Mississippi College

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant Teaches Political Science at MC

February 27, 2008

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant will soon utilize his decades of experience in state and national politics to return as a part-time faculty member at his alma mater, Mississippi College. He's expected to begin his new teaching duties by the summer on the Clinton campus.

"It is great to be part of such a fine Christian university," Bryant said Wednesday. "As an alumnus, I look forward to returning and serving as a faculty member and teaching what I love best, Mississippi political history."

One of three guest speakers at Mississippi College's "I Love America Day," a patriotic salute on campus last fall, Bryant was an adjunct professor a few years ago at MC when he served as state auditor. Again, politics was his field when he first taught at MC.

Bryant will assist with other MC efforts, such as helping with the Baptist-affiliated university's $65 million "Growing the Vision" campaign to boost scholarships, academic programs and building projects. The fund drive recently topped the $52 million mark. He is helping attract support for MC's annual scholarship banquet March 31. Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole is the keynote speaker.

MC leaders welcome Bryant in his new role.

"Phil is going to be a wonderful addition to our staff, not only working in institutional advancement, but also teaching classes for us in politics and history," said Ron Howard, vice president for academic affairs. "A superb student while at MC, Phil brings lots of book leaning and political experience to his teaching. Students of American politics will get the best insights from both worlds!"

A conservative Republican leader, Bryant brings a wealth of expertise to the classroom. The MC alum began serving his four-year term as lieutenant governor in January following his election victory in November to capture the statewide post and succeed outgoing Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck. In 2004, Bryant served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in New York City.

"Phil Bryant is one of the most gifted and devoted public servants in the state," said MC trustee Andy Taggart, a Jackson lawyer, former Madison County supervisor and veteran GOP activist. Having Bryant on MC's team is a real plus for the institution, added Taggart, a former student body president at MC and parent of an MC freshman. "I'm happy to know it. I'm delighted for MC."

"To have someone with his hands-on experience with government is a valuable asset," said Wayne Parker, vice chairman of the MC Board of Trustees. "This will be a real asset to MC."

A Moorhead native, Bryant was first appointed state auditor by the late Gov. Kirk Fordice in 1996 and was elected to the position in 1999 and again in 2003. During his service as state auditor, Bryant's office received more than $12 million in taxpayers' dollars that were embezzled or improperly spent. The auditor's office has the authority to audit about $11 billion of taxpayers' dollars annually.

A former Mississippi House member from Rankin County, Bryant is making his mark early as lieutenant governor. In January, he announced the initiative of live webcasting of daily sessions of the Mississippi State Senate. The partnership with Mississippi Public Broadcasting provides sunshine to the legislative process. The broadcasts will give Mississippi viewers the chance to see the 52-member chamber in action during their 2008 session. As lieutenant governor, Bryant is the chamber's presiding officer. He makes Senate committee assignments and is a key leader in the flow of legislation at the Capitol.

Bryant holds undergraduate degrees from Hinds Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi and earned a master's at MC.

Bryant isn't the only political player to join the ranks at 4,600-student MC, the state's oldest institution of higher learning with roots dating back to 1826 and the second oldest Baptist college in America. Former Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale, who stepped down in December as an MC trustee, recently began working for a Mississippi law firm. The Clintonian is also considering an offer to teach on a part-time basis at MC, his alma mater. Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove has taught classes at the MC School of Law in Jackson. MC alumni include five governors, four from Mississippi and one from Arkansas. Former Mississippi Secretary of State Eric Clark taught history classes at MC when he was a Mississippi House member.

The Mississippian is married to the former Deborah Hays of Jackson and they have two children, Katie and Patrick. Bryant is a contributing author of two books on government with an emphasis on financial management, human resources and technology. He's also active in the community and worked with such groups as Habitat for Humanity, Mission Mississippi and the Methodist Children's Home. The Bryants are members of St. Marks United Methodist Church.

PHOTO: Lt. Governor Phil Bryant

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