Richard Aubrey McLemore
Born near Hattiesburg in 1903, Richard Aubrey McLemore was the son of public school teachers who rose up the ranks to become a college president. A physics major at Mississippi College, he returned to his alma mater in Clinton as an effective successor to President Nelson in September 1957. A former dean and acting president at Mississippi Southern College, Dr. McLemore proved to be a capable leader. He presided over a major building program at MC, including a new Leland Speed Library, Aven Fine Arts Building and B.C. Rogers Student Center. The university’s Provine Chapel was renovated and two new dorms were added: Latimer-Webb for women in 1961 and Whittington Hall for men one year later. Self Hall was constructed in 1964 to become the new home of the Division of Business and Economics. McLemore’s tenure in Nelson Hall began with a history-making moment – the first inauguration for an MC president on March 19, 1958. The event attracted such luminaries as Mississippi Gov. J.P. Coleman. Times were changing in other ways at a growing MC. A single campus night watchman was replaced by a campus security system. Academic reorganization was happening as well, with 24 departments organized into eight divisions in 1961. The most divisive issue facing the college during the McLemore era involved the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. McLemore advocated signing the compliance statement. It stated that USA institutions must sign it in order to receive federal funds beginning in 1965. While polls showed the majority of MC faculty and students favored signing the compliance statement, it was opposed by the Mississippi Baptist Convention in 1966. It led McLemore to resign as president and he stayed on through June 30, 1968. Before he stepped down, the Clinton Chamber of Commerce saluted Dr. McLemore as its inaugural “Citizen of the Year,” in 1967. The honor in MC’s hometown of Clinton continues today.