MC’s Annual Retirement, Service Celebration to Honor Occupational Milestones, Departing Employees
Glenn Worley’s first assignment at Mississippi College was to renovate the first floor of Jennings Hall, one of the most beloved buildings on the Clinton campus.
To say he was immediately thrown into the deep end of the physical facilities pool would be an understatement.
Constructed in 1907 as the University’s first dormitory, the stately brick structure with a central courtyard had served as a women’s residence hall since Hillman College merged with MC in 1942. Administrators wanted to turn the former sleeping quarters into office space for Public Relations and the Department of English and Philosophy, so they tasked Worley with the responsibility.
“I always laughed when people asked how many folks worked with me,” Worley, director of facility planning and construction, said about his early days at MC. “I told them, ‘Me, myself and I – one person.’ I had a helper from time to time, like when we were hanging sheetrock, but otherwise, it was just me.
“Of course, after we got through with the first floor, they wanted me to do the second, so I did that, too.”
In his more than 40 years of service to the Christian University, Worley has contributed significantly to the construction of MC’s state-of-the-art facilities, including the cadaver lab – the gem of the Hederman Science Building – and the apartment-style residence halls of University Place – affectionately known as “the Pods” on MC’s East Campus.
“Being a part of those projects – working with the contractors and architects, bringing them to a finish, and everybody liking what they saw – was rewarding,” Worley said. “It was a challenge dealing with change orders and coming up with different ways to complete the projects on time and within budget.
“They were good jobs that turned out well.”
After fourteen-and-a-half years as pastor of First Baptist Church-Baton Rouge, Burn Page embarked on a new career at MC, enriching students with Biblical knowledge and equipping them to spread God’s word throughout their chosen professions.
Fourteen-and-a-half years later, he will begin a brand-new chapter as a retiree.
“I never asked God to call me away from First Baptist Church, but I asked Him to call me to something,” said Page, chair of the Department of Christian Studies and Philosophy at MC. “When I was offered a position at MC, a lot of young people were graduating high school and leaving the church. When I teach Old and New Testament, they hear things they never heard in Sunday school. I thought God might use me to help shape young minds and hearts and spirits.
“It was one more chance to grab them for Jesus before they go out into the world.”
He said it only took a short while to realize the difference between working as a church pastor and serving as a faculty member.
“As a professor, I get a new congregation every semester,” he said with a laugh.
Worley and Page are among more than 50 MC employees to be honored during the 2023 Faculty and Staff Retirement and Service Year Celebration at 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 27, in Anderson Hall in the B.C. Rogers Student Center. The 37th annual event will begin with a reception, followed by a formal program at 11:30 that will recognize those – like Page – who will be retiring, and their colleagues – like Worley – who have achieved milestone years at MC. The Van “Doc” Quick Staff Award and the Carol C. West Award will also be presented during the celebration.
Other retirees to be recognized during the event include Mike Boyd, physical plant supervisor, Bill Cranford, chief information officer, Bobby Franklin, associate professor of teacher education, Angela Kupenda, MC School of Law professor, Don Lofton, assistant basketball coach, Debbie Norris, associate provost and dean of the Graduate School, Harry Porter, professor of history and political science, and Randall Robbins, professor of business administration.
Among the longest-tenured service-year honorees will be Carol Barnes, professor of kinesiology, Mac Culpepper, telecommunications director, and John Travis, math professor (35 years); Penny McNair, kinesiology instructor, John Meadors, professor of English and philosophy, and Missy Wiggins, professor of computer science and physics (30 years); Cindy Bolls, transcript evaluator in the Registrar’s Office, Margaret Cole, executive assistant in the Office of the Vice President and Alumni Association, Eddie Mahaffey, professor of Christian studies, Mark Modek-Truran, MC School of Law professor, Denise Mummert, transcript evaluator in the Registrar’s Office, Ivan Parke, professor of Christian studies, and Vicki Williams, secretary in the Department of Communication (25 years); and Deborah Challener, MC School of Law professor, Ken Gilliam, continuing education director, Kevin Johns, men’s soccer head coach, Debbie Lenoir, financial aid counselor and registrar, and Michael Mann, professor of psychology (20 years).
