Mississippi College

Opening of Medical Sciences Building and New Academic Programs Emerge on MC Priority List

January 2, 2013

In early 2013, Mississippi College leaders anticipate the opening of an innovative medical sciences building that will serve the needs of students for generations to come.

Getting the building ready to house spring semester classes starting in January will be among the major priorities for the Christian university in the new year. Launching new academic programs, bolstering the institution’s rising reputation nationwide, adding to on-line classes, and expansion of courses at the Flowood Center are other key initiatives being addressed at MC in the coming months.

Adjacent to the Hederman Science building, the medical sciences complex will include a cadaver lab, histology lab, two spacious lecture halls, four faculty research labs, faculty offices and more when the facility opens its doors.

For both undergraduates and graduate students, the impressive complex along College Street will be a tremendous asset to enhance the quality of their instruction, school leaders say.

“For undergraduates and graduate students, this will be a huge recruiting tool,” says Dr. Beth Dunigan, associate chair of the Department of Biological Science. “We are all very excited about having the extra classroom space. There will also be additional research opportunities.”

Students trained in the human gross anatomy lab will be getting first-rate medical school experience on the Clinton campus, she said. The building will accommodate 21 full cadavers that will prepare students entering medical school and healthcare careers.

Ted Snazelle, who’s taught biological science at MC for the past 33 years, says the building will clearly make Mississippi College’s facilities in that critical field “second to none” in the region.

The 20,000-square-foot medical science facility was a major part of the university’s construction boom in 2012, but it’s just one of a number of things on the agenda for President Lee Royce and colleagues as 2013 begins.

On the academic front, look for Mississippi College to offer a new master’s in addiction counseling in the School of Education, revamp the curriculum of the Art Department with a bachelor of fine arts degree and expand Flowood Center courses. Classes in New Testament, international business and sociology will be offered for the first time on Saturday mornings at the center near the Dogwood mall in Rankin County.

In addition, MC keeps growing its Physician Assistant Program, now with 60 graduate students, with 30 more arriving in May at its headquarters, the Baptist Healthplex. Training professionals to work under the supervision of physicians, the program works with the University of Mississippi Medical Center, hospitals and clinics in the region. The P.A. program is the only one of its kind in the Magnolia State.

“All together, Mississippi College is moving on every academic front,” says Vice President for Academic Affairs Ron Howard. The efforts include creation of a new Teaching and Learning Center at the Leland Speed Library. It is designed to encourage faculty to keep pace with learning technology and provide more tutoring assistance for students.

“Our objective is to strengthen MC’s well-known reputation for student learning in an ever growing number of disciplines,” Howard said. “The university is dedicated to its focus on faith for living and learning for life – for our students.”

With 5,145 students – a 60 percent growth rate since 2002 – Mississippi College is receiving positive national attention. “U.S. News & World Report” listed MC among the South’s top 30 regional universities in September 2012. But in an age of fast-changing technology, nobody is sitting still.

MC is beefing up its on-line classes by about 20 percent yearly, with many of the courses on computer designed to meet the needs of working adults. A number of MC programs utilize a hybrid format that allows students to come to class at certain times, while remaining weeks are devoted to on-line tasks.

Presently, Mississippi College offers undergraduate on-line programs in RN-BSN nursing, paralegal studies and communication. For graduate students, MC offers on-line master’s programs in higher education administration, teaching arts, health services administration and communication.

This spring, Mississippi College kicks off its U-Research initiative, the information literacy program over the next five years. Also dubbed the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan, it will emphasize critical thinking, problem solving, research and writing plus oral presentation skills as the institution accelerates steps to strengthen student learning.

Students will enjoy the benefits of another MC initiative. By February, work crews will finish construction of new “hangout space” for students that gives them a spot in the former bookstore in Alumni Hall to watch TV, sip coffee and relax between classes.

Away from the classroom, Mississippi College leaders will await action by the NCAA in July 2013. MC seeks to return to NCAA Division II status in athletics and be a member once again of the Gulf South Conference. If approved, the proposal would allow MC, now an NCAA Division III school, to offer scholarships to athletes and compete again in the same conference with former GSC rival Delta State. West Alabama, Valdosta State, Union University in Tennessee, Shorter University in Georgia, West Florida, and North Alabama are among other GSC schools in the South.

MC is now a member of the Texas-based American Southwest Conference, and a proposed switch to NCAA Division II would greatly reduce travel time for the university’s student-athletes. Mississippi College presently competes in 15 NCAA sports while also hosting the club sports of bass fishing, clay shooting, equestrian and the number two ranked table tennis team in the nation.

“While these are challenging and highly competitive times for higher education and we have a full agenda, we do believe we have much good to accomplish as we continue to experience God’s blessings,” President Royce said. “We remain grateful for the support of so many friends, alumni and the Mississippi Baptist Convention as we head into a new year.”

Photo: MC President Lee Royce

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