Dr. Mary Graham named 12th President of MGCCC

Dr. Mary S. Graham (Photo source: MGCCC)
Dr. Mary S. Graham (Photo source: MGCCC)

PERKINSTON, MS (WLOX) - From Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

PERKINSTON, MS - At the regular meeting of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) Board of Trustees this week, the Board made a unanimous decision to name Dr. Mary S. Graham as the 12th president to lead the college effective July 1, 2011.

After serving as president since 1998, Dr. Willis H. Lott had announced his retirement, effective June 30, 2011. The Presidential Search Committee was chaired by Moreno Jones, Jackson County Board member and former chair.

"Dr. Mary Graham was selected for the presidency based on her vision, leadership ability, and demonstrated competencies required for leading a multi-campus institution with almost one hundred years of tradition. Selecting the president of the college is an important responsibility that our Board of Trustees considered very carefully. Our goal was to find a visionary leader committed to students, employees, alumni, and community throughout the four-county district," Jones said.

A native of Mississippi, Dr. Graham earned her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM); her Master's and Bachelor's Degrees are from USM as well. Dr. Graham's experience in master planning, leadership development, budget management, credit and noncredit instruction, public relations, legislative advocacy, human resources, residential student life, athletic and marching band programs have prepared her to lead this institution.

"I am honored to be the next president of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and will strive to fulfill the commitment of making a positive difference in people's lives every day," Graham said. "I look forward to working with the great employees of the college and to leading our world-class institution."

Jefferson Davis Campus faculty member and social studies chair, Karla Smith, said that Dr. Graham is well respected and understands the needs of the students and faculty.

"She is committed to world-class instruction and to the importance of preparing students for the 21st century," Smith said. "Her leadership role in the reaffirmation of the college by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges- Commission on Colleges was invaluable in the compliance review and selection of quality enhancement plan."

Joyce Cassibry, a sophomore at MGCCC, describes Dr. Mary Graham as a personal leader with a passion for student success both in and out of the classroom.

"She encourages all students to pursue their educational goals and to stay connected to the institution," Cassibry said.

As a MGCCC graduate and alumna, she embraces the philosophy of the community college and the rich tradition of this almost one-hundred year-old institution. Since beginning her career in 1987 on the Jackson County Campus of MGCCC, she has held several administrative positions within the college including Director of Admissions/Registrar, Director of Institutional Relations and Vice President of Community Campus.

Dr. Graham also served as the Vice President of the Perkinston Campus for the past 13 years. She has provided leadership for the Perkinston Campus and the George County Center with more than 300 employees at both locations. The 24/7 Perkinston Campus environment offers academic and career-technical programs to more than 1,700 students with ten championship sports teams and residential facilities with the George County Center also offering academic and career programs to the residents of George County.

During Graham's tenure on the Perkinston Campus, enrollment has increased 32 percent and 210 percent at the George County Center. She has also supervised the construction/renovation of well over 15 facilities at these two college locations. She is a well- known presenter at local, state and national conferences and has participated in various state and national presidential leadership programs. Graham has been active in community and economic development, previously serving as the Vice President of the Community Campus, the campus without walls, which provides workforce development to business and industry within the district.

Among her many accomplishments, Graham has been responsible for implementing new programs on the Perkinston Campus in the areas of nursing and technology. The campus hosts many community events, musical performances and sports activities including the annual Festival of Lights, band clinics, summer camps, and fine arts performances and exhibitions.

"I asked the Board to look for the best president that this institution has ever had so that the great work we have begun will continue," current president Dr. Willis H. Lott said. "I believe that the Board of Trustees has named the right person, in Dr. Mary Graham."

Graham is married to Wayne Graham, and they have three children: Sarah, Michael and Anna.