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President Lee Royce Thanks Mississippi Baptists

Mississippi Baptist Convention President Doug Broome of Natchez honors MC President Lee Royce with a resolution on Wednesday. Photo by William Perkins, Baptist Record editor

President Lee Royce spoke from the heart as he thanked Mississippi Baptist Convention leaders for their generous support of Mississippi College.

Retiring as MC president in May 2018 after 16 years of splendid service, Dr. Royce expressed his deep thanks to Baptist officials at the convention’s closing session on November 1.

Representing churches spanning the Magnolia State, Mississippi Baptists offered their prayers, acts of kindness, generosity and sense of unity that Royce says he will always appreciate.

“The greatest honor of my life has been to serve as a college president,” first at Anderson University in South Carolina and then at Mississippi College, Royce told the audience at First Baptist Church Jackson.

During his tenure at MC, enrollment grew from 3,200 students to nearly 5,200 today, while the annual budget nearly doubled to more than $75.5 million. The MC endowment shot up from $36 million to $80.9 million. What began as a $65 million Growing the Vision campaign for scholarships, academic needs, facilities and a bigger endowment produced $87.4 million.

During his administration beginning in 2002, there were over 1,100 MC students making first-time professions of faith to Jesus Christ. Over 5,000 Mississippi College students went on church mission trips in the USA and around the world.

Those are a few of the major achievements during the Royce administration. The 65-year-old Miami, Florida native and his wife, Rhoda, will retire to Northern Virginia to be closer to their son, Mark Royce, a college instructor.

Hundreds in the sanctuary at First Baptist Church Jackson gave Dr. Royce a standing ovation as he concluded his speech. Before he left the stage, President Royce received a resolution in his honor from Mississippi Baptists. Affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention since 1850, MC is America’s 2nd oldest Baptist college, with roots extending back to 1826. The college in Clinton survived the Civil War, the Great Depression and two world wars. MC Law School in Jackson became a key part of the university in 1975.

Before leaving the 182nd annual convention, William Carey University President Tommy King commended Dr. Royce’s sterling service to Christian higher education. It’s a record that extends back 33 years in senior management positions.

“All Mississippi Baptists are very aware of the outstanding job that Lee Royce has done as the leader of the oldest education institution in the state,” King said in an interview.

“People that have worked closely with him know his personal commitment to Christ,” King said. Royce, he added, has provided a Godly influence on other leaders in higher education for many years.

In his August 7 retirement message to the university’s community, Royce said, “We love MC and its people and have given our full devotion.”

In the audience for Royce’s remarks Wednesday were: MC Vice President for Christian Development Eric Pratt, Vice President for Advancement Bill Townsend and Jim Futral, the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board executive director-treasurer. University trustees are working with a national search firm to select a new president to succeed Dr. Royce.