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Servant Leadership Minor Offered at Mississippi College

President Lee Royce and his wife, Rhoda.

Mississippi College senior Lane Wilson believes the university’s new servant leadership program will strengthen the skills she’s gained as an undergraduate.

A cheerleader for the Blue & Gold, Wilson has received the benefits of serving in key positions as an orientation leader and a mentor to freshmen. A biomedical sciences major from Clinton will start applying to medical schools in 2019.

Starting this fall, the Lee & Rhoda Royce Servant Leadership Minor is named for the retiring MC president and his wife after their 16 years of splendid service. The Royces will retire in late June and move to Northern Virginia to live near their son, Mark Royce, a college instructor.

Wilson sees the new academic initiative as a way to build upon the knowledge she’s acquired from valuable leadership opportunities on the Clinton campus.

Classes in the School of Education program will include: ethical leadership and Christian values, strengths in servant leadership, and cross-cultural leadership. The minor seeks to develop MC students into future Christian leaders within their professional field, on campus or in the global community. Students must complete three required courses (all three hours) and nine hours of servant leadership electives.

The new program is part of the Christian university’s Teacher Education and Leadership Department. Students will work with organizations to carry out leadership strategies and develop service projects satisfying community needs.

Taking classes like “Great Leaders in History” and “Strengths in Leadership,” at Mississippi College, Wilson, 21, discovered a great deal about herself. “I was able to learn so much about my own strengths, as well as effective ways to communicate with other people,” says the 2015 Clinton High graduate. “I was able to apply knowledge from leadership roles to my academics.”

Servant leadership remains a perfect match for Baptist-affiliated Mississippi College, says Jim Turcotte, vice president for enrollment services and dean of students.

“We have so many talented people at MC who interact with our students and help guide them as they grow in their faith,” Turcotte said.

The name of the program, he said, “pays a strong tribute to the Royces who lived out servant leadership in their everyday lives.”

Jonathan Ambrose, assistant vice president for student affairs, played a key role with other administrators to get the program established. In 2016, MC officials began the Freshman Leadership Initiative Program. It began with six upperclassmen and 24 freshmen. The group worked together on a semester-long service project.

The students created a successful dance marathon on campus raising money to benefit the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson. The first event in December 2016 raised nearly $15,000 to help the hospital at the University of Mississippi Medical Center treat children facing cancer, heart defects, HIV, asthma and broken bones.

Ambrose commends MC School of Education Dean Cindy Melton for her support to turn servant leadership into an academic reality. “Dr. Melton helped lay the groundwork by supporting the endeavor. She helped navigate the creation of classes and ultimately the minor.”

The interdisciplinary approach allows students from almost any major on the Clinton campus to receive their minor in servant leadership.

Ron Howard, vice president for academic affairs, is delighted to see an academic program that reflects one of the institution’s cornerstone missions. “Mississippi College’s students have long been dedicated to servant leadership.”

The numbers back him up. Faculty, staff and students at MC served more than 100,000 community hours per year to more than 100 agencies with critical needs. Typically, more than 500 students are involved in summer ministries and over 200 students embarked on Spring Break mission trips.