GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Jefferson Davis campus will now go by a new name. The decision made last week by the college board of trustees brings the Jefferson Davis Campus in line with the mission, vision, and values of the school.
Students from all walks of life have furthered their education at the MGCCC Jefferson Davis Campus. Now those students enrolled in classes on the Gulf Coast campus will graduate or transfer from school with a new name: The Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Harrison County Campus.
There are only a few remaining signs on campus bearing the old name of the new Harrison County Campus of MGCCC.
The rename, bringing the Gulf Coast Campus into the naming convention of the other schools within the college. A step that the school’s Board of Trustees says is in the right direction.
“We are just trying our very best to stay in alignment with our strategic plan. As we began to go through it we were thinking about renaming other buildings, so we were looking at that. Rather than being reactive, we decided to be proactive and went along with the name change,” said MGCCC Board of Trustees 2nd Vice-Chair, Dr. Mike Tatum. “We want to make sure we stay in alignment. We want to make sure that we are community-bound. We want to make sure that we express ourselves and welcome all students, those that are there now and those that potentially want to come through the campus.”
Tatum, and the board, believes the change will impact more than the Gulf Coast. “I believe that it will set the tone for years to come, ten or fifteen years from now. We have done some things to keep us in alignment with what’s facing this country and the world,” Tatum told WLOX.
Alumni of the former JD Campus, Rickey Toles said removing the name “Jefferson Davis” is removing the stain of Davis’ legacy.
“Knowing what Jefferson Davis’ name means, knowing what it came from, knowing what he stood for, it’s almost like taking down the beware of dog sign. You’re letting us know that, with that name up there, it’s ok to go in, but you go in, you feel comfortable but you still have that little (weight) on your shoulders,” Toles said.
The move changes the game for students, Toles said, right here in South Mississippi. “I think it lets them know and understand, first of all, the Coast is changing. Second of all, with it being a new day, you have an opportunity to be whoever it is that you want to be, and there’s a nice place to start, right here at home,” said Toles.
With the name change, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College takes a bold step into the future. A bright future, that both Toles and Dr. Tatum say, is attainable for students of all ethnic backgrounds.
The Jefferson Davis campus opened in 1965. The college now has multiple campuses throughout South Mississippi, with the main campus located in Perkinston.
In addition to the former Jefferson Davis campus, the college’s other campuses include the Jackson County Campus in Gautier; the George County Center in Lucedale; the West Harrison County Center in Long Beach; the Advanced Manufacturing & Technology Center in Gulfport; the Keesler Center at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi; the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport; and the Bryant Center at Tradition in Harrison County.
MGCCC also offers a Community Campus that provides workforce education programs, onsite and online, to South Mississippi residents and employers.