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Outstanding Character, Distinguished Service Earn Trustmark Retail Banking President MC's Alumnus of the Year Award

Art Stevens, the 2023 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year at Mississippi College, credits all of his accomplishments to
Art Stevens, the 2023 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year at Mississippi College, credits all of his accomplishments to "God’s grace and to the investment of many others – many of those from MC."

When Dr. Lloyd Roberts recommended Wayne Arthur “Art” Stevens ’86, ‘89 for a position at Trustmark more than three decades ago, the former vice president for business affairs at MC told the young Mississippi College graduate that he would one day become a president at the banking institution.

Roberts’ remark would prove prophetic.

Now president of retail banking at Trustmark, Stevens has made quite a name for himself in the financial services industry. With more than 35 years’ experience, he has enjoyed the customer-service side of banking in a variety of capacities and locations.

His unique perspective on the fundamental role banks play in developing the local community has made him an appealing speaker on topics ranging from leadership to careers to the latest outlook for the economy. The National Alumni Association at Mississippi College has taken note of Stevens’ expertise in the industry and has selected him as Mississippi College’s 2023 Alumnus of the Year.

The award expresses recognition and gratitude to MC and Hillman College alumni who have rendered distinguished service to their college, church, and community. Mere prominence is not a criterion – the award is limited to those who, through a long period of years, have worked with marked intelligence and success to promote the highest interests of Mississippi College and their home communities.

Stevens and other outstanding MC alumni selected for major Homecoming awards in 2023 are scheduled to be recognized during the annual Alumni Association Awards Brunch from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Anderson Hall on the second floor of the B.C. Rogers Student Center.

“I am extremely humbled to receive the award,” said Stevens, who obtained his B.S. and M.B.A. from Mississippi College before completing the programs of Leadership Mississippi, the Mississippi School of Banking, and the Graduate School of Banking of the South at Louisiana State University. “I truly believe that anything I may or may not have done is due to God’s grace and to the investment of many others – many of those from MC.

“Mississippi College has meant so much to me as a firm foundation for everything I’ve done since.”

Roberts said the Alumnus of the Year Award helps validate his initial assessment of the Ridgeland resident and School of Business whiz.

“Art was a very promising student,” Roberts said. “He performed well academically, but had leadership qualities that were rare for a person his age. He was president of the student body, and he demonstrated the wherewithal to handle difficult situations. He was intelligent, a person of good character, and presented himself well.

“All of these things were obvious to me, and it was apparent to me that this quality person would do well in life.”

The exceptional instructor and his star pupil have maintained a strong relationship for many years. Stevens credits Roberts for helping guide him toward a successful career track.

“Dr. Lloyd Roberts was not only the person who influenced me the most academically, he probably had more impact on my life than anyone else who wasn’t family,” Stevens said. “Not only was he a great professor, he had the ability to inspire me to work harder than I thought I could.”

In turn, Stevens’ hard work inspired others. Marcelo Eduardo, dean of the MC School of Business, said he is one of the most accomplished graduates the school has produced.

“As the School of Business Alumnus of the Year in 1995, Art’s business talent and leadership qualities were already recognized by our faculty and evident in his rapid rise through Trustmark’s management ranks,” Eduardo said. “In his current position as president of retail banking for the entire bank, Art plays a critical role in managing the most visible business segment for one of Mississippi’s iconic institutions.

“I have known Art for over 25 years and while his business ability is indisputable, his character and interpersonal ability make an indelible impression. The School of Business at MC is simply blessed to count him as one of our graduates, and I am blessed to call him a friend.”

Donna Sharp, president of the MC Alumni Board of Directors, said Stevens embodies the tenets that the University and the board hold dear.

“Art is a person of high moral character, strong Christian faith, and has demonstrated significant service to MC and his community,” she said. “He is a donor to MC and serves as trustee. He had formerly served on the Alumni Board as well. He was the Young Alumnus of the Year in 1998, and he is very involved in community activities.”

Stevens’ connections to Mississippi College run deep: his great-grandfather, Dotson McGinnis Nelson Sr., served as president of the University from 1932-57. Although Stevens didn’t have an opportunity to know the skilled physics professor who guided MC through the Great Depression and World War II, he learned all about the University from his great-grandmother, Mary Nelson.

“I remember visiting her in Clinton as a child from time to time,” he said. “As someone who had grown up knowing about Mississippi College and being from a small town, I was drawn to the smaller setting of MC, coupled with the excellent academic reputation.

“I was fortunate that Coach Hap Hudson gave me the opportunity to work for him as a trainer for the football team. That opportunity made the option of going to MC affordable to me.”

“Art grew up in the right kind of environment,” Roberts said. “He could have been anything he wanted to be. He didn’t have an interest in politics, but how we could have benefited from him being governor of the state or something like that!

“He has character, and when he tells you something, you can rely on what he says.”

Stevens said he enjoyed serving in the Student Government Association at MC and developed some lasting friendships. He loved his classes in the School of Business, which provided a solid foundation to build his remarkable career.

“The School of Business does a great job preparing students for success in the business world,” he said. “All of the faculty and staff modeled a wonderful combination of excellence in their field plus a commitment to their faith.”

Stevens serves on a number of organizational boards and, in his leisure time, enjoys teaching Sunday School at First Baptist Church in Jackson. He cherishes family activities with his wife, Becky, and their three children: Carol Ann, Sam, and Mary Beth – all are graduates of Mississippi College, and all plan to be at the luncheon when he receives the Alumnus of the Year honor. His brother, Chip, and his wife, Sandra, also plan to attend the presentation.

“It’s always fun to reconnect with old friends,” Stevens said of MC’s Homecoming, which he attends often. “I have been fortunate to stay involved with Mississippi College by serving on several boards and committees through the Alumni Affairs Department and the School of Business. Currently, I serve on the Board of Trustees.

“I know of no other place a student could go to receive such an excellent education in a decidedly Christian environment.”

Tickets to the Homecoming Brunch cost $25 apiece, and RSVP is required. Click here to register or for more information.