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MC’s Faculty Development, Evaluation Committee Chair receives Carol West Faculty Advocate Award

Retha Price, recipient of the 2023 Carol West Faculty Advocate Award, says teaching at a Christian university is a blessing that she doesn't take for granted.
Retha Price, recipient of the 2023 Carol West Faculty Advocate Award, says teaching at a Christian university is a blessing that she doesn't take for granted.

Some committee members have a gift for conceiving transformative ideas that can enrich an institution for generations. Others have the foresight and savvy to convert those concepts into tangible results that can produce greater outcomes than originally expected.

As co-chair of the Faculty Development and Evaluation Committee at Mississippi College, Retha Price has demonstrated a knack for nurturing discussions on issues important to faculty advancements – such as the need for faculty development funds and faculty development events – and infusing them with greater organizational awareness.

Price’s advocacy on behalf of MC faculty during her three years of committee leadership earned her the institution’s coveted Carol West Faculty Advocate Award.

The associate professor in the School of Business received the honor during MC’s 37th annual Retirement and Service Year Celebration April 27 in Anderson Hall. The award is named for the late MC Law professor and expert in domestic relations, women’s issues, and crime, who was a distinguished and beloved faculty member on the campus in downtown Jackson.

“Like anybody who has received this award, it’s an honor to be recognized for being an advocate for the faculty,” Price said. “There are a lot of others on campus who have done more than I have, but I am excited to have received it.

“My committee members have great ideas. I’m just an implementer of their great ideas.”

That may be so, but Price’s colleagues understand how indispensable she is. During the recent transition to a Faculty Senate, Price’s committee absorbed university-wide faculty development efforts.

“She has spent countless hours advocating with administration for the ongoing need of support for faculty to develop their skills in teaching, research, and service – all in the pursuit of academic excellence at MC,” said Tammy Arthur, professor of management in MC Business and Price’s “suitemate” in the school. “She has streamlined the grant process, overseen the dispersal of funds, and coordinated several university-wide events.

“She works tirelessly to make each faculty development event the best that it can be, from designing the promotional materials to working out the program to ensuring that the covered topic is of interest to all faculty. I believe that she embodies the spirit of Carol West and is incredibly deserving of this honor.”

Another of her fans is Marcelo Eduardo. The MC Business dean said Price represents the type of faculty member that makes Mississippi College and the School of Business unique.

“Not only is she a wonderful teacher who is always recognized for the immense care and support that she has for her students, but this wonderful attribute also translates into the same support for her colleagues,” Eduardo said. “Having chaired the School of Business Faculty Development Committee for a number of years, we have all benefited from her insightful approach to providing programs that greatly contribute to our business faculty effectiveness.

“The fact that such leadership now also extends to the University’s faculty development is a blessing for all of us.”

Price received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from Mississippi State University. While finishing her Ph.D. in business administration at MSU, she sought a place to teach while completing her dissertation. Her classmate, Randall Robins, who was on faculty at MC, suggested she try the Clinton campus.

Mississippi College provided her first full-time position. After serving as a professor of marketing at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton and at Belmont University in Nashville, she and her husband, Brian, returned to Mississippi, and Price rejoined the MC faculty full-time in 2009.

“Just to teach at a Christian university is a blessing that sometimes we take for granted,” Price said. “You have a chance to share your faith. These students are at a critical stage of their lives, and you have the opportunity to pour into them. You don’t get that opportunity at every university.

“The School of Business has some of the brightest, highly motivated students. Every student I’ve had in class has been respectful. We have a lot of team projects in marketing, and our students work to help one another. I’m impressed by their maturity and their calling to service of other people.”

Price got her start in faculty development by chairing the School of Business Faculty Development Committee, a post she has maintained since 2015. Her success leading that committee paved the way for her leadership role on the University’s overall Faculty Development and Evaluation Committee, which works with MC administration to ensure funds are available to supplement departmental faculty development initiatives.

“We want to make sure there is money for faculty to attend and present at conferences, attend workshops, or continue their research,” she said. “We promote the availability of these faculty development grants and then review the grant applications sent in by faculty.

“If any faculty member is interested in applying for a grant for next year, there is information about the grant application process on the Faculty Development and Evaluation webpage.”

One of the committee’s most recent innovations is the “Meet MC: Faculty Showcase,” a series of open house events hosted by each school across campus.

“It will provide a setting where schools can share information about their departments, their areas of expertise, and what they are doing in the classroom or in research,” Price said. “It also will provide a way for faculty across campus to meet one another.

“This forum is important because we become better teachers and professors when we learn from one another.”

She said understanding one another is a major component to success in education – and a foundational principle of her specialty.

“A key to success in marketing is understanding your customers – what’s important to them, what their needs are, what they want – and developing a product or service that satisfies those needs and wants,” she said. “Doing your best to effectively communicate that to them is important. Marketing is not about pushing things onto people that they might not want or manipulating people, but really trying to serve the needs of others.

“Successful companies are those that have worked to serve their customers the best. That meshes well with what Mississippi College is all about.”

Price and her husband have lived in the same country home in Madison that they built when they returned to Mississippi. Brian is a network security analyst for Entergy, and they have three adult children: the oldest, Will, is a University of Mississippi Pharmacy School graduate who lives in Austin; middle son, Max, is an MC marketing graduate (“I had him in a couple of classes when I was the only one teaching that particular topic, which was a strange experience,” Price said); and their youngest, daughter Claire, is at MC majoring in biology. The family attends Pinelake Church in Madison.

Price said receiving the Carol West Faculty Advocate Award was special, but every day at Mississippi College is the highlight of her career.

“I have a fantastic dean and I get to work with people I like and admire,” she said. “We’ve got such smart, gifted teachers here who are dedicated to their students. They’re people you love to be around.

“You would be friends with them, even if they weren’t your colleagues.”