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About MC

Lewis Nobles

William Lewis Nobles was an acclaimed research scientist and noted administrator at the University of Mississippi when he was selected in 1967 to become Mississippi College’s president. A Meridian native, Nobles served as leader of the Baptist-affiliated college beginning on July 1, 1968 and remained in office at Nelson Hall for a quarter-century. There was considerable construction growth during his administration. New facilities on the Clinton campus included Cockroft Hall, home of the School of Nursing in 1976, the A.E. Wood Coliseum in 1977, and the Lanier Physical Plant Building in 1970. One of the cornerstones of the Nobles era was the university’s acquisition of the old Jackson School of Law. It became the MC School of Law in 1975 with classes beginning on the Clinton campus. Mississippi Valley Gas Company donated its headquarters in downtown Jackson in 1978, and it remains the home of the MC School of Law today. MC Law’s national accreditation was a major achievement of the Nobles years. Dr. Nobles was also instrumental in the college signing the Civil Rights compliance agreement. That made it possible for the school to receive federal loans and grants for students, including a growing number of USA veterans. The creation of the MC School of Nursing starting in 1969-70 was another major milestone for the college under his leadership. It happened after the Baptist Hospital in Jackson announced it was ready to phase out its nursing school. Mississippi College graduated its first class of nursing grads in 1973, including Mary Jean Padgett, who became the MC nursing dean in 1995. There were other firsts during the Nobles era. Gayle Long became the first female student body president in 1972. Today, she’s the wife of U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker. The Mississippi College Sports Hall of Fame began in 1973. An annual gathering of the 50-Year Club (of graduates) took root in 1977. MC sports teams thrived during his administration, with the Choctaws winning the NCAA Division II football championship game on a snowy field in Florence, Alabama in December 1989. In 1974, the Lady Choctaws basketball team took 2nd place in the national basketball tournament. Enrollment during the Nobles years rose, and there were academic and financial gains as well. The number of both full-time and part-time students, doubled. The university’s endowment multiplied six-fold. Annual fund giving soared to 28 times what it had been in 1968. Active in Baptist life as a young man and as an adult, Nobles rose up the educational ladder in the Magnolia State and beyond. A 1948 pharmacy graduate at Ole Miss in 1948 with a doctorate at the University of Kansas in 1952, Nobles was awarded a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan in 1958-59. A former Ole Miss professor, he returned to Ole Miss as graduate school dean on the Oxford campus in 1960. Eight years later, the Board of Trustees selected the Mississippian to lead MC. His 25-year tenure spanned impressive gains for the college, but also was marred by controversy receiving national media attention towards the end of his administration. Dr. Nobles resigned in August 1993 with Dr. Rory Lee, vice president for institutional advancement and an MC graduate, named Mississippi College’s acting president.