MSCC Breaking Ground on Hospitality Facility

MSCC Breaking Ground on Hospitality Facility

On Wednesday, Sept. 23, Mid-South Community College will take another step toward a world-class Hospitality Management program with the official groundbreaking for the Jeremy Jacobs Hospitality Center.

Because hospitality management is a globally-dynamic and growing industry, this facility is of vital importance to our region. According to the World Trade Organization, industry growth is expected to triple by the end of this decade. If that potential is realized, many new workers with knowledge and skills related to the industry will be needed to meet the increasing demand.

By Mid-South Community College standards, the initial construction phase of the center won’t result in a huge building, but it will be a fantastic facility for our students. The architectural design creates an effective and efficient learning environment, and everything on the inside will be state of art. The building and what’s in it will put us in a position to give our students access to a world-class set of skills. Our architects have also engineered the $2.2 million building in such a way that it can be expanded as our program and training needs grow.

The overall program gives students an opportunity to pursue an exciting career in a broad field of service-industry professions, many of which can be found within our service area. According to hospitality industry experts, our region has a significant lack of skilled workers in the profession, so we are creating opportunities to train students to bridge that gap. The Mid-South is certainly a major international tourism draw, and the need for well-trained employees is particularly acute in the Memphis metropolitan area.

To accomplish our goal, we’ve created a learning environment where students can dream big dreams, use critical thinking skills, and fine tune their communication abilities. Much thought, research, and work has gone into our efforts, and we have tailored the program so that is unique and responsive to our region. Classes emphasize hands-on training and internship opportunities to prepare our students for real-world experiences.

Our program has been designed so meticulously and effectively that the University of Memphis has established a transfer/scholarship agreement with us that is a major boost for our students. MSCC is the first community college to have such a partnership with the U of M Kemmons Wilson School, and that speaks highly of the people on our campus who have made it happen.

Funding for the Jeremy Jacobs Hospitality Center has come from a variety of sources – The Assisi Foundation, the Delta Regional Authority, and Arkansas Economic Development Commission. But none of this would be happening without the amazing support of Southland Park Gaming and Racing and its parent company Delaware North. Their million-dollar pledge toward our hospitality program in 2012 catalyzed efforts to create a curriculum that prepares our citizens for current and future jobs in and around Crittenden County.

Southland has always invested eagerly and generously in initiatives designed to move our region forward, and we appreciate their vision for the future. Their ongoing commitment is helping our students pursue brighter futures, and that will have a profoundly positive impact on the economy of Crittenden County for the foreseeable future.

Employees Earn Recognition

Employees Earn Recognition

We often find ourselves so consumed by efforts to make Crittenden County and eastern Arkansas a better place to live and work that we fail to take the time to truly recognize those who are making it happen. Last week, however, we carved out a significant portion of a Friday afternoon to pay tribute to a number of folks who are affecting positive change in our region.

During a campus-wide meeting on Aug. 29, we recognized 20 employees with service awards ranging from 5 to 30+ years. To those who aren’t intimately familiar with Mid-South Community College, the 30-year service award category may appear erroneous if not impossible. But while Mid-South Community College is only 21 years old, the institution existed as a vo-tech school before that, and we still have a couple of those folks hanging around.

Barbara Stewart and Tom Cook have been with us since before the beginning, and the parts they have played in our institution’s evolution have been nothing short of extraordinary. Barbara started with Mid-South Vocational-Technical School in June 1979 and has spent most of her 35 years working in the accounting/purchasing world. Tom came five years later and has performed the majority of his assignments in the every-changing information technology realm.

Our 20-year service awards winners included Dr. Barbara Baxter, Randy Webb, and Sandra Williams. Barbara came to MSCC in March 1994 and worked many years as Vice President for Academic Affairs before ascending to the Executive Vice President position. We probably wouldn’t have a college if not for all of her efforts toward accreditation and assessment. Sandra started three months later and has been handling our payroll for as long as I can remember. As I’m sure you can imagine, her area of expertise makes her one of our most popular employees. Randy came to work for us as Physical Plant director in August of that year, and his job gets bigger and bigger every year as we add buildings and acreage. Reflecting on the contribution of our 20-year employees, I believe saying 1994 was a good year for Mid-South Community College would be a major understatement.

Anabeth Bartholomew and Phillip Marshall received 15-year awards, and I can’t imagine our campus without them. Anabeth came to us in July 1999 and served in a couple of different roles before settling into the Adult Education department where she encourages students to complete their high school equivalency diploma. Phillip started a month before Anabeth, and he directs all of our information technology efforts. That probably doesn’t sound anywhere near as complex as it truly us, considering the mind-boggling number of computers that fill our classrooms, labs, and offices,

Ten-year awards went to Sanjay Chowdhury, Suvra Chowdhury, Jim French, Ted Sutton, and John Wilkinson. Sanjay and John are Business/Business Technology faculty members, and Suvra coordinates our Café/Grill efforts. Jim works afternoons and evenings in our maintenance department and ensures that all of the doors are locked when the day ends. Ted makes sure we have all of the equipment and supplies necessary to keep the college running when the doors are open.

