William Carey dean retires after 27 years

William Carey dean retires after 27 years
Recent WCU alumna Hannah Jarrell made her way to the “not a retirement party” gathering in Tradition and brought a gift for Jerry Bracey. (Photo source: WLOX)

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Jerry Bracey, the longtime dean of William Carey University’s Tradition campus, is retiring after serving the campus for 27 years.

In their memories of working with Bracey, countless coworkers talked about his kindness, and Bracey says he considered his staff and coworkers as a second family.

“I love all the people, and my time here has meant a lot to me. It’s been a real blessing. The faculty and staff care about each other, and they care about the students. Everybody works together to make things happen. It’s a family,” Bracey said.

The library at William Carey University’s Tradition campus was re-named the Jerry Bracey Learning Resource Center in honor of the retiring dean. In the photo, Jerry Bracey, left, is shown with Regional Librarian Hugh Donohoe and WCU President Dr. Tommy King. (Photo source: WCU)
The library at William Carey University’s Tradition campus was re-named the Jerry Bracey Learning Resource Center in honor of the retiring dean. In the photo, Jerry Bracey, left, is shown with Regional Librarian Hugh Donohoe and WCU President Dr. Tommy King. (Photo source: WCU)

Bracey promised to work until the last minute, of the last hour, of the last day of his contract, and that’s exactly what he did on August 14 until 5:30 p.m.

Bracey had a “not a retirement party” fish fry in July to celebrate his retirement.

Bracey was dean of what was called “Carey on the Coast” when Hurricane Katrina struck. The campus was right on the beach. Dr. Cassandra Conner, the new dean of Tradition campus, described what happened next.

“When we left campus on Friday, we were prepared for a storm. But, we didn’t know it was going to be the monster it turned out to be. When we came back to school on Monday, all our buildings were destroyed,” Conner said.

But Bracey used the devastation as motivation to spring into action.

“So, Jerry went to the superintendent of Gulfport and secured a building for his night classes, and then he went to a local pastor and secured buildings for his MBA and nursing programs. He didn’t stop there. He secured trailers and brought all the students back together on one campus," Conner said.

WCU President Dr. Tommy King says Bracey’s efforts deserves to be remembered.

“The list of his accomplishments is long. His dedication to recovery after the hurricane, his commitment to establishing the Tradition campus, his help in guiding the WCU School of Pharmacy in its early stages, opening two buildings in two months – these give him a permanent place in the history of William Carey University,” King explained.

Before joining WCU, Bracey served in the U.S. Air Force for 23 years.

Before joining William Carey University, Jerry Bracey served in the U.S. Air Force for 23 years. In honor of his retirement from WCU, staff members recreated a shadowbox holding all his medals to replace one just like it lost during Hurricane Katrina. (Photo source: WCU)
Before joining William Carey University, Jerry Bracey served in the U.S. Air Force for 23 years. In honor of his retirement from WCU, staff members recreated a shadowbox holding all his medals to replace one just like it lost during Hurricane Katrina. (Photo source: WCU)

So what’s next for Bracey?

According to a release from WCU, he plans to get deeply involved in his church, Mosaic Church in Ocean Springs, as well as, volunteer at the Home of Grace in Vancleave.

WLOX wishes Mr. Bracey a happy retirement!

Copyright 2019 WLOX. All rights reserved.