Mississippi College

Mississippi College Board of Trustees Welcomes New Leadership

December 12, 2008

Snow, freezing rain and chilly temperatures didn't stop the Mississippi College Board of Trustees from taking care of important business.

Gathering for the last meeting of the year at the MC School of Law, the board named businessman Wayne Parker to serve as chairman for the next 12 months. The University of Mississippi graduate and Ridgeland resident is chairman and CEO of the LifeShare Foundation of Jackson.

Founded in 2000 by Parker and his wife, Zeita, the LifeShare Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of Mississippi's children and adults. Prior to that, he built a successful real estate development company.

Parker moved up the ladder as chairman after a year's service as vice chairman of the MC panel. The 30-member board oversees a school with nearly 4,900 students, Mississippi's largest private university.

After Thursday's meeting, Parker saluted the performance of businessman Roy Ward, his predecessor as chairman and outgoing secretary Jean Pittman Williams.

He welcomed other new board officers, including Jackson businessman Leland Speed and Dr. Sharon Martin of Jackson, who will serve as secretary. Speed is former executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority. Two of Martin's sons, Jacob and Aaron Graham, are MC graduates. Jacob attends the University of Mississippi Medical School, and Aaron is a freshman at Harvard University Law School. A third son, Caleb Graham, is a student at MC.

The addition of new MC board officers and the return of veteran members, such as Brookhaven banker Bill Sones and Robbie Cross of Ridgeland, will "bring historical and fresh insights" as the trustees face a number of challenges, Parker said.

During America's recession, the board will work hard to help complete the university's "Growing the Vision" campaign to boost academic programs, scholarships and campus construction needs, he said. The campaign goal was recently raised from $65 million to $80 million. The five-year effort should be completed by the end of 2011.

Other new trustees include the Rev. Gene Henderson, a pastor from Brandon and Beth Clay of Meridian. A longtime lobbyist at the Mississippi Capitol and a former state government administrator, Clay is a 1979 MC graduate. She once served as director of the former Mississippi Capitol Commission.

"MC has been richly blessed over the years by the service of dedicated trustees," said Ron Howard, vice president for academic affairs on the Clinton campus. "MC is in very good hands."

During their visit, MCSOL Dean Jim Rosenblatt gave the trustees an overview of the 545-student law school. Due to inclement weather conditions, Rosenblatt offered the board what he dubbed a "virtual tour" of the Jackson campus on East Griffith Street. MC President Lee Royce and a number of other MC administrators joined the discussions.

Rosenblatt said the new leadership selected by the board "is an exceptional group. They bring a wealth of experience to the table, and I know they will continue the tradition of strong leadership for the board as provided this year by Mr. Roy Ward."

The MCSOL dean noted two of the school's graduates, attorneys Hunter Lundy of Ridgeland and La'Verne Edney of Clinton are serving with the Board of Trustees. "They can offer a perspective and share insights that will be valuable and helpful," he said.

Despite the early December mix of snow and ice, MC law students took their final exams as scheduled. Some like first-year law student Cecilia Ndounda of Hayward, Calif. rarely get the chance to see snow. The San Diego State University graduate quickly grabbed her camera and shot pictures as snowflakes decorated the downtown campus and plopped on nearby cars Thursday morning.

PHOTO: MC Board of Trustees

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