Mississippi College

MC Faculty & Staff Begin New Academic Year with Convocation

August 17, 2007

Mississippi College's growing enrollment, a $65 million fund drive, and new construction are all visible signs of steady progress the past few years, but the work is far from finished, President Lee Royce said Friday.

"There's much yet to be done," Royce said in a convocation speech to faculty and staff at Swor Auditorium to launch MC's 182nd school year.

MC's "Growing the Vision" campaign announced last fall has reached the $50 million mark, but needs to be completed, he said.

The campaign is designed for academic needs, student scholarships and building improvements. The MC School of Law, for instance, is spending $7 million to renovate its facilities in downtown Jackson, while the School of Business is undergoing improvements at Self Hall exceeding $1 million. Building a new theatre and international center are among other key projects Royce would like to see the college embark on in future years.

Enrollment has shot up by 33 percent - from 3,300 students in 2002. There were a record 4,162 MC students here a year ago at the Christian university, and that is expected to climb this year at least 7 percent. Royce, who's starting his sixth year as MC's leader, envisions an MC with 4,500 students someday, and perhaps as many as 5,000 to 6,000.

The growth at MC, Mississippi's largest private university and the second oldest Baptist college in America, is bucking trends showing flat growth or decreases of high school graduates in Mississippi and Louisiana, he said. There's been a steady growth of international students at MC, from ten a few years ago to 240 last year. That number is expected to climb to 300 or more for this fall.

In recent years, MC's financial situation has also made steady progress. The endowment stood at $32 million in 2002 and stands at more than $50 million today. Annual giving to the school has shot up from $5.5 million to more than $9 million.

But MC is much more than stronger enrollment and a brighter financial picture. MC is all about a strong commitment to academic excellence and the cause of Christ, Royce said.

MC trumpets itself as a Christian university that stresses service and maintains a close partnership with the Mississippi Baptist Convention, he said. MC also wants to be known as a place where its people share their Christian testimony, the president added.

Friday's gathering of hundreds of MC faculty and staff also drew a number of visitors to the Clinton campus, including retired employees, trustees, alumni and student leaders.

On Saturday Aug. 18, the MC family will gather again for a one-hour student-parent convocation beginning at 2 p.m. in the A.E. Wood Coliseum to welcome the start of a new academic year. Earlier in the day, students will move into residence halls. Classes begin Aug. 22 at MC.

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