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Educational Leadership Coordinator Ruthie Stevenson Retires at Mississippi College

MC education professor Ruthie Smith Stevenson
MC education professor Ruthie Smith Stevenson

Ruthie Smith Stevenson feels blessed to lead Mississippi College’s first doctoral program on the Clinton campus.

But her outstanding service as coordinator of MC’s innovative educational leadership program comes to an end soon. Dr. Stevenson is retiring this Spring. The graduate program represents one of the milestones spanning her celebrated 50-year education career.

“God guided and directed me through every step I took to begin the program,” says Stevenson, an award-winning education professor. More than 60 students earned MC doctorates in educational leadership over the years. The program enrolled its first students in January 2008.

As a result, many Mississippi College graduates climbed the ranks to hold top leadership posts in school districts and universities. Stevenson deserves much of the credit as the program coordinator from day one. Its bold vision is “to produce the best prepared education leaders in the history of Mississippi.’’

For a dozen years, the program based in Lowrey Hall helps educators in K-12 schools become more successful leaders. Candidates start the classes with educational specialist degrees.

Along the way, educators learn more about school management practices, ethics, finances and other skills to strengthen leadership abilities. There are about 75 doctoral students presently enrolled. Six students are expected to graduate this Spring. They include two students from Saudi Arabia and one from China.

With MC’s classes switching to online formats due to the COVID-19 crisis, Stevenson is wrapping up her 15th year as a professor at the Christian university.

The Jackson State University graduate began her career as a junior high teacher in the Jackson public schools.

“I loved the challenge of teaching adolescents. And I loved the challenge of working with graduate students.”

Stevenson first joined the Mississippi College faculty in 2003 as an adjunct professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Leadership. The Mississippian taught a graduate-level course in school and community relations. She is teaching the class for the last time this semester.

Retiring as a full-time professor won’t be easy. “I have enjoyed working with a fantastic, committed and caring group of professionals at Mississippi College.”

From School of Education Dean Cindy Melton to department heads, faculty and support staff, everyone encouraged Stevenson to excel. On four occasions, Ruthie was selected to represent the School of Education as its Distinguished Professor.

“I greatly admire her passion and commitment to her profession, her students and the university,” Melton said. “It would be difficult to find someone who works harder than Ruthie!” The MC dean commends Dr. Stevenson as a “great team player” and a strong advocate for teachers, administrators and the education profession.

Her educational journey transported her from classroom teacher to assistant principal. The former assistant superintendent switched gears to become a Mississippi College professor.

“God has led, guided, and directed me through each and every position,” Stevenson said. “As I prepare to retire, it was at Mississippi College that I truly realized that I had fulfilled God’s plan for my life. He has provided me with the courage, patience and strength to overcome those times when I faced setbacks and wanted to give up.”

During her retirement years, Stevenson will work with doctoral students in an adjunct role. She enjoys laboring in the garden of her Clinton home. Ruthie looks forward to spending more time with family, including her 94-year-old mother.

Stevenson earned four degrees at Jackson State University, from her bachelor’s to her doctorate. A member of New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson, the Mississippi College professor often volunteers at food pantries and with various service projects to benefit her community.