MC Graduate Dean Debbie Norris is Top 50 Business Leader
July 17, 2009Debbie Norris is a successful administrator, top-notch professor and much more at Mississippi College.
For all her hard work at her alma mater, the Madison County resident is gaining recognition as one of Mississippi's 50 leading business women. The Mississippi Business Journal recently recognized Norris and 49 others for their distinguished service to the state.
Now in its 13th year, the statewide recognition from the weekly business journal headquartered in Jackson is the latest honor for Norris. As the Mississippi College graduate school dean and vice president of planning and assessment, Norris is one of the key leaders on the Clinton campus.
As a dean, Norris oversees over 40 graduate school programs. As a vice president, she's responsible for the assessment of each academic and administrative office and coordinates the university's strategic planning. She's a vital member of the President's Council at a growing university with nearly 5,000 students.
With all that Norris does, including teaching business communication classes in MC classrooms and on-line, including higher education classes, it's amazing that Norris still finds time to play golf. Somehow, she manages to get away for lunch with colleagues in the MC cafeteria. Always on the go, Norris is a frequent flier with MC groups to Italy and other nations.
Norris, who received her bachelor's degree at Mississippi College in 1979, has also spearheaded MC's retention efforts in recent years. She's also the go-to administrator who's leading the team on campus as the Christian university gears up for future accreditation visits. Norris regularly takes on many tasks as a church volunteer in Madison County.
The recipient of a doctorate from the University of Mississippi, Norris is in good company as she joins a list of stellar business women. The Mississippi Business Journal's Class of 2009 includes former Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck, who works at her alma mater, Mississippi State University. Notables recognized in previous years include Liza Looser, the CEO of the Cirlot Agency and the late Melia Peavey, a longtime leader with Peavey Electronics.
Ed Darling, editor and publisher of the "Mississippi Business Journal," calls the Class of 2009 a "remarkable group of women," as they join a "distinguished list of previous winners."
The award, he said, recognizes the contributions and talents of the Magnolia State's leading 50 business women. "It also creates a unique network of new friends that will last for years to come."
Members of the group will be honored August 13 at Hinds Community College's Eagle Ridge Conference Center in Raymond. The program will go beyond an awards ceremony. There will be time for seminars, networking and other activities. On the evening of August 12, the women will be honored at the Governor's Mansion and then gather for dinner at the Fairview Inn.
MC colleagues are not surprised to see Norris in the Mississippi Business Journal spotlight in its July 13-19 edition.
MC music professor and piano accompanist Carol Joy Sparkman worked with Norris when she was playing hand bells at Parkway Baptist Church in Clinton about a decade ago. "She is multi-talented and versatile," Sparkman said." There is no reason why she shouldn't be named. She always wants excellence in everything she does."
Norris is "very detailed and very organized," said Ken Gilliam, MC director of continuing education. "Everybody looks up to her." He's worked with Norris since 1998.
"She motivates others by her tremendous work ethic and willingness to do more than is required in all situations,'' said professor Tom Williams, who heads MC's educational leadership department. "Dr. Norris is well respected by the faculty and student body at Mississippi College,'' he said.
"That is quite an honor - we're very proud of her," said Steve Stanford, vice president for administration and government relations.
Gilliam was delighted to see his wife, Vicki, a former MC professor who's now an attorney, gain the honor in "Mississippi Business Journal" two years ago.
By all measures, Norris is an excellent addition to the group, MC leaders say.
Norris is very pleased to be recognized. But she said much of the credit goes to MC School of Nursing Dean Dr. Mary Dean Padgett for nominating her. "This action reminds me how important it is to reach out to other women and help them like you've been helped," Norris said. "There's probably no greater feeling."
The list of 50 will get narrowed to one early in the new year. On January 14, 2010, the Mississippi Business Woman of the Year luncheon is set. All 50 women and their guests are invited. No matter who gets the title, Norris is a clear winner year-round at Mississippi College.
Photo: Dr. Debbie Norris