Veronica Blake, Shermel Brown, Pam Capps, Donyelle Hampton, Sandra Mabry, and Mellody Selph earned five-year awards. Veronica oversees a portion of our Title III grant efforts, and Shermel teaches mathematics for us. Pam coordinates our Medical Assisting academic program, and Sandra directs the Educational Opportunity Center on our campus. Mellody serves as a TRiO Student Support Services Counselor.

The coolest thing about Mid-South Community College is that we are poster children for the existence of divine intervention. Every time we really need anything of any significance, it shows up. While I usually reference grant awards and major donations when talking about divine intervention, I recognize that it applies just as much, if not more, to employees. We have some of the most dedicated, hard-working employees in the state and region, and all of them are helping to change lives every day.

Coach Stoglin Continues to Give Back

Coach Stoglin Continues to Give Back

A little less than five years ago, a man who looked vaguely familiar walked into my office to talk about something that was bothering him. We exchanged a few pleasantries before he addressed the subject that had been troubling him. “I don’t understand why you don’t have a basketball program at Mid-South Community College.” As you might have guessed from the blog title above, the man in my office was the legendary basketball coach Andy Stoglin

For 20 years I had wanted our institution to be in a position to have the opportunity and resources to establish an athletic program because I believe so strongly in what it can do for and to young people. Southland Park Gaming and Racing shared that view and made a 10-year pledge in 2010 to support an expanded athletic endeavor on our campus.

We planned, initially, to create a club sports program, but when Coach Stoglin entered the picture, we began to set our sights a little higher. A few months later, Mid-South Community College fielded intercollegiate basketball teams with Stoglin leading the men and Chris Parker guiding the women.

Obviously, Southland’s amazing support of our efforts played a crucial role in the evolution of the program, but if not for that stranger walking into my office to ask why we didn’t have a basketball team, I can’t imagine that we would have progressed so far so fast.

I can tell you unequivocally that we had dozens of instances of divine intervention during the birthing process of our program, and I know with certainty that Coach Stoglin was following a celestial path when he came to my office that day. He brought us the instant credibility that we desperately needed, and he was willing to work for nothing, which was about all we could afford.

Andy Stoglin is first-class person who just happens to be a great basketball coach. His track record of developing student athletes into successful players and citizens is nothing short of stellar, and we consider ourselves extremely blessed that he chose to bring his talents and impeccable character to Mid-South Community College.

Coach Stoglin found it necessary, because of family obligations, to pursue a more lucrative coaching opportunity after his first year at MSCC, but he promised me that he would always think of himself as part of the Greyhound program. A year later, he came back to our campus as “Coach Emeritus” to assist with the men’s and women’s programs while also serving as a mentor for our students.

When Kim Ezell, who guided the Lady Greyhounds to their first-ever regional championship, informed us earlier this summer that she wanted to spend more time with her growing family, we found ourselves with big shoes to fill in a short period of time.

Once again, Andy Stoglin offered his services. He will coach the Lady Greyhounds for the 2014-15 season, a move which will allow us to take our time finding a more permanent replacement. His reason for accepting the one-year appointment? “Basketball has been pretty good to me, and I see this as another opportunity to give back,” he said. “It’s all about helping the kids.”

Stoglin enjoys his profession so much that an acquaintance once told him he would probably pay a team to let him coach. That’s not quite happening here, but it’s close. Andy Stoglin is indeed a giver, and we’re proud to have him as a part of the Greyhound family.

Greyhound 5K Important to Student-Athletes, Community

Greyhound 5K Important to Student-Athletes, Community

The third rendition of Mid-South Community College’s Greyhound 5K Run/Walk is less than seven weeks away, and the excitement and anticipation is building on our campus and in our community. With ongoing, generous support of Southland Park Gaming and Racing (our title sponsor all three years), the annual event will start and end on our beautiful campus on Saturday, Oct. 4.

This race, in terms of its potential proceeds, plays a major role in our institution’s efforts to provide athletic scholarships for our basketball players. Three years ago, Tommy Goldsby made a $75,000 commitment in honor of Terry McFarland to fund the awards through the 2014-15 season (up to $25,000 per year). We promised Mr. Goldsby that we would create an event or series of happenings which would supplant that financing going forward. The Greyhound 5K has become that event.

