Mississippi College Welcomes Congressman-Elect Gregg Harper
December 3, 2008Congressman-elect Gregg Harper instantly won over Mississippi College crowds during a Christmas reception at his alma mater.
There was no chatter Tuesday about America's economic meltdown, global energy concerns or party politics. Instead, Harper and his wife, Sidney, both MC grads, received warm holiday greetings from admirers in the MC family.
With the MC vocal group Mixed Company supplying Christmas favorites, President Lee Royce and his wife, Rhoda, led a parade of well-wishers welcoming the Harpers at Alumni Hall.
When he joins other members of Congress at swearing-in ceremonies in Washington on Jan. 6, 2009, the 1978 MC graduate and Pearl lawyer will be up against enormous challenges. So will the new team led by President-elect Barack Obama.
MC supporters say Mississippi's new Third District congressman brings the right chemistry for the assignment on Capitol Hill.
"His education, his experience and his character make it clear that he is ready to tackle the difficult economic and foreign policy problems that beset our nation in this troubled time," said Ron Howard, vice president for academic affairs and a veteran political science professor. "I predict he will represent the Third Congressional District in Washington long and well."
A 1978 MC graduate who also holds a degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law, Harper worked in Republican Party politics for decades helping other politicians win elections. When Congressman Chip Pickering announced he was stepping down, Harper jumped in, prevailed in hard fought GOP primary battles and defeated his Democratic opponent to win the seat in November.
Stopping by the Christmas reception for MC faculty, staff and the new congressman, MC School of Law Dean Jim Rosenblatt said he's impressed with Mississippi's freshest face in Washington. "His political success didn't happen overnight, but represents years of toiling in the trenches, relationship building and active participation in organizations and activities," he said. "I am confident Congressman Harper will make his voice heard on behalf of the citizens of Mississippi."
Cindy Hampton, a staff member in MC's Office of Computer Services, got the chance to talk to Harper for a few moments near a feast of high-calorie Christmas goodies. Hampton said Harper told her "he is very honored to serve and knows there are many challenges ahead, but is ready to take them on. Congressman Harper was also complimentary of the upgrades that have been made to MC since his days as a student."
During his visit at the Baptist-affiliated university, Harper reflected on some of the fun times during his student days in conversations with old friends like Bill Townsend, vice president for advancement, and retired MC administrator Doc Quick.
Before he left the Clinton campus to continue to work on the transition to the job in Washington, Harper shook many hands, gulped a few sips of green punch and did some listening. "It's nice to know that Congressman Harper is a Christian and devoted to his church and our Lord," said art professor Michael Hataway. "My prayers and wishes go with him as he tackles one of the most difficult times America has ever seen," said the Raymond resident. "He has made MC proud for his accomplishments."