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Mississippi College’s Longest-Tenured Employee, Banner Aficionado Earns DBT’s MVP Honor

MC President Blake Thompson and Stephanie Word, left, the last DBT's MVP recipient, present the award to Cindy Hampton, IT systems analyst.
MC President Blake Thompson and Stephanie Word, left, the last DBT's MVP recipient, present the award to Cindy Hampton, IT systems analyst.

Cindy Hampton was recruited to Mississippi College on the most memorable day of her life.

The Mendenhall native didn’t know much about the Christian University when she ascended the steps of Provine Chapel on her wedding day. Sometime between saying “I do” and enthusiastically posing for bridal photos, Hampton received an inquiry from Beverly Fortenberry, her downstairs apartment neighbor and secretary to the registrar at MC: would the recent Hinds Community College graduate consider working at a small, private college?

“I said I’d like to work anywhere,” Hampton replied.

Within days of returning from her honeymoon, she interviewed with Nan Sibley, MC’s registrar. A few days after that – on her 20th birthday, no less – she reported for full-time duty.

Forty-seven years later, she is currently the longest-tenured employee at Mississippi College.

She served 21 years in MC’s Office of the Registrar before switching careers – but not her employer – to information technology. Her extraordinary contributions to Mississippi College during the better part of five decades were celebrated Jan. 30 when MC President Blake Thompson surprised her with his Most Valuable Person Award for February 2024.

As the monthly DBT’s MVP recipient, the longtime IT systems analyst received a T-shirt, a parking spot of her choosing on campus for a month, a $50 gift card, and the right to display a bobblehead of Thompson with his famous golf cart.

Van Jones, MC’s chief information officer, said Hampton has been an invaluable resource within the department.

“Many faculty and staff seek her wise counsel on a regular basis because of her many years of experience working at Mississippi College, along with her in-depth knowledge of Banner and its related processes,” Jones said. “What truly sets her apart is her love for Mississippi College and the people that she serves each day.

“The Information Technology Department and Mississippi College have been blessed to have her for so long. She is truly worthy of being recognized as DBT’s MVP.”

Lloyd “Bo” Roberts, special projects manager in business affairs and Hampton’s faculty advisor in the School of Business, noted the impeccable reputation she had earned on campus during her earlier days in the Registrar’s Office.

“She was the most efficient person in the Registrar’s Office,” said Roberts, a faculty member at MC for more than 40 years. “She was always good at what she did. She had a reputation for accuracy - when you got information from her, you knew it was correct.

“To me, she was the most important person on campus because hers was the only telephone number I had memorized.”

While visiting with Hampton in her office in the Leland Speed Library, the former interim president of Mississippi College praised her resilience and dependability.

“Cindy was always professional and her job was critical,” he said. “We didn’t have computers at our desks back then. We had to check things manually, and you really had to know the catalog. Cindy was our source.

“It was very difficult back then, but if we had a question, we could call Cindy and get an answer. She had the information you needed.”

Hampton did virtually every job in the Registrar’s Office at one time or another – except the registrar’s. As assistant registrar, she became responsible for registration and performing degree audits. She worked with the deans and chairs on schedules and class sizes.

“I loved working there because I loved all the students and working with the faculty and staff,” she said.

She began retaking classes at MC in 1997 and, with Roberts’ guidance, became the first person in her family to earn a four-year university degree. MC’s “First Gen Student” logo is displayed prominently on her desk.

“I felt that was kind of a birthday present for my Dad,” she said. “He was able to attend my graduation.”

She served as project leader for the Banner Student module when the University acquired the state-of-the-art enterprise resource planning system for higher education. Her knowledge of the system was thorough – she eventually became project leader for all of the other modules that were subsequently implemented at MC, including finance, financial aid, and advancement.

Her expertise in Banner was so comprehensive that the Information Technology Department created the position of trainer to lure her away from the Registrar’s Office. The ploy worked: she has now spent the bulk of her career in IT.

“I was not raised in the tech world,” she said. “But I knew Ms. Sibley was about to retire, and I was interested in moving over to IT and learning something new. It was bittersweet, because my heart was still in the registrar arena.

“Banner was responsible for my career change. I was excited about the prospect of showing others how to engage with it. Whenever someone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I had always said ‘schoolteacher.’ I guess this was God’s twist on that: I teach, but not elementary kids – I teach adults. That’s probably a lot easier.”

She credits the encouragement she received from MC leaders for helping her build a remarkable career of service to the institution.

“The nurturing environment at MC helped you become a better person,” she said. “I met some fabulous, well-educated people who were so humble and willing to help. So many of them were mentors to me. They never made you feel like you couldn’t do something or weren’t smart enough.

“Just being around them and the sense of community and family they built here at MC made a difference to me through the years. It’s a great place to work and a great place to raise your children.”

Hampton and her husband, Donnie, who recently retired after a 42-year career at Puckett Machinery, have two grown children. Wes, their oldest, works for Irby Construction Company – he and his wife, Sarah, are the parents of two: Hayden Rae, 7, and Grange Scott, 4. The Hamptons’ daughter, Melissa Denson, has two degrees from MC. She teaches honors biology and has won five consecutive state championships as the head volleyball coach at Jackson Academy High School. Her husband, Josh Denson, is also an MC alum and played baseball for the Choctaws. He works for Irby Construction Company.

“Mississippi College has been my life,” Hampton said. “The family and Christian values have kept me here. I always tell people that God knew I wouldn’t have made it in the secular world. That’s why He sent me to Provine Chapel and why he put the people in my path to get me to Mississippi College.

“It’s my second home.”

Her faith has sustained her throughout her life and career. One of her “life verses:”

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

- Colossians 3:23-24

Her love for the University has made it hard for her to leave. She said retirement beckons – last September, she began working on a part-time basis – but she said there are too many projects that still require her assistance.

“The projects are still exciting,” she said. “We’re still implementing a lot of things in the Registrar’s Office. Banner has released new upgrades. We just flipped on the new Banner Web for Finance.

“How do you transition what you’ve learned in 47 years to other people?”

Hampton has earned several accolades during her decorated career. In 2007, she was named MC’s Outstanding Staff Member. In 2009, she was elected president of the Mississippi Banner Users Group and served on its board for 15 years. In 2022, she was recognized for 45 years of service to MC during the institution’s Faculty and Staff Retirement and Service Year Celebration. She regards the monthly DBT’s MVP Award as another highlight.

“It’s very humbling and I’m honored to get this award,” she said. “I feel privileged to work here. You stay because of the people – who you work with and who you become friends with. I’m very appreciative.”