Mississippi College

Mississippi College Supporters Salute Lee and Rhoda Royce

August 17, 2012

President Lee Royce deserves a great deal of thanks for his superb service to Mississippi College over the past decade, university supporters say.

“He is a wonderful servant of the Lord,” Mississippi Baptist Convention leader Jim Futral told hundreds of MC faculty, staff and alumni as the Christian university opened its 187th academic year. “Mr. President, thank you for coming to Mississippi and touching all of us.”

The former president of Anderson University in South Carolina, Royce has provided extraordinary leadership resulting in Mississippi College’s dramatic enrollment growth, the addition of new academic programs, a construction renaissance and a push to strengthen the institution’s finances, others say.

“His leadership has been bold and visionary,” says attorney Andy Taggart, the MC trustee who served as the program’s guest speaker on Friday.

A 1979 MC alumnus and former student body president, Taggart detailed a few of the accomplishments under Royce’s watch over the past decade.

--The operating budget of the institution is up by 70 percent.

--The university’s long-term debt has decreased by 90 percent.

--The MC endowment is up by 83 percent

--Graduate school enrollment has tripled.

Mississippi College saw its enrollment break another record last fall with 5,270 students taking classes, and that’s been up steadily from 3,227 students in the Fall of 2002. Founded in 1826, America’s second oldest Baptist college is also seeing its national reputation on the rise.

With Royce providing the leadership in Nelson Hall, Mississippi College is focused on its vision “to be recognized as a university known for academic excellence and commitment to the cause of Christ.”

It’s a task that takes hard work, and Taggart challenged the faculty and staff to work harder toward that goal as Dr. Royce begins his 11th year.

Taggart filled in Friday for Gov. Phil Bryant, an MC alumnus who attended a funeral for a close friend on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

After being showered with praise, Royce delivered brief remarks at the podium on stage. The Vanderbilt University graduate expressed his appreciation to Mississippi College trustees, the senior management team, faculty, staff and others for contributing to the university's success. “It’s been a wonderful ten years.” The MC president also thanked Jesus Christ for guiding him along the journey.

It wasn’t just Lee Royce who received recognition at Friday’s 90-minute program. His wife, Rhoda Royce, was also commended at Swor Auditorium for her devoted service to the university, her community, and to everybody that crosses her path. She’s faithfully served as a tutor to disadvantaged Clinton children and been a strong supporter of student activities on campus – from athletic contests to concerts.

Friday’s program also provided the opportunity for the MC family to welcome about 40 newcomers on the faculty and staff. The morning’s convocation was followed by a luncheon at Anderson Hall. President Royce and his wife, Rhoda, teamed up to slice a three-layer chocolate cake in their honor.

While Christian comedian Dennis Swanberg couldn’t appear on the Clinton campus, his large screen video was a hit with the audience. A former Baptist pastor in West Monroe, La., Swanberg did hilarious impressions of famous actors like John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, movie character Forrest Gump, and U.S. presidents including Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. They all offered their hearty congratulations to MC’s president.

Photo: MC President Lee Royce and Andy Taggart

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