Saluting Faculty and Staff Retirees at Mississippi College
Cleaning dirty sinks in the Art Department, teaching students the gift of his craft and playing the bagpipes, Steve Cook shined as a Mississippi College professor.
A 1973 MC alumnus who’s aptly described as a Renaissance man, Cook served as the Christian university’s distinguished Professor of the Year in 2015.
But his “great ride” as an MC educator for 34 years ends in May when the Mississippian retires.
“Along the way, I have had the enormous privilege of helping students to know more, do more and be more,” Cook says. “The stories are endless.”
The talented art professor will spend more time with his wife, Jeanne, a newly retired Hinds Community College English and French teacher. Residents of Jackson’s diverse and artsy Fondren neighborhood, the Cooks will spend more time in their studio.
At his alma mater, Cook taught studio classes in drawing, painting, photography, design and printmaking. He served on the Publications Council as an adviser to the school yearbook “The Tribesman.”
Steve’s creative works were displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Meridian Museum of Art and Mississippi Museum of Art. He’s done numerous solo and group art shows.
Cook was among 19 retiring MC employees honored at a March 23 campus reception. Some leaders like Vice President for Academic Affairs Ron Howard were saluted for four decades of service to the 191-year-old university.
An award-winning education professor, Tom Williams soon steps down as executive director of campus operations. He directs the university’s energy management program. Coach Williams scored points on the Clinton campus when he delivered chocolate candy to energy-saving employees.
Williams is a former Mississippi Tennis Coach of the Year and ex-Mississippi Teacher of the Year. The former Murrah High principal joined the MC School of Education faculty in 1998. He’s a former chair of the Department of Teacher Education and Leadership. He served as MC’s NCAA faculty athletics representative.
Teaching was a huge part of his 25 MC years. But working with Athletic Director Mike Jones, coaches, staff and student athletes “was the icing on the cake,” Williams said.
“I believe the role of athletics on campus is to help build character in young people,” he said. “This is an extremely positive result of participating in athletics.”
In retirement, Tom plans to travel with his wife, Mary, read and visit with grandchildren. He hopes to improve his golf game, too.
Other retirees include education professor Tommye Henderson, former superintendent of the Clinton public schools. “My career began with teaching first grade students and ends with teaching doctoral students,” she said. “So my professional life has come full circle.”
Her new venture is working with the Mississippi School Board Association.
Also joining the retirement ranks: Gerald Hasselman, who invested nearly a half-century in education. The Clintonian serves as chair of the intercollegiate athletic committee, and game clock operator at Choctaws men’s hoops games. The St. Louis Cardinals fan regularly visits MLB ballparks nationwide. He’s taught education for 15 years on the Clinton campus.
Expect Hasselman to travel with his wife, Patricia, spoil their grandkids and play more golf in the years ahead.
Leland “Butch” Benton retires in May after two decades as an MC chemistry professor. He’s also retired twice before - as a Florence High teacher after 25 years and as a Mississippi Army National Guard officer after 20 years. On his retirement to-do list: more time with his wife, Joan, at their Florence home, visits with granddaughters, traveling, fishing, hunting and gardening.
A beloved MC nursing professor since 1984, Charlotte Wood and extraordinary librarians Wanda Mosley and Paula Brown join colleagues mapping out new chapters as retirees.