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Mississippi College

Harvard Medical School Professor Receives Mississippi College Order of the Golden Arrow Award

September 13, 2013

Mississippi College’s remarkable teachers made a huge impact on his life as thinkers and role models, says Harvard Medical School psychology professor Dr. John R. Weisz.

A 1967 Mississippi College graduate, Dr. Weisz went on to have a distinguished career as a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of North Carolina, and Cornell before joining the Harvard faculty in 2007.

His many accomplishments as an educator, extensive work as a researcher and lengthy list of publications in academic journals resulted in plenty of awards for the Newton, Mississippi native. The latest comes from his alma mater in Clinton. Mississippi College alumni leaders will honor Dr. Weisz during the university’s 2013 Homecoming celebration in late October as co-recipient of the Order of the Golden Arrow Award.

“I am touched and honored by receiving the Order of the Golden Arrow Award,” Dr. Weisz said in early September at his office at the Ivy League school in Boston.

The award, he said, “has very special meaning for me and sparks some very special memories. It reminds me of the invaluable contribution Mississippi College made to my life during those pivotal early years, the sterling example set by so many committed faculty members.”

In addition, Dr. Weisz noted his undergraduate experience led him to build “treasured relationships with student friends who continue to inspire through lives lived for others and guided by faith. I know Mississippi College will continue to produce remarkable people who enrich the human condition in so many ways.”

Earning his bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in philosophy at Mississippi College, he works at an internationally recognized medical school that dates back to 1782. Harvard Medical School admits only 4 percent of its applicants.

Dr. John Legg, retired chairman of the MC Chemistry Department, said the selection of the Harvard professor for one of the institution’s highest honors shows the Christian university is truly blessed with superb graduates worldwide. Harvard Medical School, the Clinton resident said, “is one of the absolute tops.”

Weisz grew up in Jackson, and then lived in Clinton where he attended Clinton Junior High and Clinton High before enrolling at Mississippi College. “He was an outstanding young man, humble and just a real nice guy,” Legg said. “I knew his dad and knew Johnny.’’

Being a distinguished professor at Harvard Medical School is really saying something about the extraordinary quality of a Mississippi College education, says retired MC administrator Edward McMillan of Clinton. “Harvard buildings are impressive and so are the individuals we’ve met,” the historian says.

During his junior high and high school years in Clinton, Weisz discovered “what a special place Mississippi College was, so it was natural to enroll in my hometown college that I so admired.”

Classes with such stellar Mississippi College professors as Dr. Joe Cooper in ethics and comparative religion were memorable and influential for the young man at the Baptist-affiliated school in the 1960s. “And I was inspired by the life example set by Dr. Charles Martin, who later became dean and then vice president at MC,” the Harvard educator said.

In the fall after receiving his MC diploma, Weisz married Jenny Graves, then a student at Blue Mountain College. In the early years of their marriage, they served as Peace Corps volunteers in Nairobi, Kenya. Upon returning, he did graduate work in clinical psychology at Yale, where he earned his doctorate, and Jenny attended law school. Over the years, the couple lived in Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, and now Massachusetts.

An attorney, Jenny Weisz is based at the Massachusetts Supreme Court to help court personnel learn how to work with children and families.

Dr. Weisz is focused on teaching at Harvard and doing clinical research with children coping with serious mental health problems. The couple has four children and three grandchildren.

“Jenny and I now live pretty far from Clinton, so we treasure the opportunities to connect with old friends from college days.”

Dr. Weisz will share the Order of the Golden Arrow Award with Jimmy Morrison, a 1964 MC graduate from Madison County. Morrison is a certified financial planner and former MC Alumni Association president. Alumni and departmental distinguished award recipients will be saluted at an October 25 dinner at 6 p.m. at Anderson Hall on the Clinton campus. Tickets are $20.

For more information on the Christian university’s 2013 Alumni Awards dinner and other Homecoming events, contact Lori Bobo of the Alumni Affairs Office at 601.925.3252 or lbobo@mc.edu.

Photo: Harvard Medical School professor Dr. John Weisz, co-recipient of the Mississippi College Order of the Golden Arrow Award.