Our first two races generated a significant amount of money toward that end, and we continue to keep the $25,000-per-year goal in our crosshairs. Those with much more race experience than I possess have said that number is certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Our contact at Start 2 Finish, the company which manages and times the Greyhound 5K, said a yearly participation growth rate of 10 percent is reasonable and that the third year is often the one with the greatest increase.

I believe we can meet our goal for a number of reasons. Among the most compelling is our ongoing effort to ensure that the Greyhound 5K has everything it needs to be known locally and regionally as a first-class event. When we take on a project, it’s going to be the coolest thing around because that’s what people have come to expect from us. And we expect nothing less from ourselves. We’re always looking to take things to the next level.

Keeping the Greyhound 5K in a growth mode, however, requires an all-hands-on-deck mentality from our employees, financial supporters, and race participants.

The Greyhound race is not a Glen Fenter project or even solely a Mid-South Community College project. We rely heavily on our sponsors — Southland (Title); Evolve Bank (Platinum); Flash Market, Inc., Ford of West Memphis, and Steele-Guiltner Tire Pros (Gold); State Rep. Deborah Ferguson, Barton Powersports, and Arkansas Distributing Company (Silver), and Acme Pest Management, CareerPro Drug Screening, and Greenway Equipment Company — to create a positive and memorable event.

In addition, our local runners and walkers are invaluable to the effort. Last year, about 200 of our registrants hailed from Crittenden County. That’s a great response, but we need even more folks from our area to join in the fun.

Since 400-plus people signed up for last year’s race, another 200 or so came to West Memphis from other cities and states, including San Jose, Cal., and Stone Mountain, Ga. That becomes a great opportunity for us to make a positive impression on our visitors.

So get up off the couch or out of that recliner and help us make the Third Annual Greyhound 5K an event to remember. You’ll be helping Greyhound basketball players as well as the entire community.

Honor Societies Helping Local Elementary Students

Honor Societies Helping Local Elementary Students

College honor societies, if they aren’t vigilant, can fall into a trap of pursuing an entirely inward focus and failing to share their talents, ideas, and resources. Mid-South Community College, however, is blessed with two honors organizations that are committed to recognizing and addressing external needs for the betterment of their community.

Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of two-year colleges, and Sigma Kappa Delta, the national English honor society for two-year institutions, are working together to help a local second-grade class start the 2014-15 school year in a great way. PTK has been a mainstay on our campus since 1997 and has participated in numerous benevolent efforts. SKD is new to our institution this year, but it has embraced PTK’s “honors in action” approach to its role on our campus and in our community.

Beginning this month, the organizations “adopted” Emily Stewart’s students at Weaver Elementary School in West Memphis and plan to support and encourage them throughout the year. The assistance started in earnest on Aug. 12 when society members and advisors hand-delivered 25 supply-filled backpacks that will come as a very pleasant surprise to highly-impressionable students when they walk into the classroom on Monday.

Stewart, who is beginning her seventh year at Weaver, told our MSCC folks that the supplies will provide numerous benefits for her students, not the least of which is meeting basic classroom needs. As a veteran teacher, she knows that some, if not most, of her children will come to school without many of the items that a lot of us would take for granted. In addition to meeting basic needs, Mid-South’s efforts will allow Stewart to engage her students in more innovative and fun activities, and we all know how important that is to the learning process.

Holly Carlo, president of both honor societies (and an MSCC employee), suggested the school-supply project this summer, and students and staff jumped in with both feet to help. Her reasoning was simple but exquisitely flawless: “These children need to know that the community cares about their future and that they will have what they need to succeed in life.”

What makes this effort even more satisfying for us is that Mrs. Stewart is a product of Mid-South Community College. She came to our institution in fall 2002 as Emily Taylor and took her final class with us in summer 2005. Stewart earned more than 70 college-credit hours on our campus before completing her four-year degree and returning to Crittenden County to teach in the public school system. We’re proud to claim her and her students for the upcoming school year.

The participation of our honor societies and contributors to this project is truly commendable. Many of us wonder what meaningful act we can perform to help our community, and this initiative is a great example of something that will bring smiles to children’s faces as well as better instructional opportunities. The young people of our region face enough challenges without tackling second grade (or any grade) without basic supplies.

Phi Theta Kappa and Sigma Kappa Delta members will continue to raise funds to support Stewart’s students throughout the year. If you feel compelled to help, email Carlo at


Fall Semester Generates Excitement

Fall Semester Generates Excitement

While our campus buzzes with excitement and activity throughout the year, our intensity levels begin to rise significantly as the fall semester approaches. A flurry of events began this week and will continue through the start of fall classes on Monday, Aug. 18.

