MC Professor Judy Lewis Directs Mississippi Public Broadcasting
July 16, 2009Mississippi College communication professor Judy Lewis takes on a starring role as the new leader of Mississippi Public Broadcasting on August 1.
The Morton native will serve as executive director of a Jackson-based agency with its popular network of public TV and radio stations plus learning and community outreach services. MPB\'s TV signal reaches 2.2 million people. Its radio stations touch the lives of more than 127,000 Mississippians each week. The first TV show by the state\'s public broadcasting station aired in February 1970.
Last week, the MPB board selected Lewis, 59, to succeed outgoing director Marie Antoon, who is retiring from the full-time post after seven years. Its TV programs include the BBC News and those spotlighting the views of state lawmakers in the midst of legislative sessions. Its diverse menu of radio shows included "Money Talks," featuring MC business professor Nancy Anderson fielding phone calls on the economy to "Southern Remedy," with a panel of Mississippi physicians offering advice.
"I am first and foremost an educator," Lewis said. "Since education is at the heart of the mandate at MPB, I am very comfortable in accepting this challenge. MPB has a bright future, and I am humbled to have been selected to be part of that future."
During her 18-month tenure at MC, Lewis taught communication classes, and directed a number of theater productions featuring talented undergraduates.
Whether it was a comedy like "The Best Christmas Ever" or the saddest of tragedies, Lewis always brought a great deal of passion and professionalism to every performance at Aven Little Theater. During her undergraduate days, the Mississippi native was active in theater productions on the Clinton campus.
"Dr. Lewis is one of the most outstanding individuals to come out of the Communication Department at MC," said chairman Cliff Fortenberry. "Her students relate to how knowledgeable she is, how she cares for them and how they work diligently for her," he said. "MPB is extremely lucky to have her as its director."
Added Fortenberry: "We will miss her since her love of life, her love for the Communication Department at Mississippi College and her love for others makes her impossible to replace."
Lewis was very much a hands on person when theater productions rolled around at her alma mater. At her office jammed with books, she would calmly handle a constant barrage of phone calls from MC theater patrons seeking to buy tickets to the 90-seat theater with the night\'s performance hours away. At other times, she would work patiently with children from Jackson area schools who were nervously rehearsing their lines. Her job at MPB is full-time, so somebody else will fill in to direct productions during the 184th academic year on the MC campus.
"We wish Dr. Lewis well and appreciate her wonderful service to Mississippi College," said Ron Howard, vice president for academic affairs. "She is the consummate professional whose love of learning and proven managerial talent means that Mississippi Public Broadcasting is in affectionate and very capable hands."
Before returning to MC, Dr. Lewis served with the United Nations World Food Program\'s U.S. Relations Office in Washington. In that capacity, she was overseeing emergency operations in ten African country offices, while working with a staff helping 12 million hungry people. She\'s also served as a professor at Troy State University in Alabama. She\'s traveled much of the globe during her career.
Lewis received a doctorate in higher education from the University of Mississippi. Her bachelor\'s and master\'s degrees in education and speech communication came from Mississippi College.
MC communication professor Phyllis Seawright, who also serves as a director of student productions, believes her departing colleague will inspire many others as she did at her alma mater. "Working with Judy was one of the best experiences of my academic career."
MPB chairman Perry Sansing said Lewis "brings significant leadership and management ability to this position, as well as an enthusiasm for public broadcasting and its mission in Mississippi."