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William “Mickey” Thompson of Cleveland, Miss., is the 2015 Mississippi Delta Community College Alumnus of the Year.
Thompson earned an associate’s degree in drafting and design from Mississippi Delta Junior College and after graduation attended Delta State University. While at MDJC, Thompson was the president of several college clubs and served on student council.
Thompson, an active supporter of MDCC, has continued his association with the college in numerous capacities. He serves on the MDCC Board of Trustees and has been a faithful member for 25 years. In addition, he serves on the advisory board for MDCC’s Bolivar/Coahoma alumni chapter, has been a chapter meeting sponsor, and is a member of the Trojan Tailgate Club.
In addition, Thompson supports Trojan athletics and the MDCC Sports Hall of Fame, and each year, shares his Corvette convertible for use in MDCC’s homecoming parade. A believer in the importance of education, he, along with Pat Denton, established an academic scholarship for MDCC students from Bolivar County.
Thompson has a long record of community and civic involvement. He was elected mayor of Shelby for two terms and served six terms as Bolivar County Tax Assessor/Collector. Active in his hometown of Cleveland, he serves on the Heritage Committee, the City Planning Commission, the Cleveland Crime Stoppers Association, and is a Deacon at the First Baptist Church.
Previously, he served as a Boy Scout leader, PTA president for Pearman Elementary School, and Delta Arts Alliance director. In addition he has been a member of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, Jaycees, Rotary Club, Exchange Club, and Delta State Booster Club.
On the state level, Thompson has served as president of the Mississippi Tax Assessor/Collector Association and President of the Mississippi Chapter of International Assessors Officers Association. He has worked with the Mississippi state legislators in upgrading and introducing new laws for the State Tax Commission. Thompson has received numerous awards, including district service awards from both the Mississippi Tax Assessors College and the Mississippi Association of Supervisors. Currently, he works as a property tax consultant for Humphreys County.
Thompson has been married to the former Jean Neel of Indianola for more than 50 years. They have two sons, Mike of Dallas, and Jeffrey of Cleveland, Miss.
David Grant has been named the 2015 Trojan Spirit Award recipient. The annual award, chosen by the Mississippi Delta Community College Alumni Association, recognizes a faculty or staff member for his or her distinguished service to the college.
Grant graduated from MDCC with an associate’s degree in industrial electricity. While at MDCC, he was an active member of Skills USA and was a gold and silver medalist at the state level competition. As a student, he received the Departmental Award for Industrial Electricity and was inducted into the National Technical Honor Society. He also graduated with honors from Mississippi Valley State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electronics technology.
As a loyal and strong supporter of Mississippi Delta Community College, Grant is a familiar figure at campus events and is active in all aspects of college life. He chairs Phi Theta Kappa, the National Technical Honors Society, and Trojan Tailgate, and is an active member of the Alumni Association board of directors. In addition, he was a driving force in the formation and success of the Trojan Grilling Competition. On campus, Grant is known as the “go-to guy,” as he is always available if something needs to be done or someone needs help. He is the first to arrive and the last to leave, and brings to any task tremendous energy and a great attitude.
An innovative instructor, Grant often combines instruction with community service. Using a hands-on approach, his students’ projects have benefitted many members of the surrounding communities. Under his tutelage, through the Baptist Town Project, they have set up Katrina cottages in Greenwood for low-income housing. They also rewired and renovated a future classroom, rewired a shed for Holcomb Baptist Church, added circuits and lighting to the Moorhead Train Depot, and provided lighting for the Indianola Green Space. His MDCC peers also selected him for the Lamplighter Award.
Grant, and his wife Monica, are the parents of James Thomas, John Arthur, and Ava Bowles.
Mississippi Delta Community College (MDCC) was awarded $3 million from the U.S. Department of Education through the Predominately Black Institutions (PBI) Program. MDCC applied for this competitive-based grant for the purpose of improving educational outcomes of African American males through the implementation of an Integrated Student Success Initiative. The college will receive $600,000 annually for five years to fund the Success Initiative.
“Students at MDCC will benefit tremendously thanks to this award being provided by U.S. Department of Education,” said MDCC President Larry Nabors. “The College will be able to create a very valuable Student Success program aimed at increasing student achievement.”
The program will identify and address black males’ challenges related to poverty, academic unpreparedness, lack of academic and social integration into the education system, low levels of meaningful student engagement, retention issues, and low levels of achievement.
Through participation in Student Success, Black males will have access to an online student success credit course, educational materials, technology, tutoring, academic advising, counseling, mentoring, career preparation, and cultural awareness services. An online early alert and advising system will provide a means for advisors, counselors, and PBI staff to help black males stay on track and persist to graduation.
Mississippi Delta Community College is a two-year public, rural, residential and commuter campus, headquartered in Moorhead, Mississippi, with four off-campus centers in the cities of Greenwood, Greenville, Indianola, and Drew. For more information, visit www.msdelta.edu or call 662.246.MDCC.
