Mississippi College

Mississippi College Opens New Academic Year

August 10, 2009

Mississippi College hosts the annual Backyard Brawl on Sept. 5 with rival Millsaps and welcomes more than 300 institutional leaders at a fall conference. The opening of an economic education center at its School of Business and a birthday celebration at Provine Chapel are other major developments during MC's 184th academic year.

Students begin classes on the Clinton campus Aug. 26.

Outside the classroom, the MC Choctaws will try to avenge last year's 42-6 football loss to the Millsaps Majors. MC's star quarterback Adam Shaffer, who was a standout at Jackson Academy, is bouncing back as a senior after injuries sidelined him for much of the 2008 season. Shaffer is seen as a top candidate for the 2009 Conerly Trophy that goes to Mississippi's best collegiate football player. The game at MC will also promote awareness for Community Action Rescue and Adoption, a no-kill animal shelter in Jackson. Kickoff for the Brawl is 7 p.m. at Robinson-Hale Stadium.

Starting this fall, supporters of America's second oldest Baptist college also have much to trumpet - the 150th birthday of Provine Chapel. Five special concerts are planned at Provine in 2009-2010 with the first an organ recital performed by guest artist Jeanette Fisher of Indiana University the evening of Sept. 15. The musical event is free.

A November 1 hymn festival and the annual Festival of Lights Christmas concert led by the Mississippi College Singers Dec. 3-5 are some of the other Provine concerts booked this fall. Two more Provine performances are set for the spring of 2010 as part of the building's birthday bash. A second hymn festival set for April 6 will close out the series.

Built in 1859-1860 at a cost of $25,000, Provine is "a Mississippi College icon,'' says retired art professor Kenneth Quinn. With its Corinthian columns out front on the Quad, Provine is MC's oldest building. Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright once called Provine Chapel one of the finest pieces of Neo-Grecian architecture he's ever seen in America.

Soon after Provine opened in 1860, the Civil War broke out and the facility's first floor was used as a horse stable by Northern General Ulysses S. Grant. Its upstairs was a hospital for his wounded troops. The chapel received $140,000 worth of renovations during its Centennial year in 1960, a major project of the MC Alumni Association. Today, Provine hosts about 20 weddings a year, and is home to the Department of Christian Studies.

The landmark on the Clinton campus is named for one of MC's early presidents, John William Provine, who joined the faculty in 1893 as a professor of natural science.

The historic MC chapel was the place for Clinton Baptists to attend church (in addition to the MC family) until the construction of First Baptist Church - Clinton in 1922. Founded in 1826, MC began its affiliation with the Mississippi Baptist Convention in 1850.

MC music professor Carol Joy Sparkman says she's eager for the concert series to start at the chapel. Fourteen of its original pews still remain in the balcony. The Yazoo City native performed there as a faculty member and as a student. She's won kudos as the piano accompanist for the MC Singers.

"These concerts will give me the opportunity to participate in different ways: as an audience member, a performer and host to incredible musicians,'' Sparkman said. "This slate of concerts is diverse and will have a wide range of appeal.''

For a complete listing of the concert series tied to Provine Chapel's 150th anniversary contact Linda Edwards of the MC Music Department at 601-925-3440. Information about Provine's history can be provided by Lynda Street of the Department of Christian Studies at 601-925-3218.

Among the first events of the new year will be move-in day on Saturday August 22 when hundreds of freshmen say goodbye to parents and make MC residence halls their home away from home. A Welcome Week from Aug 22-29 will feature everything from a volleyball tournament to an Aug 22 convocation for parents and new students at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Clinton. Other activities will take MC students to a Mississippi Braves baseball game at Trustmark Park in Pearl.

MC leaders are busy preparing to host the 76th annual Mississippi Association of Colleges and Universities conference on the Clinton campus Oct. 4-6. Speakers will include Belle Wheelan, president of the Commission on Colleges with the Georgia-based Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Former Southern Miss baseball coach Corky Palmer, who led the Golden Eagles to the College World Series in Omaha for the first time in school history in 2009, will be among the other speakers. MC President Lee Royce serves as president of the organization's board of directors. The group promotes goodwill and networking among higher education institutions in Mississippi. It allows school leaders from community colleges, private colleges and public universities to discuss common issues - from school finances to academics and athletics.

Enrollment is always a concern on campuses nationwide. MC enrolled a record of nearly 4,900 students in the Fall of 2008. It's too early to predict the exact count for this fall. MC vice president for enrollment management and student affairs Jim Turcotte says his colleagues around the nation are worried about America's recession and what it will do to enrollment this fall. He expects MC's totals will be close to last year's levels.

In recent weeks, MC's School of Business began its Center for Economic Education. MC's center is in partnership with the Mississippi Center for Economic Education housed on the Millsaps campus in Jackson. MC's School of Business opened the center with a workshop for Clinton public school teachers. MC seeks to promote a better understanding of economic education and host workshops and other programs for teachers in districts around Central Mississippi.

MC leaders are also delighted to see the Christian university nationally recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the Top 25 Best College Buys in America. MC landed in 24th place. One of America's premier business publications, Forbes looked at such things as "Who's Who in America'' citations, student and faculty awards, salaries and graduation rates and course evaluations.

The survey was compiled by Forbes and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. Such institutions as Florida State University and the University of Florida also made the top 25 list. Berea College in Kentucky was listed as No. 1.

Chad Phillips, executive director of enrollment management at MC, says the university's quality education at an affordable price, is what earned his alma mater in Clinton such high marks in the magazine.

At an MC orientation Aug. 6, the day the Forbes survey was released, incoming junior Erica Sutton said she was attracted to the university because of its Christian atmosphere and strong academic programs. A recent Holmes Community College honors graduate, Sutton will study graphic arts this fall at MC. "I think I'm ready for it,'' she said as her father, Hinds County Justice Court Judge Frank L. Sutton joined her on the MC campus.

Frank Sutton, who is also a pastor, said he likes her decision to attend MC because his daughter, a Forest Hill High graduate, will be close to his home in the capital city.

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