MC Announces 2008 Alumnus of the Year
September 26, 2008Edward McMillan bid farewell to most of his buddies at Kosciusko High when he arrived as a Mississippi College student in the late 1940s. A few hometown friends joined him at MC, but he soon discovered many of his new classmates were World War II veterans.
MC's Alumnus of the Year for 2008 for his notable contributions to his alma mater, McMillan will be part of a parade of 21 honorees spotlighted at a Homecoming luncheon Oct. 25 at the B.C. Rogers Student Center. The event begins at 11:30 a.m.
Early during his college days, McMillan, a 1950 graduate, soaked up war stories from Europe and Asia along with classroom lessons about history, the Bible, English, foreign languages, and much more. Today, he finds his alma mater is adjusting to the nation's challenging times - from the war in Iraq to economic problems at home.
"There has been a phenomenal expansion of academic programs," the Clinton resident says of MC academic offerings stretching from the law school in Jackson to a new doctorate in educational leadership.
A retired history professor and administrator at MC, McMillan stays in touch with the family at Baptist-affiliated MC during his frequent visits to the Leland Speed Library. His uses the library for his research as executive secretary and treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention's Historical Society. His wife, Carnette, a former law school librarian, is also a 1950 MC graduate.
"I was overwhelmed when I got the note from the president," McMillan said of his newest award. "I know so many others are worthy. I'm certainly honored to be selected," added the former vice president of graduate studies and special programs.
At the Saturday luncheon, Ennis Proctor, executive director of the Clinton-based Mississippi High School Activities Association since 1991, is sharing honors with another MC graduate, Gayle Long Wicker of Tupelo, the wife of U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker. Proctor, who lives in Clinton, received his first of three MC degrees in 1964. Both will receive the Order of the Golden Arrow award for their decades of service to the Christian university. In 1972, Gayle Long became the first woman to serve as student body president in MC history (the school was founded in 1826).
"Gayle Wicker has been actively involved in the life of Mississippi College since her graduation," President Lee Royce said of the former MC trustee and a founding member of the international student program committee. "MC appreciates her friendship and valuable service."
Other Clintonians are in the alumni spotlight at the awards luncheon. The Department of Communication is recognizing Mary Catherine Gentry, a member of the Class of 1951. A former professor of communication, Gentry lives in Clinton.
MC's teacher education leadership program is handing its top alumni award to another faithful Choctaw: Mike Jones, the MC athletic director and Hall of Fame basketball coach who stepped down as hoops coach last season. After 20 years of head coaching basketball experience, his junior college and four-year college combined record stands at 446-131 or a .780 winning percentage. Under his leadership, the MC athletic department raised millions. The new surface on the basketball court is named after the 1975 alum.
Department of Christian Studies is recognizing 1952 graduate Dr. Bill Causey with its award for distinguished service. A pastor at Parkway Baptist Church in Jackson from 1963 to 1989 and later executive director and treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, the Eagle Scout is a member of the Mississippi College Sports Hall of Fame.
The Award of Excellence went to businessman Wayne Parker, vice chairman of the university's board of trustees. He is CEO, and chairman of the board of the Jackson-based LifeShare Foundation. Parker contributed $50,000 to establish scholarships for Chinese students in honor of the late MC graduate student Lina Song. Parker also donated $30,000 to upgrade the sound system at Provine Hall after witnessing a memorial tribute to the 27-year-old native of China.
Parker and the LifeShare Foundation also added $50,000 for the scholarship banquet last spring featuring former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole. A University of Mississippi business administration graduate, the Ridgeland resident is an avid booster of Mississippi College year-round. He will serve as the MC trustees' new leader in the spring of 2009.
With his support of scholarships through the LifeShare Foundation, "Wayne's vision is to provide scholarship support to gifted and financially needy MC students who will make good alumni ambassadors for the university," Royce said. "We are deeply grateful to Wayne and Zita Parker for their growing support for Mississippi College."
Other award winners: 1994 graduate William Heath Hillman, a Hattiesburg lawyer, is the Young Alumnus of the Year. He received a law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore in 2002. He is with the firm Aultman, Tyner, Ruffin & Swetman, Ltd.
Other departmental awards go to: Benjamin Kyzar "Ky" Johnston, Class of 1998, from the Department of Art.Johnston is an assistant professor of art at Delta State University.
The Biology Department recognizes Dr. Barbara Proctor, a member of the Class of 1977. A 1977 MC graduate, and graduate of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, she is the Laboratory Medicine Director at Central Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
The Chemistry Department salutes Dr. Lewis Metts, Class of 1964. He is president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Taxology, Inc. He has more than 33 years of experience in management and chemistry.
The Computer Science/Physics Department is honoring Ann Tyson Speyer of the Class of 1983. She is the chief information officer for the Smithsonian Institution. She has been instrumental in bringing wireless internet access to the museums and gardens on the National Mall in Washington.
The Department of Kinesiology honors Dot Nixon, a member of the Class of 1968. Nixon works at the Baptist Children's Village in Coldwater.
The Music Department gives its alumni of the year awards to Russell and Melinda Kyzer, members of the Class of 1976. Residents of Cordova, Tenn. Russell and his wife, Melinda, have served as missionaries for many years with the International Mission Board. The Music Department names Andy Albritton, Class of 1999, as its Young Alumnus of the Year. Albritton is director of church choral publications at Alfred Publishing Company in California.
The School of Nursing's top graduate to be honored is Darlene Kilgore Ford Lindsey, Class of 1973. She's served as a nursing instructor at Southwest Mississippi Community College in Summit since 1993.
The MC Law School is spotlighting John F. England, Class of 1991, as its lawyer of the year. A 1991 MC law school graduate, he specializes in public finance, economic development, municipal bonds and taxation. He's been an adjunct professor at the law school. Christopher D. Daniel of the Class of 2002, is the Young Lawyer of the Year. A Brandon lawyer, Daniel is a partner with Deaton & Daniel, P.A. Marlena Powell Pickering is being honored by the MCSOL Black Law Student Association as its 2008 Young Lawyer of the Year. Pickering lives in Mendenhall.
MC's School of Business gives its No. 1 alumni award to Clinton resident and businessman Ben Walker, Class of 1969. Said Business Dean Marcelo Eduardo: "With his established track-record of success in the business world, Ben is an excellent example of entrepreneurial success for our current MC business students."
A parade, golf tournament, a Dixie Division table tennis tournament, a performance by the MC Singers and a Choctaws football game against East Texas Baptist University are part of a marathon of Homecoming events.
For more details on MC's Homecoming 2008 Oct. 24-25, call toll free at 1-866-232-3945 or go to the university's web site at www.mc.edu/alumni
PHOTO: Dr. Edward McMillan