Armed with a recent ranking as the top community college system in the nation, leaders of Mississippi’s 15 community colleges told the Legislative Budget Committee that for every dollar invested in community colleges by Mississippi taxpayers the payback is that dollar, plus an additional $3.86.
“If community colleges were a company, would you recommend to Warren Buffett that he buy it? The answer, of course, is yes.” said Dr. Jesse Smith, president of Jones County Junior College and chair of the 15-member Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges.
The National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (nSPARC), based at Mississippi State University, analyzed data through the Mississippi LifeTracks statewide integrated data system that includes the community colleges, eight universities and other state agencies.
The nSPARC report, titled “What is the Value of Community Colleges to Mississippi Taxpayers?” showed the state reaps $4.86 in return to Mississippi taxpayers for every state dollar spent supporting community colleges. In August, Wallet Hub, a financial analyst company for small business and consumers, gave Mississippi’s community colleges the top ranking for cost, classroom experience and education/career outcomes.
The community colleges serve nearly 250,000 Mississippians, including 74,168 college students, 90,000 workforce trainees and more than 17,000 Adult Education students.
At the hearing, Sen. Terry Burton of Newton, (R-District 31), said, “You remain the single best bang for every educational dollar the state spends.”
The community colleges are asking for an $82.7 million increase in state funding for FY 2017. Of that request, $64.5 million is directed to mid-level funding (MLF), which was unanimously passed by the 2007 Legislature and brings per student support at a midpoint between per student spending for K-12 and regional public universities. The Legislature needs to increase per student funding at community colleges by $2,062 to achieve MLF.
The remainder of the request includes $8 million for Repair and Renovation for facility improvements and $10.1 million to help fund MI-BEST, Mississippi Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training.
The MI-BEST model bridges the skills gap for higher wage jobs, while equipping high school dropouts with job-ready credentials. Students in the program are concurrently enrolled in Adult Education and Career Pathway programs. MI-BEST also provides a safety net of support services to help adult learners earn employer-recognized credentials.
According to Mississippi Works, Gov. Phil Bryant’s workforce program, there are 35,000 unfilled jobs in the state. In Mississippi only 55 percent of working-age adults are employed.
“Mississippi Delta Community College is committed to improving the quality of the workforce in our district in order to retain and attract business and industry,” said MDCC President Larry Nabors. “However, this requires adequate funding for workforce training.”
Community college leaders also expressed concern about rising tuition costs. Nine of 15 colleges increased tuition in 2015. The average tuition and fees are $2,576 now, which is a 4 percent increase over 2014. Dr. Nabors stated “MDCC did not raise tuition in 2015, but we may be forced to in the future if we do not obtain additional state funding.”
In FY 2016, student tuition and fees accounted for 32 percent of revenues for the colleges, compared to 18 percent in FY 2000. With broad missions, the 15 two-year colleges say they manage lean budgets to make the path to degrees and certificates more cost-efficient, for both students and the state.
“Our community colleges are at a crossroads to maintain the quality and scope of services that earned us a first place recognition nationally. We must have sufficient resources and support from the Legislature to equip our citizens with the education and skills that provide family sustaining wages,” said Deborah J. Gilbert, interim executive director, Mississippi Community College Board.
This funding bolsters faculty resources at the two-year colleges, where 69 percent of the budget is spent on salaries. The legislative request includes a commitment to raise community college instructor salaries to a competitive level between the average university faculty salary and the K-12 public school teacher salary. Community college faculty salaries are currently $6,984 below that mid-point target. It will take about $45 million to reach the mid-point salary target. The colleges are asking for half of that amount in FY 2017.
The colleges also requested $37.5 million per year for a two-year bond bill commitment, similar to the bond commitment made to the university system. “The community colleges maintain 31.9 percent of all square footage dedicated to public higher education in the state, but only receive 23.5 percent of bond funds allocated to higher education,” said Dr. Mary Graham, president of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. “Our system is more than 100 years old, and many of us are maintaining facilities that were original to our campuses,” she added.
President Nabors stated that “MDCC has many facility needs, including much needed new construction as well as renovations on existing buildings. There is a lot of deferred maintenance on our campus due to the lack of sufficient bond funds.”
While acknowledging increased state support for the past four years, Dr. Clyde Muse, president of Hinds Community College, told the committee, “It is our responsibility to let you know what our needs are.”
In 2000, state funds accounted for 55 percent of the community college E&G budget. In FY 2016, state support stands at 41 percent.
The Mississippi Association for Community and Junior Colleges funding requests are endorsed by the Mississippi Community College Board, as well as the statewide trustee, alumni and faculty organizations that represent the 15 public two-year colleges.
Thomas Cole of Sunflower, Miss., was selected by his co-workers as Mississippi Delta Community College’s Staff Member of the Month for September. Thomas serves MDCC as a maintenance technician and groundskeeper on the main campus in Moorhead, Miss.
“The most enjoyable part of my job at MDCC is staying busy and working with great people,” says Cole. An MDCC employee for 11 years, his daily responsibilities include maintaining a clean, neat and well- kept campus area.