Mississippi College | Beacon Magazine

Governor Jeb Bush Headlines the Spring Scholarship Banquet

The annual event raised $313,000 for Mississippi College

In his keynote speech at Mississippi College’s annual spring scholarship banquet, Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush managed to sound very much like a presidential candidate without tipping his hand as to whether or not he’ll seek the Republican nomination in 2016. Mississippi College President Lee Royce was the latest to pose the question at the March 26th banquet, which raised $313,000 for scholarships to Mississippi College.

“It’s best to make a decision at the proper time,’’ Bush said at a news conference prior to the March 26 banquet.

The younger brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H. Bush, Jeb Bush served as Florida’s 43rd governor from 1999 to 2007. In his remarks at the banquet, Bush made a strong pitch for America to strengthen its schools.

“It’s obvious that America needs to ramp up its schools at a time when only one-third of the nation’s high school graduates are ready for college or careers,’’ Bush said. “That’s not a definition of a great country.’’

Introducing the prominent Republican to the large crowd at Anderson Hall, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant noted that Bush has benefitted Mississippi by sharing his ideas about charter schools and other education reforms that proved successful in Florida. Many of those concepts now appear in Bryant’s “Education Works’’ initiatives before the state Legislature.

Governor Bush also touched on immigration, the future of the Republican party, and his famous political family. Earlier in the day, Bush spoke to hundreds of MC students at Self Hall, home of the Mississippi College School of Business.

“All of his points were interesting topics that need to be addressed in a future election,’’ said sophomore Megan Kaye Donahoe.

Speaking to the future of the Republican party, Bush said, “I think we need to be more positive, more hopeful, moreoptimistic, more embracing of the diversity of our country, and we need to listen to people and engage. We can’t just be against the president’s policies, for example. We have to be for things.”

Governor Bush is the latest in a lineup of luminaries headlining the annual scholarship banquet. Other speakers in the series have included former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, magazine executive Steve Forbes, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and former Vice President Bob Dole. Collectively, the scholarship dinners have raised more than $1.6 million to help academically talented students with financial need receive a Mississippi College education.