But none of the honorees has served MC longer than Worley, who has not only built an impressive legacy at the Christian University – he is one. His father was director of the Physical Plant when Worley came on board as a contract laborer in May 1982. Worley never worked directly for his dad, but when the elder Worley retired in 1999, he was appointed to his father’s position two years later. He became director of facilities, planning, and construction in 2012.
“I’ve seen several administrations come and go,” Worley said. “I can’t believe I’ve been here this long. Mississippi College has been a good place to work, and the University has been good to my family and me.”
Worley has successfully managed day-to-day construction operations and long-term facilities planning at MC for decades. He admits the job has its challenges – “at a moment’s notice, somebody would want something, and you’d have to stop whatever you were doing,” he said – but his fingerprints can be found on every major campus construction project this century. It’s a never-ending job.
“Maintenance on the facilities happens during the summer, and we try to get it all done before the students return in the fall,” he said. “You hit the ground running when the students leave, and work around all the camps that come to campus during the summer. When Christmas is over, you start planning the projects for the upcoming year.
“It’s like a juggling act trying to get all of the planning done and bring all of the projects to a closure.”
What keeps him refreshed are the people with whom he gets to interact every day and helping to fulfill an important part of the University’s stated mission.
“There are some days that you bump your head at everything,” he conceded. “But the people, the atmosphere here, and knowing that you’re helping the University rise to the occasion are what motivate me. One day, I know I’ll have to give it up, but I will stick to it as long as I can.
“I love this place, and it will probably take a big stick to run me off.”
Page isn’t waiting for the stick – he is happy to be leaving the University on his own terms.
“I feel it’s time to turn things over to the younger generation,” he said. “I would rather leave when I can still communicate with students rather than stay and have people say, ‘I wish Page would get out of the way. He’s stayed too long at the dance.’”
He said his greatest challenge upon returning to academia was discovering the best way to impart his knowledge of Greek into his lessons.
“My Ph.D. is in Greek New Testament,” he explained. “It’s one thing to use your Greek in preparation for a sermon, but it’s another thing to teach it. There was a learning curve for me to get into teaching it, but the students who went on to seminary thanked me for what they got out of my Greek classes here.
“It was rewarding to know that they did learn something.”
Page has enjoyed an easy rapport with his students, some of whom have returned to MC as faculty members. He has been an advocate for young scholars throughout his MC career. As the interim pastor of Alta Woods Baptist Church, he led the congregation to establish a scholarship for Christian Studies ministerial students. The fund sits at $83,000, but Page has a larger goal in mind before he retires.
“I’ve asked the treasurer of the church if Alta Woods would be comfortable raising that amount,” Page said. “It would be rewarding if, during my tenure at MC and Alta Woods, we would provide over $100,000 for scholarships for students looking at various forms of ministry.”
Page met Wayne VanHorn, professor and dean of the School of Christian Studies and the Arts, when both were M.Div. and Ph.D. students at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Page credits VanHorn for providing an engaging atmosphere for Christian educators and students within his department.
“As a department chair, I couldn’t have asked for a better, more supportive dean and colleague,” Page said. “I value his friendship very much.”
Page plans to retire to his new home in the Smokey Mountains of northeast Georgia with his wife, Annice, do some bass fishing in nearby Lake Burton, and continue to remain close with their sons, Justin Page, a business graduate of Louisiana State University and the father of their grandchildren, and Dr. Brandon Page, an M.D. at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans.
His final semester at MC has been active. In addition to being recognized at the 2023 Faculty and Staff Retirement and Service Year Celebration, he was selected to present the Distinguished Lecture of the College of Arts and Sciences. He was recently invited to attend the president’s dinner for MC’s Mortar Board students.
“It’s interesting that these things are happening during the last year that I’m here,” he said. “I’m glad I’m leaving on these high notes.”
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