in 1971 and 1973, respectively. He was the president of Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana, from 1997 to 2004. Since 2004, he has been executive director of Baptist Children's Village based in Ridgeland, Mississippi.
Mississippi College has been among the institutions spotlighted in U.S. News & World report’s “America’s Best Colleges’’ as well as “Forbes’’ magazine and other publications. U.S. News & World Report ranked MC 9th among the South’s regional universities in the 2011 “Best Colleges, Best Values’’ category and among the top 30 master’s level universities in the South in 2012. “Forbes’’ magazine listed MC as one of the nation’s top 25 “Best College Buys’’ in its August 2009 edition. It considered student/faculty awards, faculty salaries, graduation rates and academic quality when measuring affordability. MC’s academic programs were reaffirmed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in December 2012. MC programs were initially accredited by the Georgia-based SACS in 1922. Top scores for MC medical science students ranked above the nation’s 90th percentile of all medical school students taking the same exam.
- "Edgar Godbold". lahistory.org. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
- "Rory Lee unanimous selection as Louisiana College president, April 2, 1997". bpnews. Retrieved July 30, 2013.