This week, we hosted two sessions of New Student Orientation. Next week, we will begin working with our high school students planning to take college-level classes through our Concurrent Enrollment, Secondary Technical Center, and Academies of West Memphis programs. On Aug. 11 and 12, we’ll have regular registration for folks who haven’t enrolled already. We can’t help but be excited about the new or ongoing opportunities our students will have when classes resume.

The orientation process is a great start toward the first day of classes. Talking and working with first-time college students, as well as those attending our institution for the first time, is always an interesting proposition. Sometimes their stories can be enlightening and encouraging. Other times, they are a little more sobering.

One student, who lives in Memphis, told an MSCC employee that she decided to leave the region to attend a school a few hours north of here. To the employee’s credit, he didn’t chastise her for her lapse in judgment but instead listened with interest. By the end of her first year, the student was frustrated with the school and her degree program because she didn’t seem to be progressing toward her goal. When she returned home for the summer, she looked into Mid-South Community College and found that she could get exactly what she needs at our institution. She is now registered for fall classes and is excited about finding her future at MSCC.

Another student who had attended a couple of institutions of higher learning in our area couldn’t keep from smiling when she neared the end of her orientation experience at Mid-South. She spoke glowingly of our registration process and talked about how organized our effort was. She had been told by some of her friends who had attended MSCC to expect an efficient trek through our system, but she still seemed amazed at how easy it was to navigate our process. I don’t know how long her smile lasted, but she still had it when she walked out our doors.

Not all of the stories brought smiles to our faces. A young man who enrolled in our Respiratory Care program explained that he did so because he had lost his job and needed to find a new career. There is certainly no humor in that situation, but we can take pride in the fact that we have a program that provides him some promise for the future.

We invest a great deal of time, thought, and effort into making our processes as easy as possible because we understand that a little bit of encouragement goes a long way. Before every orientation or registration session, we emphasize to our employees the importance of treating every student with a smile, respect, and a caring attitude. That sometimes means answering the same question in an encouraging manner for 100 students over the course of a week, but that’s what we do. That’s our culture.

At the end of the day, we want our students to think of MSCC as a second home, a place where they are nurtured, encouraged, challenged, and motivated to reach their God-given potential. We firmly believe there is not a better place on the planet to experience higher education, and we guarantee that no place on earth cares more about their students’ future than we do. I encourage you to put us to the test by registering for the fall semester.

Hino Scholarships Helping Students, Region

Hino Scholarships Helping Students, Region

Thanks to the ongoing generosity of Hino Motors Manufacturing, U.S.A., area students seeking a degree in manufacturing technology or a related field have access to a great scholarship opportunity. The Hino award is worth as much as $10,000 over a four-year span and certainly goes a long way towards helping the students and their families – as well as the entire region.

For the 2014-15 academic year, William Robinson, an MSCC Technical Center students and graduate of Marion High School, will receive the coveted award. He joins previous MSCC winners Tony Fleming, Kitiara “Kit” Howell, Clinton Jones, Dustin Laws, Tyler Whatley, and Jordan White as scholarship recipients.

The award is open to top-notch students at the five Arkansas Delta Training and Education Consortium institutions – MSCC, Arkansas Northeastern College, Arkansas State University-Newport, East Arkansas Community College, and Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas. The program also includes the possibility of a summer internship at Marion plant which gives students and the company a chance for invaluable professional interaction.

Mid-South Community College appreciates Hino’s continuing generosity, and we are very excited to play even a small part in this program. Anything that gives students in eastern Arkansas the opportunity to maximize their God-given potential through world-class training at Delta community colleges is an unbelievably powerful tool.

Hino is not only helping these young men and women become well-qualified industrial professionals; it is inspiring other young people in our region by providing this opportunity. More and more students are becoming aware of the great possibilities in the high-tech world of modern manufacturing. Many excellent jobs are going unfilled in our region because qualified workers aren’t available, but this scholarship is helping to encourage and introduce students to rewarding and lucrative careers.

The Hino scholarship is a one of many great expressions of their commitment to the community and to our young people. It would be impossible for me to overstate the value and significance of the relationship that we’ve enjoyed. Hino has been a consummate corporate citizen, and our collaborative efforts continue to grow and evolve. We’re not only committed to their success; we’re very excited about the potential growth opportunities.

In addition to the scholarship, Hino has provided great support to the College in many other ways. In 2004, the company donated two new trucks to MSCC for promotional and educational use. Three years after that, Hino gave us nearly $80,000 worth of sheet metal for student use in the Workforce Technology Center. And in 2008, Hino gave us an electric car kit.

For our region to move forward, we need more companies like Hino who are willing to invest in the future of our young people and our region. We certainly want to do all we can to draw businesses and industries to the Mid-South and make sure that they succeed. One of the best ways we can help ensure financial success is to grow the great talent that already exists here, and this scholarship is seminal to that process.