Mississippi College Faculty and Staff Salute President Lee Royce at Convocation
President Lee Royce received a standing ovation lasting longer than usual at Mississippi College. It was well-deserved as hundreds of MC family members applauded following his final speech at MC’s Fall convocation.
It was an acknowledgement Friday that faculty, staff, student leaders, alumni and others deeply appreciate Dr. Royce for his splendid service the past 15 years as the Christian university’s leader. In August, Royce announced he will retire in May 2018.
Royce used humor to lighten the mood during his August 18 address at Swor Auditorium.
Vice President for Academic Affairs Ron Howard highlighted the many accomplishments for Mississippi College under his tenure. Royce still has ten months left to do even more good things, he said.
But the president quickly set the record straight. He noted he’s only got nine more months left on the job in Nelson Hall. Then he joked about counting the days and even the hours left under his watch as leader of the 191-year-old university based in Clinton.
Under the Royce years, MC enrollment grew from 3,200 students in 2002 to 5,200 students in 2017 (61 percent growth). The university’s annual budget expanded from $38 million to $75 million during that time.
Faculty and academic programs made dramatic gains. The new Medical Sciences Building, modern University Place residence halls, and the return to NCAA Division II athletics, are all hallmarks of his administration. So are the tremendous number of student professions of faith in Jesus Christ.
During his remarks, President Royce thanked the Mississippi Baptist Convention for their $47 million in contributions to MC since 2002. He praised faculty, staff, students, alumni trustees, and his wife, Rhoda, for their assistance along the way to keep America’s second oldest Baptist college vibrant.
MC’s 167-year relationship with Mississippi Baptists has remained strong over the years. His prayer is that MC continues to strengthen its mission as a leader in Christian higher education.
Mississippi College family members extend their best wishes to Lee and Rhoda Royce (Team Royce) as they move to northern Virginia to live near their son, Mark Royce, a college teacher.
“Dr. Royce has served our campus as a steady and consistent leader,” said Annsley McRae, the Student Government Association president. “It’s shown both in numbers as well as the morale across campus. Dr. Royce always has the students’ best interest at heart.”
President Royce succeeded as “the steady hand that guided MC through some difficult economic times,” said political science professor Glenn Antizzo. “During his tenure, MC saw unprecedented growth in enrollment, the number of programs offered and the diversity of the campus.”
Dr. Royce “has been a faculty-oriented president from the outset,” added Stan Baldwin, dean of the School of Science and Mathematics. Both leaders worked closely to construct the Medical Sciences Building along College Street. They helped create the Physician Assistants Program at MC in 2011. It has now gained national accreditation.
With a growing national reputation, Mississippi College has been blessed with outstanding faculty members for generations.
At Friday’s convocation, retired professors Teresa Floyd (mathematics), Dean Parks (chemistry and biochemistry), Mary Libby Payne (law), Lloyd Roberts (business) and Bonnie Blu Williams (music education) were all recognized. The award-winning educators received the honorary title of professor emeritus. It speaks to their long and distinguished record of scholarship, teaching, research and service at Mississippi College.