Mississippi College

Education Graduate Students Learn Leadership Lessons

June 10, 2009

When Mississippi College professor Doris Smith heard a group of education graduate students belt out "Lean on Me," she was really impressed.

"Some of these people went through difficult times and learned to lean on each other," Smith said Tuesday after the MC students burst out in song." They are a great group."

The tune made famous by recording artist Bill Withers was one of the highlights as MC leaders saluted three dozen graduate students in the educational leadership master's program. They included 21 students graduating in August and 15 others who recently signed up for classes.

"They are absolutely high flying," said Smith, who served for two decades as superintendent of the Winona public schools before becoming an MC education professor. She's the coordinator of the master's program for educational leadership. "They are a very fine group of young professionals." Some include teachers and principals.

As President Lee Royce and university deans looked on, the keynote speaker for the event was Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant. The Moorhead native doubles as a part-time instructor in political science this summer on the Clinton campus. During his speech, Bryant offered some insights on the hotly debated deadlock at the Capitol over Mississippi's $5 billion annual budget. He also delivered some lessons in leadership.

While Mississippi hasn't been able to agree upon a budget, other states are facing a similar plight. California, Illinois, and Texas are among the states in the same boat, Bryant said.

Bryant, the presiding officer in the Mississippi Senate, hopes something will get worked out soon so public school districts, state agencies, public universities, state parks and numerous programs get funded. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

The lieutenant governor planned to meet Tuesday with House Speaker Billy McCoy to discuss steps to address the budget. Gov. Haley Barbour is expected to call a special session this summer to tackle the issue.

There are no easy answers. With the nation caught up in a recession and millions of Americans out of work, times are tough and tax dollars are in short supply. But Bryant says the tough economic times won't last forever. The economy runs in cycles and will bounce back, he said.

Teaching at MC- even those classes at 8 a.m. - can be a relief during tough times in Jackson, Bryant said. "I will do anything to get away from the Capitol," he joked.

Bryant is a graduate of Hinds Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi with a master's in political science at MC.

A Republican and former state auditor, Bryant "challenged us to be good leaders in difficult financial times as well as good ones," Smith said after his speech at the B.C. Rogers Student Center.

For more information about the master's in educational leadership, contact School of Education Dean Don Locke at 601-925-3402 or locke@mc.edu

Photo: Education graduate students singing "Lean on Me"

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