Mississippi College

MC Hosts Higher Education Conference October 4-6

August 4, 2009

Mississippi College will welcome an outstanding lineup of speakers and leaders from institutions statewide for the annual meeting of the Mississippi Association of Colleges and Universities this fall.

Among the speakers on the Clinton campus: Belle S. Wheelan, president of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The 76th annual conference will run from Oct. 4-6. MC President Lee Royce, who serves as 2008-2009 president of the organization's board of directors will welcome the visitors with remarks Monday Oct. 5.

Founded in 1921, the group promotes goodwill among the state's private colleges, community and junior colleges and public universities. The MAC organization offers an opportunity for all sectors of Mississippi higher education to network, share concerns and discuss common goals. "Advancing on opportunities" is the theme for this year's conference.

Wheelan is a highly regarded leader in higher education circles nationwide. At her post in Georgia, she is the first African-American and first woman to serve in this capacity. Her career spans 35 years, including service as a community college president and state secretary of education in Virginia.

Wheelan is booked to speak at the conference Oct. 5 at 10:30 a.m. She received her bachelor's degree at Trinity University in Texas, a master's at Louisiana State University and doctorate in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin.

Other speakers Monday include: coach Corky Palmer. The Hattiesburg native took his University of Southern Mississippi baseball team to the College World Series in Omaha earlier this year. The coach retired soon after that to end his storied career on a winning note. He finished 31 years of coaching in the spring. USM's baseball team finished with a 40-26 record or good enough for 8th best in the nation, polls show.

"Corky will go down in the record books as one of the most successful coaches in any sport at Southern Miss," said athletic director Richard Giannini. Palmer will continue to work with USM athletics in a part-time capacity to raise money for the baseball program and other projects.

Palmer will speak at the Halbrook Awards luncheon at noon on Oct. 5. The event recognizes the scholastic success of athletes and athletic programs at colleges and universities in Mississippi.

Also speaking that Monday for the opening plenary session at 8:45 a.m. is Bob Shireman, the deputy undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Education in Washington. At the huge federal agency, Shireman works closely with Martha Kanter, the undersecretary who oversees the department's post-secondary initiatives.

Other events include a reception at Providence Hill Farm, home of the MC equestrian team, and a golf outing Sunday Oct. 4.
There is much for the college and university leaders to talk about - including the financial challenges they all face due to the nation's recession. Other meetings will look at issues impacting women in higher education.

Among the visitors will be Dr. Dan Jones, a Mississippi College graduate who serves as the new chancellor at the University of Mississippi. Jones provided excellent leadership for years as vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the medical school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Also expected to attend is William Lewis, an MC graduate who is president of Pearl River Community College based in Poplarville.

East Central Community College President Phil A. Sutphin is expected to succeed Royce as president of the MAC board of directors.

Last year's 75th annual conference was held at Delta State University. Jackson State University and Ole Miss have hosted the conference in recent years. Mississippi College previously hosted the MAC meeting about a decade ago.

Photo: Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, president of Commission on Colleges of SACS

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