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John Travis Named Distinguished Professor of the Year at Mississippi College

MC Mathematics Department Chair John Travis

John Travis got a nice taste of life growing up around Blue Mountain College.

His father served as a Biblical Studies professor at the North Mississippi school for 32 years and preached at church revivals across the region. His mother worked as a librarian at the Baptist college and taught classes.

A bright high school senior, Travis earned a presidential scholarship to attend Mississippi College and excelled on the Clinton campus. The Clintonian continues to achieve as chairman of the Mississippi College Math Department. Dr. Travis recently received the Christian university’s Distinguished Professor of the Year Award.

Never easy as 1-2-3, his math classes are counted among the very best on the Clinton campus.

“I enjoy challenging my students and quite frankly having them try to challenge me back,” Travis said. “They don’t win very often – well never. But it’s fun to have the back and forth.”

Undergraduates soon learn his math classes stretch their minds a bit, but that’s never a bad thing. “Occasionally I will remind them that MC is focused on academic excellence.”

Mississippi College remains an attractive place for stellar high school students. Each year, about 800 students sign up for the Mississippi Science and Math Competition on the Clinton campus to earn MC scholarships. Professors like John Travis make the event a success.

His connections to professional organizations like the Mathematical Association of America make him a well-known leader in professional ranks. He served as chair of the group’s Committee on Technology in Mathematics Education from 2013-16. In addition, John is a nationally recognized leader in online learning.

His skills get “A” ratings on the Clinton campus where he’s chaired the Mathematics Department since 2004. He joined the department 30 years ago and hasn’t slowed down.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Ron Howard joins many MC colleagues saluting the able professor and mentor to students. He’s served on countless faculty committees.

“Dr. Travis is an energetic, enthusiastic proponent of teaching mathematics well,” Howard said. “He supports and encourages professional development with the faculty and supports the use of innovative technology in the classroom. He enjoys making mathematics exciting.”

The Mississippi College math graduate earned his master’s in the subject at the University of Tennessee and doctorate at Mississippi State University.

Away from the classroom, Dr. Travis and his wife, Ruth, a registered nurse and teacher, are active at Parkway Baptist Church in Clinton. John is an accomplished musician who plays in Parkway’s Instrumental Ensemble every Sunday. Travis is talented with the acoustic and electric guitar. He’s learning to play the mandolin.

At the Baptist Healthplex, folks may spot the Blue & Gold guy engaging in spirited racquetball games.

John and Ruth are proud parents of three children. Anna Kate is a math education MC graduate and Clinton Junior High math teacher. A May 2018 MC chemistry graduate, Sarah Grace Zetterholm works at the Engineering and Research Center in Vicksburg. Laura Joy, an incoming Clinton High senior, is an Arrows cross country runner.

Serving as president of the MC Faculty Club and Faculty Senate and leader of the university’s Federal Employees Credit Union, Travis relishes hard work. First arriving as an MC student in 1978, he quickly made friends. John was elected Freshman Class president. He’s pretty popular at MC today.

Mississippi College graduates Nathan Rector and his wife, Kaele, of Chattanooga, Tennessee (Class of 2015) met in the professor’s math class as freshmen. They love the smart math professor.

Nathan Rector notes the greatest compliment he can give Dr. Travis “is his impact is lasting through generations. His impact of faith, hope and of the love of Christ is demonstrated to others.”

Kaele Rector is equally impressed. “I find it so admirable that he stayed invested in my life and always greeted me with a smile. His office was open to ask for help or say hello. Dr. Travis genuinely cared about my life.”